Chapter 27: Testing – Testing
As Johnny and Ben attach collars to Rusty and Raow, Ben explains, “These have been tested over eight hundred kilometres of mountainous terrain. That covers the possibility of you my friends riding far away in a car, or being taken way off shore by boat. In every experiment the signal was very strong and clear. The rock’s power appears to be on the increase as we use more of it. Or perhaps it’s related to Gypsy’s growing ability to read her hemi-rock.”
“What’s more,” continues Johnny, finishing adjusting Rusty’s collar, “we thrashed these and every other fragment of rock, prior to making them into two-way communication units. They’ve been tumbled close together in a rock polisher, and dumped about in a concrete mixer. Subjected to acid and alkaline testing, in addition to being put under extreme pressure, frozen super cold and heated past iron smelting temperatures. This testing took most of the time because we had to be certain, and we are. We know these will perform anywhere and are virtually indestructible. We even gave them to the youngsters to play with, and they couldn’t destroy them!
“And what’s more, while we were about it, every last fragment has been prepared. So we’ve got the essential power units ready to assemble commanders for every animal here.”
Ginger says to Bella as she arrives for her collar fitting, “Larry, Maid and Prince, Lucky SF, Bess, Scoobie, and Ziggy left hours ago. Their commanders are in your saddlebag and when you meet up with the others, Rusty and Raow will help with the fitting. Now lads, it’s take one sack each - there’s enough rats in them for you to carry at the other end. Soon you infiltrators will be under the floor and on you own.”
Ginger steps forward to meet the two departing heroes and, as they lightly touch noses, he bids them a safe return home. Bella drops her head low and Ginger pats her softly on both cheeks. Then with a wing feather Phantaloom gives Bella and the two lads, each a soft, deft tick. “The matron’s mark,” she says. “With it you must be successful and safe.”
Soundlessly the team moves outside into the bright noonday light, and departs by the shortest route due north. It is exactly 12.36 pm.
Pulling a solid gold watch from a small pocket in his McAlpine tartan waistcoat, Ginger says, “Let this be our record Phant. The official time for sunset this evening is 17.58. Our friends therefore have by this calculation, five hours and twenty-two minutes to get the brave pair under the woolshed. The extra time over my estimate is good, because it takes pressure off the horses. You probably gathered,” says Ginger, “I’ve only just started to get to know horses and what they are capable of. Fancy thinking that two horses could undertake that journey in the time I suggested! Well, there’s something to learn every day, isn’t there!”