It had been
an arduous, exhausting
journey, over poisonous waters, through many desolate, dangerous places
and long-forgotten landscapes. Flagging spirits were revived with tales
of the past and hopes for the future. As parched desert grudgingly gave
way to stark reminders of how close mankind had come to total
annihilation, they saw the distant shimmer of civilisation. They smiled
at each other, savouring the sweet moment of discovery.
was a Sweeper team, patrolling the borders of the Outer Nethers, which
spotted them initially. The Sweeper Captain could not at first
assimilate what he was seeing. Four vehicles in convoy were heading
ceremoniously down what remained of an old Freeway. Their appearance
was utterly outside the Captain's experience. The first and last
vehicles were huge, black, 24 wheeled trucks. He could hear the ground
trembling as they approached. Between the black trucks were two white
trucks, equally immense, with darkened windows. Emblazoned on the front
of each monster, glittering in the sunlight, was a great golden 'E'.
Captain nearly dropped the radio in his haste to report the sighting.
The convoy had almost reached the border when orders were issued from
the highest level. The Sweepers were to pull out in front of the trucks
and lead them through the Nethers to the Eastern City gates. Other
teams would join them until the convoy was essentially surrounded. No
shots were to be fired.
later, the spectacle arrived at the gates of Libria.
great doors opened and the convoy passed through, preceded by three
Sweeper trucks with three more bringing up the rear and flanked by
dozens of motorcycles. Librians going about their daily routines stared
in disbelief at the procession. Once at the Palace of Justice, the
leading truck rolled to a position just beyond the great steps,
pneumatic brakes hissing in protest as the immense vehicle slowed and
stopped. The rest followed suit, leaving the second white leviathan
directly in front of the steps.
Palace Guards, rifles at the ready, stood motionless, waiting. The
grand doors of the Palace opened and a man stepped through, closely
flanked by more guards. He descended at a measured pace, stopping four
steps from the ground, bringing him level with the vast doors of the
truck. He waited, his expression unreadable.
pneumatics heralded the opening of the door. It slid outwards and
sideways. The atmosphere became tense as white steps unfolded. From the
shadowy interior, a tall white-clad figure emerged, arms open, the
palms of the hands upturned. He looked across at the man on the steps
we have travelled a great distance to be with you, today. In the name
of Peace, the Envoys of Entropia greet you!"
man on the steps swallowed, his lips forming into a thin imitation of a
smile. When he spoke, his voice was taut.
welcomes you, Envoys of Entropia. This is indeed a great day for us
white-robed man continued down and was immediately followed by three
more similarly dressed, smiling figures. All four started up the steps
towards the Librian, who turned and led them into the Palace of Justice.
inside, the Envoys, now escorted by guards, were taken to an imposing
office, where they began their formal introductions. The Librian spoke
first, in clipped tones.
am Vice-Council DuPont, of the Third Councillary of the Tetragrammaton.
And you are....?"
of the House of Lyon. These are my compatriots." Smiling broadly, he
swept his hand towards the others. " Theodore, of the House of
Marseille; Sebastian, of the House of Toulouse and Giselle, of the
House of Bordeaux." The others bowed slightly. DuPont eyed them,
cautiously. Maximillian continued, "We are empowered by the people of
Entropia to forge an alliance between our peoples. We know little of
your great society other than, like us, it has freed itself from the
horrors of war and now exists in peace and harmony. Our transition was
not an easy one - the very name Entropia means chaos and disorder - but
we persevered and now hold ourselves as a shining example of Democracy."
DuPont replied, running his fingers over the cool granite of his desk.
"I will arrange a meeting of the Council. I am sure they are eager to
hear of your triumphs."
of the visitors took time to disseminate through the City. As with most
things, little interest was shown by the citizens. Father would tell
the people what they needed to know and so far, he had remained silent.
Certain groups of individuals, however, were most interested and a wave
of excitement spread rapidly through covert meetings.
Entropian contingent was not as large as the Council had assumed when
the trucks arrived. The Envoys were supported by a small team of
administrators, personal assistants, drivers and a few guards who
carried non-lethal weapons. One of the trucks was packed with
sculptures, paintings, books, musical instruments, films and recordings.
led the discussions, but the others had equal authority. They spoke of
the freedoms their society held in esteem; the pursuit of excellence in
all things artistic; their dream of once again uniting the world. They
extolled the virtues of their democratic system and the peaceful
existence all Entropians enjoyed. DuPont listened, stunned into silence
by the enormity of the concepts which assailed his mind: democracy;
freedom; family; love.
Envoys had many questions about Librian society. They wanted to know
about its system of government, how the people enjoyed their lives.
They were curious about the level of security apparent in the Palace
and elsewhere and asked about the severe, black-coated men they
encountered on occasions. What, exactly, was a Cleric's function?
DuPont skilfully evaded and obfuscated. It was preferable that the
Entropians remained ignorant of Libria's true nature for as long as
one afternoon, DuPont asked the Envoys about their communications with
Entropia. Their trucks bristled with sophisticated equipment. Giselle
answered with a gentle laugh.
were fine until we got half-way across the continent, but we can't
communicate directly from here. We thought we would send one of the
trucks back out again so that it could pick up a signal. Entropia will
be thrilled to know we've found you. There were some who were
sceptical, you know." She smiled encouragingly. DuPont smiled back.
have been most remiss, Envoys, in not showing you our wonderful city.
Please permit me to arrange a tour for you. I myself would be honoured
to be your guide."
is we who would be honoured, Vice-Council," replied Giselle.
next morning, Father's limousine was seen gliding around the sights of
were shadowed the entire journey by two Sweeper teams. They drove
through the Industrial Sector and looked at the huge water processing
plants. They were suitably impressed with the hydroponics and protein
producing facilities. Dupont pointed out the fine architecture and
fudged replies concerning the vast 'Equilibrium' buildings and the
strange devices the people all seemed to carry.
they stopped outside another impressive building and DuPont invited
them to go inside. In the sombre hallway, he spoke quietly to a Cleric
who was waiting for him there. Eventually, he nodded, seeming satisfied
with what he heard.
led the Envoys down a long corridor, explaining that the City had an
immense appetite for energy and power.
we need to produce incredible amounts of heat on a daily basis to keep
the City warm. This is one of our facilities. If you would move along
to the end of the hallway, you will see what I mean."
the Envoys reached the control area for the City Furnaces, their
expressions changed from intense interest to confusion. They viewed the
walkway and the flames raging behind the glass panelled door with the
stirrings of concern. Maximillian turned to DuPont.
I do not understand this place. There are many things about your
society which are beginning to trouble us and..." His voice trailed off
as the operator turned off the fires. The doors hissed open, steam
rolling and swirling around their feet.
see, Envoy," DuPont's voice was icy, "We needed time to establish that
communication with Entropia was indeed impossible. We cannot allow the
destabilisation of our great society by outsiders. This is the most
expedient resolution. Your kinsmen will assume that you perished on the
journey and if they are prudent, they will determine that it is neither
feasible, nor advisable, to send further delegations. Please...step
into the chamber."
four Envoys were too shocked to speak as the guards ushered them
forward at gunpoint. They huddled together, terror etched on their
faces as the doors closed. The turbines primed, the countdown sounded.
DuPont smiled in satisfaction as the flames purged Libria of the
contamination which had threatened its very existence.
later, in another office, high in the Palace, the Vice-Council read
through the report detailing the execution of the remaining Entropians
and the confiscation and destruction of the EC-10 designated materials
found in the great black truck. Well.....most of them. His eyes turned
to the beautiful leather-bound book on his desk. Dante's 'Inferno'. How