Sahara Light: a Novel. Part II. Chapter XIII.

11 Mar

Ganymede, within earshot but unnoticed, had overheard the conversation between his brother Cadmeus and the chief firebrand of the ergati revolt disguised as a general strike.

“Our devotion to Apollo must never flag,” insisted Ianon. “There can be no let-up, none at all. The meetings and ceremonies have to go on. This evening, for instance, we will hold a memorial for Niobe here at the Apolleon.

“We need a new Pythoness as soon as possible. There is no question that it must be Echo Syrinx. She knows all the Apollo rites perfectly. She is  capable of performing the role with spirit. There should be no delay. I want you to go to her, Cadmus, and tell her that she is to preside tonight and pray to Apollo for the victory of the oppressed ergati. And Hermes should present a spectacle of colors to accompany her heightened performance with even brighter new colors. It will all take place here in the Apolleon.”

“I will have to go to the antique shop in a little while, then,” said the developer.

“You have all afternoon for that,” advised the other. “The memorial for Niobe can be the finale of the entire meeting.”

Ganymede began to slip away, eager to warn Echo of the coming of his brother with orders for what she was expected to do for the Apollo cult and movement. Niobe had given her life in that pivotal role. Was Echo under the same threat and danger should she accept the high post of Pythoness of Apollo? he wondered.

Flames rose higher, fumes spread further. The area with fire continually grew larger. No one could stop what was happening. Ever closer to the tower city it approached. Silos and storage facilities became sources of new smoke. From all directions, combustibles blazed. The conflagration threatened the existence of Gamara. Nothing similar had ever happened to the Greek population anywhere on the Sahara Desert.

Defenders began to realize that the eight levels of the city had little protection from the surrounding fires spreading on the desert. A vague, general sense of doom spread like an infection.

A general strike meant that Gamara itself could not remain untouched by this conflict and its wave of ruin and destruction.

Nessos Asriom took a daring initiative, summoning the leaders of manufacturing to confer with him in his penthouse. He wanted to incite them to action and end their supine passivity.

Around the long table in the apartment’s dining room sat old rivals and competitors. His task was to address an urgent plea to all of them, despite past divisions. The extreme situation called for unprecedented cooperation within this elite group of industrialists and their bankers.

“I think it is time to begin,” announced Nessos at the head of the stonewood table. “There is no need to describe our emergency. All of us know what is now going on out in the desert. The critical moment has arrived when order has to be restored before all we prize is destroyed. Everything we possess is near to going up in flame. Unless we act at once, all will be lost. Nothing will be able to survive.”

A lighting manufacturer raised his hand.

“We have heard that you have some connection to the scientist who brought the new spectrum of light to these Apollo fanatics, Nessos.”

The latter took the statement in stride with a broad grin.

“You mean Dr. Hermes Tmolos. Do not trouble yourselves over him. He will soon be working for our industry at the Light Institute in the desert. Hermes has agreed to become its new Director. The Apollo crowd will not have him present here in Gamara to work for them. Whatever he produces in the future will be something available to our factories.”

Another industrialist raised a hand.

“Alright, but that is to be in the future. What can we ourselves do about the grave trouble facing all of us today, the danger coming out of the sandfarming zones?”

Nessos drew a deep breath before presenting what he planned to do.

“We must at once organize our industrial workers within Gamara. Assault forces must be organized and armed for action in battle with the ergati. Together with the city police of all our levels, they will have to mount a surprise attack against the insurgent forces that are looting and destroying out on the sands. They must seize the offensive as soon as possible.”

“An attack where?” questioned a man at the foot of the table.

Nessos stared at him, briefly holding his answer back.

“The center of all the trouble is the so-called Apolleon.” His voice had turned hoarse. His eyes bulged with intensity. “That is the nerve center of the culprits. It must be seized swiftly before it becomes too late.”

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