Hiero's Journey, Chapter 12 (concluded):
(For the previous installment in this series, click here.)
So Hiero, instead of charging into a final battle against his foes, sends them charging into one another. So much the better.
Returning to the fungus forest growing by the tarn, Per Desteen sets some of the trees alight with a flaming crossbow bolt. This gets both the fungus-trees' attention and that of The House; the former shoot acidic slime blobs at Our Hiero, and the latter, assuming liquid form like some giant Zan, boils out of the pool and hits H.D. with its mutant mind mojo. Hiero has, however, developed immunity to The House's psychic attacks, and the ineffectual assault only succeeds in making the giant hive-mind creature more angry. It and its fungal friends chase Hiero back to the missile-silo cavern...
...arriving just in time to run into “the massed forces of the Unclean,” who come boiling through the south entrance, gunning for the psychic warrior-priest and his companions. Hiero has, however, managed to slip between two machines, leaving The House and the 200-plus mutants – Hairy Howlers, Man-Rats, Gliths, Evil Unclean Mutant priests, and others – alone with each other. The two evil forces promptly lock one another into a stand-off: Mssr. House paralyzes the EUMs with its mojo, but is itself paralyzed by the effort of controlling so many humanoids at once. “Couldn't have planned this better,” we can almost hear Per Desteen (and Lanier) saying to himself.
Off the heroes go, into the semi-arid wilderness between the silo and the distant forest. A few hours later, as they run, Hiero and co. are knocked to the ground by an earthquake. Hiero confirms that this is no natural event: Aldo had previously located a self-destruct mechanism in the silo, and before setting up his Last Man Standing trap Per Desteen set the destructor's timer for four hours. If any of the mutants or of The House's minions were still alive, they are now radioactive dust buried under radioactive rock. Boo-yah!
Except that this isn't going to be the final battle (just the last one in this book): Aldo and Hiero note that they have defeated only a small part of the EUM conspiracy's forces. Luchare, however, apparently found something in the silo that may be of help with the next phase of conflict: three ancient manuals, printed on plastic, titled “Principles of a Basic Computer,” volumes 1-3. Hiero's Abbey hasn't retrieved a computer (which would have been difficult, given how big they were in Lanier's day), but they now have instructions on how to build one.
It's just like I've always said: give a post-apocalyptic priest a computer and he will play Tic-Tac-Toe for an hour, but teach him to build a computer and he will design one that can play Tetris, too.
This concludes my blog series on Hiero's Journey, but I will have at least one more post in the near future with additional thoughts (and links) about the novel and its impact.