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Motorcycle Accessory Supply House Spokane

first lensman by e. e. "doc" smith chapter 1 the visitor, making his way unobserved throughthe crowded main laboratory of the hill, stepped up to within six feet of the back of a bignorwegian seated at an electrono-optical bench. drawing an automatic pistol, he shot the apparentlyunsuspecting scientist seven times, as fast as he could pull the trigger; twice throughthe brain, five times, closely spaced, through the spine. "ah, gharlane of eddore, i have been expectingyou to look me up. sit down." blonde, blue-eyed dr. nels bergenholm, completely undisturbedby the passage of the stream of bullets through

his head and body, turned and waved one hugehand at a stool beside his own. "but those were not ordinary projectiles!"the visitor protested. neither person—or rather, entity—was in the least surprisedthat no one else had paid any attention to what had happened, but it was clear that theone was taken aback by the failure of his murderous attack. "they should have volatilizedthat form of flesh—should at least have blown you back to arisia, where you belong." "ordinary or extraordinary, what matter? asyou, in the guise of gray roger, told conway costigan a short time since, ‘i permittedthat, as a demonstration of futility.’ know, gharlane, once and for all, that you willno longer be allowed to act directly against

any adherent of civilization, wherever situate.we of arisia will not interfere in person with your proposed conquest of the two galaxiesas you have planned it, since the stresses and conflicts involved are necessary—and,i may add, sufficient—to produce the civilization which must and shall come into being. therefore,neither will you, or any other eddorian, so interfere. you will go back to eddore andyou will stay there." "think you so?" gharlane sneered. "you, whohave been so afraid of us for over two thousand million tellurian years that you dared notlet us even learn of you? so afraid of us that you dared not take any action to avertthe destruction of any one of your budding civilizations upon any one of the worlds ofeither galaxy? so afraid that you dare not,

even now, meet me mind to mind, but insistupon the use of this slow and unsatisfactory oral communication between us?" "either your thinking is loose, confused,and turbid, which i do not believe to be the case, or you are trying to lull me into believingthat you are stupid." bergenholm’s voice was calm, unmoved. "i do not think that you willgo back to eddore; i know it. you, too, as soon as you have become informed upon certainmatters, will know it. you protest against the use of spoken language because it is,as you know, the easiest, simplest, and surest way of preventing you from securing any iotaof the knowledge for which you are so desperately searching. as to a meeting of our two minds,they met fully just before you, operating

as gray roger, remembered that which yourentire race forgot long ago. as a consequence of that meeting i so learned every line andvibration of your life pattern as to be able to greet you by your symbol, gharlane of eddore,whereas you know nothing of me save that i am an arisian, a fact which has been obviousfrom the first." in an attempt to create a diversion, gharlanereleased the zone of compulsion which he had been holding; but the arisian took it overso smoothly that no human being within range was conscious of any change. "it is true that for many cycles of time weconcealed our existence from you," bergenholm went on without a break. "since the reasonfor that concealment will still further confuse

you, i will tell you what it was. had youeddorians learned of us sooner you might have been able to forge a weapon of power sufficientto prevent the accomplishment of an end which is now certain. "it is true that your operations as lo sungof uighar were not constrained. as mithridates of pontus—as sulla, marius, and nero ofrome—as hannibal of carthage—as those self-effacing wights alcixerxes of greeceand menocoptes of egypt—as genghis khan and attila and the kaiser and mussolini andhitler and the tyrant of asia—you were allowed to do as you pleased. similar activities uponrigel four, velantia, palain seven, and elsewhere were also allowed to proceed without effectiveopposition. with the appearance of virgil

samms, however, the time arrived to put anend to your customary pernicious, obstructive, and destructive activities. i therefore interposeda barrier between you and those who would otherwise be completely defenseless againstyou." "but why now? why not thousands of cyclesago? and why virgil samms?" "to answer those questions would be to giveyou valuable data. you may—too late—be able to answer them yourself. but to continue:you accuse me, and all arisia, of cowardice; an evidently muddy and inept thought. reflect,please, upon the completeness of your failure in the affair of roger’s planetoid; upon thefact that you have accomplished nothing whatever since that time; upon the situation in whichyou now find yourself.

"even though the trend of thought of yourrace is basically materialistic and mechanistic, and you belittle ours as being ‘philosophic’and ‘impractical’, you found—much to your surprise—that your most destructive physicalagencies are not able to affect even this form of flesh which i am now energizing, tosay nothing of affecting the reality which is i. "if this episode is the result of the customarythinking of the second-in-command of eddore’s innermost circle … but no, my visualizationcannot be that badly at fault. overconfidence—the tyrant’s innate proclivity to underestimatean opponent—these things have put you into a false position; but i greatly fear thatthey will not operate to do so in any really

important future affair." "rest assured that they will not!" gharlanesnarled. "it may not be—exactly—cowardice. it is, however, something closely akin. ifyou could have acted effectively against us at any time in the past, you would have doneso. if you could act effectively against us now, you would be acting, not talking. thatis elementary—self-evidently true. so true that you have not tried to deny it—nor wouldyou expect me to believe you if you did." cold black eyes stared level into icy eyesof norwegian blue. "deny it? no. i am glad, however, that youused the word ‘effectively’ instead of ‘openly’; for we have been acting effectively againstyou ever since these newly-formed planets

cooled sufficiently to permit of the developmentof intelligent life." "what? you have? how?" "that, too, you may learn—too late. i havenow said all i intend to say. i will give you no more information. since you alreadyknow that there are more adult arisians than there are eddorians, so that at least oneof us can devote his full attention to blocking the direct effort of any one of you, it isclear to you that it makes no difference to me whether you elect to go or to stay. i canand i will remain here as long as you do; i can and i will accompany you whenever youventure out of the volume of space protected by eddorian screen, wherever you go. the electionis yours."

gharlane disappeared. so did the arisian—instantaneously.dr. nels bergenholm, however, remained. turning, he resumed his work where he had left off,knowing exactly what he had been doing and exactly what he was going to do to finishit. he released the zone of compulsion, which he had been holding upon every human beingwithin sight or hearing, so dexterously that no one suspected, then or ever, that anythingout of the ordinary had happened. he knew these things and did these things in spiteof the fact that the form of flesh which his fellows of the triplanetary service knew asnels bergenholm was then being energized, not by the stupendously powerful mind of drounlithe molder, but by an arisian child too young to be of any use in that which was about tooccur.

arisia was ready. every arisian mind capableof adult, or of even near-adult thinking was poised to act when the moment of action shouldcome. they were not, however, tense. while not in any sense routine, that which theywere about to do had been foreseen for many cycles of time. they knew exactly what theywere going to do, and exactly how to do it. they waited. "my visualization is not entirely clear concerningthe succession of events stemming from the fact that the fusion of which drounli is apart did not destroy gharlane of eddore while he was energizing gray roger," a young watchman,eukonidor by symbol, thought into the assembled mind. "may i take a moment of this idle timein which to spread my visualization, for enlargement

and instruction?" "you may, youth." the elders of arisia—themightiest intellects of that tremendously powerful race—fused their several mindsinto one mind and gave approval. "that will be time well spent. think on." "separated from the other eddorians by inter-galacticdistance as he then was, gharlane could have been isolated and could have been destroyed,"the youth pointed out, as he somewhat diffidently spread his visualization in the public mind."since it is axiomatic that his destruction would have weakened eddore somewhat and tothat extent would have helped us, it is evident that some greater advantage will accrue fromallowing him to live. some points are clear

enough: that gharlane and his fellows willbelieve that the arisian fusion could not kill him, since it did not; that the eddorians,contemptuous of our powers and thinking us vastly their inferiors, will not be drivento develop such things as atomic-energy-powered mechanical screens against third-level thoughtuntil such a time as it will be too late for even those devices to save their race fromextinction; that they will, in all probability, never even suspect that the galactic patrolwhich is so soon to come into being will in fact be the prime operator in that extinction.it is not clear, however, in view of the above facts, why it has now become necessary forus to slay one eddorian upon eddore. nor can i formulate or visualize with any claritythe techniques to be employed in the final

wiping out of the race; i lack certain fundamentaldata concerning events which occurred and conditions which obtained many, many cyclesbefore my birth. i am unable to believe that my perception and memory could have been soimperfect—can it be that none of that basic data is, or ever has been available?" "that, youth, is the fact. while your visualizationof the future is of course not as detailed nor as accurate as it will be after more cyclesof labor, your background of knowledge is as complete as that of any other of our number." "i see." eukonidor gave the mental equivalentof a nod of complete understanding. "it is necessary, and the death of a lesser eddorian—awatchman—will be sufficient. nor will it

be either surprising or alarming to eddore’sinnermost circle that the integrated total mind of arisia should be able to kill sucha relatively feeble entity. i see." then silence; and waiting. minutes? or days?or weeks? who can tell? what does time mean to any arisian? then drounli arrived; arrived in the instantof his leaving the hill—what matters even inter-galactic distance to the speed of thought?he fused his mind with those of the three other molders of civilization. the massedand united mind of arisia, poised and ready, awaiting only his coming, launched itselfthrough space. that tremendous, that theretofore unknown concentration of mental force arrivedat eddore’s outer screen in practically the

same instant as did the entity that was gharlane.the eddorian, however, went through without opposition; the arisians did not. some two thousand million years ago, whenthe coalescence occurred—the event which was to make each of the two interpassing galaxiesteem with planets—the arisians were already an ancient race; so ancient that they wereeven then independent of the chance formation of planets. the eddorians, it is believed,were older still. the arisians were native to this, our normal space-time continuum;the eddorians were not. eddore was—and is—huge, dense, and hot.its atmosphere is not air, as we of small, green terra, know air, but is a noxious mixtureof gaseous substances known to mankind only

in chemical laboratories. its hydrosphere,while it does contain some water, is a poisonous, stinking, foully corrosive, slimy and sludgyliquid. and the eddorians were as different from anypeople we know as eddore is different from the planets indigenous to our space and time.they were, to our senses, utterly monstrous; almost incomprehensible. they were amorphous,amoeboid, sexless. not androgynous or parthenogenetic, but absolutely sexless; with a sexlessnessunknown in any earthly form of life higher than the yeasts. thus they were, to all intentsand purposes and except for death by violence, immortal; for each one, after having livedfor hundreds of thousands of tellurian years and having reached its capacity to live andto learn, simply divided into two new individuals,

each of which, in addition to possessing infull its parent’s mind and memories and knowledges, had also a brand-new zest and a greatly increasedcapacity. and, since life was, there had been competition.competition for power. knowledge was worth while only insofar as it contributed to power.warfare began, and aged, and continued; the appallingly efficient warfare possible onlyto such entities as those. their minds, already immensely powerful, grew stronger and strongerunder the stresses of inter-necine struggle. but peace was not even thought of. strifecontinued, at higher and even higher levels of violence, until two facts became apparent.first, that every eddorian who could be killed by physical violence had already died; thatthe survivors had developed such tremendous

powers of mind, such complete mastery of thingsphysical as well as mental, that they could not be slain by physical force. second, thatduring the ages through which they had been devoting their every effort to mutual extermination,their sun had begun markedly to cool; that their planet would very soon become so coldthat it would be impossible for them ever again to live their normal physical lives. thus there came about an armistice. the eddoriansworked together—not without friction—in the development of mechanisms by the use ofwhich they moved their planet across light-years of space to a younger, hotter sun. then, eddoreonce more at its hot and reeking norm, battle was resumed. mental battle, this time, thatwent on for more than a hundred thousand eddorian

years; during the last ten thousand of whichnot a single eddorian died. realizing the futility of such unproductiveendeavor, the relatively few survivors made a peace of sorts. since each had an utterlyinsatiable lust for power, and since it had become clear that they could neither conquernor kill each other, they would combine forces and conquer enough planets—enough galaxies—sothat each eddorian could have as much power and authority as he could possibly handle. what matter that there were not that manyplanets in their native space? there were other spaces, an infinite number of them;some of which, it was mathematically certain, would contain millions upon millions of planetsinstead of only two or three. by mind and

by machine they surveyed the neighboring continua;they developed the hyper-spatial tube and the inertialess drive; they drove their planet,space-ship-wise, through space after space after space. and thus, shortly after the coalescence began,eddore came into our space-time; and here, because of the multitudes of planets alreadyexisting and the untold millions more about to come into existence, it stayed. here waswhat they had wanted since their beginnings; here were planets enough, here were fieldsenough for the exercise of power, to sate even the insatiable. there was no longer anyneed for them to fight each other; they could now cooperate whole-heartedly—as long aseach was getting more—and more and more!

enphilisor, a young arisian, his mind roamingeagerly abroad as was its wont, made first contact with the eddorians in this space.inoffensive, naive, innocent, he was surprised beyond measure at their reception of his friendlygreeting; but in the instant before closing his mind to their vicious attacks, he learnedthe foregoing facts concerning them. the fused mind of the elders of arisia, however,was not surprised. the arisians, while not as mechanistic as their opponents, and innatelypeaceful as well, were far ahead of them in the pure science of the mind. the elders hadlong known of the eddorians and of their lustful wanderings through plenum after plenum. theirvisualizations of the cosmic all had long since forecast, with dreadful certainty, theinvasion which had now occurred. they had

long known what they would have to do. theydid it. so insidiously as to set up no opposition they entered the eddorians’ minds and sealedoff all knowledge of arisia. they withdrew, tracelessly. they did not have much data, it is true; butno more could be obtained at that time. if any one of those touchy suspicious minds hadbeen given any cause for alarm, any focal point of doubt, they would have had time inwhich to develop mechanisms able to force the arisians out of this space before a weaponto destroy the eddorians—the as yet incompletely designed galactic patrol—could be forged.the arisians could, even then, have slain by mental force alone all the eddorians exceptthe all-highest and his innermost circle,

safe within their then impenetrable shield;but as long as they could not make a clean sweep they could not attack—then. be it observed that the arisians were notfighting for themselves. as individuals or as a race they had nothing to fear. even lessthan the eddorians could they be killed by any possible application of physical force.past masters of mental science, they knew that no possible concentration of eddorianmental force could kill any one of them. and if they were to be forced out of normal space,what matter? to such mentalities as theirs, any given space would serve as well as anyother. no, they were fighting for an ideal; for thepeaceful, harmonious, liberty-loving civilization

which they had envisaged as developing throughout,and eventually entirely covering the myriads of planets of, two tremendous island universes.also, they felt a heavy weight of responsibility. since all these races, existing and yet toappear, had sprung from and would spring from the arisian life-spores which permeated thisparticular space, they all were and would be, at bottom, arisian. it was starkly unthinkablethat arisia would leave them to the eternal dominance of such a rapacious, such a tyrannical,such a hellishly insatiable breed of monsters. therefore the arisians fought; efficientlyif insidiously. they did not—they could not—interfere openly with eddore’s ruthlessconquest of world after world; with eddore’s ruthless smashing of civilization after civilization.they did, however, see to it, by selective

matings and the establishment of blood-linesupon numberless planets, that the trend of the level of intelligence was definitely andsteadily upward. four molders of civilization—drounli, kriedigan,nedanillor, and brolenteen, who, in fusion, formed the "mentor of arisia" who was to becomeknown to every wearer of civilization’s lens—were individually responsible for the arisian programof development upon the four planets of tellus, rigel iv, velantia, and palain vii. drounliestablished upon tellus two principal lines of blood. in unbroken male line of descentthe kinnisons went back to long before the dawn of even mythical tellurian history. kinnexaof atlantis, daughter of one kinnison and sister of another, is the first of the bloodto be named in these annals; but the line

was then already old. so was the other line;characterized throughout its tremendous length, male and female, by peculiarly spectacularred-bronze-auburn hair and equally striking gold-flecked, tawny eyes. nor did these strains mix. drounli had madeit psychologically impossible for them to mix until the penultimate stage of developmentshould have been reached. while that stage was still in the future virgilsamms appeared, and all arisia knew that the time had come to engage the eddorians openly,mind to mind. gharlane-roger was curbed, savagely and sharply. every eddorian, wherever he wasworking, found his every line of endeavor solidly blocked.

gharlane, as has been intimated, constructeda supposedly irresistible weapon and attacked his arisian blocker, with results alreadytold. at that failure gharlane knew that there was something terribly amiss; that it hadbeen amiss for over two thousand million tellurian years. really alarmed for the first time inhis long life, he flashed back to eddore; to warn his fellows and to take counsel withthem as to what should be done. and the massed and integrated force of all arisia was onlyan instant behind him. arisia struck eddore’s outermost screen, andin the instant of impact that screen went down. and then, instantaneously and all unperceivedby the planet’s defenders, the arisian forces split. the elders, including all the molders,seized the eddorian who had been handling

that screen—threw around him an impenetrablenet of force—yanked him out into inter-galactic space. then, driving in resistlessly, they turnedthe luckless wight inside out. and before the victim died under their poignant probings,the elders of arisia learned everything that the eddorian and all of his ancestors hadever known. they then withdrew to arisia, leaving their younger, weaker, partially-developedfellows to do whatever they could against mighty eddore. whether the attack of these lesser forceswould be stopped at the second, the third, the fourth, or the innermost screen; whetherthey would reach the planet itself and perhaps

do some actual damage before being drivenoff; was immaterial. eddore must be allowed and would be allowed to repel that invasionwith ease. for cycles to come the eddorians must and would believe that they had nothingreally to fear from arisia. the real battle, however, had been won. thearisian visualizations could now be extended to portray every essential element of theclimactic conflict which was eventually to come. it was no cheerful conclusion at whichthe arisians arrived, since their visualizations all agreed in showing that the only possiblemethod of wiping out the eddorians would also of necessity end their own usefulness as guardiansof civilization. such an outcome having been shown necessary,however, the arisians accepted it, and worked

toward it, unhesitatingly. chapter 2 as has been said, the hill, which had beenbuilt to be the tellurian headquarters of the triplanetary service and which was nowthe headquarters of the half-organized solarian patrol, was—and is—a truncated, alloy-sheathed,honey-combed mountain. but, since human beings do not like to live eternally underground,no matter how beautifully lighted or how carefully and comfortably air-conditioned the dungeonmay be, the reservation spread far beyond the foot of that gray, forbidding, mirror-smoothcone of metal. well outside that farflung reservation there was a small city; therewere hundreds of highly productive farms;

and, particularly upon this bright may afternoon,there was a recreation park, containing, among other things, dozens of tennis courts. one of these courts was three-quarters enclosedby stands, from which a couple of hundred people were watching a match which seemedto be of some little local importance. two men sat in a box which had seats for twenty,and watched admiringly the pair who seemed in a fair way to win in straight sets themixed-doubles championship of the hill. "fine-looking couple, rod, if i do say somyself, as well as being smooth performers." solarian councillor virgil samms spoke tohis companion as the opponents changed courts. "i still think, though, the young hussy oughtto wear some clothes—those white nylon shorts

make her look nakeder even than usual. i toldher so, too, the jade, but she keeps on wearing less and less." "of course," commissioner roderick k. kinnisonlaughed quietly. "what did you expect? she got her hair and eyes from you, why not yourhard-headedness, too? one thing, though, that’s all to the good—she’s got what it takesto strip ship that way, and most of ’em haven’t. but what i can’t understand is why they don’t…."he paused. "i don’t either. lord knows we’ve thrown themat each other hard enough, and jack kinnison and jill samms would certainly make a pairto draw to. but if they won’t … but maybe they will yet. they’re still youngsters, andthey’re friendly enough."

if samms pã¨re could have been out on thecourt, however, instead of in the box, he would have been surprised; for young kinnison,although smiling enough as to face, was addressing his gorgeous partner in terms which carriedlittle indeed of friendliness. "listen, you bird-brained, knot-headed, grand-standinghalf-wit!" he stormed, voice low but bitterly intense. "i ought to beat your alleged brainsout! i’ve told you a thousand times to watch your own territory and stay out of mine! ifyou had been where you belonged, or even taken my signal, frank couldn’t have made that thirty-allpoint; and if lois hadn’t netted she’d’ve caught you flat-footed, a kilometer out ofposition, and made it deuce. what do you think you’re doing, anyway—playing tennis or seeinghow many innocent bystanders you can bring

down out of control?" "what do you think?" the girl sneered, sweetly.her tawny eyes, only a couple of inches below his own, almost emitted sparks. "and justlook at who’s trying to tell who how to do what! for your information, master pilot johnk. kinnison, i’ll tell you that just because you can’t quit being ‘killer’ kinnison evenlong enough to let two good friends of ours get a point now and then, or maybe even agame, is no reason why i’ve got to turn into ‘killer’ samms. and i’ll also tell you…." "you’ll tell me nothing, jill—i’m tellingyou! start giving away points in anything and you’ll find out some day that you’ve givenaway too many. i’m not having any of that

kind of game—and as long as you’re playingwith me you aren’t either—or else. if you louse up this match just once more, the nextball i serve will hit the tightest part of those fancy white shorts of yours—rightwhere the hip pocket would be if they had any—and it’ll raise a welt that will makeyou eat off of the mantel for three days. so watch your step!" "you insufferable lug! i’d like to smash thisracket over your head! i’ll do it, too, and walk off the court, if you don’t…." the whistle blew. virgilia samms, all smiles,toed the base-line and became the personification and embodiment of smoothly flowing motion.the ball whizzed over the net, barely clearing

it—a sizzling service ace. the game wenton. and a few minutes later, in the shower room,where jack kinnison was caroling lustily while plying a towel, a huge young man strode upand slapped him ringingly between the shoulder blades. "congratulations, jack, and so forth. butthere’s a thing i want to ask you. confidential, sort of…?" "shoot! haven’t we been eating out of thesame dish for lo, these many moons? why the diffidence all of a sudden, mase? it isn’tin character." "well … it’s … i’m a lip-reader, you know."

"sure. we all are. what of it?" "it’s only that … well, i saw what you andmiss samms said to each other out there, and if that was lovers’ small talk i’m a venerianmud-puppy." "lovers! who the hell ever said we were lovers?…oh, you’ve been inhaling some of dad’s balloon-juice. lovers! me and that red-headed stinker—thatjelly-brained sapadilly? hardly!" "hold it, jack!" the big officer’s voice wasslightly edged. "you’re off course—a hell of a long flit off. that girl has got everything.she’s the class of the reservation—why, she’s a regular twelve-nineteen!" "huh?" amazed, young kinnison stopped dryinghimself and stared. "you mean to say you’ve

been giving her a miss just because…." hehad started to say "because you’re the best friend i’ve got in the system," but he didnot. "well, it would have smelled slightly cheesy,i thought." the other man did not put into words, either, what both of them so deeplyknew to be the truth. "but if you haven’t got … if it’s o.k. with you, of course…." "stand by for five seconds—i’ll take youaround." jack threw on his uniform, and in a few minutesthe two young officers, immaculate in the space-black-and-silver of the patrol, madetheir way toward the women’s dressing rooms. "… but she’s all right, at that … in mostways … i guess." kinnison was half-apologizing

for what he had said. "outside of being chicken-heartedand pig-headed, she’s a good egg. she really qualifies … most of the time. but i wouldn’thave her, bonus attached, any more than she would have me. it’s strictly mutual. you won’tfall for her, either, mase; you’ll want to pull one of her legs off and beat the restof her to death with it inside of a week—but there’s nothing like finding things out foryourself." in a short time miss samms appeared; dressedsomewhat less revealingly than before in the blouse and kilts which were the mode of themoment. "hi, jill! this is mase—i’ve told you abouthim. my boat-mate. master electronicist mason northrop."

"yes, i’ve heard about you, ‘troncist—alot." she shook hands warmly. "he hasn’t been putting tracers on you, jill,on accounta he figured he’d be poaching. can you feature that? i straightened him out,though, in short order. told him why, too, so he ought to be insulated against any voltageyou can generate." "oh, you did? how sweet of you! but how … oh,those?" she gestured at the powerful prism binoculars, a part of the uniform of everyofficer of space. "uh-huh." northrop wriggled, but held firm. "if i’d only been as big and husky as youare," surveying admiringly some six feet two of altitude and two hundred-odd pounds ofhard meat, gristle, and bone, "i’d have grabbed

him by one ankle, whirled him around my head,and flung him into the fifteenth row of seats. what’s the matter with him, mase, is thathe was born centuries and centuries too late. he should have been an overseer when theybuilt the pyramids—flogging slaves because they wouldn’t step just so. or better yet,one of those people it told about in those funny old books they dug up last year—liegelords, or something like that, remember? with the power of life and death—’high, middle,and low justice’, whatever that was—over their vassals and their families, serfs, andserving-wenches. especially serving-wenches! he likes little, cuddly baby-talkers, whopretend to be utterly spineless and completely brainless—eh, jack?"

"ouch! touchã©, jill—but maybe i had itcoming to me, at that. let’s call it off, shall we? i’ll be seeing you two, hither oryon." kinnison turned and hurried away. "want to know why he’s doing such a quickflit?" jill grinned up at her companion; a bright, quick grin. "not that he was givingup. the blonde over there—the one in rocket red. very few blondes can wear such a violentshade. dimples maynard." "and is she … er…?" "cuddly and baby-talkish? uh-uh. she’s a grandperson. i was just popping off; so was he. you know that neither of us really meant halfof what we said … or … at least…." her voice died away.

"i don’t know whether i do or not," northropreplied, awkwardly but honestly. "that was savage stuff if there ever was any. i can’tsee for the life of me why you two—two of the world’s finest people—should have totear into each other that way. do you?" "i don’t know that i ever thought of it likethat." jill caught her lower lip between her teeth. "he’s splendid, really, and i likehim a lot—usually. we get along perfectly most of the time. we don’t fight at all exceptwhen we’re too close together … and then we fight about anything and everything … say,suppose that that could be it? like charges, repelling each other inversely as the squareof the distance? that’s about the way it seems to be."

"could be, and i’m glad." the man’s face cleared."and i’m a charge of the opposite sign. let’s go!" and in virgil samms’ deeply-buried office,civilization’s two strongest men were deep in conversation. "… troubles enough to keep four men of oursize awake nights." samms’ voice was light, but his eyes were moody and somber. "you canprobably whip yours, though, in time. they’re mostly in one solar system; a short flit coversthe rest. languages and customs are known. but how—how—can legal processes work efficiently—workat all, for that matter—when a man can commit a murder or a pirate can loot a space-shipand be a hundred parsecs away before the crime

is even discovered? how can a tellurian johnlaw find a criminal on a strange world that knows nothing whatever of our patrol, witha completely alien language—maybe no language at all—where it takes months even to findout who and where—if any—the native police officers are? but there must be a way, rod—there’sgot to be a way!" samms slammed his open hand resoundingly against his desk’s bare top."and by god i’ll find it—the patrol will come out on top!" "’crusader’ samms, now and forever!" therewas no trace of mockery in kinnison’s voice or expression, but only friendship and admiration."and i’ll bet you do. your interstellar patrol, or whatever…."

"galactic patrol. i know what the name ofit is going to be, if nothing else." "… is just as good as in the bag, rightnow. you’ve done a job so far, virge. this whole system, nevia, the colonies on aldebaranii and other planets, even valeria, as tight as a drum. funny about valeria, isn’t it…." there was a moment of silence, then kinnisonwent on: "but wherever diamonds are, there go dutchmen.and dutch women go wherever their men do. and, in spite of medical advice, dutch babiesarrive. although a lot of the adults died—three g’s is no joke—practically all of the babieskeep on living. developing bones and muscles to fit—walking at a year and a half old—livingnormally—they say that the third generation

will be perfectly at home there." "which shows that the human animal is moreadaptable than some ranking medicos had believed, is all. don’t try to side-track me, rod. youknow as well as i do what we’re up against; the new headaches that inter-stellar commerceis bringing with it. new vices—drugs—thionite, for instance; we haven’t been able to getan inkling of an idea as to where that stuff is coming from. and i don’t have to tell youwhat piracy has done to insurance rates." "i’ll say not—look at the price of aldebaraniancigars, the only kind fit to smoke! you’ve given up, then, on the idea that arisia isthe pirates’ ghq?" "definitely. it isn’t. the pirates are evenmore afraid of it than tramp spacemen are.

it’s out of bounds—absolutely forbiddenterritory, apparently—to everybody, my best operatives included. all we know about itis the name—arisia—that our planetographers gave it. it is the first completely incomprehensiblething i have ever experienced. i am going out there myself as soon as i can take thetime—not that i expect to crack a thing that my best men couldn’t touch, but therehave been so many different and conflicting reports—no two stories agree on anythingexcept in that no one could get anywhere near the planet—that i feel the need of somefirst-hand information. want to come along?" "try to keep me from it!" "but at that, we shouldn’t be too surprised,"samms went on, thoughtfully. "just beginning

to scratch the surface as we are, we shouldexpect to encounter peculiar, baffling—even completely inexplicable things. facts, situations,events, and beings for which our one-system experience could not possibly have preparedus. in fact, we already have. if, ten years ago, anyone had told you that such a raceas the rigellians existed, what would you have thought? one ship went there, you know—once.one hour in any rigellian city—one minute in a rigellian automobile—drives a tellurianinsane." "i see your point." kinnison nodded. "probablyi would have ordered a mental examination. and the palainians are even worse. people—ifyou can call them that—who live on pluto and like it! entities so alien that nobody,as far as i know, understands them. but you

don’t have to go even that far from home tolocate a job of unscrewing the inscrutable. who, what, and why—and for how long—wasgray roger? and, not far behind him, is this young bergenholm of yours. and by the way,you never did give me the lowdown on how come it was the ‘bergenholm’, and not the ‘rodebush-cleveland’,that made trans-galactic commerce possible and caused nine-tenths of our headaches. asi get the story, bergenholm wasn’t—isn’t—even an engineer." "didn’t i? thought i did. he wasn’t, and isn’t.well, the original rodebush-cleveland free drive was a killer, you know…." "how i know!" kinnison exclaimed, feelingly.

"they beat their brains out and ate theirhearts out for months, without getting it any better. then, one day, this kid bergenholmambles into their shop—big, awkward, stumbling over his own feet. he gazes innocently atthe thing for a couple of minutes, then says: "’why don’t you use uranium instead of ironand rewind it so it will put out a wave-form like this, with humps here, and here; insteadof there, and there?’ and he draws a couple of free-hand, but really beautiful curves. "’why should we?’ they squawk at him. "’because it will work that way,’ he says,and ambles out as unconcernedly as he came in. can’t—or won’t—say another word.

"well in sheer desperation, they tried it—andit worked! and nobody has ever had a minute’s trouble with a bergenholm since. that’s whyrodebush and cleveland both insisted on the name." "i see; and it points up what i just said.but if he’s such a mental giant, why isn’t he getting results with his own problem, themeteor? or is he?" "no … or at least he wasn’t as of last night.but there’s a note on my pad that he wants to see me sometime today—suppose we havehim come in now?" "fine! i’d like to talk to him, if it’s o.k.with you and with him." the young scientist was called in, and wasintroduced to the commissioner.

"go ahead, doctor bergenholm," samms suggestedthen. "you may talk to both of us, just as freely as though you and i were alone." "i have, as you already know, been calledpsychic," bergenholm began, abruptly. "it is said that i dream dreams, see visions,hear voices, and so on. that i operate on hunches. that i am a genius. now i very definitelyam not a genius—unless my understanding of the meaning of that word is different fromthat of the rest of mankind." bergenholm paused. samms and kinnison lookedat each other. the latter broke the short silence. "the councillor and i have just been discussingthe fact that there are a great many things

we do not know; that with the extension ofour activities into new fields, the occurrence of the impossible has become almost a commonplace.we are able, i believe, to listen with open minds to anything you have to say." "very well. but first, please know that iam a scientist. as such, i am trained to observe; to think calmly, clearly, and analytically;to test every hypothesis. i do not believe at all in the so-called supernatural. thisuniverse did not come into being, it does not continue to be, except by the operationof natural and immutable laws. and i mean immutable, gentlemen. everything that hasever happened, that is happening now, or that ever is to happen, was, is, and will be statisticallyconnected with its predecessor event and with

its successor event. if i did not believethat implicitly, i would lose all faith in the scientific method. for if one single ‘supernatural’event or thing had ever occurred or existed it would have constituted an entirely unpredictableevent and would have initiated a series—a succession—of such events; a state of thingswhich no scientist will or can believe possible in an orderly universe. "at the same time, i recognize the fact thati myself have done things—caused events to occur, if you prefer—that i cannot explainto you or to any other human being in any symbology known to our science; and it isabout an even more inexplicable—call it ‘hunch’ if you like—that i asked to havea talk with you today."

"but you are arguing in circles," samms protested."or are you trying to set up a paradox?" "neither. i am merely clearing the way fora somewhat startling thing i am to say later on. you know, of course, that any situationwith which a mind is unable to cope; a really serious dilemma which it cannot resolve; willdestroy that mind—frustration, escape from reality, and so on. you also will realizethat i must have become cognizant of my own peculiarities long before anyone else didor could?" "ah. i see. yes, of course." samms, intenselyinterested, leaned forward. "yet your present personality is adequately, splendidly integrated.how could you possibly have overcome—reconciled—a situation so full of conflict?"

"you are, i think, familiar with my parentage?"samms, keen as he was, did not consider it noteworthy that the big norwegian answeredhis question only by asking one of his own. "yes … oh, i’m beginning to see … butcommissioner kinnison has not had access to your dossier. go ahead." "my father is dr. hjalmar bergenholm. my mother,before her marriage, was dr. olga bjornson. both were, and are, nuclear physicists—verygood ones. pioneers, they have been called. they worked, and are still working, in thenewest, outermost fringes of the field." "oh!" kinnison exclaimed. "a mutant? bornwith second sight—or whatever it is?" "not second sight, as history describes thephenomenon, no. the records do not show that

any such faculty was ever demonstrated tothe satisfaction of any competent scientific investigator. what i have is something else.whether or not it will breed true is an interesting topic of speculation, but one having nothingto do with the problem now in hand. to return to the subject, i resolved my dilemma longsince. there is, i am absolutely certain, a science of the mind which is as definite,as positive, as immutable of law, as is the science of the physical. while i will makeno attempt to prove it to you, i know that such a science exists, and that i was bornwith the ability to perceive at least some elements of it. "now to the matter of the meteor of the patrol.that emblem was and is purely physical. the

pirates have just as able scientists as wehave. what physical science can devise and synthesize, physical science can analyze andduplicate. there is a point, however, beyond which physical science cannot go. it can neitheranalyze nor imitate the tangible products of that which i have so loosely called thescience of the mind. "i know, councillor samms, what the triplanetaryservice needs; something vastly more than its meteor. i also know that the need willbecome greater and greater as the sphere of action of the patrol expands. without a reallyefficient symbol, the solarian patrol will be hampered even more than the triplanetaryservice; and its logical extension into the space patrol, or whatever that larger organizationmay be called, will be definitely impossible.

we need something which will identify anyrepresentative of civilization, positively and unmistakably, wherever he may be. it mustbe impossible of duplication, or even of imitation, to which end it must kill any unauthorizedentity who attempts imposture. it must operate as a telepath between its owner and any otherliving intelligence, of however high or low degree, so that mental communication, so muchclearer and faster than physical, will be possible without the laborious learning oflanguage; or between us and such peoples as those of rigel four or of palain seven, bothof whom we know to be of high intelligence and who must already be conversant with telepathy." "are you or have you been, reading my mind?"samms asked quietly.

"no," bergenholm replied flatly. "it is notand has not been necessary. any man who can think, who has really considered the question,and who has the good of civilization at heart, must have come to the same conclusions." "probably so, at that. but no more side issues.you have a solution of some kind worked out, or you would not be here. what is it?" "it is that you, solarian councillor samms,should go to arisia as soon as possible." "arisia!" samms exclaimed, and: "arisia! of all the hells in space, why arisia?and how can we make the approach? don’t you know that nobody can get anywhere near thatdamn planet?"

bergenholm shrugged his shoulders and spreadboth arms wide in a pantomime of complete helplessness. "how do you know—another of your hunches?"kinnison went on. "or did somebody tell you something? where did you get it?" "it is not a hunch," the norwegian replied,positively. "no one told me anything. but i know—as definitely as i know that thecombustion of hydrogen in oxygen will yield water—that the arisians are very well versedin that which i have called the science of the mind; that if virgil samms goes to arisiahe will obtain the symbol he needs; that he will never obtain it otherwise. as to howi know these things … i can’t … i just

… i know it, i tell you!" without another word, without asking permissionto leave, bergenholm whirled around and hurried out. samms and kinnison stared at each other. "well?" kinnison asked, quizzically. "i’m going. now. whether i can be spared ornot, and whether you think i’m out of control or not. i believe him, every word—and besides,there’s the bergenholm. how about you? coming?" "yes. can’t say that i’m sold one hundredpercent; but, as you say, the bergenholm is a hard fact to shrug off. and at minimum rating,it’s got to be tried. what are you taking? not a fleet, probably—the boise? or thechicago?" it was the commissioner of public

safety speaking now, the commander-in-chiefof the armed forces. "the chicago, i’d say—the fastest and strongest thing in space." "recommendation approved. blast-off; twelvehundred hours tomorrow!" chapter 3 the superdreadnought chicago, as she approachedthe imaginary but nevertheless sharply defined boundary, which no other ship had been allowedto pass, went inert and crept forward, mile by mile. every man, from commissioner andcouncillor down, was taut and tense. so widely variant, so utterly fantastic, were the storiesgoing around about this arisia that no one knew what to expect. they expected the unexpected—andgot it.

"ah, tellurians, you are precisely on time."a strong, assured, deeply resonant pseudo-voice made itself heard in the depths of each mindaboard the tremendous ship of war. "pilots and navigating officers, you will shift courseto one seventy eight dash seven twelve fifty three. hold that course, inert, at one telluriangravity of acceleration. virgil samms will now be interviewed. he will return to theconsciousnesses of the rest of you in exactly six of your hours." practically dazed by the shock of their firstexperience with telepathy, not one of the chicago’s crew perceived anything unusualin the phraseology of that utterly precise, diamond-clear thought. samms and kinnison,however, precisionists themselves, did. but,

warned although they were and keyed up althoughthey were to detect any sign of hypnotism or of mental suggestion, neither of them hadthe faintest suspicion, then or ever, that virgil samms did not as a matter of fact leavethe chicago at all. samms knew that he boarded a lifeboat anddrove it toward the shimmering haze beyond which arisia was. commissioner kinnison knew,as surely as did every other man aboard, that samms did those things, because he and theother officers and most of the crew watched samms do them. they watched the lifeboat dwindlein size with distance; watched it disappear within the peculiarly iridescent veil of forcewhich their most penetrant ultra-beam spy-rays could not pierce.

and, since every man concerned knew, beyondany shadow of doubt and to the end of his life, that everything that seemed to happenactually did happen, it will be so described. virgil samms, then, drove his small vesselthrough arisia’s innermost screen and saw a planet so much like earth that it mighthave been her sister world. there were the white ice-caps, the immense blue oceans, theverdant continents partially obscured by fleecy banks of cloud. would there, or would there not, be cities?while he had not known at all exactly what to expect, he did not believe that there wouldbe any large cities upon arisia. to qualify for the role of deus ex machina, the arisianwith whom samms was about to deal would have

to be a super-man indeed—a being completelybeyond man’s knowledge or experience in power of mind. would such a race of beings haveneed of such things as cities? they would not. there would be no cities. nor were there. the lifeboat flashed downward—slowed—landedsmoothly in a regulation dock upon the outskirts of what appeared to be a small village surroundedby farms and woods. "this way, please." an inaudible voice directedhim toward a two-wheeled vehicle which was almost, but not quite, like a dillingham roadster. this car, however, took off by itself as soonas samms closed the door. it sped smoothly along a paved highway devoid of all othertraffic, past farms and past cottages, to

stop of itself in front of the low, massivestructure which was the center of the village and, apparently, its reason for being. "this way, please," and samms went throughan automatically-opened door; along a short, bare hall; into a fairly large central roomcontaining a vat and one deeply-holstered chair. "sit down, please." samms did so, gratefully.he did not know whether he could have stood up much longer or not. he had expected to encounter a tremendousmentality; but this was a thing far, far beyond his wildest imaginings. this was a brain—justthat—nothing else. almost globular; at least

ten feet in diameter; immersed in and in perfectequilibrium with a pleasantly aromatic liquid—a brain! "relax," the arisian ordered, soothingly,and samms found that he could relax. "through the one you know as bergenholm i heard ofyour need and have permitted you to come here this once for instruction." "but this … none of this … it isn’t … itcan’t be real!" samms blurted. "i am—i must be—imagining it … and yet i know thati can’t be hypnotized—i’ve been psychoed against it!" "what is reality?" the arisian asked, quietly."your profoundest thinkers have never been

able to answer that question. nor, althoughi am much older and a much more capable thinker than any member of your race, would i attemptto give you its true answer. nor, since your experience has been so limited, is it to beexpected that you could believe without reservation any assurances i might give you in thoughtsor in words. you must, then, convince yourself—definitely, by means of your own five senses—that iand everything about you are real, as you understand reality. you saw the village andthis building; you see the flesh that houses the entity which is i. you feel your own flesh;as you tap the woodwork with your knuckles you feel the impact and hear the vibrationsas sound. as you entered this room you must have perceived the odor of the nutrient solutionin which and by virtue of which i live. there

remains only the sense of taste. are you byany chance either hungry or thirsty?" "both." "drink of the tankard in the niche yonder.in order to avoid any appearance of suggestion i will tell you nothing of its content exceptthe one fact that it matches perfectly the chemistry of your tissues." gingerly enough, samms brought the pitcherto his lips—then, seizing it in both hands, he gulped down a tremendous draught. it wasgood! it smelled like all appetizing kitchen aromas blended into one; it tasted like allof the most delicious meals he had ever eaten; it quenched his thirst as no beverage hadever done. but he could not empty even that

comparatively small container—whatever thestuff was, it had a satiety value immensely higher even than old, rare, roast beef! witha sigh of repletion samms replaced the tankard and turned again to his peculiar host. "i am convinced. that was real. no possiblemental influence could so completely and unmistakably satisfy the purely physical demands of a bodyas hungry and as thirsty as mine was. thanks, immensely, for allowing me to come here, mr….?" "you may call me mentor. i have no name, asyou understand the term. now, then, please think fully—you need not speak—of yourproblems and of your difficulties; of what you have done and of what you have it in mindto do."

samms thought, flashingly and cogently. afew minutes sufficed to cover triplanetary’s history and the beginning of the solarianpatrol; then, for almost three hours, he went into the ramifications of the galactic patrolof his imaginings. finally he wrenched himself back to reality. he jumped up, paced the floor,and spoke. "but there’s a vital flaw, one inherent andabsolutely ruinous fact that makes the whole thing impossible!" he burst out, rebelliously."no one man, or group of men, no matter who they are, can be trusted with that much power.the council and i have already been called everything imaginable; and what we have doneso far is literally nothing at all in comparison with what the galactic patrol could and mustdo. why, i myself would be the first to protest

against the granting of such power to anybody.every dictator in history, from philip of macedon to the tyrant of asia, claimed tobe—and probably was, in his beginnings—motivated solely by benevolence. how am i to think thatthe proposed galactic council, or even i myself, will be strong enough to conquer a thing thathas corrupted utterly every man who has ever won it? who is to watch the watchmen?" "the thought does you credit, youth," mentorreplied, unmoved. "that is one reason why you are here. you, of your own force, cannot know that you are in fact incorruptible. i, however, know. moreover, there is an agencyby virtue of which that which you now believe to be impossible will become commonplace.extend your arm."

samms did so, and there snapped around hiswrist a platinum-iridium bracelet carrying, wrist-watch-wise, a lenticular something atwhich the tellurian stared in stupefied amazement. it seemed to be composed of thousands—millions—oftiny gems, each of which emitted pulsatingly all the colors of the spectrum; it was throwingout—broadcasting—a turbulent flood of writhing, polychromatic light! "the successor to the golden meteor of thetriplanetary service," mentor said, calmly. "the lens of arisia. you may take my wordfor it, until your own experience shall have convinced you of the fact, that no one willever wear arisia’s lens who is in any sense unworthy. here also is one for your friend,commissioner kinnison; it is not necessary

for him to come physically to arisia. it is,you will observe, in an insulated container, and does not glow. touch its surface, butlightly and very fleetingly, for the contact will be painful." samms’ finger-tip barely touched one dull,gray, lifeless jewel: his whole arm jerked away uncontrollably as there swept throughhis whole being the intimation of an agony more poignant by far than any he had everknown. "why—it’s alive!" he gasped. "no, it is not really alive, as you understandthe term …" mentor paused, as though seeking a way to describe to the tellurian a thingwhich was to him starkly incomprehensible.

"it is, however, endowed with what you mightcall a sort of pseudo-life; by virtue of which it gives off its characteristic radiationwhile, and only while, it is in physical circuit with the living entity—the ego, let us say—withwhom it is in exact resonance. glowing, the lens is perfectly harmless; it is complete—saturated—satiated—fulfilled.in the dark condition it is, as you have learned, dangerous in the extreme. it is then incomplete—unfulfilled—frustrated—youmight say seeking or yearning or demanding. in that condition its pseudo-life interferesso strongly with any life to which it is not attuned that that life, in a space of seconds,is forced out of this plane or cycle of existence." "then i—i alone—of all the entities inexistence, can wear this particular lens?" samms licked his lips and stared at it, glowingso satisfyingly and contentedly upon his wrist.

"but when i die, will it be a perpetual menace?" "by no means. a lens cannot be brought intobeing except to match some one living personality; a short time after you pass into the nextcycle your lens will disintegrate." "wonderful!" samms breathed, in awe. "butthere’s one thing … these things are … priceless, and there will be millions of them to make… and you don’t…." "what will we get out of it, you mean?" thearisian seemed to smile. "exactly." samms blushed, but held his ground."nobody does anything for nothing. altruism is beautiful in theory, but it has never beenknown to work in practice. i will pay a tremendous price—any price within reason or possibility—forthe lens; but i will have to know what that

price is to be." "it will be heavier than you think, or canat present realize; although not in the sense you fear." mentor’s thought was solemnityitself. "whoever wears the lens of arisia will carry a load that no weaker mind couldbear. the load of authority; of responsibility; of knowledge that would wreck completely anymind of lesser strength. altruism? no. nor is it a case of good against evil, as youso firmly believe. your mental picture of glaring white and of unrelieved black is nota true picture. neither absolute evil nor absolute good do or can exist." "but that would make it still worse!" sammsprotested. "in that case, i can’t see any

reason at all for your exerting yourselves—puttingyourselves out—for us." "there is, however, reason enough; althoughi am not sure that i can make it as clear to you as i would wish. there are in factthree reasons; any one of which would justify us in exerting—would compel us to exert—thetrivial effort involved in the furnishing of lenses to your galactic patrol. first,there is nothing either intrinsically right or intrinsically wrong about liberty or slavery,democracy or autocracy, freedom of action or complete regimentation. it seems to us,however, that the greatest measure of happiness and of well-being for the greatest numberof entities, and therefore the optimum advancement toward whatever sublime goal it is towardwhich this cycle of existence is trending

in the vast and unknowable scheme of things,is to be obtained by securing for each and every individual the greatest amount of mentaland physical freedom compatible with the public welfare. we of arisia are only a small partof this cycle; and, as goes the whole, so goes in greater or lesser degree each of theparts. is it impossible for you, a fellow citizen of this cycle-universe, to believethat such fulfillment alone would be ample compensation for a much greater effort?" "i never thought of it in that light…."it was hard for samms to grasp the concept; he never did understand it thoroughly. "ibegin to see, i think … at least, i believe you."

"second, we have a more specific obligationin that the life of many, many worlds has sprung from arisian seed. thus, in loco parentis,we would be derelict indeed if we refused to act. and third, you yourself spend highlyvaluable time and much effort in playing chess. why do you do it? what do you get out of it?" "why, i … uh … mental exercise, i suppose… i like it!" "just so. and i am sure that one of your veryearly philosophers came to the conclusion that a fully competent mind, from a studyof one fact or artifact belonging to any given universe, could construct or visualize thatuniverse, from the instant of its creation to its ultimate end?"

"yes. at least, i have heard the propositionstated, but i have never believed it possible." "it is not possible simply because no fullycompetent mind ever has existed or ever will exist. a mind can become fully competent onlyby the acquisition of infinite knowledge, which would require infinite time as wellas infinite capacity. our equivalent of your chess, however, is what we call the ‘visualizationof the cosmic all’. in my visualization a descendant of yours named clarrissa macdougallwill, in a store called brenleer’s upon the planet … but no, let us consider a thingnearer at hand and concerning you personally, so that its accuracy will be subject to check.where you will be and exactly what you will be doing, at some definite time in the future.five years, let us say?"

"go ahead. if you can do that you’re good." "five tellurian calendar years then, fromthe instant of your passing through the screen of ‘the hill’ on this present journey, youwill be … allow me, please, a moment of thought … you will be in a barber shop notyet built; the address of which is to be fifteen hundred fifteen twelfth avenue, spokane, washington,north america, tellus. the barber’s name will be antonio carbonero and he will be left-handed.he will be engaged in cutting your hair. or rather, the actual cutting will have beendone and he will be shaving, with a razor trade-marked ‘jensen-king-byrd’, the shorthairs in front of your left ear. a comparatively small, quadrupedal, grayish-striped entity,of the race called ‘cat’—a young cat, this

one will be, and called thomas, although actuallyof the female sex—will jump into your lap, addressing you pleasantly in a language withwhich you yourself are only partially familiar. you call it mewing and purring, i believe?" "yes," the flabbergasted samms managed tosay. "cats do purr—especially kittens." "ah—very good. never having met a cat personally,i am gratified at your corroboration of my visualization. this female youth erroneouslycalled thomas, somewhat careless in computing the elements of her trajectory, will jostleslightly the barber’s elbow with her tail; thus causing him to make a slight incision,approximately three millimeters long, parallel to and just above your left cheek-bone. atthe precise moment in question, the barber

will be applying a styptic pencil to thisinsignificant wound. this forecast is, i trust, sufficiently detailed so that you will haveno difficulty in checking its accuracy or its lack thereof?" "detailed! accuracy!" samms could scarcelythink. "but listen—not that i want to cross you up deliberately, but i’ll tell you nowthat a man doesn’t like to get sliced by a barber, even such a little nick as that. i’llremember that address—and the cat—and i’ll never go into the place!" "every event does affect the succession ofevents," mentor acknowledged, equably enough. "except for this interview, you would havebeen in new orleans at that time, instead

of in spokane. i have considered every pertinentfactor. you will be a busy man. hence, while you will think of this matter frequently andseriously during the near future, you will have forgotten it in less than five years.you will remember it only at the touch of the astringent, whereupon you will give voiceto certain self-derogatory and profane remarks." "i ought to," samms grinned; a not-too-pleasantgrin. he had been appalled by the quality of mind able to do what mentor had just done;he was now more than appalled by the arisian’s calm certainty that what he had foretold insuch detail would in every detail come to pass. "if, after all this spokane—let atiger-striped kitten jump into my lap—let a left-handed tony carbonero nick me—uh-uh,mentor, uh-uh! if i do, i’ll deserve to be

called everything i can think of!" "these that i have mentioned, the gross occurrences,are problems only for inexperienced thinkers." mentor paid no attention to samms’ determinationnever to enter that shop. "the real difficulties lie in the fine detail, such as the length,mass, and exact place and position of landing, upon apron or floor, of each of your hairsas it is severed. many factors are involved. other clients passing by—opening and shuttingdoors—air currents—sunshine—wind—pressure, temperature, humidity. the exact fashion inwhich the barber will flick his shears, which in turn depends upon many other factors—whathe will have been doing previously, what he will have eaten and drunk, whether or nothis home life will have been happy … you

little realize, youth, what a priceless opportunitythis will be for me to check the accuracy of my visualization. i shall spend many periodsupon the problem. i cannot attain perfect accuracy, of course. ninety nine point ninenines percent, let us say … or perhaps ten nines … is all that i can reasonably expect…." "but, mentor!" samms protested. "i can’t helpyou on a thing like that! how can i know or report the exact mass, length, and orientationof single hairs?" "you cannot; but, since you will be wearingyour lens, i myself can and will compare minutely my visualization with the actuality. for know,youth, that wherever any lens is, there can any arisian be if he so desires. and now,knowing that fact, and from your own knowledge

of the satisfactions to be obtained from chessand other such mental activities, and from the glimpses you have had into my own mind,do you retain any doubts that we arisians will be fully compensated for the triflingeffort involved in furnishing whatever number of lenses may be required?" "i have no more doubts. but this lens … i’mgetting more afraid of it every minute. i see that it is a perfect identification; ican understand that it can be a perfect telepath. but is it something else, as well? if it hasother powers … what are they?" "i cannot tell you; or, rather, i will not.it is best for your own development that i do not, except in the most general terms.it has additional qualities, it is true; but,

since no two entities ever have the same abilities,no two lenses will ever be of identical qualities. strictly speaking, a lens has no real powerof its own; it merely concentrates, intensifies, and renders available whatever powers arealready possessed by its wearer. you must develop your own powers and your own abilities;we of arisia, in furnishing the lens, will have done everything that we should do." "of course, sir; and much more than we haveany right to expect. you have given me a lens for roderick kinnison; how about the others?who is to select them?" "you are, for a time." silencing the man’sprotests, mentor went on: "you will find that your judgment will be good. you will sendto us only one entity who will not be given

a lens, and it is necessary that that oneentity should be sent here. you will begin a system of selection and training which willbecome more and more rigorous as time goes on. this will be necessary; not for the selectionitself, which the lensmen themselves could do among babies in their cradles, but becauseof the benefits thus conferred upon the many who will not graduate, as well as upon thefew who will. in the meantime you will select the candidates; and you will be shocked anddismayed when you discover how few you will be able to send. "you will go down in history as first lensmansamms; the crusader, the man whose wide vision and tremendous grasp made it possible forthe galactic patrol to become what it is to

be. you will have highly capable help, ofcourse. the kinnisons, with their irresistible driving force, their indomitable will to do,their transcendent urge; costigan, back of whose stout irish heart lie erin’s best ofbrains and brawn; your cousins george and ray olmstead; your daughter virgilia…." "virgilia! where does she fit into this picture?what do you know about her—and how?" "a mind would be incompetent indeed who couldnot visualize, from even the most fleeting contact with you, a fact which has been inexistence for some twenty three of your years. her doctorate in psychology; her intensivestudies under martian and venerian masters—even under one reformed adept of north polar jupiter—ofthe involuntary, uncontrollable, almost unknown

and hence highly revealing muscles of theface, the hands, and other parts of the human body. you will remember that poker game fora long time." "i certainly will." samms grinned, a bit shamefacedly."she gave us clear warning of what she was going to do, and then cleaned us out to thelast millo." "naturally. she has, all unconsciously, beentraining herself for the work she is destined to do. but to resume; you will feel yourselfincompetent, unworthy—that, too, is a part of a lensman’s load. when you first scan themind of roderick kinnison you will feel that he, not you, should be the prime mover inthe galactic patrol. but know now that no mind, not even the most capable in the universe,can either visualize truly or truly evaluate

itself. commissioner kinnison, upon scanningyour mind as he will scan it, will know the truth and will be well content. but time presses;in one minute you leave." "thanks a lot … thanks." samms got to hisfeet and paused, hesitantly. "i suppose that it will be all right … that is, i can callon you again, if…?" "no," the arisian declared, coldly. "my visualizationdoes not indicate that it will ever again be either necessary or desirable for you tovisit or to communicate with me or with any other arisian." communication ceased as though a solid curtainhad been drawn between the two. samms strode out and stepped into the waiting vehicle,which whisked him back to his lifeboat. he

blasted off; arriving in the control roomof the chicago precisely at the end of the sixth hour after leaving it. "well, rod, i’m back …" he began, and stopped;utterly unable to speak. for at the mention of the name samms’ lens had put him fullyen rapport with his friend’s whole mind; and what he perceived struck him—literally andprecisely—dumb. he had always liked and admired rod kinnison.he had always known that he was tremendously able and capable. he had known that he wasbig; clean; a square shooter; the world’s best. hard; a driver who had little more mercyon his underlings in selected undertakings than he had on himself. but now, as he sawspread out for his inspection kinnison’s ego

in its entirety; as he compared in fleetingglances that terrific mind with those of the other officers—good men, too, all of them—assembledin the room; he knew that he had never even begun to realize what a giant roderick kinnisonreally was. "what’s the matter, virge?" kinnison exclaimed,and hurried up, both hands outstretched. "you look like you’re seeing ghosts! what did theydo to you?" "nothing—much. but ‘ghosts’ doesn’t halfdescribe what i’m seeing right now. come into my office, will you, rod?" ignoring the curious stares of the juniorofficers, the commissioner and the councillor went into the latter’s quarters, and in thosequarters the two lensmen remained in close

consultation during practically all of thereturn trip to earth. in fact, they were still conferring deeply, via lens, when the chicagolanded and they took a ground-car into the hill. "but who are you going to send first, virge?"kinnison demanded. "you must have decided on at least some of them, by this time." "i know of only five, or possibly six, whoare ready," samms replied, glumly. "i would have sworn that i knew of a hundred, but theydon’t measure up. jack, mason northrop, and conway costigan, for the first load. lymancleveland, fred rodebush, and perhaps bergenholm—i haven’t been able to figure him out, but i’llknow when i get him under my lens—next.

that’s all." "not quite. how about your identical-twincousins, ray and george olmstead, who have been doing such a terrific job of counter-spying?" "perhaps … quite possibly." "and if i’m good enough, clayton and schweikertcertainly are, to name only two of the commodores. and knobos and dalnalten. and above all, howabout jill?" "jill? why, i don’t … she measures up, ofcourse, but … but at that, there was nothing said against it, either … i wonder…." "why not have the boys in—jill, too—andthrash it out?"

the young people were called in; the storywas told; the problem stated. the boys’ reaction was instantaneous and unanimous. jack kinnisontook the lead. "of course jill’s going, if anybody does!"he burst out vehemently. "count her out, with all the stuff she’s got? hardly!" "why, jack! this, from you?" jill seemed highlysurprised. "i have it on excellent authority that i’m a stinker; a half-witted one, atthat. a jelly-brain, with come-hither eyes." "you are, and a lot of other things besides."jack kinnison did not back up a millimeter, even before their fathers. "but even at yoursapadilliest your half wits are better than most other people’s whole ones; and i neversaid or thought that your brain couldn’t function,

whenever it wanted to, back of those sad eyes.whatever it takes to be a lensman, sir," he turned to samms, "she’s got just as much ofas the rest of us. maybe more." "i take it, then, that there is no objectionto her going?" samms asked. there was no objection. "what ship shall we take, and when?" "the chicago. now." kinnison directed. "she’shot and ready. we didn’t strike any trouble going or coming, so she didn’t need much servicing.flit!" they flitted, and the great battleship madethe second cruise as uneventfully as she had made the first. the chicago’s officers andcrew knew that the young people left the vessel

separately; that they returned separately,each in his or her lifeboat. they met, however, not in the control room, but in jack kinnison’sprivate quarters; the three young lensmen and the girl. the three were embarrassed;ill at ease. the lenses were—definitely—not working. no one of them would put his lenson jill, since she did not have one…. the girl broke the short silence. "wasn’t she the most perfectly beautiful thingyou ever saw?" she breathed. "in spite of being over seven feet tall? she looked tobe about twenty—except her eyes—but she must have been a hundred, to know so much—butwhat are you boys staring so about?" "she!" three voices blurted as one.

"yes. she. why? i know we weren’t together,but i got the impression, some way or other, that there was only the one. what did yousee?" all three men started to talk at once, a clamorof noise; then all stopped at once. "you first, spud. whom did you talk to, andwhat did he, she, or it say?" although conway costigan was a few years older than the otherthree, they all called him by nickname as a matter of course. "national police headquarters—chief of thedetective bureau," costigan reported, crisply. "between forty three and forty five; six feetand half an inch; one seventy five. hard, fine, keen, a big time operator if there everwas one. looked a lot like your father, jill;

the same dark auburn hair, just beginningto gray, and the same deep orange-yellow markings in his eyes. he gave me the works; then tookthis lens out of his safe, snapped it onto my wrist, and gave me two orders—get outand stay out." jack and mase stared at costigan, at jill,and at each other. then they whistled in unison. "i see this is not going to be a unanimousreport, except possibly in one minor detail," jill remarked. "mase, you’re next." "i landed on the campus of the universityof arisia," northrop stated, flatly. "immense place—hundreds of thousands of students.they look me to the physics department—to the private laboratory of the department headhimself. he had a panel with about a million

meters and gauges on it; he scanned and measuredevery individual component element of my brain. then he made a pattern, on a milling routerjust about as complicated as his panel. from there on, of course, it was simple—justlike a dentist making a set of china choppers or a metallurgist embedding a test-section.he snapped a couple of sentences of directions at me, and then said ‘scram!’ that’s all." "sure that was all?" costigan asked. "didn’the add ‘and stay scrammed’?" "he didn’t say it, exactly, but the implicationwas clear enough." "the one point of similarity," jill commented."now you, jack. you have been looking as though we were all candidates for canvas jacketsthat lace tightly up the back."

"uh-uh. as though maybe i am. i didn’t seeanything at all. didn’t even land on the planet. just floated around in an orbit inside thatscreen. the thing i talked with was a pattern of pure force. this lens simply appeared onmy wrist, bracelet and all, out of thin air. he told me plenty, though, in a very shorttime—his last word being for me not to come back or call back." "hm … m … m." this of jack’s was a particularlyindigestible bit, even for jill samms. "in plain words," costigan volunteered, "weall saw exactly what we expected to see." "uh-uh," jill denied. "i certainly did notexpect to see a woman … no; what each of us saw, i think, was what would do us themost good—give each of us the highest possible

lift. i am wondering whether or not therewas anything at all really there." "that might be it, at that." jack scowledin concentration. "but there must have been something there—these lenses are real. butwhat makes me mad is that they wouldn’t give you a lens. you’re just as good a man as anyone of us—if i didn’t know it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good i’d go back there rightnow and…." "don’t pop off so, jack!" jill’s eyes, however,were starry. "i know you mean it, and i could almost love you, at times—but i don’t needa lens. as a matter of fact, i’ll be much better off without one." "jet back, jill!" jack kinnison stared deeplyinto the girl’s eyes—but still did not use

his lens. "somebody must have done a terrificjob of selling, to make you believe that … or are you sold, actually?" "actually. honestly. that arisian was a thousandtimes more of a woman than i ever will be, and she didn’t wear a lens—never had wornone. women’s minds and lenses don’t fit. there’s a sex-based incompatibility. lenses are asmasculine as whiskers—and at that, only a very few men can ever wear them, either.very special men, like you three and dad and pops kinnison. men with tremendous force,drive, and scope. pure killers, all of you; each in his own way, of course. no more tobe stopped than a glacier, and twice as hard and ten times as cold. a woman simply can’thave that kind of a mind! there is going to

be a woman lensman some day—just one—butnot for years and years; and i wouldn’t be in her shoes for anything. in this job ofmine, of…." "well, go on. what is this job you’re so sureyou are going to do?" "why, i don’t know!" jill exclaimed, startledeyes wide. "i thought i knew all about it, but i don’t! do you, about yours?" they did not, not one of them; and they wereall as surprised at that fact as the girl had been. "well, to get back to this lady lensman whois going to appear some day, i gather that she is going to be some kind of a freak. she’llhave to be, practically, because of the sex-based

fundamental nature of the lens. mentor didn’tsay so, in so many words, but she made it perfectly clear that…." "mentor!" the three men exclaimed. each of them had dealt with mentor! "i am beginning to see," jill said, thoughtfully."mentor. not a real name at all. to quote the unabridged verbatim—i had occasion tolook the word up the other day and i am appalled now at the certainty that there was a connection—quote;mentor, a wise and faithful counselor; unquote. have any of you boys anything to say? i haven’t;and i am beginning to be scared blue." silence fell; and the more they thought, thosethree young lensmen and the girl who was one

of the two human women ever to encounter knowinglyan arisian mind, the deeper that silence became. chapter 4 "so you didn’t find anything on nevia." roderickkinnison got up, deposited the inch-long butt of his cigar in an ashtray, lit another, andprowled about the room; hands jammed deep into breeches pockets. "i’m surprised. neradostruck me as being a b.t.o…. i thought sure he’d qualify." "so did i." samms’ tone was glum. "he’s bigtime, and an operator; but not big enough, by far. i’m—we’re both—finding out thatlensman material is damned scarce stuff. there’s none on nevia, and no indication whateverthat there ever will be any."

"tough … and you’re right, of course, inyour stand that we’ll have to have lensmen from as many different solar systems as possibleon the galactic council or the thing won’t work at all. so damned much jealousy—whichis one reason why we’re here in new york instead of out at the hill, where we belong—we’vefound that out already, even in such a small and comparatively homogeneous group as ourown system—the solarian council will not only have to be made up mostly of lensmen,but each and every inhabited planet of sol will have to be represented—even pluto,i suppose, in time. and by the way, your mr. saunders wasn’t any too pleased when you tookknobos of mars and dalnalten of venus away from him and made lensmen out of them—andput them miles over his head."

"oh, i wouldn’t say that … exactly. i convincedhim … but at that, since saunders is not lensman grade himself, it was a trifle difficultfor him to understand the situation completely." "you say it easy—’difficult’ is not theword i would use. but back to the lensman hunt." kinnison scowled blackly. "i agree,as i said before, that we need non-human lensmen, the more the better, but i don’t think muchof your chance of finding any. what makes you think … oh, i see … but i don’t knowwhether you’re justified or not in assuming a high positive correlation between a certainkind of mental ability and technological advancement." "no such assumption is necessary. start anywhereyou please, rod, and take it from there; including nevia."

"i’ll start with known facts, then. interstellarflight is new to us. we haven’t spread far, or surveyed much territory. but in the eightsolar systems with which we are most familiar there are seven planets—i’m not countingvaleria—which are very much like earth in point of mass, size, climate, atmosphere,and gravity. five of the seven did not have any intelligent life and were colonized easilyand quickly. the tellurian worlds of procyon and vega became friendly neighbors—thankgod we learned something on nevia—because they were already inhabited by highly advancedraces: procia by people as human as we are, vegia by people who would be so if it weren’tfor their tails. many other worlds of these systems are inhabited by more or less intelligentnon-human races. just how intelligent they

are we don’t know, but the lensmen will soonfind out. "my point is that no race we have found sofar has had either atomic energy or any form of space-drive. in any contact with raceshaving space-drives we have not been the discoverers, but the discovered. our colonies are all withintwenty six light-years of earth except aldebaran ii, which is fifty seven, but which drew alot of people, in spite of the distance, because it was so nearly identical with earth. onthe other hand, the nevians, from a distance of over a hundred light-years, found us … implyingan older race and a higher development … but you just told me that they would never producea lensman!" "that point stopped me, too, at first. followthrough; i want to see if you arrive at the

same conclusion i did." "well … i … i …" kinnison thought intensely,then went on: "of course, the nevians were not colonizing; nor, strictly speaking, exploring.they were merely hunting for iron—a highly organized, intensively specialized operationto find a raw material they needed desperately." "precisely," samms agreed. "the rigellians, however, were surveying,and rigel is about four hundred and forty light-years from here. we didn’t have a thingthey needed or wanted. they nodded at us in passing and kept on going. i’m still on yourtrack?" "dead center. and just where does that putthe palainians?"

"i see … you may have something there, atthat. palain is so far away that nobody knows even where it is—probably thousands of light-years.yet they have not only explored this system; they colonized pluto long before our whiterace colonized america. but damn it, virge, i don’t like it—any part of it. rigel fouryou may be able to take, with your lens … even one of their damned automobiles, if you staysolidly en rapport with the driver. but palain, virge! pluto is bad enough, but the home planet!you can’t. nobody can. it simply can’t be done!" "i know it won’t be easy," samms admitted,bleakly, "but if it’s got to be done, i’ll do it. and i have a little information thati haven’t had time to tell you yet. we discussed

once before, you remember, what a job it wasto get into any kind of communication with the palainians on pluto. you said then thatnobody could understand them, and you were right—then. however, i re-ran those brain-wavetapes, wearing my lens, and could understand them—the thoughts, that is—as well asthough they had been recorded in precisionist-grade english." "what?" kinnison exclaimed, then fell silent.samms remained silent. what they were thinking of arisia’s lens cannot be expressed in words. "well, go on," kinnison finally said. "giveme the rest of it—the stinger that you’ve been holding back."

"the messages—as messages—were clear andplain. the backgrounds, however, the connotations and implications, were not. some of theircodes and standards seem to be radically different from ours—so utterly and fantastically differentthat i simply cannot reconcile either their conduct or their ethics with their obviouslyhigh intelligence and their advanced state of development. however, they have at leastsome minds of tremendous power, and none of the peculiarities i deduced were of such anature as to preclude lensmanship. therefore i am going to pluto; and from there—i hope—topalain seven. if there’s a lensman there, i’ll get him." "you will, at that," kinnison paid quiet tributeto what he, better than anyone else, knew

that his friend had. "but enough of me—how are you doing?" "as well as can be expected at this stageof the game. the thing is developing along three main lines. first, the pirates. sincethat kind of thing is more or less my own line i’m handling it myself, unless and untilyou find someone better qualified. i’ve got jack and costigan working on it now. "second; drugs, vice, and so on. i hope youfind somebody to take this line over, because, frankly, i’m in over my depth and want toget out. knobos and dalnalten are trying to find out if there’s anything to the idea thatthere may be a planetary, or even inter-planetary,

ring involved. since sid fletcher isn’t alensman i couldn’t disconnect him openly from his job, but he knows a lot about the dope-vicesituation and is working practically full time with the other two. "third; pure—or rather, decidedly impure—politics.the more i studied that subject, the clearer it became that politics would be the worstand biggest battle of the three. there are too many angles i don’t know a damned thingabout, such as what to do about the succession of foaming, screaming fits your friend senatormorgan will be throwing the minute he finds out what our galactic patrol is going to do.so i ducked the whole political line. "now you know as well as i do—better, probably—thatmorgan is only the pernicious activities committee

of the north american senate. multiply himby the thousands of others, all over space, who will be on our necks before the patrolcan get its space-legs, and you will see that all that stuff will have to be handled bya lensman who, as well as being a mighty smooth operator, will have to know all the answersand will have to have plenty of guts. i’ve got the guts, but none of the other primerequisites. jill hasn’t, although she’s got everything else. fairchild, your relationsace, isn’t a lensman and can never become one. so you can see quite plainly who hasgot to handle politics himself." "you may be right … but this lensman businesscomes first…." samms pondered, then brightened. "perhaps—probably—i can find somebodyon this trip—a palainian, say—who is better

qualified than any of us." kinnison snorted. "if you can, i’ll buy youa week in any venerian relaxerie you want to name." "better start saving up your credits, then,because from what i already know of the palainian mentality such a development is distinctlymore than a possibility." samms paused, his eyes narrowing. "i don’t know whether it wouldmake morgan and his kind more rabid or less so to have a non-solarian entity possess authorityin our affairs political—but at least it would be something new and different. butin spite of what you said about ‘ducking’ politics, what have you got northrop, jilland fairchild doing?"

"well, we had a couple of discussions. i couldn’tgive either jill or dick orders, of course…." "wouldn’t, you mean," samms corrected. "couldn’t," kinnison insisted. "jill, besidesbeing your daughter and lensman grade, had no official connection with either the triplanetaryservice or the solarian patrol. and the service, including fairchild, is still triplanetary;and it will have to stay triplanetary until you have found enough lensmen so that youcan spring your twin surprises—galactic council and galactic patrol. however, northropand fairchild are keeping their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut, and jill is findingout whatever she can about drugs and so on, as well as the various political angles. they’llreport to you—facts, deductions, guesses,

and recommendations—whenever you say theword." "nice work, rod. thanks. i think i’ll calljill now, before i go—wonder where she is? … but i wonder … with the lens perhapstelephones are superfluous? i’ll try it." "jill!" he thought intensely into his lens,forming as he did so a mental image of his gorgeous daughter as he knew her. but he found,greatly to his surprise, that neither elaboration nor emphasis was necessary. "ouch!" came the almost instantaneous answer,long before his thought was complete. "don’t think so hard, dad, it hurts—i almost misseda step." virgilia was actually there with him; inside his own mind; in closer touchwith him than she had ever before been. "back

so soon? shall we report now, or aren’t youready to go to work yet?" "skipping for the moment your aspersions onmy present activities—not quite." samms moderated the intensity of his thought toa conversational level. "just wanted to check with you. come in, rod." in flashing thoughtshe brought her up to date. "jill, do you agree with what rod here has just told me?" "yes. fully. so do the boys." "that settles it, then—unless, of course,i can find a more capable substitute." "of course—but we will believe that whenwe see it." "where are you and what are you doing?"

"washington, d.c. european embassy. dancingwith herkimer third, senator morgan’s number one secretary. i was going to make passesat him—in a perfectly lady-like way, of course—but it wasn’t necessary. he thinkshe can break down my resistance." "careful, jill! that kind of stuff…." "is very old stuff indeed, daddy dear. simple.and herkimer third isn’t really a menace; he just thinks he is. take a look—you can,can’t you, with your lens?" "perhaps … oh, yes. i see him as well asyou do." fully en rapport with the girl as he was, so that his mind received simultaneouslywith hers any stimulus which she was willing to share, it seemed as though a keen, handsome,deeply tanned face bent down from a distance

of inches toward his own. "but i don’t likeit a bit—and him even less." "that’s because you aren’t a girl," jill giggledmentally. "this is fun; and it won’t hurt him a bit, except maybe for a slightly bruisedvanity, when i don’t fall down flat at his feet. and i’m learning a lot that he hasn’tany suspicion he’s giving away." "knowing you, i believe that. but don’t … thatis … well, be very careful not to get your fingers burned. the job isn’t worth it—yet." "don’t worry, dad." she laughed unaffectedly."when it comes to playboys like this one, i’ve got millions and skillions and whillionsof ohms of resistance. but here comes senator morgan himself, with a fat and repulsive venerian—he’scalling my boy-friend away from me, with what

he thinks is an imperceptible high-sign, intoa huddle—and my olfactory nerves perceive a rich and fruity aroma, as of skunk—so… i hate to seem to be giving a solarian councillor the heave-ho, but if i want toread what goes on—and i certainly do—i’ll have to concentrate. as soon as you get backgive us a call and we’ll report. take it easy, dad!" "you’re the one to be told that, not me. goodhunting, jill!" samms, still seated calmly at his desk, reachedout and pressed a button marked "garage". his office was on the seventieth floor; thegarage occupied level after level of sub-basement. the screen brightened; a keen young face appeared.

"good evening, jim. will you please send mycar up to the wright skyway feeder?" "at once, sir. it will be there in seventyfive seconds." samms cut off; and, after a brief exchangeof thought with kinnison, went out into the hall and along it to the "down" shaft. there,going free, he stepped through a doorless, unguarded archway into over a thousand feetof air. although it was long after conventional office hours the shaft was still fairly busy,but that made no difference—inertialess collisions cannot even be felt. he bulleteddownward to the sixth floor, where he brought himself to an instantaneous halt. leaving the shaft, he joined the now thinningcrowd hurrying toward the exit. a girl with

meticulously plucked eyebrows and an astoundinghair-do, catching sight of his lens, took her hands out of her breeches pockets—skirtswent out, as office dress, when up-and-down open-shaft velocities of a hundred or so milesper hour replaced elevators—nudged her companion, and whispered excitedly: "look there! quick! i never saw one closeup before, did you? that’s him—himself! first lensman samms!" at the portal, the lensman as a matter ofhabit held out his car-check, but such formalities were no longer necessary, or even possible.everybody knew, or wanted to be thought of as knowing, virgil samms.

"stall four sixty five, first lensman, sir,"the uniformed gateman told him, without even glancing at the extended disk. "thank you, tom." "this way, please, sir, first lensman," anda youth, teeth gleaming white in a startlingly black face, strode proudly to the indicatedstall and opened the vehicle’s door. "thank you, danny," samms said, as appreciativelyas though he did not know exactly where his ground-car was. he got in. the door jammed itself gently shut.the runabout—a dillingham eleven-forty—shot smoothly forward upon its two fat, soft tires.half-way to the exit archway he was doing

forty; he hit the steeply-banked curve leadinginto the lofty "street" at ninety. nor was there shock or strain. motorcycle-wise, butautomatically, the "dilly" leaned against its gyroscopes at precisely the correct angle;the huge low-pressure tires clung to the resilient synthetic of the pavement as though integralwith it. nor was there any question of conflicting traffic, for this thoroughfare, six full levelsabove varick street proper, was not, strictly speaking, a street at all. it had only onepoint of access, the one which samms had used; and only one exit—it was simply and onlya feeder into wright skyway, a limited-access superhighway. samms saw, without noting particularly, themaze of traffic-ways of which this feeder

was only one tiny part; a maze which extendedfrom ground-level up to a point well above even the towering buildings of new york’smetropolitan district. the way rose sharply; samms’ right foot wentdown a little farther; the dillingham began to pick up speed. moving loud-speakers sangto him and yelled and blared at him, but he did not hear them. brilliant signs, flashingand flaring all the colors of the spectrum—sheer triumphs of the electrician’s art—blazedin or flamed into arresting words and eye-catching pictures, but he did not see them. advertising—designed by experts to sell everything from aardvarks to martian zyzmol ("bottled ecstacy")—butthe first lensman was a seasoned big-city dweller. his mind had long since become aperfect filter, admitting to his consciousness

only things which he wanted to perceive: onlyso can big-city life be made endurable. approaching the skyway, he cut in his touringroadlights, slowed down a trifle, and insinuated his low-flyer into the stream of traffic.those lights threw fifteen hundred watts apiece, but there was no glare—polarized lensesand wind-shields saw to that. he wormed his way over to the left-hand, high-speedlane and opened up. at the edge of the skyscraper district, where wright skyway angles sharplydownward to ground level, samms’ attention was caught and held by something off to hisright—a blue-white, whistling something that hurtled upward into the air. as it ascendedit slowed down; its monotone shriek became lower and lower in pitch; its light went downthrough the spectrum toward the red. finally

it exploded, with an earth-shaking crash;but the lightning-like flash of the detonation, instead of vanishing almost instantaneously,settled itself upon a low-hanging artificial cloud and became a picture and four words—twobearded faces and "smith bros. cough drops"! "well, i’ll be damned!" samms spoke aloud,chagrined at having been compelled to listen to and to look at an advertisement. "i thoughti had seen everything, but that is really new!" twenty minutes—fifty miles—later, sammsleft the skyway at a point near what had once been south norwalk, connecticut; an area transformednow into the level square miles of new york spaceport.

new york spaceport; then, and until the establishmentof prime base, the biggest and busiest field in existence upon any planet of civilization.for new york city, long the financial and commercial capital of the earth, had maintainedthe same dominant position in the affairs of the solar system and was holding a substantiallead over her rivals, chicago, london, and stalingrad, in the race for inter-stellarsupremacy. and virgil samms himself, because of the ever-increasingmenace of piracy, had been largely responsible for the policy of basing the war-vessels ofthe triplanetary patrol upon each space-field in direct ratio to the size and importanceof that field. hence he was no stranger in new york spaceport; in fact, master psychologistthat he was, he had made it a point to know

by first name practically everyone connectedwith it. no sooner had he turned his dillingham overto a smiling attendant, however, than he was accosted by a man whom he had never seen before. "mr. samms?" the stranger asked. "yes." samms did not energize his lens; hehad not yet developed either the inclination or the technique to probe instantaneouslyevery entity who approached him, upon any pretext whatever, in order to find out whatthat entity really wanted. "i’m isaacson …" the man paused, as thoughhe had supplied a world of information. "yes?" samms was receptive, but not impressed.

"interstellar spaceways, you know. we’ve beentrying to see you for two weeks, but we couldn’t get past your secretaries, so i decided tobuttonhole you here, myself. but we’re just as much alone here as we would be in eitherone of our offices—yes, more so. what i want to talk to you about is having our exclusivefranchise extended to cover the outer planets and the colonies." "just a minute, mr. isaacson. surely you knowthat i no longer have even a portfolio in the council; that practically all of my attentionis, and for some time to come will be, directed elsewhere?" "exactly—officially." isaacson’s tone spokevolumes. "but you’re still the boss; they’ll

do anything you tell them to. we couldn’ttry to do business with you before, of course, but in your present position there is nothingwhatever to prevent you from getting into the biggest thing that will ever be. we arethe biggest corporation in existence now, as you know, and we are still growing—fast.we don’t do business in a small way, or with small men; so here’s a check for a millioncredits, or i will deposit it to your account…." "i’m not interested." "as a binder," the other went on, as smoothlyas though his sentence had not been interrupted, "with twenty-five million more to follow onthe day that our franchise goes through." "i’m still not interested."

"no … o … o …?" isaacson studied thelensman narrowly: and samms, lens now wide awake, studied the entrepreneur. "well … i… while i admit that we want you pretty badly, you are smart enough to know that we’llget what we want anyway, with or without you. with you, though, it will be easier and quicker,so i am authorized to offer you, besides the twenty six million credits …" he savoredthe words as he uttered them: "twenty two and one-half percent of spaceways. on today’smarket that is worth fifty million credits; ten years from now it will be worth fiftybillion. that’s my high bid; that’s as high as we can possibly go." "i’m glad to hear that—i’m still not interested,"and samms strode away, calling his friend

kinnison as he did so. "rod? virgil." he told the story. "whew!" kinnison whistled expressively. "they’renot pikers, anyway, are they? what a sweet set-up—and you could wrap it up and handit to them like a pound of coffee…." "or you could, rod." "could be…." the big lensman ruminated."but what a hookup! perfectly legitimate, and with plenty of precedents—and arguments,of a sort—in its favor. the outer planets. then alpha centauri and sirius and procyonand so on. monopoly—all the traffic will bear…."

"slavery, you mean!" samms stormed. "it wouldhold civilization back for a thousand years!" "sure, but what do they care?" "that’s it … and he said—and actuallybelieved—that they would get it without my help…. i can’t help wondering about that." "simple enough, virge, when you think aboutit. he doesn’t know yet what a lensman is. nobody does, you know, except lensmen. itwill take some time for that knowledge to get around…." "and still longer for it to be believed." "right. but as to the chance of interstellarspaceways ever getting the monopoly they’re

working for, i didn’t think i would have toremind you that it was not entirely by accident that over half of the members of the solariancouncil are lensmen, and that any galactic councillor will automatically have to be alensman. so go right ahead with what you started, my boy, and don’t give isaacson and companyanother thought. we’ll bend an optic or two in that direction while you are gone." "i was overlooking a few things, at that,i guess." samms sighed in relief as he entered the main office of the patrol. the line at the receptionist’s desk was fairlyshort, but even so, samms was not allowed to wait. that highly decorative, but far-from-dumbblonde, breaking off in mid-sentence her business

of the moment, turned on her charm as thoughit had been a battery of floodlights, pressed a stud on her desk, and spoke to the man beforeher and to the lensman: "excuse me a moment, please. first lensmansamms, sir…?" "yes, miss regan?" her communicator—"squawk-box",in every day parlance—broke in. "first lensman samms is here, sir," the girlannounced, and broke the circuit. "good evening, sylvia. lieutenant-commanderwagner, please, or whoever else is handling clearances," samms answered what he thoughtwas to have been her question. "oh, no, sir; you are cleared. commodore claytonhas been waiting for you … here he is, now." "hi, virgil!" commodore clayton, a big, solidman with a scarred face and a shock of iron-gray

hair, whose collar bore the two silver starswhich proclaimed him to be the commander-in-chief of a continental contingent of the patrol,shook hands vigorously. "i’ll zip you out. miss regan, call a bug, please." "oh, that isn’t necessary, alex!" samms protested."i’ll pick one up outside." "not in any patrol base in north america,my friend; nor, unless i am very badly mistaken, anywhere else. from now on, lensmen have absolutepriority, and the quicker everybody realizes exactly what that means, the better." the "bug"—a vehicle something like a jeep,except more so—was waiting at the door. the two men jumped aboard.

"the chicago—and blast!" clayton ordered,crisply. the driver obeyed—literally. gravel flewfrom beneath skidding tires as the highly maneuverable little ground-car took off. ascreaming turn into the deservedly famous avenue of oaks. along the avenue. throughthe gate, the guards saluting smartly as the bug raced past them. past the barracks. pastthe airport hangars and strips. out into the space-field, the scarred and blackened areadevoted solely to the widely-spaced docks of the tremendous vessels which plied thevacuous reaches of inter-planetary and inter-stellar space. spacedocks were, and are, huge andsprawling structures; built of concrete and steel and asbestos and ultra-stubborn refractoryand insulation and vacuum-breaks; fully air-conditioned

and having refrigeration equipment of thousandsof tons per hour of ice; designed not only to expedite servicing, unloading, and loading,but also to protect materials and personnel from the raving, searing blasts of take-offand of landing. a space-dock is a squat and monstrous cylinder,into whose hollow top the lowermost one-third of a space-ship’s bulk fits as snugly as doesa baseball into the "pocket" of a veteran fielder’s long-seasoned glove. and the tremendousdistances between those docks minimize the apparent size, both of the structures themselvesand of the vessels surmounting them. thus, from a distance, the chicago looked littleenough, and harmless enough; but as the bug flashed under the overhanging bulk and thedriver braked savagely to a stop at one of

the dock’s entrances, samms could scarcelykeep from flinching. that featureless, gray, smoothly curving wall of alloy steel loomedso incredibly high above them—extended so terrifyingly far outward beyond its visiblemeans of support! it must be on the very verge of crashing! samms stared deliberately at the mass of metaltowering above him, then smiled—not without effort—at his companion. "you’d think, alex, that a man would get overbeing afraid that a ship was going to fall on him, but i haven’t—yet." "no, and you probably never will. i neverhave, and i’m one of the old hands. some claim

not to mind it—but not in front of a liedetector. that’s why they had to make the passenger docks bigger than the liners—toomany passengers fainted and had to be carried aboard on stretchers—or cancelled passageentirely. however, scaring hell out of them on the ground had one big advantage; theyfelt so safe inside that they didn’t get the colly-wobbles so bad when they went free." "well, i’ve got over that, anyway. good-bye,alex; and thanks." samms entered the dock, shot smoothly upward,followed an escorting officer to the captain’s own cabin, and settled himself into a cushionedchair facing an ultra-wave view-plate. a face appeared upon his communicator screen andspoke.

"winfield to first lensman samms—you willbe ready to blast off at twenty one hundred?" "samms to captain winfield," the lensman replied."i will be ready." sirens yelled briefly; a noise which sammsknew was purely a formality. clearance had been issued; station pixny was filling theair with warnings. personnel and material close enough to the chicago’s dock to be affectedby the blast were under cover and safe. the blast went on; the plate showed, insteadof a view of the space-field, a blaze of blue-white light. the war-ship was inertialess, it istrue; but so terrific were the forces released that incandescent gases, furiously driven,washed the dock and everything for hundreds of yards around it.

the plate cleared. through the lower, denserlayers of atmosphere the chicago bored in seconds; then, as the air grew thinner andthinner, she rushed upward faster and faster. the terrain below became concave … thenconvex. being completely without inertia, the ship’s velocity was at every instant thatat which the friction of the medium through which she blasted her way equaled preciselythe force of her driving thrust. wherefore, out in open space, the earth afast-shrinking tiny ball and sol himself growing smaller, paler, and weaker at a startlingrate, the chicago’s speed attained an almost constant value; a value starkly impossiblefor the human mind to grasp. chapter 5

for hours virgil samms sat motionless, staringalmost unseeing into his plate. it was not that the view was not worth seeing—the wonderof space, the ever-changing, constantly-shifting panorama of incredibly brilliant althoughdimensionless points of light, against that wondrous background of mist-besprinkled blackvelvet, is a thing that never fails to awe even the most seasoned observer—but he hada tremendous load on his mind. he had to solve an apparently insoluble problem. how … how… how could he do what he had to do? finally, knowing that the time of landingwas approaching, he got up, unfolded his fans, and swam lightly through the air of the cabinto a hand-line, along which he drew himself into the control room. he could have madethe trip in that room, of course, if he had

so chosen; but, knowing that officers of spacedo not really like to have strangers in that sanctum, he did not intrude until it was necessary. captain winfield was already strapped downat his master conning plate. pilots, navigators, and computers worked busily at their respectivetasks. "i was just going to call you, first lensman."winfield waved a hand in the general direction of a chair near his own. "take the lieutenant-captain’sstation, please." then, after a few minutes: "go inert, mr. white." "attention, all personnel," lieutenant-captainwhite spoke conversationally into a microphone. "prepare for inert maneuvering, class three.off."

a bank of tiny red lights upon a panel turnedgreen practically as one. white cut the bergenholm, whereupon virgil samms’ mass changed instantlyfrom a weight of zero to one of five hundred and twenty five pounds—ships of war thenhad no space to waste upon such non-essentials as artificial gravity. although he was bracedfor the change and cushioned against it, the lensman’s breath whooshed! out sharply; but,being intensely interested in what was going on, he swallowed convulsively a couple oftimes, gasped a few deep breaths, and fought his way back up to normalcy. the chief pilot was now at work, with allthe virtuoso’s skill of his rank and grade; one of the hall-marks of which is to makedifficult tasks look easy. he played trills

and runs and arpeggios—at times veritableglissades—upon keyboards and pedals, directing with micrometric precision the tremendousforces of the superdreadnaught to the task of matching the intrinsic velocity of newyork spaceport at the time of his departure to the i. v. of the surface of the planetso far below. samms stared into his plate; first at theincredibly tiny apparent size of that incredibly hot sun, and then at the barren-looking worldtoward which they were dropping at such terrific speed. "it doesn’t seem possible …" he remarked,half to winfield, half to himself, "that a sun could be that big and that hot. rigelfour is almost two hundred times as far away

from it as earth is from sol—something likeeighteen billion miles—it doesn’t look much, if any, bigger than venus does from luna—yetthis world is hotter than the sahara desert." "well, blue giants are both big and hot,"the captain replied, matter-of-factly, "and their radiation, being mostly invisible, isdeadly stuff. and rigel is about the biggest in this region. there are others a lot worse,though. doradus s, for instance, would make rigel, here, look like a tallow candle. i’mgoing out there, some of these days, just to take a look at it. but that’s enough ofastronomical chit-chat—we’re down to twenty miles of altitude and we’ve got your cityjust about stopped." the chicago slowed gently to a halt; perchedmotionless upon softly hissing jets. samms

directed his visibeam downward and sent alongit an exploring, questing thought. since he had never met a rigellian in person, he couldnot form the mental image or pattern necessary to become en rapport with any one individualof the race. he did know, however, the type of mind which must be possessed by the entitywith whom he wished to talk, and he combed the rigellian city until he found one. therapport was so incomplete and imperfect as to amount almost to no contact at all, buthe could, perhaps, make himself understood. "if you will excuse this possibly unpleasantand certainly unwarranted intrusion," he thought, carefully and slowly, "i would like very muchto discuss with you a matter which should become of paramount importance to all theintelligent peoples of all the planets in

space." "i welcome you, tellurian." mind fused withmind at every one of uncountable millions of points and paths. this rigellian professorof sociology, standing at his desk, was physically a monster … the oil-drum of a body, thefour blocky legs, the multi-branchiate tentacular arms, that immobile dome of a head, the completelack of eyes and of ears … nevertheless samms’ mind fused with the monstrosity’s assmoothly, as effortlessly, and almost as completely as it had with his own daughter’s! and what a mind! the transcendent poise; thestaggeringly tremendous range and scope—the untroubled and unshakeable calm; the sublimequietude; the vast and placid certainty; the

ultimate stability, unknown and forever unknowableto any human or near-human race! "dismiss all thought of intrusion, first lensmansamms … i have heard of you human beings, of course, but have never considered seriouslythe possibility of meeting one of you mind to mind. indeed, it was reported that noneof our minds could make any except the barest and most unsatisfactory contact with any ofyours they chanced to encounter. it is, i now perceive, the lens which makes this fullaccord possible, and it is basically about the lens that you are here?" "it is," and samms went on to cover in flashingthoughts his conception of what the galactic patrol should be and should become. that waseasy enough; but when he tried to describe

in detail the qualifications necessary forlensmanship, he began to bog down. "force, drive, scope, of course … range … power… but above all, an absolute integrity … an ultimate incorruptibility…." he could recognizesuch a mind after meeting it and studying it, but as to finding it … it might notbe in any place of power or authority. his own, and rod kinnison’s, happened to be; butcostigan’s was not … and both knobos and dalnalten had made inconspicuousness a fineart…. "i see," the native stated, when it becameclear that samms could say no more. "it is evident, of course, that i cannot qualify;nor do i know anyone personally who can. however…." "what?" samms demanded. "i was sure, fromthe feel of your mind, that you … but with

a mind of such depth and breadth, such tremendousscope and power, you must be incorruptible!" "i am," came the dry rejoinder. "we all are.no rigellian is, or ever will be or can be, what you think of as ‘corrupt’ or ‘corruptible’.indeed, it is only by the narrowest, most intense concentration upon every line of yourthought that i can translate your meaning into a concept possible for any of us evento understand." "then what … oh, i see. i was starting atthe wrong end. naturally enough, i suppose, i looked first for the qualities rarest inmy own race." "of course. our minds have ample scope andrange; and, perhaps, sufficient power. but those qualities which you refer to as ‘force’and ‘drive’ are fully as rare among us as

absolute mental integrity is among you. whatyou know as ‘crime’ is unknown. we have no police, no government, no laws, no organizedarmed forces of any kind. we take, practically always, the line of least resistance. we liveand let live, as your thought runs. we work together for the common good." "well … i don’t know what i expected tofind here, but certainly not this…." if samms had never before been completely thunderstruck,completely at a loss, he was then. "you don’t think, then, that there is any chance?" "i have been thinking, and there may be achance … a slight one, but still a chance," the rigellian said, slowly. "for instance,that youth, so full of curiosity, who first

visited your planet. thousands of us havewondered, to ourselves and to each other, about the peculiar qualities of mind whichcompelled him and others to waste so much time, effort, and wealth upon a project socompletely useless as exploration. why, he had even to develop energies and engines theretoforeunknown, and which can never be of any real use!" samms was shaken by the calm finality withwhich the rigellian dismissed all possibility of the usefulness of inter-stellar exploration,but stuck doggedly to his purpose. "however slight the chance, i must find andtalk to this man. i suppose he is now out in deep space somewhere. have you any ideawhere?"

"he is now in his home city, accumulatingfunds and manufacturing fuel with which to continue his pointless activities. that cityis named … that is, in your english you might call it … suntown? sunberg? no, itmust be more specific … rigelsville? rigel city?" "rigelston, i would translate it?" samms hazarded. "exactly—rigelston." the professor markedits location upon a globular mental map far more accurate and far more detailed than theglobe which captain winfield and his lieutenant were then studying. "thanks. now, can you and will you get intouch with this explorer and ask him to call

a meeting of his full crew and any otherswho might be interested in the project i have outlined?" "i can. i will. he and his kind are not quitesane, of course, as you know; but i do not believe that even they are so insane as tobe willing to subject themselves to the environment of your vessel." "they will not be asked to come here. themeeting will be held in rigelston. if necessary, i shall insist that it be held there." "you would? i perceive that you would. itis strange … yes, fantastic … you are quarrelsome, pugnacious, anti-social, vicious,small-bodied and small-brained; timid, nervous,

and highly and senselessly excitable; unbalancedand unsane; as sheerly monstrous mentally as you are physically…." these outrageousthoughts were sent as casually and as impersonally as though the sender were discussing the weather.he paused, then went on: "and yet, to further such a completely visionary project, you areeager to subject yourself to conditions whose counterparts i could not force myself, underany circumstances whatever, to meet. it may be … it must be true that there is an extensionof the principle of working together for the common good which my mind, for lack of pertinentdata, has not been able to grasp. i am now en rapport with dronvire the explorer." "ask him, please, not to identify himselfto me. i do not want to go into that meeting

with any preconceived ideas." "a balanced thought," the rigellian approved."someone will be at the airport to point out to you the already desolated area in whichthe space-ship of the explorers makes its so-frightful landings; dronvire will ask someoneto meet you at the airport and bring you to the place of meeting." the telepathic line snapped and samms turneda white and sweating face to the chicago’s captain. "god, what a strain! don’t ever try telepathyunless you positively have to—especially not with such an outlandishly different raceas these rigellians are!"

"don’t worry; i won’t." winfield’s words werenot at all sympathetic, but his tone was. "you looked as though somebody was beatingyour brains out with a spiked club. where next, first lensman?" samms marked the location of rigelston uponthe vessel’s chart, then donned ear-plugs and a special, radiation-proof suit of armor,equipped with refrigerators and with extra-thick blocks of lead glass to protect the eyes. the airport, an extremely busy one well outsidethe city proper, was located easily enough, as was the spot upon which the tellurian shipwas to land. lightly, slowly, she settled downward, her jets raving out against a gravityfully twice that of her native earth. those

blasts, however, added little or nothing tothe destruction already accomplished by the craft then lying there—a torpedo-shapedcruiser having perhaps one-twentieth of the chicago’s mass and bulk. the superdreadnaught landed, sinking intothe hard, dry ground to a depth of some ten or fifteen feet before she stopped. samms,en rapport with the entity who was to be his escort, made a flashing survey of the mindso intimately in contact with his own. no use. this one was not and never could becomelensman material. he climbed heavily down the ladder. this double-normal gravity madethe going a bit difficult, but he could stand that a lot better than some of the other thingshe was going to have to take. the rigellian

equivalent of an automobile was there, waitingfor him, its door invitingly open. samms had known—in general—what to expect.the two-wheeled chassis was more or less similar to that of his own dillingham. the body wasa narrow torpedo of steel, bluntly pointed at both ends, and without windows. two features,however, were both unexpected and unpleasant—the hard, tough steel of which that body was forgedwas an inch and a half thick, instead of one-sixteenth; and even that extraordinarily armored bodywas dented and scarred and marred, especially about the fore and rear quarters, as deeplyand as badly and as casually as are the fenders of an earthly jalopy! the lensman climbed, not easily or joyously,into that grimly forbidding black interior.

black? it was so black that the port-hole-likedoorway seemed to admit no light at all. it was blacker than a witch’s cat in a coal cellarat midnight! samms flinched; then, stiffening, thought at the driver. "my contact with you seems to have slipped.i’m afraid that i will have to cling to you rather more tightly than may be either politeor comfortable. deprived of sight, and without your sense of perception, i am practicallyhelpless." "come in, lensman, by all means. i offeredto maintain full engagement, but it seemed to me that you declined it; quite possiblythe misunderstanding was due to our unfamiliarity with each others’ customary mode of thought.relax, please, and come in … there! better?"

"infinitely better. thanks." and it was. the darkness vanished; throughthe unexplainable perceptive sense of the rigellian he could "see" everything—he hada practically perfect three-dimensional view of the entire circumambient sphere. he couldsee both the inside and the outside of the ground car he was in and of the immense space-shipin which he had come to rigel iv. he could see the bearings and the wrist-pins of theinternal-combustion engine of the car, the interior structure of the welds that heldthe steel plates together, the busy airport outside, and even deep into the ground. hecould see and study in detail the deepest-buried, most heavily shielded parts of the atomicengines of the chicago.

but he was wasting time. he could also plainlysee a deeply-cushioned chair, designed to fit a human body, welded to a stanchion andequipped with half a dozen padded restraining straps. he sat down quickly; strapped himselfin. "ready?" "ready." the door banged shut with a clangor whichburst through space-suit and ear-plugs with all the violence of a nearby thunderclap.and that was merely the beginning. the engine started—an internal-combustion engine ofwell over a thousand horsepower, designed for maximum efficiency by engineers in whoselexicon there were no counterparts of any

english words relating to noise, or even tosound. the car took off; with an acceleration which drove the tellurian backward, deep intothe cushions. the scream of tortured tires and the crescendo bellowing of the enginecombined to form an uproar which, amplified by and reverberating within the resonant shellof metal, threatened to addle the very brain inside the lensman’s skull. "you suffer!" the driver exclaimed, in highconcern. "they cautioned me to start and stop gently, to drive slowly and carefully, tobump softly. they told me you are frail and fragile, a fact which i perceived for myselfand which has caused me to drive with the utmost possible care and restraint. is thefault mine? have i been too rough?"

"not at all. it isn’t that. it’s the ungodlynoise." then, realizing that the rigellian could have no conception of his meaning, hecontinued quickly: "the vibrations in the atmosphere, from sixteencycles per second up to about nine or ten thousand." he explained what a second was."my nervous system is very sensitive to those vibrations. but i expected them and shieldedmyself against them as adequately as i could. nothing can be done about them. go ahead." "atmospheric vibrations? atmospheric vibrations?atmospheric vibrations?" the driver marveled, and concentrated upon this entirely new conceptwhile he— 1. swung around a steel-sheathed concretepillar at a speed of at least sixty miles

per hour, grazing it so closely that he removedone layer of protective coating from the metal. 2. braked so savagely to miss a wildly careeningtruck that the restraining straps almost cut samms’ body, space-suit and all, into slices. 3. darted into a hole in the traffic so narrowthat only tiny fractions of inches separated his hurtling juggernaut from an enormous steelcolumn on one side and another speeding vehicle on the other. 4. executed a double-right-angle reverse curve,thus missing by hair’s breadths two vehicles traveling in the opposite direction and onein his own. 5. as a grand climax to this spectacular exhibitionof insane driving, he plunged at full speed

into a traffic artery which seemed so fullalready that it could not hold even one more car. but it could—just barely could. however,instead of near misses or grazing hits, this time there were bumps, dents—little ones,nothing at all, really, only an inch or so deep—and an utterly hellish concatenationand concentration of noise. "i fail completely to understand what effectsuch vibrations could have," the rigellian announced finally, sublimely unconscious thatanything at all out of the ordinary had occurred. for him, nothing had. "but surely they cannotbe of any use?" "on this world, i am afraid not. no," sammsadmitted, wearily. "here, too, apparently, as everywhere, the big cities are chokingthemselves to death with their own traffic."

"yes. we build and build, but never have roadsenough." "what are those mounds along the streets?"for some time samms had been conscious of those long, low, apparently opaque structures;attracted to them because they were the only non-transparent objects within range of therigellian’s mind. "or is it something i should not mention?" "what? oh, those? by no means." one of the nearby mounds lost its opacity.it was filled with swirling, gyrating bands and streamers of energy so vivid and so solidas to resemble fabric; with wildly hurtling objects of indescribable shapes and contours;with brilliantly flashing symbols which samms

found, greatly to his surprise, made sense—notthrough the rigellian’s mind, but through his own lens: "eat teegmee’s food!" "advertising!" samms’ thought was a snort. "advertising. you do not perceive yours, either,as you drive?" this was the first bond to be established between two of the most highlyadvanced races of the first galaxy! the frightful drive continued; the noise grewworse and worse. imagine, if you can, a city of fifteen millions of people, throughoutwhose entire length, breadth, height, and depth no attempt whatever had ever been madeto abate any noise, however violent or piercing!

if your imagination has been sufficientlyvivid and if you have worked understandingly enough, the product may approximate what firstlensman samms was forced to listen to that day. through ever-thickening traffic, climbingto higher and ever higher roadways between towering windowless walls of steel, the massiverigellian automobile barged and banged its way. finally it stopped, a thousand feet orso above the ground, beside a building which was still under construction. the heavy doorclanged open. they got out. and then—it chanced to be daylight at thetime—samms saw a tangle of fighting, screaming colors whose like no entity possessing thesense of sight had ever before imagined. reds,

yellows, blues, greens, purples, and everyvariation and inter-mixture possible; laid on or splashed on or occurring naturally atperfect random, smote his eyes as violently as the all-pervading noise had been assailinghis ears. he realized then that through his guide’ssense of perception he had been "seeing" only in shades of gray, that to these people "visible"light differed only in wave-length from any other band of the complete electromagneticspectrum of vibration. strained and tense, the lensman followed hisescort along a narrow catwalk, through a wall upon which riveters and welders were busilyat work, into a room practically without walls and ceiled only by story after story of hugei-beams. yet this was the meeting-place; almost

a hundred rigellians were assembled there! and as samms walked toward the group a cranemandropped a couple of tons of steel plate, from a height of eight or ten feet, upon the floordirectly behind him. "i just about jumped right out of my armor,"is the way samms himself described his reactions; and that description is perhaps as good asany. at any rate, he went briefly out of control,and the rigellian sent him a steadying, inquiring, wondering thought. he could no more understandthe tellurian’s sensitivity than samms could understand the fact that to these people,even the concept of physical intrusion was absolutely incomprehensible. these builderswere not workmen, in the tellurian sense.

they were rigellians, each working his fewhours per week for the common good. they would be no more in contact with the meeting thanwould their fellows on the other side of the planet. samms closed his eyes to the riot of clashingcolors, deafened himself by main strength to the appalling clangor of sound, forcedhimself to concentrate every fiber of his mind upon his errand. "please synchronize with my mind, as manyof you as possible," he thought at the group as a whole, and went en rapport with mindafter mind after mind. and mind after mind after mind lacked something. some were strongerthan others, had more initiative and drive

and urge, but none would quite do. until— "thank god!" in the wave of exultant relief,of fulfillment, samms no longer saw the colors or heard the din. "you, sir, are of lensmangrade. i perceive that you are dronvire." "yes, virgil samms, i am dronvire; and atlong last i know what it is that i have been seeking all my life. but how of these, myother friends? are not some of them…?" "i do not know, nor is it necessary that ifind out. you will select …" samms paused, amazed. the other rigellians were still inthe room, but mentally, he and dronvire were completely alone. "they anticipated your thought, and, knowingthat it was to be more or less personal, they

left us until one of us invites them to return." "i like that, and appreciate it. you willgo to arisia. you will receive your lens. you will return here. you will select andsend to arisia as many or as few of your fellows as you choose. these things i require you,by the lens of arisia, to do. afterward—please note that this is in no sense obligatory—iwould like very much to have you visit earth and accept appointment to the galactic council.will you?" "i will." dronvire needed no time to considerhis decision. the meeting was dismissed. the same entitywho had been samms’ chauffeur on the in-bound trip drove him back to the chicago, drivingas "slowly" and as "carefully" as before.

nor, this time, did the punishment take suchtoll, even though samms knew that each terrific lunge and lurch was adding one more bruiseto the already much-too-large collection discoloring almost every square foot of his tough hide.he had succeeded, and the thrill of success had its usual analgesic effect. the chicago’s captain met him in the air-lockand helped him remove his suit. "are you sure you’re all right, samms?" winfieldwas no longer the formal captain, but a friend. "even though you didn’t call, we were beginningto wonder … you look as though you’d been to a valerian clambake, and i sure as helldon’t like the way you’re favoring those ribs and that left leg. i’ll tell the boys yougot back in a-prime shape, but i’ll have the

doctors look you over, just to make sure." winfield made the announcement, and throughhis lens samms could plainly feel the wave of relief and pleasure that spread throughoutthe great ship with the news. it surprised him immensely. who was he, that all theseboys should care so much whether he lived or died? "i’m perfectly all right," samms protested."there’s nothing at all the matter with me that twenty hours of sleep won’t fix as goodas new." "maybe; but you’ll go to the sick-bay first,just the same," winfield insisted. "and i suppose you want me to blast back to tellus?"

"right. and fast. the ambassadors’ ball isnext tuesday evening, you know, and that’s one function i can’t stay away from, evenwith a class a double prime excuse." chapter 6 the ambassadors’ ball, one of the most ultra-ultrafunctions of the year, was well under way. it was not that everyone who was anyone wasthere; but everyone who was there was, in one way or another, very emphatically someone.thus, there were affairs at which there were more young and beautiful women, and more youngand handsome men; but none exhibiting newer or more expensive gowns, more ribbons anddecorations, more or costlier or more refined jewelry, or a larger acreage of powdered andperfumed epidermis.

and even so, the younger set was well enoughrepresented. since pioneering appeals more to youth than to age, the men representingthe colonies were young; and their wives, together with the daughters and the second(or third or fourth, or occasionally the fifth) wives of the human personages practicallybalanced the account. nor was the throng entirely human. the timehad not yet come, of course, when warm-blooded, oxygen-breathing monstrosities from hundredsof other solar systems would vie in numbers with the humanity present. there were, however,a few martians on the floor, wearing their light "robes du convention" and dancing withmeticulously mathematical precision. a few venerians, who did not dance, sat in stateor waddled importantly about. many worlds

of the solarian system, and not a few othersystems, were represented. one couple stood out, even against that opulentand magnificent background. eyes followed them wherever they went. the girl was tall, trim, supple; built likea symphony. her callistan vexto-silk gown, of the newest and most violent shade of "radio-active"green, was phosphorescently luminous; fluorescent; gleaming and glowing. its hem swept the floor,but above the waist it vanished mysteriously except for wisps which clung to strategicareas here and there with no support, apparently, except the personal magnetism of the wearer.she, almost alone of all the women there, wore no flowers. her only jewelry was a rosetteof huge, perfectly-matched emeralds, perched

precariously upon her bare left shoulder.her hair, unlike the other women’s flawless coiffures, was a flamboyant, artistically-disarranged,red-bronze-auburn mop. her soft and dewy eyes—virgilia samms could control her eyes as perfectlyas she could her highly educated hands—were at the moment gold-flecked, tawny wells ofgirlish innocence and trust. "but i can’t give you this next dance, too,herkimer—honestly i can’t!" she pleaded, snuggling just a trifle closer into the embraceof the young man who was just as much man, physically, as she was woman. "i’d just loveto, really, but i just simply can’t, and you know why, too." "you’ve got some duty-dances, of course …"

"some? i’ve got a list as long as from hereto there! senator morgan first, of course, then mr. isaacson, then i sat one out withmr. ossmen—i can’t stand venerians, they’re so slimy and fat and repulsive!—and thatleathery horned toad from mars and that jovian hippopotamus …" she went down the list, and as she named orcharacterized each entity another finger of her left hand pressed down upon the back ofher partner’s right, to emphasize the count of her social obligations. but those talentedfingers were doing more—far, far more—than that. herkimer third, although no little of a donjuan, was a highly polished, smoothly finished,

thoroughly seasoned diplomat. as such, hiseyes and his other features—particularly his eyes—had been schooled for years toreveal no trace of whatever might be going on inside his brain. if he had entertainedany suspicion of the beautiful girl in his arms, if anyone had suggested that she wastrying her best to pump him, he would have smiled the sort of smile which only the top-drawerdiplomat can achieve. he was not suspicious of virgilia samms. however, simply becauseshe was virgil samms’ daughter, he took an extra bit of pain to betray no undue interestin any one of the names she recited. and besides, she was not looking at his eyes, nor evenat his face. her glance, demurely downcast, was all too rarely raised above the levelof his chin.

there were some things, however, that herkimerherkimer third did not know. that virgilia samms was the most accomplished muscle-readerof her times. that she was so close to him, not because of his manly charm, but becauseonly in that position could she do her prodigious best. that she could work with her eyes alone,but in emergencies, when fullest possible results were imperative, she had to use herexquisitely sensitive fingers and her exquisitely tactile skin. that she had studied intensively,and had tabulated the reactions of, each of the entities on her list. that she was now,with his help, fitting those reactions into a pattern. and finally, that that patternwas beginning to assume the grim shape of murder!

and virgilia samms, working now for somethingfar more urgent and vastly more important than a figmental galactic patrol, hoped desperatelythat this herkimer was not a muscle-reader too; for she knew that she was revealing hersecrets even more completely than was he. in fact, if things got much worse, he couldnot help but feel the pounding of her heart … but she could explain that easily enough,by a few appropriate wiggles … no, he wasn’t a reader, definitely not. he wasn’t watchingthe right places; he was looking where that gown had been designed to make him look, andnowhere else … and no tell-tale muscles lay beneath any part of either of his hands. as her eyes and her fingers and her lovelytorso sent more and more information to her

keen brain, jill grew more and more anxious.she was sure that murder was intended, but who was to be the victim? her father? probably.pops kinnison? possibly. somebody else? barely possibly. and when? and where? and how? shedidn’t know! and she would have to be sure … mentioning names hadn’t been enough, buta personal appearance … why didn’t dad show up—or did she wish he wouldn’t come at all…? virgil samms entered the ball-room. "and dad told me, herkimer," she cooed sweetly,gazing up into his eyes for the first time in over a minute, "that i must dance withevery one of them. so you see … oh, there he is now, over there! i’ve been wonderingwhere he’s been keeping himself." she nodded

toward the entrance and prattled on artlessly."he’s almost never late, you know, and i’ve …" he looked, and as his eyes met those of thefirst lensman, jill learned three of the facts she needed so badly to know. her father. here.soon. she never knew how she managed to keep herself under control; but, some way and justbarely, she did. although nothing showed, she was seethinginwardly: wrought up as she had never before been. what could she do? she knew, but shedid not have a scrap or an iota of visible or tangible evidence; and if she made onesingle slip, however slight, the consequences could be immediate and disastrous.

after this dance might be too late. she couldmake an excuse to leave the floor, but that would look very bad, later … and none ofthem would lens her, she knew, while she was with herkimer—damn such chivalry!… shecould take the chance of waving at her father, since she hadn’t seen him for so long … no,the smallest risk would be with mase. he looked at her every chance he got, and she’d makehim use his lens … northrop looked at her; and over herkimer’sshoulder, for one fleeting instant, she allowed her face to reveal the terrified appeal sheso keenly felt. "want me, jill?" his lensed thought touchedonly the outer fringes of her mind. full rapport is more intimate than a kiss: no one excepther father had ever really put a lens on virgilia

samms. nevertheless: "want you! i never wanted anybody so muchin my life! come in, mase—quick—please!" diffidently enough, he came; but at the firstinkling of the girl’s news all thought of diffidence or of privacy vanished. "jack! spud! mr. kinnison! mr. samms!" helensed sharp, imperative, almost frantic thoughts. "listen in!" "steady, mase, i’ll take over," came roderickkinnison’s deeper, quieter mental voice. "first, the matter of guns. anybody except me wearinga pistol? you are, spud?" "yes, sir."

"you would be. but you and mase, jack?" "we’ve got our lewistons!" "you would have. blasters, my sometimes-not-quite-so-brightson, are fine weapons indeed for certain kinds of work. in emergencies, it is of course permissibleto kill a few dozen innocent bystanders. in such a crowd as this, though, it is much bettertechnique to kill only the one you are aiming at. so skip out to my car, you two, rightnow, and change—and make it fast." everyone knew that roderick kinnison’s car was at alltimes an arsenal on wheels. "wish you were in uniform, too, virge, but it can’t be helpednow. work your way—slowly—around to the northwest corner. spud, do the same."

"it’s impossible—starkly unthinkable!" and"i’m not sure of anything, really …" samms and his daughter began simultaneously to protest. "virgil, you talk like a man with a papernose. keep still until after you’ve used your brain. and i’m sure enough of what you know,jill, to take plenty of steps. you can relax now—take it easy. we’re covering virgiland i called up support in force. you can relax a little, i see. good! i’m not tryingto hide from anybody that the next few minutes may be critical. are you pretty sure, jill,that herkimer is a key man?" "pretty sure, pops." how much better she felt,now that the lensmen were on guard! "in this one case, at least."

"good! then let him talk you into giving himevery dance, right straight through until something breaks. watch him. he must knowthe signal and who is going to operate, and if you can give us a fraction of a secondof warning it will help no end. can do?" "i’ll say i can—and i would love to, thebig, slimy, stinking skinker!" as transliterated into words, the girl’s thought may seem atrifle confused, but kinnison knew exactly what she meant. "one more thing, jill; a detail. the boysare coming back in and are working their partners over this way. see if herkimer notices thatthey have changed their holsters." "no, he didn’t notice," jill reported, aftera moment. "but i don’t notice any difference,

either, and i’m looking for it." "nevertheless, it’s there, and the differencebetween a mark seventeen and a mark five is something more than that between tweedledumand tweedledee," kinnison returned, dryly. "however, it may not be as obvious to non-militarypersonnel as it is to us. that’s far enough, boys, don’t get too close. now, virge, keepsolidly en rapport with jill on one side and with us on the other, so that she won’t haveto give herself and the show away by yelling and pointing, and …" "but this is preposterous!" samms stormed. "preposterous, hell," roderick kinnison’sthought was still coldly level; only the fact

that he was beginning to use non-ballroomlanguage revealed any sign of the strain he was under. "stop being so goddam heroic andstart using your brain. you turned down fifty billion credits. why do you suppose they offeredthat much, when they can get anybody killed for a hundred? and what would they do aboutit?" "but they couldn’t get away with it, rod,at an ambassadors’ ball. they couldn’t, possibly." "formerly, no. that was my first thought,too. but it was you who pointed out to me, not so long ago, that the techniques of crimehave changed of late. in the new light, the swankier the brawl the greater the confusionand the better the chance of getting away clean. comb that out of your whiskers, youred-headed mule!"

"well … there might be something in it,after all …" samms’ thought showed apprehension at last. "you know damn well there is. but you boys—jackand mase especially—loosen up. you can’t do good shooting while you’re strung up likea couple of cocoons. do something—talk to your partners or think at jill …" "that won’t be hard, sir." mason northropgrinned feebly. "and that reminds me of something, jill. mentor certainly bracketed the targetwhen he—or she, or it, maybe—said that you would never need a lens." "huh?" jill demanded, inelegantly. "i don’tsee the connection, if any."

"no? everybody else does, i’ll bet. how aboutit?" the other lensmen, even samms, agreed enthusiastically. "well, do you think thatany of those characters, particularly herkimer herkimer third, would let a harness bull inharness—even such a beautiful one as you—get close enough to him to do such a davey thedip act on his mind?" "oh … i never thought of that, but it’sright, and i’m glad … but pops, you said something about ‘support in force.’ have youany idea how long it will be? i hope i can hold out, with you all supporting me, but…" "you can, jill. two or three minutes more,at most." "support? in force? what do you mean?" sammssnapped.

"just that. the whole damned army," kinnisonreplied. "i sent two-star commodore alexander clayton a thought that lifted him right outof his chair. everything he’s got, at full emergency blast. armor—mark eighty fours—sixby six extra heavies—a ninety sixty for an ambulance—full escort, upstairs and down—way-friskers—’copters—cruisersand big stuff—in short, the works. i would have run with you before this, if i dared;but the minute the relief party shows up, we do a flit." "if you dared?" jill asked, shaken by thethought. "exactly, my dear. i don’t dare. if they startanything we’ll do our damnedest, but i’m praying they won’t."

but kinnison’s prayers—if he made any—wereignored. jill heard a sharp, but very usual and insignificant sound; someone had droppeda pencil. she felt an inconspicuous muscle twitch slightly. she saw the almost imperceptibletensing of a neck-muscle which would have turned herkimer’s head in a certain directionif it had been allowed to act. her eyes flashed along that line, searched busily for milli-seconds.a man was reaching unobtrusively, as though for a handkerchief. but men at ambassadors’balls do not carry blue handkerchiefs; nor does any fabric, however dyed, resemble atall closely the blued steel of an automatic pistol. jill would have screamed, then, and pointed;but she had time to do neither. through her

rapport with her father the lensmen saw everythingthat she saw, in the instant of her seeing it. hence five shots blasted out, practicallyas one, before the girl could scream, or point, or even move. she did scream, then; but sincedozens of other women were screaming, too, it made no difference—then. conway costigan, trigger-nerved spacehoundthat he was and with years of gun-fighting and of hand-to-hand brawling in his log, shotfirst; even before the gunman did. it was costigan’s blinding speed that saved virgilsamms’ life that day; for the would-be assassin was dying, with a heavy slug crashing throughhis brain, before he finished pulling the trigger. the dying hand twitched upward. thebullet intended for samms’ heart went high;

through the fleshy part of the shoulder. roderick kinnison, because of his age, andhis son and northrop, because of their inexperience, were a few milli-seconds slow. they, however,were aiming for the body, not for the head; and any of those three resulting wounds wouldhave been satisfactorily fatal. the man went down, and stayed down. samms staggered, but did not go down untilthe elder kinnison, as gently as was consistent with the maximum of speed, threw him down. "stand back! get back! give him air!" menbegan to shout, the while pressing closer themselves.

"you men, stand back. some of you go get astretcher. you women, come here." kinnison’s heavy, parade-ground voice smashed down alllesser noises. "is there a doctor here?" there was; and, after being "frisked" forweapons, he went busily to work. "joy—betty—jill—clio," kinnison calledhis own wife and their daughter, virgilia samms, and mrs. costigan. "you four first.now you—and you—and you—and you…." he went on, pointing out large, heavy womenwearing extremely extreme gowns, "stand here, right over him. cover him up, so that nobodyelse can get a shot at him. you other women, stand behind and between these—closer yet—fillthose spaces up solid—there! jack, stand there. mase, there. costigan, the other end;i’ll take this one. now, everybody, listen.

i know damn well that none of you women arewearing guns above the waist, and you’ve all got long skirts—thank god for ballgowns!now, fellows, if any one of these women makes a move to lift her skirt, blow her brainsout, right then, without waiting to ask questions." "sir, i protest! this is outrageous!" oneof the dowagers exclaimed. "madam, i agree with you fully. it is." kinnisonsmiled as genuinely as he could under the circumstances. "it is, however, necessary.i will apologize to all you ladies, and to you, doctor—in writing if you like—afterwe have virgil samms aboard the chicago; but until then i would not trust my own grandmother." the doctor looked up. "the chicago? this wounddoes not appear to be a very serious one,

but this man is going to a hospital at once.ah, the stretcher. so … please … easy … there, that is excellent. call an ambulance,please, immediately." "i did. long ago. but no hospital, doctor.all those windows—open to the public—or the whole place bombed—by no means. i’mtaking no chances whatever." "except with your own life!" jill put in sharply,looking up from her place at her father’s side. assured that the first lensman was inno danger of dying, she had begun to take interest in other things. "you are important,too, you know, and you’re standing right out there in the open. get another stretcher,lie down on it, and we’ll guard you, too … and don’t be too stiff-necked to take your ownadvice!" she flared, as he hesitated.

"i’m not, if it were necessary, but it isn’t.if they had killed him, yes. i’d probably be next in line. but since he got only a scratch,there’d be no point at all in killing even a good number two." "a scratch!" jill fairly seethed. "do youcall that horrible wound a scratch?" "huh? why, certainly—that’s all it is—thanksto you," he returned, in honest and complete surprise. "no bones shattered—no main arteriescut—missed the lung—he’ll be as good as new in a couple of weeks." "and now," he went on aloud, "if you ladieswill please pick up this stretcher we will move en masse, and slowly, toward the door."

the women, no longer indignant but apparentlyenjoying the sensation of being the center of interest, complied with the request. "now, boys," kinnison lensed a thought. "didany of you—costigan?—see any signs of a concerted rush, such as there would havebeen to get the killer away if we hadn’t interfered?" "no, sir," came costigan’s brisk reply. "nonewithin sight of me." "jack and mase—i don’t suppose you looked?" they hadn’t—had not thought of it in time. "you’ll learn. it takes a few things likethis to make it automatic. but i couldn’t see any, either, so i’m fairly certain therewasn’t any. smart operators—quick on the

uptake." "i’d better get at this, sir, don’t you think,and let operation boskone go for a while?" costigan asked. "i don’t think so." kinnison frowned in thought."this operation was planned, son, by people with brains. any clues you could find nowwould undoubtedly be plants. no, we’ll let the regulars look; well stick to our own …" sirens wailed and screamed outside. kinnisonsent out an exploring thought. "alex?" "yes. where do you want this ninety-sixtywith the doctors and nurses? it’s too wide

for the gates." "go through the wall. across the lawn. rightup to the door, and never mind the frippery they’ve got all over the place—have youradjutant tell them to bill us for damage. samms is shot in the shoulder. not too serious,but i’m taking him to the hill, where i know he’ll be safe. what have you got on top ofthe umbrella, the boise or the chicago? i haven’t had time to look up yet." "good man." jack kinnison started at the monstrous tank,which was smashing statues, fountains, and ornamental trees flat into the earth as itmoved ponderously across the grounds, and

licked his lips. he looked at the companiesof soldiers "frisking" the route, the grounds, and the crowd—higher up, at the hoveringhelicopters—still higher, at the eight light cruisers so evidently and so viciously readyto blast—higher still, at the long streamers of fire which, he now knew, marked the locationsof the two most powerful engines of destruction ever built by man—and his face turned slowlywhite. "good lord, dad!" he swallowed twice. "i hadno idea … but they might, at that." "not ‘might’, son. they damn well would, ifthey could get here soon enough with heavy enough stuff." the elder kinnison’s jaw-musclesdid not loosen, his darting eyes did not relax their vigilance for a fraction of a secondas he lensed the thought. "you boys can’t

be expected to know it all, but right nowyou’re learning fast. get this—paste it in your iron hats. virgil samms’ life is themost important thing in this whole damned universe! if they had got him then it wouldnot, strictly speaking, have been my fault, but if they get him now, it will be." the land cruiser crunched to a stop againstthe very entrance, and a white-clad man leaped out. "let me look at him, please…" "not yet!" kinnison denied, sharply. "notuntil he’s got four inches of solid steel between him and whoever wants to finish thejob they started. get your men around him,

and get him aboard—fast!" samms, protected at every point at every instant,was lifted into the maw of the ninety-sixty; and as the massive door clanged shut kinnisonheaved a tremendous sigh of relief. the cavalcade moved away. "coming with us, rod?" commodore clayton shouted. "yes, but got a couple minutes’ work hereyet. have a staff car wait for me, and i’ll join you." he turned to the three young lensmenand the girl. "this fouls up our plans a little, but not too much—i hope. no change in mateeseor boskone; you and costigan, jill, can go ahead as planned. northrop, you’ll have tobrief jill on zwilnik and find out what she

knows. virgil was going to do it tonight,after the brawl here, but you know as much about it now as any of us. check with knobos,dalnalten, and fletcher—while virgil is laid up you and jack may have to work on bothzabriska and zwilnik—he’ll lens you. get the dope, then do as you think best. get going!"he strode away toward the waiting staff-car. "boskone? zwilnik?" jill demanded. "what gives?what are they, jack?" "we don’t know yet—maybe we’re going toname a couple of planets…" "piffle!" she scoffed. "can you talk sense,mase? what’s boskone?" "a simple, distinctive, pronounceable coinedword; suggested, i believe, by dr. bergenholm …" he began.

"you know what i mean, you …" she brokein, but was silenced by a sharply lensed thought from jack. his touch was very light, barelysufficient to make conversation possible; but even so, she flinched. "use your brain, jill; you aren’t thinkinga lick—not that you can be blamed for it. stop talking; there may be lip-readers orhigh-powered listeners around. this feels funny, doesn’t it?" he twitched mentally andwent on: "you already know what operation mateese is, since it’s your own dish—politics.operation zwilnik is drugs, vice, and so on. operation boskone is pirates; spud is runningthat. operation zabriska is mase and me checking some peculiar disturbances in the sub-ether.come in, mase, and do your stuff—i’ll see

you later, aboard. clear ether, jill!" young kinnison vanished from the fringes ofher mind and northrop appeared. and what a difference! his mind touched hers as gingerlyas jack’s had done; as skittishly, as instantaneously ready to bolt away from anything in the leastdegree private. however, jack’s mind had rubbed hers the wrong way, right from the start—andmase’s didn’t! "now, about this operation zwilnik," jillbegan. "something else first. i couldn’t help noticing,back there, that you and jack … well, not out of phase, exactly, or really out of sync,but sort of … well, as though …" "’hunting’?" she suggested.

"not exactly … ‘forcing’ might be better—likeholding a tight beam together when it wants to fall apart. so you noticed it yourself?" "of course, but i thought jack and i werethe only ones who did. like scratching a blackboard with your finger-nails—you can do it, butyou’re awfully glad to stop … and i like jack, too, darn it—at a distance." "and you and i fit like precisely tuned circuits.jack really meant it, then, when he said that you … that is, he … i didn’t quite believeit until now, but if … you know, of course, what you’ve already done to me." jill’s block went on, full strength. she archedher eyebrows and spoke aloud—"why, i haven’t

the faintest idea!" "of course not. that’s why you’re using voice.i’ve found out, too, that i can’t lie with my mind. i feel like a heel and a louse, withso much job ahead, but you’ve simply got to tell me something. then—whatever you say—i’llhit the job with everything i’ve got. do i get heaved out between planets without a space-suit,or not?" "i don’t think so." jill blushed vividly,but her voice was steady. "you would rate a space-suit, and enough oxygen to reach anotherplan—another goal. and now we’d better get to work, don’t you think?" "yes. thanks, jill, a million. i know as wellas you do that i was talking out of turn,

and how much—but i had to know." he breatheddeep. "and that’s all i ask—for now. cut your screens." she lowered her mental barriers, finding itsurprisingly easy to do so in this case; let them down almost as far as she was in thehabit of doing with her father. he explained in flashing thoughts everything he knew ofthe four operations, concluding: "i’m not assigned to zabriska permanently;i’ll probably work with you on mateese after your father gets back into circulation. i’mto act more as a liaison man—neither knobos nor dalnalten knows you well enough to lensyou. right?" "yes, i’ve met mr. knobos only once, and havenever even seen dr. dalnalten."

"ready to visit them, via lens?" "yes. go ahead." the two lensmen came in. they came into hismind, not hers. nevertheless their thoughts, superimposed upon northrop’s, came to thegirl as clearly as though all four were speaking to each other face to face. "what a weird sensation!" jill exclaimed."why, i never imagined anything like it!" "we are sorry to trouble you, miss samms…."jill was surprised anew. the silent voice deep within her mind was of characteristicallymartian timber, but instead of the harshly guttural consonants and the hissing sibilantsof any martian’s best efforts at english,

pronunciation and enunciation were flawless. "oh, i didn’t mean that. it’s no trouble atall, really, i just haven’t got used to this telepathy yet." "none of us has, to any noticeable degree.but the reason for this call is to ask you if you have anything new, however slight,to add to our very small knowledge of zwilnik?" "very little, i’m afraid; and that littleis mostly guesses, deductions, and jumpings at conclusions. father told you about theway i work, i suppose?" "yes. exact data is not to be expected. hints,suggestions, possible leads, will be of inestimable value."

"well, i met a very short, very fat venerian,named ossmen, at a party at the european embassy. do either of you know him?" "i know of him," dalnalten replied. "a highlyreputable merchant, with such large interests on tellus that he has to spend most of histime here. he is not in any one of our books … although there is nothing at all surprisingin that fact. go on, please, miss samms." "he didn’t come to the party with senatormorgan; but he came to some kind of an agreement with him that night, and i am pretty surethat it was about thionite. that’s the only new item i have." "thionite!" the three lensmen were equallysurprised.

"yes. thionite. definitely." "how sure are you of this, miss samms?" knobosasked, in deadly earnest. "i am not sure that this particular agreementwas about thionite, no; but the probability is roughly nine-tenths. i am sure, however,that both senator morgan and ossmen know a lot about thionite that they want to hide.both gave very high positive reactions—well beyond the six-sigma point of virtual certainty." there was a pause, broken by the martian,but not by a thought directed at any one of the three. "sid!" he called, and even jill could feelthe lensed thought speed.

"yes, knobos? fletcher." "that haul-in you made, out in the asteroids.heroin, hadive, and ladolian, wasn’t it? no thionite involved anywhere?" "no thionite. however, you must remember thatpart of the gang got away, so all i can say positively is that we didn’t see, or hearabout, any thionite. there was some gossip, of course: but you know there always is." "of course. thanks, sid." jill could feelthe brilliant martian’s mental gears whirl and click. then he went into such a flashingexchange of thought with the venerian that the girl lost track in seconds.

"one more question, miss samms?" dalnaltenasked. "have you detected any indications that there may be some connection betweeneither ossmen or morgan and any officer or executive of interstellar spaceways?" "spaceways! isaacson?" jill caught her breath."why … nobody even thought of such a thing—at least, nobody ever mentioned it to me—inever thought of making any such tests." "the possibility occurred to me only a momentago, at your mention of thionite. the connection, if any exists, will be exceedingly difficultto trace. but since most, if not all, of the parties involved will probably be includedin your operation mateese, and since a finding, either positive or negative, would be tremendouslysignificant, we feel emboldened to ask you

to keep this point in mind." "why, of course i will. i’ll be very gladto." "we thank you for your courtesy and your help.one or both of us will get in touch with you from time to time, now that we know the patternof your personality. may immortal grolossen speed the healing of your father’s wound." chapter 7 late that night—or, rather, very early thefollowing morning—senator morgan and his number one secretary were closeted in theformer’s doubly spy-ray-proofed office. morgan’s round, heavy, florid face had perhaps losta little of its usual color; the fingers of

his left hand drummed soundlessly upon theglass top of his desk. his shrewd gray eyes, however, were as keen and as calculating asever. "this thing smells, herkimer … it reeks… but i can’t figure any of the angles. that operation was planned. sure fire, itcouldn’t miss. right up to the last split second it worked perfectly. then—blooie!a flat bust. the patrol landed and everything was under control. there must have been aleak somewhere—but where in hell could it have been?" "there couldn’t have been a leak, chief; itdoesn’t make sense." the secretary uncrossed his long legs, recrossed them in the otherdirection, threw away a half-smoked cigarette,

lit another. "if there’d been any kind ofa leak they would have done a lot more than just kill the low man on the ladder. you knowas well as i do that rocky kinnison is the hardest-boiled character this side of hell.if he had known anything, he would have killed everybody in sight, including you and me.besides, if there had been a leak, he would not have let samms get within ten thousandmiles of the place—that’s one sure thing. another is he wouldn’t have waited until afterit was all over to get his army there. no, chief, there couldn’t have been a leak. whateversamms or kinnison found out—probably samms, he’s a hell of a lot smarter than kinnisonis, you know—he learned right there and then. he must have seen brainerd start topull his gun."

"i thought of that. i’d buy it, except forone fact. apparently you didn’t time the interval between the shots and the arrival of the tanks." "sorry, chief." herkimer’s face was a studyin chagrin. "i made a bad slip there." "i’ll say you did. one minute and fifty eightseconds." "what!" morgan remained silent. "the patrol is fast, of course … and alwaysready … and they would yank the stuff in on tractor beams, not under their own power… but even so … five minutes, is my guess, chief. four and a half, absolute minimum."

"check. and where do you go from there?" "i see your point. i don’t. that blows everythingwide open. one set of facts says there was a leak, which occurred between two and a halfand three minutes before the signal was given. i ask you, chief, does that make sense?" "no. that’s what is bothering me. as you say,the facts seem to be contradictory. somebody must have learned something before anythinghappened; but if they did, why didn’t they do more? and murgatroyd. if they didn’t knowabout him, why the ships—especially the big battlewagons? if they did think he mightbe out there somewhere, why didn’t they go and find out?"

"now i’ll ask one. why didn’t our mr. murgatroyddo something? or wasn’t the pirate fleet supposed to be in on this? probably not, though." "my guess would be the same as yours. can’tsee any reason for having a fleet cover a one-man operation, especially as well-planneda one as this was. but that’s none of our business. these lensmen are. i was watchingthem every second. neither samms nor kinnison did anything whatever during that two minutes." "young kinnison and northrop each left thehall about that time." "i know it. so they did. either one of themcould have called the patrol—but what has that to do with the price of beef c. i. f.valeria?"

herkimer refrained tactfully from answeringthe savage question. morgan drummed and thought for minutes, then went on slowly: "there are two, and only two, possibilities;neither of which seem even remotely possible. it was—must have been—either the lensor the girl." "the girl? act your age, senator. i knew whereshe was, and what she was doing, every second." "that was evident." morgan stopped drummingand smiled cynically. "i’m getting a hell of a kick out of seeing you taking it, fora change, instead of dishing it out." "yes?" herkimer’s handsome face hardened."that game isn’t over, my friend." "that’s what you think," the senator jibed."can’t believe that any woman can be herkimer-proof,

eh? you’ve been working on her for six weeksnow, instead of the usual six hours, and you haven’t got anywhere yet." "i will, senator." herkimer’s nostrils flaredviciously. "i’ll get her, one way or another, if it’s the last thing i ever do." "i’ll give you eight to five you don’t; anda six-month time limit." "i’ll take five thousand of that. but whatmakes you think that she’s anything to be afraid of? she’s a trained psychologist, yes;but so am i; and i’m older and more experienced than she is. that leaves that yoga stuff—herlearning how to sit cross-legged, how to contemplate her navel, and how to try to get in tune withthe infinite. how do you figure that puts

her in my class?" "i told you, i don’t. nothing makes sense.but she is virgil samms’ daughter." "what of it? you didn’t gag on george olmstead—youpicked him yourself for one of the toughest jobs we’ve got. by blood he’s just about asclose to virgil samms as virgilia is. they might as well have been hatched out of thesame egg." "physically, yes. mentally and psychologically,no. olmstead is a realist, a materialist. he wants his reward in this world, not thenext, and is out to get it. furthermore, the job will probably kill him, and even if itdoesn’t, he will never be in a position of trust or where he can learn much of anything.on the other hand, virgil samms is—but i

don’t need to tell you what he is like. butyou don’t seem to realize that she’s just like him—she isn’t playing around with youbecause of your overpowering charm…." "listen, chief. she didn’t know anything andshe didn’t do anything. i was dancing with her all the time, as close as that," he claspedhis hands tightly together, "so i know what i’m talking about. and if you think she couldever learn anything from me, skip it. you know that nobody on earth, or anywhere else,can read my face; and besides, she was playing coy right then—wasn’t even looking at me.so count her out." "we’ll have to, i guess." morgan resumed hisquiet drumming. "if there were any possibility that she pumped you i’d send you to the mines,but there’s no sign … that leaves the lens.

it has seemed, right along, more logical thanthe girl—but a lot more fantastic. been able to find out anything more about it?" "no. just what they’ve been advertising. combinationradio-phone, automatic language-converter, telepath, and so on. badge of the top skimmingsof the top-bracket cops. but i began to think, out there on the floor, that they aren’t advertisingeverything they know." "so did i. you tell me." "take the time zero minus three minutes. besidesthe five lensmen—and jill samms—the place was full of top brass; scrambled eggs allover the floor. commodores and lieutenant-commodores from all continental governments of the earth,the other planets, and the colonies, all wearing

full-dress side-arms. nobody knew anythingthen; we agree on that. but within the next few seconds, somebody found out somethingand called for help. one of the lensmen could possibly have done that without showing signs.but—at zero time all four lensmen had their guns out—and not lewistons, please note—andwere shooting; whereas none of the other armed officers knew that anything was going on untilafter it was all over. that puts the finger on the lens." "that’s the way i figured it. but the difficultiesremain unchanged. how? mind-reading?" "space-drift!" herkimer snorted. "my mindcan’t be read." "nor mine."

"and besides, if they could read minds, theywouldn’t have waited until the last possible split second to do it, unless … say, waita minute!… did brainerd act or look nervous, toward the last? i wasn’t to look at him,you know." "not nervous, exactly; but he did get a littletense." "there you are, then. hired murderers aren’tsmart. a lensman saw him tighten up and got suspicious. turned in the alarm on generalprinciples. warned the others to keep on their toes. but even so, it doesn’t look like mind-reading—they’dhave killed him sooner. they were watchful, and mighty quick on the draw." "that could be it. that’s about as thin andas specious an explanation as i ever saw cooked

up, but it does cover the facts … and thetwo of us will be able to make it stick … but take notice, pretty boy, that certain partiesare not going to like this at all. in fact, they are going to be very highly put out." "that’s a nice hunk of understatement, boss.but notice one beautiful thing about this story?" herkimer grinned maliciously. "itlets us pass the buck to big jim towne. we can be—and will be—sore as hell becausehe picks such weak-sister characters to do his killings!" in the heavily armored improvised ambulance,virgil samms sat up and directed a thought at his friend kinnison, finding his mind aturmoil of confusion.

"what’s the matter, rod?" "plenty!" the big lensman snapped back. "theywere—maybe still are—too damn far ahead of us. something has been going on that wehaven’t even suspected. i stood by, as innocent as a three-year-old girl baby, and let youwalk right into that one—and i emphatically do not enjoy getting caught with my pantsdown that way. it makes me jumpy. this may be all, but it may not be—not by eleventhousand light-years—and i’m trying to dope out what is going to happen next." "and what have you deduced?" "nothing. i’m stuck. so i’m tossing it intoyour lap. besides, that’s what you are getting

paid for, thinking. so go ahead and think.what would you be doing, if you were on the other side?" "i see. you think, then, that it might notbe good technique to take the time to go back to the spaceport?" "you get the idea. but—can you stand transfer?" "certainly. they got my shoulder dressed andtaped, and my arm in a sling. shock practically all gone. some pain, but not much. i can walkwithout falling down." "fair enough. clayton!" he lensed a vigorousthought. "have any of the observers spotted anything, high up or far off?"

"no, sir." "good. kinnison to commodore clayton, orders.have a ‘copter come down and pick up samms and myself on tractors. instruct the boiseand the cruisers to maintain utmost vigilance. instruct the chicago to pick us up. detachthe chicago and the boise from your task force. assign them to me. off." "clayton to commissioner kinnison. ordersreceived and are being carried out. off." the transfers were made without incident.the two super-dreadnaughts leaped into the high stratosphere and tore westward. half-wayto the hill, kinnison called dr. frederick rodebush.

"fred? kinnison. have cleve and bergenholmlink up with us. now—how are the geigers on the outside of the hill behaving?" "normal, all of them," the physicist-lensmanreported after a moment. "why?" kinnison detailed the happenings of the recentpast. "so tell the boys to unlimber all the stuff the hill has got." "my god!" cleveland exclaimed. "why, that’sputting us back to the days of the interplanetary wars!" "with one notable exception," kinnison pointedout. "the attack, if any, will be strictly modern. i hope we’ll be able to handle it.one good thing, the old mountain’s got a lot

of sheer mass. how much radioactivity willit stand?" "allotropic iron, u-235, or plutonium?" rodebushseized his slide-rule. "what difference does it make?" "from a practical standpoint … perhaps none.but with a task force defending, not many bombs could get through, so i’d say …" "i wasn’t thinking so much of bombs." "what, then?" "isotopes. a good, thick blanket of dust.slow-speed, fine stuff that neither our ships nor the hill’s screens could handle. we’vegot to decide, first, whether virgil will

be safer there in the hill or out in spacein the chicago; and second, for how long." "i see … i’d say here, under the hill. months,perhaps years, before anything could work down this far. and we can always get out.no matter how hot the surface gets, we’ve got enough screen, heavy water, cadmium, lead,mercury, and everything else necessary to get him out through the locks." "that’s what i was hoping you’d say. and now,about the defense … i wonder … i don’t want everybody to think i’ve gone completelyhysterical, but i’ll be damned if i want to get caught again with…." his thought fadedout. "may i offer a suggestion, sir?" bergenholm’sthought broke the prolonged silence.

"i’d be very glad to have it—your suggestionsso far haven’t been idle vaporings. another hunch?" "no, sir, a logical procedure. it has beensome months since the last emergency call-out drill was held. if you issue such anothercall now, and nothing happens, it can be simply another surprise drill; with credit, promotion,and monetary awards for the best performances; further practice and instruction for the lessproficient units." "splendid, dr. bergenholm!" samms’ brilliantand agile mind snatched up the thought and carried it along. "and what a chance, rod,for something vastly larger and more important than a continental, or even a tellurian, drill—makeit the first maneuver of the galactic patrol!"

"i’d like to, virge, but we can’t. my boysare ready, but you aren’t. no top appointments and no authority." "that can be arranged in a very few minutes.we have been waiting for the psychological moment. this, especially if trouble shoulddevelop, is the time. you yourself expect an attack, do you not?" "yes. i would not start anything unless anduntil i was ready to finish it, and i see no reason for assuming that whoever it wasthat tried to kill you is not at least as good a planner as i am." "and the rest of you…? dr. bergenholm?"

"my reasoning, while it does not exactly parallelthat of commissioner kinnison, leads to the same conclusion; that an attack in great forceis to be expected." "not exactly parallel?" kinnison demanded."in what respects?" "you do not seem to have considered the possibility,commissioner, that the proposed assassination of first lensman samms could very well havebeen only the first step in a comprehensive operation." "i didn’t … and it could have been. so goahead, virge, with…." the thought was never finished, for sammshad already gone ahead. simultaneously, it seemed, the minds of eight other lensmen joinedthe group of tellurians. samms, intensely

serious, spoke aloud to his friend: "the galactic council is now assembled. doyou, roderick k. kinnison, promise to uphold, in as much as you conscientiously can andwith all that in you lies, the authority of this council throughout all space?" "i promise." "by virtue of the authority vested in me itspresident by the galactic council, i appoint you port admiral of the galactic patrol. myfellow councillors are now inducting the armed forces of their various solar systems intothe galactic patrol … it will not take long … there, you may make your appointmentsand issue orders for the mobilization."

the two super-dreadnaughts were now approachingthe hill. the boise stayed "up on top"; the chicago went down. kinnison, however, paidvery little attention to the landing or to samms’ disembarkation, and none whatever tothe chicago’s reascent into the high heavens. he knew that everything was under control;and, now alone in his cabin, he was busy. "all personnel of all armed forces just inductedinto the galactic patrol, attention!" he spoke into an ultra-wave microphone, the familiarparade-ground rasp very evident in his deep and resonant voice. "kinnison of tellus, portadmiral, speaking. each of you has taken oath to the galactic patrol?" they had.

"at ease. the organization chart already inyour hands is made effective as of now. enter in your logs the date and time. promotions:commodore clayton of north america, tellus…." in his office at new york spaceport claytoncame to attention and saluted crisply; his eyes shining, his deeply-scarred face alight. "… to be admiral of the first galactic region.commodore schweikert of europe, tellus …" in berlin a narrow-waisted, almost foppish-seemingman, with roached blond hair and blue eyes, bowed stiffly from the waist and saluted punctiliously. "… to be lieutenant-admiral of the firstgalactic region." and so on, down the list. a marshal and alieutenant-marshal of the solarian system;

a general and a lieutenant-general of theplanet sol three. promotions, agreed upon long since, to fill the high offices thusvacated. then the list of commodores upon other planets—guindlos of redland, mars;sesseffsen of talleron, venus; raymond of the jovian sub-system; newman of alphacent;walters of sirius; van-meeter of valeria; adams of procyon; roberts of altair; barrtellof fomalhout; armand of vega; and coigne of aldebaran—each of whom was actually thecommander-in-chief of the armed forces of a world. each of these was made general ofhis planet. "except for lieutenant-commodores and up,who will tune their minds to me—dismissed!" kinnison stopped talking and went onto hislens.

"that was for the record. i don’t need totell you, fellows, how glad i am to be able to do this. you’re tops, all of you—i don’tknow of anybody i’d rather have at my back when the ether gets rough …" "right back at you, chief!" "same to you rod!""rocky rod, port admiral!" "now we’re blasting!" came a melange of thoughts. those splendidmen, with whom he had shared so much of danger and of stress, were all as jubilant as schoolboys. "but the thing that makes this possible mayalso make it necessary for us to go to work; to earn your extra stars and my wheel." kinnisonsmothered the welter of thoughts and outlined the situation, concluding: "so you see itmay turn out to be only a drill—but on the

other hand, since the outfit is big enoughto have built a war-fleet alone, if it wanted one, and since it may have had a lot of first-classhelp that none of us knows anything about, we may be in for the damndest battle thatany of us ever saw. so come prepared for anything. i am now going back onto voice, for the record. "kinnison to the commanding officers of allfleets, sub-fleets, and task-forces of the galactic patrol. information. subject, tacticalproblem; defense of the hill against a postulated black fleet of unknown size, strength, andcomposition; of unknown nationality or origin; coming from an unknown direction in spaceat an unknown time. "kinnison to admiral clayton. orders. takeover. i am relinquishing command of the boise

and the chicago." "clayton to port admiral kinnison. ordersreceived. taking over. i am at the chicago’s main starboard lock. i have instructed ensignmasterson, the commanding officer of this gig, to wait; that he is to take you downto the hill." "what? of all the damned…." this was a thought,and unrecorded. "sorry, rod—i’m sorry as hell, and i’d likeno end to have you along." this, too, was a thought. "but that’s the way it is. ordinaryadmirals ride the ether with their fleets. port admirals stay aground. i report to you,and you run things—in broad—by remote control."

"i see." kinnison then lensed a fuming thoughtat samms. "alex couldn’t do this to me—and wouldn’t—and knows damn well that i’d burnhim to a crisp if he had the guts to try it. so it’s your doing—what in hell’s the bigidea?" "who’s being heroic now, rod?" samms asked,quietly. "use your brain. and then come down here, where you belong." and kinnison, after a long moment of rebelliousthought and with as much grace as he could muster, came down. down not only to the patrol’sfamiliar offices, but down into the deepest crypts beneath them. he was glum enough, andbitter, at first: but he found much to do. grand fleet headquarters—his headquarters—wasbeing organized, and the best efforts of the

best minds and of the best technologists ofthree worlds were being devoted to the task of strengthening the already extremely strongdefenses of the hill. and in a very short time the plates of gfhq showed that admiralclayton and lieutenant-admiral schweikert were doing a very nice job. all of the really heavy stuff was of earth,the mother planet, and was already in place; as were the less numerous and much lightercontingents of mars, of venus, and of jove. and the fleets of the outlying solar systems—cutters,scouts, and a few light cruisers—were neither maintaining fleet formation nor laying coursefor sol. instead, each individual vessel was blasting at maximum for the position in spacein which it would form one unit of a formation

englobing at a distance of light-years theentire solarian system, and each of those hurtling hundreds of ships was literally combingall circumambient space with its furiously-driven detector beams. "nice." kinnison turned to samms, now besidehim at the master plate. "couldn’t have done any better myself." "after you get it made, what are you goingto do with it in case nothing happens?" samms was still somewhat skeptical. "how long canyou make a drill last?" "until all the ensigns have long gray whiskersif i have to, but don’t worry—if we have time to get the preliminary globe made i’llbe the surprisedest man in the system."

and kinnison was not surprised; before fullenglobement was accomplished, a loud-speaker gave tongue. "flagship chicago to grand fleet headquarters!"it blatted, sharply. "the black fleet has been detected. ra twelve hours, declinationplus twenty degrees, distance about thirty light-years…." kinnison started to say something; then, bymain force, shut himself up. he wanted intensely to take over, to tell the boys out there exactlywhat to do, but he couldn’t. he was now a big shot—damn the luck! he could be andmust be responsible for broad policy and for general strategy, but, once those vitallyimportant decisions had been made, the actual

work would have to be done by others. he didn’tlike it—but there it was. those flashing thoughts took only an instant of time. "… which is such extreme range that no estimateof strength or composition can be made at present. we will keep you informed." "acknowledge," he ordered randolph; who, wearingnow the five silver bars of major, was his chief communications officer. "no instructions." he turned to his plate. clayton hadn’t hadto be told to pull in his light stuff; it was all pelting hell-for-leather for sol andtellus. three general plans of battle had been mapped out by staff. each had its advantages—andits disadvantages. operation acorn—long

distance—would be fought at, say, twelvelight-years. it would keep everything, particularly the big stuff, away from the hill, and wouldmake automatics useless … unless some got past, or unless the automatics were comingin on a sneak course, or unless several other things—in any one of which cases what agod-awful shellacking the hill would take! he grinned wryly at samms, who had been followinghis thought, and quoted: "a vast hemisphere of lambent violet flame, through which neithermaterial substance nor destructive ray can pass." "well, that dedicatory statement, while perhapsa bit florid, was strictly true at the time—before the days of allotropic iron and of polycyclicdrills. now i’ll quote one: ‘nothing is permanent

except change’." "uh-huh," and kinnison returned to his thinking.operation adack. middle distance. uh-uh. he didn’t like it any better now than he hadbefore, even though some of the big brains of staff thought it the ideal solution. acompromise. all of the disadvantages of both of the others, and none of the advantagesof either. it still stunk, and unless the black fleet had an utterly fantastic compositionoperation adack was out. and virgil samms, quietly smoking a cigarette,smiled inwardly. rod the rock could scarcely be expected to be in favor of any sort ofcompromise. that left operation affick. close up. it hadthree tremendous advantages. first, the hill’s

own offensive weapons—as long as they lasted.second, the new rodebush-bergenholm fields. third, no sneak attack could be made withoutdetection and interception. it had one tremendous disadvantage; some stuff, and probably a lotof it, would get through. automatics, robots, guided missiles equipped with super-speeddrives, with polycyclic drills, and with atomic war-heads strong enough to shake the wholeworld. but with those new fields, shaking the worldwouldn’t be enough; in order to get deep enough to reach virgil samms they would damn nearhave to destroy the world. could anybody build a bomb that powerful? he didn’t think so.earth technology was supreme throughout all known space; of earth technologists the northamericans were, and always had been, tops.

grant that the black fleet was, basically,north american. grant further that they had a man as good as adlington—or that theycould spy-ray adlington’s brain and laboratories and shops—a tall order. adlington himselfwas several months away from a world-wrecker, unless he could put one a hundred miles downbefore detonation, which simply was not feasible. he turned to samms. "it’ll be affick, virge, unless they’ve gota composition that is radically different from anything i ever saw put into space." "so? i can’t say that i am very much surprised." the calm statement and the equally calm replywere beautifully characteristic of the two

men. kinnison had not asked, nor had sammsoffered, advice. kinnison, after weighing the facts, made his decision. samms, calmlycertain that the decision was the best that could be made upon the data available, acceptedit without question or criticism. "we’ve still got a minute or two," kinnisonremarked. "don’t quite know what to make of their line of approach. coma berenices. idon’t know of anything at all out that way, do you? they could have detoured, though." "no, i don’t." samms frowned in thought. "probablya detour." "check." kinnison turned to randolph. "tellthem to report whatever they know; we can’t wait any …"

as he was speaking the report came in. the black fleet was of more or less normalmake-up; considerably larger than the north american contingent, but decidedly inferiorto the patrol’s present grand fleet. either three or four capital ships … "and we’ve got six!" kinnison said, exultantly."our own two, asia’s himalaya, africa’s johannesburg, south america’s bolivar, and europe’s europa." … battle cruisers and heavy cruisers, aboutin the usual proportions; but an unusually high ratio of scouts and light cruisers. therewere either two or three large ships which could not be classified definitely at thatdistance; long-range observers were going

out to study them. "tell clayton," kinnison instructed randolph,"that it is to be operation affick, and for him to fly at it." "report continued," the speaker came to lifeagain. "there are three capital ships, apparently of approximately the chicago class, but tear-drop-shapedinstead of spherical …" "ouch!" kinnison flashed a thought at samms."i don’t like that. they can both fight and run." "… the battle cruisers are also tear-drops.the small vessels are torpedo-shaped. there are three of the large ships, which we arestill not able to classify definitely. they

are spherical in shape, and very large, butdo not seem to be either armed or screened, and are apparently carriers—possibly ofautomatics. we are now making contact—off!" instead of looking at the plates before them,the two lensmen went en rapport with clayton, so that they could see everything he saw.the stupendous cone of battle had long since been formed; the word to fire was given ina measured two-second call. every firing officer in every patrol ship touched his stud in thesame split second. and from the gargantuan mouth of the cone there spewed a miles-thickcolumn of energy so raw, so stark, so incomprehensibly violent that it must have been seen to beeven dimly appreciated. it simply cannot be described.

its prototype, triplanetary’s cylinder ofannihilation, had been a highly effective weapon indeed. the offensive beams of thefish-shaped nevian cruisers of the void were even more powerful. the cleveland-rodebushprojectors, developed aboard the original boise on the long nevian way, were strongerstill. the composite beam projected by this fleet of the galactic patrol, however, wasthe sublimation and quintessence of each of these, redesigned and redesigned by scientistsand engineers of ever-increasing knowledge, rebuilt and rebuilt by technologists of ever-increasingskill. capital ships and a few of the heaviest cruiserscould mount screen generators able to carry that frightful load; but every smaller shipcaught in that semi-solid rod of indescribably

incandescent fury simply flared into nothingness. but in the instant before the firing orderwas given—as though precisely timed, which in all probability was the case—the ever-watchfulobservers picked up two items of fact which made the new admiral of the first galacticregion cut his almost irresistible weapon and break up his cone of battle after onlya few seconds of action. one: those three enigmatic cargo scows had fallen apart beforethe beam reached them, and hundreds—yes, thousands—of small objects had hurtled radiallyoutward, out well beyond the field of action of the patrol’s beam, at a speed many timesthat of light. two: kinnison’s forebodings had been prophetic. a swarm of blacks, allsmall—must have been hidden right on earth

somewhere!—were already darting at the hillfrom the south. "cease firing!" clayton rapped into his microphone.the dreadful beam expired. "break cone formation! independent action—light cruisers and scouts,get those bombs! heavy cruisers and battle cruisers, engage similar units of the blacks,two to one if possible. chicago and boise, attack black number one. bolivar and himalaya,number two. europa and johannesburg, number three!" space was full of darting, flashing, madlywarring ships. the three black super-dreadnaughts leaped forward as one. their massed batteriesof beams, precisely synchronized and aimed, lashed out as one at the nearest patrol superheavy, the boise. under the vicious power

of that beautifully-timed thrust that warship’sfirst, second, and third screens, her very wall-shield, flared through the spectrum andinto the black. her chief pilot, however, was fast—very fast—and he had a fractionof a second in which to work. thus, practically in the instant of her wall-shield’s failure,she went free; and while she was holed badly and put out of action, she was not blown outof space. in fact, it was learned later that she lost only forty men. the blacks were not as fortunate. the chicago,now without a partner, joined beams with the bolivar and the himalaya against number two;then, a short half-second later, with her other two sister-ships against number three.and in that very short space of time two black

super-dreadnaughts ceased utterly to be. but also, in that scant second of time, blacknumber one had all but disappeared! her canny commander, with no stomach at all for oddsof five to one against, had ordered flight at max; she was already one-sixtieth of alight-year—about one hundred thousand million miles—away from the earth and was devotingher every energy to the accumulation of still more distance. "bolivar! himalaya!" clayton barked savagely."get him!" he wanted intensely to join the chase, but he couldn’t. he had to stay here.and he didn’t have time even to swear. instead, without a break, the words tripping over eachother against his teeth: "chicago! johannesburg!

europa! act at will against heaviest craftleft. blast ’em down!" he gritted his teeth. the scouts and lightcruisers were doing their damndest, but they were out-numbered three to one—christ, whata lot of stuff was getting through! the blacks wouldn’t last long, between the hill and theheavies … but maybe long enough, at that—the patrol globe was leaking like a sieve! hevoiced a couple of bursts of deep-space profanity and, although he was almost afraid to look,sneaked a quick peek to see how much was left of the hill. he looked—and stopped swearingin the middle of a four-letter anglo-saxon word. what he saw simply did not make sense. thoseblack bombs should have peeled the armor off

of that mountain like the skin off of a nectarineand scattered it from the pacific to the mississippi. by now there should be a hole a mile deepwhere the hill had been. but there wasn’t. the hill was still there! it might have shrunka little—clayton couldn’t see very well because of the worse-than-incandescent radianceof the practically continuous, sense-battering, world-shaking atomic detonations—but thehill was still there! and as he stared, chilled and shaken, at thatindescribably terrific spectacle, a black cruiser, holed and helpless, fell toward thatarmored mountain with an acceleration starkly impossible to credit. and when it struck itdid not penetrate, and splash, and crater, as it should have done. instead, it simplyspread out, in a thin layer, over an acre

or so of the fortress’ steep and apparentlystill armored surface! "you saw that, alex? good. otherwise you couldscarcely believe it," came kinnison’s silent voice. "tell all our ships to stay away. there’sa force of over a hundred thousand g’s acting in a direction normal to every point of oursurface. the boys are giving it all the decrement they can—somewhere between distance cubeand fourth power—but even so it’s pretty fierce stuff. how about the bolivar and thehimalaya? not having much luck catching mr. black, are they?" "why, i don’t know. i’ll check … no, sir,they aren’t. they report that they are losing ground and will soon lose trace."

"i was afraid so, from that shape. rodebushwas about the only one who saw it coming … well, we’ll have to redesign and rebuild …" port admiral kinnison, shortly after directingthe foregoing thought, leaned back in his chair and smiled. the battle was practicallyover. the hill had come through. the rodebush-bergenholm fields had held her together through the mostgod-awful session of saturation atomic bombing that any world had ever seen or that the mindof man had ever conceived. and the counter-forces had kept the interior rock from flowing likewater. so far, so good. her original armor was gone. converted into… what? for hundreds of feet inward from the surface she was hotter than the reactingslugs of the hanfords. delousing her would

be a project, not an operation; millions ofcubic yards of material would have to be hauled off into space with tractors and allowed tosimmer for a few hundred years; but what of that? bergenholm had said that the fields wouldtend to prevent the radioactives from spreading, as they otherwise would—and virgil sammswas still safe! "virge, my boy, come along." he took the firstlensman by his good arm and lifted him out of his chair. "old doctor kinnison’s peerlessprescription for you and me is a big, thick, juicy, porterhouse steak." chapter 8

that murderous attack upon virgil samms, andits countering by those new super-lawmen, the lensmen, and by an entire task force ofthe north american armed forces, was news of civilization-wide importance. as such,it filled every channel of universal telenews for an hour. then, in stunning and crescendosuccession, came the staccato reports of the creation of the galactic patrol, the mobilization—allegedlyfor maneuvers—of galactic patrol’s grand fleet, and the ultimately desperate and all-too-nearlysuccessful attack upon the hill. "just a second, folks; we’ll have it veryshortly. you’ll see something that nobody ever saw before and that nobody will eversee again. we’re getting in as close as the law will let us." the eyes of telenews’ acereporter and the telephoto lens of his cameraman

stared down from a scooter at the furiouslysmoking, sputteringly incandescent surface of triplanetary’s ancient citadel; while upondozens of worlds thousands of millions of people packed themselves tighter and tighteraround tens of millions of visiplates and loud-speakers in order to see and to hearthe tremendous news. "there it is, folks, look at it—the onlyreally impregnable fortress ever built by man! a good many of our experts had it writtenoff as obsolete, long ago, but it seems these lensmen had something up their sleeves besidestheir arms, heh-heh! and speaking of lensmen, they haven’t been throwing their weight around,so most of us haven’t noticed them very much, but this reporter wants to go on record rightnow as saying there must be a lot more to

the lens than any of us has thought, becauseotherwise nobody would have gone to all that trouble and expense, to say nothing of thetremendous loss of life, just to kill the chief lensman, which seems to have been whatthey were after. "we told you a few minutes ago, you know,that every continent of civilization sent official messages denying most emphaticallyany connection with this outrage. it’s still a mystery, folks; in fact, it is getting moreand more mysterious all the time. not one single man of the black fleet was taken alive!not even in the ships that were only holed—they blew themselves up! and there were no uniformsor books or anything of the kind to be found in any of the wrecks—no identification whatever!

"and now for the scoop of all time! universaltelenews has obtained permission to interview the two top lensmen, both of whom you allknow—virgil samms and ‘rod the rock’ kinnison—personally for this beam. we are now going down, by remotecontrol, of course, right into the galactic patrol office, right in the hill itself. herewe are. now if you will step just a little closer to the mike, please, mr. samms, orshould i say…?" "you should say ‘first lensman samms’," kinnisonsaid bruskly. "oh, yes, first lensman samms. thank you,mr. kinnison. now, first lensman samms, our clients all want to know all about the lens.we all know what it does, but what, really, is it? who invented it? how does it work?"

kinnison started to say something, but sammssilenced him with a thought. "i will answer those questions by asking youone." samms smiled disarmingly. "do you remember what happened because the pirates learnedto duplicate the golden meteor of the triplanetary service?" "oh, i see." the telenews ace, although brashand not at all thin-skinned, was quick on the uptake. "hush-hush? t. s.?" "top secret. very much so," samms confirmed,"and we are going to keep some things about the lens secret as long as we possibly can." "fair enough. sorry folks, but you will agreethat they’re right on that. well, then, mr.

samms, who do you think it was that triedto kill you, and where do you think the black fleet came from?" "i have no idea," samms said, slowly and thoughtfully."no. no idea whatever." "what? are you sure of that? aren’t you holdingback maybe just a little bit of a suspicion, for diplomatic reasons?" "i am holding nothing back; and through mylens i can make you certain of the fact. lensed thoughts come from the mind itself, direct,not through such voluntary muscles as the tongue. the mind does not lie—even suchlies as you call ‘diplomacy’." the lensman demonstrated and the reporterwent on:

"he is sure, folks, which fact knocked mespeechless for a second or two—which is quite a feat in itself. now, mr. samms, onelast question. what is all this lens stuff really about? what are all you lensmen—thegalactic council and so on—really up to? what do you expect to get out of it? and whywould anybody want to make such an all-out effort to get rid of you? and give it to meon the lens, please, if you can do it and talk at the same time—that was a wonderfulsensation, folks, of getting the dope straight and knowing that it was straight." "i can and will answer both by voice and bylens. our basic purpose is …" and he quoted verbatim the resounding sentences which mentorhad impressed so ineradicably upon his mind.

"you know how little happiness, how littlereal well-being, there is upon any world today. we propose to increase both. what we expectto get out of it is happiness and well-being for ourselves, the satisfaction felt by anygood workman doing the job for which he is best fitted and in which he takes pride. asto why anyone should want to kill me, the logical explanation would seem to be thatsome group or organization or race, opposed to that for which we lensmen stand, decidedto do away with us and started with me." "thank you, mr. samms. i am sure that we allenjoyed this interview very much. now, folks, you all know ‘rocky rod’, ‘rod the rock’,kinnison … just a little closer, please … thank you. i don’t suppose you have anysuspicions, either, any more than…."

"i certainly have!" kinnison barked, so savagelythat five hundred million people jumped as one. "how do you want it; voice, or lens,or both?" then on the lens: "think it over, son, because i suspect everybody!" "bub-both, please, mr. kinnison." even universal’sstar reporter was shaken by the quiet but deadly fury of the big lensman’s thought,but he rallied so quickly that his hesitation was barely noticeable. "your lensed thoughtto me was that you suspect everybody, mr. kinnison?" "just that. everybody. i suspect every continentalgovernment of every world we know, including that of north america of tellus. i suspectpolitical parties and organized minorities.

i suspect pressure groups. i suspect capitaland i suspect labor. i suspect an organization of criminals. i suspect nations and racesand worlds that no one of us has as yet heard of—not even you, the top-drawer newshawkof the universe." "but you have nothing concrete to go on, itake it?" "if i did have, do you think i’d be standinghere talking to you?" first lensman samms sat in his private quartersand thought. lensman dronvire of rigel four stood behindhim and helped him think. port admiral kinnison, with all his forceand drive, began a comprehensive program of investigation, consolidation, expansion, redesigning,and rebuilding.

virgilia samms went to a party practicallyevery night. she danced, she flirted, she talked. how she talked! meaningless smalltalk for the most part—but interspersed with artless questions and comments which,while they perhaps did not put her partner of the moment completely at ease, neverthelessdid not quite excite suspicion. conway costigan, lens under sleeve, undisguisedbut inconspicuous, rode the ether-lanes; observing minutely and reporting fully. jack kinnison piloted and navigated and computedfor his friend and boat-mate: mason northrop; who, completely surroundedby breadboard hookups of new and ever-more-fantastic complexity, listened and looked; listenedand tuned; listened and rebuilt; listened

and—finally—took bearings and bearingsand bearings with his ultra-sensitive loops. dalnalten and knobos, with dozens of ablehelpers, combed the records of three worlds in a search which produced as a by-producta monumental "who’s who" of crime. skilled technicians fed millions of cards,stack by stack, into the most versatile and most accomplished machines known to the statisticiansof the age. and dr. nels bergenholm, abandoning temporarilyhis regular line of work, devoted his peculiar talents to a highly abstruse research in theclosely allied field of organic chemistry. the walls of virgil samms’ quarters becamecovered with charts, diagrams, and figures. tabulations and condensations piled up onhis desk and overflowed into baskets upon

the floor. until: "lensman olmstead, of alphacent, sir," hissecretary announced. "good! send him in, please." the stranger entered. the two men, after staringintently at each other for half a minute, smiled and shook hands vigorously. exceptfor the fact that the newcomer’s hair was brown, they were practically identical! "i’m certainly glad to see you, george. bergenholmpassed you, of course?" "yes. he says that he can match your hairto mine, even the individual white ones. and he has made me a wig-maker’s dream of a wig."

"married?" samms’ mind leaped ahead to possiblecomplications. "widower, same as you. and…." "just a minute—going over this once willbe enough." he lensed call after call. lensmen in various parts of space became en rapportwith him and thus with each other. "lensmen—especially you, rod—george olmsteadis here, and his brother ray is available. i am going to work." "i still don’t like it!" kinnison protested."it’s too dangerous. i told the universe i was going to keep you covered, and i meantit!" "that’s what makes it perfectly safe. thatis, if bergenholm is sure that the duplication

is close enough …" "i am sure." bergenholm’s deeply resonantpseudo-voice left no doubt at all in any one of the linked minds. "the substitution willnot be detected." "… and that nobody knows, george, or evensuspects, that you got your lens." "i am sure of that." olmstead laughed quietly."also, nobody except us and your secretary knows that i am here. for a good many yearsi have made a specialty of that sort of thing. photos, fingerprints, and so on have all beentaken care of." "good. i simply can not work efficiently here,"samms expressed what all knew to be the simple truth. "dronvire is a much better analyst-synthesistthan i am; as soon as any significant correlation

is possible he will know it. we have learnedthat the towne-morgan crowd, mackenzie power, ossmen industries, and interstellar spacewaysare all tied in together, and that thionite is involved, but we have not been able toget any further. there is a slight correlation—barely significant—between deaths from thioniteand the arrival in the solarian system of certain spaceways liners. the fact that certainofficials of the earth-screen service have been and are spending considerably more thanthey earn sets up a slight but definite probability that they are allowing space-ships or boatsfrom space-ships to land illegally. these smugglers carry contraband, which may or maynot be thionite. in short, we lack fundamental data in every department, and it is high timefor me to begin doing my share in getting

it." "i don’t check you, virge." none of the kinnisonsever did give up without a struggle. "olmstead is a mighty smooth worker, and you are ourprime coordinator. why not let him keep up the counter-espionage—do the job you werefiguring on doing yourself—and you stay here and boss it?" "i have thought of that, a great deal, andhave…." "because olmstead can not do it," a hithertosilent mind cut in, decisively. "i, rularion of north polar jupiter, say so. there arepsychological factors involved. the ability to separate and to evaluate the constituentelements of a complex situation; the ability

to make correct decisions without hesitation;as well as many others not as susceptible to concise statement, but which collectivelycould be called power of mind. how say you, bergenholm of tellus? for i have perceivedin you a mind approximating in some respects the philosophical and psychological depthof my own." this outrageously egotistical declaration was, to the jovian, a simple statementof an equally simple truth, and bergenholm accepted it as such. "i agree. olmstead probably could not succeed." "well, then, can samms?" kinnison demanded. "who knows?" came bergenholm’s mental shrug,and simultaneously:

"nobody knows whether i can or not, but iam going to try," and samms ended—almost—the argument by asking bergenholm and a coupleof other lensmen to come into his office and by taking off his lens. "and that’s another thing i don’t like." kinnisonoffered one last objection. "without your lens, anything can happen to you." "oh, i won’t have to be without it very long.and besides, virgilia isn’t the only one in the samms family who can work better—sometimes—withouta lens." the lensmen came in and, in a surprisinglyshort time, went out. a few minutes later, two lensmen strolled out of samms’ inner officeinto the outer one.

"good-bye, george," the red-headed man saidaloud, "and good luck." "same to you, chief," and the brown-hairedone strode out. norma the secretary was a smart girl, andobservant. in her position, she had to be. her eyes followed the man out, then scannedthe lensman from toe to crown. "i’ve never seen anything like it, mr. samms,"she remarked then. "except for the difference in coloring, and a sort of … well, stoopiness… he could be your identical twin. you two must have had a common ancestor—or several—nottoo far back, didn’t you?" "we certainly did. quadruple second cousins,you might call it. we have known of each other for years, but this is the first time we havemet."

"quadruple second cousins? what does thatmean? how come?" "well, say that once upon a time there weretwo men named albert and chester…." "what? not two irishmen named pat and mike?you’re slipping, boss." the girl smiled roguishly. during rush hours she was always the fast,cool, efficient secretary, but in moments of ease such persiflage as this was the usualthing in the first lensman’s private office. "not at all up to your usual form." "merely because i am speaking now as a genealogist,not as a raconteur. but to continue, we will say that chester and albert had four childrenapiece, two boys and two girls, two pairs of identical twins, each. and when they grewup—half way up, that is…."

"don’t tell me that we are going to supposethat all those identical twins married each other?" "exactly. why not?" "well, it would be stretching the laws ofprobability all out of shape. but go ahead—i can see what’s coming, i think." "each of those couples had one, and only one,child. we will call those children jim samms and sally olmstead; john olmstead and irenesamms." the girl’s levity disappeared. "james alexandersamms and sarah olmstead samms. your parents. i didn’t see what was coming, after all. thisgeorge olmstead; then, is your…."

"whatever it is, yes. i can’t name it, either—maybeyou had better call genealogy some day and find out. but it’s no wonder we look alike.and there are three of us, not two—george has an identical twin brother." the red-haired lensman stepped back into theinner office, shut the door, and lensed a thought at virgil samms. "it worked, virgil! i talked to her for fivesolid minutes, practically leaning on her desk, and she didn’t tumble! and if this wigof bergenholm’s fooled her so completely, the job he did on you would fool anybody!" "fine! i’ve done a little testing myself,on the keenest men i know, without a trace

of recognition so far." his last lingering doubt resolved, samms boardedthe ponderous, radiation-proof, neutron-proof shuttle-scow which was the only possible meansof entering or leaving the hill. a fast cruiser whisked him to nampa, where olmstead’s "accidentally"damaged transcontinental transport was being repaired, and from which city olmstead hadbeen gone so briefly that no one had missed him. he occupied olmstead’s space; he surrenderedthe remainder of olmstead’s ticket. he reached new york. he took a ‘copter to senator morgan’soffice. he was escorted into the private office of herkimer herkimer third. "olmstead. of alphacent."

"yes?" herkimer’s hand moved, ever so little,upon his desk’s top. "here." the lensman dropped an envelope uponthe desk in such fashion that it came to rest within an inch of the hand. "prints. here." samms made prints. "wash yourhands, over there." herkimer pressed a button. "check all these prints, against each otherand the files. check the two halves of the torn sheet, fiber to fiber." he turned tothe lensless lensman, now standing quietly before his desk. "routine; a formality, inyour case, but necessary." "of course." then for long seconds the two hard men staredinto the hard depths of each other’s eyes.

"you may do, olmstead. we have had very goodreports of you. but you have never been in thionite?" "no. i have never even seen any." "what do you want to get into it for?" "your scouts sounded me out; what did theytell you? the usual thing—promotion from the ranks into the brass—to get to wherei can do myself and the organization some good." "yourself first, the organization second?" "what else? why should i be different fromthe rest of you?"

this time the locked eyes held longer; onepair smoldering, the other gold-flecked, tawny ice. "why, indeed?" herkimer smiled thinly. "wedo not advertise it, however." "outside, i wouldn’t, either; but here i’mlaying my cards flat on the table." "i see. you will do, olmstead, if you live.there’s a test, you know." "they told me there would be." "well, aren’t you curious to know what itis?" "not particularly. you passed it, didn’t you?" "what do you mean by that crack?" herkimerleaped to his feet; his eyes, smoldering before,

now ablaze. "exactly what i said, no more and no less.you may read into it anything you please." samms’ voice was as cold as were his eyes."you picked me out because of what i am. did you think that moving upstairs would makea boot-licker out of me?" "not at all." herkimer sat down and took froma drawer two small, transparent, vaguely capsule-like tubes, each containing a few particles ofpurple dust. "you know what this is?" "i can guess." "each of these is a good, heavy jolt; aboutall that a strong man with a strong heart can stand. sit down. here is one dose. pullthe cover, stick the capsule up one nostril,

squeeze the ejector, and sniff. if you canleave this other dose sitting here on the desk you will live, and thus pass the test.if you can’t, you die." samms sat, and pulled, and squeezed, and sniffed. his forearms hit the desk with a thud. hishands clenched themselves into fists, the tight-stretched tendons standing boldly out.his face turned white. his eyes jammed themselves shut; his jaw-muscles sprang into bands andlumps as they clamped his teeth hard together. every voluntary muscle in his body went intoa rigor as extreme as that of death itself. his heart pounded; his breathing became stertorous. this was the dreadful "muscle-lock" so uniquelycharacteristic of thionite; the frenzied immobility

of the ultimately passionate satisfactionof every desire. the galactic patrol became for him an actuality;a force for good pervading all the worlds of all the galaxies of all the universes ofall existing space-time continual. he knew what the lens was, and why. he understoodtime and space. he knew the absolute beginning and the ultimate end. he also saw things and did things over whichit is best to draw a kindly veil, for every desire—mental or physical, open or sternlysuppressed, noble or base—that virgil samms had ever had was being completely satisfied.every desire. as samms sat there, straining motionlesslyupon the verge of death through sheer ecstasy,

a door opened and senator morgan entered theroom. herkimer started, almost imperceptibly, as he turned—had there been, or not, aninstantaneously-suppressed flash of guilt in those now completely clear and frank browneyes? "hi, chief; come in and sit down. glad tosee you—this is not exactly my idea of fun." "no? when did you stop being a sadist?" thesenator sat down beside his minion’s desk, the fingertips of his left hand began soundlesslyto drum. "you wouldn’t have, by any chance, been considering the idea of…?" he pausedsignificantly. "what an idea." herkimer’s act—if it wasan act—was flawless. "he’s too good a man to waste."

"i know it, but you didn’t act as though youdid. i’ve never seen you come out such a poor second in an interview … and it wasn’t becauseyou didn’t know to start with just what kind of a tiger he was—that’s why he was selectedfor this job. and it would have been so easy to give him just a wee bit more." "that’s preposterous, chief, and you knowit." "do i? however, it couldn’t have been jealousy,because he isn’t being considered for your job. he won’t be over you, and there’s plentyof room for everybody. what was the matter? your bloodthirstiness wouldn’t have takenyou that far, under these circumstances. come clean, herkimer."

"okay—i hate the whole damned family!" herkimerburst out, viciously. "i see. that adds up." morgan’s face cleared,his fingers became motionless. "you can’t make the samms wench and aren’t in positionto skin her alive, so you get allergic to all her relatives. that adds up, but let metell you something." his quiet, level voice carried more of menace than most men’s loudestthreats. "keep your love life out of business and keep that sadistic streak under control.don’t let anything like this happen again." "i won’t, chief. i got off the beam—buthe made me so damn mad!" "certainly. that’s exactly what he was tryingto do. elementary. if he could make you look small it would make him look big, and he justabout did. but watch now, he’s coming to."

samms’ muscles relaxed. he opened his eyesgroggily; then, as a wave of humiliated realization swept over his consciousness, he closed themagain and shuddered. he had always thought himself pretty much of a man; how could hepossibly have descended to such nauseous depths of depravity, of turpitude, of sheer moraldegradation? and yet every cell of his being was shrieking its demand for more; his mindand his substance alike were permeated by an over-mastering craving to experience againthe ultimate thrills which they had so tremendously, so outrageously enjoyed. there was another good jolt lying right thereon the desk in front of him, even though thionite-sniffers always saw to it that no more of the drugcould be obtained without considerable physical

exertion; which exertion would bring themto their senses. if he took that jolt it would kill him. what of it? what was death? whatgood was life, except to enjoy such thrills as he had just had and was about to have again?and besides, thionite couldn’t kill him. he was a super-man; he had just proved it! he straightened up and reached for the capsule;and that effort, small as it was, was enough to bring first lensman virgil samms back undercontrol. the craving, however, did not decrease. rather, it increased. months were to pass before he could thinkof thionite, or even of the color purple, without a spasmodic catching of the breathand a tightening of every muscle. years were

to pass before he could forget, even partially,the theretofore unsuspected dwellers in the dark recesses of his own mind. nevertheless,from the store of whatever it was that made him what he was, virgil samms drew strength.thumb and forefinger touched the capsule, but instead of picking it up, he pushed itacross the desk toward herkimer. "put it away, bub. one whiff of that stuffwill last me for life." he stared unfathomably at the secretary, then turned to morgan andnodded. "after all, he did not say that he ever passed this or any other test. he justdidn’t contradict me when i said it." with a visible effort herkimer remained silent,but morgan did not. "you talk too much, olmstead. can you standup yet?"

gripping the desk with both hands, samms heavedhimself to his feet. the room was spinning and gyrating; every individual thing in itwas moving in a different and impossible orbit; his already splintered skull threatened moreand more violently to emulate a fragmentation bomb; black and white spots and vari-coloredflashes filled his cone of vision. he wrenched one hand free, then the other—and collapsedback into the chair. "not yet—quite," he admitted, through stifflips. although he was careful not to show it, morganwas amazed—not that the man had collapsed, but that he had been able so soon to lifthimself even an inch. "tiger" was not the word; this olmstead must be seven-eighthsdinosaur.

"it takes a few minutes; longer for some,not so long for others," morgan said, blandly. "but what makes you think herkimer here nevertook one of the same?" "huh?" again two pairs of eyes locked andheld; and this time the duel was longer and more pregnant. "what do you think? how doyou suppose i lived to get as old as i am now? by being dumb?" morgan unwrapped a venerian cigar, settledit comfortably between his teeth, lit it, and drew three slow puffs before replying. "ah, a student. an analytical mind," he said,evenly, and—apparently—irrelevantly. "let’s skip herkimer for the moment. try your handon me."

"why not? from what we hear out in the field,you have always been in the upper brackets, so you probably never had to prove that youcould take it or let it alone. my guess would be, though, that you could." "the good old oil, eh?" morgan allowed hisface and voice to register a modicum, precisely metered, of contempt. "how to get along inthe world; lesson one: butter up the boss." "nice try, senator, but i’ll have to scoreyou a clean miss." samms, now back almost to normal, grinned companionably. "we bothknow that if i were still in the kindergarten i wouldn’t be here now." "i’ll let that one pass—this time." underthat look and tone morgan’s underlings were

wont to cringe, but this olmstead was notthe cringing type. "don’t do it again. it might not be safe." "oh, it would be safe enough—for today,at least. there are two factors which you are very carefully ignoring. first, i haven’taccepted the job yet." "are you innocent enough to think you’ll getout of this building alive if i don’t accept you?" "if you want to call it innocence, yes. oh,i know you’ve got gunnies all over the place, but they don’t mean a thing." "no?" morgan’s voice was silkily venomous.

"no." olmstead was completely unimpressed."put yourself in my place. you know i’ve been around a long time; and not just around mymother. i was weaned quite a number of years ago." "i see. you don’t scare worth a damn. a point.and you are testing me, just as i am testing you. another point. i’m beginning to likeyou, george. i think i know what your second point is, but let’s have it, just for therecord." "i’m sure you do. any man, to be my boss,has got to be at least as good a man as i am. otherwise i take his job away from him." "fair enough. by god, i do like you, olmstead!"morgan, his big face wreathed in smiles, got

up, strode over, and shook hands vigorously;and samms, scan as he would, could not even hazard a guess as to how much—if any—ofthis enthusiasm was real. "do you want the job? and when can you go to work?" "yes, sir. two hours ago, sir." "that’s fine!" morgan boomed. although hedid not comment upon it, he noticed and understood the change in the form of address. "withoutknowing what the job is or how much it pays?" "neither is important, sir, at the moment."samms, who had got up easily enough to shake hands, now shook his head experimentally.nothing rattled. good—he was in pretty good shape already. "as to the job, i can eitherdo it or find out why it can’t be done. as

to pay, i’ve heard you called a lot of things,but ‘piker’ was never one of them." "very well. i predict that you will go far."morgan again shook the lensman’s hand; and again samms could not evaluate the senator’ssincerity. "tuesday afternoon. new york spaceport. space-ship virgin queen. report to captainwilloughby in the dock office at fourteen hundred hours. stop at the cashier’s officeon your way out. good-bye." chapter 9 piracy was rife. there was no suspicion, however,nor would there be for many years, that there was anything of very large purpose about thebusiness. murgatroyd was simply a captain kidd of space; and even if he were actuallyconnected with galactic spaceways, that fact

would not be surprising. such relationshipshad always existed; the most ferocious and dreaded pirates of the ancient world workedin full partnership with the first families of that world. virgil samms was thinking of pirates and ofpiracy when he left senator morgan’s office. he was still thinking of them while he wasreporting to roderick kinnison. hence: "but that’s enough about this stuff and me,rod. bring me up to date on operation boskone." "branching out no end. your guess was rightthat spaceways’ losses to pirates are probably phony. but it wasn’t the known attacks—thatis, those cases in which the ship was found, later, with some or most of the personnelalive—that gave us the real information.

they were all pretty much alike. but whenwe studied the total disappearances we really hit the jack-pot." "that doesn’t sound just right, but i’m listening." "you’d better, since it goes farther thaneven you suspected. it was no trouble at all to get the passenger lists and the names ofthe crews of the independent ships that were lost without a trace. their relatives andfriends—we concentrated mostly on wives—could be located, except for the usual few who movedaround so much that they got lost. spacemen average young, you know, and their wives arestill younger. well, these young women got jobs, most of them remarried, and so on. inshort, normal."

"and in the case of spaceways, not normal?" "decidedly not. in the first place, you’dbe amazed at how little publication was ever done of passenger lists, and apparently crewlists were not published at all. no use going into detail as to how we got the stuff, butwe got it. however, nine tenths of the wives had disappeared, and none had remarried. theonly ones we could find were those who did not care, even when their husbands were alive,whether they ever saw them again or not. but the big break was—you remember the disappearanceof that girls’-school cruise ship?" "of course. it made a lot of noise." "an interesting point in connection with thatcruise is that two days before the ship blasted

off the school was robbed. the vault was openedwith thermite and the whole administration building burned to the ground. all the school’srecords were destroyed. thus, the list of missing had to be made up from statementsmade by friends, relatives, and what not." "i remember something of the kind. my impressionwas, though, that the space-ship company furnished…. oh!" the tone of samms’ thought alerted sharply."that was spaceways, under cover?" "definitely. our best guess is that therewere quite a few shiploads of women disappeared about that time, instead of one. austine’scollege had more students that year than ever before or since. it was the extras, not theregulars, who went on that cruise; the ones who figured it would be more convenient todisappear in space than to become ordinary

missing persons." "but rod! that would mean … but where?" "it means just that. and finding out ‘where’will run into a project. there are over two thousand million suns in this galaxy, andthe best estimate is that there are more than that many planets habitable by beings moreor less human in type. you know how much of the galaxy has been explored and how fastthe work of exploring the rest of it is going. your guess is just as good as mine as to wherethose spacemen and engineers and their wives and girl-friends are now. i am sure, though,of four things; none of which we can ever begin to prove. one; they didn’t die in space.two; they landed on a comfortable and very

well equipped tellurian planet. three; theybuilt a fleet there. four; that fleet attacked the hill." "murgatroyd, do you suppose?" although surprisedby kinnison’s tremendous report, samms was not dismayed. "no idea. no data—yet." "and they’ll keep on building," samms said."they had a fleet much larger than the one they expected to meet. now they’ll build onelarger than all our combined forces. and since the politicians will always know what we aredoing … or it might be … i wonder…?" "you can stop wondering." kinnison grinnedsavagely.

"what do you mean?" "just what you were going to think about.you know the edge of the galaxy closest to tellus, where that big rift cuts in?" "yes." "across that rift, where it won’t be surveyedfor a thousand years, there’s a planet that could be earth’s twin sister. no atomic energy,no space-drive, but heavily industrialized and anxious to welcome us. project bennett.very, very hush-hush. nobody except lensmen know anything about it. two friends of dronvire’s—smart,smooth operators—are in charge. it’s going to be the navy yard of the galactic patrol."

"but rod …" samms began to protest, hismind leaping ahead to the numberless problems, the tremendous difficulties, inherent in theprogram which his friend had outlined so briefly. "forget it, virge!" kinnison cut in. "it won’tbe easy, of course, but we can do anything they can do, and do it better. you can gocalmly ahead with your own chores, knowing that when—and notice that i say ‘when’,not ‘if’—we need it we’ll have a fleet up our sleeves that will make the official onelook like a task force. but i see you’re at the rendezvous, and there’s jill. tell her’hi’ for me. and as the vegians say—’tail high, brother!’" samms was in the hotel’s ornate lobby; a coupleof uniformed "boys" and jill samms were approaching.

the girl reached him first. "you had no trouble in recognizing me, then,my dear?" "none at all, uncle george." she kissed himperfunctorily, the bell hops faded away. "so nice to see you—i’ve heard so much aboutyou. the marine room, you said?" "yes. i reserved a table." and in that famous restaurant, in the unequalledprivacy of the city’s noisiest and most crowded night spot, they drank sparingly; ate not-so-sparingly;and talked not sparingly at all. "it’s perfectly safe here, you think?" jillasked first. "perfectly. a super-sensitive microphone couldn’thear anything, and it’s so dark that a lip-reader,

even if he could read us, would need a pairof twelve-inch night-glasses." "goody! they did a marvelous job, dad. ifit weren’t for your … well, your personality, i wouldn’t recognize you even now." "you think i’m safe, then?" "absolutely." "then we’ll get down to business. you, knobos,and dalnalten all have keen and powerful minds. you can’t all be wrong. spaceways, then, istied in with both the towne-morgan gang and with thionite. the logical extension of that—dalcertainly thought of it, even though he didn’t mention it—would be …" samms paused.

"check. that the notorious murgatroyd, insteadof being just another pirate chief, is really working for spaceways and belongs to the towne-morgan-isaacsongang. but dad—what an idea! can things be that rotten, really?" "they may be worse than that. now the nextthing. who, in your opinion, is the real boss?" "well, it certainly is not herkimer herkimerthird." jill ticked him off on a pink forefinger. she had been asked for an opinion; she setout to give it without apology or hesitation. "he could—just about—direct the affairsof a hot-dog stand. nor is it clander. he isn’t even a little fish; he’s scarcely aminnow. equally certainly it is neither the venerian nor the martian. they may run planetaryaffairs, but nothing bigger. i haven’t met

murgatroyd, of course, but i have had severalevaluations, and he does not rate up with towne. and big jim—and this surprised meas much as it will you—is almost certainly not the prime mover." she looked at him questioningly. "that would have surprised me tremendouslyyesterday; but after today—i’ll tell you about that presently—it doesn’t." "i’m glad of that. i expected an argument,and i have been inclined to question the validity of my own results, since they do not agreewith common knowledge—or, rather, what is supposed to be knowledge. that leaves isaacsonand senator morgan." jill frowned in perplexity; seemed, for the first time, unsure. "isaacsonis of course a big man. able. well-informed.

extremely capable. a top-notch executive.not only is, would have to be, to run spaceways. on the other hand, i have always thought thatmorgan was nothing but a windbag…." jill stopped talking; left the thought hangingin air. "so did i—until today," samms agreed grimly."i thought that he was simply an unusually corrupt, greedy, rabble-rousing politician.our estimates of him may have to be changed very radically." samms’ mind raced. from two entirely differentangles of approach, jill and he had arrived at the same conclusion. but, if morgan werereally the big shot, would he have deigned to interview personally such small fry asolmstead? or was olmstead’s job of more importance

than he, samms, had supposed? "i’ve got a dozen more things to check withyou," he went on, almost without a pause, "but since this leadership matter is the onlyone in which my experience would affect your judgment, i had better tell you about whathappened today…." tuesday came, and hour fourteen hundred; andsamms strode into an office. there was a big, clean desk; a wiry, intense, gray-haired man. "captain willoughby?" "george olmstead reporting." "fourth officer." the captain punched a button;the heavy, sound-proof door closed itself

and locked. "fourth officer? new rank, eh. what does theticket cover?" "new, and special. here’s the articles; readit and sign it." he did not add "or else", it was not necessary. it was clearly evidentthat captain willoughby, never garrulous, intended to be particularly reticent withhis new subordinate. samms read. "… fourth officer … shall… no duties or responsibilities in the operation or maintenance of said space-ship … cargo…" then came a clause which fairly leaped from the paper and smote his eyes: "when incommand of a detail outside the hull of said space-ship he shall enforce, by the inflictionof death or such other penalty as he deems

fit…." the lensman was rocked to the heels, but didnot show it. instead, he took the captain’s pen—his own, as far as willoughby was concerned,could have been filled with vanishing ink—and wrote george olmstead’s name in george olmstead’sbold, flowing script. willoughby then took him aboard the good shipvirgin queen and led him to his cabin. "here you are, mr. olmstead. beyond gettingacquainted with the super-cargo and the rest of your men, you will have no duties for afew days. you have full run of the ship, with one exception. stay out of the control roomuntil i call you. is that clear?" "yes, sir." willoughby turned away and samms,after tossing his space-bag into the rack,

took inventory. the room was of course very small; but, consideringthe importance of mass, it was almost extravagantly supplied. there were shelves, or rather, tightracks, of books; there were sun-lamps and card-shelves and exercisers and games; therewas a receiver capable of bringing in programs from almost anywhere in space. the room hadonly one lack; it did not have an ultra-wave visiplate. nor was this lack surprising. "they"would scarcely let george olmstead know where "they" were taking him. samms was surprised, however, when he metthe men who were to be directly under his command; for instead of one, or at most two,they numbered exactly forty. and they were

all, he thought at first glance, the dregsand sweepings of the lowest dives in space. before long, however, he learned that theywere not all space-rats and denizens of skid rows. six of them—the strongest physicallyand the hardest mentally of the lot—were fugitives from lethal chambers; murderersand worse. he looked at the biggest, toughest one of the six—a rock-drill-eyed, red-hairedgiant—and asked: "what did they tell you, tworn, that yourjob was going to be?" "they didn’t say. just that it was dangerous,but if i done exactly what my boss would tell me to do, and nothing else, i might not evenget hurt. an’ i was due to take the deep breath the next week, see? that’s just how it was,boss."

"i see," and one by one virgil samms, masterpsychologist, studied and analyzed his motley crew until he was called into the controlroom. the navigating tank was covered; no chartswere to be seen. the one "live" visiplate showed a planet and a fiercely blue-whitesun. "my orders are to tell you, at this point,all i know about what you’ve got to do and about that planet down there. trenco, theycall it." to virgil samms, the first adherent of civilization ever to hear it, that namemeant nothing whatever. "you are to take about five of your men, go down there, and gatherall the green leaves you can. not green in color; sort of purplish. what they call broadleafis the best; leaves about two feet long and

a foot wide. but don’t be too choosy. if thereisn’t any broadleaf handy, grab anything you can get hold of." "what is the opposition?" samms asked, quietly."and what have they got that makes them so tough?" "nothing. no inhabitants, even. just the planetitself. next to arisia, it’s the god damndest planet in space. i’ve never been any closerto it than this, and i never will, so i don’t know anything about it except what i hear;but there’s something about it that kills men or drives them crazy. we spend seven oreight boats every trip, and thirty-five or forty men, and the biggest load that anybodyever took away from here was just under two

hundred pounds of leaf. a good many timeswe don’t get any." "they go crazy, eh?" in spite of his control,samms paled. but it couldn’t be like arisia. "what are the symptoms? what do they say?" "various. main thing seems to be that theylose their sight. don’t go blind, exactly, but can’t see where anything is; or, if theydo see it, it isn’t there. and it rains over forty feet deep every night, and yet it alldries up by morning. the worst electrical storms in the universe, and wind-velocities—ican show you charts on that—of over eight hundred miles an hour." "whew! how about time? with your permission,i would like to do some surveying before i

try to land." "a smart idea. a couple of the other boyshad the same, but it didn’t help—they didn’t come back. i’ll give you two tellurian days—no,three—before i give you up and start sending out the other boats. pick out your five menand see what you can do." as the boat dropped away, willoughby’s voicecame briskly from a speaker. "i know that you five men have got ideas. forget ’em. fourthofficer olmstead has the authority and the orders to put a half-ounce slug through theguts of any or all of you that don’t jump, and jump fast, to do what he tells you. andif that boat makes any funny moves i blast it out of the ether. good harvesting!"

for forty-eight tellurian hours, taking timeout only to sleep, samms scanned and surveyed the planet trenco; and the more he studiedit, the more outrageously abnormal it became. trenco was, and is, a peculiar planet indeed.its atmosphere is not air as we know air; its hydrosphere does not resemble water. halfof that atmosphere and most of that hydrosphere are one chemical, a substance of very lowheat of vaporization and having a boiling point of about seventy-five degrees fahrenheit.trenco’s days are intensely hot; its nights are bitterly cold. at night, therefore, it rains: and by comparisona tellurian downpour of one inch per hour is scarcely a drizzle. upon trenco it reallyrains—forty seven feet and five inches of

precipitation, every night of every trenconianyear. and this tremendous condensation of course causes wind. willoughby’s graphs wereaccurate. except at trenco’s very poles there is not a spot in which or a time at whichan earthly gale would not constitute a dead calm; and along the equator, at every sunriseand every sunset, the wind blows from the day side into the night side at a velocitywhich no tellurian hurricane or cyclone, however violent, has even distantly approached. also, therefore, there is lightning. not inthe mild and occasional flashes which we of gentle terra know, but in a continuous, blindingglare which outshines a normal sun; in battering, shattering, multi-billion-volt dischargeswhich not only make darkness unknown there,

but also distort beyond recognition and beyondfunction the warp and the woof of space itself. sight is almost completely useless in thatfantastically altered medium. so is the ultra-beam. landing on the daylight side, except possiblyat exact noon, would be impossible because of the wind, nor could the ship stay landedfor more than a couple of minutes. landing on the night side would be practically asbad, because of the terrific charge the boat would pick up—unless the boat carried somethingthat could be rebuilt into a leaker. did it? it did. time after time, from pole to pole and frommidnight around the clock, samms stabbed visibeam and spy-ray down toward trenco’s falsely-visiblesurface, with consistently and meaninglessly

impossible results. the planet tipped, lurched,spun, and danced. it broke up into chunks, each of which began insanely to follow mathematicallyimpossible paths. finally, in desperation, he rammed a beamdown and held it down. again he saw the planet break up before his eyes, but this time heheld on. he knew that he was well out of the stratosphere, a good two hundred miles up.nevertheless, he saw a tremendous mass of jagged rock falling straight down, with terrificvelocity, upon his tiny lifeboat! unfortunately the crew, to whom he had notbeen paying overmuch attention of late, saw it, too; and one of them, with a bestial yell,leaped toward samms and the controls. samms, reaching for pistol and blackjack, whirledaround just in time to see the big red-head

lay the would-be attacker out cold with avicious hand’s-edge chop at the base of the skull. "thanks, tworn. why?" "because i want to get out of this alive,and he’d’ve had us all in hell in fifteen minutes. you know a hell of a lot more thanwe do, so i’m playin’ it your way. see?" "i see. can you use a sap?" "an artist," the big man admitted, modestly."just tell me how long you want a guy to be out and i won’t miss it a minute, either way.but you’d better blow that crumb’s brains out, right now. he ain’t no damn good."

"not until after i see whether he can workor not. you’re a procian, aren’t you?" "yeah. midlands—north central." "what did you do?" "nothing much, at first. just killed a guythat needed killing; but the goddam louse had a lot of money, so they give me twentyfive years. i didn’t like it very well, and acted rough, so they give me solitary—boot,bandage, and so on. so i tried a break—killed six or eight, maybe a dozen, guards—butdidn’t quite make it. so they slated me for the big whiff. that’s all, boss." "i’m promoting you, now, to squad leader.here’s the sap." he handed tworn his blackjack.

"watch ’em—i’ll be too busy to. this landingis going to be tough." "gotcha, boss." tworn was calibrating hisweapon by slugging himself experimentally on the leg. "go ahead. as far as these crumbsare concerned, you’ve got this air-tank all to yourself." samms had finally decided what he was goingto do. he located the terminator on the morning side, poised his little ship somewhat nearerto dawn than to midnight, and "cut the rope". he took one quick reading on the sun, cutoff his plates, and let her drop, watching only his pressure gages and gyros. one hundred millimeters of mercury. threehundred. five hundred. he slowed her down.

he was going to hit a thin liquid, but ifhe hit it too hard he would smash the boat, and he had no idea what the atmospheric pressureat trenco’s surface would be. six hundred. even this late at night, it might be greaterthan earth’s … and it might be a lot less. seven hundred. slower and slower he crept downward, his tensionmounting infinitely faster than did the needle of the gage. this was an instrument landingwith a vengeance! eight hundred. how was the crew taking it? how many of them had twornhad to disable? he glanced quickly around. none! now that they could not see the hallucinatoryimages upon the plates, they were not suffering at all—he himself was the only one aboardwho was feeling the strain!

nine hundred … nine hundred forty. the boat"hit the drink" with a crashing, splashing impact. its pace was slow enough, however,and the liquid was deep enough, so that no damage was done. samms applied a little drivingpower and swung his craft’s sharp nose into the line toward the sun. the little ship plowedslowly forward, as nearly just awash as samms could keep her; grounded as gently as a riversteam-boat upon a mud-flat. the starkly incredible downpour slackened; the lensman knew thatthe second critical moment was at hand. "strap down, men, until we see what this windis going to do to us." the atmosphere, moving at a velocity wellabove that of sound, was in effect not a gas, but a solid. even a spaceboat’s hard skinof alloy plate, with all its bracing, could

not take what was coming next. inert, shewould be split open, smashed, flattened out, and twisted into pretzels. samms’ finger stabbeddown; the berg went into action; the lifeboat went free just as that raging blast of quasi-solidvapor wrenched her into the air. the second descent was much faster and mucheasier than the first. nor, this time, did samms remain surfaced or drive toward shore.knowing now that this ocean was not deep enough to harm his vessel, he let her sink to thebottom. more, he turned her on her side and drove her at a flat angle into the bottom;so deep that the rim of her starboard lock was flush with the ocean’s floor. again theywaited; and this time the wind did not blow the lifeboat away.

upon purely theoretical grounds samms hadreasoned that the weird distortion of vision must be a function of distance, and his observationsso far had been in accord with that hypothesis. now, slowly and cautiously, he sent out avisibeam. ten feet … twenty … forty … all clear. at fifty the seeing was definitelybad; at sixty it became impossible. he shortened back to forty and began to study the vegetation,growing with such fantastic speed that the leaves, pressed flat to the ground by thegale and anchored there by heavy rootlets, were already inches long. there was also whatseemed to be animal life, of sorts, but samms was not, at the moment, interested in trenconianzoology. "are them the plants we’re going to get, boss?"tworn asked, staring into the plate over samms’

shoulder. "shall we go out now an’ start pickin”em?" "not yet. even if we could open the port theblast would wreck us. also, it would shear your head off, flush with the coaming, asfast as you stuck it out. this wind should ease off after a while; well go out a littlebefore noon. in the meantime we’ll get ready. have the boys break out a couple of sparenumber twelve struts, some clamps and chain, four snatch blocks, and a hundred feet ofheavy space-line…. "good," he went on, when the order had beenobeyed. "rig the line from the winch through snatch blocks here, and here, and here, soi can haul you back against the wind. while you are doing that i’ll rig a remote controlon the winch."

shortly before trenco’s fierce, blue-whitesun reached meridian, the six men donned space-suits and samms cautiously opened the air-lock ports.they worked. the wind was now scarcely more than an earthly hurricane; the wildly whippingbroadleaf plants, struggling upward, were almost half-way to the vertical. the leaveswere apparently almost fully grown. four men clamped their suits to the line.the line was paid out. each man selected two leaves; the largest, fattest, purplest oneshe could reach. samms hauled them back and received the loot; tworn stowed the leavesaway. again—again—again. with noon there came a few minutes of "calm".a strong man could stand against the now highly variable wind; could move around without beingblown beyond the horizon; and during those

few minutes all six men gathered leaves. thattime, however, was very short. the wind steadied into the reverse direction with ever-increasingfury; winch and space-line again came into play. and in a scant half hour, when the linebegan to hum an almost musical note under its load, samms decided to call it quits. "that’ll be all for today, boys," he announced."about twice more and this line will part. you’ve done too good a job to lose you. secureship." "shall i blow the air, sir?" tworn asked. "i don’t think so." samms thought for a moment."no. i’m afraid to take the chance. this stuff, whatever it is, is probably as poisonous ascyanide. we’ll keep our suits on and exhaust

into space." time passed. "night" came; the rain and theflood. the bottom softened. samms blasted the lifeboat out of the mud and away fromthe planet. he opened the bleeder valves, then both air-lock ports; the contaminatedair was replaced by the ultra-hard vacuum of the inter-planetary void. he signaled thevirgin queen; the lifeboat was taken aboard. "quick trip, olmstead," willoughby congratulatedhim. "i’m surprised that you got back at all, to say nothing of with so much stuff and notlosing a man. give me the weight, mister, fast!" "three hundred and forty eight pounds, sir,"the super-cargo reported.

"my god! and all pure broadleaf! nobody everdid that before! how did you do it, olmstead?" "i don’t know whether that would be any ofyour business or not." samms’ mien was not insulting; merely thoughtful. "not that igive a damn, but my way might not help anybody else much, and i think i had better reportto the main office first, and let them do the telling. fair enough?" "fair enough," the skipper conceded, ungrudgingly."what a load! and no losses!" "one boatload of air, is all; but air is expensiveout here." samms made a point, deliberately. "air!" willoughby snorted. "i’ll swap youa hundred flasks of air, any time, for any one of those leaves!" which was what sammswanted to know.

captain willoughby was smart. he knew thatthe way to succeed was to use and then to trample upon his inferiors; to toady to suchsuperiors as were too strong to be pulled down and thus supplanted. he knew this olmsteadhad what it took to be a big shot. therefore: "they told me to keep you in the dark untilwe got to trenco," he more than half apologized to his fourth officer shortly after the virginqueen blasted away from the trenconian system. "but they didn’t say anything about afterwards—maybethey figured you wouldn’t be aboard any more, as usual—but anyway, you can stay righthere in the control room if you want to." "thanks, skipper, but mightn’t it be justas well," he jerked his head inconspicuously toward the other officers, "to play the stringout, this trip? i don’t care where we’re going,

and we don’t want anybody to get any funnyideas." "that’d be a lot better, of course—as longas you know that your cards are all aces, as far as i’m concerned." "thanks, willoughby. i’ll remember that." samms had not been entirely frank with theprivate captain. from the time required to make the trip, he knew to within a few parsecstrenco’s distance from sol. he did not know the direction, since the distance was so greatthat he had not been able to recognize any star or constellation. he did know, however,the course upon which the vessel then was, and he would know courses and distances fromthen on. he was well content.

a couple of uneventful days passed. sammswas again called into the control room, to see that the ship was approaching a three-sunsolar system. "this where we’re going to land?" he asked,indifferently. "we ain’t going to land," willoughby toldhim. "you are going to take the broadleaf down in your boat, close enough so that youcan parachute it down to where it has to go. way ’nuff, pilot, go inert and match intrinsics.now, olmstead, watch. you’ve seen systems like this before?" "no, but i know about them. those two sunsover there are a hell of a lot bigger and further away than they look, and this onehere, much smaller, is in the trojan position.

have those big suns got any planets?" "five or six apiece, they say; all hotterand dryer than the brazen hinges of hell. this sun here has seven, but number two—’cavenda’,they call it—is the only tellurian planet in the system. the first thing we look foris a big, diamond-shaped continent … there’s only one of that shape … there it is, overthere. notice that one end is bigger than the other—that end is north. strike a lineto split the continent in two and measure from the north end one-third of the lengthof the line. that’s the point we’re diving at now … see that crater?" "yes." the virgin queen, although still hundredsof miles up, was slowing rapidly. "it must

be a big one." "it’s a good fifty miles across. go down untilyou’re dead sure that the box will land somewhere inside the rim of that crater. then dump it.the parachute and the sender are automatic. understand?" "yes, sir; i understand," and samms took off. he was vastly more interested in the stars,however, than in delivering the broadleaf. the constellation directly beyond sol fromwherever he was might be recognizable. its shape would be smaller and more or less distorted;its smaller stars, brilliant to earthly eyes only because of their nearness, would be dimmer,perhaps invisible; the picture would be further

confused by intervening, nearby, brilliantstrangers; but such giants as canopus and rigel and betelgeuse and deneb would certainlybe highly visible if he could only recognize them. from trenco his search had failed; buthe was still trying. there was something vaguely familiar! sweatingwith the mental effort, he blocked out the too-near, too-bright stars and studied intensivelythose that were left. a blue-white and a red were most prominent. rigel and betelgeuse?could that constellation be orion? the belt was very faint, but it was there. then siriusought to be about there, and pollux about there; and, at this distance, about equallybright. they were. aldebaran would be orange, and about one magnitude brighter than pollux;and capella would be yellow, and half a magnitude

brighter still. there they were! not too closeto where they should be, but close enough—it was orion! and this thionite way-station,then, was somewhere near right ascension seventeen hours and declination plus ten degrees! he returned to the virgin queen. she blastedoff. samms asked very few questions and willoughby volunteered very little information; neverthelessthe first lensman learned more than anyone of his fellow pirates would have believedpossible. aloof, taciturn, disinterested to a degree, he seemed to spend practically allof his time in his cabin when he was not actually at work; but he kept his eyes and his earswide open. and virgil samms, as has been intimated, had a brain.

the virgin queen made a quick flit from cavendato vegia, arriving exactly on time; a proud, clean space-ship as high above suspicion ascalpurnia herself. samms unloaded her cargo; replaced it with one for earth. she was serviced.she made a fast, eventless run to tellus. she docked at new york spaceport. virgil sammswalked unconcernedly into an ordinary-looking rest-room; george olmstead, fully informed,walked unconcernedly out. as soon as he could, samms lensed northropand jack kinnison. "we lined up a thousand and one signals, sir,"northrop reported for the pair, "but only one of them carried a message, and it didn’tmake sense." "why not?" samms asked, sharply. "with a lens,any kind of a message, however garbled, coded,

or interrupted, makes sense." "oh, we understood what it said," jack camein, "but it didn’t say enough. just ‘ready—ready—ready’; over and over." "what!" samms exclaimed, and the boys couldfeel his mind work. "did that signal, by any chance, originate anywhere near seventeenhours and plus ten degrees?" "very near. why? how did you know?" "then it does make sense!" samms exclaimed,and called a general conference of lensmen. "keep working along these same lines," sammsdirected, finally. "keep ray olmstead in the hill in my place. i am going to pluto, and—ihope—to palain seven."

roderick kinnison of course protested; but,equally of course, his protests were over-ruled. chapter 10 pluto is, on the average, about forty timesas far away from the sun as is mother earth. each square yard of earth’s surface receivesabout sixteen hundred times as much heat as does each of pluto’s. the sun as seen frompluto is a dim, wan speck. even at perihelion, an event which occurs only once in two hundredforty eight tellurian years, and at noon and on the equator, pluto is so bitterly coldthat climatic conditions upon its surface simply cannot be described by or to warm-blooded,oxygen-breathing man. as good an indication as any can be given,perhaps, by mentioning the fact that it had

taken the patrol’s best engineers over sixmonths to perfect the armor which virgil samms then wore. for no ordinary space-suit woulddo. space itself is not cold; the only loss of heat is by radiation into or through analmost perfect vacuum. in contact with pluto’s rocky, metallic soil, however, there wouldbe conduction; and the magnitude of the inevitable heat-loss made the tellurian scientists gasp. "watch your feet, virge!" had been roderickkinnison’s insistent last thought. "remember those psychologists—if they stayed in contactwith that ground for five minutes they froze their feet to the ankles. not that the boysaren’t good, but slipsticks sometimes slip in more ways than one. if your feet ever startto get cold, drop whatever you’re doing and

drive back here at max!" virgil samms landed. his feet stayed warm.finally, assured that the heaters of his suit could carry the load indefinitely, he madehis way on foot into the settlement near which he had come to ground. and there he saw hisfirst palainian. or, strictly speaking, he saw part of hisfirst palainian; for no three-dimensional creature has ever seen or ever will see inentirety any member of any of the frigid-blooded, poison-breathing races. since life as we knowit—organic, three-dimensional life—is based upon liquid water and gaseous oxygen,such life did not and could not develop upon planets whose temperatures are only a fewdegrees above absolute zero. many, perhaps

most, of these ultra-frigid planets have anatmosphere of sorts; some have no atmosphere at all. nevertheless, with or without atmosphereand completely without oxygen and water, life—highly intelligent life—did develop upon millionsand millions of such worlds. that life is not, however, strictly three-dimensional.of necessity, even in the lowest forms, it possesses an extension into the hyper-dimension;and it is this metabolic extension alone which makes it possible for life to exist undersuch extreme conditions. the extension makes it impossible for anyhuman being to see anything of a palainian except the fluid, amorphous, ever-changingthing which is his three-dimensional aspect of the moment; makes any attempt at descriptionor portraiture completely futile.

virgil samms stared at the palainian; triedto see what it looked like. he could not tell whether it had eyes or antennae; legs, arms,or tentacles, teeth or beaks, talons or claws or feet; skin, scales, or feathers. it didnot even remotely resemble anything that the lensman had ever seen, sensed, or imagined.he gave up; sent out an exploring thought. "i am virgil samms, a tellurian," he sentout slowly, carefully, after he made contact with the outer fringes of the creature’s mind."is it possible for you, sir or madam, to give me a moment of your time?" "eminently possible, lensman samms, sincemy time is of completely negligible value." the monster’s mind flashed into accord withsamms’ with a speed and precision that made

him gasp. that is, a part of it became enrapport with a part of his: years were to pass before even the first lensman would knowmuch more about the palainian than he learned in that first contact; no human beings exceptthe children of the lens ever were to understand even dimly the labyrinthine intricacies, theparadoxical complexities, of the palainian mind. "’madam’ might be approximately correct,"the native’s thought went smoothly on. "my name, in your symbology, is twelfth pilinipsi;by education, training, and occupation i am a chief dexitroboper. i perceive that youare indeed a native of that hellish planet three, upon which it was assumed for so longthat no life could possibly exist. but communication

with your race has been almost impossibleheretofore … ah, the lens. a remarkable device, truly. i would slay you and take it,except for the obvious fact that only you can possess it." "what!" dismay and consternation flooded samms’mind. "you already know the lens?" "no. yours is the first that any of us hasperceived. the mechanics, the mathematics, and the basic philosophy of the thing, however,are quite clear." "what!" samms exclaimed again. "you can, then,produce lenses yourselves?" "by no means, any more than you tellurianscan. there are magnitudes, variables, determinants, and forces involved which no palainian willever be able to develop, to generate, or to

"i see." the lensman pulled himself together.for a first lensman, he was making a wretched showing indeed…. "far from it, sir," the monstrosity assuredhim. "considering the strangeness of the environment into which you have voluntarily flung yourselfso senselessly, your mind is well integrated and strong. otherwise it would have shattered.if our positions were reversed, the mere thought of the raging heat of your earth would—comeno closer, please!" the thing vanished; reappeared many yards away. her thoughts were a shudderof loathing, of terror, of sheer detestation. "but to get on. i have been attempting toanalyze and to understand your purpose, without success. that failure is not too surprising,of course, since my mind is weak and my total

power is small. explain your mission, please,as simply as you can." weak? small? in view of the power the monstrosityhad just shown, samms probed for irony, for sarcasm or pretense. there was no trace ofanything of the kind. he tried, then, for fifteen solid minutes,to explain the galactic patrol, but at the end the palainian’s only reaction was oneof blank non-comprehension. "i fail completely to perceive the use of,or the need for, such an organization," she stated flatly. "this altruism—what goodis it? it is unthinkable that any other race would take any risks or exert any effort forus, any more than we would for them. ignore and be ignored, as you must already know,is the prime tenet."

"but there is a little commerce between ourworlds; your people did not ignore our psychologists; and you are not ignoring me," samms pointedout. "oh, none of us is perfect," pilinipsi replied,with a mental shrug and what seemed to be an airy wave of a multi-tentacled member."that ideal, like any other, can only be approached asymptotically, never reached; and i, beingsomewhat foolish and silly, as well as weak and vacillant, am much less perfect than most." flabbergasted, samms tried a new tack. "imight be able to make my position clearer if i knew you better. i know your name, andthat you are a woman of palain seven"—it is a measure of virgil samms’ real size thathe actually thought "woman", and not merely

"female"—"but all i can understand of youroccupation is the name you have given it. what does a chief dexitroboper do?" "she—or he—or, perhaps, it … is a supervisorof the work of dexitroboping." the thought, while perfectly clear, was completely meaninglessto samms, and the palainian knew it. she tried again. "dexitroboping has to do with … nourishment?no—with nutrients." "ah. farming—agriculture," samms thought;but this time it was the palainian who could not grasp the concept. "hunting? fishing?"no better. "show me, then, please." she tried; but demonstration, too, was useless;for to samms the palainian’s movements were pointless indeed. the peculiarly flowing subtlychanging thing darted back and forth, rose

and fell, appeared and disappeared; undergoingthe while cyclic changes in shape and form and size, in aspect and texture. it was nowspiny, now tentacular, now scaly, now covered with peculiarly repellent feather-like fronds,each oozing a crimson slime. but it apparently did not do anything whatever. the net resultof all its activity was, apparently, zero. "there, it is done." pilinipsi’s thought againcame clear. "you observed and understood? you did not. that is strange—baffling. sincethe lens did improve communication and understanding tremendously, i hoped that it might extendto the physical as well. but there must be some basic, fundamental difference, the natureof which is at present obscure. i wonder … if i had a lens, too—but no…."

"but yes!" samms broke in, eagerly. "why don’tyou go to arisia and be tested for one? you have a magnificent, a really tremendous mind.it is of lensman grade in every respect except one—you simply don’t want to use it!" "me? go to arisia?" the thought would havebeen, in a tellurian, a laugh of scorn. "how utterly silly—how abysmally stupid! therewould be personal discomfort, quite possibly personal danger, and two lenses would be littleor no better than one in resolving differences between our two continua, which are probablyin fact incommensurable." "well, then," samms thought, almost viciously,"can you introduce me to someone who is stupider, sillier, and more foolish than you are?"

"not here on pluto, no." the palainian tookno offense. "that was why it was i who interviewed the earlier tellurian visitors and why i amnow conversing with you. the others avoided "i see." samms’ thought was grim. "how aboutthe home planet, then?" "ah. undoubtedly. in fact, there is a group,a club, of such persons. none of them is, of course, as insane—as aberrant—as youare, but they are all much more so than i am." "who of this club would be most interestedin becoming a lensman?" "tallick was the least stable member of thenew-thought club when i left seven; kragzex a close second. there may of course have beenchanges since then. but i cannot believe that

even tallick—even tallick at his outrageousworst—would be crazy enough to join your patrol." "nevertheless, i must see him myself. canyou and will you give me a chart of a routing from here to palain seven?" "i can and i will. nothing you have thoughtwill be of any use to me; that will be the easiest and quickest way of getting rid ofyou." the palainian spread a completely detailed chart in samms’ mind, snapped the telepathicline, and went unconcernedly about her incomprehensible business. samms, mind reeling, made his way back tohis boat and took off. and as the light-years

and the parsecs screamed past, he sank deeperand deeper into a welter of unproductive speculation. what were—really—those palainians? howcould they—really—exist as they seemed to exist? and why had some of that dexitroboper’s—whateverthat meant!—thoughts come in so beautifully sharp and clear and plain while others…? he knew that his lens would receive and wouldconvert into his own symbology any thought or message, however coded or garbled or howeversent or transmitted. the lens was not at fault; his symbology was. there were concepts—things—actualities—occurrences—soforeign to tellurian experience that no referents existed. hence the human mind lacked the channels,the mechanisms, to grasp them. he and roderick kinnison had glibly discussedthe possibility of encountering forms of intelligent

life so alien that humanity would have nopoint whatever of contact with them. after what samms had just gone through, that wasmore of a possibility than either he or his friend had believed; and he hoped grimly,as he considered how seriously this partial contact with the palainian had upset him,that the possibility would never become a fact. he found the palainian system easily enough,and palain seven. that planet, of course, was almost as dark upon its sunward side asupon the other, and its inhabitants had no use for light. pilinipsi’s instructions, however,had been minute and exact; hence samms had very little trouble in locating the principalcity—or, rather, the principal village,

since there were no real cities. he foundthe planet’s one spaceport. what a thing to call a port! he checked back; recalled exactlythis part of his interview with pluto’s chief dexitroboper. "the place upon which space-ships land," hadbeen her thought, when she showed him exactly where it was in relationship to the town.just that, and nothing else. it had been his mind, not hers, that had supplied the docksand cradles, the service cars, the officers, and all the other things taken for grantedin space-fields everywhere as samms knew them. either the palainian had not perceived thetrappings with which samms had invested her visualization, or she had not cared enoughabout his misapprehension to go to the trouble

of correcting it; he did not know which. the whole area was as bare as his hand. exceptfor the pitted, scarred, slagged-down spots which showed so clearly what driving blastswould do to such inconceivably cold rock and metal, palainport was in no way distinguishablefrom any other unimproved portion of the planet’s utterly bleak surface. there were no signals; he had been told ofno landing conventions. apparently it was everyone for himself. wherefore samms’ tremendouslanding lights blazed out, and with their aid he came safely to ground. he put on hisarmour and strode to the air-lock; then changed his mind and went to the cargo-port instead.he had intended to walk, but in view of the

rugged and deserted field and the completelyunknown terrain between the field and the town, he decided to ride the "creep" instead. this vehicle, while slow, could go—literally—anywhere.it had a cigar-shaped body of magnalloy; it had big, soft, tough tires; it had cleatedtracks; it had air- and water-propellers; it had folding wings; it had driving, braking,and steering jets. it could traverse the deserts of mars, the oceans and swamps of venus, thecrevassed glaciers of earth, the jagged, frigid surface of an iron asteroid, and the cratered,fluffy topography of the moon; if not with equal speed, at least with equal safety. samms released the thing and drove it intothe cargo lock, noting mentally that he would

have to exhaust the air of that lock intospace before he again broke the inner seal. the ramp slid back into the ship; the cargoport closed. here he was! should he use his headlights, or not? he didnot know the palainians’ reaction to or attitude toward light. it had not occurred to him whileat pluto to ask, and it might be important. the landing lights of his vessel might alreadyhave done his cause irreparable harm. he could drive by starlight if he had to … but heneeded light and he had not seen a single living or moving thing. there was no evidencethat there was a palainian within miles. while he had known, with his brain, that palainwould be dark, he had expected to find buildings and traffic—ground-cars, planes, and atleast a few space-ships—and not this vast

nothingness. if nothing else, there must be a road frompalain’s principal city to its only spaceport; but samms had not seen it from his vesseland he could not see it now. at least, he could not recognize it. wherefore he clutchedin the tractor drive and took off in a straight line toward town. the going was more thanrough—it was really rugged—but the creep was built to stand up under punishment andits pilot’s chair was sprung and cushioned to exactly the same degree. hence, while thecourse itself was infinitely worse than the smoothly paved approaches to rigelston, sammsfound this trip much less bruising than the other had been.

approaching the village, he dimmed his roadlightsand slowed down. at its edge he cut them entirely and inched his way forward by starlight alone. what a town! virgil samms had seen the inhabitedplaces of almost every planet of civilization. he had seen cities laid out in circles, sectors,ellipses, triangles, squares, parallelopipeds—practically every plan known to geometry. he had seenstructures of all shapes and sizes—narrow skyscrapers, vast-spreading one-stories, polyhedra,domes, spheres, semi-cylinders, and erect and inverted full and truncated cones andpyramids. whatever the plan or the shapes of the component units, however, those inhabitedplaces had, without exception, been understandable. but this!

samms, his eyes now completely dark-accustomed,could see fairly well, but the more he saw the less he grasped. there was no plan, nocoherence or unity whatever. it was as though a cosmic hand had flung a few hundreds ofbuildings, of incredibly and senselessly varied shapes and sizes and architectures, upon anotherwise empty plain, and as though each structure had been allowed ever since to remainin whatever location and attitude it had chanced to fall. here and there were jumbled pilesof three or more utterly incongruous structures. there were a few whose arrangement was almostorderly. here and there were large, irregularly-shaped areas of bare, untouched ground. there wereno streets—at least, nothing that the man could recognize as such.

samms headed the creep for one of those openareas, then stopped—declutched the tracks, set the brakes, and killed the engines. "go slow, fellow," he advised himself then."until you find out what a dexitroboper actually does while working at his trade, don’t takechances of interfering or of doing damage!" no lensman knew—then—that frigid-bloodedpoison-breathers were not strictly three-dimensional; but samms did know that he had actually seenthings which he could not understand. he and kinnison had discussed such occurrences calmlyenough; but the actuality was enough to shake even the mind of civilization’s first lensman. he did not need to be any closer, anyway.he had learned the palainians’ patterns well

enough to lens them from a vastly greaterdistance than his present one; this personal visit to palainopolis had been a gesture offriendliness, not a necessity. "tallick? kragzex?" he sent out the questing,querying thought. "lensman virgil samms of sol three calling tallick and kragzex of palainseven." "kragzex acknowledging, virgil samms," a thoughtsnapped back, as diamond-clear, as precise, as pilinipsi’s had been. "is tallick here, or anywhere on the planet?" "he is here, but he is emmfozing at the moment.he will join us presently." damnation! there it was again! first "dexitroboping",and now this!

"one moment, please," samms requested. "ifail to grasp the meaning of your thought." "so i perceive. the fault is of course mine,in not being able to attune my mind fully to yours. do not take this, please, as anyaspersion upon the character or strength of your own mind." "of course not. i am the first tellurian youhave met?" "i have exchanged thoughts with one otherpalainian, and the same difficulty existed. i can neither understand nor explain it; butit is as though there are differences between us so fundamental that in some matters mutualcomprehension is in fact impossible." "a masterly summation and undoubtedly a trueone. this emmfozing, then—if i read correctly,

your race has only two sexes?" "you read correctly." "i cannot understand. there is no close analogy.however, emmfozing has to do with reproduction." "i see," and samms saw, not only a franknessbrand-new to his experience, but also a new view of both the powers and the limitationsof his lens. it was, by its very nature, of precisionistgrade. it received thoughts and translated them precisely into english. there was someleeway, but not much. if any thought was such that there was no extremely close counterpartor referent in english, the lens would not translate it at all, but would simply giveit a hitherto meaningless symbol—a symbol

which would from that time on be associated,by all lenses everywhere, with that one concept and no other. samms realized then that hemight, some day, learn what a dexitroboper actually did and what the act of emmfozingactually was; but that he very probably would not. tallick joined them then, and samms againdescribed glowingly, as he had done so many times before, the galactic patrol of his imaginingsand plannings. kragzex refused to have anything to do with such a thing, almost as abruptlyas pilinipsi had done, but tallick lingered—and wavered. "it is widely known that i am not entirelysane," he admitted, "which may explain the

fact that i would very much like to have alens. but i gather, from what you have said, that i would probably not be given a lensto use purely for my own selfish purposes?" "that is my understanding," samms agreed. "i was afraid so." tallick’s mien was … "woebegone"is the only word for it. "i have work to do. projects, you know, of difficulty, of extremecomplexity and scope, sometimes even approaching danger. a lens would be of tremendous use." "how?" samms asked. "if your work is of enoughimportance to enough people, mentor would certainly give you a lens." "this would benefit me; only me. we of palain,as you probably already know, are selfish,

mean-spirited, small-souled, cowardly, furtive,and sly. of what you call ‘bravery’ we have no trace. we attain our ends by stealth, byindirection, by trickery and deceit." ruthlessly the lens was giving virgil samms the uncompromisinglyexact english equivalent of the palainian’s every thought. "we operate, when we must operateat all openly, with the absolutely irreducible minimum of personal risk. these attitudesand attributes will, i have no doubt, preclude all possibility of lensmanship for me andfor every member of my race." "not necessarily." not necessarily! although virgil samms didnot know it, this was one of the really critical moments in the coming into being of the galacticpatrol. by a conscious, a tremendous effort,

the first lensman was lifting himself abovethe narrow, intolerant prejudices of human experience and was consciously attemptingto see the whole through mentor’s arisian mind instead of through his tellurian own.that virgil samms was the first human being to be born with the ability to accomplishthat feat even partially was one of the reasons why he was the first wearer of the lens. "not necessarily," first lensman virgil sammssaid and meant. he was inexpressibly shocked—revolted in every human fiber—by what this unhumanmonster had so frankly and callously thought. there were, however, many things which nohuman being ever could understand, and there was not the shadow of a doubt that this tallickhad a really tremendous mind. "you have said

that your mind is feeble. if so, there isno simple expression of the weakness of mine. i can perceive only one, the strictly human,facet of the truth. in a broader view it is distinctly possible that your motivation isat least as ‘noble’ as mine. and to complete my argument, you work with other palainians,do you not, to reach a common goal?" "at times, yes." "then you can conceive of the desirabilityof working with non-palainian entities toward an end which would benefit both races?" "postulating such an end, yes; but i am unableto visualize any such. have you any specific project in mind?"

"not at the moment." samms ducked. he hadalready fired every shot in his locker. "i am quite certain, however, that if you goto arisia you will be informed of several such projects." there was a period of silence. then: "i believe that i will go to arisia, at that!"tallick exclaimed, brightly. "i will make a deal with your friend mentor. i will givehim a share—say fifty percent, or forty—of the time and effort i save on my own projects!" "just so you go, tallick." samms concealedright manfully his real opinion of the palainian’s scheme. "when can you go? right now?"

"by no means. i must first finish this project.a year, perhaps—or more; or possibly less. who knows?" tallick cut communications and samms frowned.he did not know the exact length of seven’s year, but he knew that it was long—verylong. chapter 11 a small, black scout-ship, commanded jointlyby master pilot john k. kinnison and master electronicist mason m. northrop, was blastingalong a course very close indeed to ra17: d+10. in equipment and personnel, however,she was not an ordinary scout. her control room was so full of electronics racks andcomputing machines that there was scarcely

footway in any direction; her graduated circlesand vernier scales were of a size and a fineness usually seen only in the great vessels ofthe galactic survey. and her crew, instead of the usual twenty-odd men, numbered onlyseven—one cook, three engineers, and three watch officers. for some time the young thirdofficer, then at the board, had been studying something on his plate; comparing it minutelywith the chart clipped into the rack in front of him. now he turned, with a highly exaggerateddeference, to the two lensmen. "sirs, which of your magnificences is officiallythe commander of this here bucket of odds and ends at the present instant?" "him." jack used his cigarette as a pointer."the guy with the misplaced plucked eyebrow

on his upper lip. i don’t come on duty untilsixteen hundred hours—one precious tellurian minute yet in which to dream of the beautiesof earth so distant in space and in both past and future time." "huh? beauties? plural? next time i see aparty whose pictures are cluttering up this whole ship i’ll tell her about your polygamousideas. i’ll ignore that crack about my mustache, though, since you can’t raise one of yourown. i’m ignoring you, too—like this, see?" ostentatiously turning his back upon the loungingkinnison, northrop stepped carefully over three or four breadboard hookups and staredinto the plate over the watch officer’s shoulder. he then studied the chart. "was ist los, stu?i don’t see a thing."

"more jack’s line than yours, mase. this systemwe’re headed for is a triple, and the chart says it’s a double. natural enough, of course.this whole region is unexplored, so the charts are astronomicals, not surveys. but that makesus prime discoverers, and our commanding officer—and the book says ‘officer’, not ‘officers’—hasgot to…." "that’s me, now," jack announced, stridinggrandly toward the plate. "amscray, oobsbay. i will name the baby. i will report. i willgo down in history…." "bounce back, small fry. you weren’t at thetime of discovery." northrop placed a huge hand flat against jack’s face and pushed gently."you’ll go down, sure enough—not in history, but from a knock on the knob—if you tryto steal any thunder away from me. and besides,

you’d name it ‘dimples’—what a revoltingthought!" "and what would you name it? ‘virgilia’, isuppose?" "far from it, my boy." he had intended doingjust that, but now he did not quite dare. "after our project, of course. the planetwe’re heading for will be zabriska; the suns will be a-, b-, and c-zabriskae, in orderof size; and the watch officer then on duty, lieutenant l. stuart rawlings, will engrossthese and all other pertinent data in the log. can you classify ’em from here, jack?" "i can make some guesses—close enough, probably,for discovery work." then, after a few minutes: "two giants, a blue-white and a bluish yellow;and a yellow dwarf."

"dwarf in the trojan?" "that would be my guess, since that is theonly place it could stay very long, but you can’t tell much from one look. i can tellyou one thing, though—unless your zabriska is in a system straight beyond this one, it’sgot to be a planet of the big fellow himself; and brother, that sun is hot!" "it’s got to be here, jack. i haven’t madethat big an error in reading a beam since i was a sophomore." "i’ll buy that … well, we’re close enough,i guess." jack killed the driving blasts, but not the bergenholm; the inertialess vesselstopped instantaneously in open space. "now

we’ve got to find out which one of those twelveor fifteen planets was on our line when that last message was sent…. there, we’re stableenough, i hope. open your cameras, mase. pull the first plate in fifteen minutes. that oughtto give me enough track so i can start the job, since we’re at a wide angle to theirecliptic." the work went on for an hour or so. then: "something coming from the direction of tellus,"the watch officer reported. "big and fast. shall i hail her?" "might as well," but the stranger hailed first. "space-ship chicago, na2aa, calling. are youin trouble? identify yourself, please."

"space-ship na774j acknowledging. no trouble…." "northrop! jack!" came virgil samms’ highlyconcerned thought. the superdreadnaught flashed alongside, a bare few hundred miles away,and stopped. "why did you stop here?" "this is where our signal came from, sir." "oh." a hundred thoughts raced through samms’mind, too fast and too fragmentary to be intelligible. "i see you’re computing. would it throw youoff too much to go inert and match intrinsics, so that i can join you?" "no sir; i’ve got everything i need for awhile." samms came aboard; three lensmen studied thechart.

"cavenda is there," samms pointed out. "trencois there, off to one side. i felt sure that your signal originated on cavenda; but zabriska,here, while on almost the same line, is less than half as far from tellus." he did notask whether the two young lensmen were sure of their findings. he knew. "this arousesmy curiosity no end—does it merely complicate the thionite problem, or does it set up anentirely new problem? go ahead, boys, with whatever you were going to do next." jack had already determined that the planetthey wanted was the second out; a-zabriskae two. he drove the scout as close to the planetas he could without losing complete coverage; stationed it on the line toward sol.

"now we wait a bit," he answered. "accordingto recent periodicity, not less than four hours and not more than ten. with the nextsignal we’ll nail that transmitter down to within a few feet. got your spotting screensfull out, mase?" "recent periodicity?" samms snapped. "it hasimproved, then, lately?" "very much, sir." "that helps immensely. with george olmsteadharvesting broadleaf, it would. it is still one problem. while we wait, shall we studythe planet a little?" they explored; finding that a-zabriskae twowas a disappointing planet indeed. it was small, waterless, airless, utterly featureless,utterly barren. there were no elevations,

no depressions, no visible markings whatever—noteven a meteor crater. every square yard of its surface was apparently exactly like everyother. "no rotation," jack reported, looking up fromthe bolometer. "that sand-pile is not inhabited and never will be. i’m beginning to wonder." "so am i, now," northrop admitted. "i stillsay that those signals came from this line and distance, but it looks as though theymust have been sent from a ship. if so, now that we’re here—particularly the chicago—therewill be no more signals." "not necessarily." again samms’ mind transcendedhis tellurian experience and knowledge. he did not suspect the truth, but he was notjumping at conclusions. "there may be highly

intelligent life, even upon such a planetas this." they waited, and in a few hours a communicationsbeam snapped into life. "ready—ready—ready…." it said briskly,for not quite one minute, but that was time enough. northrop yelped a string of numbers; jackblasted the little vessel forward and downward; the three watch officers, keen-eyed at theirplates, stabbed their visibeams, ultra-beams, and spy-rays along the indicated line. "and bore straight through the planet if youhave to—they may be on the other side!" jack cautioned, sharply.

"they aren’t—it’s here, on this side!" rawlingssaw it first. "nothing much to it, though … it looks like a relay station." "a relay! i’ll be a…." jack started to expressan unexpurgated opinion, but shut himself up. young cubs did not swear in front of thefirst lensman. "let’s land, sir, and look the place over, anyway." "by all means." they landed, and cautiously disembarked. thehorizon, while actually quite a little closer than that of earth, seemed much more distantbecause there was nothing whatever—no tree, no shrub, no rock or pebble, not even theslightest ripple—to break the geometrical

perfection of that surface of smooth, hard,blindingly reflective, fiendishly hot white sand. samms was highly dubious at first—aground-temperature of four hundred seventy-five degrees was not to be taken lightly; he didnot at all like the looks of that ultra-fervent blue-white sun; and in his wildest imaginingshe had never pictured such a desert. their space-suits, however, were very well insulated,particularly as to the feet, and highly polished; and in lieu of atmosphere there was an almostperfect vacuum. they could stand it for a while. the box which housed the relay station wasmade of non-ferrous metal and was roughly cubical in shape, perhaps five feet on a side.it was so buried that its upper edge was flush

with the surface; its top, which was practicallyindistinguishable from the surrounding sand, was not bolted or welded, but was simply laidon, loose. previous spy-ray inspection having provedthat the thing was not booby-trapped, jack lifted the cover by one edge and all threelensmen studied the mechanisms at close range; learning nothing new. there was an extremelysensitive non-directional receiver, a highly directional sender, a beautifully preciseuranium-clock director, and an "eternal" powerpack. there was nothing else. "what next, sir?" northrop asked. "there’llbe an incoming signal, probably, in a couple of days. shall we stick around and see whetherit comes in from cavenda or not?"

"you and jack had better wait, yes." sammsthought for minutes. "i do not believe, now, that the signal will come from cavenda, orthat it will ever come twice from the same direction, but we will have to make sure.but i can’t see any reason for it!" "i think i can, sir." this was northrop’sspecialty. "no space-ship could possibly hit tellus from here except by accident with asingle-ended beam, and they can’t use a double-ender because it would have to be on all the timeand would be as easy to trace as the mississippi river. but this planet did all its settlingages ago—which is undoubtedly why they picked it out—and that director in there is a marchanti—thesecond marchanti i have ever seen." "whatever that is," jack put in, and evensamms thought a question.

"the most precise thing ever built," the specialistexplained. "accuracy limited only by that of determination of relative motions. giveme an accurate enough equation to feed into it, like that tape is doing, and two sightingshots, and i’ll guarantee to pour an eighteen-inch beam into any two foot cup on earth. my guessis that it’s aimed at some particular bucket-antenna on one of the solar planets. i could spoilits aim easily enough, but i don’t suppose that is what you’re after." "decidedly not. we want to trace them, withoutexciting any more suspicion than is absolutely necessary. how often, would you say, do theyhave to come here to service this station—change tapes, and whatever else might be necessary?"

"change tapes, is all. not very often, bythe size of those reels. if they know the relative motions exactly enough, they couldcompute as far ahead as they care to. i’ve been timing that reel—it’s got pretty closeto three months left on it." "and more than that much has been used. it’sno wonder we didn’t see anything." samms straightened up and stared out across the frightful waste."look there—i thought i saw something move—it is moving!" "there’s something moving closer than that,and it’s really funny." jack laughed deeply. "its like the paddle-wheels, shaft and all,of an old-fashioned river steam-boat, rolling along as unconcernedly as you please. he won’tmiss me by over four feet, but he isn’t swerving

a hair. i think i’ll block him off, just tosee what he does." "be careful, jack!" samms cautioned, sharply."don’t touch it—it may be charged, or worse." jack took the metal cover, which he was stillholding, and by working it back and forth edgewise in the sand, made of it a verticalbarrier squarely across the thing’s path. the traveler paid no attention, did not alterits steady pace of a couple of miles per hour. it measured about twelve inches long overall; its paddle-wheel-like extremities were perhaps two inches wide and three inches indiameter. "do you think it’s actually alive, sir? ina place like this?" "i’m sure of it. watch carefully."

it struck the barrier and stopped. that is,its forward motion stopped, but its rolling did not. its rate of revolution did not change;it either did not know or did not care that its drivers were slipping on the smooth, hardsand; that it could not climb the vertical metal plate; that it was not getting anywhere. "what a brain!" northrop chortled, squattingdown closer. "why doesn’t it back up or turn around? it may be alive, but it certainlyisn’t very bright." the creature, now in the shadow of the ‘troncist’shelmet, slowed down abruptly—went limp—collapsed. "get out of his light!" jack snapped, andpushed his friend violently away; and as the vicious sunlight struck it, the native revivedand began to revolve as vigorously as before.

"i’ve got a hunch. sounds screwy—never heardof such a thing—but it acts like an energy-converter. eats energy, raw and straight. no storagecapacity—on this world he wouldn’t need it—a few more seconds in the shade wouldprobably have killed him, but there’s no shade here. therefore, he can’t be dangerous." he reached out and touched the middle of therevolving shaft. nothing happened. he turned it at right angles to the plate. the thingrolled away in a straight line, perfectly contented with the new direction. he recapturedit and stuck a test-prod lightly into the sand, just ahead of its shaft and just insideone paddle wheel. around and around that slim wire the creature went: unable, it seemed,to escape from even such a simple trap; perfectly

willing, it seemed, to spend all the restof its life traversing that tiny circle. "’what a brain!’ is right, mase," jack exclaimed."what a brain!" "this is wonderful, boys, really wonderful;something completely new to our science." samms’ thought was deep with feeling. "i amgoing to see if i can reach its mind or consciousness. would you like to come along?" "would we!" samms tuned low and probed; lower and lower;deeper and deeper; and jack and mase stayed with him. the thing was certainly alive; itthrobbed and vibrated with vitality: equally certainly, it was not very intelligent. butit had a definite consciousness of its own

existence; and therefore, however tiny andprimitive, a mind. although its rudimentary ego could neither receive nor transmit thought,it knew that it was a fontema, that it must roll and roll and roll, endlessly, that byvirtue of determined rolling its species would continue and would increase. "well, that’s one for the book!" jack exclaimed,but samms was entranced. "i would like to find one or two more of them,to find out … i think i’ll take the time. can you see any more of them, either of you?" "no, but we can find some—stu!" northropcalled. "yes?"

"look around, will you? find us a couple moreof these fontema things and flick them over here with a tractor." "coming up!" and in a few seconds they werethere. "are you photographing this, lance?" sammscalled the chief communications officer of the chicago. "we certainly are, sir—all of it. what arethey, anyway? animal, vegetable, or mineral?" "i don’t know. probably no one of the three,strictly speaking. i’d like to take a couple back to tellus, but i’m afraid that they’ddie, even under an atomic lamp. we’ll report to the society."

jack liberated his captive and aimed it topass within a few feet of one of the newcomers, but the two fontemas did not ignore each other.both swerved, so that they came together wheel to wheel. the shafts bent toward each other,each into a right angle. the angles touched and fused. the point of fusion swelled rapidlyinto a double fist-sized lump. the half-shafts doubled in length. the lump split into four;became four perfect paddle-wheels. four full-grown fontemas rolled away from the spot upon whichtwo had met; their courses forming two mutually perpendicular straight lines. "beautiful!" samms exclaimed. "and notice,boys, the method of avoiding inbreeding. upon a perfectly smooth planet such as this, notwo of those four can ever meet, and the chance

is almost vanishingly small that any of theirfirst-generation offspring will ever meet. but i’m afraid i’ve been wasting time. takeme back out to the chicago, please, and i’ll be on my way." "you don’t seem at all optimistic, sir," jackventured, as the na774j approached the chicago. "unfortunately, i am not. the signal willalmost certainly come in from an unpredictable direction, from a ship so far away that evena super-fast cruiser could not get close enough to her to detect—just a minute. rod!" helensed the elder kinnison so sharply that both young lensmen jumped. "what is it, virge?"

samms explained rapidly, concluding: "so iwould like to have you throw a globe of scouts around this whole zabriskan system. one detet[a]out and one detet apart, so as to be able to slap a tracer onto any ship laying a beamto this planet, from any direction whatever. it would not take too many scouts, would it?" "no; but it wouldn’t be worth while." "why not?" "because it wouldn’t prove a thing exceptwhat we already know—that spaceways is involved in the thionite racket. the ship would beclean. merely another relay." "oh. you’re probably right." if virgil sammswas in the least put out at this cavalier

dismissal of his idea, he made no sign. hethought intensely for a couple of minutes. "you are right. i will have to work from thecavenda end. how are you coming with operation bennett?" "nice!" kinnison enthused. "when you get acouple of days, come over and see it grow. this is a fine world, virge—it’ll be ready!" "i’ll do that." samms broke the connectionand called dronvire. "the only change here is for the worse," therigellian reported, tersely. "the slight positive correlation between deaths from thionite andthe arrival of spaceways vessels has disappeared." there was no need to elaborate on that barestatement. both lensmen knew what it meant.

the enemy, either in anticipation of statisticalanalysis or for economic reasons, was rationing his small supply of the drug. and dalnalten was very much unlike his usualequable self. he was glum and unhappy; so much so that it took much urging to make himreport at all. "we have, as you know, put our best operativesto work on the inter-planetary lines," he said finally, half sullenly. "we have securedquite a little data. the accumulating facts, however, point more and more definitely towardan utterly preposterous conclusion. can you think of any valid reason why the exportsand imports of thionite between tellus and mars, mars and venus, and venus and tellus,should all be exactly equal to each other?"

"precisely. that is why knobos and i are notyet ready to present even a preliminary report." then jill. "i can’t prove it, any more thani could before, but i’m pretty sure that morgan is the boss. i have drawn every picture ican think of with isaacson in the driver’s seat, but none of them fit?" she paused, questioningly. "i am already reconciled to adopting thatview; at least as a working hypothesis. go ahead." "the fact seems to be that morgan has alwayshad all the left-wingers of the nationalists under his thumb. now he and his man friday,representative flierce, are wooing all the radicals and so-called liberals on our sideof both senate and house—a new technique

for him—and they’re offering plenty of theright kind of bait. he has the commentators guessing, but there’s no doubt whatever inmy mind that he is aiming at next election day and our galactic council." "and you and dronvire are sitting idly by,doing nothing, of course?" "of course!" jill giggled, but sobered quickly."he’s a smooth, smooth worker, dad. we are organizing, of course, and putting out propagandaof our own, but there’s so pitifully little that we can actually do—look and listento this for a minute, and you’ll see what i mean." in her distant room jill manipulated a reeland flipped a switch. a plate came to life,

showing morgan’s big, sweating, passionatelyearnest face. "… and who are these lensmen, anyway?" morgan’svoice bellowed, passionate conviction in every syllable. "they are the hired minions of theclasses, stabbers in the back, crooks and scoundrels, tools of ruthless wealth! theyare hirelings of the inter-planetary bankers, those unspeakable excrescences on the bodypolitic who are still grinding down into the dirt, under an iron heel, the face of thecommon man! in the guise of democracy they are trying to set up the worst, the most outrageoustyranny that this universe has ever…." jill snapped the switch viciously. "and a lot of people swallow that … thatbilge!" she almost snarled. "if they had the

brains of a … of even that zabriskan fontemamase told me about, they wouldn’t, but they do!" "i know they do. we have known all along thathe is a masterly actor; we now know that he is more than that." "yes, and we’re finding out that no appealto reason, no psychological counter-measures, will work. dronvire and i agree that you’llhave to arrange matters so that you can do solid months of stumping yourself. personally." "it may come to that, but there’s a lot ofother things to do first." samms broke the connection and thought. hedid not consciously try to exclude the two

youths, but his mind was working so fast andin such a disjointed fashion that they could catch only a few fragments. the incomprehensiblevastness of space—tracing—detection—cavenda’s one tiny, fast moving moon—back, and solidly,to detection. "mase," samms thought then, carefully. "asa specialist in such things, why is it that the detectors of the smallest scout—lifeboat,even—have practically the same range as those of the largest liners and battleships?" "noise level and hash, sir, from the atomics." "but can’t they be screened out?" "not entirely, sir, without blocking receptioncompletely."

"i see. suppose, then, that all atomics aboardwere to be shut down; that for the necessary heat and light we use electricity, from storageor primary batteries or from a generator driven by an internal-combustion motor or a heat-engine.could the range of detection then be increased?" "tremendously, sir. my guess is that the limitingfactor would then be the cosmics." "i hope you’re right. while you are waitingfor the next signal to come in, you might work out a preliminary design for such a detector.if, as i anticipate, this zabriska proves to be a dead end, operation zabriska endshere—becomes a part of zwilnik—and you two will follow me at max to tellus. you,jack, are very badly needed on operation boskone. you and i, mase, will make appropriate alterationsaboard a j-class vessel of the patrol."

chapter 12 approaching cavenda in his dead-black, convertedscout-ship, virgil samms cut his drive, killed his atomics, and turned on his super-powereddetectors. for five full detets in every direction—throughout a spherical volume over ten detets in diameter—spacewas void of ships. some activity was apparent upon the planet dead ahead, but the firstlensman did not worry about that. the drug-runners would of course have atomics in their plants,even if there were no space-ships actually on the planet—which there probably were.what he did worry about was detection. there would be plenty of detectors, probably automatic;not only ordinary sub-ethereals, but electros and radars as well.

he flashed up to within one and a quarterdetets, stopped, and checked again. space was still empty. then, after making a seriesof observations, he went inert and established an intrinsic velocity which, he hoped, wouldbe close enough. he again shut off his atomics and started the sixteen-cylinder diesel enginewhich would do its best to replace them. that best was none too good, but it woulddo. besides driving the bergenholm it could furnish enough kilodynes of thrust to producea velocity many times greater than any attainable by inert matter. it used a lot of oxygen perminute, but it would not run for very many minutes. with her atomics out of action hisship would not register upon the plates of the long-range detectors universally used.since she was nevertheless traveling faster

than light, neither electromagnetic detector-websnor radar could "see" her. good enough. samms was not the system’s best computer,nor did he have the system’s finest instruments. his positional error could be corrected easilyenough; but as he drove nearer and nearer to cavenda, keeping, toward the last, in linewith its one small moon, he wondered more and more as to how much of an allowance heshould make for error in his intrinsic, which he had set up practically by guess. and therewas another variable, the cut-off. he slowed down to just over one light; but even at thatcomparatively slow speed an error of one millisecond at cut-off meant a displacement of two hundredmiles! he switched the spotter into the berg’s cut-off circuit, set it for three hundredmiles, and waited tensely at his controls.

the relays clicked, the driving force expired,the vessel went inert. samms’ eyes, flashing from instrument to instrument, told him thatmatters could have been worse. his intrinsic was neither straight up, as he had hoped,nor straight down, as he had feared, but almost exactly half-way between the two—straightout. he discovered that fact just in time; in another second or two he would have beenout beyond the moon’s protecting bulk and thus detectable from cavenda. he went free,flashed back to the opposite boundary of his area of safety, went inert, and put the fullpower of the bellowing diesel to the task of bucking down his erroneous intrinsic, losingaltitude continuously. again and again he repeated the maneuver; and thus, grimly andstubbornly, he fought his ship to ground.

he was very glad to see that the surface ofthe satellite was rougher, rockier, ruggeder, and more cratered even than that of earth’sluna. upon such a terrain as this, it would be next to impossible to spot even a movingvessel—if it moved carefully. by a series of short and careful inertialesshops—correcting his intrinsic velocity after each one by an inert collision with the ground—hemaneuvered his vessel into such a position that cavenda’s enormous globe hung directlyoverhead. breathing a profoundly deep breath of relief he killed the big engine, cut inhis fully-charged accumulators, and turned on detector and spy-ray. he would see whathe could see. his detectors showed that there was only onepoint of activity on the whole planet. he

located it precisely; then, after cuttinghis spy-ray to minimum power, he approached it gingerly, yard by yard. stopped! as hehad more than half expected, there was a spy-ray block. a big one, almost two miles in diameter.it would be almost directly beneath him—or rather, almost straight overhead—in aboutthree hours. samms had brought along a telescope, considerablymore powerful than the telescopic visiplate of his scout. since the surface gravity ofthis moon was low—scarcely one-fifth that of earth—he had no difficulty in luggingthe parts out of the ship or in setting the thing up. but even the telescope did not do much good.the moon was close to cavenda, as astronomical

distances go—but really worth-while astronomicaloptical instruments simply are not portable. thus the lensman saw something that, by sufficientstretch of the imagination, could have been a factory; and, eyes straining at the tantalizinglimit of visibility, he even made himself believe that he saw a toothpick-shaped objectand a darkly circular blob, either of which could have been the space-ship of the outlaws.he was sure, however, of two facts. there were no real cities upon cavenda. there wereno modern spaceports, or even air-fields. he dismounted the ‘scope, stored it, set hisdetectors, and waited. he had to sleep at times, of course; but any ordinary detectorrig can be set to sound off at any change in its status—and samms’ was no ordinaryrig. wherefore, when the drug-mongers’ vessel

took off, samms left cavenda as unobtrusivelyas he had approached it, and swung into that vessel’s line. samms’ strategy had been worked out long since.on his diesel, at a distance of just over one detet, he would follow the outlaw as fastas he could; long enough to establish his line. he would then switch to atomic driveand close up to between one and two detets; then again go onto diesel for a check. hewould keep this up for as long as might prove necessary. as far as any of the lensmen knew, spacewaysalways used regular liners or freighters in this business, and this scout was much fasterthan any such vessel. and even if—highly

improbable thought!—the enemy ship was fasterthan his own, it would still be within range of those detectors when it got to whereverit was that it was going. but how wrong samms was! at his first check, instead of being not overtwo detets away the quarry was three and a half; at the second the distance was fourand a quarter; at the third, almost exactly five. scowling, samms watched the erstwhilebrilliant point of light fade into darkness. that circular blob that he had almost seen,then, had been the space-ship, but it had not been a sphere, as he had supposed. instead,it had been a tear-drop; sticking, sharp tail down, in the ground. ultra-fast. this wasthe result. but ideas had blown up under him

before, they probably would again. he resumedatomic drive and made arrangements with the port admiral to rendezvous with him and thechicago at the earliest possible time. "what is there along that line?" he demandedof the superdreadnaught’s chief pilot, even before junction had been made. "nothing, sir, that we know of," that worthyreported, after studying his charts. he boarded the gigantic ship of war, and withkinnison pored over those same charts. "your best bet is eridan, i think," kinnisonconcluded finally. "not too near your line, but they could very easily figure that a one-daydogleg would be a good investment. and spaceways owns it, you know, from core to planetarylimits—the richest uranium mines in existence.

made to order. nobody would suspect a uraniumship. how about throwing a globe around eridan?" samms thought for minutes. "no … not yet,at least. we don’t know enough yet." "i know it—that’s why it looks to me likea good time and place to learn something," kinnison argued. "we know—almost know, atleast—that a super-fast ship, carrying thionite, has just landed there. this is the hottestlead we’ve had. i say englobe the planet, declare martial law, and not let anythingin or out until we find it. somebody there must know something, a lot more than we do.i say hunt him out and make him talk." "you’re just popping off, rod. you know aswell as i do that nabbing a few of the small fry isn’t enough. we can’t move openly untilwe can strike high."

"i suppose not," kinnison grumbled. "but weknow so damned little, virge!" "little enough," samms agreed. "of the threemain divisions, only the political aspect is at all clear. in the drug division, weknow where thionite comes from and where it is processed, and eridan may be—probablyis—another link. on the other end, we know a lot of peddlers and a few middlemen—nobodyhigher. we have no actual knowledge whatever as to who the higher-ups are or how they work;and it’s the bosses we want. concerning the pirates, we know even less. ‘murgatroyd’ maybe no more a man’s name than ‘zwilnik’ is…." "before you get too far away from the subject,what are you going to do about eridan?" "nothing, for the moment, would be best, ibelieve. however, knobos and dalnalten should

switch their attention from spaceways’ passengerliners to the uranium ships from eridan to all three of the inner planets. check?" "check. particularly since it explains sobeautifully the merry-go-round they have been on so long—chasing the same packages ofdope backwards and forwards so many times that the corners of the boxes got worn round.we’ve got to get the top men, and they’re smart. which reminds me—morgan as big bossdoes not square up with the morgan that you and fairchild smacked down so easily whenhe tried to investigate the hill. a loud-mouthed, chiseling politician might have a lock-boxfull of documentary evidence about party bosses and power deals and chorus girls and martiantekkyl coats, but the man we’re after very

definitely would not." "you’re telling me?" this point was such asore one that samms relapsed into idiom. "the boys should have cracked that box a week ago,but they struck a knot. i’ll see if they know anything yet. tune in, rod. ray!" he lenseda thought at his cousin. "yes, virge?" "have you got a spy-ray into that lock-boxyet?" "glad you called. yes, last night. empty.empty as a sub-deb’s skull—except for an atomic-powered gimmick that it took bergenholm’swhole laboratory almost a week to neutralize." "i see. thanks. off." samms turned to kinnison."well?"

"nice. a mighty smart operator." kinnisongave credit ungrudgingly. "now i’ll buy your picture—what a man! but now—and i’ve gotmy ears pinned back—what was it you started to say about pirates?" "just that we have very little to go on, exceptfor the kind of stuff they seem to like best, and the fact that even armed escorts havenot been able to protect certain types of shipments of late. the escorts, too, havedisappeared. but with these facts as bases, it seems to me that we could arrange something,perhaps like this…." a fast, sleek freighter and a heavy battle-cruiserbored steadily through the inter-stellar void. the merchantman carried a fabulously valuablecargo: not bullion or jewels or plate of price,

but things literally above price—machinetools of highest precision, delicate optical and electrical instruments, fine watches andchronometers. she also carried first lensman virgil samms. and aboard the war-ship there was roderickkinnison; for the first time in history a mere battle-cruiser bore a port admiral’sflag. as far as the detectors of those two shipscould reach, space was empty of man-made craft; but the two lensmen knew that they were notalone. one and one-half detets away, loafing along at the freighter’s speed and parallelingher course, in a hemispherical formation open to the front, there flew six tremendous tear-drops;super-dreadnaughts of whose existence no tellurian

or colonial government had even an inkling.they were the fastest and deadliest craft yet built by man—the first fruits of operationbennett. and they, too, carried lensmen—costigan, jack kinnison, northrop, dronvire of rigelfour, rodebush, and cleveland. nor was there need of detectors: the eight lensmen werein as close communication as though they had been standing in the same room. "on your toes, men," came samms’ quiet thought."we are about to pass within a few light-minutes of an uninhabited solar system. no tellurian-typeplanets at all. this may be it. tune to kinnison on one side and to your captains on the other.take over, rod." at one instant the ether, for one full detetin every direction, was empty. in the next,

three intensely brilliant spots of detectionflashed into being, in line with the dead planet so invitingly close at hand. this development came as a surprise, sinceonly two raiders had been expected: a battleship to take care of the escort, a cruiser to takethe merchantman. the fact that the pirates had become cautious or suspicious and hadsent three super-dreadnaughts on the mission, however, did not operate to change the patrol’sstrategy; for samms had concluded, and dronvire and bergenholm and rularion of jupiter hadagreed, that the real commander of the expedition would be aboard the vessel that attacked thefreighter. in the next instant, then—each lensman sawwhat roderick kinnison saw, in the very instant

of his seeing it—six more points of hard,white light sprang into being upon the plates of guileful freighter and decoying cruiser. "jack and mase, take the leader!" kinnisonsnapped out the thought. "dronvire and costigan, right wing—he’s the one that’s going afterthe freighter. fred and lyman, left wing. hipe!" the pirate ships flashed up, filling etherand sub-ether alike with a solid mush of interference through which no call for help could be driven;two super-dreadnaughts against the cruiser, one against the freighter. the former, ofcourse, had been expected to offer more than a token resistance. battle cruisers of thepatrol were powerful vessels, both on offense

and defense, and it was a known and recognizedfact that the men of the patrol were men. the pirate commander who attacked the freighter,however, was a surprised pirate indeed. his first beam, directed well forward, well aheadof the precious cargo, should have wrought the same havoc against screens and wall-shieldsand structure as a white-hot poker would against a pat of luke-warm butter. practically thewhole nose-section, including the control room, should have whiffed outward into spacein gobbets and streamers of molten and gaseous metal. but nothing of the sort happened—thismerchantman was no push-over! no ordinary screens protected that particularfreighter and the person of first lensman samms—roderick kinnison had very thoroughlyseen to that. in sheer mass her screen generators

out-weighed her entire cargo, heavy as thatcargo was, by more than two to one. thus the pirate’s beams stormed and struck and clawedand clung—uselessly. they did not penetrate. and as the surprised attacker shoved his powerup and up, to his absolute ceiling of effort, the only result was to increase the alreadytremendous pyrotechnic display of energies cascading in all directions from the fiercelyradiant defenses of the tellurian freighter. and in a few seconds the commanding officersof the other two attacking battleships were also surprised. the battle-cruiser’s screensdid not go down, even under the combined top effort of two super-dreadnaughts! and shedid not have a beam hot enough to light a match—she must be all screen! but beforethe startled outlaws could do anything about

the realization that they, instead of beingthe trappers, were in cold fact the trapped, all three of them were surprised again—thelast surprise that any of them was ever to receive. six mighty tear-drops—vastly bigger,faster, more powerful than their own—were rushing upon them, blanketing all channelsof communication as efficiently and as enthusiastically as they themselves had been doing an instantbefore. being out simply and ruthlessly to kill, andnot to capture, four of the newcomers from bennett polished off the cruiser’s two attackersin very short order. they simply flashed in, went inert at the four corners of an imaginarytetrahedron, and threw everything they had—and they had plenty. possibly—just barely possibly—theremay have been, somewhere, a space-battle shorter

than that one; but there certainly was neverone more violent. then the four set out after their two sister-shipsand the one remaining pirate, who was frantically devoting his every effort to the avoidanceof engagement. but with six ships, each one of which was of vastly greater individualpower than his own, at the six corners of an octahedron of which he was the geometricalcenter, his ability to cut tractor beams and to "squirt out" from between two opposed pressorsdid him no good whatever. he was englobed; or, rather, to apply the correct terminologyto an operation involving so few units, he was "boxed". to blow the one remaining raider out of theether would have been easy enough, but that

was exactly what the patrolmen did not wantto do. they wanted information. wherefore each of the patrol ships directed a dozenor so beams upon the scintillating protective screens of the enemy; enough so that everysquare yard of defensive web was under direct attack. as rapidly as it could be done withoutlosing equilibrium or synchronization, the power of each beam was stepped up until thewildly violet incandescence of the pirate screen showed that it was hovering on thevery edge of failure. then, in the instant, needle-beamers went furiously to work. thescreen was already loaded to its limit; no transfer of defensive energy was possible.thus, tremendously overloaded locally, locally it flared through the ultra-violet into theblack and went down; and the fiercely penetrant

daggers of pure force stabbed and stabbedand stabbed. the engine room went first, even though theneedlers had to gnaw a hundred-foot hole straight through the pirate craft in order to findthe vital installations. then, enough damage done so that spy-rays could get in, the restof the work was done with precision and dispatch. in a matter of seconds the pirate hulk layhelpless, and the patrolmen peeled her like an orange—or, rather, more like an amateurcook very wastefully peeling a potato. resistless knives of energy sheared off tail-sectionand nose-section, top and bottom, port and starboard sides; then slabbed off the cornersof what was left, until the control room was almost bared to space.

then, as soon as the intrinsic velocitiescould possibly be matched, board and storm! with dronvire of rigel four in the lead, closelyfollowed by costigan, northrop, kinnison the younger, and a platoon of armed and armoredspace marines! samms and the two scientists did not belongin such a melee as that which was to come, and knew it. kinnison the elder did not belong,either, but did not know it. in fact, he cursed fluently and bitterly at having to stay out—nevertheless,out he stayed. dronvire, on the other hand, did not liketo fight. the very thought of actual, bodily, hand-to-hand combat revolted every fiber ofhis being. in view of what the spy-ray men were reporting, however, and of what all thelensmen knew of pirate psychology, dronvire

had to get into that control room first, andhe had to get there fast. and if he had to fight, he could; and, physically, he was wonderfullywell equipped for just such activity. to his immense physical strength, the natural concomitantof a force of gravity more than twice earth’s, the armor which so encumbered the tellurianbattlers was a scarcely noticeable impediment. his sense of perception, which could not bebarred by any material substance, kept him fully informed of every development in hisneighborhood. his literally incredible speed enabled him not merely to parry a blow aimedat him, but to bash out the brains of the would-be attacker before that blow could bemore than started. and whereas a human being can swing only one space-axe or fire onlytwo ray-guns at a time, the rigellian plunged

through space toward what was left of thepirate vessel, swinging not one or two space-axes, but four; each held in a lithe and supple,but immensely strong, tentacular "hand". why axes? why not lewistons, or rifles, orpistols? because the space armor of that day could withstand almost indefinitely the outputof two or three hand-held projectors; because the resistance of its defensive fields varieddirectly as the cube of the velocity of any material projectile encountering them. thus,and strangely enough, the advance of science had forced the re-adoption of that long-extinctweapon. most of the pirates had died, of course, duringthe dismemberment of their ship. many more had been picked off by the needle-beam gunners.in the control room, however, there was a

platoon of elite guards, clustered so closelyabout the commander and his officers that needles could not be used; a group that wouldhave to be wiped out by hand. if the attack had come by way of the onlydoorway, so that the pirates could have concentrated their weapons upon one or two patrolmen, thecommander might have had time enough to do what he was under compulsion to do. but whilethe patrolmen were still in space a plane of force sheared off the entire side of theroom, a tractor beam jerked the detached wall away, and the attackers floated in en masse. weightless combat is not at all like any formof gymnastics known to us ground-grippers. it is much more difficult to master, and intimes of stress the muscles revert involuntarily

and embarrassingly to their wonted gravity-fieldtechniques. thus the endeavors of most of the battlers upon both sides, while earnestenough and deadly enough of intent, were almost comically unproductive of result. in a matterof seconds frantically-struggling figures were floating from wall to ceiling to wallto floor; striking wildly, darting backward from the violence of their own fierce swings. the tellurian lensmen, however, had had morepractice and remembered their lessons better. jack kinnison, soaring into the room, grabbedthe first solid thing he could reach; a post. pulling himself down to the floor, he bracedboth feet, sighted past the nearest foeman, swung his axe, and gave a tremendous shove.such was his timing that in the instant of

maximum effort the beak of his atrociouslyeffective weapon encountered the pirate’s helmet—and that was that. he wrenched hisaxe free and shoved the corpse away in such a direction that the reaction would send himagainst a wall at the floor line, in position to repeat the maneuver. since mason northrop was heavier and strongerthan his friend, his technique was markedly different. he dove for the chart-table, whichof course was welded to the floor. he hooked one steel-shod foot around one of the table’slegs and braced the other against its top. weightless but inert, it made no differencewhether his position was vertical or horizontal or anywhere between; from this point of vantage,with his length of body and arm and axe, he

could cover a lot of room. he reached out,hooked bill of axe into belt or line-snap or angle of armor, and pulled; and as thehelplessly raging pirate floated past him, he swung and struck. and that, too, was that. dronvire of rigel four did not rush to theattack. he had never been and was not now either excited or angry. indeed, it was onlyempirically that he knew what anger and excitement were. he had never been in any kind of a fight.therefore he paused for a couple of seconds to analyze the situation and to determinehis own most efficient method of operation. he would not have to be in physical contactwith the pirate captain to go to work on his mind, but he would have to be closer thanthis and he would have to be free from physical

attack while he concentrated. he perceivedwhat kinnison and costigan and northrop were doing, and knew why each was working in adifferent fashion. he applied that knowledge to his own mass, to his own musculature, tothe length and strength of his arms—each one of which was twice as long and ten timesas strong as the trunk of an elephant. he computed forces and leverages, actions andreactions, points of application, stresses and strains. he threw away two of his axes. the two emptyarms reached out, each curling around the neck of a pirate. two axes flashed, grazingeach pinioning arm so nearly that it seemed incredible that the sharp edges did not shearaway the rigellian’s own armor. two heads

floated away from two bodies and dronvirereached for two more. and two—and two—and two. calm and dispassionate, but not wastinga motion or a millisecond, dronvire accomplished more, in less time, than all the telluriansin the room. "costigan, northrop, kinnison—attend!" helaunched a thought. "i have no time to kill more of them. the commander is dying of aself-inflicted wound and i have important work to do. see to it, please, that theseremaining creatures do not attack me while i am doing it." dronvire tuned his mind to that of the pirateand probed. although dying, the pirate captain offered fierce resistance, but the rigellianwas not alone. attuned to his mind, working

smoothly with it, giving it strengths andqualities which no rigellian ever had had or ever would have, were the two strongestminds of earth: that of rod the rock kinnison, with the driving force, the indomitable will,the transcendent urge of all human heredity; and that of virgil samms, with all that hadmade him first lensman. "tell!" that terrific triple mind demanded,with a force which simply could not be denied. "where are you from? resistance is useless;yours or that of those whom you serve. your bases and powers are smaller and weaker thanours, since spaceways is only a corporation and we are the galactic patrol. tell! whoare your bosses? tell—tell!" under that irresistible urge there appeared,foggily and without any hint of knowledge

of name or of spatial co-ordinates, an embattledplanet, very similar in a smaller way to the patrol’s own bennett, and— even more foggily, but still not so blurredbut that their features were unmistakeably recognizable, the images of two men. thatof murgatroyd, the pirate chief, completely strange to both kinnison and samms; and— back of murgatroyd and above him, that of— big jim towne! chapter 13 "first, about murgatroyd." in his office inthe hill roderick kinnison spoke aloud to

the first lensman. "what do you think shouldbe done about him?" "murgatroyd. hm … m … m." samms inhaleda mouthful of smoke and exhaled it slowly; watched it dissipate in the air. "ah, yes,murgatroyd." he repeated the performance. "my thought, at the moment, is to let himalone." "check," kinnison said. if samms was surprisedat his friend’s concurrence he did not show it. "why? let’s see if we check on that." "because he does not seem to be of fundamentalimportance. even if we could find him … and by the way, what do you think the chance isof our spies finding him?" "just about the same chance that theirs haveof finding out about the samms-olmstead switch

or our planet bennett. vanishingly small.zero." "right. and even if we could find him—evenfind their secret base, which is certainly as well hidden as ours is—it would do usno present good, because we could take no positive action. we have, i think, learnedthe prime fact; that towne is actually murgatroyd’s superior." "that’s the way i see it. we can almost drawan organization chart now." "i wouldn’t say ‘almost’." samms smiled half-ruefully."there are gaping holes, and isaacson is as yet a highly unknown quantity. i’ve triedto draw one a dozen times, but we haven’t got enough information. an incorrect chart,you know, would be worse than none at all.

as soon as i can draw a correct one, i’llshow it to you. but in the meantime, the position of our friend james f. towne is now clear.he is actually a big shot in both piracy and politics. that fact surprised me, even thoughit did clarify the picture tremendously." "me, too. one good thing, we won’t have tohunt for him. you’ve been working on him right along, though, haven’t you?" "yes, but this new relationship throws lighton a good many details which have been obscure. it also tends to strengthen our working hypothesisas to isaacson—which we can’t prove yet, of course—that he is the actual workinghead of the drug syndicate. vice-president in charge of drugs, so to speak."

"huh? that’s a new one on me. i don’t seeit." "there is very little doubt that at the topthere is morgan. he is, and has been for some time, the real boss of north america. underhim, probably taking orders direct, is president witherspoon." "undoubtedly. the nationalist party is strictlya la machine, and witherspoon is one of the world’s slimiest skinkers. morgan is chiefengineer of the machine. take it from there." "we know that boss jim is also in the topechelon—quite possibly the commander-in-chief—of the enemy’s armed forces. by analogy, andsince isaacson is apparently on the same level as towne, immediately below morgan…."

"wouldn’t there be three? witherspoon?" "i doubt it. my present idea is that witherspoonis at least one level lower. comparatively small fry." "could be—i’ll buy it. a nice picture, virge;and beautifully symmetrical. his mightiness morgan. secretary of war towne and secretaryof drugs isaacson; and each of them putting a heavy shoulder behind the political bandwagon.very nice. that makes operation mateese tougher than ever—a triple-distilled toughie. gladi told you it wasn’t my dish—saves me the trouble of backing out now." "yes, i have noticed how prone you are toduck tough jobs." samms smiled quietly. "however,

unless i am even more mistaken than usual,you will be in it up to your not-so-small ears, my friend, before it is over." "huh? how?" kinnison demanded. "that will, i hope, become clear very shortly."samms stubbed out the butt of his cigarette and lit another. "the basic problem can bestated very simply. how are we going to persuade the sovereign countries of earth—particularlythe north american continent—to grant the galactic patrol the tremendous power and authorityit will have to have?" "nice phrasing, virge, and studied. not offthe cuff. but aren’t you over-drawing a bit? little if any conflict. the patrol would bepretty largely inter-systemic in scope … with

of course the necessary inter-planetary andinter-continental … and … um … m…." "exactly." "but it’s logical enough, virge, even at that,and has plenty of precedents, clear back to ancient history. ‘way back, before space-travel,when they first started to use atomic energy, and the only drugs they had to worry aboutwere cocaine, morphine, heroin, and other purely tellurian products. i was reading aboutit just the other day." kinnison swung around, fingered a book outof a matched set, and riffled its leaves. "russia was the world’s problem child then—putup what they called an iron curtain—wouldn’t play with the neighbors’ children, but pickedup her marbles and went home. but yet—here

it is. original source unknown—some indicationspoint to a report of somebody named hoover, sometime in the nineteen forties or fifties,gregorian calendar. listen: "’this protocol’—he’s talking about theagreement on world-wide narcotics control—’was signed by fifty-two nations, including theu.s.s.r.’—that was russia—’and its satellite states. it was the only international agreementto which the communist countries’—you know more about what communism was, i suppose,than i do." "just that it was another form of dictatorshipthat didn’t work out." "’… to which the communist countries evergave more than lip service. this adherence is all the more surprising, in view of thepolitical situation then obtaining, in that

all signatory nations obligated themselvesto surrender national sovereignty in five highly significant respects, as follows: "’first, to permit narcotics agents of allother signatory nations free, secret, and unregistered entry into, unrestricted travelthroughout, and exit from, all their lands and waters, wherever situate: "’second, upon request, to allow known criminalsand known contraband to enter and to leave their territories without interference: "’third, to cooperate fully, and as a secondaryand not as a prime mover, in any narcotics patrol program set up by any other signatorynation:

"’fourth, upon request, to maintain completesecrecy concerning any narcotics operation: and "’fifth, to keep the central narcotics authorityfully and continuously informed upon all matters hereinbefore specified.’ "and apparently, virge, it worked. if theycould do that, ‘way back then, we certainly should be able to make the patrol work now." "you talk as though the situations were comparable.they aren’t. instead of giving up an insignificant fraction of their national sovereignty, allnations will have to give up practically all of it. they will have to change their thinkingfrom a national to a galactic viewpoint; will

have to become units in a galactic civilization,just as counties used to be units of states, and states are units of the continents. thegalactic patrol will not be able to stop at being the supreme and only authority in inter-systemicaffairs. it is bound to become intra-systemic, intra-planetary, and intra-continental. eventually,it must and it shall be the sole authority, except for such purely local organizationsas city police." "what a program!" kinnison thought silentlyfor minutes. "but i’m still betting that you can bring it off." "we’ll keep on driving until we do. what givesus our chance is that the all-lensman solarian council is already in existence and is functioningsmoothly; and that the government of north

america has no jurisdiction beyond the boundariesof its continent. thus, and even though morgan has extra-legal powers both as boss of northamerica and as the head of an organization which is in fact inter-systemic in scope,he can do nothing whatever about the fact that the solarian council has been enlargedinto the galactic council. as a matter of fact, he was and is very much in favor ofthat particular move—just as much so as we are." "you’re going too fast for me. how do youfigure that?" "unlike our idea of the patrol as a coordinatorof free and independent races, morgan sees it as the perfect instrument of a galacticdictatorship, thus: north america is the most

powerful continent of earth. the other continentswill follow her lead—or else. tellus can very easily dominate the other solarian planets,and the solar system can maintain dominance over all other systems as they are discoveredand colonized. therefore, whoever controls the north american continent controls allspace." "i see. could be, at that. throw the lensmenout, put his own stooges in. wonder how he’ll go about it? a tour de force? no. the nextelection, would be my guess. if so, that will be the most important election in history." "if they decide to wait for the election,yes. i’m not as sure as you seem to be that they will not act sooner."

"they can’t," kinnison declared. "name meone thing they think they can do, and i’ll shoot it fuller of holes than a target." "they can, and i am very much afraid thatthey will," samms replied, soberly. "at any time he cares to do so, morgan—through thenorth american government, of course—can abrogate the treaty and name his own council." "without my boys—the backbone and the gutsof north america, as well as of the patrol? don’t be stupid, virge. they’re loyal." "admitted—but at the same time they arebeing paid in north american currency. of course, we will soon have our own galacticcredit system worked out, but…."

"what the hell difference would that make?"kinnison wanted savagely to know. "you think they’d last until the next pay-day if theystart playing that kind of ball? what in hell do you think i’d be doing? and clayton andschweikert and the rest of the gang? sitting on our fat rumps and crying into our beers?" "you would do nothing. i could not permitany illegal…." "permit!" kinnison blazed, leaping to hisfeet. "permit—hell! are you loose-screwed enough to actually think i would ask or needyour permission? listen, samms!" the port admiral’s voice took on a quality like nothinghis friend had ever before heard. "the first thing i would do would be to take off yourlens, wrap you up—especially your mouth—in

seventeen yards of three-inch adhesive tape,and heave you into the brig. the second would be to call out everything we’ve got, includingevery half-built ship on bennett able to fly, and declare martial law. the third would bea series of summary executions, starting with morgan and working down. and if he’s got anyfraction of the brain i credit him with, morgan knows damned well exactly what would happen." "oh." samms, while very much taken aback,was thrilled to the center of his being. "i had not considered anything so drastic, butyou probably would…." "not ‘probably’," kinnison corrected him grimly."’certainly’." "… and morgan does know … except aboutbennett, of course … and he would not, for

obvious reasons, bring in his secret armedforces. you’re right, rod, it will be the election." "definitely; and it’s plain enough what theirbasic strategy will be." kinnison, completely mollified, sat down and lit another cigar."his nationalist party is now in power, but it was our cosmocrats of the previous administrationwho so basely slipped one over on the dear pee-pul—who betrayed the entire north americancontinent into the claws of rapacious wealth, no less—by ratifying that unlawful, unhallowed,unconstitutional, and so on, treaty. scoundrels! bribe-takers! betrayers of a sacred trust!how rabble-rouser morgan will thump the tub on that theme—he’ll make the welkin ringas it never rang before."

kinnison mimicked savagely the demagogue’sround and purple tones as he went on: "’since they had no mandate from the pee-pul to tradetheir birthright for a mess of pottage that nefarious and underhanded treaty is, a primavista and ipso facto and a priori, completely and necessarily and positively null and void.people of earth, arouse! arise! rise in your might and throw off this stultifying and degrading,this paralyzing yoke of the monied powers—throw out this dictatorial, autocratic, wealth-directed,illegal, monstrous council of so-called lensmen! rise in your might at the polls! elect a councilof your own choosing—not of lensmen, but of ordinary folks like you and me. throw offthis hellish yoke, i say!’—and here he begins to positively froth at the mouth—’so thatgovernment of the people, by the people, and

for the people shall not perish from the earth!’ "he has used that exact peroration, ancientas it is, so many times that practically everybody thinks he originated it; and it’s always goodfor so many decibels of applause that he’ll keep on using it forever." "your analysis is vivid, cogent, and factual,rod—but the situation is not at all funny." "did i act as though i thought it was? ifso, i’m a damned poor actor. i’d like to kick the bloodsucking leech all the way from hereto the great nebula in andromeda, and if i ever get the chance i’m going to!" "an interesting, but somewhat irrelevant idea."samms smiled at his friend’s passionate outburst.

"but go on. i agree with you in principleso far, and your viewpoint is—to say the least—refreshing." "well, morgan will have so hypnotized mostof the dear pee-pul that they will think it their own idea when he re-nominates this spinelessnincompoop witherspoon for another term as president of north america, with a solid machine-madeslate of hatchet-men behind him. they win the election. then the government of the northamerican continent—not the morgan-towne-isaacson machine, but all nice and legal and by mandateand in strict accordance with the party platform—abrogates the treaty and names its own council. andright then, my friend, the boys and i will do our stuff."

"except that, in such a case, you wouldn’t.think it over, rod." "why not?" kinnison demanded, in a voice which,however, did not carry much conviction. "because we would be in the wrong; and weare even less able to go against united public opinion than is the morgan crowd." "we’d do something—i’ve got it!" kinnisonbanged the desk with his fist. "that would be a strictly unilateral action. north americawould be standing alone." "so we’ll pull all the cosmocrats and allof our friends out of north america—move them to bennett or somewhere—and make morganand company a present of it. we won’t declare martial law or kill anybody, unless they decideto call in their reserves. we’ll merely isolate

the whole damned continent—throw a screenaround it and over it that a microbe won’t be able to get through—one that would makethat iron curtain i read about look like a bride’s veil—and we’ll keep them isolateduntil they beg to join up on our terms. strictly legal, and the perfect solution. how aboutme giving the boys a briefing on it, right now?" "not yet." samms’ mien, however, lightenedmarkedly. "i never thought of that way out…. it could be done, and it would probably work,but i would not recommend it except as an ultimately last resort. it has at least twotremendous drawbacks." "i know it, but…."

"it would wreck north america as no nationhas ever been wrecked; quite possibly beyond recovery. furthermore, how many people, includingyourself and your children, would like to renounce their north american citizenshipand remove themselves, permanently and irrevocably, from north american soil?" "um … m … m. put that away, it doesn’tsound so good, does it? but what the hell else can we do?" "just what we have been planning on doing.we must win the election." "huh?" kinnison’s mouth almost fell open."you say it easy. how? with whom? by what stretch of the imagination do you figure thatyou can find anybody with a loose enough mouth

to out-lie and out-promise morgan? and canyou duplicate his machine?" "we can not only duplicate his machine; wecan better it. the truth, presented to the people in language they can understand andappreciate, by a man whom they like, admire, and respect, will be more attractive thanmorgan’s promises. the same truth will dispose of morgan’s lies." "well, go on. you’ve answered my questions,after a fashion, except the stinger. does the council think it’s got a man with enoughdynage to lift the load?" "unanimously. they also agreed unanimouslythat we have only one. haven’t you any idea who he is?"

"not a glimmering of one." kinnison frownedin thought, then his face cleared into a broad grin and he yelled: "what a damn fool i am—you,of course!" "wrong. i was not even seriously considered.it was the concensus that i could not possibly win. my work has been such as to keep me outof the public eye. if the man in the street thinks of me at all, he thinks that i holdmyself apart and above him—the ivory tower concept." "could be, at that; but you’ve got my curiosityaroused. how can a man of that caliber have been kicking around so long without me knowinganything about him?" "you do. that’s what i’ve been working aroundto all afternoon. you."

"huh?" kinnison gasped as though he had receiveda blow in the solar plexus. "me? me? hell’s—brazen—hinges!" "exactly. you." silencing kinnison’s inarticulateprotests, samms went on: "first, you’ll have no difficulty in talking to an audience asyou’ve just talked to me." "of course not—but did i use any languagethat would burn out the transmitters? i don’t remember whether i did or not." "i don’t, either. you probably did, but thatwould be nothing new. telenews has never yet cut you off the ether because of it. the pointis this: while you do not realize it, you are a better tub-thumper and welkin-ringerthan morgan is, when something—such as just now—really gets you going. and as for amachine, what finer one is possible than the

patrol? everybody in it or connected withit will support you to the hilt—you know that." "why, i … i suppose so … probably theywould, yes." "do you know why?" "can’t say that i do, unless it’s becausei treat them fair, so they do the same to me." "exactly. i don’t say that everybody likesyou, but i don’t know of anybody who doesn’t respect you. and, most important, everybody—allover space—knows ‘rod the rock’ kinnison, and why he is called that."

"but that very ‘man on horseback’ thing maybackfire on you, virge." "perhaps—slightly—but we’re not afraidof that. and finally, you said you’d like to kick morgan from here to andromeda. howwould you like to kick him from panama city to the north pole?" "i said it, and i wasn’t just warming up myjets, either. i’d like it." the big lensman’s nostrils flared, his lips thinned. "by god,virge, i will!" "thanks, rod." with no display whatever ofthe emotion he felt, samms skipped deliberately to the matter next in hand. "now, about eridan.let’s see if they know anything yet." the report of knobos and dalnalten was terseand exact. they had found—and that finding,

so baldly put, could have filled and shouldfill a book—that spaceways’ uranium vessels were, beyond any reasonable doubt, haulingthionite from eridan to the planets of sol. spy-rays being useless, they had consideredthe advisability of investigating eridan in person, but had decided against such action.eridan was closely held by uranium, incorporated. its population was one hundred percent tellurianhuman. neither dalnalten nor knobos could disguise himself well enough to work there.either would be caught promptly, and as promptly shot. "thanks, fellows," samms said, when it becameevident that the brief report was done. then, to kinnison, "that puts it up to conway costigan.and jack? or mase? or both?"

"both," kinnison decided, "and anybody elsethey can use." "i’ll get them at it." samms sent out thoughts."and now, i wonder what that daughter of mine is doing? i’m a little worried about her,rod. she’s too cocky for her own good—or strength. some of these days she’s going tobite off more than she can chew, if she hasn’t already. the more we learn about morgan, theless i like the idea of her working on herkimer herkimer third. i’ve told her so, a dozentimes, and why, but of course it didn’t do any good." "it wouldn’t. the only way to develop teethis to bite with ’em. you had to. so did i. our kids have got to, too. we lived throughit. so will they. as for herky the third…."

he thought for moments, then went on: "check.but she’s done a job so far that nobody else could do. in spite of that fact, if it wasn’tfor our lenses i’d say to pull her, if you have to heave the insubordinate young jadeinto the brig. but with the lenses, and the way you watch her … to say nothing of masenorthrop, and he’s a lot of man … i can’t see her getting in either very bad or verydeep. can you?" "no, i can’t." samms admitted, but the thoughtfulfrown did not leave his face. he lensed her: finding, as he had supposed, that she wasat a party; dancing, as he had feared, with senator morgan’s number one secretary. "hi, dad!" she greeted him gaily, with noslightest change in the expression of the

face turned so engagingly to her partner’s."i have the honor of reporting that all instruments are still dead-centering the green." "and have you, by any chance, been payingany attention to what i have been telling "oh, lots," she assured him. "i’ve collectedreams of data. he could be almost as much of a menace as he thinks he is, in some cases,but i haven’t begun to slip yet. as i have told you all along, this is just a game, andwe’re both playing it strictly according to the rules." "that’s good. keep it that way, my dear."samms signed off and his daughter returned her full attention—never noticeably absent—tothe handsome secretary.

the evening wore on. miss samms danced everydance; occasionally with one or another of the notables present, but usually with herkimerherkimer third. "a drink?" he asked. "a small, cold one?" "not so small, and very cold," she agreed,enthusiastically. glass in hand, herkimer indicated a nearbydoorway. "i just heard that our host has acquired a very old and very fine bronze—a neptune.we should run an eye over it, don’t you think?" "by all means," she agreed again. but as they passed through the shadowed portalthe man’s head perked to the right. "there’s something you really ought to see, jill!"he exclaimed. "look!"

she looked. a young woman of her own heightand build and with her own flamboyant hair, identical as to hair-do and as to every finedetail of dress and of ornamentation, glass in hand, was strolling back into the ball-room! jill started to protest, but could not. inthe brief moment of inaction the beam of a snub-nosed p-gun had played along her spinefrom hips to neck. she did not fall—he had given her a very mild jolt—but, rage asshe would, she could neither struggle nor scream. and, after the fact, she knew. but he couldn’t—couldn’t possibly! nevianparalysis-guns were as outlawed as was vee two gas itself! nevertheless, he had.

and on the instant a woman, dressed in crispand spotless white and carrying a hooded cloak, appeared—and herkimer now wore a beard andheavy, horn rimmed spectacles. thus, very shortly, virgilia samms found herself, completelyhelpless and completely unrecognizable, walking awkwardly out of the house between a businesslikedoctor and a solicitous nurse. "will you need me any more, doctor murray?"the woman carefully and expertly loaded the patient into the rear seat of a car. "thank you, no, miss childs." with a sick,cold certainty jill knew that this conversation was for the benefit of the doorman and thehackers, and that it would stand up under any examination. "mrs. harman’s conditionis … er … well, nothing at all serious."

the car moved out into the street and jill,really frightened for the first time in her triumphant life, fought down an almost overwhelmingwave of panic. the hood had slipped down over her eyes, blinding her. she could not movea single voluntary muscle. nevertheless, she knew that the car traveled a few blocks—six,she thought—west on bolton street before turning left. why didn’t somebody lens her? her father wouldn’t,she knew, until tomorrow. neither of the kinnisons would, nor spud—they never did except ondirect invitation. but mase would, before he went to bed—or would he? it was pasthis bed-time now, and she had been pretty caustic, only last night, because she wasdoing a particularly delicate bit of reading.

but he would … he must! "mase! mase! mase!" and, eventually, mase did. deep under the hill, roderick kinnison sworefulminantly at the sheer physical impossibility of getting out of that furiously radiatingmountain in a hurry. at new york spaceport, however, mason northrop and jack kinnisonnot only could hurry, but did. "where are you, jill?" northrop demanded presently."what kind of a car are you in?" "quite near stanhope circle." in communicationwith her friends at last, jill regained a measure of her usual poise. "within eightor ten blocks, i’m sure. i’m in a black wilford

sedan, last year’s model. i didn’t get a chanceto see its license plates." "that helps a lot!" jack grunted, savagely."a ten-block radius covers a hell of a lot of territory, and half the cars in town areblack wilford sedans." "shut up, jack! go ahead, jill—tell us allyou can, and keep on sending us anything that will help at all." "i kept the right and left turns and distancesstraight for quite a while—about twenty blocks—that’s how i know it was stanhopecircle. i don’t know how many times he went around the circle, though, or which way hewent when he left it. after leaving the circle, the traffic was very light, and here theredoesn’t seem to be any traffic at all. that

brings us up to date. you’ll know as wellas i do what happens next." with jill, the lensmen knew that herkimerdrove his car up to the curb and stopped—parked without backing up. he got out and hauledthe girl’s limp body out of the car, displacing the hood enough to free one eye. good! onlyone other car was visible; a bright yellow convertible parked across the street, abouthalf a block ahead. there was a sign—"no parking on this side 7 to 10." the buildingtoward which he was carrying her was more than three stories high, and had a number—one,four—if he would only swing her a little bit more, so that she could see the rest ofit—one four-seven-nine! "rushton boulevard, you think, mase?"

"could be. fourteen seventy nine would beon the downtown-traffic side. blast!" into the building, where two masked men lockedand barred the door behind them. "and keep it locked!" herkimer ordered. "you know whatto do until i come back down." into an elevator, and up. through massivedouble doors into a room, whose most conspicuous item of furniture was a heavy steel chair,bolted to the floor. two masked men got up and placed themselves behind that chair. jill’s strength was coming back fast; butnot fast enough. the cloak was removed. her ankles were tied firmly, one to each frontleg of the chair. herkimer threw four turns of rope around her torso and the chair’s back,took up every inch of slack, and tied a workmanlike

knot. then, still without a word, he stoodback and lighted a cigarette. the last trace of paralysis disappeared, but the girl’s madstruggles, futile as they were, were not allowed to continue. "put a double hammerlock on her," herkimerdirected, "but be damned sure not to break anything at this stage of the game. that comeslater." jill, more furiously angry than frighteneduntil now, locked her teeth to keep from screaming as the pressure went on. she could not bendforward to relieve the pain; she could not move; she could only grit her teeth and glare.she was beginning to realize, however, what was actually in store; that herkimer herkimerthird was in fact a monster whose like she

had never known. he stepped quietly forward, gathered up ahandful of fabric, and heaved. the strapless and backless garment, in no way designed towithstand such stresses, parted; squarely across at the upper strand of rope. he puffedhis cigarette to a vivid coal—took it in his fingers—there was an audible hiss anda tiny stink of burning flesh as the glowing ember was extinguished in the clear, cleanskin below the girl’s left armpit. jill flinched then, and shrieked desperately, but her tormentorwas viciously unmoved. "that was just to settle any doubt as to whetheror not i mean business. i’m all done fooling around with you. i want to know two things.first, everything you know about the lens;

where it comes from, what it really is, andwhat it does besides what your press-agents advertise. second, what really happened atthe ambassadors’ ball. start talking. the faster you talk, the less you’ll get hurt." "you can’t get away with this, herkimer."jill tried desperately to pull her shattered nerves together. "i’ll be missed—traced…."she paused, gasping. if she told him that the lensmen were in full and continuous communicationwith her—and if he believed it—he would kill her right then. she switched instantlyto another track. "that double isn’t good enough to fool anybody who really knows me." "she doesn’t have to be." the man grinnedvenomously. "nobody who knows you will get

close enough to her to tell the difference.this wasn’t done on the spur of the moment, jill; it was planned—minutely. you haven’tgot the chance of the proverbial celluloid dog in hell." "jill!" jack kinnison’s thought stabbed in."it isn’t rushton—fourteen seventy-nine is a two-story. what other streets could itbe?" "i don’t know…." she was not in very goodshape to think. "damnation! got to get hold of somebody whoknows the streets. spud, grab a hacker at the circle and i’ll lens parker…." jack’sthought snapped off as he tuned to a local lensman.

jill’s heart sank. she was starkly certainnow that the lensmen could not find her in time. "tighten up a little, eddie. you, too, bob." "stop it! oh, god, stop it!" the unbearableagony relaxed a little. she watched in horrified fascination a second glowing coal approachher bare right side. "even if i do talk you’ll kill me anyway. you couldn’t let me go now." "kill you, my pet? not if you behave yourself.we’ve got a lot of planets the patrol never heard of, and you could keep a man interestedfor quite a while, if you really tried. and if you beg hard enough maybe i’ll let youtry. however, i’d get just as much fun out

of killing you as out of the other, so it’sup to you. not sudden death, of course. little things, at first, like we’ve been doing. afew more touches of warmth here and there—so…. "scream as much as you please. i enjoy it,and this room is sound-proof. once more, boys, about half an inch higher this time … up… steady … down. we’ll have half an hour or so of this stuff"—herkimer knew thatto the quivering, sensitive, highly imaginative girl his words would be practically as punishingas the atrocious actualities themselves—"then i’ll do things to your finger-nails and toe-nails,beginning with burning slivers of double-base flare powder and working up. then your eyes—orno, i’ll save them until last, so you can watch a couple of venerian slasher-worms workon you, one on each leg, and a martian digger

on your bare belly." gripping her hair firmly in his left hand,he forced her head back and down; down almost to her hard-held hands. his right hand, concealingsomething which he had not mentioned and which was probably starkly unmentionable, approachedher taut-stretched throat. "talk or not, just as you please." the voicewas utterly callous, as chill as the death she now knew he was so willing to deal. "butlisten. if you elect to talk, tell the truth. you won’t lie twice. i’ll count to ten. one." jill uttered a gurgling, strangling noiseand he lifted her head a trifle. "can you talk now?"

"two." helpless, immobile, scared now to a depthof terror she had never imagined it possible to feel, jill fought her wrenched and shakenmind back from insanity’s very edge; managed with a pale tongue to lick bloodless lips.pops kinnison always said a man could die only once, but he didn’t know … in battle,yes, perhaps … but she had already died a dozen times—but she’d keep on dying foreverbefore she’d say a word. but— "tell him, jill!" northrop’s thought beatat her mind. he, her lover, was unashamedly frantic; as much with sheer rage as with sympathyfor her physical and mental anguish. "for the nineteenth time i say tell him! we’vejust located you—hancock avenue—we’ll

be there in two minutes!" "yes, jill, quit being a damned stubborn jackassand tell him!" jack kinnison’s thought bit deep; but this time, strangely enough, thegirl felt no repugnance at his touch. there was nothing whatever of the lover; nor ofthe brother, except of the fraternity of arms. she belonged. she would come out of this brawlright side up or none of them would. "tell the goddam rat the truth!" jack’s thoughtdrove on. "it won’t make any difference—he won’t live long enough to pass it on!" "but i can’t—i won’t!" jill stormed. "why,pops kinnison would…." "not this time i wouldn’t, jill!" samms’ thoughttried to come in, too, but the port admiral’s

vehemence was overwhelming. "no harm—he’sdoing this strictly on his own—if morgan had had any idea he’d’ve killed him first.start talking or i’ll spank you to a rosy blister!" they were to laugh, later, at the incongruityof that threat, but it did produce results. "nine." herkimer grinned wolfishly, in sadisticanticipation. "stop it—i’ll tell!" she screamed. "stopit—take that thing away—i can’t stand it—i’ll tell!" she burst into racking, tearingsobs. "steady." herkimer put something in his pocket,then slapped her so viciously that fingers-long marks sprang into red relief upon the chalk-whitebackground of her cheek. "don’t crack up;

i haven’t started to work on you yet. whatabout that lens?" she gulped twice before she could speak. "itcomes from—ulp!—arisia. i haven’t got one myself, so i don’t know very much—ulp!—aboutit at first hand, but from what the boys tell me it must be…." outside the building three black forms arroweddownward. northrop and young kinnison stopped at the sixth level; costigan went on downto take care of the guards. "bullets, not beams," the irishman remindedhis younger fellows. "we’ll have to clean up the mess without leaving a trace, so don’tdo any more damage to the property than you absolutely have to."

neither made any reply; they were both toobusy. the two thugs standing behind the steel chair, being armed openly, went first; thenjack put a bullet through herkimer’s head. but northrop was not content with that. heslid the pin to "full automatic" and ten more heavy slugs tore into the falling body beforeit struck the floor. three quick slashes and the girl was free. "jill!" "mase!" locked in each other’s arms, straining together,no bystander would have believed that this was their first kiss. it was plainly—yes,quite spectacularly—evident, however, that

it would not be their last. jack, blushing furiously, picked up the cloakand flung it at the oblivious couple. "p-s-s-t! p-s-s-t! jill! wrap ’em up!" hewhispered, urgently. "all the top brass in space is coming at full emergency blast—there’llbe scrambled eggs all over the place any second now—mase! damn your thick, hard skull, snapout of it! he’s always frothing at the mouth about her running around half naked and ifhe sees her like this—especially with you—he’ll simply have a litter of lizards! you’ll geta million black spots and seven hundred years in the clink! that’s better—’bye now—i’llsee you up at new york spaceport." jack kinnison dashed to the nearest window,threw it open, and dived headlong out of the

building. chapter 14 the employment office of any concern withpersonnel running into the hundreds of thousands is a busy place indeed, even when its plantsare all on tellus and its working conditions are as nearly ideal as such things can bemade. when that firm’s business is colonial, however, and its working conditions are onlya couple of degrees removed from slavery, procurement of personnel is a first-magnitudeproblem; the personnel department, like alice in wonderland, must run as fast as it cango in order to stay where it is. thus the "help wanted" advertisements of uranium, incorporatedcovered the planet earth with blandishment

and guile; and thus for twelve hours of everyday and for seven days of every week the employment offices of uranium, inc. were filled withmen—mostly the scum of earth. there were, of course, exceptions; one ofwhich strode through the motley group of waiting men and thrust a card through the "information"wicket. he was a chunky-looking individual, appearing shorter than his actual five feetnine because of a hundred and ninety pounds of weight—even though every pound was placedexactly where it would do the most good. he looked—well, slouchy—and his mien wassullen. "birkenfeld—by appointment," he growledthrough the wicket, in a voice which could have been pleasantly deep.

the coolly efficient blonde manipulated plugs."mr. george w. jones, sir, by appointment…. thank you, sir," and mr. jones was escortedinto mr. birkenfeld’s private office. "have a chair, please, mr. … er … jones." "so you know?" "yes. it is seldom that a man of your education,training, and demonstrated ability applies to us for employment of his own initiative,and a very thorough investigation is indicated." "what am i here for, then?" the visitor demanded,truculently. "you could have turned me down by mail. everybody else has, since i got out." "you are here because we who operate on thefrontiers cannot afford to pass judgment upon

a man because of his past, unless that pastprecludes the probability of a useful future. yours does not; and in some cases, such asyours, we are very deeply interested in the future." the official’s eyes drilled deep. conway costigan had never been in the limelight.on the contrary, he had made inconspicuousness a passion and an art. even in such scenesof violence as that which had occurred at the ambassadors’ ball he managed to remainunnoticed. his lens had never been visible. no one except lensmen—and clio and jill—knewthat he had one; and lensmen—and clio and jill—did not talk. although he was calmlycertain that this birkenfeld was not an ordinary interviewer, he was equally certain that theinvestigators of uranium, inc. had found out

exactly and only what the patrol had wantedthem to find. "so?" jones’ bearing altered subtly, and notbecause of the penetrant eyes. "that’s all i want—a chance. i’ll start at the bottom,as far down as you say." "we advertise, and truthfully, that opportunityon eridan is unlimited." birkenfeld chose his words with care. "in your case, opportunitywill be either absolutely unlimited or zero, depending entirely upon yourself." "i see." dumbness had not been included inthe fictitious mr. jones’ background. "you don’t need to draw a blue-print." "you’ll do, i think." the interviewer noddedin approval. "nevertheless, i must make our

position entirely clear. if the slip was—shallwe say accidental?—you will go far with us. if you try to play false, you will notlast long and you will not be missed." "fair enough." "your willingness to start at the bottom iscommendable, and it is a fact that those who come up through the ranks make the best executives;in our line at least. just how far down are you willing to start?" "how low do you go?" "a mucker, i think would be low enough; and,from your build, and obvious physical strength, the logical job."

"mucker?" "one who skoufers ore in the mine. nor canwe make any exception in your case as to the routines of induction and transportation." "of course not." "take this slip to mr. calkins, in room 6217.he will run you through the mill." and that night, in an obscure boarding-house,mr. george washington jones, after a meticulous service special survey in every direction,reached a large and somewhat grimy hand into a screened receptacle in his battered suitcaseand touched a lens. "clio?" the lovely mother of their wonderfulchildren appeared in his mind. "made it, sweetheart,

no suspicion at all. no more lensing for awhile—not too long, i hope—so … so-long, clio." "take it easy, spud darling, and be careful."her tone was light, but she could not conceal a stark background of fear. "oh, i wish icould go, too!" "i wish you could, tootie." the linked mindsflashed back to what the two had done together in the red opacity of nevian murk; on nevia’smighty, watery globe—but that kind of thinking would not do. "but the boys will keep in touchwith me and keep you posted. and besides, you know how hard it is to get a baby-sitter!" it is strange that the fundamental operationsof working metalliferous veins have changed

so little throughout the ages. or is it? orescame into being with the crusts of the planets; they change appreciably only with the passageof geologic time. ancient mines, of course, could not go down very deep or follow a seamvery far; there was too much water and too little air. the steam engine helped, in degreeif not in kind, by removing water and supplying air. tools improved—from the simple metalbar through pick and shovel and candle, through drill and hammer and low explosive and acetylene,through sullivan slugger and high explosive and electrics, through skoufer and rotaryand burley and sourceless glow, to the complex gadgetry of today—but what, fundamentally,is the difference? men still crawl, snake-like, to where the metal is. men still, by dintof sheer brawn, jackass the precious stuff

out to where our vaunted automatics can gethold of it. and men still die, in horribly unknown fashions and in callously recordednumbers, in the mines which supply the stuff upon which our vaunted culture rests. but to resume the thread of narrative, georgewashington jones went to eridan as a common laborer; a mucker. he floated down besidethe skip—a "skip" is a mine elevator—some four thousand eight hundred feet. he rodean ore-car a horizontal distance of approximately eight miles to the brilliantly-illuminatedcavern which was the station of the twelfth and lowest level. he was assigned to the bunkin which he would sleep for the next fifteen nights: "fifteen down and three up," ran thestandard underground contract.

he walked four hundred yards, yelled "nothingdown!" and inched his way up a rise—in many places scarcely wider than his shoulders—tothe stope some three hundred feet above. he reported to the miner who was to be his immediateboss and bent his back to the skoufer—which, while not resembling a shovel at all closely,still meant hard physical labor. he already knew ore—the glossy, sub-metallic, pitchyblack luster of uraninite or pitchblende; the yellows of autunite and carnotite; thevariant and confusing greens of tobernite. no values went from jones’ skoufer into theheavily-timbered, steel-braced waste-pockets of the stope; very little base rock went downthe rise. he became accustomed to the work; got usedto breathing the peculiarly lifeless, dry,

oily compressed air. and when, after a fewdays, his stentorian "nothing down!" called forth a "nothing but a little fine stuff!"and a handful of grit and pebbles, he knew that he had been accepted into the undefined,unwritten, and unofficial, yet nevertheless intensely actual, fellowship of hard-rockmen. he belonged. he knew that he must abandon his policy ofinvisibility; and, after several days of thought, he decided how he would do it. hence, uponthe first day of his "up" period, he joined his fellows in their descent upon one of therawest, noisiest dives of danapolis. the men were met, of course, by a bevy of giggling,shrieking, garishly painted and strongly perfumed girls—and at this point young jones’ behaviorbecame exceedingly unorthodox.

"buy me a drink, mister? and a dance, huh?" "on your way, sister." he brushed the importunatewench aside. "i get enough exercise underground, an’ you ain’t got a thing i want." apparently unaware that the girl was exchangingmeaningful glances with a couple of husky characters labelled "bouncer" in billpostertype, the atypical mucker strode up to the long and ornate bar. "gimme a bottle of pineapple pop," he orderedbruskly, "an’ a package of tellurian cigarettes—sunshines." "p-p-pine…?" the surprised bartender didnot finish the word. the bouncers were fast, but costigan was faster.a hard knee took one in the solar plexus;

a hard elbow took the other so savagely underthe chin as to all but break his neck. a bartender started to swing a bung-starter, and foundhimself flying through the air toward a table. men, table, and drinks crashed to the floor. "i pick my own company an’ i drink what idamn please," jones announced, grittily. "them lunkers ain’t hurt none, to speak of …" hishard eyes swept the room malevolently, "but i ain’t in no gentle mood an’ the next jaspersthat tackle me will wind up in the repair shop, or maybe in the morgue. see?" this of course was much too much; a dozenembattled roughnecks leaped to mop up on the misguided wight who had so impugned the manhoodof all eridan. then, while six or seven bartenders

blew frantic blasts upon police whistles,there was a flurry of action too fast to be resolved into consecutive events by the eye.conway costigan, one of the fastest men with hands and feet the patrol has ever known,was trying to keep himself alive; and he succeeded. "what the hell goes on here?" a chorus ofraucously authoritative voices yelled, and sixteen policemen—john law did not travelsingly in that district, but in platoons—swinging clubs and saps, finally hauled george washingtonjones out from the bottom of the pile. he had sundry abrasions and not a few contusions,but no bones were broken and his skin was practically whole. and since his version of the affair was notonly inadequate, but also differed in important

particulars from those of several non-participatingwitnesses, he spent the rest of his holiday in jail; a development with which he was quitecontent. the work—and time—went on. he became inrapid succession a head mucker, a miner’s pimp (which short and rugged anglo-saxon wordmeans simply "helper" in underground parlance) a miner, a top-miner, and then—a long stepup the ladder!—a shift-boss. and then disaster struck; suddenly, paralyzingly,as mine disasters do. loud-speakers blared briefly—"explosion! cave-in! flood! fire!gas! radiation! damp!"—and expired. short-circuits; there was no way of telling which, if any,of those dire warnings were true. the power failed, and the lights. the hissof air from valves, a noise which by its constant

and unvarying and universal presence soonbecomes unheard, became noticeable because of its diminution in volume and tone. andthen, seconds later, a jarring, shuddering rumble was felt and heard, accompanied bythe snapping of shattered timbers and the sharper, utterly unforgettable shriek of rendingand riven steel. and the men, as men do under such conditions, went wild; yelling, swearing,leaping toward where, in the rayless dark, each thought the rise to be. it took a couple of seconds for the shift-bossto break out and hook up his emergency battery-lamp; and three or four more seconds, and by dintof fists, feet, and a two-foot length of air-hose, to restore any degree of order. four men weredead; but that wasn’t too bad—considering.

"up there! under the hanging wall!" he ordered,sharply. "that won’t fall—unless the whole mountain slips. now, how many of you jaspershave got your emergency kits on you? twelve—out of twenty-six—what brains! put on your masks.you without ’em can stay up here—you’ll be safe for a while—i hope." then, presently: "there, that’s all for now.i guess." he flashed his light downward. the massive steel members no longer writhed; thecrushed and tortured timbers were still. "that rise may be open, it goes through solidrock, not waste. i’ll see. wright, you’re all in one piece, aren’t you?" "i guess so—yes."

"take charge up here. i’ll go down to thedrift. if the rise is open i’ll give you a flash. send the ones with masks down, oneat a time. take a jolly-bar and bash the brains out of anybody who gets panicky again." jones was not as brave as he sounded: minedisasters carry a terror which is uniquely and peculiarly poignant. nevertheless he wentdown the rise, found it open, and signalled. then, after issuing brief orders, he led theway along the dark and silent drift toward the station; wondering profanely why the peopleon duty there had not done something with the wealth of emergency equipment always readythere. the party found some cave-ins, but nothing they could not dig through.

the station was also silent and dark. jones,flashing his head-lamp upon the emergency panel, smashed the glass, wrenched the dooropen, and pushed buttons. lights flashed on. warning signals flared, bellowed and rang.the rotary air-pump began again its normal subdued, whickering whirr. but the water-pump!shuddering, clanking, groaning, it was threatening to go out any second—but there wasn’t athing in the world jones could do about it—yet. the station itself, so buttressed and pillaredwith alloy steel as to be little more compressible than an equal volume of solid rock, was unharmed;but in it nothing lived. four men and a woman—the nurse—were stiffly motionless at their posts;apparently the leads to the station had been blasted in such fashion that no warning whateverhad been given. and smoke, billowing inward

from the main tunnel, was growing thickerby the minute. jones punched another button; a foot-thick barrier of asbestos, tungsten,and vitrified refractory slid smoothly across the tunnel’s opening. he considered briefly,pityingly, those who might be outside, but felt no urge to explore. if any lived, therewere buttons on the other side of the fire-door. the eddying smoke disappeared, the flaringlights winked out, air-horns and bells relapsed into silence. the shift-boss, now apparentlythe superintendent of the whole twelfth level, removed his mask, found the station walkie-talkie,and snapped a switch. he spoke, listened, spoke again then called a list of names—noneof which brought any response. "wright, and you five others," picking outminers who could be depended upon to keep

their heads, "take these guns. shoot if youhave to, but not unless you have to. have the muckers clear the drift, just enough toget through. you’ll find a shift-boss, with a crew of nineteen, up in stope sixty. theirrise is blocked. they’ve got light and power again now, and good air, and they’re workingon it, but opening the rise from the top is a damned slow job. wright, you throw a chippieinto it from the bottom. you others, work back along the drift, clear to the last gloryhole. be sure that all the rises are open—check all the stopes and glory holes—tell everybodyyou find alive to report to me here…." "aw, what good!" a man shrieked. "we’re allgoners anyway—i want water an’…." "shut up, fool!" there was a sound as of fistmeeting flesh, the shriek was stilled. "plenty

of water—tanks full of the stuff." a grizzledminer turned to the self-appointed boss and twitched his head—toward the laboring pump."too damn much water too soon, huh?" "i wouldn’t wonder—but get busy!" as his now orderly and purposeful men disappeared,jones picked up his microphone and changed the setting of a dial. "on top, somebody," he said crisply. "on top…." "oh, there’s somebody alive down in twelve,after all!" a girl’s voice screamed in his ear. "mr. clancy! mr. edwards!" "to hell with clancy, and edwards, too," jonesbarked. "gimme the chief engineer and the

head surveyor, and gimme ’em fast." "clancy speaking, station twelve." if worksmanager clancy had heard that pointed remark, and he must have, he ignored it. "stanleyand emerson will be here in a moment. in the meantime, who’s calling? i don’t recognizeyour voice, and it’s been so long…." "jones. shift-boss, stope fifty nine. i hada little trouble getting here to the station." "what? where’s pennoyer? and riley? and…?" "dead. everybody. gas or damp. no warning." "not enough to turn on anything—not eventhe purifiers?" "nothing."

"where were you?" "up in the stope." "good god!" that news, to clancy, was informativeenough. "but to hell with all that. what happened,and where?" "a skip-load, and then a magazine, of highexplosive, right at station seven—it’s right at the main shaft, you know." jones did notknow, since he had never been in that part of the mine, but he could see the picture."main shaft filled up to above seven, and both emergency shafts blocked. number oneat six, number two at seven—must have been a fault—but here’s chief engineer stanley."the works manager, not too unwillingly, relinquished

the microphone. a miner came running up and jones coveredhis mouth-piece. "how about the glory holes?" "plugged solid, all four of ’em—by the vibro,clear up to eleven." "thanks." then, as soon as stanley’s voicecame on: "what i want to know is, why is this damnedwater-pump overloading? what’s the circuit?" "you must be … yes, you are pumping againsttoo much head. five levels above you are dead, you know, so…." "dead? can’t you raise anybody?" "not yet. so you’re pumping through dead boosterson eleven and ten and so on up, and when your

overload-relief valve opens…." "relief valve!" jones almost screamed, "cani dog the damn thing down?" "no, it’s internal." "christ, what a design—i could eat a handfulof iron filings and puke a better emergency pump than that!" "when it opens," stanley went stolidly on,"the water will go through the by-pass back into the sump. so you’d better rod out oneof the glory holes and…." "get conscious, fat-head!" jones blazed. "whatwould we use for time? get off the air—gimme emerson!"

"emerson speaking." "got your maps?" "we got to run a sag up to eleven—fast—ordrown. can you give me the shortest possible distance?" "can do." the head surveyor snapped orders."we’ll have it for you in a minute. thank god there was somebody down there with a brain." "it doesn’t take super-human intelligenceto push buttons." "you’d be surprised. your point on glory holeswas very well taken—you won’t have much time after the pump quits. when the waterreaches the station…."

"curtains. and it’s all done now—runningfree and easy—recirculating. hurry that dope!" "here it is now. start at the highest pointof stope fifty nine. repeat." "stope fifty-nine." jones waved a furioushand as he shouted the words; the tight-packed miners turned and ran. the shift-boss followedthem, carrying the walkie-talkie, aiming an exasperated kick of pure frustration at themerrily-humming water pump as he passed it. "thirty two degrees from the vertical—anywherebetween thirty and thirty five." "thirty to thirty five off vertical." "direction—got a compass?"

"set the blue on zero. course two hundredseventy five degrees." "blue on zero. course two seven five." "dex sixty nine point two zero feet. that’llput you into eleven’s class yard—so big you can’t miss it." "distance sixty nine point two—that all?fine! maybe we’ll make it, after all. they’re sinking a shaft, of course. from where?" "about four miles in on six. it’ll take time." "if we can get up into eleven we’ll have allthe time on the clock—it’ll take a week or more to flood twelve’s stopes. but thissag is sure as hell going to be touch and

go. and say, from the throw of the pump andthe volume of the sump, will you give me the best estimate you can of how much time we’vegot? i want at least an hour, but i’m afraid i won’t have it." "yes. i’ll call you back." the shift-boss elbowed his way through thethrong of men and, dragging the radio behind him, wriggled and floated up the rise. "wright!" he bellowed, the echoes resoundingdeafeningly all up and down the narrow tube. "you up there ahead of me?" "yeah!" that worthy bellowed back.

"more men left than i thought—how many—halfof ’em?" "just about." "good. sort out the ones you got up thereby trades." then, when he had emerged into the now brilliantly illuminated stope, "whereare the timber-pimps?" "over there." "rustle timbers. whatever you can find andwherever you find it, grab it and bring it up here. get some twelve-inch steel, too,six feet long. timbermen, grab that stuff off of the face and start your staging righthere. you muckers, rig a couple of skoufers to throw muck to bury the base and checkerworkup to the hanging wall. doze a sluice-way

down into that waste pocket there, so we won’tclog ourselves up. work fast, fellows, but make it solid—you know the load it’ll haveto carry and what will happen if it gives." they knew. they knew what they had to do anddid it; furiously, but with care and precision. "how wide a sag you figurin’ on, supe?" theboss timberman asked. "eight foot checkerwork to the hangin’, anyway, huh?" "yes. i’ll let you know in a minute." the surveyor came in. "forty one minutes ismy best guess." "from when?" "from the time the pump failed."

"that was four minutes ago—nearer five.and five more before we can start cutting. forty one less ten is thirty one. thirty oneinto sixty nine point two goes…." "two point two three feet per minute, my slip-sticksays." "thanks. wright, what would you say is thebiggest sag we can cut in this kind of rock at two and a quarter feet a minute?" "um … m … m". the miner scratched hiswhiskery chin. "that’s a tough one, boss. you’ll hafta figure damn close to a hundredpounds of air to the foot on plain cuttin’—that’s two hundred and a quarter. but without a burleyto pimp for ‘er, a rotary can’t take that kind of air—she’ll foul herself to a standstillbefore she cuts a foot. an’ with a burley

riggin’ she’s got to make damn near a doublecut—seven foot inside figger—so any way you look at it you ain’t goin’ to cut no twofoot to the minute." "i was hoping you wouldn’t check my figures,but you do. so we’ll cut five feet. saw your timbers accordingly. we’ll hold that burleyby hand." wright shook his head dubiously. "we don’twant to die down here any more than you do, boss, so we’ll do our damndest—but how inhell do you figure you can hold her to her work?" "rig a yoke. cut a stretcher up for canvasand padding. it’ll pound, but a man can stand almost anything, in short enough shifts, ifhe’s got to or die."

and for a time—two minutes, to be exact,during which the rotary chewed up and spat out a plug of rock over five feet deep—thingswent very well indeed. two men, instead of the usual three, could run the rotary; thatis, they could tend the complicated pneumatic walking jacks which not only oscillated thecutting demon in a geometrical path, but also rammed it against the face with a steadilyheld and enormous pressure, even while climbing almost vertically upward under a burden ofover twenty thousand pounds. an armored hand waved a signal—voice wasutterly useless—up! a valve was flipped; a huge, flat, steel foot arose; a timber slidinto place, creaking and groaning as that big flat foot smashed down. up—again! up—athird time! eighteen seconds—less than one-third

of a minute—ten inches gained! and, while it was not easy, two men couldhold the burley—in one-minute shifts. as has been intimated, this machine "pimped"for the rotary. it waited on it, ministering to its every need with a singleness of purposeimpossible to any except robotic devotion. it picked the rotary’s teeth, it freed itslinkages, it deloused its ports, it cleared its spillways of compacted debris, it even—andthis is a feat starkly unbelievable to anyone who does not know the hardness of neocarballoyand the tensile strength of ultra-special steels—it even changed, while in full operation,the rotary’s diamond-tipped cutters. both burley and rotary were extremely efficient,but neither was either quiet or gentle. in

their quietest moments they shrieked and groanedand yelled, producing a volume of sound in which nothing softer than a cannon-shot couldhave been heard. but when, in changing the rotary’s cutting teeth, the burley’s "fingers"were driven into and through the solid rock—a matter of merest routine to both machines—theresultant blasts of sound cannot even be imagined, to say nothing of being described. and always both machines spewed out torrentsof rock, in sizes ranging from impalpable dust up to chunks as big as a fist. as the sag lengthened and the checkerworkgrew higher, the work began to slow down. they began to lose the time they had gained.there were plenty of men, but in that narrow

bore there simply was not room for enoughmen to work. even through that storm of dust and hurtling rock the timbermen could gettheir blocking up there, but they could not place it fast enough—there were too manyother men in the way. one of them had to get out. since one man could not possibly runthe rotary, one man would have to hold the burley. they tried it, one after another. no soap.it hammered them flat. the rotary, fouled in every tooth and channel and vent underthe terrific thrust of two hundred thirty pounds of air, merely gnawed and slid. thetimbermen now had room—but nothing to do. and jones, who had been biting at his mustacheand ignoring the frantic walkie-talkie for

minutes, stared grimly at watch and tape.three minutes left, and over eight feet to go. "gimme that armor!" he rasped, and climbedthe blocks. "open the air wide open—give ‘er the whole two-fifty! get down, mac—i’lltake it the rest of the way!" he put his shoulders to the improvised yoke,braced his feet, and heaved. the burley, screaming and yelling and clamoring, went joyously towork—both ways—god, what punishment! the rotary, free and clear, chewed rock more viciouslythan ever. an armored hand smote his leg. lift! he lifted that foot, set it down twoinches higher. the other one. four inches. six. one foot. two. three. lord of the ancients!was this lifetime of agony only one minute?

or wasn’t he holding her—had the damn thingstopped cutting? no, it was still cutting—the rocks were banging against and bouncing offof his helmet as viciously and as numerously as ever; he could sense, rather than feel,the furious fashion in which the relays of timbermen were laboring to keep those high-steppingjacks in motion. no, it had been only one minute. twice thatlong yet to go. god! nothing could be that brutal—a bull elephant couldn’t take it—butby all the gods of space and all the devils in hell, he’d stay with it until that sagbroke through. and grimly, doggedly, toward the end nine-tenths unconsciously, lensmanconway costigan stayed with it. and in the stope so far below, a new and highlyauthoritative voice blared from the speaker.

"jones! god damn it, jones, answer me! ifjones isn’t there, somebody else answer me—anybody!" "yes, sir?" wright was afraid to answer thatperemptory call, but more afraid not to. "jones? this is clancy." "no, sir. not jones. wright, sir—top miner." "where’s jones?" "up in the sag, sir. he’s holding the burley—alone." "alone! hell’s purple fires! tell him to—howmany men has he got on the rotary?" "two, sir. that’s all they’s room for." "tell him to quit it—put somebody else onit—i won’t have him killed, damn it!"

"he’s the only one strong enough to hold it,sir, but i’ll send up word." word went up via sign language, and came back down. "beggin’your pardon, sir, but he says to tell you to go to hell, sir. he won’t have no timefor chit-chat, he says, until this goddam sag is through or the juice goes off, sir." a blast of profanity erupted from the speaker,of such violence that the thoroughly scared wright threw the walkie-talkie down the waste-chute,and in the same instant the rotary crashed through. dazed, groggy, barely conscious from his terrificeffort, jones stared owlishly through the heavy, steel-braced lenses of his helmet whilethe timbermen set a few more courses of wood

and the rotary walked itself and the clingingburley up and out of the hole. he climbed stiffly out, and as he stared at the pillarof light flaring upward from the sag, his gorge began to rise. "wha’s the idea of that damn surveyor lyingto us like that?" he babbled. "we had oodles an’ oodles of time—didn’t have to kill ourselves—damnwater ain’t got there yet—wha’s the big…." he wobbled weakly, and took one short step,and the lights went out. the surveyor’s estimate had been impossibly, accidentally close. theyhad had a little extra time; but it was measured very easily in seconds. and jones, logical to the end in a queerlyaddled way, stood in the almost palpable darkness,

and wobbled, and thought. if a man couldn’tsee anything with his eyes wide open, he was either blind or unconscious. he wasn’t blind,therefore he must be unconscious and not know it. he sighed, wearily and gratefully, andcollapsed. battery lights were soon reconnected, andeverybody knew that they had holed through. there was no more panic. and, even beforethe shift-boss had recovered full consciousness, he was walking down the drift toward stationeleven. there is no need to enlarge upon the restof that grim and grisly affair. level after level was activated; and, since working upwardin mines is vastly faster than working downward, the two parties met on the eighth level. halfof the men who would otherwise have died were

saved, and—much more important from theviewpoint of uranium, inc.—the deeper and richer half of the biggest and richest uraniummine in existence, instead of being out of production for a year or more, would be backin full operation in a couple of weeks. and george washington jones, still a trifleshaky from his ordeal, was called into the front office. but before he arrived: "i’m going to make him assistant works manager,"clancy announced. "i think not." "but listen, mr. isaacson—please! how doyou expect me to build up a staff if you snatch every good man i find away from me?"

"you didn’t find him. birkenfeld did. he washere only on a test. he is going into department q." clancy, who had opened his mouth to continuehis protests, shut it wordlessly. he knew that department q was— department q. chapter 15 costigan was not surprised to see the manhe had known as birkenfeld in uranium’s ornate conference room. he had not expected, however,to see isaacson. he knew, of course, that spaceways owned uranium, inc., and the planeteridan, lock, stock, and barrel; but it never

entered his modest mind that his case wouldbe of sufficient importance to warrant the personal attention of the big noise himself.hence the sight of that suave and unrevealing face gave the putative jones a more than temporaryqualm. isaacson was top-bracket stuff, ‘way out of his class. virgil samms ought to betaking this assignment, but since he wasn’t— but instead of being an inquisition, the meetingwas friendly and informal from the start. they complimented him upon the soundness ofhis judgment and the accuracy of his decisions. they thanked him, both with words and witha considerable sum of expendable credits. they encouraged him to talk about himself,but there was nothing whatever of the star-chamber or of cross-examination. the last questionwas representative of the whole conference.

"one other thing, jones, has me slightly baffled,"isaacson said, with a really winning smile. "since you do not drink, and since you werenot in search of feminine … er … companionship, just why did you go down to roaring jack’sdive?" "two reasons," jones said, with a somewhatshamefaced grin. "the minor one isn’t easy to explain, but … well, i hadn’t been havingan exactly easy time of it on earth … you all know about that, i suppose?" they knew. "well, i was taking a very dim view of thingsin general, and a good fight would get it out of my system. it always does."

"i see. and the major reason?" "i knew, of course, that i was on probation.i would have to get promoted, and fast, or stay sunk forever. to get promoted fast, aman can either be enough of a boot-licker to be pulled up from on high, or he can beshoved up by the men he is working with. the best way to get a crowd of hard-rock men tolike you is to lick a few of ’em—off hours, of course, and according to hoyle—and themore of ’em you can lick at once, the better. i’m pretty good at rough-and-tumble brawling,so i gambled that the cops would step in before i got banged up too much. i won." "i see," isaacson said again, in an entirelydifferent tone. he did see, now. "the first

technique is so universally used that thepossibility of the second did not occur to me. nice work—very nice." he turned to theother members of the board. "this, i believe, concludes the business of the meeting?" for some reason or other isaacson nodded slightlyas he asked the question; and one by one, as though in concurrence, the others noddedin reply. the meeting broke up. outside the door, however, the magnate did not go abouthis own business nor send jones about his. instead: "i would like to show you, if i may, the above-groundpart of our works?" "my time is yours, sir. i am interested."

it is unnecessary here to go into the detailsof a civilization’s greatest uranium operation; the storage bins, the grinders, the wilfleytables and slime tanks, the flotation sluices, the roasters and reducers, the processes ofsolution and crystallization and recrystallization, of final oxidation and reduction. sufficeit to say that isaacson showed jones the whole immensity of uranium works number one. thetrip ended on the top floor of the towering administration building, in a heavily-screenedroom containing a desk, a couple of chairs, and a tremendously massive safe. "smoke up." isaacson indicated a package ofjones’ favorite brand of cigarettes and lighted a cigar. "you knew that you were under test.i wonder, though, if you knew how much of

it was testing?" "all of it." jones grinned. "except for thebig blow, of course." "there were too many possibilities, of toomany different kinds, too pat. i might warn you, though—i could have got away clearwith that half-million." "the possibility existed." surprisingly, isaacsondid not tell him that the trap was more subtle than it had appeared to be. "it was, however,worth the risk. why didn’t you?" "because i figure on making more than that,a little later, and i might live longer to spend it." "sound thinking, my boy—really sound. now—younoticed, of course, the vote at the end of

the meeting?" jones had noticed it; and, although he didnot say so, he had been wondering about it ever since. the older man strolled over tothe safe and opened it, revealing a single, startlingly small package. "you passed, unanimously; you are now learningwhat you have to know. not that we trust you unreservedly. you will be watched for a longtime, and before you can make one false step, you will die." "that would seem to be good business, sir." "glad you look at it that way—we thoughtyou would. you saw the works. quite an operation,

don’t you think?" "immense, sir. the biggest thing i ever saw." "what would you say, then, to the idea ofthis office being our real headquarters, of that little package there being our real business?"he swung the safe door shut, spun the knob. "it would have been highly surprising a coupleof hours ago." costigan could not afford to appear stupid, nor to possess too much knowledge.he had to steer an extremely difficult middle course. "after the climax of this build-up,though, it wouldn’t seem at all impossible. or that there were wheels—plenty of ’em!—withinwheels." "smart!" isaacson applauded. "and what wouldyou think might be in that package? this room

is ray-proof." "against anything the galactic patrol canswing?" "positively." "well, then, it might be something beginningwith the letter" he flicked two fingers, almost invisibly fast, into a t and went on withouta break "m, as in morphine." "your caution and restraint are commendable.if i had any remaining doubt as to your ability, it is gone." he paused, frowning. as beliefin ability increased, that in sincerity lessened. this doubt, this questioning, existed everytime a new executive was initiated into the mysteries of department q. the board’s judgmentwas good. they had slipped only twice, and

those two errors had been corrected easilyenough. the fellow had been warned once; that was enough. he took the plunge. "you willwork with the assistant works manager here until you understand the duties of the position.you will be transferred to tellus as assistant works manager there. your principal dutieswill, however, be concerned with department q—which you will head up one day if youmake good. and, just incidentally, when you go to tellus, a package like that one in thesafe will go with you." "oh … i see. i’ll make good, sir." joneslet isaacson see his jaw-muscles tighten in resolve. "it may take a little time for meto learn my way around, sir, but i’ll learn "i’m sure you will. and now, to go into greaterdetail…."

virgil samms had to be sure of his facts.more than that, he had to be able to prove them; not merely to the satisfaction of alaw-enforcement officer, but beyond any reasonable doubt of the hardest-headed member of a cynicaland skeptical jury. wherefore jack kinnison and mase northrop took up the thionite trailat the exact point where, each trip, george olmstead had had to abandon it; in the atmosphereof cavenda. and fortunately, not too much preparation was required. cavenda was, as has been intimated, a primitiveworld. its native people, humanoid in type, had developed a culture approximating in somerespects that of the north american indian at about the time of columbus, in others thatof the ancient nomads of araby. thus a couple

of wandering natives, unrecognizable undertheir dirty stormproof blankets and their scarcely thinner layers of grease and grime,watched impassively, incuriously, while a box floated pendant from its parachute fromsky to ground. mounted upon their uncouth steeds, they followed that box when it washauled to the white man’s village. unlike many of the other natives, these two did notshuffle into that village, to lean silently against a rock or a wall awaiting their turnsto exchange a few hours of simple labor for a container of a new and highly potent beverage.they did, however, keep themselves constantly and minutely informed as to everything thesestrange, devil-ridden white men did. one of these pseudo-natives wandered off into thewilderness two or three days before the huge

thing-which-flies-without-wings left ground;the other immediately afterward. thus the departure of the space-ship fromcavenda was recorded, as was its arrival at eridan. it had been extremely difficult forthe patrol’s engineers to devise ways and means of tracing that ship from departureto arrival without exciting suspicion, but it had not proved impossible. and jack kinnison, lounging idly and elegantlyin the concourse of danopolis spaceport, seethed imperceptibly. having swallowed a tiny servicespecial capsule that morning, he knew that he had been under continuous spy-ray inspectionfor over two hours. he had not given himself away—practically everybody screened theirinside coat pockets and hip pockets, and the

cat-whisker lead from lens to leg simply couldnot be seen—but for all the good they were doing him his ultra-instruments might justas well have been back on tellus. "mase!" he sent, with no change whatever inthe vapid expression then on his face. "i’m still covered. are you?" "covered!" the answering thought was a snort."they’re covering me like water covers a submarine!" "keep tuned. i’ll call spud. spud!" "come in, jack." conway costigan, alone nowin the sanctum of department q, did not seem to be busy, but he was. "that red herring they told us to drag acrossthe trail was too damned red. they must be

touchier than fulminate to spy-work on theirarmed forces—neither mase nor i can do a lick of work. anybody else covered?" "no. all clear." "good. tell them the zwilnik blockers tookus out." "i’ll do that. distance only, or is somebodyon your tail?" "somebody; and i mean some body. a slick chickwith a classy chassis; a blonde, with great, big come-hither eyes. too good to be true;especially the falsies. wiring, my friend—and i haven’t been able to get a close look, buti wouldn’t wonder if her nostrils had a skillionth of a whillimeter too much expansion. i wanta spy-ray op—is it safe to use fred?" kinnison

referred to the grizzled engineer now putteringabout in a certain space-ship; not the one in which he and northrop had come to eridan. "definitely not. i can do it myself and stillstay very much in character…. no, i don’t know her. not surprising, of course, sincethe policy here is never to let the right hand know what the left is doing. how aboutyou, mase? have you got a little girl-friend, too?" "yea, verily, brother; but not little. moremy size." northrop pointed out a tall, trim brunette, strolling along with the effortless,consciously unconscious poise of the professional model.

"hm … m … m. i don’t know her, either,"costigan reported, "but both of them are wearing four-inch spy-ray blocks and are probablywired up like christmas trees. by inference, p-gun proof. i can’t penetrate, of course,but maybe i can get a viewpoint…. you’re right, jack. nostrils plugged. anti-thionite,anti-vee-two, anti-everything. in fact, anti-social. i’ll spread their pictures around and seeif anybody knows either of them." he did so, and over a hundred of the patrol’sshrewdest operatives—upon this occasion north america had invaded eridan in force—studiedand thought. no one knew the tall brunette, but— "i know the blonde." this was parker of washington,a service ace for twenty five years. "’hell-cat

hazel’ deforce, the hardest-boiled babe unhung.watch your step around her; she’s just as handy with a knife and knock-out drops asshe is with a gun." "thanks, parker. i’ve heard of her." costiganwas thinking fast. "free-lance. no way of telling who she’s working for at the moment."this was a statement, not a question. "only that it would have to be somebody witha lot of money. her price is high. that all?" "that’s all, fellows." then, to jack and northrop:"my thought is that you two guys are completely out-classed—out-weighed, out-numbered, out-manned,and out-gunned. undressed, you’re sitting ducks; and if you put out any screens it’llcrystallize their suspicions and they’ll grab you right then—or maybe even knock you off.you’d better get out of here at full blast;

you can’t do any more good here, the way thingsare." "sure we can!" kinnison protested. "you wanteda diversion, didn’t you?" "yes, but you already…." "what we’ve done already isn’t a patch towhat we can do next. we can set up such a diversion that the boys can walk right onthe thionite-carrier’s heels without anybody paying any attention. by the way, you don’tknow yet who is going to carry it, do you?" "no. no penetration at all." "you soon will, bucko. watch our smoke!" "what do you think you’re going to do?" costigandemanded, sharply.

"this." jack explained. "and don’t try tosay no. we’re on our own, you know." "we … l … l … it sounds good, and ifyou can pull it off it will help no end. go the demurely luscious blonde stared disconsolatelyat the bulletin board, upon which another thirty minutes was being added to the timeof arrival of a ship already three hours late. she picked up a book, glanced at its cover,put it down. her hand moved toward a magazine, drew back, dropped idly into her lap. shesighed, stifled a yawn prettily, leaned backward in her seat—in such a position, jack noticed,that he could not see into her nostrils—and closed her eyes. and jack kinnison, comingvisibly to a decision, sat down beside her. "pardon me, miss, but i feel just like youlook. can you tell me why convention decrees

that two people, stuck in this concourse byarrivals that nobody knows when will arrive, have got to suffer alone when they could haveso much more fun suffering together?" the girl’s eyes opened slowly; she was neitherstartled, nor afraid, nor—it seemed—even interested. in fact, she gazed at him withso much disinterest and for so long a time that he began to wonder—was she going toplay sweet and innocent to the end? "yes, conventions are stupid, sometimes,"she admitted finally, her lovely lips curving into the beginnings of a smile. her voice,low and sweet, matched perfectly the rest of her charming self. "after all, perfectlynice people do meet informally on shipboard; why not in concourses?"

"why not, indeed? and i’m perfectly nice people,i assure you. willi borden is the name. my friends call me bill. and you?" "beatrice bailey; bee for short. tell me whatyou like, and we’ll talk about it." "why talk, when we could be eating? i’m witha guy. he’s out on the field somewhere—a big bruiser with a pencil-stripe black mustache.maybe you saw him talking to me a while back?" "i think so, now that you mention him. toobig—much too big." the girl spoke carelessly, but managed to make it very clear that jackkinnison was just exactly the right size. "why?" "i told him i’d have supper with him. shallwe hunt him up and eat together?"

"why not? is he alone?" "he was, when i saw him last." although jackknew exactly where northrop was, and who was with him, he had to play safe; he did notknow how much this "bee bailey" really knew. "he knows a lot more people around here thani do, though, so maybe he isn’t now. let me carry some of that plunder?" "you might carry those books—thanks. butthe field is so big—how do you expect to find him? or do you know where he is?" "uh-uh!" he denied, vigorously. this was thecritical moment. she certainly wasn’t suspicious—yet—but she was showing signs of not wanting to goout there, and if she refused to go…. "to

be honest, i don’t care whether i find himor not—the idea of ditching him appeals to me more and more. so how about this? we’lldash out to the third dock—just so i won’t have to actually lie about looking for him—anddash right back here. or wouldn’t you rather have it a twosome?" "i refuse to answer, by advice of counsel."the girl laughed gaily, but her answer was plain enough. their rate of progress was by no means a dash,and kinnison did not look—with his eyes—for northrop. nevertheless, just south of thethird dock, the two young couples met. "my cousin, grace james," northrop said, withouta tremor or a quiver. "wild willi borden,

grace—usually called baldy on account ofhis hair." the girls were introduced; each vouchsafingthe other a completely meaningless smile and a colorlessly conventional word of greeting.were they, in fact as in seeming, total strangers? or were they in fact working together as closelyas were the two young lensmen themselves? if that was acting, it was a beautiful job;neither man could detect the slightest flaw in the performance of either girl. "whither away, pilot?" jack allowed no lapseof time. "you know all the places around here. lead us to a good one." "this way, my old and fragrant fruit." northropled off with a flourish, and again jack tensed.

the walk led straight past the third-class,apparently deserted dock of which a certain ultra-fast vessel was the only occupant. ifnothing happened for fifteen more seconds…. nothing did. the laughing, chattering fourcame abreast of the portal. the door swung open and the lensmen went into action. they did not like to strong-arm women, butspeed was their first consideration, with safety a close second; and it is impossiblefor a man to make speed while carrying a conscious, lithe, strong, heavily-armed woman in sucha position that she cannot use fists, feet, teeth, gun or knife. an unconscious woman,on the other hand, can be carried easily and safely enough. therefore jack spun his partneraround, forced both of her hands into one

of his. the free hand flashed upward towardthe neck; a hard finger pressed unerringly against a nerve; the girl went limp. the twovictims were hustled aboard and the space-ship, surrounded now by full-coverage screen, tookoff. kinnison paid no attention to ship or course;orders had been given long since and would be carried out. instead, he lowered his burdento the floor, spread her out flat, and sought out and removed item after item of wiring,apparatus, and offensive and defensive armament. he did not undress her—quite—but he madecompletely certain that the only weapons left to the young lady were those with which naturehad endowed her. and, northrop having taken care of his alleged cousin with equal thoroughness,the small-arms were sent out and both doors

of the room were securely locked. "now, hell-cat hazel deforce," kinnison said,conversationally, "you can snap out of it any time—you’ve been back to normal forat least two minutes. you’ve found out that your famous sex-appeal won’t work. there’snothing loose you can grab, and you’re too smart an operator to tackle me bare-handed.who’s the captain of your team—you or the clothes-horse?" "clothes-horse!" the statuesque brunette exclaimed,but her protests were drowned out. the blonde could—and did—talk louder, faster, androugher. "do you think you can get away with this?"she demanded. "why, you …" and the unexpurgated,

trenchant, brilliantly detailed characterizationcould have seared its way through four-ply asbestos. "and just what do you think you’regoing to do with me?" "as to the first, i think so," kinnison replied,ignoring the deep-space verbiage. "as to the second—as of now i don’t know. what wouldyou do if our situations were reversed?" "i’d blast you to a cinder—or else takea knife and…." "hazel!" the brunette cautioned sharply. "careful!you’ll touch them off and they’ll…." "shut up, jane! they won’t hurt us any morethan they have already; it’s psychologically impossible. isn’t that true, copper?" hazellighted a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew a cloud of smoke at kinnison’s face.

"pretty much so, i guess," the lensman admitted,frankly enough, "but we can put you away for the rest of your lives." "space-happy? or do you think i am?" she sneered."what would you use for a case? we’re as safe as if we were in god’s pocket. and besides,our positions will be reversed pretty quick. you may not know it, but the fastest shipsin space are chasing us, right now." "for once you’re wrong. we’ve got plenty oflegs ourselves and we’re blasting for rendezvous with a task-force. but enough of this chatter.i want to know what job you’re on and why you picked on us. give." "oh, does ‘oo?" hazel cooed, venomously. "comeand sit on mama’s lap, itty bitty soldier

boy, and she’ll tell you everything you wantto know." both lensmen probed, then, with everythingthey had, but learned nothing of value. the women did not know what the patrolmen weretrying to do, but they were so intensely hostile that their mental blocks, unconscious althoughthey were, were as effective as full-driven thought screens against the most insidiousapproaches the men could make. "anything in their hand-bags, mase?" jackasked, finally. "i’ll look…. nothing much—just this,"and the very tonelessness of northrop’s voice made jack look up quickly. "just a letter from the boy-friend." hazelshrugged her shoulders. "nothing hot—not

even warm—go ahead and read it." "not interested in what it says, but it mightbe smart to develop it, envelope and all, for invisible ink and whatnot." he did so,deeming it a worth-while expenditure of time. he already knew what the hidden message was;but no one not of the patrol should know that no transmission of intelligence, however codedor garbled or disguised or by whatever means sent, could be concealed from any wearer ofarisia’s lens. "listen, hazel," kinnison said, holding upthe now slightly stained paper. "’three six two’—that’s you, i suppose, and you’re thesquad leader—’men mentioned previously being investigated stop assign three nine eight’—thatmust be you, jane—’and make acquaintance

stop if no further instructions received byeighteen hundred hours liquidate immediately stop party one’." the blond operative lost for the first timeher brazen control. "why … that code is unbreakable!" she gasped. "wrong again, gentle alice. some of us arespecialists." he directed a thought at northrop. "this changes things slightly, mase. i wasgoing to turn them loose, but now i don’t know. better we take it up with the boss,don’t you think?" "pos-i-tive-ly!" samms was called, and considered the matterfor approximately one minute. "your first

idea was right, jack. let them go. the messagemay be helpful and informative, but the women would not. they know nothing. congratulations,boys, on the complete success of operation red herring." "ouch!" jack grimaced mentally to his partnerafter the first lensman had cut off. "they know enough to be in on bumping you and meoff, but that ain’t important, says he!" "and it ain’t, bub," northrop grinned back."moderately so, maybe, if they had got us, but not at all so now they can’t. the lensmenhave landed and the situation is well in hand. it is written. selah." "check. let’s wrap it up." jack turned tothe blonde. "come on, hazel. out. number four

lifeboat. do you want to come peaceably orshall i work on your neck again?" "you could think of other places that wouldbe more fun." she got up and stared directly into his eyes, her lip curling. "that is,if you were a man instead of a sublimated boy scout." kinnison, without a word, wheeled and unlockeda door. hazel swaggered forward, but the taller girl hung back. "are you sure there’s air—andthey’ll pick us up? maybe they’re going to make us breathe space…." "huh? they haven’t got the guts," hazel sneered."come on, jane. number four, you said, darling?" she led the way. kinnison opened the portal.jane hurried aboard, but hazel paused and

held out her arms. "aren’t you even going to kiss mama goodbye,baby boy?" she taunted. "better not waste much more time. we blowthis boat, sealed or open, in fifteen seconds." by what effort kinnison held his voice leveland expressionless, he hoped the wench would never know. she looked at him, started to say something,looked again. she had gone just about as far as it was safe to go. she stepped into theboat and reached for the lever. and as the valve was swinging smoothly shut the men hearda tinkling laugh, reminiscent of icicles breaking against steel bells.

"hell’s—brazen—hinges!" kinnison wipedhis forehead as the lifeboat shot away. hazel was something brand new to him; a phenomenonwith which none of his education, training, or experience had equipped him to cope. "i’veheard about the guy who got hold of a tiger by the tail, but…." his thought expiredon a wondering, confused note. "yeah." northrop was in no better case. "wewon—technically—i guess—or did we? that was a god-awful drubbing we took, mister." "well, we got away alive, anyway…. we’lltell parker his dope is correct to the proverbial twenty decimals. and now that we’ve escaped,let’s call spud and see how things came out." and costigan-jones assured them that everythinghad come out very well indeed. the shipment

of thionite had been followed without anydifficulty at all, from the space-ship clear through to jones’ own office, and it reposednow in department q’s own safe, under jones’ personal watch and ward. the pressure hadlightened tremendously, just as kinnison and northrop had thought it would, when they setup their diversion. costigan listened impassively to the whole story. "now should i have shot her, or not?" jackdemanded. "not whether i could have or not—i couldn’t—but should i have, spud?" "i don’t know." costigan thought for minutes."i don’t think so. no—not in cold blood. i couldn’t have, either, and wouldn’t if icould. it wouldn’t be worth it. somebody will

shoot her some day, but not one of us—unless,of course, it’s in a fight." "thanks, spud; that makes me feel better.off." costigan-jones’ desk was already clear, sincethere was little or no paper-work connected with his position in department q. hence hispreparations for departure were few and simple. he merely opened the safe, stuck the packageinto his pocket, closed and locked the safe, and took a company ground-car to the spaceport. nor was there any more formality about hisleaving the planet. eridan had, of course, a customs frontier of sorts; but since uraniuminc. owned eridan in fee simple, its customs paid no attention whatever to company shipsor to low-number, gold-badge company men.

nor did jones need ticket, passport, or visa.company men rode company ships to and from company plants, wherever situated, withoutlet or hindrance. thus, wearing the aura of power of his new position—and gold badgenumber thirty eight—george w. jones was whisked out to the uranium ship and was shownto his cabin. nor was it surprising that the trip from eridanto earth was completely without incident. this was an ordinary freighter, hauling uraniumon a routine flight. her cargo was valuable, of course—the sine qua non of inter-stellartrade—but in no sense precious. not pirate-bait, by any means. and only two men knew that thisflight was in any whit different from the one which had preceded it or the one whichwould follow it. if this ship was escorted

or guarded the fact was not apparent: andno patrol vessel came nearer to it than four detets—virgil samms and roderick kinnisonsaw to that. the voyage, however, was not tedious. joneswas busy every minute. in fact, there were scarcely minutes enough in which to assimilatethe material which isaacson had given him—the layouts, flow-sheets, and organization chartsof works number eighteen, on tellus. and upon arrival at the private spaceportwhich was an integral part of works number eighteen, jones was not surprised (he knewmore now than he had known a few weeks before; and infinitely more than the man on the street)to learn that the customs men of this particular north american port of entry were just ascomplaisant as were those of eridan. they

did not bother even to count the boxes, tosay nothing of inspecting them. they stamped the ship’s papers without either reading orchecking them. they made a perfunctory search, it is true, of crewmen and quarters, but alow number gold badge was still a magic talisman. unquestioned, sacrosanct, he and his baggagewere escorted to the ground-car first in line. "administration building," jones-costigantold the hacker, and that was that. chapter 16 it has been said that the basic drive of theeddorians was a lust for power; a thought which should be elucidated and perhaps slightlymodified. their warrings, their strifes, their inter-necine intrigues and connivings wereinevitable because of the tremendousness and

capability—and the limitations—of theirminds. not enough could occur upon any one planet to keep such minds as theirs even partiallyoccupied; and, unlike the arisians, they could not satiate themselves in a static philosophicalstudy of the infinite possibilities of the cosmic all. they had to be doing something;or, better yet, making other and lesser beings do things to make the physical universe conformto their idea of what a universe should be. their first care was to set up the variousechelons of control. the second echelon, immediately below the masters, was of course the mostimportant, and after a survey of both galaxies they decided to give this high honor to theploorans. ploor, as is now well known, was a planet of a sun so variable that all plooranlife had to undergo radical cyclical changes

in physical form in order to live throughthe tremendous climatic changes involved in its every year. physical form, however, meantnothing to the eddorians. since no other planet even remotely like theirs existed in this,our normal plenum, physiques like theirs would be impossible; and the plooran mentality leftvery little to be desired. in the third echelon there were many differentraces, among which the frigid-blooded, poison-breathing eich were perhaps the most efficient and mostcallous; and in the fourth there were millions upon millions of entities representing thousandsupon thousands of widely-variant races. thus, at the pinpoint in history representedby the time of virgil samms and roderick kinnison, the eddorians were busy; and if such a wordcan be used, happy. gharlane of eddore, second

in authority only to the all-highest, hisultimate supremacy himself, paid little attention to any one planet or to any one race. evensuch a mind as his, when directing the affairs of twenty million and then sixty million andthen a hundred million worlds, can do so only in broad, and not in fine. and thus the reports which were now floodingin to gharlane in a constantly increasing stream concerned classes and groups of worlds,and solar systems, and galactic regions. a planet might perhaps be mentioned as representativeof a class, but no individual entity lower than a plooran was named or discussed. gharlaneanalyzed those tremendous reports; collated, digested, compared, and reconciled them; determinedtrends and tendencies and most probable resultants.

gharlane issued orders, the carrying out ofwhich would make an entire galactic region fit more and ever more exactly into the greatplan. but, as has been pointed out, there was oneflaw inherent in the boskonian system. underlings, then as now, were prone to gloss over theirown mistakes, to cover up their own incompetences. thus, since he had no reason to inquire specifically,gharlane did not know that anything whatever had gone amiss on sol three, the pestiferousplanet which had formerly caused him more trouble than all the rest of his worlds combined. after the fact, it is easy to say that heshould have continued his personal supervision of earth, but can that view be defended? egotistical,self-confident, arrogant, gharlane knew that

he had finally whipped tellus into line. itwas the same now as any other planet of its class. and even had he thought it worth whileto make such a glaring exception, would not the fused elders of arisia have intervened? be those things as they may, gharlane didnot know that the new-born galactic patrol had been successful in defending triplanetary’shill against the black fleet. nor did the plooran assistant director in charge. nordid any member of that dreadful group of eich which was even then calling itself the councilof boskone. the highest-ranking boskonian who knew of the fiasco, calmly confident ofhis own ability, had not considered this minor reverse of sufficient importance to reportto his immediate superior. he had already

taken steps to correct the condition. in fact,as matters now stood, the thing was more fortunate than otherwise, in that it would lull thepatrol into believing themselves in a position of superiority—a belief which would, atelection time, prove fatal. this being, human to the limit of classificationexcept for a faint but unmistakable blue coloration, had been closeted with senator morgan fora matter of two hours. "in the matters covered, your reports havebeen complete and conclusive," the visitor said finally, "but you have not reported onthe lens." "purposely. we are investigating it, but anyreport based upon our present knowledge would be partial and inconclusive."

"i see. commendable enough, usually. newsof this phenomenon has, however, gone farther and higher than you think and i have beenordered to take cognizance of it; to decide whether or not to handle it myself." "i am thoroughly capable of…." "i will decide that, not you." morgan subsided."a partial report is therefore in order. go "according to the procedure submitted andapproved, a lensman was taken alive. since the lens has telepathic properties, and henceis presumably operative at great distances, the operation was carried out in the shortestpossible time. the lens, immediately upon removal from the patrolman’s arm, ceased toradiate and the operative who held the thing

died. it was then applied by force to fourother men—workers, these, of no importance. all four died, thus obviating all possibilityof coincidence. an attempt was made to analyze a fragment of the active material, withoutsuccess. it seemed to be completely inert. neither was it affected by electrical dischargesor by sub-atomic bombardment, nor by any temperatures available. meanwhile, the man was of coursebeing questioned, under truth-drug and beams. his mind denied any knowledge of the natureof the lens; a thing which i am rather inclined to believe. his mind adhered to the beliefthat he obtained the lens upon the planet arisia. i am offering for your considerationmy opinion that the high-ranking officers of the patrol are using hypnotism to concealthe real source of the lens."

"your opinion is accepted for consideration." "the man died during examination. two minutesafter his death his lens disappeared." "disappeared? what do you mean? flew away?vanished? was stolen? disintegrated? or what?" "no. more like evaporation or sublimation,except that there was no gradual diminution in volume, and there was no detectable residue,either solid, liquid, or gaseous. the platinum-alloy bracelet remained intact." "and then?" "the patrol attacked in force and our expeditionwas destroyed." "you are sure of these observational facts?"

"i have the detailed records. would you liketo see them?" "send them to my office. i hereby relieveyou of all responsibility in the matter of the lens. in fact, even i may decide to referit to a higher echelon. have you any other material, not necessarily facts, which mayhave bearing?" "none," morgan replied; and it was just aswell for virgilia samms’ continued well-being that the senator did not think it worth whileto mention the traceless disappearance of his number one secretary and a few membersof a certain unsavory gang. to his way of thinking, the lens was not involved, exceptperhaps very incidentally. herkimer, in spite of advice and orders, had probably got roughwith the girl, and samms’ mob had rubbed him

out. served him right. "i have no criticism of any phase of yourwork. you are doing a particularly nice job on thionite. you are of course observing allspecified precautions as to key personnel?" "certainly. thorough testing and unremittingwatchfulness. our mr. isaacson is about to promote a man who has proved very capable.would you like to observe the proceedings?" "no. i have no time for minor matters. yourresults have been satisfactory. keep them that way. good-bye." the visitor strode out. morgan reached for a switch, then drew hishand back. no. he would like to sit in on the forthcoming interview, but he did nothave the time. he had tested olmstead repeatedly

and personally; he knew what the man was.it was isaacson’s department; let isaacson handle it. he himself must work full timeat the job which only he could handle; the nationalists must and would win this forthcomingelection. and in the office of the president of interstellarspaceways, isaacson got up and shook hands with george olmstead. "i called you in for two reasons. first, inreply to your message that you were ready for a bigger job. what makes you think thatany such are available?" "do i need to answer that?" "perhaps not … no." the magnate smiled quietly.morgan was right; this man could not be accused

of being dumb. "there is such a job, you areready for it, and you have your successor trained in the work of harvesting. second,why did you cut down, instead of increasing as ordered, the weight of broadleaf per trip?this, olmstead, is really serious." "i explained why. it would have been moreserious the other way. didn’t you believe i knew what i was talking about?" "your reasoning may have been distorted intransmittal. i want it straight from you." "very well. it isn’t smart to be greedy. there’sa point at which something that has been merely a nuisance becomes a thing that has to bewiped out. since i didn’t want to be in that ferry when the patrol blows it out of theether, i cut down the take, and i advise you

to keep it down. what you’re getting now isa lot more than you ever got before, and a hell of a lot more than none at all. thinkit over." "i see. upon what basis did you arrive atthe figure you established?" "pure guesswork, nothing else. i guessed thatabout three hundred percent of the previous average per month ought to satisfy anybodywho wasn’t too greedy to have good sense, and that more than that would ring a loud,clear bell right where we don’t want any noise made. so i cut it down to three, and advisedferdy either to keep it at three or quit while he was still all in one piece." "you exceeded your authority … and wereinsubordinate … but it wouldn’t surprise

me if you were right. you are certainly rightin principle, and the poundage can be determined by statistical and psychological analysis.but in the meantime, there is tremendous pressure for increased production." "i know it. pressure be damned. my dear cousinvirgil is, as you already know, a crackpot. he is visionary, idealistic, full of sweetand beautiful concepts of what the universe would be like if there weren’t so many peoplelike you and me in it; but don’t ever make the mistake of writing him off as anybody’sfool. and you know, probably better than i do, what rod kinnison is like. if i were youi’d tell whoever is doing the screaming to shut their damn mouths before they get theirteeth kicked down their throats."

"i’m very much inclined to take your advice.and now as to this proposed promotion. you are of course familiar in a general way withour operation at northport?" "i could scarcely help knowing something aboutthe biggest uranium works on earth. however, i am not well enough qualified in detail tomake a good technical executive." "nor is it necessary. our thought is to makeyou a key man in a new and increasingly important branch of the business, known as departmentq. it is concerned neither with production nor with uranium." "q as in ‘quiet’, eh? i’m listening with bothears. what duties would be connected with this … er … position? what would i reallydo?"

two pairs of hard eyes locked and held, staringyieldlessly into each other’s depths. "you would not be unduly surprised to learnthat substances other than uranium occasionally reach northport?" "not too surprised, no," olmstead replieddryly. "what would i do with it?" "we need not go into that here or now. i offeryou the position." "i accept it." "very well. i will take you to northport,and we will continue our talk en route." and in a spy-ray-proof, sound-proof compartmentof a spaceways-owned stratoliner they did so.

"just for my information, mr. isaacson, howmany predecessors have i had on this particular job, and what happened to them? the patrolget them?" "two. no; we have not been able to find anyevidence that the samms crowd has any suspicion of us. both were too small for the job; neithercould handle personnel. one got funny ideas, the other couldn’t stand the strain. if youdon’t get funny ideas, and don’t crack up, you will make out in a big—and i mean reallybig—way." "if i do either i’ll be more than somewhatsurprised." olmstead’s features set themselves into a mirthless, uncompromising, somehowbitter grin. "so will i." isaacson agreed.

he knew what this man was, and just how case-hardenedhe was. he knew that he had fought morgan himself to a scoreless tie after twistingherkimer—and he was no soft touch—into a pretzel in nothing flat. at the thoughtof the secretary, so recently and so mysteriously vanished, the magnate’s mind left for a momentthe matter in hand. what was at the bottom of that affair—the lens or the woman? orboth? if he were in morgan’s shoes … but he wasn’t. he had enough grief of his own,without worrying about any of morgan’s stinkeroos. he studied olmstead’s inscrutable, subtlysneering smile and knew that he had made a wise decision. "i gather that i am going to be one of themain links in the primary chain of deliveries.

what’s the technique, and how do i cover up?" "technique first. you go fishing. you arean expert at that, i believe?" "you might say so. i won’t have to do anyfaking there." "some week-end soon, and every week-end lateron, we hope, you will indulge in your favorite sport at some lake or other. you will takethe customary solid and liquid refreshments along in a lunch-box. when you have finishedeating you will toss the lunch-box overboard." "that all?" "that’s all." "the lunch-box, then, will be slightly special?"

"more or less, although it will look ordinaryenough. now as to the cover-up. how would ‘director of research’ sound?" "i don’t know. depends on what the researchersare doing. before i became an engineer i was a pure scientist of sorts; but that was quitea while ago and i was never a specialist." "that is one reason why i think you will do.we have plenty of specialists—too many, i often think. they dash off in all directions,without rhyme or reason. what we want is a man with enough scientific training to knowin general what is going on, but what he will need mostly is hard common sense, and enoughability—mental force, you might call it—to hold the specialists down to earth and makethem pull together. if you can do it—and

if i didn’t think you could i wouldn’t betalking to you—the whole force will know that you are earning your pay; just as wecould not hide the fact that your two predecessors weren’t." "put that way it sounds good. i wouldn’t wonderif i could handle it." the conversation went on, but the rest ofit is of little importance here. the plane landed. isaacson introduced the new directorof research to works manager rand, who in turn introduced him to a few of his scientistsand to the svelte and spectacular red-head who was to be his private secretary. it was clear from the first that the researchdepartment was not going to be an easy one

to manage. the top men were defiant, the middleranks were sullen, the smaller fry were apprehensive as well as sullen. the secretary flauntedchips on both shapely shoulders. men and women alike expected the application of the oldwheeze "a new broom sweeps clean" for the third time in scarcely twice that many months,and they were defying him to do his worst. wherefore they were very much surprised whenthe new boss did nothing whatever for two solid weeks except read reports and get acquaintedwith his department. "how d’ya like your new boss, may?" anothersecretary asked, during a break. "oh, not too bad … i guess." may’s tonewas full of reservations. "he’s quiet—sort of reserved—no passes or anything like that—it’dbe funny if i finally got a boss that had

something on the ball, wouldn’t it? but youknow what, molly?" the red-head giggled suddenly. "i had a camera-fiend first, you know, witha million credits’ worth of stereo-cams and such stuff, and then a golf-nut. i wonderwhat this dr. olmstead does with his spare cash?" "you’ll find out, dearie, no doubt." molly’stone gave the words a meaning slightly different from the semantic one of their arrangement. "i intend to, molly—i fully intend to."may’s meaning, too, was not expressed exactly by the sequence of words used. "it must betough, a boss’s life. having to sit at a desk or be in conference six or seven hours a day—whenhe isn’t playing around somewhere—for a

measly thousand credits or so a month. howdo they get that way?" "you said it, may. you really said it. butwe’ll get ours, huh?" time went on. george olmstead studied reports,and more reports. he read one, and re-read it, frowning. he compared it minutely withanother; then sent red-headed may to hunt up one which had been turned in a couple ofweeks before. he took them home that evening, and in the morning he punched three buttons.three stiffly polite young men obeyed his summons. "good morning, doctor olmstead." "morning, boys. i’m not up on the fundamentaltheory of any one of these three reports,

but if you combine this, and this, and this,"indicating heavily-penciled sections of the three documents, "would you, or would younot, be able to work out a process that would do away with about three-quarters of the finalpurification and separation processes?" they did not know. it had not been the businessof any one of them, or of all them collectively, to find out. "i’m making it your business as of now. dropwhatever you’re doing, put your heads together, and find out. theory first, then a small-scalelaboratory experiment. then come back here on the double." "yes, sir," and in a few days they were back.

"does it work?" "in theory it should, sir, and on a laboratoryscale it does." the three young men were, if possible, even stiffer than before. itwas not the first time, nor would it be the last, that a director of research would seizecredit for work which he was not capable of doing. "good. miss reed, get me rand … rand? olmstead.three of my boys have just hatched out something that may be worth quite a few million creditsa year to us…. me? hell, no! talk to them. i can’t understand any one of the three partsof it, to say nothing of inventing it. i want you to give ’em a class aaa priority on thepilot plant, as of right now. if they can

develop it, and i’m betting they can, i’mgoing to put their pictures in the northport news and give ’em a couple of thousand creditsapiece and a couple of weeks vacation to spend it in…. yeah, i’ll send ’em in." he turnedto the flabbergasted three. "take your dope in to rand—now. show him what you’ve got;then tear into that pilot plant." and, a little later, molly and may again metin the powder room. "so your new boss is a fisherman!" molly snickered."and they say he paid over two hundred credits for a reel! you were right, may; a boss’slife must be mighty hard to take. and he sits around more and does less, they say, thanany other exec in the plant." "who says so, the dirty, sneaking liars?"the red-head blazed, completely unaware that

she had reversed her former position. "andeven if it was so, which it isn’t, he can do more work sitting perfectly still thanany other boss in the whole works can do tearing around at forty parsecs a minute, so there!" george olmstead was earning his salary. his position was fully consolidated when,a few days later, a tremor of excitement ran through the research department. "heads up,everybody! mr. isaacson—himself—is coming—here! what for, i wonder? y’don’t s’pose he’s goingto take the old man away from us already, do you?" he came. he went through, for the first time,the entire department. he observed minutely,

and he understood what he saw. olmstead led the big boss into his privateoffice and flipped the switch which supposedly rendered that sanctum proof against any andall forms of spying, eavesdropping, intrusion, and communication. it did not, however, closethe deeper, subtler channels which the lensmen used. "good work, george. so damned good that i’mgoing to have to take you out of department q entirely and make you works manager of ournew plant on vegia. have you got a man you can break in to take your place here?" "including department q? no." although olmsteaddid not show it, he was disappointed at hearing

the word "vegia". he had been aiming muchhigher than that—at the secret planet of the boskonian armed forces, no less—butthere might still be enough time to win a transfer there. "excluding. i’ve got another good man herenow for that. jones. not heavy enough, though, for vegia." "in that case, yes. dr. whitworth, one ofthe boys who worked out the new process. it’ll take a little time, though. three weeks minimum." "three weeks it is. today’s friday. you’vegot things in shape, haven’t you, so that you can take the week-end off?"

"i was figuring on it. i’m not going wherei thought i was, though, i imagine." "probably not. lake chesuncook, on route 273.rough country, and the hotel is something less than fourth rate, but the fishing can’tbe beat." "i’m glad of that. when i fish, i like tocatch something." "it would smell if you didn’t. they stocklunch-boxes in the cafeteria, you know. have your girl get you one, full of sandwichesand stuff. start early this afternoon, as soon as you can after i leave. be sure andsee jones, with your lunch-box, before you leave. good-bye." "miss reed, please send whitworth in. thenskip down to the cafeteria and get me a lunch-box.

sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. provendersuitable for a wet and hungry fisherman." "yes, sir!" there were no chips now; the red-head’sboss was the top ace of the whole plant. "hi, ned. take the throne." olmstead wavedhis hand at the now vacant chair behind the big desk. "hold it down ’til i get back. monday,maybe." "going fishing, huh?" gone was all trace ofstiffness, of reserve, of unfriendliness. "you big, lucky stiff!" "well, my brilliant young squirt, maybe you’llget old and fat enough to go fishing yourself some day. who knows? ‘bye." lunch-box in hand and encumbered with tackle,olmstead walked blithely along the corridor

to the office of assistant works manager jones.while he had not known just what to expect, he was not surprised to see a lunch-box exactlylike his own upon the side-table. he placed his box beside it. "hi, olmstead." by no slightest flicker ofexpression did either lensman step out of character. "shoving off early?" "yeah. dropped by to let the head office knowi won’t be in ’til monday." "o.k. so’m i, but more speed for me. chemquassabamticooklake." "do you pronounce that or sneeze it? but havefun, my boy. i’m combining business with pleasure, though—breaking in whitworth on my job.that fairplay thing is going to break in about

an hour, and it’ll scare the pants off ofhim. but it’ll keep until monday, anyway, and if he handles it right he’s just aboutin." jones grinned. "a bit brutal, perhaps, buta sure way to find out. ‘bye." "so long." olmstead strolled out, nonchalantlypicking up the wrong lunch box on the way, and left the building. he ordered his dillingham, and tossed thelunch-box aboard as carelessly as though it did not contain an unknown number of millionsof credits’ worth of clear-quill, uncut thionite. "i hope you have a nice week-end, sir," theyard-man said, as he helped stow baggage and tackle.

"thanks, otto. i’ll bring you a couple offish monday, if i catch that many," and it should be said in passing that he broughtthem. lensmen keep their promises, under whatever circumstances or however lightly given. it being mid-afternoon of friday, the trafficwas already heavy. northport was not a metropolis, of course; but on the other hand it did nothave metropolitan multi-tiered, one-way, non-intersecting streets. but olmstead was in no hurry. heinched his spectacular mount—it was a violently iridescent chrome green in color, with highlypolished chromium gingerbread wherever there was any excuse for gingerbread to be—acrossthe city and into the north-bound side of the superhighway. even then, he did not hurry.he wanted to hit the inspection station at

the edge of the preserve at dusk. ninety milesan hour would do it. he worked his way into the ninety-mile lane and became motionlessrelative to the other vehicles on the strip. it was a peculiar sensation; it seemed asthough the cars themselves were stationary, with the pavement flowing backward beneaththem. there was no passing, no weaving, no cutting in and out. only occasionally wouldthe formation be broken as a car would shift almost imperceptibly to one side or the other;speeding up or slowing down to match the assigned speed of the neighboring way. the afternoon was bright and clear, neithertoo hot nor too cold. olmstead enjoyed his drive thoroughly, and arrived at the turn-offright on schedule. leaving the wide, smooth

way, he slowed down abruptly; even a dillinghamsuper-sporter could not make speed on the narrow, rough, and hilly road to chesuncooklake. at dusk he reached the post. instead of stoppingon the pavement he pulled off the road, got out, stretched hugely, and took a few drum-major’ssteps to take the kinks out of his legs. "a lot of road, eh?" the smartly-uniformedtrooper remarked. "no guns?" "no guns." olmstead opened up for inspection."from northport. funny, isn’t it, how hard it is to stop, even when you aren’t in anyparticular hurry? guess i’ll eat now—join me in a sandwich and some hot coffee or acold lemon sour or cherry soda?" "i’ve got my own supper, thanks; i was justgoing to eat. but did you say a cold lemon

sour?" "uh-huh. ice-cold. zero degrees centigrade." "i will join you, in that case. thanks." olmstead opened a frost-lined compartment;took out two half-liter bottles; placed them and his open lunch-box invitingly on the lowstone wall. "hm … m … m. quite a zipper you got there,mister." the trooper gazed admiringly at the luxurious, two-wheeled monster; listened appreciativelyto its almost inaudible hum. "i’ve heard about those new supers, but that is the first onei ever saw. nice. all the comforts of home, eh?"

"just about. sure you won’t help me cleanup on those sandwiches, before they get stale?" seated on the wall, the two men ate and talked.if that trooper had known what was in the box beside his leg he probably would havefallen over backward; but how was he even to suspect? there was nothing crass or roughor coarse about any of the work of any of boskone’s high-level operators. olmstead drove on to the lake and took uphis reservation at the ramshackle hotel. he slept, and bright and early the next morninghe was up and fishing—and this part of the performance he really enjoyed. he knew hisstuff and the fish were there; big, wary, and game. he loved it.

at noon he ate, and quite openly and brazenlyconsigned the "empty" box to the watery deep. even if he had not had so many fish to carry,he was not the type to lug a cheap lunch-box back to town. he fished joyously all afternoon,without getting quite the limit, and as the sun grazed the horizon he started his putt-puttand skimmed back to the dock. the thing hadn’t sent out any radiation yet,northrop informed him tensely, but it certainly would, and when it did they’d be ready. therewere lensmen and patrolmen all over the place, thicker than hair on a dog. and george olmstead, sighing wearily and yetblissfully anticipatory of one more day of enthralling sport, gathered up his equipmentand his fish and strolled toward the hotel.

chapter 17 forty thousand miles from earth’s center thechicago loafed along a circular arc, inert, at a mere ten thousand miles an hour; a speedwhich, and not by accident, kept her practically stationary above a certain point on the planet’ssurface. nor was it by chance that both virgil samms and roderick kinnison were aboard. anda dozen or so other craft, cruisers and such, whose officers were out to put space-timein their logs, were flitting aimlessly about; but never very far away from the flagship.and farther out—well out—a cordon of diesel-powered detector ships swept space to the full limitof their prodigious reach. the navigating officers of those vessels knew to a nicetythe place and course of every ship lawfully

in the ether, and the appearance of even oneunscheduled trace would set in motion a long succession of carefully-planned events. and far below, grazing atmosphere, never veryfar from the direct line between the chicago and earth’s core, floated a palatial pleasureyacht. and this craft carried not one lensman, or two, but eight; two of whom kept theireyes fixed upon their observation plates. they were watching a lunch-box resting uponthe bottom of a lake. "hasn’t it radiated yet?" roderick kinnisondemanded. "or been approached, or moved?" "not yet," lyman cleveland replied, crisply."neither northrop’s rig nor mine has shown any sign of activity."

he did not amplify the statement, nor wasthere need. mason northrop was a master electronicist; cleveland was perhaps the world’s greatestliving expert. neither of them had detected radiation. ergo, none existed. equally certainly the box had not moved, orbeen moved, or approached. "no change, rod," doctor frederick rodebush lensed the assuredthought. "six of us have been watching the plates in five-minute shifts." a few minutes later, however: "here is a thoughtwhich may be of interest," dalnalten the venerian announced, spraying himself with a couplepints of water. "it is natural enough, of course, for any venerian to be in or on anywater he can reach—i would enjoy very much

being on or in that lake myself—but it maynot be entirely by coincidence that one particular venerian, ossmen, is visiting this particularlake at this particular time." "what!" nine lensmen yelled the thought practicallyas one. "precisely. ossmen." it was a measure of thevenerian lensman’s concern that he used only two words instead of twenty or thirty. "inthe red boat with the yellow sail." "do you see any detector rigs?" samms asked. "he wouldn’t need any," dalnalten put in."he will be able to see it. or, if a little colane had been rubbed on it which no telluriancould have noticed, any venerian could smell it from one end of that lake to the other."

"true. i didn’t think of that. it may nothave a transmitter after all." "maybe not, but keep on listening, anyway,"the port admiral ordered. "bend a plate on ossmen, and a couple more on the rest of theboats. but ossmen is clean, you say, jack? not even a spy-ray block?" "he couldn’t have a block, dad. it’d givetoo much away, here on our home grounds. like on eridan, where their ops could wear anythingthey could lift, but we had to go naked." he flinched mentally as he recalled his encounterwith hazel the hell-cat, and northrop flinched with him. "that’s right, rod," olmstead in his boatbelow agreed, and conway costigan, in his

room in northport, concurred. the top-draweroperatives of the enemy depended for safety upon perfection of technique, not upon crudeand dangerous mechanical devices. "well, since you’re all so sure of it, i’llbuy it," and the waiting went on. under the slight urge of the light and vagrantbreeze, the red boat moved slowly across the water. a somnolent, lackadaisical youth, whovery evidently cared nothing about where the boat went, sat in its stern, with his leftarm draped loosely across the tiller. nor was ossmen any more concerned. his only care,apparently, was to avoid interference with the fishermen; his under-water jaunts werelong, even for a venerian, and he entered and left the water as smoothly as only a venerian—ora seal—could.

"however, he could have, and probably hasgot, a capsule spy-ray detector," jack offered, presently. "or, since a venerian can swallowanything one inch smaller than a kitchen stove, he could have a whole analyzing station stashedaway in his stomach. nobody’s put a beam on him yet, have you?" nobody had. "it might be smart not to. watch him with’scopes … and when he gets up close to the box, better pull your beams off of it. dalnalten,i don’t suppose it would be quite bright for you to go swimming down there too, would it?" "very definitely not, which is why i am uphere and dry. none of them would go near it."

they waited, and finally ossmen’s purposelesswanderings brought him over the spot on the lake’s bottom which was the target of so manytellurian eyes. he gazed at the discarded lunch-box as incuriously as he had lookedat so many other sunken objects, and swam over it as casually—and only the ultra-camerascaught what he actually did. he swam serenely on. "the box is still there," the spy-ray menreported, "but the package is gone." "good!" kinnison exclaimed, "can you ‘scopistssee it on him?" "ten to one they can’t," jack said. "he swallowedit. i expected him to swallow it box and all." "we can’t see it, sir. he must have swallowedit."

"make sure." "yes, sir…. he’s back on the boat now andwe’ve shot him from all angles. he’s clean—nothing outside." "perfect! that means he isn’t figuring onslipping it to somebody else in a crowd. this will be an ordinary job of shadowing fromhere on in, so i’ll put in the umbrella." the detector ships were recalled. the chicagoand the various other ships of war returned to their various bases. the pleasure craftfloated away. but on the other hand there were bursts of activity throughout the forestfor a mile or so back from the shores of the lake. camps were struck. hiking parties decidedthat they had hiked enough and began to retrace

their steps. lithe young men, who had beendoing this and that, stopped doing it and headed for the nearest trails. for kinnison pere had erred slightly in sayingthat the rest of the enterprise was to be an ordinary job of shadowing. no ordinaryjob would do. with the game this nearly in the bag it must be made absolutely certainthat no suspicion was aroused, and yet samms had to have facts. sharp, hard, clear facts;facts so self-evidently facts that no intelligence above idiot grade could possibly mistake themfor anything but facts. wherefore ossmen the venerian was not alonethenceforth. from lake to hotel, from hotel to car, along the road, into and in and outof train and plane, clear to an ordinary-enough-looking

building in an ordinary business section ofnew york, he was never alone. where the traveling population was light, the patrol operativeswere few and did not crowd the venerian too nearly; where dense, as in a metropolitanstation, they ringed him three deep. he reached his destination, which was of coursespy-ray proofed, late sunday night. he went in, remained briefly, came out. "shall we spy-ray him, virge? follow him?or what?" "no spy-rays. follow him. cover him like ablanket. at the usual time give him the usual spy-ray going-over, but not until then. thistime, make it thorough. make certain that he hasn’t got it on him, in him, or in oraround his house."

"there’ll be nothing doing here tonight, willthere?" "no, it would be too noticeable. so you, fred,and lyman, take the first trick; the rest of us will get some sleep." when the building opened monday morning thelensmen were back, with dozens of others, including knobos of mars. there were alsopresent or nearby literally hundreds of the shrewdest, most capable detectives of earth. "so this is their headquarters—one of themat least," the martian thought, studying the trickle of people entering and leaving thebuilding. "it is as we thought, dal, why we could never find it, why we could never traceany wholesaler backward. none of us has ever

seen any of these persons before. completechange of personnel per operation; probably inter-planetary. long periods of quiescence.check?" "check: but we have them now." "just like that, huh?" jack kinnison jibed;and from his viewpoint his idea was the more valid, for the wholesalers were very cleveroperators indeed. from the more professional viewpoint of knobosand dalnalten, however, who had fought a steadily losing battle so long, the task was not toodifficult. their forces were beautifully organized and synchronized; they were present in suchoverwhelming numbers that "tails" could be changed every fifteen seconds; long beforeanybody, however suspicious, could begin to

suspect any one shadow. nor was it necessaryfor the tails to signal each other, however inconspicuously, or to indicate any suspectat change-over time. lensed thoughts directed every move, without confusion or error. and there were tiny cameras with tremendous,protuberant lenses, the "long eyes" capable of taking wire-sharp close ups from five hundredfeet; and other devices and apparatus and equipment too numerous to mention here. thus the wholesalers were traced and theirtransactions with the retail peddlers were recorded. and from that point on, even jackkinnison had to admit that the sailing was clear. these small fry were not smart, andtheir customers were even less so. none had

screens or detectors or other apparatus; theirevery transaction could be and was recorded from a distance of many miles by the ultra-instrumentsof the patrol. and not only the transactions. clearly, unmistakeably, the purchaser wasfollowed from buying to sniffing; nor was the time intervening ever long. thionite,then as now, was bought at retail only to use, and the whole ghastly thing went downon tape and film. the gasping, hysterical appeal; the exchange of currency for drug;the headlong rush to a place of solitude; the rigid muscle-lock and the horribly ecstatictransports; the shaken, soul-searing recovery or the entranced death. it all went on record.it was sickening to have to record such things. more than one observer did sicken in fact,and had to be relieved. but virgil samms had

to have concrete, positive, irrefutable evidence.he got it. any possible jury, upon seeing that evidence, would know it to be the truth;no possible jury, after seeing that evidence, could bring in any verdict other than "guilty". oddly enough, jack kinnison was the only casualtyof that long and hectic day. a man—later proved to be a middle-sized potentate of theunderworld—who was not even under suspicion at the time, for some reason or other gotthe idea that jack was after him. the lensman had, perhaps, allowed some part of his longeye to show; a fast and efficient long-range telephoto lens is a devilishly awkward thingto conceal. at any rate the racketeer sent out a call for help, just in case his bodyguardswould not be enough, and in the meantime his

personal attendants rallied enthusiasticallyaround. they had two objects in view; one, to passa knife expeditiously and quietly through young kinnison’s throat from ear to ear; and:two, to tear the long eye apart and subject a few square inches of super-sensitive emulsionto the bright light of day. and if the big shot had known that the photographer was notalone, that the big, hulking bruiser a few feet away was also a bull, they might havesucceeded. two of the four hoods reached jack just fractionallyahead of the other two; one to seize the camera, the other to swing the knife. but jack kinnisonwas fast; fast of brain and nerve and muscle. he saw them coming. in three flashing motionshe bent the barrel of the telephoto into a

neat arc around the side of the first man’shead, ducked frantically under the fiercely-driven knife, and drove the toe of his boot intothe spot upon which prize-fighters like to have their rabbit-punches land. both of thoseattackers lost interest promptly. one of them lost interest permanently; for a telephotolens in barrel is heavy, very rigid, and very, very hard. while battling jack was still off balance,the other two guards arrived—but so did mason northrop. mase was not quite as fastas jack was; but, as has been pointed out, he was bigger and much stronger. when he hita man, with either hand, that man dropped. it was the same as being on the receivingend of the blow of a twenty-pound hammer falling

through a distance of ninety seven and one-halffeet. the lensmen had of course also yelled forhelp, and it took only a split second for a patrol speedster to travel from any givenpoint to any other in the same county. it took no time at all for that speedster tofill a couple of square blocks with patterns of force through which neither bullets norbeams could be driven. therefore the battle ended as suddenly as it began; before morethugs, with their automatics and portables, could reach the scene. kinnison fils cursed and damned fulminantlythe edict which had forbidden arms that day, and swore that he would never get out of bedagain without strapping on at least two blasters;

but he had to admit finally that he had nothingto squawk about. kinnison pere explained quite patiently—for him—that all he had gotout of the little fracas was a split lip, that young northrop’s hair wasn’t even mussed,and that if everybody had been packing guns some scatter-brained young damn fool likehim would have started blasting and blown everything higher than up—would have spoiledsamms’ whole operation maybe beyond repair. now would he please quit bellyaching and getto hell out? he got. "that buttons thionite up, don’t you think?"rod kinnison asked. "and the lawyers will have plenty of time to get the case lickedinto shape and lined up for trial."

"yes and no." samms frowned in thought. "theevidence is complete, from original producer to ultimate consumer; but our best guess isthat it will take years to get the really important offenders behind bars." "why? i thought you were giving them altogethertoo much time when you scheduled the blow-off for three weeks ahead of election." "because the drug racket is only a small partof it. we’re going to break the whole thing at once, you know, and mateese covers a lotmore ground—murder, kidnapping, bribery, corruption, misfeasance—practically everythingyou can think of." "i know. what of it?"

"jurisdiction, among other things. with thepresident, over half of the congress, much of the judiciary, and practically all of thepolitical bosses and police chiefs of the continent under indictment at once, the legalproblem becomes incredibly difficult. the patrol’s department of law has been workingon it twenty four hours a day, and the only thing they seem sure of is a long successionof bitterly-contested points of law. there are no precedents whatever." "precedents be damned! they’re guilty andeverybody knows it. we’ll change the laws so that…." "we will not!" samms interrupted, sharply."we want and we will have government by law,

not by men. we have had too much of that already.speed is not of the essence; justice very definitely is." "’crusader’ samms, now and forever! but i’llbuy it, virge—now let’s get back down to earth. operation zwilnik is all set. mateeseis going good. zabriska tied into zwilnik. that leaves operation boskone, which is, isuppose, still getting nowhere fast." the first lensman did not reply. it was, andboth men knew it. the shrewdest, most capable and experienced operatives of the patrol hadhit that wall with everything they had, and had simply bounced. low-level trials had foundno point of contact, no angle of approach. middle level, ditto. george olmstead, workingat the highest possible level, was morally

certain that he had found a point of contact,but had not been able to do anything with it. "how about calling a council conference onit?" kinnison asked finally. "or bergenholm at least? maybe he can get one of his huncheson it." "i have discussed it with them all, just asi have with you. no one had anything constructive to offer, except to go ahead with bennettas you are doing. the concensus is that the boskonians know just as much about our militaryaffairs as we know about theirs—no more." "it would be too much to expect them to bedumb enough to figure us as dumb enough to depend only on our visible grand fleet, afterthe warning they gave us at the hill," kinnison

admitted. "yes. what worries me most is that they hada running start." "not enough to count," the port admiral declared."we can out-produce ’em and out-fight ’em." "don’t be over-optimistic. you can’t denythem the possession of brains, ability, man-power and resources at least equal to ours." "i don’t have to." kinnison remained obstinatelycheerful. "morale, my boy, is what counts. man-power and tonnage and fire-power are important,of course, but morale has won every war in history. and our morale right now is higherthan a cat’s back—higher than any time since john paul jones—and getting higher by theday."

"yes?" the question was monosyllabic but potent. "yes. i mean just that—yes. from what weknow of their system they can’t have the morale we’ve got. anything they can do we can domore of and better. what you’ve got, virge, is a bad case of ingrowing nerves. you’venever been to bennett, in spite of the number of times i’ve asked you to. i say take timeright now and come along—it’ll be good for what ails you. it will also be a very finething for bennett and for the patrol—you’ll find yourself no stranger there." "you may have something there … i’ll doit." port admiral and first lensman went to bennett,not in the chicago or other superdreadnaught,

but in a two-man speedster. this was necessarybecause space-travel, as far as that planet was concerned, was a strictly one-way affairexcept for lensmen. only lensmen could leave bennett, under any circumstances or for anyreason whatever. there was no out-going mail, express, or freight. even the war-vesselsof the fleet, while on practice maneuvers outside the bottle-tight envelopes surroundingthe system, were so screened that no unauthorized communication could possibly be made. "in other words," kinnison finished explaining,"we slapped on everything anybody could think of, including bergenholm and rularion; andbelieve me, brother, that was a lot of stuff." "but wouldn’t the very fact of such rigidrestrictions operate against morale? it is

a truism of psychology that imprisonment,like everything else, is purely relative." "yeah, that’s what i told rularion, excepti used simpler and rougher language. you know how sarcastic and superior he is, even whenhe’s wrong?" "how i know!" "well, when he’s right he’s too damned insufferablefor words. you’d’ve thought he was talking to the prize boob of a class of half-wits.as long as nobody on the planet knew that there was any such thing as space-travel,or suspected that they were not the only form of intelligent life in the universe, it wasall right. no such concept as being planet-bound could exist. they had all the room there was.but after they met us, and digested all the

implications, they would develop the colly-wobblesno end. this, of course, is an extreme simplification of the way the old coot poured it into me;but he came through with the solution, so i took it like a little man." "what was the solution?" "it’s a shame you were too busy to come inon it. you’ll see when we land." but virgil samms was quick on the uptake.even before they landed, he understood. when the speedster slowed down for atmosphere hesaw blazoned upon the clouds a welter of one many-times repeated signal; as they came toground he saw that the same set of symbols was repeated, not only upon every availablecloud, but also upon airships, captive balloons,

streamers, roofs and sides of buildings—even,in multi-colored rocks and flower-beds, upon the ground itself. "twenty haress," samms translated, and frownedin thought. "a date of the bennettan year. would it by any chance happen to coincidewith our tellurian november fourteenth of this present year?" "bright boy!" kinnison applauded. "i thoughtyou’d get it, but not so fast. yes—election day." "i see. they know what is going on, then?" "everything that counts. they know what westand to win—and lose. they’ve named it

liberation day, and everything on the planetis building up to it in a grand crescendo. i was a little afraid of it at first, butif the screens are really tight it won’t make any difference how many people know it, andif they aren’t the beans would all be spilled anyway. and it really works—i get a biggerthrill every time i come here." "i can see where it might work." bennett was a fully tellurian world in mass,in atmosphere and in climate; her native peoples were human to the limit of classification,both physically and mentally. and first lensman samms, as he toured it with his friend, founda world aflame with a zeal and an ardor unknown to blase earth since the days of the crusades.the patrol’s cleverest and shrewdest psychologists,

by merely sticking to the truth, had donea marvelous job. bennett knew that it was the arsenal and thenavy yard of civilization, and it was proud of it. its factories were humming as theyhad never hummed before; every industry, every business, every farm was operating at onehundred percent of capacity. bennett was dotted and spattered with spaceports already built,and hundreds more were being rushed to completion. the already staggering number of ships ofwar operating out of those ports was being augmented every hour by more and ever moreultra-modern, ultra-fast, ultra-powerful shapes. it was an honor to help build those ships;it was a still greater one to help man them. competitive examinations were being held constantly,nor were all or even most of the applicants

native bennettans. samms did not have to ask where these youngpeople were coming from. he knew. from all the planets of civilization, attracted bycarefully-worded advertisements of good jobs at high pay on new and highly secret projectson newly discovered planets. there were hundreds of such ads. most were probably the patrol’s,and led here; many were of spaceways, uranium incorporated, and other mercantile firms.the possibility that some of them might lead to what was now being called boskonia hadbeen tested thoroughly, but with uniformly negative results. lensmen had applied by scoresfor those non-patrol jobs and had found them bona-fide. the conclusion was unavoidable—boskonewas doing its recruiting on planets unknown

to any wearer of arisia’s lens. on the otherhand, more than a trickle of boskonians were applying for patrol jobs, but samms was almostcertain that none had been accepted. the final screening was done by lensmen, and in suchmatters lensmen did not make many or serious mistakes. bennett had been informed of the first lensman’sarrival, and kinnison had been guilty of a gross understatement indeed in telling sammsthat he would not be regarded as a stranger. wherever samms went he was met by wildly enthusiasticcrowds. he had to make speeches, each of which was climaxed by a tremendous roar of "to liberationday!" "no lensman material here, you say, rod?"samms asked, after the first city-shaking

demonstration was over. one of his prime concerns,throughout his life, was this. "with all this enthusiasm? sure?" "we haven’t found any good enough to referto you yet. however, in a few years, when the younger generation gets a little older,there certainly will be." "check." the tour of inspection and acquaintancewas finished, the two lensmen started back to earth. "well, my skeptical and pessimistic friend,was i lying, or not?" kinnison asked, as soon as the speedster’s ports were sealed. "canthey match that or not?" "you weren’t—and i don’t believe they can.i have never seen anything like it. autocracies

have parades and cheers and demonstrations,of course, but they have always been forced—artificial. those were spontaneous." "not only that, but the enthusiasm will carrythrough. we’ll be piping hot and ready to go. but about this stumping—you said i’dbetter start as soon as we get back?" "within a few days, i’d say." "i wouldn’t wonder, so let’s use this timein working out a plan of campaign. my idea is to start out like this…." chapter 18 conway costigan, leaving behind him scoresof clues, all highly misleading, severed his

connection with uranium, inc. as soon as hedared after operation zwilnik had been brought to a successful close. the technical operation,that is; the legal battles in which it figured so largely were to run on for enough yearsto make the word "zwilnik" a common noun and adjective in the language. he came to tellus as unobtrusively as washis wont, and took an inconspicuous but very active part in operation mateese, now in fullswing. "now is the time for all good men and trueto come to the aid of the party, eh?" clio costigan giggled. "you can play that straight across the keyboardof your electric, pet, and not with just two

fingers, either. did you hear what the bosstold ’em today?" "yes." the girl’s levity disappeared. "they’reso dirty, spud—i’m really afraid." "so am i. but we’re not too lily-fingeredourselves if we have to be, and we’re covering ’em like a blanket—kinnison and samms both." "good." "and in that connection, i’ll have to be outhalf the night again tonight. all right?" "of course. it’s so nice having you home atall, darling, instead of a million light-years away, that i’m practically delirious withdelight." it was sometimes hard to tell what impishmrs. costigan meant by what she said. costigan

looked at her, decided she was taking himfor a ride, and smacked her a couple of times where it would do the most good. he then kissedher thoroughly and left. he had very little time, these days, either to himself or forhis lovely and adored wife. for roderick kinnison’s campaign, which hadstarted out rough and not too clean, became rougher and rougher, and no cleaner, as itwent along. morgan and his crew were swinging from the heels, with everything and anythingthey could dig up or invent, however little of truth or even of plausibility it mightcontain, and rod the rock had never held even in principle with the gentle precept of turningthe other cheek. he was rather an old testamentarian, and he was no neophyte at dirty fighting.as a young operative, skilled in the punishing,

maiming techniques of hand-to-hand rough-and-tumblecombat, he had brawled successfully in most of the dives of most of the solarian planetsand of most of their moons. with this background, and being a quick study, and under the masterlycoaching of virgil samms, nels bergenholm, and rularion of north polar jupiter, it didnot take him long to learn the various gambits and ripostes of this non-physical, but neverthelessno-holds-barred, political mayhem. and the "boys and girls" of the patrol workedlike badgers, digging up an item here and a fact there and a bit of information somewhereelse, all for the day of reckoning which was to come. they used ultra-wave scanners, spy-rays,long eyes, stool-pigeons—everything they could think of to use—and they could notalways be blocked out or evaded.

"we’ve got it, boss—now let’s use it!" "no. save it! nail it down, solid! get thefacts—names, dates, places, and amounts. prove it first—then save it!" prove it! save it! the joint injunction wasused so often that it came to be a slogan and was accepted as such. unlike most slogans,however, it was carefully and diligently put to use. the operatives proved it and savedit, over and over, over and over again; by dint of what unsparing effort and selflessdevotion only they themselves ever fully knew. kinnison stumped the continent. he visitedevery state, all of the big cities, most of the towns, and many villages and hamlets;and always, wherever he went, a part of the

show was to demonstrate to his audiences howthe lens worked. "look at me. you know that no two individualsare or ever can be alike. robert johnson is not like fred smith; joe jones is entirelydifferent from john brown. look at me again. concentrate upon whatever it is in your mindthat makes me roderick kinnison, the individual. that will enable each of you to get into asclose touch with me as though our two minds were one. i am not talking now; you are readingmy mind. since you are reading my very mind, you know exactly what i am really thinking,for better or for worse. it is impossible for my mind to lie to yours, since i can changeneither the basic pattern of my personality nor my basic way of thought; nor would i ifi could. being in my mind, you know that already;

you know what my basic quality is. my friendscall it strength and courage; pirate chief morgan and his cut-throat crew call it manyother things. be that as it may, you now know whether or not you want me for your president.i can do nothing whatever to sway your opinion, for what your minds have perceived you knowto be the truth. that is the way the lens works. it bares the depths of my mind to yours,and in return enables me to understand your thoughts. "but it is in no sense hypnotism, as morganis so foolishly trying to make you believe. morgan knows as well as the rest of us dothat even the most accomplished hypnotist, with all his apparatus, can not affect a strongand definitely opposed will. he is therefore

saying that each and every one of you nowreceiving this thought is such a spineless weakling that—but you may draw your ownconclusions. "in closing, remember—nail this fact downso solidly that you will never forget it—a sound and healthy mind can not lie. the mouthcan, and does. so does the typewriter. but the mind—never! i can hide my thoughts fromyou, even while we are en rapport, like this … but i can not lie to you. that is why,some day, all of your highest executives will have to be lensmen, and not politicians, diplomats,crooks and boodlers. i thank you." as that long, bitter, incredibly vicious campaignneared its vitriolic end tension mounted higher and ever higher: and in a room in the sammshome three young lensmen and a red-haired

girl were not at ease. all four were leanand drawn. jack kinnison was talking. "… not the party, so much, but dad. he startedout with bare fists, and now he’s wading into ’em with spiked brass knuckles." "you can play that across the board," costiganagreed. "he’s really giving ’em hell," northrop said,admiringly. "did you boys listen in on his casper speechlast night?" they hadn’t; they had been too busy. "i could give it to you on your lenses, buti couldn’t reproduce the tone—the exquisite way he lifted large pieces of hide and rubbedsalt into the raw places. when he gets excited

you know he can’t help but use voice, too,so i got some of it on a record. he starts out on voice, nice and easy, as usual; thengoes onto his lens without talking; then starts yelling as well as thinking. listen:" "you ought to have a lensman president. youmay not believe that any lensman is, and as a matter of fact must be incorruptible. thatis my belief, as you can feel for yourselves, but i cannot prove it to you. only time cando that. it is a self-evident fact, however, which you can feel for yourselves, that alensman president could not lie to you except by word of mouth or in writing. you coulddemand from him at any time a lensed statement upon any subject. upon some matters of statehe could and should refuse to answer; but

not upon any question involving moral turpitude.if he answered, you would know the truth. if he refused to answer, you would know whyand could initiate impeachment proceedings then and there. "in the past there have been presidents whoused that high office for low purposes; whose very memory reeks of malfeasance and corruption.one was impeached, others should have been. witherspoon never should have been elected.witherspoon should have been impeached the day after he was inaugurated. witherspoonshould be impeached now. we know, and at the grand rally at new york spaceport three weeksfrom tonight we are going to prove, that witherspoon is simply a minor cog-wheel in the morgan-towne-isaacsonmachine, ‘playing footsie’ at command with

whatever group happens to be the highest bidderat the moment, irrespective of north america’s or the system’s good. witherspoon is a gangster,a cheat, and a god damn liar, but he is of very little actual importance; merely a boodlingnincompoop. morgan is the real boss and the real menace, the operating engineer of thelowest-down, lousiest, filthiest, rottenest, most corrupt machine of murderers, extortionists,bribe-takers, panderers, perjurers, and other pimples on the body politic that has everdisgraced any so-called civilized government. good night." "wow!" jack kinnison yelped. "that’s high,even for him!" "just a minute, jack," jill cautioned. "theother side, too. listen to this choice bit

from senator morgan." "it is not exactly hypnotism, but somethinginfinitely worse; something that steals away your very minds; that makes anyone listeningbelieve that white is yellow, red, purple, or pea-green. until our scientists have checkedthis menace, until we have every wearer of that cursed lens behind steel bars, i adviseyou in all earnestness not to listen to them at all. if you do listen your minds will surelybe insidiously decomposed and broken; you will surely end your days gibbering in a paddedcell. "and murders? murders! the feeble remnantsof the gangs which our government has all but wiped out may perhaps commit a murderor so per year; the perpetrators of which

are caught, tried, and punished. but how manyof your sons and daughters has roderick kinnison murdered, either personally or through hisuniformed slaves? think! read the record! then make him explain, if he can; but do notlisten to his lying, mind-destroying lens. "democracy? bah! what does ‘rod the rock’kinnison—the hardest, most vicious tyrant, the most relentless and pitiless martinetever known to any armed force in the long history of our world—know of democracy?nothing! he understands only force. all who oppose him in anything, however small, orwho seek to reason with him, die without record or trace; and if he is not arrested, tried,and executed, all such will continue, tracelessly and without any pretense of trial, to die.

"but at bottom, even though he is not intelligentenough to realize it, he is merely one more in the long parade of tools of ruthless andpredatory wealth, the monied powers. they, my friends, never sleep; they have only onegod, one tenet, one creed—the almighty credit. that is what they are after, and note howcraftily, how stealthily, they have done and are doing their grabbing. where is your representationupon that so-called galactic council? how did this criminal, this vicious, this outrageouslyunconstitutional, this irresponsible, uncontrollable, and dictatorial monstrosity come into being?how and when did you give this bloated colossus the right to establish its own currency—tohave the immeasurable effrontery to debar the solidest currency in the universe, thecredit of north america, from inter-planetary

and inter-stellar commerce? their aim is clear;they intend to tax you into slavery and death. do not forget for one instant, my friends,that the power to tax is the power to destroy. the power to tax is the power to destroy.our forefathers fought and bled and died to establish the principle that taxation withoutrep…." "and so on, for one solid hour!" jill snarled,as she snapped the switch viciously. "how do you like them potatoes?" "hell’s—blazing—pinnacles!" this fromjack, silent for seconds, and: "rugged stuff … very, very rugged," fromnorthrop. "no wonder you look sort of pooped, spud. being chief bodyguard must have developedrecently into quite a chore."

"you ain’t just snapping your choppers, bub,"was costigan’s grimly flippant reply. "i’ve yelled for help—in force." "so have i, and i’m going to yell again, rightnow," jack declared. "i don’t know whether dad is going to kill morgan or not—and don’tgive a damn—but if morgan isn’t going all out to kill dad it’s because they’ve forgottenhow to make bombs." he lensed a call to bergenholm. "yes, jack?… i will refer you to rularion,who has had this matter under consideration." "yes, john kinnison, i have considered thematter and have taken action," the jovian’s calmly assured thought rolled into the mindsof all, even lensless jill’s. "the point,

youth, was well taken. it was your thoughtthat some thousands—perhaps five—of spy-ray operators and other operatives will be requiredto insure that the grand rally will not be marred by episodes of violence." "it was," jack said, flatly. "it still is." "not having considered all possible contingenciesnor the extent of the field of necessary action, you err. the number will approach nineteenthousand very nearly. admiral clayton has been so advised and his staff is now at workupon a plan of action in accordance with my recommendation. your suggestions, conway costigan,in the matter of immediate protection of roderick kinnison’s person, are now in effect, andyou are hereby relieved of that responsibility.

i assume that you four wish to continue atwork?" the jovian’s assumption was sound. "i suggest, then, that you confer with admiralclayton and fit yourselves into his program of security. i intend to make the same suggestionto all lensmen and other qualified persons not engaged in work of more pressing importance." rularion cut off and jack scowled blackly."the grand rally is going to be held three weeks before election day. i still don’t likeit. i’d save it until the night before election—knock their teeth out with it at the last possibleminute." "you’re wrong, jack; the chief is right,"costigan argued. "two ways. one, we can’t

play that kind of ball. two, this gives themjust enough rope to hang themselves." "well … maybe." kinnison-like, jack wasfar from being convinced. "but that’s the way it’s going to be, so let’s call clayton." "first," costigan broke in. "jill, will youplease explain why they have to waste as big a man as kinnison on such a piffling job aspresident? i was out in the sticks, you know—it doesn’t make sense." "because he’s the only man alive who can lickmorgan’s machine at the polls," jill stated a simple fact. "the patrol can get along withouthim for one term, after that it won’t make any difference."

"but morgan works from the side-lines. whycouldn’t he?" "the psychology is entirely different. morganis a boss. pops kinnison isn’t. he’s a leader. see?" "oh … i guess so…. yes. go ahead." outwardly, new york spaceport did not changeappreciably. at any given moment of day or night there were so many hundreds of personsstrolling aimlessly or walking purposefully about that an extra hundred or so made noperceptible difference. and the spaceport was only the end-point. the patrol’s activitiesbegan hundreds or thousands or millions or billions of miles away from earth’s metropolis.

a web was set up through which not even agrain-of-sand meteorite could pass undetected. every space-ship bound for earth carried atleast one passenger who would not otherwise have been aboard; passengers who, if not wearinglenses, carried service special equipment amply sufficient for the work in hand. geigersand other vastly more complicated mechanisms flew toward earth from every direction inspace; streamed toward new york in earth’s every channel of traffic. every train andplane, every bus and boat and car, every conveyance of every kind and every pedestrian approachingnew york city was searched; with a search as thorough as it was unobtrusive. and everything and every entity approaching new york spaceport was combed, literally by the cubicmillimeter.

no arrests were made. no package was confiscated,or even disturbed, throughout the ranks of public check boxes, in private offices, orin elaborate or casual hiding-places. as far as the enemy knew, the patrol had no suspicionwhatever that anything out of the ordinary was going on. that is, until the last possibleminute. then a tall, lean, space-tanned veteran spoke softly aloud, as though to himself: "spy-ray blocks—interference—umbrella—on.report." that voice, low and soft as it was, was pickedup by every service special receiver within a radius of a thousand miles, and by everylensman listening, wherever he might be. so were, in a matter of seconds, the replies.

"spy-ray blocks on, sir." "interference on, sir." "umbrella on, sir." no spy-ray could be driven into any part ofthe tremendous port. no beam, communicator or detonating, could operate anywhere nearit. the enemy would now know that something had gone wrong, but he would not be able todo anything about it. "reports received," the tanned man said, stillquietly. "operation zunk will proceed as scheduled." and four hundred seventy one highly skilledmen, carrying duplicate keys and/or whatever other specialized apparatus and equipmentwould be necessary, quietly took possession

of four hundred seventy one objects, of almostthat many shapes and sizes. and, out in the gathering crowd, a few disturbances occurredand a few ambulances dashed busily here and there. some women had fainted, no doubt, ranthe report. they always did. and conway costigan, who had been watching,without seeming even to look at him, a porter loading a truck with opulent-looking hand-luggagefrom a locker, followed man and truck out into the concourse. closing up, he asked: "where are you taking that baggage, charley?" "up ramp one, boss," came the unflurried reply."flight ninety will be late taking off, on accounta this jamboree, and they want it rightup there handy."

"take it down to the…." over the years a good many men had tried tocatch conway costigan off guard or napping, to beat him to the punch or to the draw—witha startlingly uniform lack of success. the lensman’s fist traveled a bare seven inches:the supposed porter gasped once and traveled—or rather, staggered backward—approximatelyseven feet before he collapsed and sprawled unconscious upon the pavement. "decontamination," costigan remarked, apparentlyto empty air, as he picked the fellow up and draped him limply over the truckful of suitcases."deke. front and center. area forty-six. class eff-ex—hotter than the middle tailrace ofhell."

"you called deke?" a man came running up."eff-ex six—nineteen. this it?" "check. it’s yours, porter and all. take itaway." costigan strolled on until he met jack kinnison,who had a rapidly-developing mouse under his left eye. "how did that happen, jack?" he demanded sharply."something slip?" "not exactly." kinnison grinned ruefully."i have the damndest luck! a woman—an old lady at that—thought i was staging a hold-upand swung on me with her hand-bag—southpaw and from the rear. and if you laugh, you untunefulharp, i’ll hang one right on the end of your chin, so help me!"

"far be it from such," costigan assured him,and did not—quite—laugh. "wonder how we came out? they should have reported beforethis—p-s-s-t! here it comes!" decontamination was complete; operation zunkhad been a one-hundred-percent success; there had been no casualties. "except for one black eye," costigan couldnot help adding; but his lens and his service specials were off. jack would have brainedhim if any of them had been on. linking arms, the two young lensmen strodeaway toward ramp four, which was to be their station. this was the largest crowd earth had everknown. everybody, particularly the nationalists,

had wondered why this climactic politicalrally had been set for three full weeks ahead of the election, but their curiosity had notbeen satisfied. furthermore, this meeting had been advertised as no previous one hadever been; neither pains nor cash had been spared in giving it the greatest build-upever known. not only had every channel of communication been loaded for weeks, but alsosamms’ workers had been very busily engaged in starting rumors; which grew, as rumorsdo, into things which their own fathers and mothers could not recognize. and the bafflednationalists, trying to play the whole thing down, made matters worse. interest spreadfrom north america to the other continents, to the other planets, and to the other solarsystems.

thus, to say that everybody was interestedin, and was listening to, the cosmocrats’ grand rally would not be too serious an exaggeration. roderick kinnison stepped up to the batteryof microphones; certain screens were cut. "fellow entities of civilization and others:while it may seem strange to broadcast a political rally to other continents and to beam it toother worlds, it was necessary in this case. the message to be given, while it will gointo the political affairs of the north american continent of tellus, will deal primarily witha far larger thing; a matter which will be of paramount importance to all intelligentbeings of every inhabited world. you know how to attune your minds to mine. do it now."

he staggered mentally under the shock of encounteringpractically simultaneously so many minds, but rallied strongly and went on, via lens: "my first message is not to you, my fellowcosmocrats, nor to you, my fellow dwellers on earth, nor even to you, my fellow adherentsto civilization; but to the enemy. i do not mean my political opponents, the nationalists,who are almost all loyal fellow north americans. i mean the entities who are using the leadersof that nationalist party as pawns in a vastly larger game. "i know, enemy, that you are listening. iknow that you had goon squads in this audience, to kill me and my superior officer. know nowthat they are impotent. i know that you had

atomic bombs, with which to obliterate thisassemblage and this entire area. they have been disassembled and stored. i know thatyou had large supplies of radio-active dusts. they now lie in the patrol vaults near weehauken.all the devices which you intended to employ are known, and all save one have been eithernullified or confiscated. "that one exception is your war-fleet, a forcesufficient in your opinion to wipe out all the armed forces of the galactic patrol. youintended to use it in case we cosmocrats win this forthcoming election; you may decideto use it now. do so if you like; you can do nothing to interrupt or to affect thismeeting. this is all i have to say to you, enemy of civilization.

"now to you, my legitimate audience. i amnot here to deliver the address promised you, but merely to introduce the real speaker—firstlensman virgil samms…." a mental gasp, millions strong, made itselftellingly felt. "… yes—first lensman samms, of whom youall know. he has not been attending political meetings because we, his advisers, would notlet him. why? here are the facts. through archibald isaacson, of interstellar spaceways,he was offered a bribe which would in a few years have amounted to some fifty billioncredits; more wealth than any individual entity has ever possessed. then there was an attemptat murder, which we were able—just barely—to block. knowing there was no other place onearth where he would be safe, we took him

to the hill. you know what happened; you knowwhat condition the hill is in now. this warfare was ascribed to pirates. "the whole stupendous operation, however,was made in a vain attempt to kill one man—virgil samms. the enemy knew, and we learned, thatsamms is the greatest man who has ever lived. his name will last as long as civilizationendures, for it is he, and only he, who can make it possible for civilization to endure. "why was i not killed? why was i allowed tokeep on making campaign speeches? because i do not count. i am of no more importanceto the cause of civilization than is my opponent witherspoon to that of the enemy.

"i am a wheel-horse, a plugger. you all knowme—’rocky rod’ kinnison, the hard-boiled egg. i’ve got guts enough to stand up andfight for what i know is right. i’ve got the guts and the inclination to stand up and slugit out, toe to toe, with man, beast, or devil. i would make and will make a good president;i’ve got the guts and inclination to keep on slugging after you elect me; before godi promise to smash down every machine-made crook who tries to hold any part of our governmentdown in the reeking muck in which it now is. "i am a plugger and a slugger, with no sparkof the terrific flame of inspirational genius which makes virgil samms what he so uniquelyis. my kind may be important, but i individually am not. there are so many of us! if they hadkilled me another slugger would have taken

my place and the effect upon the job wouldhave been nil. "virgil samms, however, can not be replacedand the enemy knows it. he is unique in all history. no one else can do his job. if heis killed before the principles for which he is working are firmly established civilizationwill collapse back into barbarism. it will not recover until another such mind comesinto existence, the probability of which occurrence i will let you compute for yourselves. "for those reasons virgil samms is not herein person. nor is he in the hill, since the enemy may now possess weapons powerful enoughto destroy not only that hitherto impregnable fortress, but also the whole earth. and theywould destroy earth, without a qualm, if in

so doing they could kill the first lensman. "therefore samms is now out in deep space.our fleet is waiting to be attacked. if we win, the galactic patrol will go on. if welose, we hope you shall have learned enough so that we will not have died uselessly." "die? why should you die? you are safe onearth!" "ah, one of the goons sent that thought. ifour fleet is defeated no lensman, anywhere, will live a week. the enemy will see to that. "that is all from me. stay tuned. come in,first lensman virgil samms … take over, sir."

it was psychologically impossible for virgilsamms to use such language as kinnison had just employed. nor was it either necessaryor desirable that he should; the ground had been prepared. therefore—coldly, impersonally,logically, tellingly—he told the whole terrific story. he revealed the most important thingsdug up by the patrols’ indefatigable investigators, reciting names, places, dates, transactions,and amounts. only in the last couple of minutes did he warm up at all. "nor is this in any sense a smear campaignor a bringing of baseless charges to becloud the issue or to vilify without cause and uponthe very eve of election a political opponent. these are facts. formal charges are now beingpreferred; every person mentioned, and many

others, will be put under arrest as soon aspossible. if any one of them were in any degree innocent our case against him could be madeto fall in less than the three weeks intervening before election day. that is why this meetingis being held at this time. "not one of them is innocent. being guilty,and knowing that we can and will prove guilt, they will adopt a policy of delay and recrimination.since our courts are, for the most part, just, the accused will be able to delay the trialsand the actual presentation of evidence until after election day. forewarned, however, youwill know exactly why the trials will have been delayed, and in spite of the fog of misrepresentationyou will know where the truth lies. you will know how to cast your votes. you will votefor roderick kinnison and for those who support

him. "there is no need for me to enlarge upon thecharacter of port admiral kinnison. you know him as well as i do. honest, incorruptible,fearless, you know that he will make the best president we have ever had. if you do notalready know it, ask any one of the hundreds of thousands of strong, able, clear-thinkingyoung men and women who have served under him in our armed forces. "i thank you, everyone who has listened, foryour interest." chapter 19 as long as they were commodores, clayton ofnorth america and schweikert of europe had

stayed fairly close to the home planet exceptfor infrequent vacation trips. with the formation of the galactic patrol, however, and theirbecoming admiral and lieutenant-admiral of the first galactic region, and their acquisitionof lenses, the radius of their sphere of action was tremendously increased. one or the otherof them was always to be found in grand fleet headquarters at new york spaceport, but onlyvery seldom were both of them there at once. and if the absentee were not to be found onearth, what of it? the first galactic region included all of the solar systems and allof the planets adherent to civilization, and the absentee could, as a matter of businessand duty, be practically anywhere. usually, however, he was not upon any of thegenerally-known planets, but upon bennett—getting

acquainted with the officers, supervisingthe drilling of grand fleet in new maneuvers, teaching classes in advanced strategy, andholding skull-practice generally. it was hard work, and not too inspiring, but in the endit paid off big. they knew their men; their men knew them. they could work together witha snap, a smoothness, a precision otherwise impossible; for imported top brass, unknownto and unacquainted with the body of command, can not have and does not expect the deepregard and the earned respect so necessary to high morale. clayton and schweikert had both. they startedearly enough, worked hard enough, and had enough stuff, to earn both. thus it came aboutthat when, upon a scheduled day, the two admirals

came to bennett together, they were greetedas enthusiastically as though they had been bennettans born and bred; and their welcomebecame a planet-wide celebration when clayton issued the orders which all bennett had beenwaiting so long and so impatiently to hear. bennettans were at last to leave bennett! group after group, sub-fleet after sub-fleet,the component units of the galactic patrol’s grand fleet took off. they assembled in space;they maneuvered enough to shake themselves down into some semblance of unity; they practicedthe new maneuvers; they blasted off in formation for sol. and as the tremendous armada nearedthe solar system it met—or, rather, was joined by—the patrol ships about which morganand his minions already knew; each of which

fitted itself into its long-assigned place.every planet of civilization had sent its every vessel capable of putting out a screenor of throwing a beam, but so immense was the number of warships in grand fleet thatthis increment, great as it intrinsically was, made no perceptible difference in itssize. on rally day grand fleet lay poised near earth.as soon as he had introduced samms to the intensely interested listeners at the rally,roderick kinnison disappeared. actually, he drove a bug to a distant corner of the spaceportand left the earth in a light cruiser, but to all intents and purposes, so engrossedwas everyone in what samms was saying, kinnison simply vanished. samms was already in theboise; the port admiral went out to his old

flagship, the chicago. nor, in case any observerof the enemy should be trying to keep track of him, could his course be traced. clevelandand northrop and rularion and all they needed of the vast resources of the patrol saw tothat. neither samms nor kinnison had any businessbeing with grand fleet in person, of course, and both knew it; but everyone knew why theywere there and were glad that the two top lensmen had decided to live or die with theirfleet. if grand fleet won, they would probably live; if grand fleet lost they would certainlydie—if not in the pyrotechnic dissolution of their ships, then in a matter of days uponthe ground. with the fleet their presence would contribute markedly to morale. it wasa chance very much worth taking.

nor were clayton and schweikert together,or even near each other. samms, kinnison, and the two admirals were as far away fromeach other as they could get and still remain in grand fleet’s fighting cylinder. cylinder? yes. the patrol’s board of strategy,assuming that the enemy would attack in conventional cone formation and knowing that one cone coulddefeat another only after a long and costly engagement, had long since spent months andmonths at war-games in their tactical tanks, in search of a better formation. they hadfound it. theoretically, a cylinder of proper composition could defeat, with negligibleloss and in a very short time, the best cones they were able to devise. the drawback wasthat the ships composing a theoretically efficient

cylinder would have to be highly specializedand vastly greater in number than any one power had ever been able to put into the ether.however, with all the resources of bennett devoted to construction, this difficulty wouldnot be insuperable. this, of course, brought up the question ofwhat would happen if cylinder met cylinder—if the black strategists should also have arrivedat the same solution—and this question remained unanswered. or, rather, there were too manyanswers, no two of which agreed; like those to the classical one of what would happenif an irresistible force should strike an immovable object. there would be a lot ofintensely interesting by-products! even rularion of jove did not come up witha definite solution. nor did bergenholm; who,

although a comparatively obscure young lensman-scientistand not a member of the galactic council, was frequently called into consultation becauseof his unique ability to arrive at correct conclusions via some obscurely short-circuitingprocess of thought. "well," port admiral kinnison had concluded,finally, "if they’ve got one, too, we’ll just have to shorten ours up, widen it out, andpray." "clayton to port admiral kinnison," came acommunication through channels. "have you any additional orders or instructions?" "kinnison to admiral clayton. none," the portadmiral replied, as formally, then went on via lens: "no comment or criticism to make,alex. you fellows have done a job so far and

you’ll keep on doing one. how much detectionhave you got out?" "twelve detets—three globes of diesels.if we sit here and do nothing the boys will get edgy and go stale, so if you and virgeagree we’ll give ’em some practice. lord knows they need it, and it’ll keep ’em on theirtoes. but about the blacks—they may be figuring on delaying any action until we’ve had timeto crack from boredom. what’s your idea on that?" "i’ve been worried about the same thing. practicewill help, but whether enough or not i don’t know. what do you think, virge? will theyhold it up deliberately or strike fast?" "fast," the first lensman replied, promptlyand definitely. "as soon as they possibly

can, for several reasons. they don’t knowour real strength, any more than we know theirs. they undoubtedly believe, however, the sameas we do, that they are more efficient than we are and have the larger force. by theirown need of practice they will know ours. they do not attach nearly as much importanceto morale as we do; by the very nature of their regime they can’t. also, our open challengewill tend very definitely to force their hands, since face-saving is even more important tothem than it is to us. they will strike as soon as they can and as hard as they can." grand fleet maneuvers were begun, but in aday or so the alarms came blasting in. the enemy had been detected; coming in, as theprevious black fleet had come, from the direction

of coma berenices. calculating machines clickedand whirred; orders were flashed, and a brief string of numbers; ships by the hundreds andthe thousands flashed into their assigned positions. or, more precisely, almost into them. mostof the navigators and pilots had not had enough practice yet to hit their assigned positionsexactly on the first try, since a radical change in axial direction was involved, butthey did pretty well; a few minutes of juggling and jockeying were enough. clayton and schweikertused a little caustic language—via lens and to their fellow lensmen only, of course—butsamms and kinnison were well enough pleased. the time of formation had been very satisfactorilyshort and the cone was smooth, symmetrical,

and of beautifully uniform density. the preliminary formation was a cone, nota cylinder. it was not a conventional cone of battle in that it was not of standard composition,was too big, and had altogether too many ships for its size. it was, however, of the conventionalshape, and it was believed that by the time the enemy could perceive any significant differencesit would be too late for him to do anything about it. the cylinder would be forming aboutthat time, anyway, and it was almost believed—at least it was strongly hoped—that the enemywould not have the time or the knowledge or the equipment to do anything about that, either. kinnison grinned to himself as his mind, enrapport with clayton’s, watched the enemy’s

cone of battle enlarge upon the admiral’sconning plate. it was big, and powerful; the galactic patrol’s publicly-known forces wouldhave stood exactly the chance of the proverbial snowball in the nether regions. it was not,however, the port admiral thought, big enough to form an efficient cylinder, or to handlethe patrol’s real force in any fashion—and unless they shifted within the next secondor two it would be too late for the enemy to do anything at all. as though by magic about ninety-five percentof the patrol’s tremendous cone changed into a tightly-packed double cylinder. this maneuverwas much simpler than the previous one, and had been practiced to perfection. the mouthof the cone closed in and lengthened; the

closed end opened out and shortened. tractorsand pressors leaped from ship to ship, binding the whole myriad of hitherto discrete unitsinto a single structure as solid, even comparatively as to size, as a cantilever bridge. and insteadof remaining quiescent, waiting to be attacked, the cylinder flashed forward, inertialess,at maximum blast. throughout the years the violence, intensity,and sheer brute power of offensive weapons had increased steadily. defensive armamenthad kept step. one fundamental fact, however, had not changed throughout the ages and hasnot changed yet. three or more units of given power have always been able to conquer oneunit of the same power, if engagement could be forced and no assistance could be given;and two units could practically always do

so. fundamentally, therefore, strategy alwayshas been and still is the development of new artifices and techniques by virtue of whichtwo or more of our units may attack one of theirs; the while affording the minimum ofopportunity for them to retaliate in kind. the patrol’s grand fleet flashed forward,almost exactly along the axis of the black cone; right where the enemy wanted it—orso he thought. straight into the yawning mouth, erupting now a blast of flame beside whichthe wildest imaginings of inferno must pale into insignificance; straight along that ragingaxis toward the apex, at the terrific speed of the two directly opposed velocities offlight. but, to the complete consternation of the black high command, nothing much happened.for, as has been pointed out, that cylinder

was not of even approximately normal composition.in fact, there was not a normal war-vessel in it. the outer skin and both ends of thecylinder were purely defensive. those vessels, packed so closely that their repellor fieldsactually touched, were all screen; none of them had a beam hot enough to light a match.conversely, the inner layer, or "liner", was composed of vessels that were practicallyall offense. they had to be protected at every point—but how they could ladle it out! the leading and trailing edges of the formation—theends of the gigantic pipe, so to speak—would of course bear the brunt of the black attack,and it was this factor that had given the patrol’s strategists the most serious concern.wherefore the first ten and the last six double

rings of ships were special indeed. they wereall screen—nothing else. they were drones, operated by remote control, carrying no livingthing. if the patrol losses could be held to eight double rings of ships at the firstpass and four at the second—theoretical computations indicated losses of six and two—sammsand his fellows would be well content. all of the patrol ships had, of course, thestandard equipment of so-called "violet", "green", and "red" fields, as well as duodecaplylatomateand ordinary atomic bombs, dirigible torpedoes and transporters, slicers, polycyclic drills,and so on; but in this battle the principal reliance was to be placed upon the sheer,brutal, overwhelming power of what had been called the "macro beam"—now simply the "beam".furthermore, in the incredibly incandescent

frenzy of the chosen field of action—thecylinder was to attack the cone at its very strongest part—no conceivable material projectilecould have lasted a single microsecond after leaving the screens of force of its parentvessel. it could have flown fast enough; ultra-beam trackers could have steered it rapidly enoughand accurately enough; but before it could have traveled a foot, even at ultra-lightspeed, it would have ceased utterly to be. it would have been resolved into its sub-atomicconstituent particles and waves. nothing material could exist, except instantaneously, in thefield of force filling the axis of the black’s cone of battle; a field beside which the exactcenter of a multi-billion-volt flash of lightning would constitute a dead area.

that field, however, encountered no materialobject. the patrol’s "screeners", packed so closely as to have a four hundred percentoverlap, had been designed to withstand precisely that inconceivable environment. practicallyall of them withstood it. and in a fraction of a second the hollow forward end of thecylinder engulfed, pipe-wise, the entire apex of the enemy’s war-cone, and the hithertoidle "sluggers" of the cylinder’s liner went to work. each of those vessels had one heavy pressorbeam, each having the same push as every other, directed inward, toward the cylinder’s axis,and backward at an angle of fifteen degrees from the perpendicular line between ship andaxis. therefore, wherever any black ship entered

the patrol’s cylinder or however, it was drivento and held at the axis and forced backward along that axis. none of them, however, gotvery far. they were perforce in single file; one ship opposing at least one solid ringof giant sluggers who did not have to concern themselves with defense, but could pour everyiota of their tremendous resources into offensive beams. thus the odds were not merely two orthree to one; but never less than eighty, and very frequently over two hundred to one. under the impact of those unimaginable torrentsof force the screens of the engulfed vessels flashed once, practically instantaneouslythrough the spectrum, and went down. whether they had two or three or four courses madeno difference—in fact, even the ultra-speed

analyzers of the observers could not tell.then, a couple of microseconds later, the wall-shields—the strongest fabrics of forcedeveloped by man up to that time—also failed. then those ravenous fields of force struckbare, unprotected metal, and every molecule, inorganic and organic, of ships and contentsalike, disappeared in a bursting flare of energy so raw and so violent as to staggereven those who had brought it into existence. it was certainly vastly more than a mere volatilization;it was deduced later that the detonating unstable isotopes of the black’s own bombs, in thefrightful temperatures already existing in the patrol’s quasi-solid beams, had initiateda chain reaction which had resulted in the fissioning of a considerable proportion ofthe atomic nuclei of usually completely stable

elements! the cylinder stopped; the lensmen took stock.the depth of erosion of the leading edge had averaged almost exactly six double rings ofdrones. in places the sixth ring was still intact; in others, which had encountered unusuallyconcentrated beaming, the seventh was gone. also, a fraction of one percent of the mannedwar-vessels had disappeared. brief though the time of engagement had been, the enemyhad been able to concentrate enough beams to burn a few holes through the walls of theattacking cylinder. it had not been hoped that more than a fewhundreds of black vessels could be blown out of the ether at this first pass. general staffhad been sure, however, that the heaviest

and most dangerous ships, including thosecarrying the enemy’s high command, would be among them. the mid-section of the apex ofthe conventional cone of battle had always been the safest place to be; therefore thatwas where the black admirals had been and therefore they no longer lived. in a few seconds it became clear that if anyblack high command existed, it was not in shape to function efficiently. some of theenemy ships were still blasting, with little or no concerted effort, at the regulationcone which the cylinder had left behind; a few were attempting to get into some kindof a formation, possibly to attack the patrol’s cylinder. indecision was visible and rampant.

to turn that tremendous cylindrical engineof destruction around would have been a task of hours, but it was not necessary. instead,each vessel cut its tractors and pressors, spun end for end, reconnected, and retracedalmost exactly its previous course; cutting out and blasting into nothingness another"plug" of black warships. another reversal, another dash; and this time, so disorganizedwere the foes and so feeble the beaming, not a single patrol vessel was lost. the blackfleet, so proud and so conquering of mien a few minutes before, had fallen completelyapart. "that’s enough, rod, don’t you think?" sammsthought then. "please order clayton to cease action, so that we can hold a parley withtheir senior officers."

"parley, hell!" kinnison’s answering thoughtwas a snarl. "we’ve got ’em going—mop ’em up before they can pull themselves together!parley be damned!" "beyond a certain point military action becomesindefensible butchery, of which our galactic patrol will never be guilty. that point hasnow been reached. if you do not agree with me, i’ll be glad to call a council meetingto decide which of us is right." "that isn’t necessary. you’re right—that’sone reason i’m not first lensman." the port admiral, fury and fire ebbing from his mind,issued orders; the patrol forces hung motionless in space. "as president of the galactic council,virge, take over." spy-rays probed and searched; a communicatorbeam was sent. virgil samms spoke aloud, in

the lingua franca of deep space. "connect me, please, with the senior officerof your fleet." there appeared upon samms’ plate a strong,not unhandsome face; deep-stamped with the bitter hopelessness of a strong man facingcertain death. "you’ve got us. come on and finish us." "some such indoctrination was to be expected,but i anticipate no trouble in convincing you that you have been grossly misinformedin everything you have been told concerning us; our aims, our ethics, our morals, andour standards of conduct. there are, i assume, other surviving officers of your rank, althoughof lesser seniority?"

"there are ten other vice-admirals, but iam in command. they will obey my orders or die." "nevertheless, they shall be heard. pleasego inert, match our intrinsic velocity, and come aboard, all eleven of you. we wish toexplore with all of you the possibilities of a lasting peace between our worlds." "peace? bah! why lie?" the black commander’sexpression did not change. "i know what you are and what you do to conquered races. weprefer a clean, quick death in your beams to the kind you deal out in your torture roomsand experimental laboratories. come ahead—i intend to attack you as soon as i can makea formation."

"i repeat, you have been grossly, terribly,shockingly misinformed." samms’ voice was quiet and steady; his eyes held those of theother. "we are civilized men, not barbarians or savages. does not the fact that we ceasedhostilities so soon mean anything to you?" for the first time the stranger’s face changedsubtly, and samms pressed the slight advantage. "i see it does. now if you will converse withme mind to mind…." the first lensman felt for the man’s ego and began to tune to it,but this was too much. "i will not!" the black put up a solid block."i will have nothing to do with your cursed lens. i know what it is and will have noneof it!" "oh, what’s the use, virge!" kinnison snapped."let’s get on with it!"

"a great deal of use, rod," samms replied,quietly. "this is a turning-point. i must be right—i can’t be that far wrong," andhe again turned his attention to the enemy commander. "very well, sir, we will continue to use spokenlanguage. i repeat, please come aboard with your ten fellow vice-admirals. you will notbe asked to surrender. you will retain your side-arms—as long as you make no attemptto use them. whether or not we come to any agreement, you will be allowed to return unharmedto your vessels before the battle is resumed." "what? side-arms? returned? you swear it?" "as president of the galactic council, inthe presence of the highest officers of the

galactic patrol as witnesses, i swear it." "we will come aboard." "very well. i will have ten other lensmenand officers here with me." the boise, of course, inerted first; followedby the chicago and nine of the tremendous tear-drops from bennett. port admiral kinnisonand nine other lensmen joined samms in the boise’s con room; the tight formation of elevenpatrol ships blasted in unison in the space-courtesy of meeting the equally tight formation ofblack warships half-way in the matter of intrinsic velocity. soon the two little sub-fleets were motionlessin respect to each other. eleven black gigs

were launched. eleven black vice-admiralscame aboard, to the accompaniment of the full military honors customarily granted to visitingadmirals of friendly powers. each was armed with what seemed to be an exact duplicateof the patrol’s own current blaster; lewiston, mark seventeen. in the lead strode the tall,heavy, gray-haired man with whom samms had been dealing; still defiant, still sullen,still concealing sternly his sheer desperation. his block was still on, full strength. the man next in line was much younger thanthe leader, much less wrought up, much more intent. samms felt for this man’s ego, tunedto it, and got the shock of his life. this black vice-admiral’s mind was not at all whathe had expected to encounter—it was, in

every respect, of lensman grade! "oh … how? you are not speaking, and … isee … the lens … the lens!" the stranger’s mind was for seconds an utterly indescribableturmoil in which relief, gladness, and high anticipation struggled for supremacy. in the next few seconds, even before the visitorshad reached their places at the conference table, virgil samms and corander of petrineexchanged thoughts which would require many thousands of words to express; only a fewof which are necessary here. "the lens … i have dreamed of such a thing,without hope of realization or possibility. how we have been misled! they are, then, actuallyavailable upon your world, samms of tellus?"

"not exactly, and not at all generally," andsamms explained as he had explained so many times before. "you will wear one sooner thanyou think. but as to ending this warfare. you survivors are practically all nativesof your own world. petrine?" "not ‘practically’, we are petrinos all. the’teachers’ were all in the center. many remain upon petrine and its neighboring worlds, butnone remain alive here." "ohlanser, then, who assumed command, is alsoa petrino? so hard-headed, i had assumed otherwise. he will be a stumbling-block. is he actuallyin supreme command?" "only by and with our consent, under suchastounding circumstances as these. he is a reactionary, of the old, die-hard, war-dogschool. he would ordinarily be in supreme

command and would be supported by the teachersif any were here; but i will challenge his authority and theirs; standing upon my rightto command my own fleet as i see fit. so will, i think, several others. so go ahead withyour meeting." "be seated, gentlemen." all saluted punctiliouslyand sat down. "now, vice-admiral ohlanser…." "how do you, a stranger, know my name?" "i know many things. we have a suggestionto offer which, if you petrinos will follow it, will end this warfare. first, please believethat we have no designs upon your planet, nor any quarrel with any of its people whoare not hopelessly contaminated by the ideas and the culture of the entities who are backof this whole movement; quite possibly those

whom you refer to as the ‘teachers’. you didnot know whom you were to fight, or why." this was a statement, with no hint of questionabout it. "i see now that we did not know all the truth,"ohlanser admitted, stiffly. "we were informed, and given proof sufficient to make us believe,that you were monsters from outer space—rapacious, insatiable, senselessly and callously destructiveto all other forms of intelligent life." "we suspected something of the kind. do youothers agree? vice-admiral corander?" "yes. we were shown detailed and documentedproofs; stereos of battles, in which no quarter was given. we saw system after system conquered,world after world laid waste. we were made to believe that our only hope of continuedexistence was to meet you and destroy you

in space; for if you were allowed to reachpetrine every man, woman, and child on the planet would either be killed outright ortortured to death. i see now that those proofs were entirely false; completely vicious." "they were. those who spread that lying propagandaand all who support their organization must be and shall be weeded out. petrine must beand shall be given her rightful place in the galactic fellowship of free, independent,and cooperative worlds. so must any and all planets whose peoples wish to adhere to civilizationinstead of to tyranny and despotism. to further these ends, we lensmen suggest that you re-formyour fleet and proceed to arisia…." "arisia!" ohlanser did not like the idea.

"arisia," samms insisted. "upon leaving arisia,knowing vastly more than you do now, you will return to your home planet, where you willtake whatever steps you will then know to be necessary." "we were told that your lenses are hypnoticdevices," ohlanser sneered, "designed to steal away and destroy the minds of any who listento you. i believe that, fully. i will not go to arisia, nor will any part of petrine’sgrand fleet. i will not attack my home planet. i will not do battle against my own people.this is final." "i am not saying or implying that you should.but you continue to close your mind to reason. how about you, vice-admiral corander? andyou others?"

in the momentary silence samms put himselfen rapport with the other officers, and was overjoyed at what he learned. "i do not agree with vice-admiral ohlanser,"corander said, flatly. "he commands, not grand fleet, but his sub-fleet merely, as do weall. i will lead my sub-fleet to arisia." "traitor!" ohlanser shouted. he leaped tohis feet and drew his blaster, but a tractor beam snatched it from his grasp before hecould fire. "you were allowed to wear side-arms, not touse them," samms said, quietly. "how many of you others agree with corander; how manywith ohlanser?" all nine voted with the younger man.

"very well. ohlanser, you may either acceptcorander’s leadership or leave this meeting now and take your sub-fleet directly backto petrine. decide now which you prefer to do." "you mean you aren’t going to kill me, evennow? or even degrade me, or put me under arrest?" "i mean exactly that. what is your decision?" "in that case … i was—must have been—wrong.i will follow corander." "a wise choice. corander, you already knowwhat to expect; except that four or five other petrinos now in this room will help you, notonly in deciding what must be done upon petrine, but also in the doing of it. this meetingwill adjourn."

"but … no reprisals?" corander, in spiteof his newly acquired knowledge, was dubious, almost dumbfounded. "no invasion or occupation?no indemnities to your patrol, or reparations? no punishment of us, our men, or our families?" "none." "that does not square up even with ordinarymilitary usage." "i know it. it does conform, however, to thepolicy of the galactic patrol which is to spread throughout our island universe." "you are not even sending your fleet, or heavyunits of it, with us, to see to it that we follow your instructions?"

"it is not necessary. if you need any formof help you will inform us of your requirements via lens, as i am conversing with you now,and whatever you want will be supplied. however, i do not expect any such call. you and yourfellows are capable of handling the situation. you will soon know the truth, and know thatyou know it; and when your house-cleaning is done we will consider your applicationfor representation upon the galactic council. good-bye." thus the lensmen—particularly first lensmanvirgil samms—brought another sector of the galaxy under the aegis of civilization. chapter 20

after the rally there were a few days duringwhich neither samms nor kinnison was on earth. that the cosmocrats’ presidential candidateand the first lensman were both with the fleet was not a secret; in fact, it was advertised.everyone was told why they were out there, and almost everyone approved. nor was their absence felt. developments,fast and terrific, were slammed home. cosmocratic spellbinders in every state of north americawaved the flag, pointed with pride, and viewed with alarm, in the very best tradition ofnorth american politics. but above all, there appeared upon every news-stand and in everybook-shop of the continent, at opening time of the day following rally day, a book ofover eighteen hundred pages of fine print;

a book the publication of which had givensamms himself no little concern. "but i’m afraid of it!" he had protested."we know it’s true; but there’s material on almost every page for the biggest libel andslander suits in history!" "i know it," the bald and paunchy lensman-attorneyhad replied. "fully. i hope they do take action against us, but i’m absolutely certain theywon’t." "you hope they do?" "yes. if they take the initiative they can’tprevent us from presenting our evidence in full; and there is no court in existence,however corrupt, before which we could not win. what they want and must have is delay;avoidance of any issue until after the election."

"i see." samms was convinced. the location of the patrol’s grand fleet hadbeen concealed from all inhabitants of the solarian system, friends and foes alike; butthe climactic battleã¢â‚¬â€liberating as it did energies sufficient to distort the very warpand woof of the fabric of space itselfã¢â‚¬â€could not be hidden or denied, or even belittled.it was not, however, advertised or blazoned abroad. then as now the newshawks wanted toknow, instantly and via long-range communicators, vastly more than those responsible for securitycared to tell; then as now the latter said as little as it was humanly possible to say. everyone knew that the patrol had won a magnificentvictory; but nobody knew who or what the enemy

had been. since the rank and file knew it,everyone knew that only a fraction of the black fleet had actually been destroyed; butnobody knew where the remaining vessels went or what they did. everyone knew that aboutninety five percent of the patrol’s astonishingly huge grand fleet had come from, and was onits way back to, the planet bennett, and knewã¢â‚¬â€since bennettans would in a few weeks be scamperinggaily all over spaceã¢â‚¬â€in general what bennett was; but nobody knew why it was. thus, when the north american contingent landedat new york spaceport, everyone whom the newsmen could reach was literally mobbed. however,in accordance with the aphorism ascribed to the wise old owl, those who knew the leastsaid the most. but the telenews ace who had

once interviewed both kinnison and samms wastedno time upon small fry. he insisted on seeing the two top lensmen, and kept on insistinguntil he did see them. "nothing to say," kinnison said curtly, leavingno doubt whatever that he meant it. "all talkingã¢â‚¬â€if anyã¢â‚¬â€will be done by first lensman samms." "now, all you millions of telenews listeners,i am interviewing first lensman samms himself. a little closer to the mike, please, firstlensman. now, sir, what everybody wants to know isã¢â‚¬â€who are the blacks?" "i don’t know." "you don’t know? on the lens, sir?"

"on the lens. i still don’t know." "i see. but you have suspicions or ideas?you can guess?" "i can guess; but that’s all it would beã¢â‚¬â€aguess." "and my guess, folks, is that his guess wouldbe a very highly informed guess. will you tell the public, first lensman samms, whatyour guess is?" "i will." if this reply astonished the newshawk,it staggered kinnison and the others who knew samms best. it was, however, a coldly calculatedpolitical move. "while it will probably be several weeks before we can furnish detailedand unassailable proof, it is my considered opinion that the black fleet was built andcontrolled by the morgan-towne-isaacson machine.

that they, all unknown to any of us, enticed,corrupted, and seduced a world, or several worlds, to their program of domination andenslavement. that they intended by armed force to take over the continent of north americaand through it the whole earth and all the other planets adherent to civilization. thatthey intended to hunt down and kill every lensman, and to subvert the galactic councilto their own ends. this is what you wanted?" "that’s fine, sirã¢â‚¬â€just what we wanted. butjust one more thing, sir." the newsman had obtained infinitely more than he had expectedto get; yet, good newsmanlike, he wanted more. "just a word, if you will, mr. samms, as tothese trials and the white book?" "i can add very little, i’m afraid, to whati have already said and what is in the book;

and that little can be classed as ‘i toldyou so’. we are trying, and will continue to try, to force those criminals to trial;to break up, to prohibit, an unending series of hair-splitting delays. we want, and aredetermined to get, legal action; to make each of those we have accused defend himself incourt and under oath. morgan and his crew, however, are working desperately to avoidany action at all, because they know that we can and will prove every allegation wehave made." the telenews ace signed off, samms and kinnisonwent to their respective offices, and cosmocratic orators throughout the nation held a field-day.they glowed and scintillated with triumph. they yelled themselves hoarse, leather-lungedtub-thumpers though they were, in pointing

out the unsullied purity, the spotless perfectionof their own party and its every candidate for office; in shuddering revulsion at thenever-to-be-sufficiently-condemned, proved and demonstrated villainy and blackguardyof the opposition. and the nationalists, although they had beendealt a terrific and entirely unexpected blow, worked near-miracles of politics with whatthey had. morgan and his minions ranted and raved. they were being jobbed. they were beingcrucified by the monied powers. all those allegations and charges were sheerest fabricationsã¢â‚¬â€false,utterly vicious, containing nothing whatever of truth. they, not the patrol, were tryingto force a show-down; to vindicate themselves and to confute those unspeakably unscrupulouslensmen before election day. and they were

succeeding! why, otherwise, had not a singleone of the thousands of accused even been arrested? ask that lying first lensman, virgilsamms! ask that rock-hearted, iron-headed, conscienceless murderer, roderick kinnison!but do not, at peril of your sanity, submit your minds to their lenses! and why, the reader asks, were not at leastsome of those named persons arrested before election day? and your historian must answerfrankly that he does not know. he is not a lawyer. it would be of interestã¢â‚¬â€to somefew of usã¢â‚¬â€to follow in detail at least one of those days of legal battling in one ofthe high courts of the land; to quote verbatim at least a few of the many thousands of pagesof transcript: but to most of us the technicalities

involved would be boring in the extreme. but couldn’t the voters tell easily enoughwhich side was on the offensive and which on the defensive? which pressed for actionand which insisted on postponement and delay? they could have, easily enough, if they hadcared enough about the basic issues involved to make the necessary mental effort, but almosteveryone was too busy doing something else. and it was so much easier to take somebodyelse’s word for it. and finally, thinking is an exercise to which all too few brainsare accustomed. but morgan neither ranted nor raved nor blusteredwhen he sat in conference with his faintly-blue superior, who had come storming in as soonas he had learned of the crushing defeat of

the black fleet. the kalonian was very highlyconcerned; so much so that the undertone of his peculiar complexion was turning slowlyto a delicate shade of green. "how did that happen? how could it happen?why was i not informed of the patrol’s real powerã¢â‚¬â€how could you be guilty of such stupidity?now i’ll have to report to scrwan of the eich. he’s pure, undiluted poisonã¢â‚¬â€and if wordof this catastrophe ever gets up to ploor…!!!" "come down out of the stratosphere, fernald,"morgan countered, bitingly. "don’t try to make me the goatã¢â‚¬â€i won’t sit still for it.it happened because they could build a bigger fleet than we could. you were in on thatã¢â‚¬â€allof it. you knew what we were doing, and approved itã¢â‚¬â€all of it. you were as badly fooled asi was. you were not informed because i could

find out nothingã¢â‚¬â€i could learn no more oftheir bennett than they could of our petrine. as to reporting, you will of course do asyou please; but i would advise you not to cry too much before you’re really hurt. thisbattle isn’t over yet, my friend." the kalonian had been a badly shaken entity;it was a measure of his state of mind that he did not liquidate the temerarious tellurianthen and there. but since morgan was as undisturbed as ever, and as sure of himself, he beganto regain his wonted aplomb. his color became again its normal pale blue. "i will forgive your insubordination thistime, since there were no witnesses, but use no more such language to me," he said, stiffly."i fail to perceive any basis for your optimism.

the only chance now remaining is for you towin the election, and how can you do that? you areã¢â‚¬â€must beã¢â‚¬â€losing ground steadilyand rapidly." "not as much as you might think." morgan pulleddown a large, carefully-drawn chart. "this line represents the hide-bound nationalists,whom nothing we can do will alienate from the party; this one the equally hide-boundcosmocrats. the balance of power lies, as always, with the independentsã¢â‚¬â€these here.and many of them are not as independent as is supposed. we can buy or bring pressureto bear on half of themã¢â‚¬â€that cuts them down to this size here. so, no matter what thepatrol does, it can affect only this relatively small block here, and it is this block weare fighting for. we are losing a little ground,

and steadily, yes; since we can’t concealfrom anybody with half a brain the fact that we’re doing our best to keep the cases fromever coming to trial. but here’s the actual observed line of sentiment, as determinedfrom psychological indices up to yesterday; here is the extrapolation of that line toelection day. it forecasts us to get just under forty nine percent of the total vote." "and is there anything cheerful about that?"fernald asked frostily. "i’ll say there is!" morgan’s big face assumeda sneering smile, an expression never seen by any voter. "this chart deals only withliving, legally registered, bona-fide voters. now if we can come that close to winning anabsolutely honest election, how do you figure

we can possibly lose the kind this one isgoing to be? we’re in power, you know. we’ve got this machine and we know how to use it." "oh, yes, i rememberã¢â‚¬â€vaguely. you told meabout north american politics once, a few years ago. dead men, ringers, repeaters, ballot-boxstuffing, and so on, you said?" "’and so on’ is right, chief!" morgan assuredhim, heartily. "everything goes, this time. it’ll be one of the biggest landslides innorth american history." "i will, then, defer any action until afterthe election." "that will be the smart thing to do, chief;then you won’t have to take any, or make any report at all," and upon this highly satisfactorynote the conference closed.

and morgan was actually as confident as hehad appeared. his charts were actual and factual. he knew the power of money and the effectivenessof pressure; he knew the capabilities of the various units of his machine. he did not,however, know two things: jill samms’ insidious, deeply-hidden voters’ protective league andthe bright flame of loyalty pervading the galactic patrol. thus, between times of bellowingand screaming his carefully-prepared, rabble-rousing speeches, he watched calmly and contentedlythe devious workings of his smooth and efficient organization. until the day before election, that is. thenhordes of young men and young women went suddenly and briefly to work; at least four in everyprecinct of the entire nation. they visited,

it seemed, every residence and every dwellingunit, everywhere. they asked questions, and took notes, and vanished; and the machine’soperatives, after the alarm was given, could not find man or girl or notebook. and thegalactic patrol, which had never before paid any attention to elections, had given leaveand ample time to its every north american citizen. vessels of the north american contingentwere grounded and practically emptied of personnel; bases and stations were depopulated; and evenfrom every distant world every patrolman registered in any north american precinct came to spendthe day at home. morgan began then to worry, but there wasnothing he could do about the situationã¢â‚¬â€or was there? if the civilian boys and girlswere checking the registration booksã¢â‚¬â€and

they wereã¢â‚¬â€it was as legally-appointed checkers.if the uniformed boys and girls were all coming home to voteã¢â‚¬â€and they wereã¢â‚¬â€that, too,was their inalienable right. but boys and girls were notoriously prone to accident andto debauchery … but again morgan was surprised; and, this time, taken heavily aback. the webwhich had protected grand rally so efficiently, but greatly enlarged now, was functioningagain; and morgan and his minions spent a sleepless and thoroughly uncomfortable night. election day dawned clear, bright, and cool;auguring a record turn-out. voting was early and extraordinarily heavy; the polls werecrowded. there was, however, very little disorder. surprisingly little, in view of the fact thatthe cosmocratic watchers, instead of being

the venal wights of custom, were cold-eyed,unreachable men and women who seemed to know by sight every voter in the precinct. at leastthey spotted on sight and challenged without hesitation every ringer, every dead one, everyrepeater, and every imposter who claimed the right to vote. and those challenges, beingborne out in every case by the carefully-checked registration lists, were in every case upheld. not all of the policemen on duty, especiallyin the big cities, were above suspicion, of course. but whenever any one of those officersbegan to show a willingness to play ball with the machine a calm, quiet-eyed patrolman wouldremark, casually: "better see that this election stays straight,bud, and strictly according to the lists and

signaturesã¢â‚¬â€or you’re apt to find yourselflisted in the big book along with the rest of the rats." it was not that the machine liked the waythings were going, or that it did not have goon squads on the job. it was that therewere, everywhere and always, more patrolmen than there were goons. and those patrolmen,however young in years some of them might have appeared to be, were space-bronzed veterans,space-hardened fighting men, armed with the last word in blastersã¢â‚¬â€lewiston, mark seventeen. to the boy’s friends and neighbors, of course,his lewiston was practically invisible. it was merely an article of clothing, the sameas his pants. it carried no more of significance,

of threat or of menace, than did the pistoland the club of the friendly irish cop on the beat. but the goon did not see the patrolmanas a friend. he saw the keen, clear, sharply discerning eyes; the long, strong fingers;the smoothly flowing muscles, so eloquent of speed and of power. he saw the lewistonfor what it was; the deadliest, most destructive hand-weapon known to man. above all he sawthe difference in numbers: six or seven or eight patrolmen to four or five or six ofhis own kind. if more hoods arrived, so did more spacemen; if some departed, so did acorresponding number of the wearers of the space-black and silver. "ain’t you getting tired of sticking aroundhere, george?" one mobster asked confidentially

of one patrolman. "i am. what say we and someof you fellows round up some girls and go have us a party?" "uh-uh," george denied. his voice was gayand careless, but his eyes were icy cold. "my uncle’s cousin’s stepson is running forsecond assistant dog-catcher, and i can’t leave until i find out whether he wins ornot." thus nothing happened; thus the invisiblebut nevertheless terrific tension did not erupt into open battle; and thus, for thefirst time in north america’s long history, a presidential election was ninety nine andninety nine one-hundredths percent pure! evening came. the polls closed. the cosmocrats’headquarters for the day, the grand ballroom

of the hotel van der voort, became the goalof every patrolman who thought he stood any chance at all of getting in. kinnison hadbeen there all day, of course. so had joy, his wife, who for lack of space has been sadlyneglected in these annals. betty, their daughter, had come in early, accompanied by a huskyand personable young lieutenant, who has no other place in this story. jack kinnison arrived,with dimples maynardã¢â‚¬â€dazzlingly blonde, wearing a screamingly red wisp of silk. she,too, has been shamefully slighted here, although she was never slighted anywhere else. "the first time i ever saw her," jack waswont to say, "i went right into a flat spin, running around in circles and biting myselfin the small of the back, and couldn’t pull

out of it for four hours!" that miss maynard should be a very specialitem is not at all surprising, in view of the fact that she was to become the wife ofone of the kinnisons and the mother of another. the first lensman, who had been in and out,came in to stay. so did jill and her inseparable, mason northrop. and so did others, singlyor by twos or threes. lensmen and their wives. conway and clio costigan, dr. and mrs. rodebush,and cleveland, admiral and mrs. clayton, ditto schweikert, and dr. nels bergenholm. and others.nor were they all north americans, or even human. rularion was there; and so was blocky,stocky dronvire of rigel four. no outsider could tell, ever, what any lensman was thinking,to say nothing of such a monstrous lensman

as dronvireã¢â‚¬â€but that hotel was being coveredas no political headquarters had ever been covered before. the returns came in, see-sawing maddeninglyback and forth. faster and faster. the maritime provinces split fifty-fifty. maine, new hampshire,and vermont, cosmocrat. new york, upstate, cosmocrat. new york city, on the basis ofincomplete but highly significant returns, was piling up a huge nationalist majority.pennsylvaniaã¢â‚¬â€laborã¢â‚¬â€nationalist. ohioã¢â‚¬â€farmersã¢â‚¬â€cosmocrat. twelve southern states went six and six. chicago,as usual, solidly for the machine; likewise quebec and ottawa and montreal and torontoand detroit and kansas city and st. louis and new orleans and denver.

then northern and western and far southernstates came in and evened the score. saskatchewan, alberta, britcol, and alaska, all went cosmocrat.so did washington, idaho, montana, oregon, nevada, utah, arizona, newmex, and most ofthe states of mexico. at three o’clock in the morning the cosmocratshad a slight but definite lead and were, finally, holding it. at four o’clock the lead was larger,but california was still an unknown quantityã¢â‚¬â€california could wreck everything. how would californiago? especially, how would california’s two metropolitan districtsã¢â‚¬â€the two most independentand free-thinking and least predictable big cities of the nationã¢â‚¬â€how would they go? at five o’clock california seemed safe. exceptfor los angeles and san francisco, the cosmocrats

had swept the state, and in those two greatcities they held a commanding lead. it was still mathematically possible, however, forthe nationalists to win. "it’s in the bag! let’s start the celebration!"someone shouted, and others took up the cry. "stop it! no!" kinnison’s parade-ground voicecut through the noise. "no celebration is in order or will be held until the resultbecomes certain or witherspoon concedes!" the two events came practically together:witherspoon conceded a couple of minutes before it became mathematically impossible for himto win. then came the celebration, which went on and on interminably. at the first opportunity,however, kinnison took samms by the arm, led him without a word into a small office, andshut the door. samms, also saying nothing,

sat down in the swivel chair, put both feetup on the desk, lit a cigarette, and inhaled deeply. "well, virgeã¢â‚¬â€satisfied?" kinnison brokethe silence at last. his lens was off. "we’re on our way." "yes, rod. fully. at last." no more than hisfriend did he dare to use his lens; to plumb the depths he knew so well were there. "nowit will rollã¢â‚¬â€under its own powerã¢â‚¬â€no one man now is or ever will be indispensable tothe galactic patrolã¢â‚¬â€nothing can stop it now!" epilogue

the murder of senator morgan, in his own privateoffice, was never solved. if it had occurred before the election, suspicion would certainlyhave fallen upon roderick kinnison, but as it was it did not. by no stretch of the imaginationcould anyone conceive of "rod the rock" kicking a man after he had knocked him down. not thatmorgan did not have powerful and vindictive enemies in the underworld: he had so manythat it proved impossible to fasten the crime to any one of them. officially, kinnison was on a five-year leaveof absence from the galactic patrol, the office of port admiral had been detached entirelyfrom the fleet and assigned to the office of the president of north america. actually,however, in every respect that counted, roderick

kinnison was still port admiral, and wouldremain so until he died or until the council retired him by force. officially, kinnison was taking a short, well-earnedvacation from the job in which he had been so outstandingly successful. actually, hewas doing a quick flit to petrine, to get personally acquainted with the new lensmenand to see what kind of a job they were doing. besides, virgil samms was already there. he arrived. he got acquainted. he saw. heapproved. "how about coming back to tellus with me,virge?" he asked, when the visiting was done. "i’ve got to make a speech, and it’d be niceto have you hold my head."

"i’d be glad to," and the chicago took off. half of north america was dark when they nearedtellus; all of it, apparently, was obscured by clouds. only the navigating officers ofthe vessel knew where they were, nor did either of the two lensmen care. they were havingtoo much fun arguing about the talents and abilities of their respective grandsons. the chicago landed. a bug was waiting. thetwo lensmen, without an order being given, were whisked away. samms had not asked wherethe speech was to be given, and kinnison simply did not realize that he had not told him allabout it. thus samms had no idea that he was just leaving spokane spaceport, washington.

after a few miles of fast, open-country drivingthe bug reached the city. it slowed down, swung into brightly-lighted maple street,and passed a sign reading "cannon hill" something-or-otherã¢â‚¬â€neither of which names meant anything to either lensman. kinnison looked at his friend’s red-thatchedhead and glanced at his watch. "looking at you reminds meã¢â‚¬â€i need a haircut,"he remarked. "should have got one aboard, but didn’t think of it joy told me if i comehome without it she’ll braid it in pigtails and tie it up with pink ribbons, and you’reshaggier than i am. you’ve got to get one or else buy yourself a violin. what say wedo it now?" "have we got time enough?"

"plenty." then, to the driver: "stop at thefirst barber shop you see, please." "yes, sir. there’s a good one a few blocksfurther along." the bug sped down maple street, turned sharplyinto plainly-marked twelfth avenue. neither lensman saw the sign. "here you are, sir." "thanks." there were two barbers and two chairs, bothempty. the lensmen, noticing that the place was neatly kept and meticulously clean, satdown and resumed their discussion of two extremely unusual infants. the barbers went busily towork.

"just as well, thoughã¢â‚¬â€better, reallyã¢â‚¬â€thatthe kids didn’t marry each other, at that," kinnison concluded finally. "the way it is,we’ve each got a grandsonã¢â‚¬â€it’d be tough to have to share one with you." samms made no reply to this sally, for somethingwas happening. the fact that this fair-skinned, yellow-haired blue-eyed barber was left-handedhad not rung any bellsã¢â‚¬â€there were lots of left-handed barbers. he had neither seen norheard the catã¢â‚¬â€a less-than-half-grown, gray, tiger-striped kittenã¢â‚¬â€which, after standingup on its hind legs to sniff ecstatically at his nylon-clad ankles, had uttered a coupleof almost inaudible "meows" and had begun to purr happily. crouching, tensing its stronglittle legs, it leaped almost vertically upward.

its tail struck the barber’s elbow. hastily brushing the kitten aside, and beginningprofuse apologies both for his awkwardness and for the presence of the catã¢â‚¬â€he had neverdone such a thing before and he would drown him forthwithã¢â‚¬â€the barber applied a stypticpencil and recollection hit samms a pile-driver blow. "well, i’m a…!" he voiced three highly un-samms-like,highly specific expletives which, as mentor had foretold so long before, were both self-derogatoryand profane. then, as full realization dawned, he bit a word squarely in two. "excuse me, please, mr. carbonero, for thisoutrageous display. it was not the scratch,

nor was any of it your fault nothing you couldhave done would have…." "you know my name?" the astonished barberinterrupted. "yes. you were … ah … recommended to meby a … a friend…." whatever samms could say would make things worse. the truth, wildas it was, would have to be told, at least in part. "you do not look like an italian,but perhaps you have enough of that racial heritage to believe in prophecy?" "of course, sir. there have always been prophetsã¢â‚¬â€trueprophets." "good. this event was foretold in detail;in such complete detail that i was deeply, terribly shocked. even to the kitten. youcall it thomas."

"yes, sir. thomas aquinas." "it is actually a female. in here, thomasina!"the kitten had been climbing enthusiastically up his leg; now, as he held a pocket invitinglyopen, she sprang into it, settled down, and began to purr blissfully. while the barbersand kinnison stared pop-eyed samms went on: "she is determined to adopt me, and it wouldbe a shame not to requite such affection. would you part with herã¢â‚¬â€for, say, ten credits?" "ten credits! i’ll be glad to give her toyou for nothing!" "ten it is, then. one more thing. rod, youalways carry a pocket rule. measure this scratch, will you? you’ll find it’s mighty close tothree millimeters long."

"not ‘close’, virgeã¢â‚¬â€it’s exactly three millimeters,as near as this vernier can scale it." "and just above and parallel to the cheek-bone." "check. just above and as parallel as thoughit had been ruled there by a draftsman." "well, that’s that. let’s get finished withthe haircuts, before you’re late for your speech," and the barbers, with thoughts whichwill be left to the imagination, resumed their interrupted tasks. "spill it, virge!" kinnison lensed the pent-upthought. if carbonero, who did not know samms at all, had been amazed at what had been happening,kinnison, who had known him so long and so well, had been literally and completely dumbfounded."what in hell’s behind this? what’s the story?

give!" samms told him, and a mental silence fell;a silence too deep for intelligible thought. each was beginning to realize that he neverwould and never could know what mentor of arisia really was.



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