“Are they up to anything illegal?” asked Oriana.
“Illegal yes, immoral no,” said Kent plainly.
“Ahh, yes, you live a life straddled uncomfortably between those two things.”
“Between chaos and order, yes, I suppose I do. But who says that I am uncomfortable? It’s actually kind of fun when looked at from the right perspective.”
Kelly nodded enthusiastically with this statement, “I get it, I wouldn’t do anything that hurt anyone else, but I don’t really care about the law either.”
“Kelly!” gasped Oriana, “You don’t really mean that!”
“Yes I do, why should I follow the law?”
“Because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” replied Oriana sounding far less confident than she thought she ought to be.
“Well, I suppose I should in case I get caught by the police or something, but I wouldn’t hurt anyone or their things. Really, when you think about it, a law is simply the opinion of a group of old men.”
“With guns,” added Paul.
Oriana gasped, “What on Earth do you mean? With guns?”
“I mean that the law is an opinion backed with guns. Why else would anyone follow it? The government have to use armed enforcers otherwise the law won’t be respected.”
“Indeed!” remarked Kent betraying more interest in the conversation than he had shown as yet, “Tell me Paul; what do you mean by the word ‘respect’?”
“Respect? I mean to admire, to see as having value, to treat as though it were precious.”
“I see,” Kent stopped paddling the raft up the tunnel, and motioned for Kelly to stop too. He reached out and anchored the raft by the wall with his hands clasping a small pipe jutting out from the wall.
“Would you mind if I told you a story before we go on?” he asked them earnestly. The three passengers exchanged looks at each other in the tunnel torchlight and each gave their consenting glance.
Kent drew in a deep breath, “There were once two fathers with a son each. The first father said to his son that he must not cross the fence on the north paddock and eat the fruit from the orchard. He told his son that the law was that no one may cross the boundary set by another man around his property. His son went out to the north paddock and seeing that no one was in sight, he crossed the fence and ate the fruit in the orchard. A pack of dogs came and tor the boy to pieces. When the father found the pieces of his little boy he cried out in pain and woe. ‘Oh why son did you not obey the law? For now you are torn apart.’
“The second father said to his son that he must not cross the fence on the north paddock and eat the fruit from the orchard. He told his son that the law was not to cross the boundary set by another man around his property. He added that the owner of the orchard kept a pack of fierce guard dogs in the orchard to attack any thieves. His son went out to the north paddock and seeing that no one was in sight he climbed a tree and used a long stick to pluck fruit from over the fence and devoured it in safety. When the father heard about the fate of the first father’s son, he called his son before him and praised him for obeying the law which had kept him safe from being eaten by the dogs. The son heard all this and thanked his father for warning him of the dogs.”
Kent finished his story there, supposing that he had concluded it adequately for the satisfaction of this audience. Eventually there were murmurs of shy approval for the story.
“That’s a really great story, Kent,” said Paul.
“I don’t think I did a good job at telling that story,” muttered Kent sadly.
“No! No! It was a good story,” said Kelly.
“Then what was I trying to say?”
Paul and Kelly looked uncomfortable and maintained their silence. Oriana spoke next in a calm articulate tone.
“The story was about how sometimes people confuse the weakness of the law with the strength of knowledge.”
Kent smiled, “perfect! I hadn’t thought of putting it so succinctly Oriana. Thank you for listening so generously,” he turned to Kelly, “Let’s continue down this tunnel!”
Kelly reached for her oar and as she did she whispered into Oriana’s ear, “nerd!”
A few minutes later the raft rounded a corner and was in a chamber similar to the one connected to Kent’s tunnel. This one was slightly larger, there were lights on the ceiling and instead of a grill in the roof there was a large square opening from which a basket attached to the rope dangled through. The walls were smooth hard concrete with iron rings fastened into them at several points. Kent paddled the raft up to one of these rings and tied a rope onto it to anchor the raft. Oriana scanned the chamber torch, for although there was lighting much of the chamber was still hidden in shadows. Enough shadows to conceal dozens of people. She felt as though they were not alone.
Kent stepped off the raft and onto a concrete walkway leading to a ladder that lead up to the ceiling. He paused, drew in a deep breath and called out to the darkness, “Civilisation is a beautiful woman!”
His words echoed through the chamber and into the tunnels branching off. Moments later a reply was heard.
“Civilisation is a wealthy man!”
Emerging from one of the large tunnels were two figures. Dressed in light grey uniforms they looked like steam precipitating out of the darkness. The uniforms more similar to surgeons than to soldiers: One figure was a man and the other a woman.
The man spoke first, “Kent, you have brought guests with you. Are they pledged?”
Kent shook his head, “they are unpledged.”
“Then why have you brought them here with you?”
“The Tyranni wished to kill them.”
The women in the uniform gasped, “The Tyranni are here?”
Kent nodded gravely, “they are waiting outside my home, seeking me.”