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

12 Mar

Train after train filled with ergati rolled into Gamara stations from the burning, ravaged desert farms. The noose around the tower city grew tight. A solid front of angry field workers was advancing toward victory over the interest of the upper tiers where the owners and managers of Gamara made their homes.

But rumors of an unexpected threat reached the strikers. The top levels of the city had started to summon and arm the middle decks for action against the rebellion. Fear of armed seizure of the Apolleon by the forces of reaction arose among the Archers of Apollo allied to the insurgents and often actively supporting them. The followers of Apollo had to prepare themselves for the impending battle for control of Gamara. No one could doubt that a violent confrontation was about to happen within the lower portion of the city.

“They are better armed that we are,” admitted most of the attacking ergati. “They have their bolters and shockers that can stop us in our tracks.” High galvanic charge appeared to be more powerful than the courage of workers moved by faith in the protection of Apollo.

On the ground level of the city, rapid firing of electric pulsation along with deadly shells were audible. The first urban casualties occurred. The uprising was turning bloody. Prospects for peaceful resolution disappeared.

At the Apolleon, Cadmus glanced at his horologue, then put it back in his pocket. It was time for him to go and fetch Echo for the vesper assembly set for that evening. It was aimed at inspiring all the followers and Archers to maintain their courage in the present crisis. He would take a small squad of guards and leave to escort her and Hermes back to the central hall.

After informing Ianon that he was going, the developer left with his group of bodyguards.

An odd-looking stranger knocked on the front door of the antique shop. Hermes heard the loud racket and went to see who it was. He felt a shock of surprise when he recognized the man in a ragged suit, with a false moustache and whiskers. It was Atlas Cimera. The publisher had put on a poorly arranged, sudden disguise.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” muttered the shaken scientist.

Cimera nodded yes. “There is not much time to flee out of the city. The battle for control of Gamara has started down below. It will in all probability extend into the coming night. No one can tell ahead of time how high the casualties and damages will run. Conflict can easily spread into all the levels, up and down. There will be no safe place to hide in for anyone.

“Nessos Asriom has at last revealed his true colors. He wants to have a social war of all classes of Gamara so that power ends up centralized in just a few hands. But now there is no time to lose. The facilities of Chronia News have been occupied by the newly formed guardians of order, the Phylax organization. They look like harbingers of dictatorship to me.

“Will the two of you accompany me out to the desert” he asked. “I aim to seek protection at the Light Institute. There is little time left. Will you join me there before it is too late?”

Hermes needed no reflection before making a reply to this offer.

“I will go with you, and I am certain that Echo is going to agree to also come.” He turned to where she was standing and caught sight of her nodding yes.

“I am unwilling to become the new Pythoness under present conditions,” she firmly declared. “It would leave me to be exploited as a mouthpiece, a figurehead.” She thought for a moment.”I am certain that Ganymede Megaras is disillusioned and would go along with us.”

“He must prepare to come quickly,” warned Atlas Cimera. “We can take an underground tunnel that is little used today to make an exit from the tower of the city. It will be dangerous to go down to the lower levels at the present time, but we will have to.”

“How can we make it to the Institute?” asked Hermes.

“Chronia News owns a garage with a special desert phoreion stored for emergency purposes. This is certainly such an occasion. Fortunately, I am able to drive the sedan myself. Now, prepare to leave before dark, and inform this third party to be ready to move with you two.”

Atlas hurried out. Within minutes, as Echo and Hermes packed two trunks, Ganymede entered the back of the shop. He was told the plan and readily agreed to flee Gamara with the pair who shared his views about the march of events.

When the disguised Atlas Cimera returned to lead them to the tunnel and escape, the three of them were ready for the sands of the open Sahara.

What would lie out there for them and the fate of Gamara? wondered all of them.

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