Bjorn looked over at the casino as Ante drove by at low speed, and a thought struck him about Jan and Pedro. The two men were no doubt in charge in the village, dominating its commerce with their money and influence. Yet they did not seem to engage in any kind of direct taxation. With the exception of Pedro's attempt to get rent from the stall owners, the two men were leaving everyone alone. And they even appeared in Frederico's church, as if to underscore their willingness to adhere to the golden rule. But why would they do that? Why not tax people? Why not establish a kingdom of their own? They could easily do that, with Jan having acquired special rights due to his Sami origin, and Pedro having a free pass to do whatever he pleases with the colony in return for taking care of the asylum seekers.
"Maybe they have some other and better way to make money?" Ante suggested when Bjorn aired his thoughts. "Or they may be up to something that we have no idea about."
"Like what?" Bjorn asked.
"Something sinister, like... you know... like something out of a Bond movie."
"Dr. Evil and Mini Me?"
"Well, that's stupid. What sort of evil are you thinking of?"
"Maybe they are building a nuclear bomb so they can take over the world."
"Are you serious?"
Bjorn couldn't figure it out. But the idea that someone would spend a fortune building a doomsday device in order to take over the world was just right out lame. Especially considering that Jan and Pedro had not even bothered to take over Lundby.
"But if Pedro is right, you'll be over at the airport on Wednesday. Maybe you'll pick up some more clues then," Ante continued. "Who knows what he's up to out there. It has a nuclear bunker after all. Just the sort of place that Dr. Evil and Mini Me would love."
"It looked pretty abandoned when we drove past it last week."
"That's true. But something is going on out there, with that airplane landing there in the middle of the night and all."
"You're right," Bjorn admitted. "There's something going on. And if I am indeed asked to go down there on Wednesday..."
"Provided you behave properly on Tuesday," Ante interjected.
"Yeah. That's kind of creepy, isn't it. And he said that so shamelessly too."
"Like he owned you," Ante suggested.
"Yeah... well... he probably owns Frank."
"True. That would explain it. But you know what you should do?"
"You should ask Frank casually about Tuesday and Wednesday, and see what he says. That way we'll know if Pedro had it from Frank, or from someone else, someone superior to him."
Bjorn thought Ante's suggestion interesting, but a little too confrontational to his liking. However, he nevertheless nodded in agreement as if he would in fact make such an inquiry.
The two men sat in silence until they reached the billboard welcoming people to Lundby and its casino, the back of which was now covered with another giant poster, thanking them for their visit and wishing them back soon.
"That's new, isn't it?" Bjorn said, pointing to the welcome back poster. "We haven't seen that before, have we?"
"No, it wasn't there Saturday night," Ante said in confirmation.
"And you are right about the armillary spheres," Bjorn continued. "They are everywhere... Just look at that!"
The welcome back poster was full of them, all subtly weaved into the background image. And when Bjorn turned around to have another look at the front of the billboard, he saw that the background image of that picture too was full of the gold colored spheres.
"How could I have missed that?" Bjorn continued rhetorically. "Now that you've mentioned it, I'm seeing them everywhere. Even Peppe's had one on a shelf."
"And the stickers in the windows," Ante added.
"Yeah. Together with the Lance stickers," Bjorn continued. "It's kind of creepy, don't you think?"
"Not really," Ante said, dismissing Bjorn's concern. "It's no worse than any other kind of patriotism. I mean... Look at our uniforms. We carry this little flag on our shoulders, and lots of people use flags whenever they have something to celebrate. We got our flag. They got their sphere."
"But they're mixing religion into this, with all that talk about the empire and the golden rule and stuff like that."
"Sure. But weren't you the one wanting to become a citizen just now?"
"Ah... Just to try it out, you know..."
"Anyway... there's much less difference between religion and politics than most people think," Ante continued.
"You think so?"
"Yeah. Frederico is right about that. In politics, people believe in the social contract. That's a superstition, isn't it?"
"So you listened to him while he was going on about this?" Bjorn asked. "I thought you weren't paying attention."
"Well... I've heard it all before, you know, so I was only listening with half an ear."
"Thomas has been preaching for you?"
Coming down to the fjord, passing the luxury apartments, Ante continued on his thought.
"The golden rule is not much of a superstition when you think about it," he said in a quiet voice. "The social contract, on the other hand, is quite bizarre. How can anyone be tied to a contract they never signed? Unless, of course, the social contract is simply the golden rule, and that politics have changed it into meaning obedience to authority and self sacrifice."
"But even then, it would be strange to assume that newborn babies have signed onto it," Bjorn added.
"Exactly. That's why Frederico insists that everyone have to voluntarily embrace it."
"But what about those who refuse? What about people like us, who either refuse, or simply can't embrace it due to our profession?"
"People like us will always be viewed with suspicion, I guess... Which we were, right?"
"Yeah. Were we ever? I mean... That Einar guy was pretty fierce... And Katinka."
"It was unpleasant at times, wasn't it?"
"Not too bad... but yeah."
"And we haven't even done anything for real. Imagine how these people will treat people who more blatantly break the golden rule."
"It won't be pleasant."
"It won't for sure," Ante confirmed with a nod. "They will kick you out if you don't behave. They will refuse to deal with you, and they may even kill you if you keep breaking the law."
"You think so?"
"I'm sure of it."
"Isn't that a little harsh?"
"Not really. We are talking about deliberate aggression, robbery, theft, extortion, that kind of things. People like that will have a hard time in Lundby."
Bjorn looked out on the fjord, to their left. Then, struck by a thought, he continued the conversation.
"So they are in a sense worshiping their legal system?" he mused.
"That's a good way of putting it," Ante said with a nod. "Like I said, there's very little difference between religion and politics. It's all about law and ethics in the end."