There was a shock wave hitting the space station seemingly coming out of the blue. Bricks and glass and debris of all kind rained down crashing on the foreyard where taxi cabs where standing and people now were hurrying away from what seemed the coming day of disaster.
Within the space station Bruce Gillespie, colonel of the Space Guard Army, and close friend of High Supreme Commander James MacAllenbee, shook dust off his jacket, snorting somewhat so that he could breathe normally again, whilst around him people - mostly soldiers of a war which just had begun - were cursing.
And rockets. Beyond there, hardly visible, there was a rocket, it had fallen down and now lay crisscross on the elegantly shimmering pavement now covered up with dust. An ambulances had already arrived there to pick up people who had been hit by brick or steel or even by parts of the rocket, to bring them to outpatient departments.
And there was cursing. Yes, cursing there was.
"Hell of a hell," one man, a private with heavy bushy hair and eyebrows, said, "how could they attack us?"
And another one, a sergeant, with blue eyes and a scar on his left cheek, answered: "Better tell me, how they could break through our protective shield!"
Then, both recognizing the colonel, they stood to attention, and saluted.
But Bruce Gillespie just said: "Take it easy, boys!"
Then they relaxed, and one of them, the man with the scar, Thomas Fowler, as Gillespie could read on his nameplate, asked:
"Beg your pardon, sir!"
"Tom?" Gillespie cordially asked.
"Do you think we will win that war, sir?"
He is going too far, Gillespie thought. But then, regarding the debris, and the smoke still rising, and the ambulances moving away with wailing sirens, he considered the mood of that undoubtedly brave man, and so he said against his real believe:
"Sure, we will, Tom."
"Thank you, sir," both of them answered, but, honestly, conviction looks differently.
They seemed to feel there was a colonel who was all but convinced of their victory, of the victory of Earth and her allies. And, by the way, what did he do here, this colonel, on a planet far off the real happenings in a just begun war, shouldn't he be on another planet, near the front whilst the enemy was approaching?
There was a television booth, being hit, but still intact, the monitor there showing only parts of the Rogo-fleet gathering in far away space out there, yes, only parts, and they already were immense. Bruce Gillespie saw the ammassment of the enemy's fleet, seeing only parts of it, and he inwardly shuddered.
How we will defeat them? he thought. That's like a mouse runnig against an elephant. You are trampled over before your realize it. And, by the way, what are needle sticks against such a monstrum?
And then he thought, Why didn't we arm better and quicker? Peace negotiations, what are we paying our politicians for, when they do nothing, or when they are acting too late? Yes, it's a dream, out in space there, to meet the others, but, hell, they are not so nice as so many of us have expected. And, hell, space is so big, so giant, so almost indeterminate, we could part it up between us and them and so many others, and there would remain room for all in superabundance.
"Beg your pardon, sir!"
Gillespie swung around, hearing that voice.
There was a man from the fire brigade, helmet buckled up, flame destroyer in his hands, dust all over his jacket and trousers.
"You must move out of this area, sir, we are cleaning it all up, sir."
"Oh yes, I'm sorry, didn't want to hinder you."
Then Gillespie halted.
"Why did they attack here?" he asked then. "So far away from earth and the other centres?"
"They didn't attack here, sir, as far as we can judge it," the man with the fire extinguisher answered.
"No?" Gillespie, unbelievingly, laughed, but stopped when he saw the other man's face.
"No, sir. This was only a by-wave of their desintegrator, they tested far away, sir."
Bruce Gillespie swallowed. He knew that weapon of which their own scientists had only a sketch, and didn't know how to use it.
He knit his brows.
"By-wave? What's that . . . ahem . . . Mr. Miller", he read the name plate below the dust on the man's jacket.
"By-wave? We have measured their acitivities far out. They are trying to press time and space together, you know, sir, both are in unit..."
"Yes, I know, Mr. Miller."
"Well," the man hesitated, "they compress space and time," the man, Mr. Miller, swallowed, "and that's the result, sir."
And he showed around the station and his comrads who were busily doing their job to clean up whatever there was left to do so.
Now, Bruce Gillespie knew very well the schemes of the enemy. But he didn't have thought they would reach so far as to this unimportant distant planet.
"That's the result of the wave they created in condensing space and time?"
"Yes, sir. It is. My superior says so. Beg your pardon, sir," said the fire man, Mr. Miller, "do you know how we can stop them?"
And he pointed up to the roof which half had tumbled down, and up to the stars, and he helplessly pointed far away, so unimaginable far away.
Gillespie himself thought, So they have done it. Pressing space and time together. And next thing they will do is pressing our area together into a singularity, or whatever.
He startled up.
"We are working on it," he assured.
But he realized instantly, his voice was feeble and squealy, and the other man heard it, and Mr. Miller understood, he hardly could trust that colonel because that colonel himself didn't believe it.
There was someone crying out of the debris.
Mr. Miller turned round: "Coming!"
And to the colonel he said: "Now, please, colonel, sir, you must leave the station."
Good man, Bruce Gillespie thought. How good are we? Are we matching their braveness? And he moved out of the station into the blinding sun which already shone into the station. And he stood there, thinking for a minute or two or even three of the by-wave, looking at the destroyed building behind him.
Hell, he thought, when that's the result of a by-wave, then tell me, what the real wave will generate? And he saw it in his mind: a singularity, where everything is lumped together, and where there will remain no blinding sun and no nasty weather, and no debris, and no dust, or rotten pillars. Where there will remain nothing.
But how can this be? Creating a nothing. Ain't they afraid their part of the cosmic system will be drawn into it? Bruce Gillespie started thinking about this, but was interrupted by a tiny - open speaking - ridiculous man who with hobbling steps had crossed the place in front of the station, and now was standing before him, looking in the colonel's eyes as if searching something therein.
"You colonel - ahem - Gilling - ahem - Gillingly - ahem - Gillingpie?"
He self assuredly stretched out a hand consisting only of bony fingers.
"Gillespie," the colonel swept by some anger retorted. "Bruce Gillespie."
No, the next moment he thought, better not treat him like that. Because, truly spoken, a feeling had overcome the colonel, better take care of that man in the eyes of which a fire was burning. Hell, you have never have seen such a fire.
They shook hands, and, well, there was power in those bony fingers, Gillespie almost screeched as he felt it.
"They believed they would have a protection against it," the man just wrapped up in a cloth said.
Bruce Gillespie now didn't look back at the obviously unprotected station.
"You are a monk?" Gillespie interrogated, hardly able to keep his surprise from the other one.
And the other answered: "Mongo San is my name."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Mongo."
"Mr. San, if you don't mind, Mr. - ahem - Gillespie."
They looked at each other, and Gillespie laughed, and Mongo San giggled, and the ice was broken. Have ever two men of so different a caliber met on a far away planet, in front of a destroyed station, and then they laughed and giggled like children who maybe for the first time have noticed the other sex? Next moment both were alarmed and became serious.
"I was told someone would pick me up here," Gillespie said as in a belated overture.
"That's me," Mongo San replied.
"They have struck again?" The monk asked pointing at the building.
"They are nearing us," said Gillespie, and he hardly could hinder the desperation in his voice.
"Now, now, attaboy," the other one said. "You see this building over there?"
Bruce Gillespie saw it. A gigantic complex of concrete rather near. Very still everything between them and there, no traffic, no passengers, just this building.
San was smiling. "Temporary our temple."
It was hard to believe, but this monk, Mongo San, was serious like hell.
"Here in the middle of the city?"
"It's sealed off, it enjoys, in every respect, highest protection."
Said that pathetic little man with that fire burning in his eyes.
"Let's move over there?" San asked.
"Yes, but," Gillespie looked into the sky, "walking or by beam?"
Because up there in the sky all of a sudden clouds were gathering. Just a moment ago the sun was shining, and now it seemed, soon rain would be falling down.
"As you please, colonel," said the scrawny man pulling his cloth up to his shoulder.
You are working on the weather? Gillespie thought, over there in the hell of your kitchen?
"Yes, sir," answered San to a not loudly posed question.
"On the weather?" croaked Gillespie, pointing up to the sky and the clouds, now gathering therein highest speed.
"Sorry, sir, I thought the weather being too hot for you. The sun is shining all over you."
"Yes, but should it start to rain?" mused Gillespie looking at the meagre man wrapped in that cloth, in a discussion of an absurdity he never had dreamt of.
Or wasn't that so absurd, as it deemed him to be?
"Well, the superior told me," the monk answered, "it couldn't damage to show you."
"To show me that?" Bruce Gillespie, pointing up to the sky and the clouds strongly gathering, laughed.
"Yes, sir. Beg your pardon, he said you only believe what you can touch or eat or beat."
Now there were those dark clouds in the sky, promising even hail and snow. The colonel didn't know the normal weather conditions of this place. But hail and snow? The first drops - of rain - fell down. It was humid and cold, and the wind gushed up. The monk, so neglectable clothed, as it deemed, didn't care.
They arrived at the building using some transportation belt. Now rain like in torrents fell down, and it was such a wonderful day, full of sun shine, when the colonel arrived.
"You are using some method to influence the weather all over here?" Gillespie suddenly asked.
"Didn't they tell you?" the other one inquired.
"Of what? You mean," the colonel felt aghast, "this rain here," they hardly could look out through a window because outside the rain thickly covered the glass, "is up to you?"
You, a miserable monk, he thought, but didn't say.
The monk knitted his brow as if he even had heard that thought, as if he could read the colonel's mind. Then he smiled again.
"Partially," Mongo San said. "Partially?" Gillespie licked his lips, suddenly becoming dry. "You mean, you use pyrotechnique to influence the clouds all over there?"
And he laughed. But the monk didn't laugh, nor did he smile. The colonel seeing the other one's countenance stopped short. Never, never sneer at a monk, he thought.
And what did Mongo San do? In a wide gesture he moved his arm so as if embracing all the terrain out there, and then he smiled, and snipped his fingers, yes, he snipped his fingers.
And coolly, but convincedly, said: "It will take a quarter of an hour, maybe."
What will take a quarter of an hour, please? the colonel thought. Both men, silently, stood in front of the window, the colonel unbelievingly gazing out. And within three or four minutes the rain became scarce, then it altogether stopped.
Hell, this happened by chance, the colonel thought. Really by chance? The rain stopped by chance? Can this be? No, it cannot be, no, no, no. And he clamped his teeth, and the monk beside him smiled.
They already were deep in the deserted building. Deserted it was because all male and all female inhabitants had been conscripted for military service to fight the enemy fleet.
"What do you think," the monk challenged his guest, "do we fight the Rogo fleet pyrotechnically?"
No, not pyrotechnically, the colonel, thinking of the rain, ruefully mused.
On their way down into the abyss of this place there was a running closed-circuit television set. It showed the area outside the building and forced Bruce Gillespie to stop. No, there was no intruder, there was no thief, there just was the outside weather noted carefully. That means the sun shone as before, and the water which must have fallen abundantly already vaporized.
"Here, there is our sacred room," a few steps further, the monk said. "Silence, please!"
And there, in a corner on another screen, was the Rogo fleet. Amassing there, ships after ships. Didou ever see so many ships concentrated on a small area in space? On small ground? But what is small and what is ground in space? Of course, space is gigantic, but fill it up with all those dangerous ships, and space appears as only one dangerous spot.
No, Gillespie thought, this is not really true. They are crammed up in the interstice, and therefore this impression will arise. The insterstice, or the substellar corridor, through which all space travels occur, is a zone of high density through which you like through a short cut move. Hundreds of light years in outer space, but snap your finger in interstice, and you are there. The Rogos moved there and humanity and its allies travelled there as well.
"Beg your pardon?"
What did the monk say? That miserable monk, regarding the Rogo fleet.
"Silence, please," Mongo San repeated and he laid his fingers on his lips, so that the colonel in case he could not hear, at least he could get the message.
And why silence, please? Gillespie thought.
"They are praying," the monk whispered.
"They are praying?" Bruce Gillespie whispered, too.
"All the time."
Rumours had spread to the colonel as well, of course. There were hints and brief mentions for instance James MacAllenbee had done.
"Colonel," some days ago at the briefing he said, "I won't tell you too much. Look and learn for yourself. But maybe we are in luck."
"In luck, sir? Regarding that fleet?" Bruce Gillespie asked when the Rogo ships still were disparate.
But MacAllenbee nodded sternly grabbing cordially the colonel's shoulder.
"I want you to report everything you see, Bruce. Okay? Look tightly, I want an exact report. Is it true what they pretend? What we could await?"
"Yes, of course, sir!" Gillespie wonderingly said and, before saluting, stopped.
"Bruce?" The High Supreme Commander asked.
"Why me? Why is it me to contact that - ahem - that population of our - ahem - special guard?" Bruce Gillespie searchingly asked.
He could have as well demanded: Why don't you select another man? Me, I am an officer of the front. When war brews ahead, I am always there where trouble is, and not in cheap retreat. But, of course, he didn't dare say that.
"Maybe that's our most important outpost there, colonel," sternly the High Commander said, "we need an exact report on what is happening there, and why, and how they do it. And, please mind, this maybe is our only chance."
"Yes, sir," Gillespie, saluting, replied.
But, obviously, it needs more evidence than rain to be convinced. "They are praying." And now they, he and the monk, entered that giant room, the abyss as they called it, down there in the vaults, where - oh yes! - almost absolute silence reigned. And indeed, they were praying there. Not only monks from Buddhist creed. A lot of them sat there hands raised above their heads, so, as if saluting God. Other creeds where there, judging by their clothes you could see Catholic priests, gliding rosaries through their hands, or monks, some of them kneeling down on a church pew. And hey, being crouched down on a carpet there, that was the Islam? Oh yes, they dived down on the fabric and raised again, and dived down.
Whereto? Gillespie thought, where Mecca or Medina is?
He swallowed. Sheer utmost silence reigned around them. No loud word, almost no noise, they must have agreed on it, he thought. But anyway, somehow they are kidding us?Because, what they heard was a minimal sound, and as the colonel looked in a corner far away, there was a prayer wheel, by hand strokes of a half naked man, turning round and round.
Bruce Gillespie, colonel and person of respect, swiped his head (because sweat was all over him, and on his head as well).
'Maybe this is our only chance,' Allenbee had said.
Over there, that half naked man? Our last chance?
Mongo San grabbed his arm.
"You have seen enough?" whispered he.
"That's a giant praying hall. Is it everywhere so, also in the darkest corners which we cannot see?" the colonel asked.
"This is the main place, but there are more spots in here, they are praying everywhere, and by the way,", Mongo San didn't let loose, "they are praying all around the world, and in the solar system and outside of it, just everywhere."
The monk smacked his lips, without loosening his grip. "They are praying everywhere, in any place where conscious people are."
Conscious people? The colonel swallowed again. Conscious people? That one there, a half naked monk, was he conscious, a man who obviously even didn't know how to dress?
"And this one over there," Gillespie murmured, "please tell me, to which creed does he belong, Mongo?"
And he pointed at a man looking halfways like a mountaineer.
"No creed," Mongo said.
"No, sir. He sees God everywhere. On a hill, in the water of a pond, on a meadow, simply everywhere. He is the only one of this opinion to enter this place."
"Why is he participating here?"
"Being present, to show to the others there are many, many more, who were not drafted, outside there."
"You mean, they are praying all around our system and star belt, and everywhere?" the colonel a little too loudly asked.
"Everybody is praying we could gather there. And for sure many more are praying of whom nobody knows, but you see, when there is a normal crisis, an everyday's problem I would say, a lot of people are praying so that heaven may help them and solve their problem."
They were outside the central room, because an angry monk's look from below met them. There they stood, Bruce Gillespie, breathing heavily, leaning against a wall. "Do you think I should pray as well?" he asked without grinning or anything like that. And Mongo San nodded and said: "Against that Rogo-fleet, oh yes, colonel, sir!"
Can you dismiss what you have witnessed there? Are all those people insane? And what about the weather and the rain, just half an hour ago? Oh yes, it struck the colonel when he thought of it.
"Mongo," he said looking over the monitor outside at a brillant blue sky again, "that change of weather a few minutes ago. . . ."
"Yes, colonel, sir?"
"Was it - ahem," the colonel croaked, his voice didn't want to say what passed through his mind, "was it somehow up to you?"
"It was," the monk unshakeably, simply replied.
It was. . . .
The wall in Gillespie's back almost tumbled down.
"You mean," he probed, "you can influence the weather on earth on your own?"
"It is not as easy as it seems, and it doesn't always work so simply, colonel, sir."
The monk nodded, without further consideration. And the colonel, Bruce Gillespie, couldn't deny what he had witnessed and seen.
"And you mean," the colonel haltingly went on, "you can influence space weather as well?"
Sternly nodded the monk, without saying a word.
"I mean, there is almost no weather in space," said the colonel, embarrassedly, "but in the interstice, there, compressed, is a lot of it. I mean there is energy in abundance. And compressed energy, well," he swallowed, "that means weather."
"Well?" Mongo San asked looking frankly at the honourable man still leaning almost desperately against the wall.
"Do you have influence on the weather in the substellar space?" the colonel repeated.
"Yes, sir, colonel, we do have," finally the monk Mongo San replied.
Now, the colonel had travelled wide in space. Say, that's travelling in substellar space, so shortening your path, else you never would arrive at your destination. Moving substellarly is not easy, it is a dangerous job, the colonel knew better than any monk. And he remembered that storm, no, that hurricane, no, that substellar nightmare he was in ten years ago which almost cost his life.
They, both of them, looked at the monitor frame switching over from planet Earth to the more and more assembling Rogo-fleet. You never have seen a threat like this, so many damned Rogo-ships, gunned up to the tops, with ray-guns and everything. But then - now look at this - a coloured picture of the substellar space overlayed it.
The colonel recognized immediately what the next moment they would behold.
"Hell," he puffed, "this is tornado alley through which they come."
"It is," nodded the monk.
"There is no other way for them?" Bruce Gillespie wonderingly said.
"No other way, sir, colonel."
"And what's brewing up there?" Gillespie, enraptured, said.
"A weather they have neve met before," declared the monk, "at least I hope so."
But he corrected himself at once: "No, I am sure of it."
The colonel, hearing this, livened up.
"But, they do know as well as we, this being tornado season in interstice!"
"There is always tornado season there, sir," the monk said and grinned.
The colonel looked at him suspiciously and told him about the substellar accident when bad weather almost had killed him and his crew, capsizing their ship, and everything. The monk, Mongo San, eagerly listened to the story of his partner opposite, without speaking yet.
And Bruce Gillespie, referring to that bygone devastating storm, asked expressly: "That was you and your men?"
However, the monk indignantly replied: "What do you think? We never work intentionally, and we never hurt men. At least not in this respect."
In which respect he didn't say, but, of course, hurting the enemy, and very hard, was meant.
Later on, nearby in his hotel, the colonel like a few other residents couldn't switch out his television set. Well, you have seen so much Western, Comedy, and Crime, and things like that, but a spectacle like this - this one in reality - never has occurred (at least in one thousend years). And it was presented live, the liveliest there ever can be.
Brushing his teeth, Gillespie on the second TV set saw the picture of the substellar space, now in colours again, and the energy there they virtually had emphasized, and the ships, of course, and winds, winds, winds, if we are allowed to call this uproar winds, were gushing over the ships, and dragging here and dragging there, and in close-ups he registered the hollow eyes of the forced recruits who panicridden tried, in vain, to save their vessels.
Well, his tooth brush sank down, have you ever seen a ship tumbling down into a sun, slithering so silently, as if you were sitting there on the bench watching a silent movie to be shown? They were spreading the Rogo-fleet over space and time. It was like God puffing into the Rogo-fleet, capsizing them. God was breathing strong gusts into their propelling machinery system, and thus, blowing them up, by pure energy, which was amassed there.
His tooth brush still in the sink, Bruce Gillespie thought of it. Now I understand, old boy, he mused, technique is necessary, nice and fine. And it helps in modern times so much, for that reason we set great store by it. But look at this, weather will be the master anytime! Weather always wins, he realized, picking his tooth brush up again.
Just as his teeth were almost clean as space outside, a major part of the Rogo-fleet was gone.
"You seen that?" James MacAllenbee, calling him up, much later asked when Bruce Gillespie already lay in bed.
Outside there was crying and fireworks and the frenetic chiming of bells, and, please, how under these circumstances can you sleep, when even your superior calls you up?
"I am watching it, sir," Gillespie said.
Then there was the face of the High Supreme Commander, still strongly indistinct because the furious substellar weather even was pulling on the electronic currents they used to convey this message (for good reason you create a substellar storm, if you can, but then it rages on and on).
Well, James MacAllenbee, looked highly enjoyed, and tough. Then, you would think he came out of the yet much blurred picture, to kiss the colonel, to deliver smacks of kisses on his face. But, needless to say, despite the giant distance separating them, he pulled himself together, and said:
"You know, that's only the beginning, Bruce," he said.
"I know, sir," Gillespie, remote control in his hands, replied.
"You have seen the substellar weather forecast, Bruce?" And MacAllenbee - the Supreme Commander so utmost satisfied as his subordinate never had seen him - stroked his bald head which seemed as if the storm had uprooted his hair.
"I have, sir," Gillespie said.
"That's only the beginning," MacAllenbee said.
"Yes, sir, we just started with it," Gillespie confirmed.
"Well," the High Commander sighed, "such a day, that I am allowed to witness it."
"Oh yes, sir," Gillespie said, "what a day! The greatest day in our lives probably."
Then the High Commander looked quizzically.
"You are already in bed, my dear?" he wanted to know.
"I am, sir," Gillespie confirmed and, maybe missing some respect, he yawned. "You know, again, it was a long and demanding day."
And he wondered, would the High Commander never ask? Why he was sent here? And about the results? What about the monks, and the factory wherein the holy men had their temple temporarily installed?
No, Allenbee, did not ask. Had he forgotten his subordinates whereabouts? Or the mission to send the colonel here? Or didn't he care at all, because the substellar weather was fine (that means terrible) on its own, and if it's exactly the way you like it, who ever would ask?
Fine, indeed, was the weather regarding Earth and its allies, in respect to their aim. Not at all enthralling for the enemy.
"Well, Bruce, when do we meet at the central station again?" Allenbee asked.
"Cannot determine exactly, sir. The weather in interstice is harsh and, as you know, all voyages are postponed. You know, the so sudden and unexpected storm," he intimated again all that what burnt on his heart.
"I know, my dear boy," the High Commander cordially said, "when the weather will subside, we meet again. I hope that will be soon. But first things first. First the enemy."
"Yes, sir, first things first, first the Rogo-fleet, when the weather will subside, we will meet again."
"Have a good night, Bruce!"
"I will have, sir, and you as well!"
"Here it is daytime, as you know," said James MacAllenbeek, and laughed.
"Sorry, sir, there are so much factors you must consider and separate."
"No problem, me boy." But then, getting serious again, the Supreme High Commander added good homouredly: "And dream of all gales you ever can dream of, especially such gales smashing the enemy!"
And Bruce Gillespie, somehow wistfully, also smiled. "Gales, sir. Smashing the enemy, sir. I for sure will!"
"Good night, Bruce!"
"Good day, sir!"
The bad connection was interrupted. And the colonel, stretched out in bed, thought: And what about your dreams, sir, and your recognition of the events? You don't have any dreams, only the monks do have? Do you really think so? And you never thought of dreams coming true, although you sent me for this purpose here?
Disappointment? Bruce Gillespie, in bed, smacked his lips. Why didn't his superior ask for more? He sent him here under the express order to find out what this private group of people, stretching all over their system, were doing there. Secret Service reports? No, the Supreme High Commander took notice of them, but he wanted more information. You must learn about it yourself, that's the only way that counts. And now? Success makes you blind, you reach your goal, and whilst reaching it, you forget everything else?
Two days, three days passed by. The weather in the interstice was bad. You and Mongo San and the Rogos and all the universe about, you never have seen such nasty substellar weather all around. The people, watching television day and night, they greeted it, and jubilantly greeted the unmistakeably downfall of the Rogo-fleet.
Of course, some minor battles took place, you need your own soldiers and army to defeat what escapes the stormy season, of the Rogo-fleet. That giant armada, so that even this human wasp here, and that human hornet there could make a sting. But the enemy's fighting was desperate, because, watching their own television themselves, they knew as well, the Grand War - at least at Day Three - was lost. Against whom did they lose? Against the defending army, against the weather, against God? And the weather in interstice didn't abate, no, it looked like as if the Gods did everything to finish them off.
Fourth day in the capital, Bruce Gillespie still was around. But now he finally managed to contact the busy - or say better: reclusive - monk, Mongo San.
"Hello," Gillespie, whilst the face of the other one appeared on the screen, said.
The monk seemed tired, even exhausted, as if he had done a hard job all the time. Like winning the Gold medal at the Olympic Games, maybe.
"You ill?" Gillespie cautiously asked.
"No, sir, colonel, I'm fine," the other one replied, "finer than you ever think."
And he yawned. Indeed, the battle won, now he yawned immeasurably.
"What about you? Sticking still around here?"
"Yes, the weather, good man. They dare not dive into substellar space to prevent any accident."
"Oh yes," Mongo said, "there was much capsizing in the last days."
And he smiled over broad cheeks.
"In former times," he continued, "capsizing meant, water gushes in, and all are doomed, they will drown. Now," he lifted his meagre finger as if pointing to God, "there is a lot of energy swamping a ship, and you drown in a very quick, and ask God, in a very nasty way. What's up?" he then demanded, some sharpness in his voice.
The yawning was gone.
"Oh yes," he then said, "you did report to your superior. Mission fulfilled. The spy reports?"
Bruce Gillespie's face flushed. "I am no spy, Mongo San."
"But you did report?"
"I did," the colonel truthfully replied.
"And? What did he say, your Mr. Allenbee?"
"Is Mr. MacAllenbee content with the results?"
"Utmost content," the colonel answered. "As everyone else."
Then Gillespie continued somehow embittered, or disappointed, at least. "But he even didn't ask for you or for your fellow-fighters, no matter where you are."
Mongo San, as if he already knew, smiled.
"What did you expect?" he then asked. "That's tornado alley in interstice, you know, weather is unaccountable."
He grinningly licked his lips, and repeated: "Well, my dear friend, what did you expect?"
"Why did they let you work at this place?" the colonel wanted to know. "That's a big building wherein you are, property of the state. Just because people were drafted and it is almost empty therefore?"
"As far as I know, they were desperate," the meagre man modestly answered. "So they said, let's do everything, let's do anything, no matter what it may be. We must defeat the enemy, no matter the cost, regardless the level we must use. You see," Mongo San continued smilingly, "leaving this building only for some time for us, was their least problem. They would have done much more than this, they would have done everything to reach their goal."
"And you, Mongo," the colonel asked, "what did you and your fellows do in this respect?"
`"As you have seen, just praying, that's what we did."
Unbelievable. The colonel almost was convinced, but new doubts arose. Bruce Gillespie knitted his brow.
"But you do not do anything in vain," he said remembering well the influence on earthen weather the monk a few days ago might have used.
Oh yes, in memory of this, he almost felt rain dropping on his now dry skin and shirt.
"No, we never will work in vain," Mongo San replied.
"So you were sure, what you intended to do, would work?"
"Absolutely sure, no matter what the others think."
The colonel hesitated for a short time. The monk was so incredibly convinced, therefore he asked:
"How come you and your fellows can realize such a thought?"
"Experience and history, both of them, they tell us that it works."
Experience? Yes, this goddam monk even could influence weather on poor Earth. But history, hell, what was he insinuating?
"History?" the colonel asked. "What do you mean with that, my dear friend?"
"You ever have been in possession of a history book?" the other one mockingly counterasked.
The colonel, somewhat annoyed, blushed.
"No, but I have read one," with enough patience he then replied.
"You know England and Japan?"
Hell, what was he up to? Of course, the colonel knew, everybody knows.
"Both islands," he restrainedly said.
"Very well, you remember, when an imminent danger threatened them, both, England and Japan, how they were saved, or how they saved themselves?"
Bruce Gillespie thought this over, focussing on it. Yes, he remembered somehow.
"You mean - hm - the Spanish armada, trying to conquer the British islands?"
"Oh yes, colonel, sir," the monk confirmed.
"The armada were defeated," the colonel mused.
"Oh yes, they were defeated," repeated the monk. "And now, please tell me, how?"
"Well," the colonel said, "that's well known, I believe."
"Well, I am all ears."
The colonel, slightly annoyed, added: "They were defeated at sea, of course."
"Oh yes, the conditions at this place and time were fine?"
The colonel swallowed his annoyance down, because he remembered more: "Well, they write about nasty weather, and a defending fleet."
"Yes, there were nasty weather, and a defending fleet. And how did the Japanese not only once, but twice strike the Mongols back?"
"No, I don't figure that so much."
"Well, let me tell you," the monk like the real master said. "It was tornado time at those seas. In the Channel and before the Japanese coast. Yes, I know," Mongo San noddingly said, "there was a Japanese army as well, them, the soldiers, they finished them off. But against the weather, or God, no one ever will win."
Tornado times, in the Channel, and before the Japanese coast, the colonel thought. Tornado times in interstice?
Then he swallowed and asked: "Nobody can win against God?"
"Oh no, nobody can!"
"And how comes God into this play, I mean into the battle of this?" Bruce Gillespie asked although he already knew.
The monk, over his narrow countenance, grinned broadly.
"They did pray there and then, and it was tornado time, and the weather played up to the enemy?" the colonel asked.
"Indeed. They did pray, may dear friend," the monk jovially replied. "And there exists a striking evidence."
"And they, the monks, my brethren at this time, they were paid."
"Paid?" The colonel, more and more convinced, hardly could believe what he heard.
"In Japan, there in the shrines, they got payed, the monks, you know, they got money although the rulers were broke. The monks got more money than the bravest soldier ever, you know. They knew it was the weather to change the right time, so they could be saved."
And in Old England, the bells did chime, Gillespie suddenly remembered, to thank God for his grace. They knew very well whom to praise for their victory. So the bells did chime, and this way they praised God.
And tornado time in the tornado alley in interstice, the colonel then thought. Oh yes, very well! It did rhyme with all he knew.
"And you, Mongo, good boy," he then asked, "what kind of pay did you expect?"
"No earthly pay," the monk replied.
"You despise money?" Bruce Gillespie grinned restrainedly.
"No, but sometimes there are things more important than just cash."
Well, my dear boy, Bruce Gillespie mused, and he asked: "You refer to belief?"
"Yes, good man," gurgled the monk utmost convincedly. "Belief."
"And if you believe in it, more things like this can be done?"
But Mongo San, the monk, didn't answer that. Because of a sudden flash in interstice their connection broke off. Bad weather, you know.
More miracles than this can be done? mused the colonel, stepping out on the street.
And he looked at the blue sky. Yes, all over the horizon, there was a blue sky like he never had seen before. No cloud, no dot of white. Just the bluest sky you ever can imagine.
Was there a twinkling of God in there? He whistled and momentarily felt like a fool. No, no, no twinkling of God anywhere!
But what an idiot am I, the colonel thought, God twinkles at the right time, and then violently, as he did in interstice!
Maybe the next miracle just will take some time? One thousand years, perhaps?
Who knows? the colonel thought.
And now merrily whistling he went over to the station where the first fixing and repair had begun.