Otromi: Gopa

3 Feb

For several days, the visitor from Bakaz accomplished scattered reading in the videx library. Not much had ever been written on Otromian history or culture, he discovered. Most of what was available on fiber disks came from Ruxum and was written in Ruxumian. And it was ultranationalist in spirit. A lot of it was very primitive propaganda, Venco decided.

One evening, Ponto brought up the subject at the long oak table. The three males had just finished supper. Grandmother Rika was taking away the plates and everyone was resting and relaxing with his stomach full.

“What do you think of the Ruxumist thesis, Venco?” asked th old one.

The grandson looked at him in surprise. “I don’t accept the crazy idea that we are a distant branch of that nation. It’s ridiculous. There is no historical evidence for that Ruxumian fantasy, none at all.”

Panto’s milky eyes sparkled with glee.

“You don’t agree that there are similarities in our two cultures? What about our languages? Their scholars argue that our tongue is closer to that of Ruxum than to Bakazian or Sarpician.”

“That proves nothing,” countered Venco. “In all the lands where our people have settled, we have borrowed words and phrases from the languages of the majority. That is to be expected. That happens in circumstances when one group is larger and the other small. And wherever the Otromians live, they are the small minority. Having borrowed from the Ruxumian language does not make us Ruxumian. And the same is true in every other country as well.”

At this point Faro entered the exchange.

“So, you do not accept the Ruxumist theory of our origins?”

Venco gazed across the table with determination on his face.

“Here in Mnin, our people have been influenced by the surrounding population. That is true even up here on Mt. Biglo. Someone like me, coming from Bakaz, can clearly identify your Mninian accent and the numerous loan words in the local vocabulary of Gopa.

“No, I don’t place any stock whatsoever in the absurd thesis of the Ruxumian nationalists who wish to absorb the Otromi who live outside their borders. We are a people separate from our neighbors, however much we take from their cultures into our own. The Otromian identity is a unique one. We were in all these lands before any of the other peoples came.”

Panto glanced at Faro for a moment before turning to his grandson with a laugh.

“I think we have found a patriot,” he muttered with pleasure. “It looks like the future of our people will be in good hands when we are gone.” All at once, an idea entered the mind of the old man. He immediately changed the subject.

“Do you know how your father and mother met, Venco?”

“No,” confessed the latter. “They have never told me that.”

“They were introduced to each other by an old-maid cousin of mine who worked at match-making as a profession. Until recent years, almost all marriages in Gopa were arrangements between families. Experienced go-betweens were used as the brokers. Since then, though, things have changed very much.”

“Who is left to marry?” grumbled Falo. “There are only twenty-six houses still occupied in Gopa. The young people want to leave as soon as they can. It is possible that someday this will become an abandoned ghost town, with not a single Otromian living in it.”

As Falo finished his angry statement, his mother came out of the kitchen carrying a tray with tea cups and a boiling kettle.

Panto turned abruptly to his wife.

“Based on my own personal experience, I can testify to the beneficial results of the arranged marriage. They tend to be successful matches. Am I telling the truth, Rika?”

She set down the tray in front of her husband and began to pour from the kettle. For a time, she made no reply.

“Yes, of course.”

Panto took his cup from her hands. Then, she served her son and grandson.

She smiled sweetly at the latter as she gave him his cup.

“Perhaps our Venco will be as happy as we have been. That can happen if we…”

The little woman with white hair in a bun stopped awkwardly. What had she been about to blurt?

The grandson suddenly realized his marital future had been the subject of prior discussion. Some old-fashioned arrangement was under consideration.

“This mountain tea is superb, Rika!” chuckled Panto, attempting to divert attention from what her remark might have revealed.

The next morning, Venco made his way into the kitchen. The huge room was a combination of the old and the new. Electrical ovens, roasters, grills, and vacuum larders, but an ancient water pump run by hand. His tiny grandmother was rolling dough with a wooden cylinder on an iron kneading board. She stopped and looked up, a sparkle in her twinkling green eyes.

“Can I help you, Grandmother?” he asked, approaching closer.

She beamed a bright smile at her grandchild.

“I could use some trunions and plantatoes,” she told him cheerily. “Would you go down in the cellar and get me half a dozen of each? They are in barrels along the rear wall. The barrels are the very large ones.”

“I’ll find them.”

She gave him a pot to hold the vegetables.

The door to the stairs leading down to the cellar was in the back of the kitchen. Venco found a wall tab and pushed it to light his way. He stepped cautiously as he descended. Once he reached the bottom, his eyes surveyed the cellar on all sides.

Large, low tables lined the stone walls around the enormous area. These were covered with instruments of various shapes and sizes. At first, it was impossible to make out what they were. Fascinated by the mystery, Venco moved to the nearest table.

He picked up a small black box. It looked like some sort of camera device to him. He examined and studied it, then set it back down. His errand came to mind, and he looked about for the big barrels. There they were in the rear, where Grandmother Rika had said they would be.

But the young guest was unable to go directly to his task. There was too much here to see, to look at and examine. Apparatus, equipment, machinery, devices, instruments. What did all this add up to? It had to belong to Uncle Faro.

Printers, duplicators, copiers. He marveled at the variety in this strange cellar collection. Videx screens, faxers, magnifiers, optical projectors.

What was the inventor doing down here? he asked himself.

Venco then went to the barrels, took off the lid and looked inside. It was just what he was after, so he placed a half dozen trunions into the pot he carried. Then he did the same with the barrel of plantatoes.

As he returned to the stairs, holding his load with both hands, something caught his eye. It was a a large sack lying on the floor under one of the tables. The top was opened and what looked like pinkish cellulose could be seen.

Pink cellulose, the color of…

Venco, consumed with curiosity, walked over to investigate, or at least have a look. He stood a little to the side of the sack and peered down into it.

He saw the color of Mninian currency cards. Cellulose money piled into a simple bag. Who could estimate how much the ordinary container held?

It was full of the wafer-thin boards, two inches by two inches square, on which the economy of Mnin ran.

Venco turned around, went back over to the stairs, and slowly ascended. He held the pot lightly in his hands.

Uncle Faro was not just an eccentric inventor.

He was a large-scale counterfeiter. His nephew had peeked at the money cards he was forging down in the cellar.

Panto began to discuss international politics after supper that evening.

“What is the state of public opinion in Bakaz?” he asked his grandson as if out of the clear green sky. “Have the common citizens been prepared for a coming war?”

Venco gaped a moment. “Do you believe that military confrontation with Mnin is imminent, Grandfather? Is that the reason for so much hostile propaganda on both sides? To get the two populations emotionally ready to fight?”

The old man cleared his throat before explaining what he meant.

“Today, everything is similar to what it was like before the General War broke out. The configuration was just as delicate then as it is now. At that time, Bakaz and Sarpik were diametrically at odds. Mnin tried to stay neutral at all costs, but failed. And Ruxum was playing a treacherous double role, the same as at present. It was called seizing the balance of power through deceitful maneuvering. The Ruxumian diplomats had both the Bakazians and Sarpicians believing they would stand together with them in a crisis.”

Venco pondered this for several seconds.

“The leaders and the people in Bakaz are confident of their military superiority over the Sarpicians, Grandfather. The factor they depend on is advanced electroplasmic technology. They can knock out any large unit of invaders within hours. Bakazians see Ruxum as a nation of idle boasters who lack all fighting skills.”

“And Mnin?” said Faro from across the table. “How do they evaluate the Mninians?”

“This country, in recent years, seems to have turned in upon itself. The only foreign policy it has is one of escapism. Mninians wish only to flee and isolate themselves. They are no longer a major force in today’s balance of power game.” Venco sighed deeply. “The result of all this is that most Bakazians do not think there is much chance of actual war breaking out. The propaganda of their government has not turned them bellicose. All the screaming on the fiberlines does not succeed in exciting them. The public does not believe there is much chance of war. And if it were to come, the victory of advanced Bakazian electrical science would be swift and complete.”

Panto made a sour face, uncharacteristic of him.

“That is the optimism of fools,” he frowned. “The information that Bakazian intelligence bases its estimates on is false. All their projections are inaccurate. The Sarpicians know everything that they have in their arsenal. There are no secrets that they haven’t cracked open. But it is Ruxum that leads in knowledge of what all the others can do. The Ruxumians have weighed the potential military power of both sides, and at the appropriate time intend to tilt toward Sarpik. It is all very complicated, like a ballet. We are going to see Ruxum lean inceasingly away from Bakaz, while convincing the latter that they are in an intimate alliance. At the moment that the Bakazians recognize that they have been traduced, the war will come. And they will be so blinded by rage that they will drag Mnin out of it.”

“You are profoundly pessimistic,” moaned Venco. “Is there any way that war can be avoided, in your estimation?”

Panto looked over at his son. “Perhaps Faro can invent something that will avert catastrophe and cataclysm,” he mumbled half-seriously.

At that precise moment, a loud sound came from somewhere outside.

It was a knock. Then two more occurred.

“I’ll see who it is,” said Faro, rising out of his chair.

The rapping grew rapid and insistent.

Venco peered through the front parlor as his uncle opened the heavy wooden door.

A figure fell forward into Faro’s arms.

The house guest sprang from the table, rushing into the other room to help his uncle. Together, they brought the person to a sofa. It was a woman, young and light, who had fainted and was still unconscious.

The two put her on the sofa to rest. Faro placed a small pillow under her head.

Panto entered the parlor, his wife a little behind him.

“Gorda!” cried Grandmother Rika in terror. “What has happened to you? You are here before we expected.”

Venco examined the pale, bloodless face. It was ringed with curly jet black hair. All at once, the eyes opened. They were as dark as her hair.

Trembling, faint words came from her mouth.

“He is dead,” she weakly whispered. “We shall never see Karei again.”

With that, a shadow fell on her lightless eyes. Gorda entered a dark swoon again.

The new arrival was allowed to sleep that night on the parlor sofa. Rika brought heavy woolen chergi to cover her with, then stayed with her granddaughter till past dawn the next morning, when Faro appeared to relieve her.

Gorda rested motionless, as if in deep coma.

Venco came downstairs from the guest bedroom and peeked into the parlor. The young woman’s father rose and stepped over to where he was standing.

“Gorda is asleep,” whispered the uncle. “My mother gave her a soporific to help her rest. She clearly needs to restore her strength.”

The two moved into the dining room and sat down at the oaken table.

“She was awake for only a minute, but she told me what happened,” explained Faro. “It’s terrible. Her cousin, Korei, is dead. It was a tragic battery-car accident in the mountains of eastern Sarpik.”

“What was he doing there?”

“Karei was on assignment for his news agency with Gorda assisting him.” The inventor lowered his voice. “She happened not to be riding with him when it occurred. Gorda, fortunately, remained at the village inn they were staying at. She grew alarmed when he failed to return on time. So, she borrowed a ground vehicle and was looking for him along the mountain roads he would have been traveling on.”

Rika came in from the kitchen with a plate full of Otromian pancakes. Venco exchanged greetings with her. She returned to the kitchen and the men started to eat their breakfast.

“Gorda was the one who discovered the wrecked battery-car,” continued Faro. “The body had been horribly smashed. She jumped aboard the first landtrain going south. Her passport showed she was a journalist’s assistant. She entered Mnin at once, with no questions or problems. Then, as fast as she could she headed here to Gopa.”

“She must have been terribly exhausted,” remarked Venco.

“Gorda managed to walk all the way from the main highway in the dark,” proudly declared her father. “She has a marvelous will in her.”

Venco suddenly had an eerie feeling about the story he had just listened to.

“Where will Karei be buried?” he asked uneasily.

Before Faro could answer, Panto appeared at the foot of the stairs and stepped into the dining room. He came up to his son, the inventor. “How is she this morning? Gorda is a very brave person. She has proven it to all of us.”

“She is resting peacefully on the front sofa, father.”

Panto eyed the stack of Otromian buckrye pancakes. “The best thing for us to do at the moment is to eat well,” he advised the other two.

An exploratory hike to the peak of Biglo Mountain had been on Venco’s agenda for the day. His grandfather and uncle advised him to go on with his walking excursion. Since Gorda was sedated, it would be many hours before his cousin awoke.

Having no tasks or errands at the house, Venco departed and started climbing upward. Brightly blazing Solnti filled the sky with its rays, turning it yellowish green. No clouds were visible in any direction. In a few minutes, the walker was beyond the buildings of the town, on his way to the upper heights.

An opportunity to think alone and unobserved, he told himself. What had happened to the remains of his cousin, Karei, he wondered? And why should the question cause him such concern? The desperate dash that Gorda had made to get to Gopa was puzzling to him. What had created such overpowering fear in her mind?

Venco attempted to distract himself from questions he was unable to answer at the moment.

His climb reached its goal and came to an end when he found himself on the bald peak of Biglo.

From here he surveyed the valleys far below and off in the distance.

Mninian villages with peasants who farmed flat fields. Antlike movement indicated battery-tractors and minicultivators. He could identify where buckrye, flaks, and proso were planted. His mouth formed a wide smile.

We have always been people of the mountain, not the low flatland. Whenever we stray from there too long, we forget our origins and suffer for it.

All at once, he recalled the grisly end of cousin Karei. And the terrified flight of Gorda. She had returned to Gopa for refuge. By instinct, perhaps? he mused.

His attention all of a sudden focused on a small white structure he had not noticed before, a hundred feet below the mountain peak, down the slope on the opposite side from Gopa. Had he just seen movement of some kind there?

Indeed, for there was a human form dressed in black exiting out of a door. Another shape, also in black, followed the first one. The pair started downward. Venco watched them sharply. Neither looked up to see him. Soon they were turned away from the peak, making their way directly toward Gopa.

How intriguing! It was clear that the white, boxlike building was not an inhabited house or anything similar. But what exactly was it for?

Venco grinned. Like a magnet, the mystery attracted him. What could it be, high up near the top of the mountain? He decided to investigate.

As soon as the two figures in black had disappeared into the town, he started for the spot where he had first caught sight of them. It took him less time than he had supposed to reach the white box on the opposite slope.

No sign, no indication of what it was used for. Venco felt a brief shiver. Was the white metallic door locked? He gave a small push and it swung open.

What he saw there was beyond startling. Fiber-threads of every conceivable color, winding in and out of long control boards. What was all this doing on the heights of Mt. Biglo? It did not make sense to him, yet there it was directly in front of his eyes.

Venco found a light tab next to the door and turned it on. After closing the entrance door, he stepped in further and examined the strange complex of instruments and gauges around him.

This was some sort of fiber node, that much was clear. Where did all these lines come from? Where did they go? His brain whirled with the possibilities.

The fibers must run underground. It seemed a simple matter to lay them at a small depth, even only a foot or so. Yet there were so many of them.

Who could be behind all of this? What could be the purpose behind this weird project?

Venco smiled. Of course, the man who would know had to be Uncle Faro. He was probably the one who had set all this up.

It would now be necessary to ask the inventor some pointed, uncomfortable questions.

Venco went out of the box structure, shutting off the light and closing the door.

He returned to Gopa at a rapid, urgent pace.

Grandmother Rika pointed to a high stool she used to reach high cupboard shelves. “Sit there and talk with me,” she said with a smile on her smooth, unwrinkled face.

Venco did as she told him. Rika continued preparing the midday meal.

“How was your walk this morning?” she inquired, her hands cutting a blue otturnip with a small, sharp knife. “Did you see all you wanted to?”

“Yes,” he answered. “But all the time,I was worried about Gorda. She is under an awful strain. How long do you think it will take to restore her to health, Grandmother?” He looked at her inquiringly.

Rika replied in a confident voice. “She is one who can come back quickly. Gorda is as strong as the legendary Otromian women of old. Have you read about them, Venco? They fought beside the men when our enemies attacked us. She is one of them in spirit. Gorda has a brave soul. You will see her on her feet before long.”

In fact, the old woman was a perfect prophet, for at that instant the door to the kitchen swung open. Gorda, in a yellow night robe stood there. Her swollen eyes revealed the effects of sedated sleep.

She looked at her grandmother, then at Venco. Her expression was fixed and intent. He felt a strange discomfort at her steady gaze. All of a sudden, she spoke.

“Karei!” she shrieked. “You’ve come back!”

Rika put down her knife and rushed to the side of her granddaughter. She took both of Gorda’s hands in hers.

“No, my dear,” she tenderly uttered. “You are mistaken. This is cousin Venco who is on a visit from Bakaz. He resembles Karei enough to be taken for him. But if you take a close look, you will realize that this is a different person.”

Gorda took a slow step forward, then a second one. A third step followed. She studied his face carefully, in detail.

Venco kept silent and motionless, embarrassed by her attention to him.

Finally, she spoke to him. “Pardon me. I took you for someone else. But I know that Karei is dead. You look a lot like him, and I have never seen or met you before.”

“I understand,” he assured her with sympathy in his voice. He went on, softly and sensitively. “Many of us who share the Maltu genes look alike. The error you make is not unusual in any way.”

He extended his right arm, taking her hand and holding it tightly.

The pair examined each other’s eyes and facial form.

It was Rika who made a timely suggestion. “Why don’t both of you go into the parlor? You can talk awhile before you eat. Panto is out in back feeding our chickens. I believe your father is working in the attic, Gorda. We will all be together in the dining room at noon.”

Venco led his cousin to the front of the house, holding her hand in his. It felt soft and warm to him. He remembered her traumatic ordeal as he guided her along.

After perching her on the sofa, Venco sat down in a soft chair across from it.

For a considerable length of time, neither said anything. The dark eyes of the young woman focused on him as she began with a question.

“You were here when I arrived last night, weren’t you?”

“Yes,” he murmured cautiously. “It was a surprise to all of us, since you were not expected to arrive for another week or so.”

“This is a major emergency for the family, Venco. You understand what happened to Karei in Sarpik, don’t you?”

He nodded that he did. “A horrible tragedy,” he noted in a whisper.

The two exchanged long, direct looks. Venco continued to speak. “We can all sense the effect that the accident had on you, Gorda. I hope that you are not overexerting yourself talking to me at this time. Rest should be the highest priority now. Rest and recovery.”

Unexpectedly, she began to fidget. Venco noticed that her hand trembled, then became still.

“I shall have to finish…” Her sentence was uncompleted.

“Certainly, you must remain in Gopa,”he calmly advised her. “I very much want to get to know you. It’s important that your health returns to normal.”

The two stared at each other without saying more on this matter. Venco noticed how her pupils grew in size, as if exploding. What does she have on her mind? he asked himself.

“I believe you are a linguist,” she finally declared.

“Yes, but at present I’m unemployed. Like many others, I’ve been overeducated.”

“What languages do you know?”

“Bakazian, Ruxumian, Sarpician, and Mninian,” he stated in a matter-of -fact manner. “As well as Otromian, of course.”

Gorda was thoughtfully silent for a time, considering something.

“Have you ever wanted to become a journalist, Venco?” she asked him. Her eyes now appeared reduced to normal size. Her voice was cool and controlled.

“No,” he bluntly answered. “Never have I had such a thought.”

“There is now a vacant position that you seem qualified for. Not much preparation is necessary. Within a few weeks, you could be ready to replace our cousin, Karei.”

Venco opened his mouth wide in surprise. He could feel his pulse quicken. This was something he never could have foreseen. No immediate reply came from him as the implications of her proposal sank in.

“I can prepare you for the position,” she calmly told him. “My father and our grandfather are sure to see the rationale for your taking the post of journalist. They will agree with me that such a move by you will be beneficial to your future.” She paused a moment in thought. “For now, just ponder the idea. I won’t bring it up again until I believe you are ready to decide.”

Venco rose to his feet. “You need some rest.”

He went up to his room and prepared for the noontime meal, mulling over what she had said.

Panto asked his grandson to go with him to look at some sheep he owned. Venco accompanied him out into the scorching light rays of Solnti. Yellow color diluted the normal green of the daytime sky. The air outdoors seemed oppressive and close.

Faro had returned to his work in the attic, while Gorda stayed with her grandmother in the kitchen. Venco sensed that his grandfather wished to talk with him alone. He patiently waited to discover what the old man had to say.

The two looked over the dozen white animals kept in a small fold a distance from the house. Panto gave them their afternoon feed and water, his grandson assisting as best he could. Finally, the pair sat down on a large log in the shade of a leafy wollix tree.

“Your grandmother told me that you spoke with Gorda in the parlor,” began Panto Maltu.

“Yes,” replied Venco, turning toward him.

“How did you find her?”

“She is still weak from what happened to her, of course. But I received the impression that Gorda is very bright and intelligent. She possesses a strong will that tried to overcome all obstacles.”

Panto smiled. “You are perceptive. Yes, she is a strong, resourceful individual and extremely capable.”

Silence followed. What is he thinking? Venco wondered.

Then the grandfather told him.

“Something is bothering you, Venco. I can tell it’s there.”

The two eyed each other closely. The grandson decided to be candid and open.

“Certain things I have seen are troubling me.”

“Such as what?”

“The currency boards and duplication equipment in the cellar, for one.”

Panto leaned forward toward him. “For a long time, we have been forging these cards and selling them in the lowlands. There is a huge market for them. It is a secure way of generating income for Gopa. The police authorities suspect nothing and have never made any trouble for us. It is a safe, thriving local industry. Your uncle is not the only person who is engaged in it.”

“But it’s illegal.”

“At one time, our people acted as smugglers. No one considered it wrong or unethical. Magnetically wired borders put an end to that trade and counterfeiting currency boards replaced it. Faro is the most skillful duplicator anywhere in Mnin. All of Gopa is proud of him. We do not see his work as a crime. There is no evil involved in it. He satisfies a demand that the public in the valleys have always had. In time, you will judge him the way all other Otromi do, my boy.”

Biting his lip, Venco decide to go on to his other problem.

“I went into the white, boxlike building near the top of this mountain. It is a very puzzling place. What are all those fiberlines for? Something I don’t understand is going on there.”

Panto gave a feline grin. “Tapping. We are getting magnetronic energy for Gopa from the taps that have been set on power fibers in the lowlands. There are a multitude of tap-ins at many locations, on a series of different lines. That way, no one has any suspicion. Our complicated network of underground fibers makes it impossible for anyone to trace where the energy is going. We take a little bit from a lot of different locations and sources, so that no one really feels any great loss. That is how we obtain the magnetrons for our town. The surplus is sold off to Mninian peasants who would be powerless without our assistance.”

Venco puffed for breath. “All that is hard to believe.”

“Again, no one has been caught. There are no suspicions, and none of us consider the tapping immoral. It is a form of sharing what otherwise might be lost or wasted. This energy borrowing goes on in tandem with signal taps.”

“Signal taps?” The grandson appeared to be astounded.

“Faro is the master of that profession. He monitors governmental, diplomatic, police, military, and news lines. That is why he is up in the attic right this moment.”

“For what purpose?”

“Our spying business,” declared the white-haired Panto. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that since before anyone can remember Gopa has sold information and intelligence to whoever is willing to purchase it?”

Venco found himself unable to say anything.

Grandfather and grandson sat at the dining room table, waiting for the others to appear for supper.

“Do you know what your uncle is doing in his attic laboratory?” asked Panto with a contented smile.

“Tell me,” quietly said the still dumbfounded Venco.

“He’s conducting a survey.”

“A survey of what?” The visitor from Bakaz felt irresistible curiosity.

“Of newslines in Sarpik. Until Faro developed his method of tapping into signal fibers, all spying was traditional. There was always the danger of agents being arrested. But this is safe and clean. I myself do not understand the technology he uses, but it has revolutionized our business. All we have to do is set one of his taps and the information we want flows directly to the attic where your uncle receives and organizes it for sale to our customers.”

“The taps into the fibelines are undetectable?”

Yes, all of them. Even the secret ones of the various security services. No military or state secret can be transmitted by fiber without Faro knowing it. He can then send it over the netline of his patron and purchaser.”

“How long has this capability existed, Grandfather?”

“Your uncle has worked to perfect it for twenty years. In recent days, the system has become fully operational.”

“I find all you have told me difficult to comprehend,” confessed Venco.

“Faro will take you upstairs tonight and show you what he does there,” Panto assured him.

He knows, the grandfather told his son at supper.

Gorda, sitting at the supper table, looked across at Venco. I’m glad you have this knowledge, her eyes seemed to be saying to him.

Faro invited his nephew to climb up to the attic with him when they had finished eating.

The two of them entered the long room full of fiberscreens , most of which were turned on. “I can’t stay here twenty-four hours a day,” explained the inventor. “So, I use fibertape to record the transmissions I wish monitored. Then, my memory scanners go through the mountain of data on the lookout for subjects of interest. When I come back here, I review what has been gathered during my absence. Right now, I am particularly hunting for information about Karei’s accident in Sarpik.”

“This universal tapping capacity is a recent development, I surmise,” said Venco.

“It took me long years of work to reach this point. The biggest problem wa always breaking into the lines in a physical sense. But with my tapper, that is not necessary. There is no need to cut into any fiber or make any change in it. All it takes is sending a magnetronic wave into the line. There is no way that any security organization can ever detect it. My tiny transmitter boxes are set in out-of-the-way places where no one looks. Then, the interdicted signals are sent here to Gopa on magnetronic waves that no one is aware of or can intercept.”

Faro stepped over to a monitor screen and examined the lines of data displayed on it.

“So far, no one has transmitted anything about the accident,” he mused aloud. “That is very strange. Up to now, there should have been some word on it.”

The uncle proceeded to reveal the operation of his tapping system in all its technical details.

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