The trainees picked this up too. They had doubts. And the Tuglay reported that they were being asked many difficult questions.
It didn’t help that it was now the sharpest period of winter. The winters at Camp Two were continental – think Minnesota. Going outside the hotel for any length of time became a major undertaking. Even the twenty metres from the east door to the big old bus’s normal parking spot was now a jog, not a walk. And I could only visit Harv’I when Gavantchin was with us to take me in her ’mobile.
Michael and Gabriel did what they could, and it was much. They were always available, always smiling, always helpful. But that was not enough.
I noticed that it was those, who had often before been outspoken and cynical, who were now the staunchest supporters of what we were doing. Ray, in particular. And Ben. Elise, more gently, weighed in too. “What was the point of coming here if we don’t change the world for the better?” she asked.
Over the weeks, the news from Camp Four got better and better. The alliance of the Sixty-Four Kings (well actually, sixty-two kings and two presidents) was rapidly taking control of the Brjemych planet. There were bloodless coups in many realms and in several republics. Violence was down, happiness was up, and even the economy was starting to recover from all the bad kings’ predations.
I worried that Voltan, who was clearly the first among equals and the king-pin of the Sixty-Four, might try to make himself emperor. But Harv’I – on one of my, currently rare, visits to him – put me right. “I mind-scanned him when we met,” he said. “I took a complete dump of his mind. That is Galactically taboo, but I did it anyway, because the matter is so important. Voltan is trustworthy.”
All the Brjemych trainees had been sent back within the first three weeks after B-Day. Maijier and his advisor had been the last to go. There were now only eight Brjemych and two Tuglay left there, along with Zer’ael and Gavantchin. And the only reason Tuglayino and Tuglayono were still on Perinent, was that they had volunteered to stay on, to be the teachers for the next species to use Camp Four.
Meanwhile, I had some more planning to do. I put to Balzo the idea that we should have a Third Wave. We would Pull some of those with a good chance of acquiring power in the aftermath of P-Day. We would brief them. We would show them the Punishment Pit, and take them to meet Harv’I. And we would then send them back to play their parts in the revolution. With assistance, where appropriate, from one or more of our trainees.
I wanted to keep the second wave on Perinent until the third wave was properly started. I wanted to send them to a “safe house” – Ramael’s Seraphimobile, where they would join those still remaining from the first wave. And then, to distribute them round the planet as needed. That was ultimately why I had decided to Pull Paul, and with him Melinda. I wanted a doctor on board that ’mobile.
I also spent much time exchanging ideas with Ramael and Hazael while they were on Socotera. Because of the physics of the force fields, it is not possible to contact Naudar’I ships in flight, even by mescap. So, once the first wave left Socotera, my next opportunity to communicate with them would be when they were in geostationary orbit above Earth.
We agreed that Hazael would send us a mescap when they arrived there. That would be the signal that we could start P-Day. My plan was for the Seraphimobile to land – very publicly – on Earth exactly forty-four hours, that is two Perinent days, after we began P-Day. A further twenty-two hours later, we would start Pulling the third wave.
As winter at Camp Two turned into early spring, the anxiety passed. Yes, people came to think, this really can work. We, we lucky few, really do have the chance to change for the better the lives of all the peaceful, honest, productive people on Earth. And to punish the political class for their crimes and injustices. So let’s do it.
We in the Team spent a lot of our time detailing who should be taken in the third wave, and monitoring them. They were a mixture. Some were prominent opposition leaders. Some were heirs apparent to power, should there be an emergency. Others had only very recently acquired power, and had not yet done too much harm.
A week before P-Day, we had news via Balzo that the Board of the Galactic Association had considered the Brjemych’s application for Galactic status, and had formally accepted them as Juniors. Several hundred Galactic dignitaries would gather on the Brjemych planet for the celebrations in approximately eight Perinent weeks. And it was time for Zer’ael and Gavantchin to make the arrangements for Gelmar and his Team to go home.
I urgently asked Balzo to make sure that the Brjemych didn’t leave Perinent until after they had helped us with our own P-Day. He agreed, but said they would have to come to Camp Two almost immediately, as Camp Four was to be prepared for another species. So, I had Gavantchin bring in relays the entire Brjemych Team of eight, with their three Pulling and Pushing machines, to Camp Two. Zer’ael, Tuglayono and Tuglayino came too. We had enough rooms for them all – just.
P-Day was set for a Wednesday. On the Tuesday afternoon, Gabriel came to me with a mescap. It was from Hazael, who was now in Earth orbit. The trainees in the ’mobile were under sleep-gas; they could be woken up at eight hours’ notice. I replied that we would start the Pulling at 9 of the 22, Perinent time, the following morning. And that the trainees should be woken up in time for the landing on Earth forty-four hours later. That would be Friday morning, our time.
Wednesday came. It was a sunny late spring day, cool but promising warmth later. All was in place for the Pullers. Michael had mixed several hundred large sleep-gas doses, which he would administer to keep those we Pulled unconscious for about a Perinent day. As well as a similar number of smaller and quicker-acting doses, to be used for the act of Pulling.
Gabriel, Cees, Elise, Hoong, Galina and three Brjemych Pullers would each work at a dedicated machine for as long as it took. Gelmar would be reserve Puller, ready to step in while people were eating, or to take over from anyone who became too tired. And I would do the occasional Pull too, if only to keep my hand in.
With much ingenuity, Hoong had rigged up some lights, both on the way from the hotel to the Punishment Pit and between the elevator and the building in the Pit itself, so that we could continue to work at night if we needed to. And the strongest among the second wave of trainees had been co-opted into the transport team. Some of them would wheel those destined for punishment from our building to the elevator, down into the Pit, and to the punishment building. Ben would organize them. Others, down in the Pit, would take on the really heavy job, of loading the sleeping prisoners on to their bunks. Lily would direct this work. We had Gavantchin and Zer’ael to help too; they were each as strong as two humans.
The Cherubim were primed to keep a look out for anyone we brought that they thought did not deserve punishment, as their fellows at Camp Four had done for Maijier.
Sabrina had on hand all the information on which of those to be punished would likely be found where and when. John was ready with camera and sound recording equipment. Dede and Marie were the runners, carrying messages wherever they were needed – and, in particular, taking to each Puller the dossier on whomever they were to Pull next. Since the Brjemych could not read English, three of our trainees were ready to read out the dossiers to Borong and their two other Pullers. Ray and Jenna were in the kitchen. I was ready to oversee the whole, and to react to anything that might happen, as it happened.
As he had been earlier at Camp Four, Cees was a Trojan that day. Despite all the monitoring work we had done, it was harder to find those to be Pulled than it had been with the bad Brjemych kings. Still, Cees averaged a Pull every twenty-five minutes throughout the day. This time, Elise was only a little slower, about thirty-five minutes per Pull. Gabriel worked at about the same rate as Elise. Hoong, Galina and the three Brjemych each averaged around one Pull an hour.
We didn’t stop for lunch, we didn’t stop for dinner. Anyone who felt hungry simply went along to the kitchen and grabbed tea or coffee, and whatever they fancied from Ray and Jenna’s ever-changing menu.
Night fell. Our tally was in the 120s. We were a little over half-way to today’s target. We were going to have to work through the night. We were going to have to work right until the first of those we had Pulled began to wake up.
We Pulled dictators. We Pulled warmongers. We Pulled presidents, prime ministers and former occupants of those posts. We Pulled senior UN and EU bureaucrats. We Pulled politicians and “scientists” that had fraudulently claimed that human activities caused catastrophic climate change. We Pulled many of those that had ruled over people by lies and deception. We Pulled a good selection of those whose disappearance would bring joy to the hearts of the people they had mistreated.
The Cherubim remained silent throughout. Obviously, we had not made any mistakes like the one Mittveld had made over Maijier.
Things went wrong, of course. Some of Hoong’s lights failed, and I had to ask Zer’ael to fix them – which he did, quickly. One trainee, hauling a laden trolley too enthusiastically over the rough ground, sprained his ankle. Zer’ael couldn’t fix that instantly, but he could lessen the pain. Having a combined engineer and medic in my team was a boon.
It was an uncanny scene that I saw in the sputtering light. Some of the worst individuals on Earth, strapped to trolleys, being wheeled unconscious towards their nemesis – and good riddance. Many of them in suits, some in pyjamas. A few, indeed, in evening dress.
Down in the Pit itself, as the bunks were slowly filled, it felt even more eerie, though the building had far better lights than the ones Hoong had installed.
By 6 of the 22, after nineteen hours of concentration on the work, even Cees had begun to flag. I determined that we should stop when the tally reached 200. That would be enough to make our point. We could – and would – Pull more later.