THE MORAL INDIVIDUAL

Delays and Plans

"Sleep well?" Cedric's booming voice echoed in the mostly open building, startling them awake. Jasmine' cot was next to Lester's and she was lying with her arm over him and her head on his chest.

Lester looked a little embarrassed but Jasmine sat up and said, "It was heaven!"

Cedric chuckled, "I dare say!" Jasmine just grinned.

"I didn't mean to startle you, but I'm afraid I have some bad news. It's not terrible, it's just it will take at least another day to get the amount of thessaline you want. There's almost no call for it and we would never have that much on hand."

"You mean you're going to have to make it? Can you make that much that quickly?" Veronica asked.

"Yes," Cedric said. "It's not too difficult. It was originally called rootaba, which is the plant it was extracted from."

"My aunt always calls it rootaba," Yuwon said.

"When thessaline was forbidden, the Forbidders eradicated the rootaba plants. But our chemists figured out how synthesize it. The formula is not a secret, but everywhere else it is forbidden and you won't find it recorded anywhere. It's not forbidden here.

"I also need to talk to you about bringing it back," Cedric continued. "You know how dangerous it is. With the amount you will have being caught by the Forbidder agents would mean the death penalty."

"If ToyLin doesn't get it, it will mean the death penalty for her," Yuwon said.

"I understand," Cedric said. "We'll just have to make sure she gets it."

Dora and Louise arrived with breakfast just as Cedric was leaving. "I'll be back around nine. I hope you are all here," He said.

"Where else would we be?" Jasmine said.



They had been almost too tired to enjoy eating the previous evening, but everyone was starving in the morning. Again there were things they recognized, or thought they did, and others that were a complete mystery.

"Do these scrambled eggs taste funny?" Eddy asked.

"Let me taste," Yuwon said helping herself to Eddy's eggs. "These aren't funny," she said. "they're good. They're duck eggs."

"Well they taste funny to me," Eddy said. "Do you cook these things?" he asked Yuwon.

"Of course I do," she said. "If I cooked them for you, you wouldn't complain, would you?" Eddy smiled at Yuwon, but didn't answer her.

"Well?" Yuwon said.

"You could serve me snake eggs and I'd love them," Eddy said still smiling.

"We'll see," she threatened.



After breakfast the girls talked the boys into using the showers first. Veronica was preoccupied with some notes she was making so Jasmine sat beside Yuwon.

"Yuwon, what possessed you to pull that beautiful stunt on the Nebers?"

"More than anything else it was anger, Jasmine. I just couldn't let that filth stop us. I was seeing you, and Lester, and Eddy and how decent you are, then I saw them and thought of what they would do to you if they could. I was honestly tempted, like Eddy, to just shoot them and be done with it. If I ever see them again, I don't think I'll hesitate to do just that.

"Either will I, Jasmine said."

"Jasmine, can I ask you a very personal question?"

"Yuwon, you can ask me anything."

"Are you in love with Eddy?"

"Oh, yes," Jasmine said. "I've always adored Eddy and always will."

"Don't you mind, I mean, Eddy and me?"

"Why would I mind? I love Eddy and want him to be happy, and you certainly make him happy. But I'm being obtuse aren't I. You're wondering if I'm jealous or hurt or bothered because Eddy loves you. Well I'm not. Eddy and I have loved each other since before we went to school and that will never change, but we won't ever belong to each other. Eddy's had lots of girl friends. Eddy likes girls. It never bothers me. Don't let it bother you either. It's different with you, Yuwon. He loves all girls, but never the way he loves you. He was smitten the first moment he saw you. No matter how much you love him, you'll never love him more than he loves you."

"I just love you Jasmine," Yuwon said.

"You better. I'm the one who talked Eddy into inviting you to walk home with us, not that Eddy ever needed any encouragement; besides I love you too," Jasmine said, "so long as we don't get too gushy about it," and laughed.

"So Lester's not second best?" Yuwon asked.

"It's always been Lester for me. He's not like Eddy. Eddy loves being in love and knows when he is. I think Lester always knew I loved him, then one day he realized he loved me, but he didn't think he liked it. He didn't want to be in love. I really don't know why. Perhaps he thought it would interfere with his freedom or get in his way. He is very hard working and very determined and doesn't like anything in his way. But, as you can see, he finally surrendered to the inevitable and isn't the least bit sorry," Jasmine said. "And I'll make sure he never is."



When the boys came back the girls took their turn in the shower. Before they were done, Cedric had returned.

"I'm afraid there is going to be a bit more of a delay than we thought," Cedric was saying to the boys, just as the girls were returning.

"Why is that?" Veronica asked as she sat next to Anthony.

Jasmine and Yuwon were still a little damp when they joined Lester and Eddy.

"What did we miss?" Jasmine wanted to know."

"Cedric says there's going to be another delay," Veronica said.

"Why," Yuwon asked?

"It's entirely technical," Cedric began to explain. "The raw materials for synthesizing the thessaline won't be here until tomorrow morning. The synthesizing process will take most of the day. Everybody is working on this as fast as they can," Cedric said.

"Oh, we don't doubt any of that," Veronica said. "It may actually be a good thing," she said. "You said the formula for thessaline is not that difficult?"

"Yes, that's what I've been told. I wouldn't understand it myself."

Veronica was suddenly very serious. "Suppose we brought the formula back with us. I'm a chemist. I'm sure I could follow the process for synthesizing thessaline."

"I suppose you might," Cedric said, "but if you should ever be caught with that formula you would be executed," he said gravely.

"What if there is a way to bring back the formula without anyone possibly knowing?" Veronica asked.

"You know of such a way?" Cedric asked amazed.

"There is such a way, but only if we can watch your scientists carry out the synthesizing process and if they can verbally describe everything they are doing."

"I'm sure we could arrange that," Cedric said, "but I don't understand how that would make it possible for you to bring the formula back without the possibility of being detected. Are you going to use some kind of coded notes, or something like that?"

"No, nothing like that," Veronica said. "Nothing will be recorded."



Veronica did not choose to say any more about it, and Cedric finally got to his reason for being there.

"You were all very fortunate to get here. You cannot count on that good fortune when you return. In fact, your return is going to be much more trouble than getting here."

"Here are some things we'll have to think about:"

"You will have been gone for over a week when you get back. Someone will surely be looking for you and for an explanation.

"You'll have to have some place safe to go when you get back. Marten has probably already thought of that, but you can't be sure of that. If, for some reason, that preparation hasn't been made, what will you do?

"Your going to be carrying a lot of thessaline which you'll have to keep hidden from the Forbidder's agents.

"You already had trouble with the Nebers and it is very likely you'll have more, especially if they suspect you have thessaline."

"How would they know," Lester asked.

"They probably wouldn't," Cedric said, "but since you'll becoming from ChildIsle which is the only source of thessaline, they'd take the chance that you did."

"How do they get into the tunnel?" Jasmine asked.

"They have to get in at the Plembertone end, because this end is always guarded," Cedric said.

"We did see debris near the entrance but assumed it was old," Lester said.

There didn't seem to be any more immediate questions and Cedric suggested they not try to solve all the possible problems but think about them.

Cedric offered to give them a little tour of ChildIsle, which Veronica, Eddy, and Yuwon declined, but before the others left with Cedric asked, "when will they be synthesizing the thessaline? We'd still like to watch it."

"They'll begin early in the morning. I'll arrange for you to be there before they begin."

When Lester, Jasmine, and Anthony left with Cedric, Veronica explained her plan, which would only work if Eddy was willing. "It's for Yuwon and ToyLin which is what the whole mission has been about. I'll do my part, Sis, but you'll be taking a much bigger risk."

***