It was 12:30 when the last man emerged from the pipe….FlashLights confirmed that their calculations had been correct…they had emerged into some sort of building…among many that were available for storage for raw materials…such that they might be nearby if the voracious appetite of new City hungered for them. Materials were automatically brought in for storage and then moved out by robots within the structure and in and out of it by means of wide rubber conveyer belts…At the moment it appeared that only about one third of the building was filled with what appeared to be straw-like mats which could be utilized in packing crates for shipment… along with rows of computer frames…At the moment…because of the enemy’s occupation…the City was frozen in a technological death ….
The men groped about in the darkness…then grouped around Sergeant Nasturtium, who had a computer with its screen. Captain Meadowlark was seen on the laptop…pointing to a map. Meadowlark said that their mission was comprised…of two parts. First, they were to attack the CASTLE troops guarding the mag tube which connected the City with the northern peninsula. There were about two dozen CASTLE troops guarding there. The objective was to attack these guards and keep them busy enough that troops would more easily enter the City via the mag tunnel. This sounded as if it were fairly easy to accomplish…but the kicker was that it included a full bore run by eighty men…from one side of the City …to the other….They would have the advantage of a sneak attack…for a few minutes…until the enemy with its firePower responded…This was no Vietnam type of action…it was more like the warfare in the Middle East in the first part of the century…which was urban-type warfare…involving street fighting and moving through mechanisms and structures…
After the first task was accomplished, Company Bravo would join the other companies in attacking the headquarters of the City…well, the central management unit…which was now filled with the enemy…with the prize…the leadership of thugs including Scar Liege…in the command center…at the top. ..The 1,500 troopers at the mag station…would not move through the mag tunnel in an all-out assault… until 8 o’clock… Therefore, it was necessary for the company to wait until around seven o’clock…when the Light of the morning would be enough for sight…then they would move out. In the meantime, it was imperative that they be completely quiet with no Lights, with several lookouts awake at all times. The rest were able to sleep in preparation for a battle which was destined to last several days. A few of the men were restless and wondered out loud why they did not just storm the unsuspecting enemy at that moment. However, they were quickly quieted. It was important that they move methodically and conduct guerrilla-type warfare with the enemy which was firmly established in a labyrinth of metal and cement. The leaders knew that there was only one quick way and that was to bring big laser cannons in and blast the City to pieces, which would defeat the purpose of all their efforts. It was the command’s decision to take the enemy man by man until the command center was vulnerable… and then capture it. As was said…the only thing they had going for them now was the element of surprise and this advantage would have to be utilized to its fullest to get additional troops inside the walls. Once the additional troops were inside, the troopers should have a slight advantage in numbers….depending upon casualties… In addition, the troops would have another advantage… They were family…they would be like a vector…a bolt of Cosmic Force…blasting through a lethargic, occupying mass of enemy…that would have to protect every place at once…Al the troops had to do…was get to the top…and extinguish the leadership…and the battle would be won…The outcome seemed certain…optimism was rife….Still it seemed certain…that there would be tremendous losses…
For the moment, though… the troopers were only at the first step… Company B had to succeed in its mission… otherwise the odds in favor of success…would probably shift significantly. So the troopers attempted to sleep while they waited for the dawn.
Scar Liege sat back, luxuriously in his plush padded swivel arm chair in command center. He was tired after supervising a busy night’s activity. Banks of surveillance monitors covered the walls of the room, panning across strategic areas within the walls of the City and a complete 360 degrees outside the walls. The Lights of the master control board governing the workings of the machinery in the City with the power of Cerebrum were black.
Liege looked at the picture of Dizzy Demesne on his view phone and smiled.
‘Well, we done it, boss. All of our forces are in, a tousand and a half stwong. Da troops are locked out and there ain’t a sign of trouble yet. Now all we got t’ do is call Washington and get da goods.’
The face on the picture screen grimaced and snapped back…
‘Scar, you dope. Dere you are. Lying around like some tycoon sap from da old days. This ain’t over yet by a long shot. Dis is our last hope and da odds ain’t good. The troops ain’t going to sit around and let us get away wit dis and the State and Feds are gettin’ ready t’ send more troops in now. A few days will decide it. Any minute we kin be overrun when we least expect it. But we’ve got t’ act as if we’ve already won.
‘Any of dose clown managers cooperating?’
‘No, boss. Dey haven’t said anyting and we’ve busted ’em up about every way we kin tink of.’
‘Well, dey’ll die for da cause, I suppose,’ said Demesne, with a sarcastic snicker. ‘But keep trying, do what you kin t’ get a few t’ help us. Offer dem a cut, whatever you need to do. If we could get dat big pil’ a machinery movin, it would help… more t’ negotiate wit’… God knows dat we could live here forever wit’ da City taken’ care of us.’
‘I don’t know, boss, you should see the way dey look at us. I think dey feel dey are as much soldiers as anyone else….
‘But anyway, we’re set. We’ve got laser cannons all around da top of da walls. Da headquarters is safe from laser cannons below because it’s on da top of four or five big bunches of machinery. We also got about four dozen guards… and da roads between blocks of machinery… and da areas around the place… are covered wit’ large cannons. It would take years for any army t’ flush us out.’
‘Well, it’s nice you’re so safe. But dis has got t’ work or we’re washed up.’
The picture snapped off. Liege smiled as he sank back again into the soft organic chair…and by remote control turned to one of the countless shows available on Cerebrum, and dozed off.
Omicron woke with a start at six o’clock. It was an hour until they would attack. He saw vividly in his mind the path his platoon was to take threading through the machinery and killing all in their way on the way to the opening of the mag tunnel. Omicron thought of those days which seemed so long ago when he and Steve had walked over the hillsides together, catching butterflies, drinking in the Beauty of the world. He had had such a full wonderful Life for a seventeen year old. And he wouldn’t mind dying for the cause. He began to have momentary daydreams of what it would be like to have Aura as a girl friend. He felt Good all over when he thought of her. He wanted to Live… to survive… so this dream could come True. However, if he must, he would die and gladly, for it would be an ultimate and Cosmic act of creation, given in the service of his community and for the perpetuation of human Life and thought. He was ready with every ounce of his Being to charge into the midst of the enemy and kill or be killed to this end. Omicron thought it ironic that in an instant the enemy had converted the ultra-modern automated City… into a medieval fortress. With the power off, the City had been converted from a productive, Life-sustaining, creative Force of Power to the black hole of a garrison in which men huddled for protection from the world. If the enemy wins, that is exactly where the whole world will be going, he thought… back to darkness and fear. It will be another time of setback for mankind… as the Dark Ages were after the fall of Rome.
However, the human race is unstoppable, its progress is inexorable, Omicron thought… for man and woman represent the quintessence of all Life … that by Nature… from the very first quiver… has reached for the heavens. The success of man and woman then is not one against Nature, but is a success shared by all Nature, of all Life, and of all matter. If Life possesses meaning, then meaning must exist outside of men’s minds. There must be consciousness that exists in the universe besides that of the animals on earth. Scientists know so darn much…yet there was ninety-seven percent of the Cosmos that was unaccounted for. There was dark matter, but cyclotrons and accelerators had been unable to confirm such a thing exists. However, at this point scientists believed one thing…for certain…that the Cosmos was made entirely of particles. If there is meaning to Life then this meaning must somehow reside in particles, there must be consciousness of some type in the substance of which the universe is made. If enough of this consciousness was together like in a sun, than it may have an intelligence beyond all contemplation. In this respect, man and woman were the pinnacle of Life in that their consciousness was highest that Life had obtained upon the earth, although this intelligence was minuscule compared to the potential of a giant nova.
The room remained black punctuated by a few glowing communicators on men’s wrists, although the time on Omicron’s communicator reported that outside, the City was now bathed in gray, dimmed Light. There was a half hour to go, now, and most of the others were now stirring awake, checking their laser guns, and gulping down protein supplements. He stood up, checked his gun, and saw that the twenty ion bombs were secured to his belt. He taped a long slender knife in its sheath to his lower leg and pulled his trouser leg down over it. Fifteen minutes to go. He saw pictures of his father and mother before him. He saw the faces of those who had Lived in Love Song Band with him. He saw Anthony’s face. He would fight for Anthony. For the hundredth time he saw Aura before him. He would fight for his community. He would fight for her. His blood surged up within him as he slowly allowed adrenalin to flow into his veins. Ten minutes, five minutes to go. The men lined up before the door, waiting like paratroopers…from some past age… for the word to move… each with his instructions, each with his blood surging upward toward the limit.
Then they were out… into the gray Light… a drizzle wetting their faces. Omicron and his men ran to the wall as they were assigned, and started their run of over four miles along the edge to the mag tunnel. He knew that the gunners above had heard them but it seemed that they were not certain who they were or what their running meant. Omicron heard firing in locations further inside the machinery, which indicated that contact by some of his company’s men with the enemy had been made. It was necessary to get to the tunnel as fast as possible to capitalize on the element of surprise. Also it was important to spread out as much as possible so that if some of them were stopped, others would still be advancing elsewhere.
He saw two men manning a cannon on the wall run to the inside edge of the wall and look over to where the shooting was taking place. Omicron and his men were just running past when he heard the men yell down, ‘Stop! Identify yourselves.’ Omicron whirled, shot twice, knocking one of the men tumbling to his death. The other man immediately turned to his phone to warn the next station and inform headquarters. Omicron and his men trotted forward, looking constantly to the right, right front, front, and then up at the wall. There was shooting to the immediate right and two troopers ran to join them having been blocked in their lane. They were continuing to race forward when two enemy flew out in front of them from around a corner. Omicron’s gun was firing instantly and caught one man immediately. The other moved back quickly, behind the building. They could not afford to stop. Omicron timed his next shot to coincide when he would just see around the edge of the building. He shot the man in the shoulder but the man simultaneously wounded two of those running with Omicron. One was shot in the leg and had to be left behind. The other was shot in the hand and kept on running.
The next cannon on the wall was in view now, and it was ready for them. Omicron and the three men with him now bolted to the right to go down the next lane and were immediately in the midst of a fierce fight between four troopers and two enemy who were closest to them. Omicron grabbed an ion bomb and lobbed it at the two men, who were blown into unconsciousness instantly, and the troopers quickly dispatched them with their guns. The seven of them then continued running down the lane. There was fierce all-out fighting to the right now, but Omicron and his six men were able to cover another half mile before another couple of enemy were sighted. The enemy immediately went under cover and sent a barrage of fire towards them. With their path blocked, the men turned down an opening to the left back to the wall.
Another cannon on the wall was on the alert and ready for them. Two men with Omicron fell immediately before the gunners could be shot off their perch. Then Omicron and his four companions continued moving quickly along the wall. When they were in view of the next gunner, Omicron decided to try something… he blasted a door open in the manufacturing unit next to them… once inside they tried to pass by the obstacles outside by moving from recess to recess in the manufacturing unit. However, as they were moving quickly from one recess to the next without sustaining injury, the cannon outside was firing at the unit sending lasers through windows… smashing machinery apart all around those inside.
They moved to the far wall of the manufacturing unit and moved forward as fast as possible. The machinery was not meant for men, for even maintenance was done by robots. It was fortunate the machinery was turned off, Omicron thought. They climbed around, through, and over large sections of machinery and then ran on conveyer belts until they were at the northern end of the unit. Then they blasted through a door and thrust themselves out into the lane where five of the enemy had their backs to them. In a short brutal fight, they blasted the enemy to bits.
There were nine of them running together now as four more had joined them. They had traveled approximately a mile and a half. As they were moving, a trooper who had been wounded in the thigh haled them and said that a dozen fellow men were pinned down a couple of lanes over by only four or five of the enemy. The wounded man had been able to escape during the early skirmish but was helpless to aid his brothers. If they had a little help, the large group of men could be freed to continue their advance. Omicron barked orders and the nine raced to the east to the third lane where they saw a dozen men caught in a cul-de-sac with four enemy at the entrance in a position to render certain death to any who might dare to leave. Omicron led his men up the back of a nearby machinery unit. They had to go inside the unit and climb from raw material processor to metal stamper to the raised pathways for the robots, up to the fabrication section, up to the small mag tubes which sent finished products to the terminal. They crawled out on the roof which was above and thirty feet away from the four enemies. Omicron tossed two ion bombs and the men fired their guns killing two men who were able to crawl away from the ionized area. The group which was now free, quickly dispatched the stunned enemy and waited for Omicron and his men to descend before continuing.
Omicron was now running with twenty men. Then they split into three groups running in different lanes. Omicron advanced in his lane with six others, keeping in horizontal visual contact with the other groups as they crossed lanes. They had to keep moving as time was short. He knew that troopers had already traveled far down the mag tunnel. The company had to be at the entrance of the tunnel when the troopers arrived at 8 o’clock to prevent the troops from being shot like fish in a barrel. They blasted two more cannon roosts on the wall losing one man in the process, and then cut right to the next lane where they heard more firing. Now it appeared to Omicron that the enemy was beginning to pour in from all directions and that the resistance was growing at a geometric rate. He saw that six men in the next lane were pinned down by eight enemy. With the addition of Omicron’s six guns, they were now able to out blast the enemy, converge on them and kill them all while losing only three. Five men continued up that lane and Omicron led the others to the next lane to the east and ran with the six for a good quarter of a mile.
They now had about two and a half miles to go. Then a runner from the right attracted their attention with a shout. He breathlessly reported that about twenty men to the east were being tossed back by about fifty enemy in a fierce battle in which about twenty of the enemy had already been killed. The site was an open area where commodity mover tubes were interlaced in an interchange.
Omicron and his nine men caught the enemy from behind and killed them immediately in the ensuing crossfire. He pulled out the pad, which he had kept close to his bosom since his visit to the City with his uncle, and from his copious notes figured out which transportation tubes went to the terminal. If they climbed up and into the tubes thrusting forth from the top of a nearby storage unit, they would be able to move downhill all the way to their goal in the protection of the tubes. Omicron contacted Meadowlark and immediately the troops in the vicinity were sent up the mountains of goods to the top leading area where they climbed into either of two tubes which headed to the north. There were a dozen troopers who at first ran and then slid on their pants down the slick surfaces of the tubes, pushing with their hands to minimize attracting attention to themselves. Some of the enemy heard noises in the tubes but thought perhaps the headquarters had reactivated some of the machines and transport equipment.
When the Omicron’s troopers came to the end of the tubes, they emerged with their laser guns blasting, killing all the enemy they could see. The bulk of the enemy in the terminal area, a couple of hundred in all, were inside the mag tunnel prepared with several laser cannons and large bombs to repel any attempted invasion entering the City. When all the troopers had emerged from the tubes, they charged the tunnel. The thirty enemy inside the tunnel who were closest to the entrance had no place to run and Omicron saw them and his men instantly shot them to pieces. However, twenty enemy further down the tunnel could be seen turning their cannon and killing about twenty of the troopers, at the same time losing about ten of their forces. Omicron took five bombs out of his belt, held them up for others to see and to follow his example. About fifty positive ion bombs were primed and thrown far down the tunnel. After an immense series of explosions, the men charged guns blazing.
Omicron estimated that approximately forty enemy were killed and thirty stunned. But the remaining enemy then seemed to begin to turn the tide with their cannon firepower and were just beginning to pour lasers into the company, who were now themselves sitting ducks in the tunnel, when the sounds of guns and explosions were heard down the tunnel and Omicron knew that the mass army of troopers coming down the mag tunnel from the north… had finally arrived. Omicron and his men retreated and held their fire until the enemy’s attention was absorbed by the troops pouring at them down the tube… then they charged and helped slice apart the remaining enemy in a deadly crossfire.
Once the tunnel was clear, Omicron saw Colonel Blue, leading 1,500 men, charge into the City. Omicron quickly calculated… At the beginning there had been approximately 1,800 enemy, 800 had set off for the City in boats, approximately 400 made it. Then the other 1,000 men had come in through the mag line. Of the 1,400 men left, about 40 had been killed as the company struck with the aid of surprise and an additional 100 men were killed in the tunnel. 240 troopers had participated in pursuing the boats across the Bay in carriers…and 170 had survived…80 men were in Omicron’s company who broke into the sewer in a surprise attack with 90 more joining Steve’s group coming from the north through the tube…About 20 troopers had been killed during this time. So now the troopers had an advantage…of approximately 1,600 troopers versus about 1,300 enemy…facing each other within the walls…of the new City.
During the next two hours, Omicron helped the troopers Force the enemy into the protection of the massive machine headquarters complex. In the process, Omicron estimated that another 200 or so enemy were killed with fifty of the troops lost. Thus, by noon the fighting had stopped and by Omicron’s mental figuring a force of approximately 1,500 troopers was facing a force of just over a 1,100. The troopers had successfully completed Phase I of the counter-assault. Now preparations were being made for Phase II.
Omicron heard some of the men call verbally upon the commanders to storm the headquarters at once. The enemy was outnumbered…Victory was within grasp! All of the men were obviously eager to follow through…and finish the effort they had begun. The taste of blood and victory made them hungry for more. The outcome seemed assured. However, the orders for the rest of the day were to wait. Omicron assumed that an assessment had to be made of the situation. He heard that the remaining enemy were securely ensconced within its captured territory with cannons stationed strategically throughout the command center machinery units. The commanders, he was told, had decided to wait and pour over detailed maps of the command complex and plan their next attack.
For the troops there seemed to be nothing to do but wait and gather in the wounded from the reaches of the City. Omicron could only marvel that he was still aLive. He slumped down with his back against the wall of a machinery unit. Steve walked over to him and put his hand in a grip on his shoulder to indicate how proud he was of his son. Omicron returned the gesture with a tooth-filled grin. At first thought, it seemed to be just chance that had allowed him to remain aLive. However, as Omicron thought back over each encounter, he knew that he would not have survived without the Theology of the Will and the victories he had won over the boats previously and the victories he had won before… without his new-won control over himself and his passions. These things had changed the odds for survival.
Because of his company’s successes in the fight against the boats they had been in the vanguard of the battle, in an advanced position and were thus logical candidates to attempt to enter the City another way. Then as they moved through the city from one battle to the next, meeting one challenge after another, he had been able to summon the amount of energy, Power, and mental and physical resources he needed by concentrating on the white of purity of the Will, the Sun of Action, and most of all by grasping the sword of Victory. He was slowly yet inexorably climbing the steps towards the exaltation of the Will, and as he climbed… the virtue, Power, and resources associated with all previous steps were his upon command.
And now he had to wait. And it seemed wise to him at this point to wait. In fact, almost to his surprise, he seemed at this moment almost eager to postpone the next step. He knew that a week before, if he had been successful in stirring himself to action, he would have probably been like the others were now, ready to follow through and finish the job, now that a breakthrough had been made. Somehow he knew it was best at this point to wait, think, consider, plan. The next step would be of an entirely different order than the last. He felt that it was necessary that the troopers now summon the full amount of intellect and experience at their disposal, before they commenced on their way up the mountain of black metal.
Omicron saw before him the figure of an old man hunched over a walking stick, holding in front of him ‘a Lighted lantern half-hidden by his cloak.’ Omicron knew that this old man symbolized the ninth Cosmic step towards the attainment of the Cosmic Theology of the Mind. ‘This old man is the symbol of Prudence and personifies experience acquired in the labors of Life. The Lighted lantern signifies the Light of the mind which should illuminate the past, the present, and the future. The cloak that half conceals it signifies discretion. The stick symbolizes the support given by prudence to man who does not reveal his purpose.’
On the physical level, it is best that man employ caution in all that he does. On the intellectual level, man should use prudence that is the entire benefit of his experience, thought, and foresight to predict and control events and govern the impulsiveness of the Will. On the Cosmic level, man should act in harmony with the Laws of the universe, utilize absolute wisdom to see through appearance, and act in accordance with the Nature of things. ‘Remember, son of earth, that Prudence is the armor of the Wise. Circumspection allows him to avoid reefs or pitfalls and to be forewarned of treachery. Take it for your guide in all your actions, even in the smallest things.’ The Cosmic man must be ever alert. ‘Nothing lacks importance…. a pebble may overturn the chariot in which the master of the world is riding.’ The man of the universe is alert to all possibilities and dangers. He speaks freely to no one. ‘Remember that if speech is silver, silence is golden.’
Now was time for Omicron to review his notes, reflect upon his experiences, and calculate to the best of his ability the path he should follow next. Action is not the cure for every ill, but can be undertaken only after full consideration has been made of alternative paths to be taken, “obstacles to be overcome, and barriers to be broken.” Then one must keep silence ‘until the moment comes for action that at times may reach the utmost in audacity.’ Soon it was afternoon… and darkness loomed under the ominous black clouds. A few drops of rain began to fall. Omicron paced nervously. Then he took out his notebook and slowly walked, looked at the monstrous mound of metal in which the enemy was protected, checked back at his notes, and quickly filled in new pages with observations, thoughts, and possibilities.
In City headquarters, Scar Liege was shouting at his underlings:
‘You dopes. You idiots. How did doze first guys get inside dese walls? I thought dey wuz just left overs, some who didn’t leave wid da others. But dey obviously came wit a plan. How did dey get in? We have men everywhere. And not only did dey get in, but dey run from one side of da City to da other without being cut down and den we let dem help a tousand men come thwough da tube inside da walls.
‘No wonder we’re all mobsters. It’s obvious we couldn’t make it any udda way.
‘And now dis way ain’t working so hot. Now our Forces are cut in half. And dis is all we got. I don’t know how I’m supposed t’ bargain wit D.C. when we are da ones who should be begging for help.’
‘But we’re safe in here, boss. We’ve got a tousand men all around,’ said a shadow in the corner.
‘As the boss keeps sayin’, we ain’t here for your comfort,’ shouted Liege. ‘Another stupid remark like dat and I’m sending you into orbit right into da hands of dose guys down dere. I feel like drainin’ the swamp! Too much stupidity here! We ain’t here for da fun of it. Our future depends on what we get from D.C. And we’ve got t’ move fast, in another week dere’ll be soldiers from every corner of da nation, maybe da world. If we could’ve kept dem outside the walls we would’ve had a chance. Now in a week dere’ll be millions of troops right in our lap. Dey kin just all march right up and barbecue us if dey want to. Now what are we goin’ t’ do?’
“‘Well, all we got is extortion, boss. We got rid of da troops once before wit it. This time we kin say, if they don’t give us a lot of money and free passage t’ some udda country, we’ll blow der City t’ pieces.’
‘Now here is a man wit a brain, fellows. We keep using extortion. If D.C. don’t give us all we want, we’re going t’ blow up da City. We do have bombs everywhere. The only problem is da bombs are right underneath us. If dey don’t give us what we want, we’ll really show dem,…we’ll blow ourselves to bits. Dat’s really good tinking.’
Then Liege’s smile was gone.
‘But still,…in da end, dat’s all we’ve got. Dis headquarters is da guts of da City, most of its computer capacity, and we still have da managers. We kin threaten t’ blow ourselves up and maybe get away wit it. Den too, if we don’t get what we want and da soldiers start pouring in, it just might not be dat bad a strategy just to torch it off. It would be a lot better than letting da soldiers or da courts at us, you know. I’ll tell Desmense what we’re dinking.’
Liege looked out the windows of the complex, which were beginning to be hammered by large drops of rain, and tossed a couple of dice unconsciously over and over again on the massive table before him.
Omicron shivered in the blankets which the troops had brought with them. The men had occupied several acres of machinery units. The units were not made for man and were cold and drafty, although they were water sealed to keep rain off of the equipment. It was eight at night and these being Omicron’s prime hours he could not relax and rest even though he was completely exhausted from the exertions of the day.
Omicron was thinking of Aura again. He thought of her golden hair blazing in the sun. The laugh of her smile, those lovely brown eyes. That beautiful body, and legs. Yeh. And her brain. She had to be one of the most intelligent A-type girls in the communities. And her personality. She was as sweet as honey and always concerned about the welfare of others.
As he day-dreamed, another beautiful melody came to his mind and then some words….
“Oh Love, my Life’s Delight.”
The last thing he saw was her radiant face.