Chapter IXXX.

19 Apr

Their new captor led his prisoners into a small office.

The Founder took a chair at the foot of a table, while Dey and Veta sat down on either side of him. The short, bald man with blazing green eyes that the others stared at stood at the head of the lancewood table. He was the only person standing.

Veta dared to address a question to him.

“What are you doing here, Captain Kont?”

The officer from the Clandestine Service who had once attempted to recruit her as an informer gave her a questioning, owlish look.

“Let us say that I am narrowing in on the man who is the brain of the miners’ movement. I have the originator and creator of the storm in custody at this moment.” He looked icily at Garen Slyn, but then he turned to Veta.

“I followed your trail into the high altitude, but then lost track at the last moment. It was impossible to search every peak, every mine up here on the mountains. I had to call for reinforcements and wait till they arrived. Delay became necessary.”

Dey interrupted him.

“There has been a severe crisis inside the Miners Organization. Taval Renda has turned the Central Crew against the Founder of the movement. That is the reason we were in flight. Mr. Slyn is in enormous danger from his internal enemies.”

“I know about that development from a messenger we were able to capture,” said Kont. “Your new president has convinced the leadership to conduct a general rising of the miners. It is meant to involve every miner in Landia, throughout the entire country. This will throw our entire society into turmoil. There exists the possibility of bloodshed and destruction throughout the country.”

Slyn spoke for the first time, rising out of his chair.

“A revolt!” he exclaimed. “That will be a disaster for all my followers. It spells the ruin of all our hopes for so many years. That is not what I have worked for all these years.”

Brek Kont wrinkled his brow into an angry frown.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to stop most of the carriers he sent out with orders. By this evening, miners everywhere in the Mineral Mountains will be preparing for the start of battle at dawn. Armed radicals plan to seize many mines and tracker stations and lines. After that, there will be advances on towns and cities. The people of Landia will be summoned to take part in an all-out assault on the existing system of lawful government power.”

“It can’t be stopped, then?” gasped the overwhelmed Founder.

Captain Kont leaned forward. “Perhaps there is hope of redirecting, of diverting this great elemental force.”

“What do you mean?” asked both Dey and the Founder, almost simultaneously.

The Clandestine glanced at each of them in turn, as if sizing them up. His eyes finally rested upon Garen Slyn. There seemed to be an eerie glow in his stare.

“No one outside the C.S. knows it, but we have for years investigated and accumulated reports on the miserable, worsening economic and social conditions in Landia. The government executives and administrators ignored everything that we put down for them to read. Years passed, but nothing at all was done to bring any reforms to our country. Our minerals remain only for export. We rot away without native industries of our own. All we do is mine and excavate. Our economy is endlessly depressed because of our deficiencies in industrial technology. We are unable to keep up with the other countries of the Continent.

“The abysmal depression of all living standards is no secret to anyone, least of all to us in the C. S. We are aware of the terrible treatment of the miners by their employers, the greedy mining corporations financed by our bankers. They depend on their allies, the government bureaucrats, and now the physical forces of the Landian army.

” Our local agents across the country have for years predicted a coming explosion ending in revolt. The Clandestine Service inner rings realize that serious reforms have become necessary. We can no longer remain the obedient tool of people who would destroy Landia through their ignorance and stupidity.

“At the heart of the Clandestine Service, a handful of the professional officers have talked in secret of certain possibilities for a long time. What I am now telling you could lead to my death as a traitor, should the present regime that rules us learn of it. What I am now about to describe could label me as seditious, were it ever to become known. It has to remain secret for now.

“I am in a position to be fully informed about the thoughts and plans of the Director of the Clandestine Service, because that official happens to be my own brother. He is the one who saw to it that I was trained and recruited as a field agent. Our uncle, the brother of our father, has had a long and successful career as an executive in the C.S. He is my immediate superior.

“Our family has had many dedicated operatives in this agency. In fact, our father served as Director before my brother succeeded to the same post. Our lives have consisted of working for the success of our institution, as well as for Landia.

“I have been informed by our top Director only an hour ago of new, changed policies to be adopted toward the miners and their movement by our institution.

“Once a first step is taken by me and my colleagues, there will be no going back for any of us. That will be final.”

“You mean to say that your brother now accepts the political alliance that I have for several years proposed to him by secret means and conduits?” sputtered the breathless Founder. “That his agency will now join together with the miners and reform the entire system?

“That is the proposal I have been making in secret these many times to the head of the Clandestine Service, who happens to be your brother. That fact, of course, was unknown to me. But I urged that he bring in his C.S. to support the miner’s movement against the owning companies and the government that supported and protected them. In secret, I called for this strategic pivot by the security police, that they come over to the miners’ side. There did not appear to be much chance of acceptance of my secret offer, but my feeling what that I had to make such a tactical move, regardless of the odds involved. But today, the government bureaucracy and the army are reaching to take total power in our country. The C.S. could soon lose its power and position to other.

“Am I correct that my plan for alliance may now be adopted by your brother, the top Director of clandestine activity?”

“A joint, peaceful coup by both the miners and the Clandestines,” solemnly stated Kont. “The objective would be a free, economically progressive government that will carry out a series of necessary reforms. The objective would be to bring Landia up to date in every possible way. This will mean an acceptance of what the mine workers and the Founder of their movement have been demanding, all of it. We clandestines will merge with the local civilian police and no longer be involved in suppressive activities as up to now.”

“But there will be the obstacle of Taval Renda and his allies,” interjected Dey.

Captain Kont suddenly grinned like a cat out in the wild. “We can sneak into the mine and take him by using the transeptals,” he noted with unconcealed glee. “He will be helpless and unable to fight against our C.S. units.”

In only a few minutes, the terms of the apparently contradictory alliance were settled. A cooperative compact quickly emerged. A new political force was born.

Clandestines who knew the true state of the country and popular opinion agreed to cooperate with the Miners Organization they had been fighting and persecuting for many years. Old enemies buried what had divided them for so long. There would be no physical revolt or violent revolution by the Miners Organization. The C.O. was to allow a peaceful takeover, deactivating the government and its army units.

The alliance first proposed by Garen Slyn in secret contacts and proposals was now to come into existence and thoroughly change and modernize Landia.

Desperation brought the two opposing forces together in a living alliance that had previously been inconceivable. A smooth, bloodless transition began to take place, with the C.S. receding into an ordinary national public police force based on local units.

Both sides perceived possibilities for their own aims through cooperation. Neither could conceive of a better alternative that this uncanny union first envisioned by the Founder himself and now accepted by the desperate Clandestine Service leaders and ranks.

What had previously been impossible now occurred in the midst of unprecedented crisis and emergency.

Garen Slyn met in a small office with Dey and Balto after this historic meeting where it appeared that everything was turned upside down.

“I would say that the man who spoke to us, Brek Kont, was not himself among the originators of the new Clandestine policy toward the miners. In fact, I suspect that he personally still opposes it. But the decisions made by the Director of the C.S., his own brother, cannot be contradicted by any agent in their power pyramid. Every police agent is bound by duty to obey the orders from the top of their hierarchy, however they may personally feel.

“Against his own will and opinion, this man and the other Clandestines are all compelled to go along with the new alliance now being created. That is one of the amazing features of an authoritarian police system like the one so long in control of Landia. It can make almost instantaneous decisions to bring about radical change. A compete reorientation can occur in one day, because of the centralized nature of its power and authority.

“We are going to witness the Clandestine Service turn itself inside out and change itself into something new and different.”

Events moved like lightning.

Armed Clandestines disguised as miners carefully made their way through deep transeptals and transversals into the multitude of shafts on Mount Dysprosium.

Director Kont, brother of the Captain, succeeded in contacting all of his fellow conspirators over secure communication lines. He was able to convince them that the opportunity to act must not be permitted to pass by. Get ready for contact with the miners of each district and locality that night, he commanded. Joint action was to be coordinated in order to disarm the military and the civil police.

Everything depended on placing the Founder back in charge of the movement that he himself had created.

Would bloodshed occur on the magnetic mountain this decisive night? everyone involved in the plan wondered about such a possible outcome.

Bato Mentin, the most familiar with the interconnecting network of shafts, took charge of planning the route of invasion.

Dey and Veta helped Garen Slyn write explanatory communiques and proclamations meant to justify the strange new alliance with the previously hated Clandestines.

None of the members of the newly hatched conspiracy had any sleep that strenuous night.

It was only an hour before expected dawn that word came from Dysprosium.

Brek Kont rushed to the office the three others occupied.

“We have taken Renda and the entire mountain!” he joyously announced.

“Was there any blood spilt?” asked the anxious Founder.

“None at all,” the grinning Captain informed his new associates.

“I would like to address my Central Crew and get their approval for what we have done in overthrowing the old system of power in Landia,” announced Garen Slyn.

“It will have to be done quickly,” warned Brek Kont. “This is not the time for debating at length.”

“I think they can be convinced in a couple of minutes to ratify what has been accomplished,” Slyn assured his unforeseen ally.

The Founder rose to his feet and began to follow the C.S. officer out of the office when a messenger arrived from Dysprosium with electrifying news.

“How could Taval Renda have done that?” demanded Slyn.

“We found a tiny syringe containing instantaneous poison,” answered the Clandestine. “It appears that he carried it in a tiny case attached to his stomach. No one ever saw it there. All he had to do was press a release tab. The little man was fully prepared for the eventuality of failure of his schemes.”

“Come along with me,” said Kont to Garen Slyn. “It is time for you to explain what has happened for the benefit of your Central Crew. They must know the rationale for what has occurred on this mountain.”


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