Cees Pushed Voltan back to his own kingly mattress, and Mittveld to a, by Brjemych standards, luxurious guestroom in his palace. He Pushed her an hour or so after Voltan. Partly to make sure that he woke well before she did. And partly because she showed signs of undergoing an epiphany.
“Under my king,” Mittveld had said to me, “if I was the key witness in a failed prosecution, I would myself be punished for my failure. Yet you have not only let me go unharmed, but have given me exactly the assignment I wanted. And with a good king like Voltan!”
“Mittveld,” I said to her, “your king – an Atrox – is already in the Punishment Fort. Did you not realize how bad your king was?”
“I was foolish,” she said. “I was so bound up in my community and my country that I did not realize that the king was evil.”
“Understood,” I replied. “But, before you go to join Voltan, you owe Maijier an apology.”
Which was given. Face to face, honestly and fulsomely.
I also had to apologize to Maijier, for my part in having him wrongly Pulled to Perinent and imprisoned. I did it, awkwardly. He laughed (whinnied).
Maijier was a medium-sized, brown Brjemych, neither young nor old. He said, “It is fortunate that my realm is stable when I am away. Ha! For my brother Riccart is an excellent administrator, but he has no great appetite for power. But, even if I do not lose my realm, I understand that under Galactic law I still can claim compensation for my treatment from the Company you represent.”
“That is what I understand too, from what Gabriel has told me. But I do not know the details. I will ask Harv’I, our local project manager, to find out what you should do to get compensation.”
“Oh, I may not even bother,” said Maijier with a grin. “I am intrigued by your project. I have studied Voltan for many years, and know that he never jumps until he has sized up the fence. It could be gainful, to us all, for me to become one of your Sixty-Four Kings.”
I grinned back. “Indeed, Voltan suggested exactly that. Let us take you to Camp Two to meet Harv’I. Then you can discuss both these matters further.”
I had daily contact, over the radio link, with Ben at Camp Two. I told him now that it was time for Michael to bring the ’mobile back to pick up those he had brought to Camp Four five days earlier. Lily and I would travel separately with Gavantchin, as we had another Brjemych to bring to meet Harv’I.
Meanwhile, under Adelghem’s direction, the Brjemych were sending back by mescap to their planet pictures of what was going on in the Punishment Fort. These had an immediate effect. In several of the troubled kingdoms, violence lessened or stopped. And in them, and in many others, the Brjemych held rallies and parades to celebrate being rid of the kings they had hated.
It was Saturday when Gavantchin took Gelmar, Maijier, Lily and me back to Camp Two. I had planned that we all spend two nights at Camp Two, and meet Harv’I on the Monday. For I wanted time to talk to Maijier. And to relax a bit.
Being back at Camp Two was like being home after a foreign adventure. Despite all that was going on, it seemed familiar, quiet and comfortable. And to taste Earth food again – Cees and Ray having plotted so that we had Earth food (and beer) on Saturday as well as Sunday – was a bonus.
On the Sunday, we again went to walk in the mountains to the south-west. But it was now winter, so conditions were far more difficult. There was a mixture of sun and snow showers. We had to wear three or four sets of underwear beneath our robes to keep warm. And there were many trainees to transport, so Gabriel ran a shuttle service between the camp and the mountains.
Gavantchin, Gelmar and Maijier came walking with me and Lily. Gavantchin turned her ’mobile over to Michael, so he could follow our group.
The conditions meant that we could do only about half of the walk we had done before. Fortunately, the upper – and prettier – half of it was still passable, as far as the foot of the green mound.
Early on, Lily decided it was too cold to walk, and accepted the ride which Michael offered. So, I had plenty of time to talk with Maijier. I tried to enthuse him about staying on Perinent until the full complement of sixty-four kings was filled. “I think you, as a king, have a better chance of persuading other kings to join our project than Gelmar and his Team would on their own.”
“True,” said Maijier.
“I am sure you have ambition to be the second of the Sixty-Four Kings, after Voltan,” I said. “But I would be happier if you were the sixty-fourth. Is there not more honour in being chief recruiter and leader of the rearguard, than in being second in the van?”
Maijier laughed. Something I had grown used to, for he laughed often.
We came to the mound, which today was a mixture of green and white. The two ’mobiles were dancing around each other in the air above the mound, like a pair of giant insects. Gavantchin looked up approvingly. “That is good piloting,” she said. “Though it does put the passengers under a lot of acceleration. I am particularly impressed with Gabriel, for it is hard to make a big old bus dance.”
By now, I was feeling cold and tired. I was very glad when, at last, the pilots finished their dance, and Michael came to pick us up at the bottom of the mound.
I spent a frantic Monday catching up with what had been going on at Camp Two, writing a belated progress report to Balzo, and preparing for the meeting with Harv’I and Maijier.
The second wave of trainees, Ben opined, were better than the first. At least, they gave less trouble. Perhaps, he thought, this might be because there were more business people, and less academics and minor politicians, in the second group than the first. The Tuglay, too, were pleased with the second wave’s progress. I made a mental note to do my own checking, as soon as I could get free of my urgent duties to the Camp Four project.
We went in the afternoon to see Harv’I. If Maijier had not already convinced himself to join our project, he certainly was convinced after speaking with Harv’I. And he approved my plan, that he should be recruiter for the Sixty-Four Kings, and should stay on Perinent until all had been selected.
Then we went back to Camp Four, where the panic of B-Day and its immediate aftermath was dying down. There were still lots of loose ends to tie, though. The major one was filling the tally of the Sixty-Four Kings. Voltan, in addition to himself and Maijier, had suggested seventeen names. The Brjemych Team and trainees, between them, came up with twenty-five, all of whom they believed to be Felixes. Maijier added another twelve kings he knew well, and two presidents of well above average integrity. We were still six short, not allowing for any that might refuse to join us. We decided that we would have to be open to further suggestions from those who committed to join us.
Another loose end was our offer to Voltan to provide radio communications equipment to the Sixty-Four Kings, so that they could easily talk to each other without leaving their realms. We set up a system in which the Brjemych would Pull radios, like those we used to communicate between Camps Two and Four, from the manufacturers. Then, Zer’ael would configure each one individually for use on the Brjemych planet by a particular king. And then they would be Pushed where they were to be used.
We also planned how the project team would keep in contact with the kings. We decided we should Push and Pull pieces of paper only, and should not risk using mescaps. One of Gelmar’s Team, Borong (pronounced “bow” as in archery, followed by “wrong”), volunteered to be the dispatcher. I wondered if he realized that he had just taken on the hardest job at Camp Four, as Sabrina had at Camp Two.
All these things could be handled, day-to-day at least, by Gelmar and his Team. I could now reduce my commitment at Camp Four back to one night a week. And turn my attention to P-Day.