Search This Blog

Chapter 23 Stirring the pot

Ungar looked up as the trooper walked Into his office. “The Senior Elder requires your presence immediately.” Ungar hoisted himself out of his chair and followed the trooper to the conference room. Marshal Banner was talking to Davin and paused mid-sentence. “The Rhoda whatever stuff was loaded into your carriage. Leave now and make the trade for the crowd stunner. Return immediately with it,” demanded Davin. Ungar nodded his head and quickly left.

“We have about an hour,” said Ben as a small robot wheeled in carrying a plastic bin and set it in front of him. “It's the crowd stunner,” said Celeste pointing to the bin. Ben opened it. Inside was a horn looking device with a handle and trigger. A cable connected it to a pack attached to a belt. “This needs a larger power supply.” Ben nodded, “Anything going on with the Marshal's money transfers?” “Not that I can tell yet. Additional money was added to the account from another account, so it was noticed there wasn't enough to pay all the vouchers. There have been no changes in the Marshal's account other than small payments. Lora also picked up the box with the tablets very early this morning. They are all in the location where the original table I gave her was.”

“Do you have any other ideas?” “Yes, it would be good to track the location of all the women recruits. I was thinking about using a coin. When Ungar shows up, I want to see what their coins look like. I can take one and reproduce a counterfeit one with a tracker that has just a small difference like a nick in it so it can be identified, and not spent. It would also tell the stunners this was a valid user. At the right time, I'm going to disable them, and only a woman with a coin can use them.”

“You're sneaky Celeste,” said Ben. Celeste grinned back, “I've learned how to be. I could level the security forces facility killing the troopers and turn the cathedral into rubble in about fifteen minutes if I had to. I won't do this for two reasons. First, there would be a mess that would be nearly impossible to straighten out. The second is the inhabitants have to do this themselves to end up in a better place. There will be a united core to start over with again. Anyway, I never like to kill anything unless there is no other option.

“Have you heard anything from the Gaian's?” “Other than there is a gathering in a larger village about a two-hour walk from here. These women are smart enough to know I can see and hear what is happening near the tablet. They did use it to do some searches about matriarchal societies. What they learned is that these don't survive in the long run if the men are subservient to the women. In their case, they have become benevolent dictators, but downstream something will cause a societal upheaval, and the roles will become reversed if not managed well. Women can hold a revered place and govern, but only when the men are equal also, and fully participate. Ungar is showing up, my sensors see men dispersing in the woods to watch him. When he gets here, I'll have a new drink for him to try.”

The tractor pulling the carriage huffed itself into the meadow and shuddered to a stop about a hundred yards from the ship. Ungar got out and pulled out boxes and stacked them. The little robotic platform on tracks pulled up. Ungar loaded it and with less trepidation climbed aboard.

“Celeste will be here in a couple of minutes. She prepared a special drink for you, Ungar. In the olden days, it was called a Manhattan. It's made from a spirit called whiskey,” Ben said as he handed it to him. Ungar sniffed it and took a small sip. A big grin broke out, “This is wonderful. All we have is brandy and only two types. Lousy for those who don't have many coins, and the good stuff for those that can afford it.”

Celeste walked in and sat next to Ben. “How did the Senior Elder like the stunners?” “He liked them well enough that he kept one for himself.” Celeste nodded, “I spoke with Lora at some length. She's nice, and seems smart.” “Both of my children were taught to read. The Oneness doesn't allow women to receive formal teaching. Despite this, I taught her at home how to read, and she knows well enough to keep it a secret.” 

“That's good Ungar. Lora is going to organize a group of women who can act when the time is right. A lot of people in Eauland are going to get sick at the same time, and we will tell you when this will happen. Some other things are going to happen along the way that will make the Elders and some security forces uncomfortable before the big day. I want you to be very careful and lie low. When you go back to the city, you need to refuel your personal tractor today. Do you have any coins with you?” Ungar removed a pouch and tried to give it to Celeste, but Ben intercepted it and poured them out onto the table. “Which has the least value?” asked Celeste. Ungar pointed to a large coin. “The larger the coin, the less the value. The wealthy don't want a heavy pouch.” Ben picked up the coin and placed it in the palm of his hand and showed it to Celeste. “May we keep this coin?” asked Celeste. “Yes, of course, you may Captain, it is of little value.”

Ben leaned forward, “I have some questions we need answers to Ungar starting with how many troopers are typically posted in the Cathedral complex?” Ungar pondered for a second, “There are two gates one of which one enters into the security forces area. Each has two guards. Two more guards are at each of the two cathedral entrances. There are many more entrances, but they are barred from the inside. Four more patrols the grounds. That makes fourteen. There could be more at times if meetings are occurring, but they would be senior officers. They change shifts at thirds of a day.” “Are there any other exits in or out of the complex?” asked Celeste. “I have heard rumors there is a tunnel in the lower levels, but I have never seen it.” “How many people actually work in the cathedral?” “Except for Oneness day, I would think about seventy-five.”

“What's stored in the armory? It's a substantial building,” asked Ben. “The trooper's hand slug throwers and their long barreled versions, ammunition and the remaining mining atomic explosives.” Celeste looked at Ben raising an eyebrow, “How big of a bang do these atomic explosives make?” Ungar grimaced, “Enough to turn a mountain into rubble. The armory was the original storage building for them. As you could imagine it's a sturdy and secure building which is why it has its current purpose.” Abruptly standing Celeste signaled the conversation was ending and looked seriously at Ungar. “Be very careful and do not visit with your daughter again until I say it's okay. I'm watching over the two of you, and I will do my best to keep you both safe. On your next visit, we will give you ten more stunners. You pick something of value to trade for them. Don't forget to fuel your personal tractor today. The crowd stunner is in the bin. Point it at a crowd, pull the trigger and wave it at them. Ben, why don't you make up a bottle of the Manhattans for Ungar. Thank you, Ungar, have a safe trip back.” Ben handed Ungar the bin, bottle, and escorted him to the ramp.

“That's a big surprise. Atomic mining explosives. We need to think about this again.” said Celeste. “Sorry Ben I had to cut things short, we have a couple of Gaian visitors heading this way.”