Sahara Light: a Novel. Part III. Chapter XIV.

22 Mar

Deciding that it was time to make contact with Hermes Tmolos at the Light Institute, Atlas asked Endymion for the use of his long-distance paraphone. Not a word was offered about the reason for the request. Alone in his bedroom, the newsman punched in the code matrix he had memorized. His hope was to find the Director doing well in his post with the plans they had earlier discussed together.

The call found Hermes busy in his office, writing a report on research results. He was both stunned and heartened to hear the voice of the traveler.

“Echo is being held in Gamara,” said the Director. “We can only guess what treatment her holders give to her. The situation is a difficult and delicate one for her.”

How is your work there going?” asked Atlas.

“I believe that I am on the right track now. But there has to be more testing done. The Phylax are here, watching my movements. I need your aid, my friend. Can you return soon? Is that possible?”

“Let me think. I will have to convince a brother and his sister to join me. My efforts will have to be speeded up. But it can be done, I think. So, a little time is needed before I can leave here. Let me talk with these people a bit more. They know nothing of my past. I will have to reveal everything. That must be done successfully, at a reasonable pace. I hope it will not take long to accomplish with them.”

“Call me back in the hour before midnight,” advised Hermes. “We can then decide what steps to take next.”

The connection by radio broke and Atlas began to formulate how he was going to address the two Grions.

Far into the desert night, their guest told his story of what he had done in Gamara before and during the ergati revolt. Endymion and Callisto listened, spellbound by his role in historic affairs.

He described his senseless alliance with Nessos Asriom, then the crisis of the general strike. The failure of Hermes Tmolos and himself to end the catastrophe in Gamara had driven the two of them to the Light Institute in the desert, where the only present hope of salvation lay.

“I had to flee for my safety again, finally finding refuge here in Arethusa. But now contact with Dr. Tmolos by paraphone has set me on a course of returning to the Institute. But how can I accomplish that? I must ask for aid from the two of you.”

“What do you mean, my friend?” asked Endymion with anxiety in his voice.

“Two large camions will be needed, according to Dr. Tmolos, to take apparati out of the Institute compound and into the desert for testing. A group of people will be necessary for the physical work involved. Can some of your associates from the Artemis worshipers be recruited? Our promise to them is that success in this research project will help to bring about an end to their oppression under the present dictatorship. Freedom for the population of Arethusa to pursue their livelihood will become possible, and they will be able to make new converts and increase their number of adherents. Think of what such a victory can mean for them. The Apollonian faith has disintegrated and fallen to dust with the crisis in Gamara. But what if the ergati and the urban population could be convinced to join with you in following the Great Huntress instead of her twin brother?

“The invention that my colleague believes he can create is a potential weapon that will defeat and bring down this Prostagor with dictatorial power. His regime will not last but crumble once this development occurs. There will be a method of transferring electrical energy over light waves that are transilient through any material or object.”

It was Callisto who saw the light of hope in his words first.

“Yes, that is the hidden dream in our hearts, to prevail all over the entire desert. We cannot stand aside in this terrible struggle. We have to be courageous enough to take action at once, I believe.”

She turned her eyes on Endymion, who proved more cautious than his sister.

“There is a risk that Nessos Asriom will manage to nip any initiative against him in the bud. The Light Institute is, I assume, well guarded. How can anyone safely enter it and haul away valuable equipment of such an advanced character? It sounds too difficult to have any chance of working. The risks and the dangers can prove exceedingly high and costly.”

Atlas Cimera thought deeply for a moment, then came up with a counter argument.

“Tactical deception, not force, has to be used to accomplish it. I can imagine us going into the Light Institute in disguise, as an official government contingent sent from Gamara by officials of the dictatorship. Can some chrome uniforms of the Phylax be obtained for us somehow?”

“I think that I know where to get them,” whispered the casino operator.

“Everything must be ready to move by the end of this week,” earnestly entreated the former publisher. “I believe that I will be on my feet by then.”

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