Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Chapter 24. Of a Quiet Interlude

For the next two weeks, our lives were mainly routine. But…

There was the mescap which Gabriel Pulled back from Ray and Jenna’s neighbours, Paul and Melinda. They were on our side.

There was the slightly joyless Sunday, which Michael, Gabriel and the Team spent in four groups of four, meeting first Harv’I, and then the Cherubim. It was the first cloudy day since we had been on Perinent, which was probably why the Team were a bit subdued. Though Harv’I’s pillar of fire and smoke, which close up was loud as well as spectacular, did cause amazement and some amusement. As did his story about his father’s doings on Earth – though Lily in particular, being of the religious persuasion, looked a bit scandalized.

The Punishment Pit, and the Cherubim’s attitude, also caused some raised eyebrows and a few chuckles. But by the end of the day, I was thinking that Sunday was supposed to be Fun-day, and maybe the joylessness was my fault.

Gabriel picked this up. “Next Sunday, we will take you in the ’mobile to The Canyon,” he said. “That will be fun.”

Still, one excellent result came out of the visit to Harv’I – the “God is a Penguin” T-shirts, which Marie designed soon after. It was a good likeness too, and many of us liked to wear them underneath our robes.

Then there were my troubles with Cees. He wanted to Pull a human being now, but I wouldn’t allow it. “All in good time,” I said. Eventually, exasperated, I said to him, “Pull an elephant.” He did. And sent it back.

Elise was dischuffed. “What kind of elephant was it?” she asked. “Indian, I think,” I replied.

Next afternoon, we had a full-grown African elephant outside the east door. Sent back, without hitch, but not before Galina had several minutes of footage.

There were my growing skills – and Hoong’s, and Galina’s – in Pulling and Pushing. We could all Pull and Push medium-sized animals now. I wanted to get my metaphorical mitts on the worst of the politicians, as soon as possible. But I knew that it was not yet time.

Then there was John and Galina’s project to make a record of our doings at Camp Two. Including, even, some of what Galina saw in the remote eye from various places on Earth.

But, “Galina should try not to spend too much time in simultaneity,” Michael said to me. “It could make it easier for the politicals to detect us. She can continue to browse, but she should not engage the force fields unless it is actually necessary to Pull or Push.”

I put four and four together, and on this occasion got nine. I told John and Galina that, if willing to volunteer of course, they were now our chief information gatherers. They should Pull newspapers and relevant videos from Earth, scan them or have other Team members scan them for what was useful, and enter it into the Pedia for the rest of us. “When at last we are ready to strike,” I said, “we will need to know exactly who is who on Earth. Which of the current crop of politicians are the worst of the bad guys and must be Pulled for punishment, and which can be safely left.

“I’m sure you have seen the Earth section in the Pedia, which gives a lot of that kind of information. But it’s well out of date. It’s your job now to keep us updated.”

“Purveyors of news to His Majesty,” said John, amused. “Newshounds. That’s what you want us to be?”

“Right enough,” I replied.

Then there was the brainstorming session on the following Friday, to discuss the planning questions I had asked. From which, the main conclusion was that we weren’t yet ready to reach any conclusions. Though we did make one appointment. Sabrina volunteered for the admin job of keeping detailed dossiers on the individuals we planned to Pull, once we decided who they were.

Then there was my second progress report to Balzo. Elephantine escapades excepted, there wasn’t much progress to report.

Then there was the Sunday visit to the canyon. It was in a different mountain range to the one we had walked in two weeks before, about twenty minutes’ flight to the north of our camp. The canyon’s mouth was wide, and much of its lower course was walkable. The upper part, though, was narrow and near vertical. We spent several happy hours alternating between enjoying fast, high-g canyon rides, and walking – in the sun again – in the Arizona-like mountain landscape. Not to mention waving to our friends when the ’mobile came by at anything up to two hundred metres a second and about twenty metres above our heads.

Then there was the heavy shower which hit us on the following Tuesday. The first rain we had experienced on Perinent. “It is a precursor of the Time of Storms,” said Michael. “Showers like this will become more frequent, as the summer becomes hotter. We have probably four to six weeks now before the big storms come.”

Then, on Friday morning after breakfast, Gabriel said, “This evening, I will go with the ’mobile to pick up Bart Vorsprong. I will be back tomorrow afternoon, but my passenger will be asleep for many hours. So, you will meet him on Sunday morning.”

“Before you go,” I said to Gabriel, “please send a message to Balzo to tell him that we will start our meetings on Monday. And to request his presence via mescap, when it is convenient to him.”

That’s good, I thought to myself. It lets me out of doing today’s progress report.

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