Chapter VII.

27 Jul

Yie unfolded the drawings and placed them on the table. Both Joa and the baaser stood looking at them across from him.

“Here is the receptor of heliac rays, as I recall seeing it depicted in the document. It receives the emission, then redirects it to the distant position where it can be converted into an iotic form that can then be used as an energy source.”

Caph stared down at the illustration. “This is all quite interesting. But how do these special panels operate that absorb the iotic factors out of the light waves from the heliac so that they can be sent to the energy converters down below? That is the main problem that I see for this plan.”

Yie grinned as he gave an answer to the question.

“All that the source on Zaviv Mountain alluded to was a process called sintering. That is the sum of the information furnished from the past. But I have gone to the forgers and smelters who work in the great cave, and they think that they can devise a way of making the alloy of silver and platinum referred to in the antique document.

“As I understand their scheme, they aim to granulate both of the metals first. Then, they will heat the mixture of these two to such a high temperature that the silver will melt. It will form a kind of mortar around the still solid grains of platinum. When it hardens, the silver integument will serve as the adhesive that binds together the particles of the other metal. It will glue them together into one.

“A series of repeated heatings should make th alloy solid and compact. Hammering with heavy anvils will smooth out and flatten the combination into a useable panel that can catch the rays and their energy. Such a development should do the trick successfully.”

Caph looked stupefied. “But will it be economical?” he asked.

“We will have to take the panels up to the summit of Caldaria Mountain and test them,” said Yie thoughtfully. “An experiment there will have to help decide if we are deceiving ourselves or not.”

The Hegumen, still on his equine, took command of the twenty similarly mounted Brothers. Facing the group, he described what was ahead for them.

“I have decided what must be done. There are not enough of us to take control of the area and search for the two we are after. So, in order to strengthen our numbers, I must appeal to the claustra on the surrounding summits. They are sure to assist us with added personnel and equines. That is their sworn duty in situations similar to the one we have before us. It is their social and moral obligation to cooperate with us.

“Then, with a large host of Red Hat Brothers, things will be set for an advance. I have no doubt but that the pair are hiding somewhere on Caldaria Mountain. It is wholly unique in not having any claustrum at its peak. The place has always been a hotbed of trouble and seditious sentiments. While we are here, it would be a good deed for the sake of posterity if we cleaned out the entire cesspool of filthy muck. That would prevent trouble in the future. What do you think of my judgment on how to proceed?”

A loud cheer of support arose from the assembly of mounted Brothers.

“Good. Let us go forth to rally as many Red Hats as possible.”

One by one, the others rode off behind their commander.

Joa prepared an early breakfast for Yie and herself in the kitchen of the baaser’s lodge. He had already left even earlier on an inspection up at the heights of the mountain he was the ruler of. His return was expected soon.

“Is this going to work, Yie?” she asked him once they were seated and eating oatmill flans.

“No one can say with absolute confidence, but the odds are in our favor. Why would the antique source contain untruths? Surely no one back eons ago had the objective of fooling people in the distant future. We have to accept the fact that the writer was telling the truth about this technical subject. Why would all that material have been recorded unless it was true?”

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “But looking at the way we live on Tegumen today, who can doubt the high degree of falsity about us on all sides?

“Before I met you, Yie, I had a bad picture in my mind of the character of belowers, all of them. Until I had contact with you, my thinking was poisoned by centuries-old prejudices general among the people at the high altitudes. Our views were the result of ancient, traditional hatred. We never questioned or doubted what we had been taught about people in the valleys.

“But it was you who proved to me how untrue these stereotyped images are. I will never accept these distortions again.”

She looked at him with a visible tenderness in her glaucous eyes.

“We are so different in our experiences and upbringing, Joa,” said her fellow fugitive. “Where will we settle down and live together?”

She flashed a brilliant, glowing smile at him.

“When the business with the silver-platinum plates succeeds, as it must, all the land area of Tegumen will be energized and lighted. There will not be dark valleys any more. We will have many possibilities to choose from. Life will be different for us, as for everyone else as well.”

“But what if the Red Hats are not reconciled to so radical a change in the technical basis of living on this planet?”

He thought deeply for a time, then gave her his conclusion.

“It may take a long time, but some resolution has to occur. In the meantime, we must stick to our plans. The first priority will be to establish that the new system of energy can work. Once that is attained, these other matters will fall into place by themselves.”

Caph Dirua arrived at his mountain residence about noon, with the heliac at the zenith of its daily climb. He clearly had important news to impart, both Joa and Yie could tell from the reddened state of his face. As he spoke, his voice grew excited.

“I wanted both of you to know something as soon as possible. It worked. Our experimental run was successful. The silver-platinum panel absorbed an incredible amount of heliac radiation and converted it into the iotic variety. There can be no question but that your document was truthful. What it said came true.”

“But we must go on to the next step,” noted Yie. “The transmission downward has to be attempted at once. No time must be lost.”

“Of course,” agreed Caph. “But we can take a moment to celebrate our initial success.” He headed for a kitchen cupboard made of betulawood. “I have a decanter of oenomel stored here. This is an occasion deserving of libations for every one of us.”

An exuberant, elevated spirit captured hold of the pair of fugitives and their gargantuan host.

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