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´╗┐Title: Solid Solution
Author: Stamers, James
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 "Solid Solution" ***

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                            SOLID SOLUTION

                           By JAMES STAMERS

                          Illustrated by GRAY

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Galaxy Magazine April 1960.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



               Brilliant? A genius? David Adam Smith had
               the brains of fifty men--very literally!


Three students were expelled for bringing the bubble dancer into the
Desert Institute, Lee White, Burns Gilbert and John Thay. The Director
did not like any of them. He liked me, Morris. I was his stooge, his
squirming straight man. I was useful for his jokes.

"We know calculus is a method of measuring uncircular curves, such as
beer barrels ... but I fear Morris has allowed that thought to absorb
him, hig, hig, hig, hig."

That was one of Professor David Adam Smith's favorites. Or:

"If you will visit me this afternoon, Morris, I will give you personal
tuition in astrophysics ... beginning with the more complicated parts
of the alphabet, hig, hig, hig."

But he owned the Desert Institute. He was the only living authority on
geology, terrestrial or extraplanetary, and there was a waiting list of
students....

On their last afternoon, I was sent with the disgraced three on a
specimen-collecting tour of the desert. It was my routine job but a
real disgrace to them. I often thought the only reason David Adam Smith
allowed me to stay on as a student, apart from offering him a target
for sneering at, was because of my muscles. I could handle the long
specimen trailer and heave boulders about more easily than the others.

"Do not sneer at Morris, gentlemen. Science tells us brain size is
related to surface area. You should expect in Morris a potentially
great brain therefore ... if Morris were not devoted to obstructing
science, hig, hig, hig."

The other three, Lee, Burns and John, were about six feet tall, slim,
dark haired and handsome. But we were collecting specimens, not running
for Miss Earth 2430. My extra seven inches in height extends more or
less proportionately in my reach and thickness of shoulder. Anyway,
they were depressed at being expelled, so I let them sit in the shade
of the trailer while I set up the specimen plates and power unit,
minima stand here, maxima stand there, controls on the sand beside them.

"I don't expect you've done this elementary stuff for a couple of
years," I said. "So ... don't walk on the plates and don't touch the
dial or the red and blue buttons."

"Hell, Morry, we know."

"Okay, okay. Only it's more tricky than it looks."

       *       *       *       *       *

The whole desert belonged to David Adam Smith, which showed his
political pull. Who else on Earth was allowed a whole _room_ to
themselves, even--except maybe the Planetary Salvager, and the heads
of the Material Recovery subdivisions and top Government people like
that. But David Adam Smith had to have a complete desert. He ruled from
the Holiday Probable centers of Reno to the gambling computers of Las
Vegas, where the bubble dancer had come from.

I put a single grain of sand on the minima plate and stood clear.

"Press the blue button, Burns."

Burns wasn't even listening.

"Burns," I repeated.

"Hell, Morry, who cares about these damned specimens? How would you
like to be expelled? No classification, no chance of a job, spend the
rest of your life in a compulsory Holiday Reservation."

"How does he get away with it," muttered Lee, looking around at the
open desert and the bare hills on the skyline. "Tomorrow we'll be
back in a ten-to-a-room bachelor unit in the Nebraska suburbs, with
a fine view of continuous rooftops to the Gulf, the Atlantic and the
Great Lakes, and the nearest geological specimen at the bottom of the
community hydroponic tanks. And here he is--the only David Adam Smith,
the one original--with a desert of his own. It makes me sick."

John Thay shook his head.

"That's just emotional reaction, Lee. We were all busting ourselves to
be admitted, to be one of the select three hundred. Just because we're
being slung out doesn't mean the whole Desert Institute is no good. You
know perfectly well why he has the place reserved."

"I know his excuse. I can just see him, flapping his cloak at the
Salvagers and croaking, 'I don't care what you want to do with the
ground, gentlemen. I must have open spaces to live in. Am I or am
I not the only leading scientist of importance who has retained
his sanity and continued to produce discoveries of unique value?
Where is Firnivale, Williams, Hutk, Marrpole, and so on and so on?
Lost. Missing. Probably in a sodden stupor in one of the South
American City-States. I tell you, science cannot produce anything in
laboratories. Science must have room to breathe!'"

It was a stock student's speech.

I waited for the other two to round it off.

"And why, Professor Smith," said Burns imitating a heavy official
voice, "have you alone retained your faculties?"

"Because, dear sir," Lee answered in David Adam Smith's thin voice,
"I never admit more than three hundred students to the Institute. And
because apparently I have the only mind capable of absorbing the weight
of modern knowledge without much strain."

"You do not dislike yourself, Professor."

"I give credit where it is due, dear sir." Lee stopped and continued in
his normal voice. "The trouble is, he _does_ produce the stuff. He's
supposed to be a geologist, but there hasn't been an invention for the
last decade that he didn't master-mind."

"Pity he can't think of some way of speeding up the emigration," John
said. "If only we could leave Earth!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I walked over and pressed the blue button myself.

The grain of sand on the minima plate flicked out of our time-space and
reappeared on the maxima plate ten times larger. I picked it up and
carried it back to the minima plate, repeated the process and went on
until the grain of quartz was more than four feet long.

"Why don't you do it in one jump instead of walking backwards and
forwards?" John Thay asked.

"Can't," I said. "It's got to be a perfect model of the crystal lattice
of quartz. If you calibrate it for too big a jump in size it gets
distorted. No one knows why."

"You don't tell us, Morry. Hell, the marvel is that it works at all."

I threw the four-foot-long crystal over to John and he put it in the
trailer, after nearly losing it on the slight breeze. It is difficult
to disbelieve your eyes and remember that an overblown specimen has
very little more than its original weight. The grain of quartz was
merely expanded. Its molecular and nuclear structure stretched out
in a magnified volume of space. It was almost all holes, an open
arrangement of spaces between the force points of its matter; a direct
magnification of the original without any other change.

We used these specimens in the Desert Institute because everyone
could see the details of the crystal lattice for themselves, instead
of having to use an electron microscope. It removed the practical
difficulties of the principle of indeterminacy, David Adam Smith said.
If light was too coarse to let him see the contents of a nucleus, he
was damned well going to bring the nucleus up to a size where he could
see it. And so he did, eventually, with this apparatus.

I was one of the very few students ever allowed to touch the apparatus,
probably because he thought I was too dumb to do anything with it.
There were several sets but they never left the Institute. The world
was not ready for them, he said.

There was quite a lot of stuff that David Adam Smith kept to himself in
the Institute. Not because the world was unready, but simply because he
didn't think he would get maximum applause at that particular time. He
only produced inventions at the right theatrical moment. David Adam
Smith was quite a ham.

I was not supposed to tell anyone how this apparatus worked, but the
three of them sitting facing me in the shade were not going anywhere
after this. I didn't think it mattered. If you are not chosen at birth
for emigration within the System, and if you also fail at the Institute
or one of the dormitory-universities, you're just an extra unit of
overpopulation.

       *       *       *       *       *

I thought I'd give them something to think about instead of brooding
over the bubble dancer and their expulsion.

"Of course it works," I said. "It's only Einstein with a twist."

The three of them laughed.

"No, really. You know the clocks that go out on every stellar-reporter
and come back to the Institute with dope on the composition of this and
that place in the Galaxy? You were advanced students, you must have
sent them off every day, well, wasn't the clock always slow when it
returned?"

"Against the dispatching room clock, of course it was," John agreed.
"And if there was enough spare material left on Earth to send people
apart from emigrants, a man would be younger than his twin when he
returned."

"Well," I said, "that's what happens here, except that a specimen
goes out off a minima plate and comes back onto the maxima plate so
fast that the time component is negligible. All that happens is that
it gets moved outside the local space-time reference. It doesn't
exactly go anywhere, I suppose. But instead of consuming less time on
this shift out and in again, the time stays constant and it reappears
occupying more space. And there you are, with a magnified version of
the original."

There was a silence.

"Have you ever put anything living on the plate, Morry?"

I blushed. John had a knack of uncovering safely hidden facts.

"Well, I did make a small mistake once. A grasshopper got on the plate
when I wasn't looking. I was magnifying an alumino-silicate and a few
seconds after I got the specimen up to size, the grasshopper appeared
in the middle of it. I had to reverse the specimen back to get it out.
Meant picking the crystal off the plate fast, before the insect came
through, but I managed it."

"Was it hurt?"

"The grasshopper? No. A little stunned, maybe. But perfectly well."

I went back to the plates and started another quartz grain. John, Lee
and Burns sat and gabbled to each other.

"If the crystal lattice was expanded to start with...."

"Relative to its size, the crystal would be full of breathing
holes...."

"You could take in nutrient through a lattice as big as that. It would
be relatively porous...."

"... molecular pressure...."

"... shift that battery and move the galvanometer...."

"... take out most of the instruments and fake up the records from the
previous trip...."

"If we weren't being expelled this evening," said John.

They looked at me.

"Are you sure about the grasshopper, Morry?" Burns asked.

I nodded.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had no warning. I had just put a half-inch expanded grain on the
minima plate, when Lee White walked onto the maxima and Burns pressed
the red button.

There was a flicker and White appeared, half an inch tall, in the
middle of the expanded quartz crystal on the minima plate. He was able
to move his arms. He seemed to be saying something that amused him. I
knocked Burns away from the controls, pressed the blue button, whisked
the empty crystal off the maxima plate as it came through and only just
got it out of the way before Lee White reappeared on the maxima plate,
his normal size again.

"Well, it works," he said.

"You crazy?" I yelled at him.

"Just think," Burns said, sitting up and holding his jaw. "The number
of times we've watched this fella pressing his red and blue buttons,
and dismissed it as elementary stuff for beginners."

They calmed me down and apologized for doing a thing like that. Hell, I
would have been expelled too if I had gone back to the Institute with
one of them missing. David Adam Smith had a very elaborate hearing aid,
but it never enabled him to hear excuses. Students only on Institute
property, no readmittance for expelled students--and certainly no
expelled students locked up in a lab specimen.

I suppose they would have thought it funny to sit in a crystal and make
faces at David Adam Smith. They were wild, all three of them, and had
been since they were admitted. I had no desire to be expelled with them.

"You're not going to be expelled, Morry. Not if you do as we ask."

"And if you don't," Burns said, still rubbing his jaw, "we'll tell the
dear Director that you explained how his specimen collector works."

"Then you'll be expelled with us, Morry."

"He's going to get tired of having you around to laugh at one day,
Morry. Then you'll be out anyway."

"No use appealing to him with the broad theme, I suppose?"

I look at John Thay.

"What broad theme?" I asked.

"Do you know what you've got here, Morry? You have the only mass escape
route from Earth."

"You're euphoricked!"

"No, we're not. Do you know how many habitable planets we've listed?
Over three hundred and fifty. We've sent stellar-reporters out and back
every day and we know. They're listed back there at the Institute. We
can reach them on the hyperspace transmitter, you know that. The only
things that stop a mass emigration are David Adam Smith, the small
size of the transmitter and the impossibility of building enough ships
to carry everyone. The alloy supply only just covers the standard
emigration program. But a stellar-reporter comes back with the data, is
re-set and goes out again and comes back again. Don't you see, Morry?"

"No," I said, "I don't."

"Look. If you can use the same ship over and over again, the shortage
of alloys doesn't matter provided you can build the first ship."

"Okay," I said, "but a stellar-reporter isn't a ship, unless you're a
two foot midget and...."

I stopped.

If Lee White could get in and out of a crystal safely--and he seemed
to be unchanged after having just done so--he could travel inside a
stellar-reporter with the other delicate mechanisms.

I had never been promoted to those classes, but I knew the
stellar-reporters were baby rockets that gouged specimens from the
planets they were sent to, measured, recorded, and brought themselves
back on the same tracker path. When they were not burned up in stars,
that is.

But if the three of them were willing to take that chance, I was not
going to get in the way.

"I may not be as bright as you three," I said. "But even I can see you
may have something here. If you survive the journey. You don't need to
threaten me about telling you how this specimen collector works. I'll
help anyway."

We prepared the specimens I set out to get, then experimented.

I could not get used to seeing each of them inside an expanded grain of
sand, but the pore structure and the crystal lattice itself seemed to
leave them room to breathe. They could even move about, within small
limits.

The crystal had to be expanded up to a reasonable size before it was
safe to be transmitted into it, for an unexpanded quartz crystal would
be immediate suffocation. The force vortices of the quartz nuclei, even
when expanded, seemed to have no effect on a living body. It was a
solid solution, as John said.

"The ideal," he added, "would be for us to coach Morry up to the
stellar-reporter class levels. But I think we had better start
meanwhile. No sense wasting time."

"I think so, too," I said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before we left the open desert, I unpacked the apparatus so they could
examine it. They thought they could make sets without much difficulty.
The apparatus was largely an electrically inhibited accelerator, they
said.

I knew the desert quite well, including the areas where the Institute
radar boundary fogged out and where people could crawl in a few hundred
yards without being detected.

"That's all we need," Burns said. "If we plant another set of plates
and power controls out there, and Morry keeps burying prepared crystals
in advance, he can meet us there, do the conversion and bring each of
us in in a half-inch crystal in his pocket."

"Then what?" I asked.

"Then you hand us over to little Dimples. She'll get us into the right
stellar-reporters together with a reduced set of plates and controls
so that we can reconvert on the planet. We can travel in the specimen
grabber. That will dump us out immediately the stellar-reporter lands."

I knew little Dimples by sight. She was a plump redheaded student in
their class.

"You can't all go," I said.

"Why not?"

"Because I can't leave the Institute grounds. Anyway, where are
you going to collect the other emigrants from, once you're out on a
habitable planet at the back end of the Galaxy?"

"He's right."

We talked it out as I drove the trailer back to the Institute. Two
of them would go immediately, each to a different planet on the
list. They would return to report and be sent out again on the
next stellar-reporter collecting data from that planet. Meanwhile,
the third would be expelled. He would spend his compulsory Holiday
selecting people for despatch. I would meet them at the boundary,
convert them and carry the crystals in, for Dimples to insert into the
stellar-reporters.

They disappeared into the metallurgical labs as soon as I pulled up in
the main courtyard. The Director missed them by micromillimeters.

David Adam Smith was a small man. With his cloak and large hearing aid
and long thin face, he always made me think of a grounded bird. He came
hopping over the tiles with short quick steps, peering at the specimens
and at me.

"Go out again tomorrow," he snapped. "I want some copper chloride
specimens."

"Would you like me to drive the bubble-dancer to transportation?" I
asked.

"Who? Oh, that girl. No, Morris, I sent her away. You'll have to
confine yourself to the curriculum, I fear, hig, hig, hig."

That was odd because I thought I was about the only person in the
Institute who could drive a land-vehicle. The roads outside were built
over and everyone used jets. But I wouldn't have put it past him to
have made the girl walk out of the desert, or to have sent her in his
own space-glass jet, depending on how he assessed her publicity value.

I forgot about it while carting off the specimens.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dimples was pretty, a trifle Venusian in her plumpness but very
intelligent. We met by the fountain in one of the smaller courtyards.
John Thay, she told me, had volunteered to remain but I was to collect
the other two from the boundary.

"They won't be too heavy will they, Morry?"

"Three or four pounds. Living substance modifies in some way, or it may
be the effect of being in solid solution in an expanded lattice."

"But you can take them down to half an inch?"

"I hope so."

We arranged to meet just before the afternoon session the next
day, so that Lee and Burns would be sent off in the afternoon
stellar-reporters with as little delay as possible.

They were there at the boundary when I drove up the next day. Their
converter worked. They were embedded neatly in the quartz crystals. I
took them in, handed them to Dimples and that was that.

Neither Burns nor his stellar-reporter returned.

We never knew what happened. Some of the little rockets did fail. Not
many. But it was his misfortune to be in one that did not come back.

Lee White did return safely, and was sent out again to his chosen
planet.

We began to handle crystals regularly. John sent each emigrant with
a miniature converter and controls, which I reduced on the edge of
the desert and handed to Dimples, who inserted the crystal and the
miniature converter into the next stellar-reporter due for Lee's
planet. He was accumulating heaps of converters on his planet, but we
could not risk leaving an emigrant helpless in his crystal when the
stellar-reporter dumped it on the far planet. This way they rolled out
together on arrival.

We must have sent out two hundred emigrants of all kinds, for John
was sending in a mixed selection to give the far planet every chance
of a successful settlement, when Dimples met me at the fountain and
cried--moistly--all over my arm.

"Oh, Morry," she wept. "He's found out."

"He," obviously, was David Adam Smith.

"How do you know? What did he say?"

"He hasn't said anything. But I saw one of the emigrants in his private
lab! I shouldn't have been there, and he didn't know I was. But I saw
him with one on his desk."

"Sure about it?"

"Absolutely certain. It looked like one of the men with a beard we sent
through about a month ago. Do you remember?"

"But how did he get hold of him?"

"I can't think. The stellar-reporters are going off all right. I
thought they were coming back empty. I've had to let the rest of my
class know, so that we could keep the records faked. We can't account
for two hundred stellar-reporters all to the same planet, Morry, so I
had to."

I sent the next bunch of emigrants back with a message to John Thay.
He came the next afternoon and we met on the edge of the desert. I
explained what had happened.

"Is Dimples certain?" he asked.

"The man had a beard and was still in his crystal, the way we sent him
off."

John shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, Morry, it can't be helped. There's only one course now. We must
get hold of any crystals in the hands of David Adam Smith and send them
off again--unless you and Dimples and all of us want to end up in a
satellite penitentiary. I expect he's preparing a case against us now.
With his influence he can make it stick. No doubt about that."

Illegal emigration, criminal use of the Institute property--oh, from
that angle there was enough to have us all put away in space all right.
I had no doubt that David Adam Smith would do it, too.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Now, his weakest point," John said, "is his vanity. That, as we know,
is immense. Who else would run an Institute for three hundred students
with himself as the sole Director? So, if we can arrange something to
keep him occupied for a day or two, we may be able to break up into
his private labs through the floor. I know for a fact the walls and
ceilings are studded with alarms. But we thought of booby-trapping him
when we were expelled, and the floor seemed the best way in."

"And the diversion?"

"You'd better take me in now in your pocket. I want to have a word with
Dimples' class."

He stepped on the maxima plate. I converted him down, buried the plates
as usual and went back to the Institute.

I gave the crystal to Dimples.

"Meet me here in an hour," she said.

An hour later, she was back.

"Here, Morry. This is the power slicer from a shovel. There's one in
every stellar-reporter for cutting rock specimens. John says you can
come up from the cellar with that. Do you know what he means?"

"Yes. What's he doing with you?"

"You'll see. Just come to our class area tomorrow as if you're
delivering specimens. Put the crystal with John in it in your pocket
and go and report to the Director exactly what you found in our
area--apart from the crystal, of course. You are to release John from
that when you get to the cellar, immediately after David Adam Smith
goes hurrying out to see what happened to us."

She would not tell me any more than that.

So when I found next morning that every stellar-reporter in the class
area was missing and that Dimples and her entire class had gone
with them, I did not have to act astonished. About a third of the
Institute--nearly a hundred students--were in that class, doing nothing
else but build a complete catalogue of the stars and their planetary
systems by means of the stellar-reporters. And the whole lot had gone!

David Adam Smith did not believe me, either, until he saw for himself.
Then he sat down to work through the firing calibrators to find out
where the stellar-reporters had been sent. He waved me away.

I went straight to the cellar beneath his private labs and reconverted
John. He stepped off the maxima plate swiftly before the crystal could
materialize him.

"Hey," I said, "you've reversed it."

"Naturally. It's a minor adjustment in the time-lag. Otherwise there
would always have to be a second person present before you could get
out of a crystal. We think that's what went wrong with poor Burns
Gilbert. But we'll never know, I'm afraid. Let's get on."

We set the power cutter to work on the cellar ceiling.

It was only designed to cut rock specimens small enough to be brought
back in the stellar-reporters that carried it, but after two hours we
had a hole right up into the private labs.

I lifted John Thay and followed him up.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dimples was right.

There was a long row of crystals in a nutrient tank against one wall,
arranged so that it could not be seen into from the windows. About
fifty crystals were racked there and each had a six-inch figure in it.
I walked over to look at them with John.

"These aren't the ones I sent!" John said.

"They're not?"

"Not one."

We looked at the line in silence. I had gotten used to handling filled
crystals, but the sight of all these human beings, miniature and
watching us, making waving motions so for as they could within the
lattice of their crystals--this was unnerving.

"No," John Thay repeated. "These are not ours. But that one there is
the bubble dancer we were expelled for bringing here!"

I looked at the little figure, pink against the clear quartz.

"Who are the others?" I asked.

John Thay walked briskly down the line scooping them up.

"Never mind that for a moment, Morry. Just help me collect every one of
these."

I grabbed handfuls of crystals from the rack, stuffing them in my
pockets, until between us we had every one.

John took a last look to check. Then we dropped through the hole in the
floor, down into the cellar.

"I had an elaborate plan in mind," he said to me, as we hurried away.
"But this changes everything. Is the converter in your truck working?"
We shot out into the courtyard.

"If you're in a hurry, John, why not use the one there in the cellar?"

"Hell, you're right. This has shaken me so much I can hardly think.
Quickly, let's get these crystals reconverted."

We turned and rushed back to the cellar we had just left.

I grabbed the power controls, John fed the crystals onto the minima
plate, I pressed the button and fielded the staggering human being off
the maxima plate before the enlarged crystal came following through.
The crystals I kicked into the corner of the cellar.

We did not talk, but concentrated on this rush conversion.

When we had released the last man, there were fifty-three people in
the cellar, including John, myself and the bubble dancer, who for some
reason clung to me and kissed me.

Most of the people were elderly men. Their clothes were tattered and
stained by nutrient solution. Some were threadbare. Many had been
wearing laboratory coats of ceramic fabric, which had chipped and
fallen away in patches.

They must have been in the crystals for a long time.

I watched John bend anxiously over a group of elderly men.

"Doctor Firnivale. Professor Marrpole. Doctor Hutk. And Williams."

The men we had just released nodded in turn.

"You, Dr. Firnivale," John said. "Did you give the advanced geo-physics
lectures?"

"Through that crook's hearing aid," said the tattered man on the cellar
floor. "Yes, I did. I could hear the questions and I told him the
answers. So did all these others here."

"Professor Marrpole, I recognized you from a stereo-record you made on
magnetic differentiation on small planets. Is that how David Adam Smith
became the world authority when you disappeared?"

"Yes," the man with the shaggy beard confirmed. "He caught me by asking
me to stand on a plate for a live recording."

       *       *       *       *       *

John turned to me.

"We have here, Morry, a careful collection of the leading specialists
in the world. These people are the reason for David Adam Smith being
able to outthink any fifty men. These are the fifty men he built his
reputation with!"

"I don't understand why you all helped him," I said.

"Because he used to oscillate the crystals we were in, young man."

"But now it's our turn!"

"By heaven, wait until I meet that treacherous snake...."

"I'm going to sue him for every credit he has!"

"Who would care to join me in pulling him into small pieces surgically?"

The babble in the cellar rose in volume and intensity. Under it all,
the bubble-dancer was whispering in my ear how grateful she was to
great big me, and how that foul old goat had kept her for amusement
just because she walked into his office to complain when he fired those
nice boys....

"He had to, I suppose," I said. "If you saw all these people in
crystals."

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," John roared. "Please!"

There was silence.

"Thank you. Which of you in fact thought of the stellar-reporters for
accumulating data on other parts of the Galaxy?"

"I did," said a tall thin man by the door. "Higgins is my name."

Even I had heard of the astrophysicist inventor.

"Had it occurred to you that with these crystals and your
stellar-reporters man could expand through the Galaxy?"

"No. But now that you raise the point, of course we could!"

"My friend, Morris here, and I and some colleagues have been doing so
privately for some time...."

John waited until the excited murmuring died away.

"We thought David Adam Smith had discovered us. And that is really why
we broke into his office ... and found you all there. But I now think
he knows nothing about it. Subject to your agreement, I suggest we
should keep him in ignorance, lock him in a quartz crystal here and
continue the private migration without involving him."

"Why not bring him to justice?" asked Higgins.

"Because I doubt if the government would believe their eyes. You have
built David Adam Smith into a legend that would be difficult to break.
Also because they would certainly take the Institute from anyone else,
hold up the experiments and delay everything. And I have a lot of
friends out there in space trying to establish a planetary colony."

Marrpole laughed.

"Really," he said, "we have been providing all the brain power of this
Institute for so long, we may as well continue. Speaking for myself,
gentlemen, a few years free from any restraint whatever are exactly
what I now need. I am in favor."

There was a general mutter of agreement.

"Thank you," John said. "And now, if you will follow me, there are
excellent showers and a whole class of spare rooms."

"You stay with me," I said to the bubble-dancer.

I led her through the Institute to the classrooms where Director
David Adam Smith was still plotting the courses of the missing
stellar-reporters. They would be back soon, but he was never to know
that.

I took him from behind and held him off the floor by his elbows, then
twisted him round in the air so that he could see us both.

"Yes," I said. "She's out. And you're going in."

He started to scream so I clipped him.

Then I carried him out to his private labs. I made him unlock the
door and unset the alarms, dumped him on the maxima plate of his own
converter and shot him into a spare enlarged crystal he had on his
desk, after taking off his hearing aid. He didn't need it. It was only
an amplifier so that he could hear the advice of whoever was in there
at the time. I put him in and clipped the mike onto my shirt.

"What are you doing?" asked the bubble-dancer.

"Look," I said. "This fella could do it. And someone's got to take the
other lectures. And I'm never going to get to be a qualified professor
any other way."

"But I thought they said he didn't know anything?" the bubble-dancer
asked.

"He must remember some of it, or I'll oscillate him at a high
frequency."

Meanwhile, I thought I'd practice laughing, "hig, hig, hig." But the
former Director did not seem to find it funny.





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