Saturday, 6 September 2014

Chapter 44. Of Trouble Down t’ Pit

I ordered, for those who had worked through the night – Seraphim excepted, of course, “Eight hours of sleep-gas for all of us. Let’s have a meeting of everyone, at the 16. Ray and Jenna, please prepare dinner for the normal time.” I asked Michael and Gabriel to tell everyone about the meeting who didn’t already know.

I got up around the 15, and spent some time in the Pedia room telling Harv’I what we had done. While I was there, John and Galina came in. “I have checked the Earthly news media,” said Galina, “and I find surprisingly little. There were a couple of unconfirmed stories about politicians disappearing, but since then – nothing.”

Typical, I thought, of the mainstream media. Ignoring the facts right in front of them, while keeping to the party line – not rocking the political boat.

“Then,” I said with a smile, “we are going to have to give the media a scoop or two. Now it is time for you to take your recorders down to the Pit, and to get filming. If you like, you can start right away – this is more important than coming to the meeting at the 16.”

“We’re on the case,” said John, and the two departed to get their equipment.

At the meeting, I told everyone that Ramael would be landing the ’mobile openly on Earth at 9 of the 22, our time, the next morning, Friday. And that we would start Pulling the third wave on the following day, Saturday. We planned to have the third wave Pulled, briefed and sent back in approximately two weeks.

The second wave of trainees, too, would be sent back during this period. They would be Pushed into the ’mobile on Earth, then delivered in it to their own countries.

The other announcement to be made was that the first of the Brjemych would leave Perinent on the Monday. Gavantchin would pilot them to the Naudar’I docking station. As the ’mobile could take only two Brjemych at once, four trips would be necessary. These would take almost three Perinent days. And Gavantchin and Zer’ael themselves would go back to Seraph, leaving on the Thursday.

* * *

After the meeting, I went to the Pit. It was going dark. I took with me a laser gun. Not only for fear of predators; but also, to have something nasty-looking to point at the politicals I hated and despised so much.

There was no Cherub to guide me from the lift. But I could walk easily enough, for Hoong’s lights were still – mostly – on.

As I reached the outer door, a Cherub came out of the airlock behind it. “Greetings, Neil,” he sent. “You come opportunely. There is much to see. Compose yourself.” He led me inside, through the lock and then the inner door into the punishment building. Though the light was brighter than outside, it took me a while to adjust to what I saw.

To my right, Galina was filming, and behind her John keeping up a commentary. A second Cherub was near them. The remaining two Cherubs were on guard, to prevent any inmate of the bunks interfering with the action Galina was filming.

Two well known ex-politicians lay in their suits, sweat-soaked, on the sandy floor. One trying to break the windpipe of the other, the other trying to scratch out the eyes of the one. It was a very ugly, slow-motion dance.

Further to the left, a fat slob of an ex-politician had fallen off its top-tier bunk – or, perhaps, been pushed. It lay grunting and wheezing, body broken. No-one moved to help.

These were the most obvious, but there were other scenes of distress too. And only about half the inmates had woken up yet! It would be worse later.

“Nice work,” I sent to the Cherub. He genuflected, and led me back through the airlock.

* * *

John and Galina came back to the hotel, looking satisfied, about the 18. “We have plenty of material,” John said. “Including some shots which will enable viewers to recognize the individuals concerned.”

“How quickly can you edit it and get it out?” I asked.

“Tonight,” he replied. “We will skip dinner, if Ray and Jenna will provide us room service. Then we will work as long as it takes. Before the morning, what we have recorded will have been sent to hundreds of news outlets on Earth.” “Good,” I said. “Go to it.”

After dinner, I stood up and said, “I’ve been working on a few things not all of you may have been aware of.

“Firstly, I asked Gabriel and Tuglaydum to teach Galina how to Push mescaps quickly to several destinations on the same planet. And I asked Gabriel to procure several hundred low-quality mescaps to be sent to Earth. There’s no danger – we won’t be trying to Pull these back. We’re doing a mailshot, folks.

“Secondly, John and Galina have recorded some brilliant material from the Pit. I witnessed a little of it myself. They are working through the night – again! – to edit it, then they will make many copies and send them to Earth. Newspaper and TV editors, beware.”

Cees smiled, for he now understood why I had, weeks earlier, asked him to Pull two laptop computers and several hundred memory sticks from Earth. And Marie understood why, earlier still, I had asked her to design a cartoon to attract the attention of media editors.

“Thirdly,” I continued, “I have set up a mechanism for Pulling food from Seraph for the inmates of the Punishment Pit. Gabriel is doing the Pulling work. But there will also need to be a transport team, like the one we had yesterday, to wheel the supplies down. Volunteers gratefully accepted.

“And please don’t think I am being kind to our enemies. I have set the level of supplies at three-quarters of what they need to survive. I want them to keep fighting each other.”

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