Yelling down the hole doesn't yield results, and nobody answers the intercom Jonnie and friends lower, so next to be dangled down the shaft is a picto-recorder, because this is the future and the Psychlos are far too advanced to use something called a camera. On the upside, they can see that the collapsed hoist doesn't have any bodies tangled in its wreckage (must be a night-vision picto-recorder). On the downside, the drift hole is gone. Some of the tunnels have collapsed.
Workers (supervised by the historian, who snuck aboard the plane to be a part of the rescue party) are lowered down to start trying to remove the blockage. As just a sample of what I'm skimming over:
Two hours went by. They changed three of the men twice. Jonnie stayed down there.
They worked in a blur of speed. The rattle of rocks and thud of sledges freeing them resounded in the dusty hole bottom. The rockfall was thicker than they had hoped.
Two feet into the drift. Three feet. Four feet. Five feet. Maybe the whole drift had collapsed!
I know, I know, such riveting stuff, it's a wonder Hubbard didn't write a whole book about mining!
Eventually they hear the trapped miners pleading for an air hole, which they provide before extracting them. No deaths and only minor injuries, save for Dunneldeen, with a broken ankle and broken ribs. In case anybody cares.
Finally, Thor said, "We lost the lode."
Nobody said anything.
The Lode: Part 1, Chapter 9 - Part 10, Chapter 6. You were a character unlike any other: lovingly-described, essential to the plot. You weren't stupid when you were supposed to be devious, contrived when you were supposed to be brilliant, or unlikable when you were supposed to be heroic. You were simple, straightforward, refreshingly genuine. And now you're gone.
You will be missed, dear Lode.
Next chapter, the rest of the cast keenly feels this loss, and wonders how they can move on without The Lode.
Back to Chapter Five