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´╗┐Title: Star Performer
Author: Shea, Robert, 1933-1994
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Star Performer" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

                         Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from the September 1960 issue of If. Extensive
    research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this
    publication was renewed.

                            Star Performer

                          By ROBERT J. SHEA

                     Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS

     _Blue Boy's rating was high and his fans were loyal to the
      death--anyone's death!_

       *       *       *       *       *

Gavir gingerly fitted the round opening in the bottom of the silvery
globe over the top of his hairless blue skull. He pulled the globe
down until he felt tiny filaments touching his scalp. The tips of the
wires were cold.

The moderator then said, "_Dreaming Through the Universe_ tonight
brings you the first native Martian to appear on the dreamwaves--Gavir
of the Desert Men. With him is his guardian, Dr. Malcomb Rice, the
noted anthropologist."



Then the moderator questioned Malcomb, while Gavir nervously
awaited the moment when his thoughts would be transmitted to millions
of Earthmen. Malcomb told how he had been struck by Gavir's
intelligence and missionary-taught ability to speak Earth's language,
and had decided to bring Gavir to Earth.

The moderator turned to Gavir. "Are you anxious to get back to Mars?"

_No!_ Gavir thought. Back behind the Preserve Barrier that killed you
instantly if you stepped too close to it? Back to the constant fear of
being seized by MDC guards for a labor pool, to wind up in the MDC

Mars was where Gavir's father had been pinned, bayonets through his
hands and feet, to the wall of a shack just the other side of the
Barrier, to die slowly, out of Gavir's reach. Father James told Gavir
that the head of MDC himself had ordered the killing, because Gavir's
father had tried to organize resistance to the Corporation. Mars was
where the magic powers of the Earthmen and the helplessness of the
Martian tribes would always protect the head of MDC from Gavir's

Back to that world of hopeless fear and hatred? _I never want to go
back to Mars! I want to stay here!_

But that wasn't what he was supposed to think. Quickly he said, "I
will be happy to return to my people."

A movement caught his eye. The producer, reclining on a divan in a far
corner of the small studio, was making some kind of signal by beating
his fist against his forehead.

"Well, enough of that!" the moderator said briskly. "How about singing
one of your tribal songs for us?"

Gavir said, "I will sing the _Song of Going to Hunt_." He heaved
himself up from the divan, and, feet planted wide apart, threw back
his head and began to howl.

He was considered a poor singer in his tribe, and he was not surprised
that Malcomb and the moderator winced. But Malcomb had told him that
it wouldn't matter. The dreamees receiving the dreamcast would hear
the song as it _should_ sound, as Gavir heard it in his mind.
Everything that Gavir saw and heard and felt in his mind, the dreamees
could see and hear and feel....

       *       *       *       *       *

It was cold, bitter cold, on the plain. The hunter stood at the edge
of the camp as the shriveled Martian sun struck the tops of the Shakam
hills. The hunter hefted the long, balanced narvoon, the throwing
knife, in his hand. He had faith in the knife, and in his skill with

The hunter filled his lungs, the cold air reaching deep into his
chest. He shouted out his throat-bursting hunting cry. He began to run
across the plain.

Crouching behind crumbling red rocks, racing over flat expanses of
orange sand, the hunter sought traces of the seegee, the great slow
desert beast whose body provided his tribe with all the essentials of
existence. At last he saw tracks. He mounted a dune. Out on the plain
before him a great brown seegee lumbered patiently, unaware of its

The hunter was about to strike out after it, when a dark form leaped
at him.

The hunter saw it out of the corner of his eye at the last moment. His
startled sidestep saved him from the neck-breaking snap of the great

The drock's long body was armored with black scales. Curving fangs
protruded from its upper jaw. Its hand-like forepaws ended in hooked
claws, to grasp and tear its prey. It was larger, stronger, faster
than the hunter. The thin Martian air carried weirdly high-pitched
cries which proclaimed its craving to sink its fangs into the hunter's
body. The drock's huge hind legs coiled back on their triple joints,
and it sprang.

The hunter thrust the gleaming knife out before him, so that the dark
body would land on its gleaming blade. The drock twisted in mid-air
and landed to one side of the hunter.

Now, before it could gather itself for another spring, there was time
for one cast of the blade. It had to be done at once. It had to be
perfect. If it failed, the knife would be lost and the drock would
have its kill. The hunter grasped the weapon by the blade, drew his
arm back, and snapped it forward.

The blade struck deep into the throat of the drock.

The drock screamed eerily and jumped clumsily. The hunter threw
himself at the great, dark body and retrieved the knife. He struck
with it again and again into the gray twitching belly. Colorless blood
ran out over the hard, tightly-stretched skin.

The drock fell, gave a last convulsion, and lay still. The hunter
plunged the blade into the red sand to clean it. He threw back his
head and bellowed his hunting cry. There was great glory in killing
the drock, for it showed that the Desert Man and not the drock, was
lord of the red waste....

       *       *       *       *       *

Gavir sat down on the divan, exhausted, his song finished. He didn't
hear the moderator winding up the dreamcast. Then the producer of the
program was upon him.

He began shouting even before Gavir removed his headset. "What kind
of a fool are you? Before you started that song, you dreamed things
about the Martian Development Corporation that were libelous! I got
the whole thing--the Barrier, the guards, the labor pools and mines,
the father crucified. It was awful! MDC is one of our biggest

Malcomb said, "You can't expect an untrained young Martian to control
his very thoughts. And may I point out that your tone is hostile?"

At this a sudden change came over the producer. The standard Earth
expression--invincible benignity--took control of his face. "I
apologize for having spoken sharply, but dreamcasting is a
nerve-wracking business. If it weren't for Ethical Conditioning, I
don't know how I'd control my aggressive impulses. The Suppression of
Aggression is the Foundation of Civilization, eh?"

Malcomb smiled. "Ethical Conditioning Keeps Society from Fissioning."
He shook hands with the producer.

"Come around tomorrow at 1300 and collect your fee," said the
producer. "Good night, gentlemen."

As they left the Global Dreamcasting System building, Gavir said to
Malcomb, "Can we go to a bookstore tonight?"

"Tomorrow. I'm taking you to your hotel and then I'm going back to my
apartment. We both need sleep. And don't forget, you've been warned
not to go prowling around the city by yourself...."

As soon as Gavir was sure that Malcomb was out of the hotel and well
on his way home, he left his room and went out into the city.

In a pitifully few days he would be back in the Preserve, back with
the fear of MDC, with hunger and the hopeless desire to find and kill
the man who had ordered his father's death.

Now he had an opportunity to learn more about the universe of the
Earthmen. Despite Malcomb's orders, he was going to find a seller of

During a reading class at the mission school, Father James had said,
"In books there is power. All that you call magic in our Earth
civilization is explained in books." Gavir wanted to learn. It was his
only hope to find an alternative to the short, fear-ridden,
impoverished life he foresaw for himself.

A river of force carried him, along with thousands of
Earthmen--godlike beings in their perfect health and their impregnable
benignity--through the streets of the city. Platforms of force raised
and lowered him through the city's multiple levels....

And, as has always happened to outlanders in cities, he became lost.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was in a quarter where furtive red and violet lights danced in the
shadows of hunched buildings. A half-dozen Earthmen approached him,
stopped and stared. Gavir stared back.

The Earthmen wore black garments and furs and metal ornaments. The
biggest of them wore a black suit, a long black cape, and a
broad-brimmed black hat. He carried a coiled whip in one hand. The
Earthmen turned to one another.

"A Martian."

"Let's give pain and death to the Martian! It will be a new
experience--one to savor."

"Take pain, Martian!"

The Earthman with the black hat raised his arm, and the long heavy
lash fell on Gavir. He felt a savage sting in the arm he had thrown up
to protect his eyes.

Gavir leaped at the Earthmen. He clubbed the man with the whip across
the face. As the others rushed in, Gavir flailed about him with long
arms and heavy fists.

He began to enjoy it. It was rare that a Martian had an opportunity to
knock Earthmen down. The mood of the _Song of Going to Hunt_ came over
him. He sprang free of his attackers and drew his glittering narvoon.

The man with the whip yelled. They looked at his knife, and then all
at once turned and ran. Gavir drew back his arm and threw the knife
with a practiced catapult-snap of shoulder, elbow, and wrist. To his
surprise, the blade clattered to the street far short of his
retreating enemies. Then he remembered: you couldn't throw far in the
gravity of Earth.

The Earthmen disappeared into a lift-force field. Gavir decided not to
pursue them. He walked forward and picked up his narvoon, and saw that
the street on which it lay was solid black pavement, not a
force-field. He must be in the lowest level of the city. He didn't
know his way around; he might meet more enemies. He forgot about the
books he'd wanted, and began to search for his hotel.

       *       *       *       *       *

When he got back to his room, he went immediately to bed. He slept

Malcomb woke him at 1100. Gavir told Malcomb about the
strangely-dressed men who had tried to kill him.

"I told you not to wander around alone."

"But you did not tell me that Earthmen might try to kill me. You have
told me that Earthmen are good and peace-loving, that there have been
no acts of violence on Earth for many decades. You have told me that
only the MDC men are exceptions, because they are living off Earth,
and this somehow makes them different."

"Well, those people you ran into are another exception."


"You know about the Regeneration and Rejuvenation treatment we have
here on Earth. A variation of it was given you to acclimate you to
Earth's gravity and atmosphere. Well, since the R&R treatment was
developed, we Earthmen have a life-expectancy of about one hundred
fifty years. Those people who attacked you were Century-Plus. They are
over a hundred years old, but as healthy, physically, as ever."

"What is wrong with them?"

"They seem to have outgrown their Ethical Conditioning. They live
wildly. Violently. It's a problem without precedent, and we don't know
what to do with them. The fact is, Senile Delinquency is our number
one problem."

"Why not punish them?" said Gavir.

"They're too powerful. They are often people who've pursued successful
careers and acquired a good deal of property and position. And there
are getting to be more of them all the time. But come on. You and I
have to go over to Global Dreamcasting and collect our fee."

       *       *       *       *       *

The impeccably affable producer of _Dreaming Through the Universe_
gave Malcomb a check and then asked them to follow him.

"Mr. Davery wants to see you. Mr. _Hoppy_ Davery, executive
vice-president in charge of production. Scion of one of Earth's oldest
communications media families!"

They went with the producer to the upper reaches of the Global
Dreamcasting building. There they were ushered into a huge office.

They found Mr. Hoppy Davery lounging on a divan the size of a
space-port. He was youthful in appearance, as were all Earthmen, but a
soft plumpness and a receding hairline made him look slightly older
than average.

He pointed a rigid finger at Malcomb and Gavir. "I want you two to
hear a condensed recording of statements taken from calls we received
last night."

Gavir stiffened. They _had_ gotten into trouble because of his
thoughts about MDC.

A voice boomed out of the ceiling.

"That Martian boy has power. That song was a fist in the jaw. More!"

A woman's voice followed:

"If you let that boy go back to Mars I'll never dream a Global program

More voices:



"That hunting song drove me mad. I _like_ being mad!"

"Keep him on Earth."

Hoppy Davery pressed a button in the control panel on his divan, and
the voices fell silent.

"Those callers that admitted their age were all Century-Plus. The boy
appeals to the Century-Plus mentality. I want to try him again. This
time on a really big dream-show, not just an educational 'cast. Got a
spot on next week's Farfel Flisket Show. If he gets the right
response, we talk about a contract. Okay?"

Malcomb said, "His visa expires--"

"We'll take care of his visa."

Gavir trembled with joy. Hoppy Davery pressed another button and a
secretary entered with papers. She was followed by another woman.

The second woman was dark-haired and slender. She wore leather boots
and tight brown breeches. She was bare from the waist up and her
breasts were young and full. A jewelled clip fastened a scarlet cape
at her neck. Her lips were a disconcertingly vivid red, apparently an
artificial color. She kissed Hoppy Davery on the forehead, leaving red
blotches on his pink dome. He wiped his forehead and looked at his

"Do you have to wear that barbaric face-paint?" Hoppy turned sad eyes
on Gavir and Malcomb. "Gentlemen, my mother, Sylvie Davery."

A Senile Delinquent! thought Gavir. She looked like Davery's younger
sister. Malcomb stared at her apprehensively, and Gavir wondered if
she were somehow going to attack them.

She looked at Gavir. "Mmm. What a body, what gorgeous blue skin. How
tall are you, Blue Boy?"

"He's approximately seven feet tall, Sylvie," said Hoppy, "and what do
you want here, anyway?"

"Just came up to see Blue Boy. One of the crowd dreamed him last
night. Positively manic about him. I found out he'd be with you."

"See?" said Hoppy to Gavir. "The Century-Plus mentality. You've got
something they go for. Undoubtedly because you're--forgive me--such a
complete barbarian. That's what they're all trying to be."

"Spare me another lecture on Senile Delinquency, Our Number One
Problem." She walked to the door and Gavir watched her all the way.
She turned with a swirl of scarlet and a dramatic display of healthy
young flesh. "See you again, Blue Boy."

After Sylvie left, Hoppy Davery said, "That might be a good
professional name--Blue Boy. Gavir doesn't _mean_ anything. Now what
kind of a song could you do for the Farfel Flisket show?"

Gavir thought. "Perhaps you would like the _Song of Creation_."

"It's part of a fertility rite," Malcomb explained.

"Great! Give the Senile Delinquents another workout. It's not quite
ethical, but its good for us. But for heaven's sake, Blue Boy, keep
your mind off MDC!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The following week, Gavir sang the _Song of Creation_ on the Farfel
Flisket show, and transmitted the images which it brought up in his
mind to his audience. A jubilant Hoppy Davery called him at his hotel
next morning.

"Best response I've ever seen! The Century-Plussers have been rioting
and throwing mass orgies ever since you sang. But they take time out
to call us up and beg for more. I've got a sponsor and a two-year
contract lined up for you."

The sponsor was pacing back and forth in Hoppy Davery's office when
Malcomb and Gavir arrived. Hoppy introduced him proudly. "Mr. Jarvis
Spurling, president of the Martian Development Corporation."

Gavir's hand leaped at the narvoon under his doublet.

Then he stopped himself. He turned the gesture into the proffer of a
handshake. "How do you do?" he said quietly. In his mind he
congratulated himself. He had learned emotional control from the
Earthmen. Here was the man who had ordered his father crucified! Yet
he had managed to hide his instant desire to strike, to kill, to carry
out the oath of the blood feud then and there.

Jarvis Spurling ignored Gavir's hand and stared coldly at him. There
was not a trace of the usual Earthman's kindliness in his square,
battered face. "I'm told you got talent. Okay, but a Bluie is a Bluie.
I'll pay you because a Bluie on Dreamvision is good publicity for MDC
products. But one slip like on your first 'cast and you go back to the

"Mr. Spurling!" said Malcomb. "Your tone is hostile!"

"Damn right. That Ethical Conditioning slop doesn't work on me. I've
lived too long on the frontier. And I know Bluies."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I will sign the contract," said Gavir.

As he drew his signature pictograph on the contract, Sylvie Davery
sauntered in. She held a white tube between her painted lips. The end
of the tube was glowing and giving off clouds of smoke. Hoppy Davery
coughed and Sylvie winked at Gavir. Gavir straightened up, and she
took a long look at his seven feet.

"All finished, Blue Boy? Come on, let's go have a drink at Lucifer

Caution told Gavir to refuse. But before he could speak Spurling
snapped, "Disgusting! An Earth woman and a Bluie! If you were on Mars,
lady, we'd deport you so fast your tail would burn. And God help the

Sylvie blew a cloud of smoke at Spurling. "You're not on Mars, Jack.
You're back in civilization where we do what we damned well please."

Spurling laughed. "I've heard about you Century-Plussers. You're all

"You can't claim any monopoly on mental health. Not with that
concentration camp you run on Mars. Coming, Gavir?"

Gavir grinned at Spurling. "The contract, I believe, does not cover my
private life."

Hoppy Davery said, "Sylvie, I don't think this is wise."

Sylvie uttered a short, sharp obscenity, linked arms with Gavir, and
strolled out.

"You screwball Senile Delinquent," Spurling yelled after Sylvie, "you
oughtta be locked up!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Lucifer Grotto was in that same quarter in which Gavir had been
attacked. Sylvie told him it was _the_ hangout for wealthier New York
Century-Plussers. Gavir told her about the attack, and she laughed.
"It won't happen again. You're a hero to the Senile Delinquents now.
By the way, the big fellow with the broad-brimmed hat, he's one of the
most prominent Senile Delinquents of our day. He's president of the
biggest privately-owned space line, but he likes to call himself the
Hat Rat. You must be one of the few people who ever got away from him

"He seemed happy to get away from me," said Gavir.

An arrangement of force-planes and 3V projections made the front of
Lucifer Grotto appear to be a curtain of flames. Gavir hung back, but
Sylvie inserted a tiny gold pitchfork into a small aperture in the
glowing, rippling surface. The flames swept aside, revealing a
doorway. A bearded man in black tights escorted them through a
luridly-lit bar to a private room. When they were alone, Sylvie
dropped her cape to the floor, sat on the edge of a huge, pink divan,
and smiled at Gavir.

Gavir contemplated her. That she was over a hundred years old was a
little frightening. But the skin of her face and her bare upper body
was a warm color, and tautly filled. She had lashed out at Spurling,
and he liked her for that. But in one way she was like Spurling. She
didn't fit into the bland, non-violent world of Malcomb and Hoppy.

He shook his head. He said, "Sylvie, why--well, why are you the way
you are? Why--and how--have you broken away from Ethical

Sylvie frowned. She spoke a few words into the air, ordering drinks.
She said, "I didn't do it deliberately. When I reached the age of
about a hundred it stopped working for me. I suddenly wanted to do
what _I_ wanted to do. And then I found out that I didn't _know_ what
I wanted to do. It was Ethical Conditioning or nothing, so I picked
nothing. And here I am, chasing nothing."

"How do you chase nothing?"

She set fire to a white tube. "This, for instance. They used to do it
before they found out it caused cancer. Now there's no more cancer,
but even if there were, I'd still smoke. That's the attitude I have.
You try things. You live in the past, if you're inclined, adopt the
costumes and manners of some more colorful time. You try ridiculous
things, disgusting things, vicious things. You know they're all
nothing, but you have to do something, so you go on doing nothing,
elaborately and violently."

A tray of drinks rose through the floor. Sylvie frowned as she noticed
a folded paper tucked between the glasses. She picked it up and read
it, chuckled, and read it again, aloud.

"Sir: I beg you to forgive the presumption of my recent attack on
you. Since then you have captured my imagination. I now hold you to be
the noblest savage of them all. Henceforward please consider me, Your
obedient servant, Hat Rat."

"You've impressed him," said Sylvie. "But you impress me even more.
Come here."

She held out slim arms to him. He had no wish to refuse her. She was
not like a Martian woman, but he found the differences exciting and
attractive. He went to her, and he forgot entirely that she was over a
hundred years old.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the months that followed, Gavir's fame spread over Earth. By
spring, the rating computers credited him with an audience of eight
hundred million--ninety-five percent of whom were Century-Plussers.
Davery doubled Gavir's salary.

Gavir toured the world with Sylvie, mobbed everywhere by worshipful
Century-Plussers. Male Century-Plussers by the millions adopted blue
doublets and blue kilts in honor of their hero.

Blue-dyed hair was now _de rigueur_ among the ladies of Lucifer
Grotto. The Hat Rat himself, who often appeared at a respectful
distance in crowds around Gavir, now wore a wide-brimmed hat of
brightest blue.

Then there came the dreamcast on which Gavir sang the _Song of

It was an ancient song, a Desert Man's outcry against injustice,
enemies, false friends and callous leaders. It was a protest against
sufferings that could neither be borne nor prevented. At the climax of
the song Gavir pictured a tribal chief who refused to make fair
division of the spoils of a hunt with his warriors. Gradually he
allowed this image to turn into a picture of Hoppy Davery withholding
bundles of money from a starving Gavir. Then he ended the song.

Hoppy sent for him next morning.

"Why did you do that?" he said. "Listen to this."

A recorded voice boomed: "This is Hat Rat. Pay the Blue Boy what he
deserves, or I will give you death. It will be a personal thing
between you and me. I will besprinkle you with corrosive acids; I will
burn out your eyes; I will--"

Hoppy cut the voice off. Gavir saw that he was sweating. "There were
_dozens_ like that. If you want more money, I'll _give_ you more
money. Say something nice about me on your next dreamcast, for
heaven's sake!"

Gavir spread his big blue hands. "I am sorry. I don't want more money.
I cannot always control the pictures I make. These images come into
my mind even though they have nothing to do with me."

Hoppy shook his head. "That's because you haven't had Ethical
Conditioning. We don't have this trouble with our other performers.
You just must remember that dreamvision is the most potent
communications medium ever devised. Be _careful_."

"I will," said Gavir.

       *       *       *       *       *

On his next dreamcast Gavir sang the _Song of the Blood Feud_. He
pictured a Desert Man whose father had been killed by a drock.

The Desert Man ran over the red sand, and he found the drock. He did
not throw his knife. That would not have satisfied his hatred. He fell
upon the drock and stabbed and stabbed.

The Desert Man howled his hunting-cry over the body of his enemy, and
spat into its face.

And the fanged face of the drock turned into the square, battered face
of Jarvis Spurling. Gavir held the image in his mind for a long

When the dreamcast was over, a studio page ran up to Gavir. "Mr.
Spurling wants to see you at once, at his office."

"Let him come and find me," said Gavir. "Let us go, Sylvie."

They went to Lucifer Grotto, where Gavir's wealthiest admirers among
the Senile Delinquents were giving a party for him in the Pandemonium
Room. The only prominent person missing, as Sylvie remarked after
surveying the crowd, was the Hat Rat. They wondered about it, but no
one knew where he was.

Sheets of flame illuminated the wild features and strange garments of
over a hundred Century-Plus ladies and gentlemen. Gouts of flame
leaped from the walls to light antique-style cigarettes. Drinks were
refilled from nozzles of molded fire.

An hour passed from the time of Gavir's arrival.

Then Jarvis Spurling joined the party. There was a heavy frontier
sonic pistol strapped at his waist. A protesting Malcomb was behind

Jarvis Spurling's square face was dark with anger. "You deliberately
put my face on that animal! You want to make the public hate me. I pay
your salary and keep you here on Earth, and this is what I get for it.
All right. A Bluie is a Bluie, and I'll treat you like a Bluie should
be treated." He unsnapped his holster and drew the square, heavy
pistol out and pointed it at Gavir.

Gavir stood up. His right hand plucked at his doublet.

"You're itching to go for that throwing knife," said Spurling. "Go on!
Take it out and get ready to throw it. I'll give you that much
chance. Let's make a game out of this. We'll make like we're back on
Mars, Bluie, and you're out hunting a drock. And you find one, only
this drock has a gun. How about that, Bluie?"

Gavir took out the narvoon, grasped the blade, and drew his arm back.


It was the Hat Rat. He stood between pillars of flame in the doorway
of the Pandemonium Room of Lucifer Grotto, and there was a peculiar
contrivance of dark brown wood and black metal tubing cradled in his
arm. "This ancient shotgun I dedicate to your blood feud. I shall hunt
down your enemy, Gavir!"

Spurling turned. The Hat Rat saw him.

"The enemy!" the Hat Rat shouted.

The shotgun exploded.

Spurling's body was thrown back against Gavir. Gavir saw a huge ragged
red caved-in place in Spurling's chest. Spurling's body sagged to the
floor and lay there face up, eyes open. The Senile Delinquents of
Lucifer Grotto leaned forward to grin at the tattered body.

Still holding the narvoon, Gavir stood over his dead enemy. He threw
back his head and howled out the hunting cry of the Desert Men. Then
he looked down and spat in Jarvis Spurling's dead face.


       *       *       *       *       *

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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.