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Title: Wolfbane
Author: Pohl, Frederik, Kornbluth, C. M. (Cyril M.)
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 "Wolfbane" ***

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


                 By FREDERIK POHL and C. M. KORNBLUTH

                          Illustrated by WOOD

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
           Galaxy Science Fiction October and November 1957.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

             Appallingly, the Earth and the Moon had been
             kidnapped from the Solar System--but who were
             the kidnappers and what ransom did they want?


Roget Germyn, banker, of Wheeling, West Virginia, a Citizen, woke
gently from a Citizen's dreamless sleep. It was the third-hour-rising
time, the time proper to a day of exceptional opportunity to appreciate.

Citizen Germyn dressed himself in the clothes proper for the
appreciation of great works--such as viewing the Empire State ruins
against storm clouds from a small boat, or walking in silent single
file across the remaining course of the Golden Gate Bridge. Or as
today--one hoped--witnessing the Re-creation of the Sun.

Germyn with difficulty retained a Citizen's necessary calm. One was
tempted to meditate on improper things: Would the Sun be re-created?
What if it were not?

He put his mind to his dress. First of all, he put on an old and
storied bracelet, a veritable identity bracelet of heavy silver links
and a plate which was inscribed:

                           PFC JOE HARTMANN

His fellow jewelry-appreciators would have envied him that bracelet--if
they had been capable of such an emotion as envy. No other ID bracelet
as much as two hundred and fifty years old was known to exist in

His finest shirt and pair of light pants went next to his skin,
and over them he wore a loose parka whose seams had been carefully
weakened. When the Sun was re-created, every five years or so, it was
the custom to remove the parka gravely and rend it with the prescribed
graceful gestures ... but not so drastically that it could not be
stitched together again. Hence the weakened seams.

This was, he counted, the forty-first day on which he and all of
Wheeling had donned the appropriate Sun Re-creation clothing. It was
the forty-first day on which the Sun--no longer white, no longer
blazing yellow, no longer even bright red--had risen and displayed a
color that was darker maroon and always darker.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had, thought Citizen Germyn, never grown so dark and so cold in all
of his life. Perhaps it was an occasion for special viewing. For surely
it would never come again, this opportunity to see the old Sun so near
to death....

One hoped.

Gravely, Citizen Germyn completed his dressing, thinking only of
the act of dressing itself. It was by no means his specialty, but
he considered, when it was done, that he had done it well, in the
traditional flowing gestures, with no flailing, at all times balanced
lightly on the ball of the foot. It was all the more perfectly
consummated because no one saw it but himself.

He woke his wife gently, by placing the palm of his hand on her
forehead as she lay neatly, in the prescribed fashion, on the Woman's
Third of the bed.

The warmth of his hand gradually penetrated the layers of sleep. Her
eyes demurely opened.

"Citizeness Germyn," he greeted her, making the assurance-of-identity
sign with his left hand.

"Citizen Germyn," she said, with the assurance-of-identity inclination
of the head which was prescribed when the hands are covered.

He retired to his tiny study.

It was the time appropriate to meditation on the properties of
Connectivity. Citizen Germyn was skilled in meditation, even for a
banker; it was a grace in which he had schooled himself since earliest

Citizen Germyn, his young face composed, his slim body erect as he
sat but in no way tense or straining, successfully blanked out, one
after another, all of the external sounds and sights and feelings that
interfered with proper meditation. His mind was very nearly vacant
except of one central problem: Connectivity.

Over his head and behind, out of sight, the cold air of the room seemed
to thicken and form a--call it a blob; a blob of air.

There was a name for those blobs of air. They had been seen before.
They were a known fact of existence in Wheeling and in all the world.
They came. They hovered. And they went away--sometimes not alone. If
someone had been in the room with Citizen Germyn to look at it, he
would have seen a distortion, a twisting of what was behind the blob,
like flawed glass, a lens, like an eye. And they were called Eye.

Germyn meditated.

The blob of air grew and slowly moved. A vagrant current that spun out
from it caught a fragment of paper and whirled it to the floor. Germyn
stirred. The blob retreated.

Germyn, all unaware, disciplined his thoughts to disregard the
interruption, to return to the central problem of Connectivity. The
blob hovered....

From the other room, his wife's small, thrice-repeated throat-clearing
signaled to him that she was dressed. Germyn got up to go to her, his
mind returning to the world; and the overhead Eye spun relentlessly,
and disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some miles east of Wheeling, Glenn Tropile--of a class which found it
wisest to give itself no special name, and which had devoted much time
and thought to shaking the unwelcome name it had been given--awoke on
the couch of his apartment.

He sat up, shivering. It was cold. The damned Sun was still bloody dark
outside the window and the apartment was soggy and chilled.

He had kicked off the blankets in his sleep. _Why couldn't_ he learn
to sleep quietly, like anybody else? Lacking a robe, he clutched the
blankets around him, got up and walked to the unglassed window.

It was not unusual for Glenn Tropile to wake up on his couch. This
happened because Gala Tropile had a temper, was inclined to exile
him from her bed after a quarrel, and--the operative factor--he knew
he always had the advantage over her for the whole day following the
night's exile. Therefore the quarrel was worth it. An advantage was, by
definition, worth anything you paid for it or else it was no advantage.

He could hear her moving about in one of the other rooms and cocked an
ear, satisfied. She hadn't waked him. Therefore she was about to make
amends. A little itch in his spine or his brain--it was not a physical
itch, so he couldn't locate it; he could only be sure that it was
there--stopped troubling him momentarily; he was winning a contest. It
was Glenn Tropile's nature to win contests ... and his nature to create

Gala Tropile, young, dark, attractive, with a haunted look, came in
tentatively carrying coffee from some secret hoard of hers.

Glenn Tropile affected not to notice. He stared coldly out at the cold
landscape. The sea, white with thin ice, was nearly out of sight, so
far had it retreated as the little sun waned.


Ah, good! _Glenn._ Where was the proper mode of
first-greeting-one's-husband? Where was the prescribed throat-clearing
upon entering a room?

Assiduously, he had untaught her the meticulous ritual of manners that
they had all of them been brought up to know; and it was the greatest
of his many victories over her that sometimes, now, _she_ was the
aggressor, _she_ would be the first to depart from the formal behavior
prescribed for Citizens.

Depravity! Perversion!

Sometimes they would touch each other at times which were not the
appropriate coming-together times, Gala sitting on her husband's lap in
the late evening, perhaps, or Tropile kissing her awake in the morning.
Sometimes he would force her to let him watch her dress--no, not now,
for the cold of the waning sun made that sort of frolic unattractive,
but she had permitted it before; and such was his mastery over her that
he knew she would permit it again, when the Sun was re-created....

If, a thought came to him, _if_ the Sun was re-created.

       *       *       *       *       *

He turned away from the cold outside and looked at his wife. "Good
morning, darling." She was contrite.

He demanded jarringly: "Is it?" Deliberately he stretched, deliberately
he yawned, deliberately he scratched his chest. Every movement was
ugly. Gala Tropile quivered, but said nothing.

Tropile flung himself on the better of the two chairs, one hairy leg
protruding from under the wrapped blankets. His wife was on her best
behavior--in his unique terms; she didn't avert her eyes.

"What've you got there?" he asked. "Coffee?"

"Yes, dear. I thought--"

"Where'd you get it?"

The haunted eyes looked away. Still better, thought Glenn Tropile,
more satisfied even than usual; she's been ransacking an old warehouse
again. It was a trick he had taught her, and like all of the illicit
tricks she had learned from him, a handy weapon when he chose to use it.

It was not prescribed that a Citizen should rummage through Old Places.
A Citizen did his work, whatever that work might be--banker, baker or
furniture repairman. He received what rewards were his due for the work
he did. A Citizen _never_ took anything that was not his due--not even
if it lay abandoned and rotting.

It was one of the differences between Glenn Tropile and the people he
moved among.

I've got it made, he exulted; it was what I needed to clinch my victory
over her.

He spoke: "I need you more than I need coffee, Gala."

She looked up, troubled.

"What would I do," he demanded, "if a beam fell on you one day while
you were scrambling through the fancy groceries? How can you take such
chances? Don't you _know_ what you mean to me?"

She sniffed a couple of times. She said brokenly: "Darling, about last
night--I'm sorry--" and miserably held out the cup. He took it and set
it down. He took her hand, looked up at her, and kissed it lingeringly.
He felt her tremble. Then she gave him a wild, adoring look and flung
herself into his arms.

A new dominance cycle was begun at the moment he returned her frantic

Glenn knew, and Gala knew, that he had over her an edge, an
advantage--the weather gauge, initiative of fire, percentage, the
can't-lose lack of tension. Call it anything, but it was life itself to
such as Glenn Tropile. He knew, and she knew, that having the advantage
he would press it and she would yield--on and on, in a rising spiral.

He did it because it was his life, the attaining of an advantage over
anyone he might encounter; because he was (unwelcomely but justly)
called a Son of the Wolf.

       *       *       *       *       *

A world away, a Pyramid squatted sullenly on the planed-off top of the
highest peak of the Himalayas.

It had not been built there. It had not been carried there by Man or
Man's machines. It had--come, in its own time; for its own reasons.

Did it wake on that day, the thing atop Mount Everest, or did it
ever sleep? Nobody knew. It stood, or sat, there, approximately a
tetrahedron. Its appearance was known: constructed on a base line of
some thirty-five yards, slaggy, midnight-blue in color. Almost nothing
else about it was known--at least, to mankind.

It was the only one of its kind on Earth, though men thought (without
much sure knowledge) that there were more, perhaps many thousands more,
like it on the unfamiliar planet that was Earth's binary, swinging
around the miniature Sun that hung at their common center of gravity
like an unbalanced dumbbell. But men knew very little about that planet
itself, only that it had come out of space and was now there.

Time was when men had tried to label that binary, more than two
centuries before, when it had first appeared. "Runaway Planet." "The
Invader." "Rejoice in Messias, the Day Is at Hand." The labels were
sense-free; they were Xs in an equation, signifying only that there was
_something_ there which was unknown.

"The Runaway Planet" stopped running when it closed on Earth.

"The Invader" didn't invade; it merely sent down one slaggy,
midnight-blue tetrahedron to Everest.

And "Rejoice in Messias" stole Earth from its sun--with Earth's old
moon, which it converted into a miniature sun of its own.

That was the time when men were plentiful and strong--or thought they
were--with many huge cities and countless powerful machines. It didn't
matter. The new binary planet showed no interest in the cities or the

There was a plague of things like Eyes--dust-devils without dust,
motionless air that suddenly tensed and quivered into lenticular
shapes. They came with the planet and the Pyramid, so that there
probably was some connection. But there was nothing to do about the
Eyes. Striking at them was like striking at air--was the same thing, in

While the men and machines tried uselessly to do something about it,
the new binary system--the stranger planet and Earth--began to move,
accelerating very slowly.

But accelerating.

In a week, astronomers knew something was happening. In a month, the
Moon sprang into flame and became a new sun--beginning to be needed,
for already the parent Sol was visibly more distant, and in a few years
it was only one other star among many.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the little sun was burned to a clinker, they--whoever "they"
were, for men saw only the one Pyramid--would hang a new one in the
sky. It happened every five clock-years, more or less. It was the same
old moon-turned-sun, but it burned out, and the fires needed to be

The first of these suns had looked down on an Earthly population of ten
billion. As the sequence of suns waxed and waned, there were changes,
climatic fluctuation, all but immeasurable differences in the quantity
and kind of radiation from the new source.

The changes were such that the forty-fifth such sun looked down on a
shrinking human race that could not muster up a hundred million.

A frustrated man drives inward; it is the same with a race. The
hundred million that clung to existence were not the same as the bold,
vital ten billion.

The thing on Everest had, in its time, received many labels, too: The
Devil, The Friend, The Beast, A Pseudo-living Entity of Quite Unknown
Electrochemical Properties.

All these labels were also Xs.

If it did wake that morning, it did not open its eyes, for it had no
eyes--apart from the quivers of air that might or might not belong
to it. Eyes might have been gouged; therefore it had none. So an
illogical person might have argued--and yet it was tempting to apply
the "purpose, not function" fallacy to it. Limbs could be crushed; it
had no limbs. Ears could be deafened; it had none. Through a mouth, it
might be poisoned; it had no mouth. Intentions and actions could be
frustrated; apparently it had neither.

It was there. That was all.

It and others like it had stolen the Earth and the Earth did not know
why. It was there. And the one thing on Earth you could not do was hurt
it, influence it, or coerce it in any way whatever.

It was there--and it, or the masters it represented, owned the Earth by
right of theft. Utterly. Beyond human hope of challenge or redress.


Citizen and Citizeness Roget Germyn walked down Pine Street in the
chill and dusk of--one hoped--a Sun Re-creation Morning.

It was the convention to pretend that this was a morning like any other
morning. It was not proper either to cast frequent hopeful glances at
the sky, nor yet to seem disturbed or afraid because this was, after
all, the forty-first such morning since those whose specialty was Sky
Viewing had come to believe the Re-creation of the Sun was near.

The Citizen and his Citizeness exchanged the assurance-of-identity
sign with a few old friends and stopped to converse. This also was a
convention of skill divorced from purpose. The conversation was without
relevance to anything that any one of the participants might know, or
think, or wish to ask.

Germyn said for his friends a twenty-word poem he had made in honor
of the occasion and heard their responses. They did line-capping for
a while--until somebody indicated unhappiness and a wish to change by
frowning the Two Grooves between his brows. The game was deftly ended
with an improvised rhymed exchange.

Casually, Citizen Germyn glanced aloft. The sky-change had not begun
yet; the dying old Sun hung just over the horizon, east and south, much
more south than east. It was an ugly thought, but suppose, thought
Germyn, just _suppose_ that the Sun were not re-created today? Or
tomorrow. Or--

Or ever.

The Citizen got a grip on himself and told his wife: "We shall dine at
the oatmeal stall."

The Citizeness did not immediately reply. When Germyn glanced at her
with well-masked surprise, he found her almost staring down the dim
street at a Citizen who moved almost in a stride, almost swinging his
arms. Scarcely graceful.

"That might be more Wolf than man," she said doubtfully.

Germyn knew the fellow. Tropile was his name. One of those curious few
who made their homes outside of Wheeling, though they were not farmers.
Germyn had had banking dealings with him--or would have had, if it had
been up to Tropile.

"That is a careless man," he decided, "and an ill-bred one."

They moved toward the oatmeal stall with the gait of Citizens, arms
limp, feet scarcely lifted, slumped forward a little. It was the
ancient gait of fifteen hundred calories per day, not one of which
could be squandered.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a need for more calories. So many for walking, so many for
gathering food. So many for the economical pleasures of the Citizens,
so many more--oh, many more, these days!--to keep out the cold. Yet
there were no more calories; the diet the whole world lived on was a
bare subsistence diet.

It was impossible to farm well when half the world's land was part
of the time drowned in the rising sea, part of the time smothered in
falling snow.

Citizens knew this and, knowing, did not struggle--it was ungraceful
to struggle, particularly when one could not win. Only--well, Wolves
struggled, wasting calories, lacking grace.

Citizen Germyn turned his mind to more pleasant things.

He allowed himself his First Foretaste of the oatmeal. It would be
warm in the bowl, hot in the throat, a comfort in the belly. There was
a great deal of pleasure there, in weather like this, when the cold
plucked through the loosened seams and the wind came up the sides of
the hills. Not that there wasn't pleasure in the cold itself, for that
matter. It was proper that one should be cold now, just before the
re-creation of the Sun, when the old Sun was smoky-red and the new one
not yet kindled.

"--still looks like Wolf to me," his wife was muttering.

"Cadence," Germyn reproved his Citizeness, but took the sting out of it
with a Quirked Smile.

The man with the ugly manners was standing at the very bar of the
oatmeal stall where they were heading. In the gloom of mid-morning, he
was all angles and strained lines. His head was turned awkwardly on
his shoulder, peering toward the back of the stall where the vendor
was rhythmically measuring grain into a pot. His hands were resting
helter-skelter on the counter, not hanging by his sides.

Citizen Germyn felt a faint shudder from his wife. But he did not
reprove her again, for who could blame her? The exhibition was

She said faintly: "Citizen, might we dine on bread this morning?"

He hesitated and glanced again at the ugly man. He said indulgently,
knowing that he was indulgent: "On Sun Re-creation Morning, the
Citizeness may dine on bread." Bearing in mind the occasion, it was
only a small favor and therefore a very proper one.

The bread was good, very good. They shared out the half-kilo between
them and ate it in silence, as it deserved. Germyn finished his first
portion and, in the prescribed pause before beginning his second,
elected to refresh his eyes upward.

He nodded to his wife and stepped outside.

       *       *       *       *       *

Overhead, the Old Sun parceled out its last barrel-scrapings of heat.
It was larger than the stars around it, but many of them were nearly as

A high-pitched male voice said: "Citizen Germyn, good morning."

Germyn was caught off balance. He took his eyes off the sky, half
turned, glanced at the face of the person who had spoken to him, raised
his hand in the assurance-of-identity sign. It was all very quick and
fluid--almost too quick, for he had had his fingers bent nearly into
the sign for female friends and this was a man. Citizen Boyne. Germyn
knew him well; they had shared the Ice Viewing at Niagara a year before.

Germyn recovered quickly enough, but it had been disconcerting.

He improvised swiftly: "There are stars, but are stars still there if
there is no Sun?" It was a hurried effort, he grieved, but no doubt
Boyne would pick it up and carry it along. Boyne had always been very
good, very graceful.

Boyne did no such thing. "Good morning," he said again, faintly. He
glanced at the stars overhead, as though trying to unravel what Germyn
was talking about. He said accusingly, his voice cracking sharply:
"There isn't any Sun, Germyn. What do you think of that?"

Germyn swallowed. "Citizen, perhaps you--"

"No Sun, you hear me!" the man sobbed. "It's cold, Germyn. The Pyramids
aren't going to give us another Sun, do you know that? They're going to
starve us, freeze us; they're through with us. We're done, all of us!"
He was nearly screaming.

All up and down Pine Street, people were trying not to look at him and
some of them were failing.

Boyne clutched at Germyn helplessly. Revolted, Germyn drew
back--_bodily contact!_

It seemed to bring the man to his senses. Reason returned to his eyes.
He said: "I--" He stopped, stared about him. "I think I'll have bread
for breakfast," he said foolishly, and plunged into the stall.

Boyne left behind him a shaken Citizen, caught halfway into the
wrist-flip of parting, staring after him with jaw slack and eyes wide,
as though Germyn had no manners, either.

All this on Sun Re-creation Day!

What could it mean? Germyn wondered fretfully, worriedly.

Was Boyne on the point of--

Could Boyne be about to--

Germyn drew back from the thought. There was one thing that might
explain Boyne's behavior. But it was not a proper speculation for one
Citizen to make about another.

All the same--Germyn dared the thought--all the same, it _did_ seem
almost as though Citizen Boyne were on the point of--well, running amok.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the oatmeal stall, Glenn Tropile thumped on the counter. The laggard
oatmeal vendor finally brought the ritual bowl of salt and the pitcher
of thin milk. Tropile took his paper twist of salt from the top of the
neatly arranged pile in the bowl. He glanced at the vendor. His fingers
hesitated. Then, quickly, he ripped the twist of paper into his oatmeal
and covered it to the permitted level with the milk.

He ate quickly and efficiently, watching the street outside.

They were wandering and mooning about, as always--maybe today more than
most days, since they hoped it would be the day the Sun blossomed flame
once more.

Tropile always thought of the wandering, mooning Citizens as _they_.
There was a _we_ somewhere for Tropile, no doubt, but Tropile had not
as yet located it, not even in the bonds of the marriage contract.

He was in no hurry. At the age of fourteen, Glenn Tropile had
reluctantly come to realize certain things about himself--that he
disliked being bested, that he had to have a certain advantage in
all his dealings, or an intolerable itch of the mind drove him to
discomfort. The things added up to a terrifying fear, gradually
becoming knowledge, that the only we that could properly include him
was one that it was not very wise to join.

He had realized, in fact, that he was a Wolf.

For some years, Tropile had struggled against it, for Wolf was an
obscene word; the children he played with were punished severely for
saying it, and for almost nothing else.

It was not _proper_ for one Citizen to advantage himself at the expense
of another; Wolves did that.

It was _proper_ for a Citizen to accept what he had, not to strive for
more, to find beauty in small things, to accommodate himself, with the
minimum of strain and awkwardness, to whatever his life happened to be.

Wolves were not like that. Wolves never meditated, Wolves never
Appreciated, Wolves _never_ were Translated--that supreme fulfillment,
granted only to those who succeeded in a perfect meditation, that
surrender of the world and the flesh by taking leave of both, which
could never be achieved by a Wolf.

Accordingly, Glenn Tropile had tried very hard to do all the things
that Wolves could not do.

He had nearly succeeded. His specialty, Water Watching, had been most
rewarding. He had achieved many partly successful meditations on

And yet he was still a Wolf, for he still felt that burning, itching
urge to triumph and to hold an advantage. For that reason, it was
almost impossible for him to make friends among the Citizens; and
gradually he had almost stopped trying.

Tropile had arrived in Wheeling nearly a year before, making him one of
the early settlers in point of time. And yet there was not a Citizen in
the street who was prepared to exchange recognition gestures with him.

_He_ knew _them_, nearly every one. He knew their names and their
wives' names. He knew what northern states they had moved down from
with the spreading of the ice, as the sun grew dim. He knew very nearly
to the quarter of a gram what stores of sugar and salt and coffee
each one of them had put away--for their guests, of course, not for
themselves; the well-bred Citizen hoarded only for the entertainment of

Tropile knew these things because there was an advantage in knowing
them. But there was no advantage in having anyone know him.

A few did--that banker, Germyn; Tropile had approached him only
a few months before about a prospective loan. But it had been a
chancy, nervous encounter. The idea was so luminously simple to
Tropile--organize an expedition to the coal mines that once had
flourished nearby, find the coal, bring it to Wheeling, heat the
houses. And yet it had seemed blasphemous to Germyn. Tropile had
counted himself lucky merely to have been refused the loan, instead of
being cried out upon as Wolf.

       *       *       *       *       *

The oatmeal vendor was fussing worriedly around his neat stack of paper
twists in the salt bowl.

Tropile avoided the man's eyes. Tropile was not interested in the
little wry smile of self-deprecation which the vendor would make to
him, given half a chance. Tropile knew well enough what was disturbing
the vendor. Let it disturb him. It was Tropile's custom to take extra
twists of salt. They were in his pockets now; they would stay there.
Let the vendor wonder why he was short.

Tropile licked the bowl of his spoon and stepped into the street. He
was comfortably aware under a double-thick parka that the wind was
blowing very cold.

A Citizen passed him, walking alone: odd, thought Tropile. He was
walking rapidly and there was a look of taut despair on his face. Still
more odd. Odd enough to be worth another look, because that sort of
haste, that sort of abstraction, suggested something to Tropile. They
were in no way normal to the gentle sheep of the class _They_, except
in one particular circumstance.

Glenn Tropile crossed the street to follow the abstracted Citizen,
whose name, he knew, was Boyne. The man blundered into Citizen Germyn
outside the baker's stall, and Tropile stood back out of easy sight,
watching and listening.

Boyne was on the ragged edge of breakdown. What Tropile heard and saw
confirmed his diagnosis. The one particular circumstance was close to
happening--Citizen Boyne was on the verge of running amok.

Tropile looked at the man with amusement and contempt. Amok! The gentle
sheep _could_ be pushed too far. He had seen Citizens run amok, the
signs were obvious.

There was pretty sure to be an advantage in it for Glenn Tropile. There
was an advantage in almost anything, if you looked for it.

He watched and waited. He picked his spot with care, so that he could
see Citizen Boyne inside the baker's stall, making a dismal botch of
slashing his quarter-kilo of bread from the Morning Loaf.

He waited for Boyne to come racing out....

Boyne did.

A yell--loud, piercing. It was Citizen Germyn, shrilling: "Amok, amok!"
A scream. An enraged wordless cry from Boyne, and the baker's knife
glinting in the faint light as Boyne swung it. And then Citizens were
scattering in every direction--all of the Citizens but one.

One Citizen was under the knife--his own knife, as it happened; it was
the baker himself. Boyne chopped and chopped again. And then Boyne came
out, roaring, the broad knife whistling about his head. The gentle
Citizens fled panicked before him. He struck at their retreating forms
and screamed and struck again. Amok.

It was the one particular circumstance when they forgot to be
gracious--one of the two, Tropile corrected himself as he strolled
across to the baker's stall. His brow furrowed, because there was
another circumstance when they lacked grace, and one which affected him

       *       *       *       *       *

He watched the maddened creature, Boyne, already far down the road,
chasing a knot of Citizens around a corner. Tropile sighed and stepped
into the baker's stall to see what he might gain from this.

Boyne would wear himself out--the surging rage would leave him as
quickly as it came; he would be a sheep again and the other sheep would
close in and capture him. That was what happened when a Citizen ran
amok. It was a measure of what pressures were on the Citizens that,
at any moment, there might be one gram of pressure too much and one
of them would crack. It had happened here in Wheeling twice within
the past two months. Glenn Tropile had seen it happen in Pittsburgh,
Altoona and Bronxville.

There is a limit to the pressure that can be endured.

Tropile walked into the baker's stall and looked down without emotion
at the slaughtered baker. The corpse was a gory mess, but Tropile had
seen corpses before.

He looked around the stall, calculating. As a starter, he bent to pick
up the quarter-kilo of bread Boyne had dropped, dusted it off and
slipped it into his pocket. Food was always useful. Given enough food,
perhaps Boyne would not have run amok.

Was it simple hunger they cracked under? Or the knowledge of the thing
on Mount Everest, or the hovering Eyes, or the sought-after-dreaded
prospect of Translation, or merely the strain of keeping up their
laboriously figured lives?

Did it matter? _They_ cracked and ran amok, and Tropile never would,
and that was what mattered.

He leaned across the counter, reaching for what was left of the Morning

And found himself staring into the terrified large eyes of Citizeness

She screamed: "Wolf! Citizens, help me! Wolf!"

Tropile faltered. He hadn't even _seen_ the damned woman, but there she
was, rising up from behind the counter, screaming her head off: "Wolf!

He said sharply: "Citizeness, I beg you--" But that was no good. The
evidence was on him and her screams would fetch others.

Tropile panicked. He started toward her to silence her, but that was no
good, either. He whirled. She was screaming, screaming, and there were
people to hear. Tropile darted into the street, but they were popping
out of every doorway now, appearing from each rat's hole in which they
had hid to escape Boyne.

"Please!" he cried, sobbing. "Wait a minute!"

But they weren't waiting. They had heard the woman and maybe some of
them had seen him with the bread. They were all around him--no, they
were all over him; they were clutching at him, tearing at his soft,
warm furs.

They pulled at his pockets and the stolen twists of salt spilled
accusingly out. They yanked at his sleeves and even the stout,
unweakened seams ripped open. He was fairly captured.

"Wolf!" they were shouting. "Wolf!" It drowned out the distant noise
from where Boyne had finally been run to earth, a block and more away.
It drowned out everything.

It was the other circumstance when _they_ forgot to be gracious: when
they had trapped a Son of the Wolf.


Engineering had long ago come to an end.

Engineering is possible under one condition of the equation: Total
available Calories divided by Population equals Artistic-Technological
Style. When the ratio Calories-to-Population is large--say, five
thousand or more, five thousand daily calories for every living
person--then the Artistic-Technological Style is _big_. People carve
Mount Rushmore; they build great foundries; they manufacture enormous
automobiles to carry one housewife half a mile for the purchase of one

Life is coarse and rich where C:P is large. At the other extreme, where
C:P is too small, life does not exist at all. It has starved out.

Experimentally, add little increments to C:P and it will be some time
before the right-hand side of the equation becomes significant. But
at last, in the 1,000 to 1,500 calorie range, Artistic-Technological
Style firmly appears in self-perpetuating form. C:P in that range
produces the small arts, the appreciations, the peaceful arrangements
of necessities into subtle relationships of traditionally agreed-upon

Think of Japan, locked into its Shogunate prison, with a hungry
population scrabbling food out of mountainsides and beauty out of
arrangements of lichens. The small, inexpensive sub-sub-arts are
characteristic of the 1,000 to 1,500 calorie range.

And this was the range of Earth, the world of ten billion men, when the
planet was stolen by its new binary.

Some few persons inexpensively studied the study of science with
pencil and renewable paper, but the last research accelerator had long
since been shut down. The juice from its hydro-power dam was needed to
supply meager light to a million homes and to cook the pablum for two
million brand-new babies.

In those days, one dedicated Byzantine wrote the definitive
encyclopedia of engineering (though he was no engineer). Its four
hundred and twenty tiny volumes examined exhaustively the engineering
feats of ancient Greece and Egypt, the Wall of Shih-Hwang Ti,
the Gothic builders, Brunel who changed the face of England, the
Roeblings of Brooklyn, Groves of the Pentagon, Duggan of the Shelter
System (before C:P dropped to the point where war became vanishingly
implausible), Levern of Operation Up. But the encyclopedist could not
use a slide rule without thinking, faltering, jotting down his decimals.

And then ... the magnitudes grew less.

Under the tectonic and climatic battering of the great abduction of
Earth from its primary, under the sine-wave advances to and retreats
from the equator of the ice sheath, as the small successor Suns waxed,
waned, died and were replaced, the ratio C:P remained stable. C had
diminished enormously; so had P. As the calories to support life grew
scarce, so the consuming mouths of mankind grew less in number.

       *       *       *       *       *

The forty-fifth small Sun shone on no engineers.

Not even on the binary, perhaps. The Pyramids, the things on the
binary, the thing on Mount Everest--they were not engineers. They
employed a crude metaphysic based on dissection and shoving.

They had no elegant field theories. All they knew was that everything
came apart, and that if you pushed a thing, it would move.

If your biggest push would not move a thing, you took it apart and
pushed the parts, and then it would move. Sometimes, for nuclear
effects, they had to take things apart into 3 × 10^9 pieces and shove
each piece very carefully.

By taking apart and shoving, then, they landed their one spaceship
on the burned-out sunlet. Four human beings were on that ship. They
meditated briefly on Connectivity and died screaming.

A point of new flame appeared on the sunlet's surface and the spaceship
scrambled for the binary. The point of flame went from cherry through
orange into the blue-white and began to spread.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the moment of the Re-creation of the Sun, there was rejoicing on the

Not quite everywhere, though. In Wheeling's House of the Five
Regulations, Glenn Tropile waited unquietly for death. Citizen Boyne,
who had run amok and slaughtered the baker, shared Tropile's room and
his doom, but not his rage. Boyne, with demure pleasure, was composing
his death poem.

"Talk to me!" snapped Tropile. "Why are we here? What did you do and
why did you do it? What have I done? Why don't I pick up a bench and
kill you with it? You would've killed me two hours ago if I'd caught
your eye!"

There was no satisfaction in Citizen Boyne; the passions were burned
out of him. He politely tendered Tropile a famous aphorism: "Citizen,
the art of living is the substitution of unimportant, answerable
questions for important, unanswerable ones. Come, let us appreciate the
new-born Sun."

He turned to the window, where the spark of blue-white flame in what
had once been the crater of Tycho was beginning to spread across the
charred moon.

Tropile was child enough of his culture to turn with him, almost
involuntarily. He was silent. That blue-white infinitesimal up there
growing slowly--the oneness, the calm rapture of Being in a universe
that you shaded into without harsh discontinua, the being one with the
great blue-white gem-flower blossoming now in the heavens that were no
different stuff than you yourself--

He closed his eyes, calm, and meditated on Connectivity.

He was being Good.

By the time the fusion reaction had covered the whole small disk of the
sunlet, a quarter-hour at the most, his meditation began to wear off.

Tropile shrugged out of his torn parka, not bothering to rip it
further. It was already growing warm in the room. Citizen Boyne, of
course, was carefully opening every seam with graceful rending motions,
miming great and smooth effort of the biceps and trapezius.

But the meditation was over, and as Tropile watched his cellmate, he
screamed a silent _Why?_ Since his adolescence, that wailing syllable
had seldom been far from his mind. It could be silenced by appreciation
and meditation.

Tropile's specialty was Water Watching and he was so good at it that
several beginners had asked him for instruction in the subtle art, in
spite of his notorious oddities of life and manner. He _enjoyed_ Water
Watching. He almost pitied anybody so single-mindedly devoted to, say,
Clouds and Odors--great game though it was--that he had never even
tried Water Watching. And after a session of Watching, when one was
lucky enough to observe the Nine Boiling Stages in classic perfection,
one might slip into meditation and be harmonious, feel Good.

But what did one do when the meditations failed, as they had failed
him? What did one do when they came farther and farther apart, became
less and less intense, could be inspired, finally, only by a huge event
like the renewal of the Sun?

One went amok, he had always thought.

But he had not. Boyne had. He had been declared a Son of the Wolf, on
no evidence that he could understand. Yet he had not run amok.

Still, the penalties were the same, he thought, uncomfortably aware
of an unfamiliar itch--not the inward intolerable itch of needing the
advantage, but a localized sensation at the base of his spine. The
penalties for all gross crimes--Wolfhood or running amok--were the
same, and simply this:

They would perform the Lumbar Puncture. He would make the Donation of
Spinal Fluid.

He would be dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Keeper of the House of Five Regulations, an old man, Citizen
Harmane, looked in on his charges--approvingly at Boyne, with a
beclouded expression at Glenn Tropile.

It was thought that even Wolves were entitled to the common human
decencies in the brief interval between exposure and the Donation
of Fluid. The Keeper would not have dreamed of scowling at the
detected Wolf or of interfering with whatever wretched imitation of
meditation-before-dying the creature might practice. But he could not,
all the same, bring himself to offer even an assurance-of-identity

Tropile had no such qualms.

He scowled at Keeper Harmane with such ferocity that the old man almost
hurried away. He turned an almost equally ugly scowl upon Citizen
Boyne. How dared that knife-murderer be so calm, so relaxed!

Tropile said brutally: "They'll kill us! You know that? They'll stick
a needle in our spines and drain us dry. It _hurts_. Do you understand
me? They're going to drain us, and then they're going to drink our
spinal fluid, and it's going to _hurt_."

He was gently corrected. "We shall make the Donation," Citizen Boyne
said calmly. "Is not the difference intelligible to a Son of the Wolf?"

True culture demanded that that remark be accepted as a friendly joke,
probably based on a truth--how else could an unpalatable truth be put
in words? Otherwise the unthinkable might happen. They might quarrel.
They might even come to blows!

The appropriate mild smile formed on Tropile's lips, but harshly he
wiped it off. They were going to _kill_ him. He would _not_ smile for
them! And the effort was enormous.

"I'm _not_ a Son of the Wolf!" he howled, desperate, knowing he was
protesting to the man of all men in Wheeling who didn't care, and
who could do least about it if he did. "What's this crazy talk about
Wolves? I don't know what a Son of the Wolf is and I don't think you
or anybody does. All I know is that I was acting _sensibly_. And
everybody began howling! You're supposed to know a Son of the Wolf by
his unculture, his ignorance, his violence. But you chopped down three
people and I only picked up a piece of bread! And _I'm_ supposed to be
the dangerous one!"

"Wolves never know they're Wolves," sighed Citizen Boyne. "Fish
probably think they're birds and you evidently think you're a Citizen.
Would a Citizen speak as you are speaking?"

"But they're going to kill us!"

"Then why aren't you composing your death poem?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Glenn Tropile took a deep breath. Something was biting him. It was bad
enough that he was about to die, bad enough that he had done nothing
worth dying for. But what was gnawing at him now had nothing to do with

The percentages were going the wrong way. This pale Citizen was getting
an edge on him.

An engorged gland in Tropile's adrenals--it was only a pinhead
in Citizen Boyne's--gushed raw hormones into his bloodstream. He
could die, yes--that was a skill everyone had to acquire, sooner or
later. But while he was alive, he could not stand to be bested in an
encounter, an argument, a relationship--not and stay alive. Wolf? Call
him Wolf. Call him Operator, or Percentage Player; call him Sharp
Article; call him Gamesman.

If there was an advantage to be derived, he would derive it. It was the
way he was put together.

He said, for time: "You're right. Stupid of me. I must have lost my

He thought. Some men think by poking problems apart; some think by
laying facts side by side to compare. Tropile's thinking was neither
of these, but a species of judo. He conceded to his opponent such
things as Strength, Armor, Resource. He didn't need these things for
himself; to every contest, the opponent brought enough of them to
supply two. It was Tropile's habit (and Wolfish, he had to admit) to
use the opponent's strength against him, to break the opponent against
his own steel walls.

He thought.

The first thing was to make up his mind: He was Wolf. Then let him _be_
Wolf. He wouldn't stay around for the spinal tap; he would go from
there. But how?

The second thing was to plan. There were obstacles. Citizen Boyne was
one. The Keeper of the House of the Five Regulations was another.

Where was the pole which would permit him to vault over these hurdles?
There was always his wife, Gala. He owned her; she would do what he
wished--provided he made her _want_ to do it.

Yes, Gala. He walked to the door and shouted to Citizen Harmane:
"Keeper! I must see my wife! Have her brought to me!"

It was impossible for the Keeper to refuse. He called gently, "I will
invite the Citizeness," and toddled away.

The third thing was time.

Tropile turned to Citizen Boyne. "Citizen," he said persuasively,
"since your death poem is ready and mine is not, will you be gracious
enough to go first when they--when they come?"

Citizen Boyne looked temperately at his cellmate and made the Quirked

"You see?" he said. "Wolf."

And that was true. But what was also true was that Boyne couldn't and
didn't refuse.


Half a world away, the midnight-blue Pyramid sat on its planed-off peak
as it had sat since the days when Earth had a real sun of its own.

It was of no importance to the Pyramid that Glenn Tropile was about to
receive a slim catheter into his spine, to drain his saps and his life.
It didn't matter to the Pyramid that the pretext for the execution
was an act which human history had long stopped considering a capital
crime. Ritual sacrifice in any guise made no difference to the Pyramid.

The Pyramid saw them come and the Pyramid saw them go--if the Pyramid
could be said to "see." One human being more or less, what matter? Who
bothers to take a census of the cells in a hangnail?

And yet the Pyramid did have a kind of interest in Glenn Tropile. Or,
at least, in the human race of which he was a part.

Nobody knew much about the Pyramids, but everybody knew _that_ much.
They wanted something--else why would they have bothered to steal the

The date of the theft was 2027. A great year--the year of the first
landings on the Runaway Planet that had come blundering into the Solar
System. Maybe those landings were a mistake--although they were a very
great triumph, too; but maybe if it hadn't been for the landings, the
Runaway Planet might have run right through the ecliptic and away.

However, the triumphal mistake was made and that was the first time a
human eye saw a Pyramid.

Shortly after--though not before a radio message was sent--that human
eye winked out forever; but by then the damage was done. What passed
in a Pyramid for "attention" had been attracted. The next thing that
happened set the wireless channels between Palomar and Pernambuco,
between Greenwich and the Cape of Good Hope, buzzing and worrying, as
astronomers all over the Earth reported and confirmed and reconfirmed
the astonishing fact that our planet was on the move. Rejoice in
Messias had come to take us away.

A world of ten billion people, some of them brilliant, many of them
brave, built and flung the giant rockets of Operation Up at the
invader: Nothing.

The first, and only, Interplanetary Expeditionary Force was boosted up
to no-gravity and dropped onto the new planet to strike back: Nothing.

Earth moved spirally outward.

If a battle could not be won, then perhaps a migration. New ships were
built in haste. But they lay there rusting as the sun grew small and
the ice grew thick, because where was there to go? Not Mars. Not the
Moon, which was trailing alone. Not choking Venus or crushing Jupiter.

The migration was defeated as surely as the war, there being no place
to migrate to.

One Pyramid came to Earth, only one. It shaved the crest off the
highest mountain there was and squatted on it. An observer? A warden?
Whatever it was, it stayed.

The sun grew too distant to be of use, and out of the old Moon, the
Pyramid aliens built a new small sun in the sky--a five-year sun that
burned out and was replaced, again and again and endlessly again.

It had been a fierce struggle against unbeatable odds on the part of
the ten billion; and when the uselessness of struggle was demonstrated
at last, many of the ten billion froze to death, and many of them
starved, and nearly all of the rest had something frozen or starved
out of them; and what was left, two centuries and more later, was more
or less like Citizen Boyne, except for a few--a very few--like Glenn

       *       *       *       *       *

Gala Tropile stared miserably at her husband. "I want to get out of
here," he was saying urgently. "They mean to kill me. Gala, you know
you can't make yourself suffer by letting them kill me!"

She wailed: "I _can't_!"

Tropile looked over his shoulder. Citizen Boyne was fingering
the textured contrasts of a golden watch-case which had been his
father's--and soon would be his son's. Boyne's eyes were closed and he
wasn't listening.

Tropile leaned forward and deliberately put his hand on his wife's arm.
She started and flushed, of course.

"You _can_," he said, "and what's more, you will. You can help me get
out of here. I insist on it, Gala, because I must save you that pain."

He took his hand off her arm, content.

He said harshly: "Darling, don't you think I know how much we've
always meant to each other?"

She looked at him wretchedly. Fretfully she tore at the billowing filmy
sleeve of her summer blouse. The seams hadn't been loosened; there
had not been time. She had just been getting into the appropriate Sun
Re-creation Day costume, to be worn under the parka, when the messenger
had come with the news about her husband.

She avoided his eyes. "If you're really Wolf...."

Tropile's sub-adrenals pulsed and filled him with confident strength.
"_You_ know what I am--you better than anyone else." It was a sly
reminder of their curious furtive behavior together; like the hand on
her arm, it had its effect. "After all, why do we quarrel the way we
did last night?"

He hurried on; the job of the rowel was to spur her to action, not to
inflame a wound. "Because we're _important_ to each other. I know that
you would count on me to help if you were in trouble. And I know that
you'd be hurt--_deeply_, Gala!--if I didn't count on you."

She sniffled and scuffed the bright strap over her open-toed sandal.

Then she met his eyes.

It was the after-effect of the argument, of course. Glenn Tropile knew
just how heavily he could rely on the after-spiral of a quarrel. She
was submitting.

She glanced furtively at Citizen Boyne and lowered her voice.

"What do I have to do?" she whispered.

       *       *       *       *       *

In five minutes, she was gone, but that was more than enough time.
Tropile had at least thirty minutes left. They would take Boyne first;
he had seen to that. And once Boyne was gone--

Tropile wrenched a leg off his three-legged stool and sat precariously
balanced on the other two. He tossed the loose leg clattering into a

The Keeper of the House of Five Regulations ambled slack-bodied by and
glanced into the room. "Wolf, what happened to your stool?"

Tropile made a left-handed sign of no-importance. "It doesn't matter.
Except it _is_ hard to meditate, sitting on this thing, with every
muscle tensing and fighting against every other to keep my balance...."

The Keeper made an overruling sign of please-let-me-help. "It's your
last half-hour, Wolf," he reminded Tropile. "I'll fix the stool for

He entered and slammed and banged it together, and left with an
expression of mild concern. Even a Son of the Wolf was entitled to the
fullest appreciation of that unique opportunity for meditation, the
last half-hour before a Donation.

In five minutes, the Keeper was back, looking solemn and yet glad, like
a bearer of serious but welcome tidings.

"It is the time for the first Donation," he announced. "Which of you--"

"Him," said Tropile quickly, pointing.

Boyne opened his eyes calmly and nodded. He got to his feet, made a
formal leavetaking bow to Tropile, and followed the Keeper toward his
Donation and his death. As they were going out, Tropile coughed a
would-you-please-grant-me-a-favor cough.

The Keeper paused. "What is it, Wolf?"

Tropile showed him the empty water pitcher--empty, all right; he had
emptied it out the window.

"My apologies," the Keeper said, flustered, and hurried Boyne along. He
came back almost at once to fill the pitcher, even though he should be
there to watch Boyne's ceremonial Donation.

Tropile stood looking at the Keeper, his sub-adrenals beginning to
pound like the rolling boil of Well-aged Water. The Keeper was at a
disadvantage. He had been neglectful of his charge--a broken stool, no
water in the pitcher. And a Citizen, brought up in a Citizen's maze of
consideration and tact, could not help but be humiliated, seeking to
make amends.

Tropile pressed his advantage home. "Wait," he said to the Keeper. "I'd
like to talk to you."

The Keeper hesitated, torn. "The Donation--"

"Damn the Donation," Tropile said calmly. "After all, what is it but
sticking a pipe into a man's backbone and sucking out the juice that
keeps him alive? It's killing, that's all."

The Keeper turned literally white. Tropile was speaking blasphemy and
he wasn't stopping.

"I want to tell you about my wife," Tropile went on, assuming a
confidential air. "Now there's a real _woman_. Not one of these
frozen-up Citizenesses, you know? Why, she and I used to--" He
hesitated. "You're a man of the world, aren't you?" he demanded. "I
mean you've seen life."

"I--suppose so," the Keeper said faintly.

"Then you won't be shocked," Tropile lied. "Well, let me tell you,
there's a lot to women that these stuffed-shirt Citizens don't know
about. Boy! Ever see a woman's knee?" He sniggered. "Ever kiss a woman
with--" he winked--"with the _light on_? Ever sit in a big armchair,
say, with a woman in your _lap_--all soft and heavy, and kind of warm,
and slumped up against your chest, you know, and--"

He stopped and swallowed. He was almost making himself retch, it was so
hard to say these things. But he forced himself to go on: "Well, that's
what she and I used to do. Plenty. All the time. That's what I call a
real _woman_."

He stopped, warned by the Keeper's sudden change of expression, glazed
eyes, strangling breath. He had gone too far. He had only wanted to
paralyze the man, revolt him, put him out of commission, but he was
overdoing it. He jumped forward and caught the Keeper as he fell,

       *       *       *       *       *

Tropile callously emptied the water pitcher over the man. The Keeper
sneezed and sat up groggily. He focused his eyes on Tropile and
agonizedly blushed.

Tropile said harshly: "I wish to see the new sun from the street."

The request was incredible. Even after the unbelievable obscenities
he had heard, the Keeper was not prepared for this; he was staggered.
Tropile was in detention regarding the Fifth Regulation. That was
all there was to it. Such persons were not to be released from their
quarters. The Keeper knew it, the world knew it, Tropile knew it.

It was an obscenity even greater than the lurid tales of perverted
lust, for Tropile had asked something which was impossible! No one
_ever_ asked anything that was impossible to grant, for no one could
ever refuse anything. That was utterly graceless, unthinkable.

One could only attempt to compromise. The Keeper stammeringly said:
"May I--may I let you see the new sun from the corridor?" And even that
was wretchedly wrong, but he had to offer something. One always offered
something. The Keeper had never since babyhood given a flat no to
anybody about anything. No Citizen had. A flat no led to anger, strong
words--perhaps even hurt feelings. The only flat no conceivable was the
enormous terminal no of an amok. Short of that--

One offered. One split the difference. One was invariably filled with
tepid pleasure when, invariably, the offer was accepted, the difference
was split, both parties were satisfied.

"That will do for a start," Tropile snarled. "Open, man, open! Don't
make me wait."

The Keeper reeled and unlatched the door to the corridor.

"Now the street!"

"I can't!" burst in an anguished cry from the Keeper. He buried his
face in his hands and began to sob, hopelessly incapacitated.

"The street!" Tropile said remorselessly. He himself felt wrenchingly
ill; he was going against custom that had ruled his own life as surely
as the Keeper's.

But he was Wolf. "I _will_ be Wolf," he growled, and advanced upon the
Keeper. "My wife," he said, "I didn't finish telling you. Sometimes she
used to put her arm around me and just snuggle up and--I remember one
time she kissed my ear. Broad daylight. It felt funny and warm--I can't
describe it."

Whimpering, the Keeper flung the keys at Tropile and tottered brokenly

He was out of the action. Tropile himself was nearly as badly off; the
difference was that he continued to function. The words coming from him
had seared like acid in his throat.

"They call me Wolf," he said aloud, reeling against the wall. "I will
be one."

He unlocked the outer door and his wife was waiting, holding in her
arms the things he had asked her to bring.

Tropile said strangely to her: "I am steel and fire. I am Wolf, full of
the old moxie."

She wailed: "Glenn, are you sure I'm doing the right thing?"

He laughed unsteadily and led her by the arm through the deserted


Citizen Germyn, as was his right by position and status as a
connoisseur, helped prepare Citizen Boyne for his Donation. There
was nothing much to it--which made it an elaborate and lengthy task,
according to the ethic of the Citizens; it had to be protracted, each
step being surrounded by fullest dress of ritual.

It was done in the broad daylight of the new Sun, and as many of the
three hundred citizens of Wheeling as could manage it were in the
courtyard of the old Federal Building to watch.

The nature of the ceremony was this: A man who revealed himself Wolf,
or who finally crumbled under the demands of life and ran amok, could
not be allowed to live. He was hauled before an audience of his equals
and permitted--with the help of regretful force, if that should be
necessary, but preferably not--to make the Donation of Spinal Fluid.

Execution was murder and murder was not permitted under the gentle code
of Citizens; this was not execution. The draining of a man's spinal
fluid did not kill him. It only insured that, after a time and with
much suffering, his internal chemistry would so arrange itself that it
would continue to function, only not in a way that would sustain life.

Once the Donation was made, the problem was completely altered, of
course. Suffering was bad in itself. To save the Donor from the
suffering that lay ahead, it was the custom to have the oldest and
gentlest Citizen on hand stand by with a sharp-edged knife. When the
Donation was complete, the Donor's head was removed--purely to avert
suffering. That was not execution, either, but only the hastening of an
inevitable end.

The dozen or so Citizens whose rank permitted them to assist then
dissolved the spinal fluids in water and ceremoniously sipped them, at
which time it was proper to offer a small poem in commentary. All in
all, it was a perfectly splendid opportunity for the purest form of
meditation for everyone concerned.

Citizen Germyn, whose role was Catheter Bearer, took his place behind
the Introducer Bearer, the Annunciators and the Questioner of Purpose.
As he passed Citizen Boyne, Germyn assisted him to assume the proper
crouched-over position. Boyne looked up gratefully and Germyn found
the occasion correct for a commendatory half-smile.

The Questioner of Purpose said solemnly to Boyne: "It is your privilege
to make a Donation here today. Do you wish to do so?"

"I do," said Boyne raptly. The anxiety had passed; clearly he was
confident of making a good Donation. Germyn approved with all his heart.

The Annunciators, in alternate stanzas, announced the right pause for
meditation to the meager crowd, and all fell silent. Citizen Germyn
began the process of blanking out his mind, to ready himself for the
great opportunity to Appreciate that lay ahead. A sound distracted
him; he glanced up irritably. It seemed to come from the House of the
Five Regulations, a man's voice, carrying. But no one else appeared to
notice it. All of the watchers, all of those on the stone steps, were
in somber meditation.

Germyn tried to return his thoughts to where they belonged.

But something was troubling him. He had caught a glimpse of the Donor
and there had been something--something--

He angrily permitted himself to look up once more to see just what it
had been about Citizen Boyne that had attracted his attention.

Yes, there _was_ something. Over the form of Citizen Boyne, silent,
barely visible, a flicker of life and motion. Nothing tangible. It was
as if the air itself were in motion.

It was, Germyn thought with a bursting heart--it was an Eye!

The veritable miracle of Translation and it was about to take place
here and now, upon the person of Citizen Boyne! And no one knew it but
Germyn himself!

       *       *       *       *       *

In this last surmise, Citizen Germyn was wrong. Or was he? True, no
other human eyes saw the flawed-glass thing that twisted the air over
Boyne's prostrate body, but there was, in a sense, another witness ...
some thousands of miles away.

The Pyramid on Mount Everest "stirred."

It did not move, but something about it moved, or changed, or radiated.
The Pyramid surveyed its--cabbage patch? Wristwatch mine? As much
sense, it may be, to say wristwatch patch or cabbage mine. At any rate,
it surveyed what to it was a place where intricate mechanisms grew,
ripened and were dug up at the moment of usefulness, whereupon they
were quick-frozen and wired into circuits.

Through signals perceptible to it, the Pyramids had become "aware" that
one of its mechanisms was now ready to be plucked--harvested.

The Pyramid's blood was dielectric fluid. Its limbs were electrostatic
charges. Its philosophy was: Unscrew It and Push. Its motive was

Survival today was not what survival once had been, for a Pyramid.

Once survival had merely been gliding along on a cushion of repellent
charges, streaming electrons behind for the push, sending h-f pulses
out often enough to get a picture of their bounced return to integrate
deep inside.

If the picture showed something metabolizable, one metabolized it. One
broke it down into molecules by lashing it with the surplus protons
left over from the dispersed electrons; one adsorbed the molecules.
Sometimes the metabolizable object was an Immobile and sometimes a
Mobile--a vague, theoretical, frivolous classification to a philosophy
whose basis was that _everything_ unscrewed. If it was a Mobile, one
sometimes had to move after it.

That was the difference.

The essential was survival, not making idle distinctions. And one small
part of survival today was the Everest Pyramid's job.

It sat and waited. It sent out its h-f pulses bouncing and scattering,
and it bounced and scattered them additionally on their return.
Deep inside, the more-than-anamorphically distorted picture was
reintegrated. Deeper inside, it was interpreted and evaluated for its
part in survival.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a need for certain mechanisms which grew on this planet. At
irregular times, the Pyramid evaluated the picture to the effect that
a mechanism--a wristwatch, so to speak--was ripe for plucking; and
by electrostatic charges, it did so. The electrostatic charges, in
forming, produced what humans called an Eye. But the Pyramid had no use
for names.

It merely plucked, when a mechanism was ripe. It had found that a
mechanism was ripe now.

A world away, before the steps of Wheeling's Federal Building,
electrostatic charges gathered above a component whose name was Citizen
Boyne. There was a small sound like the clapping of two hands which
made the three hundred citizens of Wheeling jerk upright out of their

The sound was air filling the gap that had once been occupied by
Citizen Boyne, who had instantly vanished--who had, in a word, been
ripe and therefore been plucked.


Glenn Tropile and his sobbing wife passed the night in the stubble of a
cornfield. Neither of them slept much.

Tropile, numbed by contact with the iron chill of the field--it would
be months before the new Sun warmed the Earth enough for it to begin
radiating in turn--tossed restlessly, dreaming. He was Wolf. Let it be
so, he told himself again and again. I _will_ be Wolf. I will strike
back at the Citizens. I will--

Always the thought trailed off. He would exactly _What_? What could he

Migration was an answer--go to another city. With Gala, he guessed.
Start a new life, where he was not known as Wolf.

And then what? Try to live a sheep's life, as he had tried all his
years? And there was the question of whether, in fact, he could manage
to find a city where he was not known. The human race was migratory,
in these years of subjection to the never quite understood rule of the

It was a matter of insulation. When the new Sun was young, it was hot,
and there was plenty of warmth; it was possible to spread north and
south, away from final line of permafrost which, in North America,
came just above the old Mason-Dixon line. When the Sun was dying, the
cold spread down. The race followed the seasons. Soon all of Wheeling
would be spreading north again, and how was he to be sure that none of
Wheeling's Citizens might not turn up wherever he might go?

He could be sure--that was the answer to that.

All right, scratch migration. What remained? He could--with Gala, he
guessed--live a solitary life on the fringes of cultivated land. They
both had some skill at rummaging the old storehouses of the ancients,
and there was still food and other commodities to be found.

But even a Wolf is gregarious by nature and there were bleak hours in
that night when Tropile found himself close to sobbing with his wife.

At the first break of dawn, he was up. Gala had fallen into a light and
restless sleep; he called her awake.

"We have to move," he said harshly. "Maybe they'll get up enough guts
to follow us. I don't want them to find us."

Silently she got up. They rolled and tied the blankets she had bought;
they ate quickly from the food she had brought; they made packs and put
them on their shoulders and started to walk. One thing in their favor:
they were moving fast, faster than any Citizen was likely to follow.
All the same, Tropile kept looking nervously behind him.

They hurried north and east, and that was a mistake, because by noon
they found themselves blocked by water. Once it had been a river; the
melting of the polar ice caps that had submerged the coasts of the old
continents had drowned it out and now it was salt water. But whatever
it was, it was impassable. They would have to skirt it westward until
they found a bridge or a boat.

"We can stop and eat," Tropile said grudgingly, trying not to despair.

They slumped to the ground. It was warmer now. Tropile found himself
getting drowsier, drowsier--

He jerked erect and stared around belligerently. Beside him, his wife
was lying motionless, though her eyes were open, gazing at the sky.
Tropile sighed and stretched out. A moment's rest, he promised himself,
and then a quick bite to eat, and then onward....

He was sound asleep when they spotted him.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a flutter of iron bird's wings from overhead. Tropile
jumped up out of his sleep, awakening to panic. It was outside the
possibility of belief, but there it was:

In the sky over him, etched black against a cloud, a helicopter. And
men staring out of it, staring down at him.

A helicopter!

But there were no helicopters, or none that flew--if there had been
fuel to fly them with--if any man had had the skill to make them fly.
It was impossible! And yet there it was, and the men were looking at
him, and the impossible great whirling thing was coming down, nearer.

He began to run in the downward wash of air from the vanes. But it was
no use. There were three men and they were fresh and he wasn't. He
stopped, dropping into the fighter's crouch that is pre-set into the
human body, ready to do battle.

The men didn't want to fight. They laughed and one of them said
amiably: "_Long_ past your bedtime, boy. Get in. We'll take you home."

Tropile stood poised, hands half-clenched. "Take--"

"Take you home. Yeah. Where you belong, Tropile. Not back to Wheeling,
if that's what is worrying you."

"Where I--"

"Where you belong."

Then Tropile understood.

He got into the helicopter wonderingly. Home. So there _was_ a home
for such as he. He wasn't alone. He needn't keep his solitary self
apart. He could be with his own kind.

He remembered Gala Tropile and paused. One of the men said with quick
understanding: "Your wife? I think we saw her about half a mile from
here. Heading back to Wheeling as fast as she could go."

Tropile nodded. That was better, after all. Gala was no Wolf, though he
had tried his best to make her one.

One of the men closed the door; another did something with levers and
wheels; the vanes whooshed around overhead; the helicopter bounced on
its stiff-sprung landing legs and then rocked up and away.

For the first time in his life, Glenn Tropile looked _down_ on the land.

They didn't fly high--but Glenn Tropile had never flown at all, and
the two or three hundred feet of air beneath made him faint and queasy.
They danced through the passes in the West Virginia hills, crossed icy
streams and rivers, swung past old empty towns which no longer even had
names of their own. They saw no one.

It was something over four hundred miles to where they were going, one
of the men told him. They made it easily before dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Tropile walked through the town in the evening light, electricity
flared white and violet in the buildings around him. Imagine!
Electricity was calories, and calories were to be hoarded.

There were other walkers in the street. Their gait was not the
economical shuffle with pendant arms. They burned energy visibly. They
swung. They _strode_. It had been chiseled on his brain in earliest
childhood that such walking was wrong, reprehensible, debilitating. It
wasted calories. These people did not look debilitated and they didn't
seem to mind wasting calories.

It was an ordinary sort of town, apparently named Princeton. It did not
have the transient look to it of, say, Wheeling, or Altoona, or Gary,
in Tropile's experience. It looked like--well, it looked permanent.

Tropile had heard of a town called Princeton, but it happened that
he had never passed through it southwarding or northbound. There was
no reason why he or anybody should or should not have. Still, there
was a possibility, once he thought of it, that things were somehow so
arranged that they should not; maybe it was all on purpose. Like every
town, it was underpopulated, but not so much so as most. Perhaps one
living space in five was used. A high ratio.

The man beside him was named Haendl, one of the men from the
helicopter. They hadn't talked much on the flight and they didn't talk
much now. "Eat first," Haendl said, and took Tropile to a bright and
busy sort of food stall. Only it wasn't a stall. It was a restaurant.

This Haendl--what to make of him? He should have been disgusting,
nasty, an abomination. He had no manners whatever. He didn't know, or
at least didn't use, the Seventeen Conventional Gestures. He wouldn't
let Tropile walk behind him and to his left, though he was easily five
years Tropile's senior. When he ate, he _ate_. The Sip of Appreciation,
the Pause of First Surfeit, the Thrice Proffered Share meant nothing to
him. He laughed when Tropile tried to give him the Elder's Portion.

Cheerfully patronizing, this man Haendl said to Tropile: "That stuffs
all right when you don't have anything better to do with your time.
Those poor mutts don't. They'd die of boredom without their inky-pinky
cults and they don't have the resources to do anything bigger. Yes, I
do know the Gestures. Seventeen delicate ways of communicating emotions
too refined for words. The hell with them, Tropile. I've got words.
You'll learn them, too."

Tropile ate silently, trying to think.

A man arrived, threw himself in a chair, glanced curiously at Tropile
and said: "Haendl, the Somerville Road. The creek backed up when it
froze. Flooded bad. Ruined everything."

Tropile ventured: "The flood ruined the road?"

"The road? No. Say, you must be the fellow Haendl went after. Tropile,
that the name?" He leaned across the table, pumped Tropile's hand. "We
had the road nicely blocked," he explained. "The flood washed it clean.
Now we have to block it again."

Haendl said: "Take the tractor if you need it."

The man nodded and left.

Haendl said: "Eat up. We're wasting time. About that road--we keep all
entrances blocked up, see? Why let a lot of sheep in and out?"


"The opposite," said Haendl, "of Wolves."

       *       *       *       *       *

Take ten billion people and say that, out of every million of them,
one--just one--is different. He has a talent for survival; call him
Wolf. Ten thousand of him in a world of ten billion.

Squeeze them, freeze them, cut them down. Let old Rejoice in Messias
loom in the terrifying sky and so abduct the Earth that the human race
is decimated, fractionated, reduced to what is in comparison a bare
handful of chilled, stunned survivors. There aren't ten billion people
in the world any more. No, not by a factor of a thousand. Maybe there
are as many as ten million, more or less, rattling around in the space
their enormous Elder Generations made for them.

And of these ten million, how many are Wolf?

Ten thousand.

"You understand, Tropile?" said Haendl. "We survive. I don't care what
you call us. The sheep call us Wolves. Me, I kind of call us Supermen.
We have a talent for survival."

Tropile nodded, beginning to understand. "The way I survived the House
of the Five Regulations."

Haendl gave him a pitying look. "The way you survived thirty years of
Sheephood before that. Come on."

It was a tour of inspection. They went into a building, big, looking
like any other big and useful building of the ancients, gray stone
walls, windows with ragged spears of glass. Inside, though, it wasn't
like the others. Two sub-basements down, Tropile winced and turned away
from the flood of violet light that poured out of a quartz bull's-eye
on top of a squat steel cone.

"Perfectly harmless, Tropile--you don't have to worry," Haendl boomed.
"Know what you're looking at? There's a fusion reactor down there.
Heat. Power. All the power we need. Do you know what that means?"

He stared soberly down at the flaring violet light of the inspection

"Come on," he said abruptly to Tropile.

Another building, also big, also gray stone. A cracked inscription over
the entrance read: ORIAL HALL OF HUMANITIES. The sense-shock this time
was not light; it was sound. Hammering, screeching, rattling, rumbling.
Men were doing noisy things with metal and machines.

"Repair shop!" Haendl yelled. "See those machines? They belong to our
man Innison. We've salvaged them from every big factory ruin we could
find. Give Innison a piece of metal--any alloy, any shape--and one of
those machines will change it into any other shape and damned near any
other alloy. Drill it, cut it, plane it, weld it, smelt it, zone-melt
it, bond it--you tell him what to do and he'll do it.

"We got the parts to make six tractors and forty-one cars out of
this shop. And we've got other shops--aircraft in Farmingdale and
Wichita, armaments in Wilmington. Not that we can't make some armaments
here. Innison could build you a tank if he had to, complete with
105-millimeter gun."

"What's a tank?" Tropile asked.

Haendl only looked at him and said: "Come on!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Glenn Tropile's head spun dizzily and all the spectacles merged and
danced in his mind. They were incredible. All of them.

Fusion pile, machine shop, vehicular garage, aircraft hangar. There was
a storeroom under the seats of a football stadium, and Tropile's head
spun on his shoulders again as he tried to count the cases of coffee
and canned soups and whiskey and beans. There was another storeroom,
only this one was called an armory. It was filled with ... guns. Guns
that could be loaded with cartridges, of which they had very many; guns
which, when you loaded them and pulled the trigger, would fire.

Tropile said, remembering: "I saw a gun once that still had its firing
pin. But it was rusted solid."

"These work, Tropile," said Haendl. "You can kill a man with them. Some
of us have."


"Get that sheep look out of your eyes, Tropile! What's the difference
how you execute a criminal? And what's a criminal but someone who
represents a danger to your world? We prefer a gun instead of the
Donation of the Spinal Tap, because it's quicker, because it's less
messy--and because we don't like to drink spinal fluid, no matter what
imaginary therapeutic or symbolic value it has. You'll learn."

But he didn't add "come on." They had arrived where they were going.

It was a small room in the building that housed the armory and it held,
among other things, a rack of guns.

"Sit down," said Haendl, taking one of the guns out of the rack
thoughtfully and handling it as the doomed Boyne had caressed his
watch-case. It was the latest pre-Pyramid-model rifle, anti-personnel,
short-range. It would not scatter a cluster of shots in a coffee can at
more than two and a half miles.

"All right," said Haendl, stroking the stock. "You've seen the works,
Tropile. You've lived thirty years with sheep. You've seen what they
have and what we have. I don't have to ask you to make a choice. I know
what you choose. The only thing left is to tell you what _we_ want from

A faint pulsing began inside Glenn Tropile. "I expected we'd be getting
to that."

"Why not? We're not sheep. We don't act that way. Quid pro quo.
Remember that--it saves time. You've seen the quid. Now we come to the
quo." He leaned forward. "Tropile, what do you know about the Pyramids?"


Haendl nodded. "Right. They're all around us and our lives are beggared
because of them. And we don't even know why. We don't have the
least idea of what they are. Did you know that one of the sheep was
Translated in Wheeling when you left?"


Tropile listened with his mouth open while Haendl told him about what
had happened to Citizen Boyne.

"So he didn't make the Donation after all," Tropile said.

"Might have been better if he had," said Haendl. "Still, it gave you
a chance to get away. We had heard--never mind how just yet--that
Wheeling'd caught itself a Wolf, so we came looking for you. But you
were already gone."

       *       *       *       *       *

Tropile said, faintly annoyed: "You were damn near too late."

"Oh, no, Tropile," Haendl assured him. "We're never too late. If you
don't have enough guts and ingenuity to get away from sheep, you're no
wolf--simple as that. But there's this Translation. We know it happens,
but we don't even know what it is. All we know, people disappear.
There's a new sun in the sky every five years or so. Who makes it?
The Pyramids. How? We don't know that. Sometimes something floats
around in the air and we call it an Eye. It has something to do with
Translation, something to do with the Pyramids. What? We don't know

"We don't know much of anything," interrupted Tropile, trying to hurry
him along.

"Not about the Pyramids, no." Haendl shook his head. "Hardly anyone has
ever seen one, for that matter."

"Hardly--You mean you have?"

"Oh, yes. There's a Pyramid on Mount Everest, you know. That's not just
a story. It's true. I've been there, and it's there. At least, it was
there five years ago, right after the last Sun Re-creation. I guess it
hasn't moved. It just sits there."

Tropile listened, marveling. To have seen a real Pyramid! Almost he had
thought of them as legends, contrived to account for such established
physical facts as the Eyes and Translation, as children with a Santa
Claus. But this incredible man had seen it!

"Somebody dropped an H-bomb on it, way back," Haendl continued, "and
the only thing that happened is that now the North Col is a crater. You
can't move the Pyramid. You can't hurt it. But it's alive. It has been
there, alive, for a couple of hundred years; and that's about all we
know about the Pyramids. Right?"


Haendl stood up. "Tropile, that's what all of this is all about!" He
gestured around him. "Guns, tanks, airplanes--we want to know more!
We're going to find out more and then we're going to fight."

There was a jarring note and Tropile caught at it, sniffing the air.
Somehow--perhaps it was his sub-adrenals that told him--this very
positive, very self-willed man was just the slightest bit unsure of
himself. But Haendl swept on and Tropile, for a moment, forgot to be

"We had a party up Mount Everest five years ago," Haendl was saying.
"We didn't find out a thing. Five years before that, and five years
before _that_--every time there's a sun, while it is still warm enough
to give a party a chance to climb up the sides--we send a team up
there. It's a rough job. We give it to the new boys, Tropile. Like you."

There it was. He was being invited to attack a Pyramid.

Tropile hesitated, delicately balanced, trying to get the _feel_ of
this negotiation. This was Wolf against Wolf; it was hard. There had to
be an advantage--

"There is an advantage," Haendl said aloud.

Tropile jumped, but then he remembered: Wolf against Wolf.

Haendl went on: "What you get out of it is your life, in the first
place. You understand you can't get out now. We don't want sheep
meddling around. And in the second place, there's a considerable hope
of gain." He stared at Tropile with a dreamer's eyes. "We don't send
parties up there for nothing, you know. We want to get something out of
it. What we want is the Earth."

"The Earth?" It reeked of madness. But this man wasn't mad.

"Some day, Tropile, it's going to be us against them. Never mind the
sheep--they don't count. It's going to be Pyramids and Wolves, and the
Pyramids won't win. And then--"

It was enough to curdle the blood. This man was proposing to _fight_,
and against the invulnerable, the godlike Pyramids.

But he was glowing and the fever was contagious. Tropile felt his own
blood begin to pound. Haendl hadn't finished his "and then--" but he
didn't have to. The "and then" was obvious: And then the world takes up
again from the day the wandering planet first came into view. And then
we go back to our own solar system and an end to the five-year cycle of
frost and hunger.

And then the Wolves can rule a world worth ruling.

It was a meretricious appeal, perhaps, but it could not be refused.
Tropile was lost.

He said: "You can put away the gun, Haendl. You've signed me up."


The way to Mount Everest, Tropile glumly found, lay through supervising
the colony's nursery school. It wasn't what he had expected, but it had
the advantages that while his charges were learning, he was learning,

One jump ahead of the three-year-olds, he found that the "wolves," far
from being predators on the "sheep," existed with them in a far more
complicated ecological relationship. There were Wolves all through
sheepdom; they leavened the dough of society.

In barbarously simple prose, a primer said: "The Sons of the Wolf are
good at numbers and money. You and your friends play money games almost
as soon as you can talk, and you can think in percentages and compound
interest when you want to. Most people are not able to do this."

True, thought Tropile subvocally, reading aloud to the tots. That was
how it had been with him.

"Sheep are afraid of the Sons of the Wolf. Those of us who live among
them are in constant danger of detection and death--although ordinarily
a Wolf can take care of himself against any number of sheep." True, too.

"It is one of the most dangerous assignments a Wolf can be given to
live among the sheep. Yet it is essential. Without us, they would
die--of stagnation, of rot, eventually of hunger."

It didn't have to be spelled out any further. Sheep can't mend their
own fences.

The prose was horrifyingly bald and the children were horrifyingly--he
choked on the word, but managed to form it in his mind--_competitive_.
The verbal taboos lingered, he found, after he had broken through the
barriers of behavior.

But it was distressing, in a way. At an age when future Citizens would
have been learning their Little Pitcher Ways, these children were
learning to fight. The perennial argument about who would get to be Big
Bill Zeckendorf when they played a strange game called "Zeckendorf and
Hilton" sometimes ended in bloody noses.

And nobody--nobody at all--meditated on Connectivity.

Tropile was warned not to do it himself. Haendl said grimly: "We
don't understand it and we don't like what we don't understand. We're
suspicious animals, Tropile. As the children grow older, we give
them just enough practice so they can go into one meditation and get
the feel of it--or pretend to, at any rate. If they have to pass as
Citizens, they'll need that much. But more than that we do not allow."

"Allow?" Somehow the word grated; somehow his sub-adrenals began to

"_Allow!_ We have our suspicions and we know for a fact that sometimes
people disappear when they meditate. We don't want to disappear. We
think it's not a good thing to disappear. Don't meditate, Tropile. You

       *       *       *       *       *

But later, Tropile had to argue the point. He picked a time when
Haendl was free, or as nearly free as that man ever was. The whole
adult colony had been out on what they used as a parade ground--it had
once been a football field, Haendl said. They had done their regular
twice-a-week infantry drill, that being one of the prices one paid for
living among the free, progressive Wolves instead of the dull and tepid

Tropile was mightily winded, but he cast himself on the ground near
Haendl, caught his breath and said: "Haendl--about meditation."

"What about it?"

"Well, perhaps you don't really grasp it."

Tropile searched for words. He knew what he wanted to say. How could
anything that felt as good as Oneness be bad? And wasn't Translation,
after all, so rare as hardly to matter? But he wasn't sure he could get
through to Haendl in those terms.

He tried: "When you meditate successfully, Haendl, you're one with the
Universe. Do you know what I mean? There's no feeling like it. It's
indescribable peace, beauty, harmony, repose."

"It's the world's cheapest narcotic," Haendl snorted.

"Oh, now, really--"

"_And_ the world's cheapest religion. The stone-broke mutts can't
afford gilded idols, so they use their own navels. That's all it is.
They can't afford alcohol; they can't even afford the muscular exertion
of deep breathing that would throw them into a state of hyperventilated
oxygen drunkenness. Then what's left? Self-hypnosis. Nothing else. It's
all they can do, so they learn it, they define it as pleasant and good,
and they're all fixed up."

Tropile sighed. The man was so stubborn! Then a thought occurred to him
and he pushed himself up on his elbows. "Aren't you leaving something
out? What about Translation?"

Haendl glowered at him. "That's the part we don't understand."

"But surely self-hypnosis doesn't account for--"

"Surely it doesn't!" Haendl mimicked savagely. "All right. We don't
understand it and we're afraid of it. Kindly do not tell me Translation
is the supreme act of Un-willing, Total Disavowal of Duality, Unison
with the Brahm-Ground or any such slop. You don't know what it is and
neither do we." He started to get up. "All we know is, people vanish.
And we want no part of it, so we don't meditate. None of us--including

       *       *       *       *       *

It was foolishness, this close-order drill. Could you defeat the
unreachable Himalayan Pyramid with a squads-right flanking maneuver?

And yet it wasn't all foolishness. Close-order drill and
2500-calorie-a-day diet began to put fat and flesh and muscle on
Tropile's body, and something other than that on his mind. He had not
lost the edge of his acquisitiveness, his drive--his whatever it was
that made the difference between Wolf and sheep.

But he had gained something. Happiness? Well, if "happiness" is a
sense of purpose, and a hope that the purpose can be accomplished, then
happiness. It was a feeling that had never existed in his life before.
Always it had been the glandular compulsion to gain an advantage, and
that was gone, or anyway almost gone, because it was permitted in the
society in which he now lived.

Glenn Tropile sang as he putt-putted in his tractor, plowing the
thawing Jersey fields. Still, a faint doubt remained. Squads right
against the Pyramids?

Stiffly, Tropile stopped the tractor, slowed the diesel to a steady
_thrum_ and got off. It was hot--being midsummer of the five-year
calendar the Pyramids had imposed. It was time for rest and maybe
something to eat.

He sat in the shade of a tree, as farmers always have done, and opened
his sandwiches. He was only a mile or so from Princeton, but he might
as well have been in Limbo; there was no sign of any living human but
himself. The northering sheep didn't come near Princeton--it "happened"
that way, on purpose.

He caught a glimpse of something moving, but when he stood up for a
better look into the woods on the other side of the field, it was
gone. Wolf? _Real_ Wolf, that is? It could have been a bear, for that
matter--there was talk of wolves and bears around Princeton; and
although Tropile knew that much of the talk was assiduously encouraged
by men like Haendl, he also knew that some of it was true.

As long as he was up, he gathered straw from the litter of last
"year's" head-high grass, gathered sticks under the trees, built a
small fire and put water on to boil for coffee. Then he sat back and
ate his sandwiches, thinking.

Maybe it was a promotion, going from the nursery school to labor in
the fields. Or maybe it wasn't. Haendl had promised him a place in the
expedition that would--maybe--discover something new and great and
helpful about the Pyramids. And that might still come to pass, because
the expedition was far from ready to leave.

Tropile munched his sandwiches thoughtfully. Now _why_ was the
expedition so far from ready to leave? It was absolutely essential to
get there in the warmest weather possible--otherwise Mt. Everest was
unclimbable. Generations of alpinists had proved that. That warmest
weather was rapidly going by.

And _why_ were Haendl and the Wolf colony so insistent on building
tanks, arming themselves with rifles, organizing in companies and
squads? The H-bomb hadn't flustered the Pyramid. What lesser weapon

Uneasily, Tropile put a few more sticks on the fire, staring
thoughtfully into the canteen cup of water. It was a satisfyingly hot
fire, he noticed abstractedly. The water was very nearly ready to boil.

       *       *       *       *       *

Half across the world, the Pyramid in the Himalays felt, or heard, or
tasted--a difference.

Possibly the h-f pulses that had gone endlessly wheep, wheep, wheep
were now going wheep-_beep_, wheep-_beep_. Possibly the electromagnetic
"taste" of lower-than-red was now spiced with a tang of beyond-violet.
Whatever the sign was, the Pyramid recognized it.

A part of the crop it tended was ready to harvest.

The ripening bud had a name, of course, but names didn't matter to the
Pyramid. The man named Tropile didn't know he was ripening, either.
All that Tropile knew was that, for the first time in nearly a year,
he had succeeded in catching each stage of the nine perfect states of
water-coming-to-a-boil in its purest form.

It was like ... like ... well, it was like nothing that anyone but
a Water Watcher could understand. He observed. He appreciated. He
encompassed and absorbed the myriad subtle perfections of time, of
shifting transparency, of sound, of distribution of ebulliency, of the
faint, faint odor of steam.

Complete, Glenn Tropile relaxed all his limbs and let his chin rest on
his breast-bone.

It was, he thought with placid, crystalline perception, a rare and
perfect opportunity for meditation. He thought of Connectivity.
(Overhead, a shifting glassy flaw appeared in the thin, still air.)
There wasn't any thought of Eyes in the erased palimpsest that was
Glenn Tropile's mind. There wasn't any thought of Pyramids or of
Wolves. The plowed field before him didn't exist. Even the water,
merrily bubbling itself dry, was gone from his perception.

He was beginning to meditate.

Time passed--or stood still--for Tropile; there was no difference.
There was no time. He found himself almost on the brink of

Something snapped. An intruding blue-bottle drone, maybe, or a
twitching muscle. Partly, Tropile came back to reality. Almost, he
glanced upward. Almost, he saw the Eye....

It didn't matter. The thing that really mattered, the only thing in the
world, was all within his mind; and he was ready, he knew, to find it.

Once more! Try harder!

He let the mind-clearing unanswerable question drift into his mind:

_If the sound of two hands together is a clapping, what is the sound of
one hand?_

Gently he pawed at the question, the symbol of the futility of
mind--and therefore the gateway to meditation. Unawareness of self was
stealing deliciously over him.

He was Glenn Tropile. He was more than that. He was the water
boiling ... and the boiling water was he. He was the gentle warmth of
the fire, which was--which was, yes, itself the arc of the sky. As each
thing was each other thing; water was fire, and fire air; Tropile was
the first simmering bubble and the full roll of Well-aged Water was
Self, was--more than Self--was--

The answer to the unanswerable question was coming clearer and softer
to him. And then, all at once, but not suddenly, for there was no time,
it was not close--it _was_.

The answer was his, was him. The arc of sky was the answer, and the
answer belonged to sky--to warmth, to all warmths that there are, and
to all waters, and--and the answer was--was--

Tropile vanished. The mild thunderclap that followed made the flames
dance and the column of steam fray; and then the fire was steady again,
and so was the rising steam. But Tropile was gone.


Haendl plodded angrily through the high grass toward the dull throb of
the diesel.

Maybe it had been a mistake to take this Glenn Tropile into the colony.
He was more Citizen than Wolf--no, cancel that, Haendl thought; he was
more Wolf than Citizen. But the Wolf in him was tainted with sheep's
blood. He _competed_ like a Wolf, but in spite of everything, he
refused to give up some of his sheep's ways. Meditation. He had been
cautioned against that. But had he given it up?

He had not.

If it had been entirely up to Haendl, Glenn Tropile would have found
himself back among the sheep or dead. Fortunately for Tropile, it
was not entirely up to Haendl. The community of Wolves was by no
means a democracy, but the leader had a certain responsibility to his
constituents, and the responsibility was this: He couldn't afford to be
wrong. Like the Old Gray Wolf who protected Mowgli, he had to defend
his actions against attack; if he failed to defend, the pack would pull
him down.

And Innison thought they needed Tropile--not in spite of the taint of
the Citizen that he bore, but because of it.

Haendl bawled: "Tropile! Tropile, where are you?" There was only the
wind and the _thrum_ of the diesel. It was enormously irritating.
Haendl had other things to do than to chase after Glenn Tropile. And
where was he? There was the diesel, idling wastefully; there the end of
the patterned furrows Tropile had plowed. There a small fire, burning--

And there was Tropile.

Haendl stopped, frozen, his mouth opened, about to yell Tropile's name.

It was Tropile, all right, staring with concentrated, oyster-eyed gaze
at the fire and the little pot of water it boiled. Staring. Meditating.
And over his head, like flawed glass in a pane, was the thing Haendl
feared most of all things on Earth. It was an Eye.

Tropile was on the very verge of being Translated ... whatever that was.

Time, maybe, to find out _what_ that was! Haendl ducked back into the
shelter of the high grass, knelt, plucked his radio communicator from
his pocket, urgently called.

"Innison! Innison, will somebody, for God's sake, put Innison on!"

Seconds passed. Voices answered. Then there was Innison.

"Innison, listen! You wanted to catch Tropile in the act of Meditation?
All right, you've got him. The old wheat field, south end, under the
elms around the creek. Get here fast, Innison--there's an Eye forming
above him!"

Luck! Lucky that they were ready for this, and only by luck, because it
was the helicopter that Innison had patiently assembled for the attack
on Everest that was ready now, loaded with instruments, planned to
weigh and measure the aura around the Pyramid--now at hand when they
needed it.

That was luck, but there was driving hurry involved, too; it was only a
matter of minutes before Haendl heard the wobbling drone of the copter,
saw the vanes fluttering low over the hedges, dropping to earth behind
the elms.

Haendl raised himself cautiously and peered. Yes, Tropile was still
there, and the Eye still above him! But the noise of the helicopter had
frayed the spell. Tropile stirred. The Eye wavered and shook--

But did not vanish.

Thanking what passed for his God, Haendl scuttled circuitously around
the elms and joined Innison at the copter. Innison was furiously
closing switches and pointing lenses.

They saw Tropile sitting there, the Eye growing larger and closer over
his head. They had time--plenty of time; oh, nearly a minute of time.
They brought to bear on the silent and unknowing form of Glenn Tropile
every instrument that the copter carried. They were waiting for Tropile
to disappear--

He did.

       *       *       *       *       *

Innison and Haendl hunched at the thunderclap as air rushed in to
replace him.

"We've got what you wanted," Haendl said harshly. "Let's read some

Throughout the Translation, high-tensile magnetic tape on a madly
spinning drum had been hurtling under twenty-four recording heads at
a hundred feet a second. Output to the recording heads had been from
every kind of measuring device they had been able to conceive and
build, all loaded on the helicopter for use on Mount Everest--all now
pointed directly at Glenn Tropile.

They had, for the instant of Translation, readings from one microsecond
to the next on the varying electric, gravitational, magnetic, radiant
and molecular-state conditions in his vicinity.

They got back to Innison's workshop, and the laboratory inside it, in
less than a minute; but it took hours of playing back the magnetic
pulses into machines that turned them into scribed curves on coordinate
paper before Innison had anything resembling an answer.

He said: "No mystery. I mean no mystery except the speed. Want to know
what happened to Tropile?"

"I do," said Haendl.

"A pencil of electrostatic force maintained by a pinch effect bounced
down the approximate azimuth of Everest--God knows how they handled the
elevation--and charged him and the area positive. A _big_ charge, clear
off the scale. They parted company. He was bounced straight up. A meter
off the ground, a correcting vector was applied. When last seen, he was
headed fast in the direction of the Pyramids' binary--fast! So fast
that I would guess he'll get there alive. It takes an appreciable time,
a good part of a second, for his protein to coagulate enough to make
him sick and then kill him. If the Pyramids strip the charges off him
immediately on arrival, as I should think they will, he'll live."


"Be damned to friction," Innison said calmly. "He carried a packet of
air with him and there _was_ no friction. How? I don't know. How are
they going to keep him alive in space, without the charges that hold
air? I don't know. If they don't maintain the charges, can they beat
the speed of light? I don't know. I can tell you _what_ happened. I
can't tell you _how_."

Haendl stood up thoughtfully. "It's something," he said grudgingly.

"It's more than we've ever had--a complete reading at the instant of

"We'll get more," Haendl promised. "Innison, now that you know what to
look for, go on looking for it. Keep every possible detection device
monitored twenty-four hours a day. Turn on everything you've got
that'll find a sign of imposed modulation. At any sign--or at anybody's
hunch that there _might_ be a sign--I'm to be called. If I'm eating. If
I'm sleeping. If I'm enjoying with a woman. Call me, you hear? Maybe
you were right about Tropile; maybe he did have some use. He might give
the Pyramids a bellyache."

Innison, flipping the magnetic tape drum to rewind, said thoughtfully:
"It's too bad they've got him. We could have used some more readings."

"Too bad?" Haendl laughed sharply. "This time they've got themselves a

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pyramids did have a Wolf--a fact which did not matter in the least
to them.

It is not possible to know what "mattered" to a Pyramid except by
inference. But it is possible to know that they had no way of telling
Wolf from Citizen.

The planet which was their home--Earth's old Moon--was small, dark,
atmosphereless and waterless. It was completely built over, much of it
with its propulsion devices.

In the old days, when technology had followed war, luxury, government
and leisure, the Pyramids' sun had run out of steam; and at about the
same time, they had run out of the Components they imported from a
neighboring planet. They used the last of their Components to implement
their stolid metaphysic of hauling and pushing. They pushed their

They knew where to push it.

Each Pyramid as it stood was a radio-astronomy observatory, powerful
and accurate beyond the wildest dreams of Earthly radio-astronomers.
From this start, they built instruments to aid their naked senses. They
went into a kind of hibernation, reducing their activity to a bare
trickle except for a small "crew" and headed for Earth. They had every
reason to believe they would find more Components there, and they did.

Tropile was one of them. The only thing which set him apart from the
others was that he was the most recent to be stockpiled.

The religion, or vice, or philosophy he practiced made it possible
for him to be a Component. Meditation derived from Zen Buddhism was
a windfall for the Pyramids, though, of course, they had no idea at
all of what lay behind it and did not "care." They knew only that,
at certain times, certain potential Components became Components
which were no longer merely potential--which were, in fact, ripe for

It was useful to them that the minds they cropped were utterly blank.
It saved the trouble of blanking them.

Tropile had been harvested at the moment his inhibiting conscious mind
had been cleared, for the Pyramids were not interested in him as an
entity capable of will and conception. They used only the raw capacity
of the human brain and its perceptors.

They used Rashevsky's Number, the gigantic, far more than astronomical
expression that denoted the number of switching operations performable
within the human brain. They used "subception," the phenomenon by which
the reasoning mind, uninhibited by consciousness, reacts directly to
stimuli--shortcutting the cerebral censor, avoiding the weighing of
shall-I-or-shan't-I that precedes every conscious act.

The harvested minds were--Components.

It is not desirable that your bedroom wall switch have a mind of its
own; if you turn the lights on, you want them _on_. So it was with the

A Component was needed in the industrial complex which transformed
catabolism products into anabolism products.

       *       *       *       *       *

With long experience gained since their planetfall, Pyramids received
the _tabula rasa_ that was Glenn Tropile. He arrived in one piece,
wearing a blanket of air. Quick-frozen mentally at the moment of inert
blankness his Meditation had granted him--the psychic drunkard's
coma--he was cushioned on repellent charges as he plummeted down, and
instantly stripped of surplus electrostatic charge.

At this point, he was still human; only asleep.

He remained "asleep." Annular fields they used for lifting and lowering
seized him and moved him into a snug tank of nutrient fluid. There were
many such tanks, ready and waiting.

The tanks themselves could be moved, and the one containing Glenn
Tropile did move, to a metabolism complex where there were many other
tanks, all occupied. This was a warm room--the Pyramids had wasted no
energy on such foppish comforts in the first "room." In this room,
Glenn Tropile gradually resumed the appearance of life. His heart once
again began to beat. Faint stirrings were visible in his chest as his
habit-numbed lungs attempted to breathe. Gradually the stirrings slowed
and stopped. There was no need for that foppish comfort, either; the
nutrient fluid supplied all.

Tropile was "wired into circuit."

The only literal wiring, at first, was a temporary one--a fine
electrode aseptically introduced into the great nerve that leads to the
rhinencephalon--the "small brain," the area of the brain which contains
the pleasure centers that motivate human behavior.

More than a thousand Components had been spoiled and discarded before
the Pyramids had located the pleasure centers so exactly.

While the Component, Tropile, was being "programmed," the wire rewarded
him with minute pulses that made his body glow with animal satisfaction
when he functioned correctly. That was all there was to it. After a
time, the wire was withdrawn, but by then Tropile had "learned" his
entire task. Conditioned reflexes had been established. They could be
counted on for the long and useful life of the Component.

That life might be very long indeed; in the nutrient tank beside
Tropile's, as it happened, lay a Component with eight legs and a
chitinous fringe around its eyes. It had lain in such a tank for more
than a hundred and twenty-five thousand Terrestrial years.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Component was placed in operation. It opened its eyes and saw
things. The sensory nerves of its limbs felt things. The muscles of
its hands and toes operated things.

Where was Glenn Tropile?

He was there, all of him, but a zombie-Tropile. Bereft of will, emptied
of memories. He was a machine and part of a huger machine. His sex
was the sex of a photoelectric cell; his politics were those of a
transistor; his ambition that of a mercury switch. He didn't know
anything about sex, or fear, or hope. He only knew two things: Input
and Output.

Input to him was a display of small lights on a board before his vacant
face; and also the modulation of a loudspeaker's liquid-borne hum in
each ear.

Output from him was the dancing manipulation of certain buttons and
keys, prompted by changes in Input and by nothing else.

Between Input and Output, he lay in the tank, a human Black Box which
was capable of Rashevsky's Number of switchings, and of nothing else.

He had been programmed to accomplish a specific task--to shepherd
a chemical called 3, 7, 12-trihydroxycholanic acid, present in the
catabolic product of the Pyramids, through a succession of more than
five hundred separate operations until it emerged as the chemical,
which the Pyramids were able to metabolize, called Protoporphin IX.

He was not the only Component operating in this task; there were
several, each with its own program.

The acid accumulated in great tanks a mile from him. He knew its
concentration, heat and pressure; he knew of all the impurities
which would affect subsequent reactions. His fingers tapped, giving
binary-coded signals to sluice gates to open for so many seconds and
then to close; for such an amount of solvent at such a temperature to
flow in; for the agitators to agitate for just so long at just such a
force. And if a trouble signal disturbed any one of the 517 major and
minor operations, he--it?--was set to decide among alternatives:

--scrap the batch in view of flow conditions along the line?

--isolate and bypass the batch through a standby loop?

--immediate action to correct the malfunction?

Without inhibiting intelligence, without the trammels of humanity on
him, the intricate display board and the complex modulations of the two
sound signals could be instantly taken in, evaluated and given their
share in the decision.

Was it--he?--still alive?

The question has no meaning. It was working. It was an excellent
machine, in fact, and the Pyramids cared for it well. Its only
consciousness, apart from the reflexive responses that were its
program, was--well, call it "the sound of one hand alone." Which is to
say zero, mindlessness, Samadhi, stupor.

It continued to function for some time--until the required supply of
Protoporphin IX had been exceeded by a sufficient factor of safety
to make further processing unnecessary--that is, for some minutes or
months. During that time, it was Happy. (It had been programmed to be
Happy when there were no uncorrected malfunctions of the process.)
At the end of that time, it shut itself off, sent out a signal that
the task was completed, then it was laid aside in the analogue of a
deep-freeze, to be reprogrammed when another Component was needed.

It was totally immaterial to the Pyramids that this particular
Component had not been stamped from Citizen but from Wolf.


Roget Germyn, of Wheeling a Citizen, contemplated his wife with growing

Possibly the events of the past few days had unhinged her reason, but
he was nearly sure that she had eaten a portion of the evening meal
secretly, in the serving room, before calling him to the table.

He felt positive that it was only a temporary aberration; she
was, after all, a Citizeness, with all that that implied. A--a
creature--like that Gala Tropile, for example--someone like that
might steal extra portions with craft and guile. You couldn't live
with a Wolf for years and not have some of it rub off on you. But not
Citizeness Germyn.

There was a light, thrice-repeated tap on the door.

Speak of the devil, thought Roget Germyn most appropriately; for it was
that same Gala Tropile. She entered, her head downcast, looking worn
and--well, pretty.

He began formally: "I give you greeting, Citi--"

"They're here!" she interrupted in desperate haste. Germyn blinked.
"Please," she begged, "can't you do something? They're _Wolves_!"

Citizeness Germyn emitted a muted shriek.

"You may leave, Citizeness," Germyn told her shortly, already forming
in his mind the words of gentle reproof he would later use. "Now what
is all this talk of Wolves?"

Gala Tropile distractedly sat in the chair her hostess had vacated.
"We were running away," she babbled. "Glenn--he was Wolf, you see, and
he made me leave with him, after the House of the Five Regulations. We
were a day's long march from Wheeling and we stopped to rest. And there
was an aircraft, Citizen!"

"An aircraft!" Citizen Germyn allowed himself a frown. "Citizeness, it
is not well to invent things which are not so."

"I saw it, Citizen! There were men in it. One of them is here again!
He came looking for me with another man and I barely escaped him. I'm

"There is no cause for fear, only an opportunity to appreciate,"
Citizen Germyn said mechanically--it was what one told one's children.

But within himself, he was finding it very hard to remain calm. That
word Wolf--it was a destroyer of calm, an incitement to panic and
hatred! He remembered Tropile well, and there was Wolf, to be sure. The
mere fact that Citizen Germyn had doubted his Wolfishness at first was
powerful cause to be doubly convinced of it now; he had postponed the
day of reckoning for an enemy of all the world, and there was enough
secret guilt in his recollection to set his own heart thumping.

"Tell me exactly what happened," said Citizen Germyn, in words that the
stress of emotion had already made far less than graceful.

Obediently, Gala Tropile said: "I was returning to my home after the
evening meal and Citizeness Puffin--she took me in after Citizen
Tropile--after my husband was--"

"I understand. You made your home with her."

"Yes. She told me that two men had come to see me. They spoke badly,
she said, and I was alarmed. I peered through a window of my home and
they were there. One had been in the aircraft I saw! And they flew away
with my husband."

"It is a matter of seriousness," Citizen Germyn admitted doubtfully.
"So then you came here to me?"

"Yes, but they saw me, Citizen! And I think they followed. You must
protect me--I have no one else!"

"If they be Wolf," Germyn said calmly, "we will raise hue and cry
against them. Now will the Citizeness remain here? I go forth to see
these men."

There was a graceless hammering on the door.

"Too late!" cried Gala Tropile in panic. "They are here!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Citizen Germyn went through the ritual of greeting, of deprecating the
ugliness and poverty of his home, of offering everything he owned to
his visitors; it was the way to greet a stranger.

The two men lacked both courtesy and wit, but they did make an attempt
to comply with the minimal formal customs of introduction. He had to
give them credit for that; and yet it was almost more alarming than if
they had blustered and yelled.

For he knew one of these men.

He dredged the name out of his memory. It was Haendl. The same man had
appeared in Wheeling the day Glenn Tropile had been scheduled to make
the Donation of the Spinal Tap--and had broken free and escaped. He had
inquired about Tropile of a good many people, Citizen Germyn included,
and even at that time, in the excitement of an Amok, a Wolf-finding and
a Translation in a single day, Germyn had wondered at Haendl's lack of
breeding and airs.

Now he wondered no longer.

But the man made no overt act and Citizen Germyn postponed the raising
of the hue and cry. It was not a thing to be done lightly.

"Gala Tropile is in this house," the man with Haendl said bluntly.

Citizen Germyn managed a Quirked Smile.

"We want to see her, Germyn. It's about her husband. He--uh--he was
with us for a while and something happened."

"Ah, yes. The Wolf."

The man flushed and looked at Haendl. Haendl said loudly: "The Wolf.
Sure he's a Wolf. But he's gone now, so you don't have to worry about


"Not just him, but four or five of us. There was a man named Innison
and he's gone, too. We need help, Germyn. Something about Tropile--God
knows how it is, but he started something. We want to talk to his wife
and find out what we can about him. So will you get her out of the back
room where she's hiding and bring her here, please?"

Citizen Germyn quivered. He bent over the ID bracelet that once had
belonged to the one PFC Joe Hartman, fingering it to hide his thoughts.

He said at last: "Perhaps you are right. Perhaps the Citizeness is with
my wife. If this be so, would it not be possible that she is fearful of
those who once were with her husband?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Haendl laughed sourly. "She isn't any more fearful than we are, Germyn.
I told you about this man Innison who disappeared. He was a Son of
the Wolf, you understand me? For that matter--" He glanced at his
companion, licked his lips and changed his mind about what he had been
going to say next. "He was a Wolf. Do you ever remember hearing of a
Wolf being Translated before?"

"Translated?" Germyn dropped the ID bracelet. "But that's impossible!"
he cried, forgetting his manners completely. "Oh, no! Translation comes
only to those who attain the moment of supreme detachment, you can be
sure of that. I _know_! I've seen it with my own eyes. No Wolf could

"At least five Wolves did," Haendl said grimly. "Now you see what the
trouble is? Tropile was Translated--I saw that with _my_ own eyes. The
next day, Innison. Within a week, two or three others. So we came down
here, Germyn, not because we like you people, not because we enjoy it,
but because we're _scared_.

"What we want is to talk to Tropile's wife--you, too, I guess; we want
to talk to anybody who ever knew him. We want to find out everything
there is to find out about Tropile and see if we can make any sense of
the answers. Because maybe Translation is the supreme objective of life
to you people, Germyn, but to us it's just one more way of dying. And
we don't want to die."

Citizen Germyn bent to pick up his cherished identification bracelet
and dropped it absently on a table. There was very much on his mind.

He said at last: "That is strange. Shall I tell you another strange

Haendl, looking angry and baffled, nodded.

Germyn said: "There has been no Translation here since the day the
Wolf, Tropile, escaped. But there have been Eyes. I have seen them
myself. It--" He hesitated, shrugged. "It has been disturbing. Some of
our finest Citizens have ceased to Meditate; they have been worrying.
So many Eyes and nobody taken! It is outside of all of our experience,
and our customs have suffered. Politeness is dwindling among us. Even
in my own household--"

He coughed and went on: "No matter. But these Eyes have come into every
home; they have peered about, peered about, and no one has been taken.
Why? Is it something to do with the Translation of Wolves?" He stared
hopelessly at his visitors. "All I know is that it is very strange and
therefore I am worried."

"Then take us to Gala Tropile," said Haendl. "Let's see what we can
find out!"

Citizen Germyn bowed. He cleared his throat and raised his voice just
sufficiently to carry from one room to another. "Citizeness!" he called.

There was a pause and then his wife appeared in the doorway, looking
ruffled and ill at ease with her guest.

"Will you ask if Citizeness Tropile will join us here?" he requested.

His wife nodded. "She is resting. I will call her."

They called her and questioned her for some time.

She told them nothing.

She had nothing to tell.


On Earth's binary, Glenn Tropile had been reprogrammed for a new task.

The problem was navigation. Earth had been a disappointment to the
Pyramids; it was necessary to move rapidly to a more rewarding planet.

The Pyramids had taken Earth out past Pluto's orbit with a simple
shove, slow and massive. It had been enough merely to approximate the
direction in which they would want to go. There would be plenty of time
for refinements of course later.

But now the time for refinements had come, earlier than they might
have expected. They had now time to travel, they knew where to--a star
cluster reasonably sure to be rich in Componentiferous planets. It was
inherent in the nature of Component mines that eventually they always
played out.

There were always more mines, though. If that had not been so, it would
have been necessary, perhaps, to stock-breed Components against future
needs. But it was easier to work the vein out and move on.

Now the course had to be computed. There were such variables to
be considered as: motion of the star cluster; acceleration of the
binary-planet system; _gravitational influence of every astronomical
object in the island universe, without exception_.

Precise computation on this basis was obviously not practical. That was
not an answer to the problem, since the time required would approach
eternity as one of its parameters.

It was possible to simplify the problem. Only the astronomical bodies
which were relatively nearby need be treated as individuals. Farther
away, the Pyramids began to group them in small bunches, still farther
in large bunches, on to the point where the farthest--and the most
numerous--bodies were lumped together as a vague gravitational "noise"
whose average intensity alone it was required to know and to enter as a

And still no single Component could handle even its own share of the
problem, were the "computer" they formed to be kept within the range of
permissible size.

It was for this that the Component which had once been Tropile was
taken out of storage.

This was all old stuff to the Pyramids; they knew how to handle it.
They broke the problem down to its essentials, separated even those
into many parts. There was, for example, the subsection of one certain
aspect of the logistical problem which involved locating and procuring
additional Components to handle the load.

Even that tiny specialization was too much for a single Component, but
fortunately the Pyramids had resources to bring to bear. The procedure
in such cases was to hitch several Components together.

This was done.

When the Pyramids finished their neuro-surgery, there floated in an
oversized nutrient tank a thing like a great sea-anemone. It was
composed of eight Components--all human, as it happened--arranged in a
circle, facing inward, joined temple to temple, brain to brain.

At their feet, where sixteen eyes could see it, was the display board
to feed them their Input. Sixteen hands each grasped a molded switch
to handle their binary-coded Output. There would be no storage of
the Output outside of the eight-Component complex itself; it went as
control signals to the electrostatic generators, funneled through
the single Pyramid on Mount Everest, which handled the task of

That is, of Translation.

The programming was slow and thorough. Perhaps the Pyramid which
finally activated the octuple unit and went away was pleased with
itself, not knowing that one of its Components was Glenn Tropile.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nirvana. (It pervaded all; there was nothing outside of it.)

Nirvana. (Glenn Tropile floated in it as in the amniotic fluid around

Nirvana. (The sound of one hand.... Floating oneness.)

There was an intrusion.

Perfection is completed; by adding to it, it is destroyed. _Duality
struck like a thunderbolt. Oneness shattered._

For Glenn Tropile, it seemed as though his wife were screaming at him
to wake up. He tried to.

It was curiously difficult and painful. Timeless poignant sadness, five
years of sorrow over a lost love compressed into a microsecond. It was
always so, Tropile thought drowsily, awakening. It never lasts. What's
the use of worrying over what always happens....

Sudden shock and horror rocked him.

_This_ was no ordinary awakening--no ordinary thing at all--_nothing_
was as it ever had been before!

Tropile opened his mouth and screamed--or thought he did. But there was
only a hoarse, faint flutter in his eardrums.

It was a moment when sanity might have gone. But there was one curious,
mundane fact that saved him. He was holding something in his hands. He
found that he could look at it, and it was a switch. A molded switch,
mounted on a board, and he was holding one in each hand.

It was little to cling to, but it at least was real. If his hands could
be holding something, then there must be some reality somewhere.

Tropile closed his eyes and managed to open them again. Yes, there was
reality, too. He closed his eyes and light stopped. He opened them and
light returned.

Then perhaps he was not dead, as he had thought.

Carefully, stumbling--his mind his only usable tool--he tried to make
an estimate of his surroundings.

He could hardly believe what he found.

Item: he could scarcely move. Somehow he was bound by his feet and his
head. How? He couldn't tell.

Item: he was bent over and he couldn't straighten. Why? Again he
couldn't tell, but it was a fact. The great erecting muscles of his
back answered his command, but his body would not move.

Item: his eyes saw, but only in a small area.

He couldn't move his head, either. Still, he could see a few things.
The switch in his hand, his feet, a sort of display of lights on a
strangely circular board.

The lights flickered and changed their pattern.

       *       *       *       *       *

Without thinking, he moved a switch. Why? Because it was _right_ to
move that switch. When a certain light flared green, a certain switch
had to be thrown. Why? Well, when a certain light flared green, a
certain switch--

He abandoned that problem. Never mind why; what the devil was going

Glenn Tropile squinted about him like a mollusc peering out of its
shell. There was another fact, the oddness of the seeing. What makes it
look so queer, he asked himself.

He found an answer, but it required some time to take it in. He was
seeing in a strange perspective. One looks out of two eyes. Close one
eye and the world is flat. Open it again and there is a stereoscopic
double; the saliencies of the picture leap forward, the background

So with the lights on the board--no, not exactly; but something _like_
that, he thought. It was as though--he squinted and strained--well, as
though he had never really _seen_ before. As though for all his life he
had had only one eye, and now he had strangely been given two.

His visual perception of the board was _total_. He could see all of it
at once. It had no "front" or "back." It was in the round. The natural
thinking of it was without orientation. He engulfed and comprehended
it as a unit. It had no secrets of shadow or silhouette.

I think, Tropile mouthed slowly to himself, that I'm going crazy.

But that was no explanation, either. Mere insanity didn't account for
what he saw.

Then, he asked himself, was he in a state that was _beyond_ Nirvana? He
remembered, with an odd flash of guilt, that he had been Meditating,
watching the stages of boiling water. All right, perhaps he had been
Translated. But what was this, then? Were the Meditators wrong in
teaching that Nirvana was the end--and yet righter than the Wolves,
who dismissed Meditation as a phenomenon wholly inside the skull and
refused to discuss Translation at all?

That was a question for which he could find nothing approaching an
answer. He turned away from it and looked at his hands.

He could see them, too, in the round, he noted. He could see every
wrinkle and pore in all sixteen of them....

_Sixteen hands!_

       *       *       *       *       *

That was the other moment when sanity might have gone. He closed his
eyes. (Sixteen eyes! No wonder the total perception!) And, after a
while, he opened them again.

The hands were there. All sixteen of them.

Cautiously, Tropile selected a finger that seemed familiar in his
memory. After a moment's thought, he flexed it. It bent. He selected
another. Another--on a different hand this time.

He could use any or all of the sixteen hands. They were all his, all
sixteen of them.

I appear, thought Tropile crazily, to be a sort of eight-branched
snowflake. Each of my branches is a human body.

He stirred, and added another datum: I appear also to be in a tank of
fluid and yet I do not drown.

There were certain deductions to be made from that. Either someone--the
Pyramids?--had done something to his lungs, or else the fluid was as
good an oxygenating medium as air. Or both.

Suddenly a burst of data-lights twinkled on the board below him.
Instantly and involuntarily, his sixteen hands began working the
switches, transmitting complex directions in a lightninglike stream of
on-off clicks.

Tropile relaxed and let it happen. He had no choice; the power that
made it _right_ to respond to the board made it impossible for his
brain to concentrate while the response was going on. Perhaps, he
thought drowsily, he would never have awakened at all if it had not
been for the long period with no lights....

But he was awake. And his consciousness began to explore as the task

He had had an opportunity to understand something of what was
happening. He understood that he was now a part of something larger
than himself, beyond doubt something which served and belonged to the
Pyramids. His single brain not being large enough for the job, seven
others had been hooked in with it.

But where were their personalities?

Gone, he supposed; presumably they had been Citizens. Sons of the Wolf
did not Meditate and therefore were not Translated--except for himself,
he corrected wryly, remembering the Meditation on Rainclouds that had
led him to--

No, wait!

Not Rainclouds but Water!

       *       *       *       *       *

Tropile caught hold of himself and forced his mind to retrace that
thought. He _remembered_ the Raincloud Meditation. It had been prompted
by a particularly noble cumulus of the Ancient Ship type.

And this was odd. Tropile had never been deeply interested in
Rainclouds, had never known even the secondary classifications of
Raincloud types. And he _knew_ that the Ancient Ship was of the fourth
order of categories.

It was a false memory.

_It was not his._

Therefore, logically, it was someone else's memory; and being available
to his own mind, as the fourteen other hands and eyes were available,
it must belong to--another branch of the snowflake.

He turned his eyes down and tried to see which of the branches was his
old body. He found it quickly, with growing excitement. There was the
left great toe of his body. He had injured it in boyhood and there was
no mistaking the way it was bent. Good! It was reassuring.

He tried to feel the one particular body that led to that familiar toe.

He succeeded, though not easily. After a time, he became more aware
of _that_ body--somewhat as a neurotic may become "stomach conscious"
or "heart conscious." But this was no neurosis; it was an intentional

Since that worked, with some uneasiness he transferred his attention to
another pair of feet and "thought" his way up from them.

It was embarrassing.

For the first time in his life, he knew what it felt like to have
breasts. For the first time in his life, he knew what it was like to
have one's internal organs quite differently shaped and arranged,
buttressed and stressed by different muscles. The very faint background
feel of man's internal arrangements, never questioned unless something
goes wrong with them and they start to hurt, was not at all like the
faint background feel that a woman has inside her.

And when he concentrated on that feel, it was no faint background to
him. It was surprising and upsetting.

He withdrew his attention--hoping that he would be able to. Gratefully,
he became conscious of his own body again. He was still _himself_ if he
chose to be.

Were the other seven still themselves?

He reached into his mind--all of it, all eight separate intelligences
that were combined within him.

"Is anybody there?" he demanded.

No answer--or nothing he could recognize as an answer. He drove harder
and there still was none. It was annoying. He resented it as bitterly,
he remembered, as in the old days when he had first been learning the
subtleties of Ruin Appreciation. There had been a Ruin Master, his name
forgotten, who had been sometimes less than courteous, had driven hard--

Another false memory!

He withdrew and weighed it. Perhaps, he thought, that was a part of
the answer. These people, these other seven, would not be driven. The
attempt to call them back to consciousness would have to be delicate.
When he drove hard, it was painful--he remembered the instant violent
agony of his own awakening--and they reacted with anguish.

       *       *       *       *       *

More gently, alert for vagrant "memories," he combed the depths of
the eightfold mind within him, reaching into the sleeping portions,
touching, handling, sifting and associating, sorting. This memory of
an old knife wound from an Amok--that was not the Raincloud woman; it
was a man, very aged. This faint recollection of a childhood fear of
drowning--was that she? It was; it fitted with this other recollection,
the long detour on the road south toward the sun, around a river.

The Raincloud woman was the first to round out in his mind, and the
first he communicated with. He was not surprised to find that, early in
her life, she had feared that she might be Wolf.

He reached out for her. It was almost magic--knowing the "secret
name" of a person, so that then he was yours to command. But the
"secret name" was more than that. It was the gestalt of the person.
It was the sum of all data and experience, never available to another
person--until now.

With her memories arranged at last in his own mind, he thought
persuasively: "Citizeness Alla Narova, will you awaken and speak with

No answer--only a vague, troubled stirring.

Gently he persisted: "I know you well, Alla Narova. You sometimes
thought you might be a Daughter of the Wolf, but never really believed
it because you knew you loved your husband--and thought Wolves did not
love. You loved Rainclouds, too. It was when you stood at Beachy Head
and saw a great cumulus that you went into Meditation--"

And on and on, many times, coaxingly. Even so, it was not easy; but
at last he began to reach her. Slowly she began to surface. Thoughts
faintly sounded in his mind, like echoes at first, his own thoughts
bouncing back at him, a sort of mental nod of agreement: "Yes, that is
so." Then--terror. With a shaking fear, a hysterical rush, Citizeness
Alla Narova came violently up to full consciousness and to panic.

She was soundlessly screaming. The whole eight-branched figure quivered
and twisted in its nutrient bath.

The terrible storm raged in Tropile's own mind as fully as in hers--but
he had the advantage of knowing what it was. He helped her. He fought
it for the two of them ... soothing, explaining, calming.

At last her branch of the snowflake-body retreated, sobbing for a
spell. The storm was over.

He talked to her in his mind and she "listened." She was incredulous,
but there was no choice for her; she _had_ to believe.

Exhausted and passive, she asked finally: "What can we do? I wish I
were dead!"

He told her: "You were never a coward before. Remember, Alla Narova, I
_know_ you as nobody has ever known another human being before. That's
the way you will know me. As for what we can do--we must begin by
waking the others, if we can."

"If not?"

"If not," Tropile replied grimly, "then we will think of something

She was of tough stuff, he thought admiringly. When she had rested and
absorbed things, her spirit was almost that of a Wolf; she had very
nearly been right about herself.

Together they explored their twinned members. They found through them
exactly what task was theirs to do. They found how the electrostatic
harvesting scythe of the Pyramids was controlled, by and through them.
They found what limitations there were and what freedoms they owned.
They reached into the other petals of the snowflake, reached past
the linked Components into the whole complex of electrostatic field
generators and propulsion machinery, reached even past that into--

Into the great single function of the Pyramids that lay beyond.


Haendl was on the ragged edge of breakdown, which was something new in
his life.

It was full hot summer and the hidden colony of Wolves in Princeton
should have been full of energy and life. The crops were growing on all
the fields nearby; the drained storehouses were being replenished.

The aircraft that had been so painfully rebuilt and fitted for the
assault on Mount Everest were standing by, ready to be manned and to
take off.

And nothing, absolutely nothing, was going right.

It looked as though there would _be_ no expedition to Everest. Four
times now, Haendl had gathered his forces and been all ready. Four
times, a key man of the expedition had--vanished.

Wolves didn't vanish!

And yet more than a score of them had. First Tropile--then
Innison--then two dozen more, by ones and twos. No one was immune. Take
Innison, for example. There was a man who was Wolf through and through.
He was a doer, not a thinker; his skills were the skills of an artisan,
a tinkerer, a jackleg mechanic. How could a man like that succumb to
the pallid lure of Meditation?

But undeniably he had.

It had reached a point where Haendl himself was red-eyed and jumpy. He
had set curious alarms for himself--had enlisted the help of others of
the colony to avert the danger of Translation from himself.

When he went to bed at night, a lieutenant sat next to his bed,
watchfully alert lest Haendl, in that moment of reverie before sleep,
fell into Meditation and himself be Translated. There was no hour of
the day when Haendl permitted himself to be alone; and his companions,
or guards, were ordered to shake him awake, as violently as need be, at
the first hint of an abstracted look in the eyes or a reflective cast
of the features.

As time went on, Haendl's self-imposed regime of constant alertness
began to cost him heavily in lost rest and sleep. And the consequences
of that were--more and more occasions when the bodyguards shook him
awake; less and less rest.

He was very close to breakdown indeed.

On a hot, wet morning a few days after his useless expedition to see
Citizen Germyn in Wheeling, Haendl ate a tasteless breakfast and,
reeling with fatigue, set out on a tour of inspection of Princeton.
Warm rain dripped from low clouds, but that was merely one more
annoyance to Haendl. He hardly noticed it.

There were upward of a thousand Wolves in the Community and there
were signs of worry on the face of every one of them. Haendl was not
the only man in Princeton who had begun laying traps for himself as a
result of the unprecedented disappearances; he was not the only one who
was short of sleep. When one member in forty disappears, the morale of
the whole community receives a shattering blow.

To Haendl, it was clear, looking into the faces of his compatriots,
that not only was it going to be nearly impossible to mount the planned
assault on the Pyramid on Everest this year, it was going to be
unbearably difficult merely to keep the community going.

The whole Wolf pack was on the verge of panic.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a confused shouting behind Haendl. Groggily he turned and
looked; half a dozen Wolves were yelling and pointing at something in
the wet, muggy air.

It was an Eye, hanging silent and featureless over the center of the

Haendl took a deep breath and mustered command of himself. "Frampton!"
he ordered one of his lieutenants. "Get the helicopter with the
instruments here. We'll take some more readings."

Frampton opened his mouth, then looked more closely at Haendl and,
instead, began to talk on his pocket radio. Haendl knew what was in the
man's mind--it was in his own, too.

What was the use of more readings? From the time of Tropile's
Translation on, they had had a superfluity of instrument readings on
the forces and auras that surrounded the Eyes--yes, and on Translations
themselves, too. Before Tropile, there had never been an Eye seen in
Princeton, much less an actual Translation. But things were different
now. Everything was different. Eyes roamed restlessly around day and

Some of the men nearest the Eye were picking up rocks and throwing
them at the bobbing vortex in the air. Haendl started to yell at them
to stop, then changed his mind. The Eye didn't seem to be affected--as
he watched, one of the men scored a direct hit with a cobblestone. The
stone went right through the Eye, without sound or effect; why not let
them work off some of their fears in direct action?

There was a fluttering of vanes and the copter with the instruments
mounted on it came down in the middle of the street, between Haendl and
the Eye.

It was all very rapid from then on.

The Eye swooped toward Haendl. He couldn't help it; he ducked. That
was useless, but it was also unnecessary, for he saw in a second that
it was only partly the motion of the Eye toward him that made it loom
larger; it was also that the Eye itself was growing.

An Eye was perhaps the size of a football, as near as anyone could
judge. This one got bigger, bigger. It was the size of a roc's egg,
the size of a whale's blunt head. It stopped and hovered over the
helicopter, while the man inside frantically pointed lenses and meters--


Not a man this time--Translation had gone beyond men. The whole
helicopter vanished, man, instruments, spinning vanes and all.

Haendl picked himself up, sweating, shocked beyond sleepiness.

The young man named Frampton said fearfully: "Haendl, what do we do

"Do?" Haendl stared at him absently. "Why, kill ourselves, I guess."

He nodded soberly, as though he had at last attained the solution of a
difficult problem. Then he sighed.

"Well, one thing before that," he said. "I'm going to Wheeling. We
Wolves are licked; maybe the Citizens can help us now."

       *       *       *       *       *

Roget Germyn, of Wheeling, a Citizen, received the message in the
chambers that served him as a place of business. He had a visitor
waiting for him at home.

Germyn was still Citizen and he could not quickly break off the
pleasant and interminable discussion he was having with a prospective
client over a potential business arrangement. He apologized for the
interruption caused by the message the conventional five times,
listened while his guest explained once more the plan he had come to
propose in full, then turned his cupped hands toward himself in the
gesture of Denial of Adequacy. It was the closest he could come to
saying no.

On the other side of the desk, the Citizen who had come to propose an
investment scheme immediately changed the subject by inviting Germyn
and his Citizeness to a Sirius Viewing, the invitation in the form of
rhymed couplets. He had wanted to transact his business very much, but
he couldn't _insist_.

Germyn got out of the invitation by a Conditional Acceptance in proper
form, and the man left, delayed only slightly by the Four Urgings to
Stay. Almost immediately, Germyn dismissed his clerk and closed his
office for the day by tying a triple knot in a length of red cord
across the open door.

When he got to his home, he found, as he had suspected, that the
visitor was Haendl.

There was much doubt in Citizen Germyn's mind about Haendl. The man had
nearly admitted to being Wolf, and how could a citizen overlook that?
But in the excitement of Gala Tropile's Translation, there had been no
hue and cry. Germyn had permitted the man to leave. And now?

He reserved judgment. He found Haendl distastefully sipping tea in
the living room and attempting to keep up a formal conversation with
Citizeness Germyn. He rescued him, took him aside, closed a door--and

He was astonished at the change in the man. Before, Haendl had been
bouncy, aggressive, quick-moving--the very qualities least desired in
a Citizen, the mark of the Son of the Wolf. Now he was none of these
things, but he looked no more like a Citizen for all that; he was
haggard, tense.

He said, with an absolute minimum of protocol: "Germyn, the last time I
saw you, there was a Translation. Gala Tropile, remember?"

"I remember," Citizen Germyn said. Remember! It had hardly left his

"And you told me there had been others. Are they still going on?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Germyn said: "There have been others." He was trying to speak
directly, to match this man Haendl's speed and forcefulness. It
was hardly good manners, but it had occurred to Citizen Germyn
that there were times when manners, after all, were not the most
important thing in the world. "There were two in the past few days.
One was a woman--Citizeness Baird; her husband's a teacher. She was
Viewing Through Glass with four or five other women at the time. She
just--disappeared. She was looking through a green prism at the time,
if that helps."

"I don't know if it helps or not. Who was the other one?"

Germyn shrugged. "A man named Harmane. No one saw it. But they heard
the thunderclap, or something like a thunderclap, and he was missing."
He thought for a moment. "It is a little unusual, I suppose. Two in a

Haendl said roughly: "Listen, Germyn. It isn't just two. In the past
thirty days, within the area around here and in _one other place_,
there have been at least fifty. In _two_ places, do you understand?
Here and in Princeton. The rest of the world--nothing much; a few
Translations here and there. But just in these two communities, fifty.
Does that make sense?"

Citizen Germyn thought. "--No."

"No. And I'll tell you something else. Three of the--well, victims have
been children under the age of five. One was too young to walk. And the
most recent Translation wasn't a person at all. It was a helicopter.
Now figure that out, Germyn. What's the explanation for Translations?"

Germyn was gaping. "Why--you Meditate, you know. On Connectivity. The
idea is that once you've grasped the Essential Connectivity of All
Things, you become One with the Cosmic Whole. But I don't see how a
baby or a machine--"

"No, of course you don't. Remember Glenn Tropile?"


"He's the link," Haendl said grimly. "When he got Translated, we
thought it was a big help, because he had the consideration to do it
right under our eyes. We got enough readings to give us a clue as to
what, physically speaking, Translation is all about. That was the first
real clue and we thought he'd done us a favor. Now I'm not so sure."

He leaned forward. "Every person I know of who was Translated was
someone Tropile knew. The three kids were in his class at the nursery
school--we put him there for a while to keep him busy, when he first
came to us. Two of the men he bunked with are gone; the mess boy who
served him is gone; his wife is gone. Meditation? No, Germyn. I know
most of those people. Not a damned one of them would have spent a
moment Meditating on Connectivity to save his life. And what do you
make of that?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Swallowing hard, Germyn said: "I just remembered. That man Harmane--"

"What about him?"

"The one who was Translated last week. He also knew Tropile. He was the
Keeper of the House of the Five Regulations when Tropile was there."

"You see? And I'll bet the woman knew Tropile, too." Haendl got up
fretfully, pacing around. "Here's the thing, Germyn. I'm licked. You
know what I am, don't you?"

Germyn said levelly: "I believe you to be Wolf."

"You believe right. That doesn't matter any more. You don't like
Wolves. Well, I don't like you. But this thing is too big for me to
care about that any more. Tropile has started something happening,
and what the end of it is going to be, I can't tell. But I know this:
We're not safe, either of us. Maybe you still think Translation is
a fulfillment. I don't; it scares me. _But it's going to happen to
me_--and to you. It's going to happen to everybody who ever had
anything to do with Glenn Tropile, unless we can somehow stop it--and I
don't know how. Will you help me?"

Germyn, trying not to tremble when all his buried fears screamed
_Wolf!_, said honestly: "I'll have to sleep on it."

Haendl looked at him for a moment. Then he shrugged. Almost to himself,
he said: "Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe we can't do anything about it
anyhow. All right. I'll come back in the morning, and if you've made up
your mind to help, we'll start trying to make plans. And if you've made
up your mind the other way--well, I guess I'll have to fight off a few
Citizens. Not that I mind that."

Germyn stood up and bowed. He began the ritual Four Urgings.

"Spare me that," Haendl growled. "Meanwhile, Germyn, if I were you, I
wouldn't make any long-range plans. You may not be here to carry them

Germyn asked thoughtfully: "And if you were _you_?"

"I'm not making any," Haendl said grimly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Citizen Germyn, feeling utterly tainted with the scent of the Wolf
in his home, tossed in his bed, sleepless. His eyes were wide open,
staring at the dark ceiling. He could hear his wife's decorous
breathing from the foot of the bed--soft and regular, it should have
been lulling him to sleep.

It was not. Sleep was very far away.

Germyn was a brave enough man, as courage is measured among Citizens.
That is to say, he had never been afraid, though it was true that there
had been very little occasion. But he was afraid now. He didn't want to
be Translated.

The Wolf, Haendl, had put his finger on it: _Perhaps you still think
Translation is a fulfillment._ Translation--the reward of Meditation,
the gift bestowed on only a handful of gloriously transfigured persons.
That was one thing. But the sort of Translation that was now involved
was nothing like that--not if it happened to children; not if it
happened to Gala Tropile; not if it happened to a machine.

And Glenn Tropile was involved in it.

Germyn turned restlessly.

If people who knew Glenn Tropile were likely to be Translated, and
people who Meditated on Connectivity were likely to be Translated, then
people who knew Glenn Tropile and didn't want to be Translated had
better not Meditate on Connectivity.

It was very difficult to _not_ think of Connectivity.

Endlessly he calculated sums in arithmetic in his mind, recited the
Five Regulations, composed Greeting Poems and Verses on Viewing.
And endlessly he kept coming back to Tropile, to Translation, to
Connectivity. He didn't _want_ to be Translated. But still the thought
had a certain lure. What was it like? Did it hurt?

Well, probably not, he speculated. It was very fast, according to
Haendl's report--if you could believe what an admitted Son of the Wolf
reported. But Germyn had to.

Well, if it was fast--at that kind of speed, he thought, perhaps you
would die instantly. Maybe Tropile was dead. Was that possible? No, it
didn't seem so; after all, there was the fact of the connection between
Tropile and so many of the recently Translated. What was the connection
there? Or, generalizing, what connections were involved in--

He rescued himself from the dread word and summoned up the first image
that came to mind. It happened to be Tropile's wife--Gala Tropile, who
had disappeared herself, in this very room.

Gala Tropile. He stuck close to the thought of her, a little pleased
with himself. That was the trick of _not_ thinking of Connectivity--to
think so hard and fully of something else as to leave no room in the
mind for the unwanted thought. He pictured every line of her face,
every wave of her stringy hair....

It was very easy that way. He was pleased.


On Mount Everest, the sullen stream of off-and-on responses that was
"mind" to the Pyramid had taken note of a new input signal.

It was not a critical mind. Its only curiosity was a restless urge to
shove-and-haul, and there was no shove-and-haul about what to it was
perhaps the analogue of a man's hunger pang. The input signal said: _Do
thus._ It obeyed.

Call it craving for a new flavor. Where once it had patiently waited
for the state that Citizens knew as Meditation on Connectivity, and the
Pyramid itself perhaps knew as a stage of ripeness in the fruits of its
wristwatch mine, now it wanted a different taste. Unripe? Overripe? At
any rate, different.

Accordingly, the high-frequency wheep, wheep changed in tempo and in
key, and the bouncing echoes changed and ... there was a ripe one to be
plucked. (Its name was Innison.) And there another. (Gala Tropile.)
And another, another--oh, many others--a babe from Tropile's nursery
school and the Wheeling jailer and a woman Tropile once had coveted on
the street.

Once the ruddy starch-to-sugar mark of ripeness had been what human
beings called Meditation on Connectivity and the Pyramids knew as
a convenient blankness. Now the sign was a sort of empathy with
the Component named Tropile. It didn't matter to the Pyramid on
Mount Everest. It swung its electrostatic scythe and the--call them
Tropiletropes--were harvested.

It did not occur to the Pyramid on Mount Everest that a Component might
be directing its actions. How could it?

Perhaps the Pyramid on Mount Everest wondered, if it knew how to
wonder, when it noticed that different criteria were involved in
selecting components these days. If it knew how to "notice." Surely
even a Pyramid might wonder when, without warning or explanation,
its orders were changed--not merely to harvest a different sort of
Component, but to drag along with the flesh-and-blood needful parts
a clanking assortment of machinery and metal, as began to happen.
Machines? Why would the Pyramids need to Translate machines?

But why, on the other hand, would a Pyramid bother to question a
directive, even if it were able to?

In any case, it didn't. It swung its scythe and gathered in what it was
caused to gather in.

Men sometimes eat green fruit and come to regret it. Was it the same
with Pyramids?

       *       *       *       *       *

And Citizen Germyn fell into the unsuspected trap. Avoiding
Connectivity, he thought of Glenn Tropile--and the unfelt h-f pulses
found him out.

He didn't see the Eye that formed above him. He didn't feel the
gathering of forces that formed his trap. He didn't know that he was
seized, charged, catapulted through space, caught, halted and drained.
It happened too fast.

One moment he was in his bed; the next moment he was--elsewhere. There
wasn't anything in between.

It had happened to hundreds of thousands of Components before him, but,
for Citizen Germyn, what happened was in some ways different. He was
not embalmed in nutrient fluid, formed and programmed to take his part
in the Pyramid-structure, for he had not been selected by the Pyramid
but by that single wild Component, Tropile. He arrived conscious, awake
and able to move.

He stood up in a red-lit chamber. Vast thundering crashes of metal
buffeted his ears. Heat sprang little founts of perspiration on his

It was too much, too much to take in at once. Oily-skinned madmen,
naked, were capering and shouting at him. It took him a moment to
realize that they were not devils; this was not Hell; he was not dead.

"This way!" they were bawling at him. "Come on, hurry it up!"

He reeled, following their directions, across an unpleasantly warm
floor, staggering and falling--the binary planet was a quarter denser
than Earth--until he got his balance.

The capering madmen led him through a door--or sphincter or trap;
it was not like anything he had ever seen. But it was a portal of a
sort, and on the other side of it was something closer to sanity. It
was another room, and though the light was still red, it was a paler,
calmer red and the thundering ironmongery was a wall away. The madmen
were naked, yes, but they were not mad. The oil on their skins was only
the sheen of sweat.

"Where--where am I?" he gasped.

Two voices, perhaps three or four, were all talking at once. He could
make no sense of it. Citizen Germyn looked about him. He was in a sort
of chamber that formed a part of a machine that existed for the unknown
purposes of the Pyramids on the binary planet. And he was alive--and
not even alone.

He had crossed more than a million miles of space without feeling a
thing. But when what the naked men were saying began to penetrate, the
walls lurched around him.

It was true; he had been Translated.

He looked dazedly down at his own bare body, and around at the room,
and then he realized they were still talking: "--when you get your
bearings. Feel all right now? Come on, Citizen, snap out of it!"

Germyn blinked.

Another voice said peevishly: "Tropile's got to find some other place
to bring them in. That foundry isn't meant for human beings. Look at
the shape this one is in! Some time somebody's going to come in and we
won't spot him in time and--pfut!"

The first voice said: "Can't be helped. Hey! Are you all right?"

Citizen Germyn looked at the naked man in front of him and took a deep
breath of hot, sour air. "Of course I'm all right," he said.

The naked man was Haendl.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Tropile-petal "said" to the Alla Narova-petal: "Got another one!
It's Citizen Germyn!" The petal fluttered feebly in soundless laughter.

The Alla Narova-petal "said": "Glenn, come back! The whole
propulsion-pneuma just went out of circuit!"

Tropile pulled his attention away from his human acquisitions in
the chamber off the foundry and allowed himself to fuse with the
woman-personality. Together they reached out and explored along the
pathways they had laboriously traced. The propulsion-pneuma was the
complex of navigation-computers, drive generators, course-vectoring
units that their own unit had been originally part of--until Glenn
Tropile, by waking its Components, had managed to divert it for
purposes of his own. The two of them reached out into it--

Dead end.

It was out of circuit, as Alla Narova had said. One whole limb of their
body--their new, jointly tenanted body, that spanned a whole planet and
reached across space to Earth--had been lopped off. Quick, quick, they
separated, traced separate paths. They came together again: Still dead

The dyad that was Tropile and the woman reached out to touch the others
in the snowflake and communicated--not in words, not in anything as
slow and as opaque as words: _The Pyramids have lopped off another
circuit._ The compound personality of the snowflake considered its
course of action, reached its decision, acted. Quick, quick, three of
the other members of the snowflake darted out of the collective unit
and went about isolating and tracing the exact area that had been

Tropile: "We expected this. They couldn't help noticing sooner or
later that something was going wrong."

Alla Narova: "But, Glenn, suppose they cut _us_ out of circuit? We're
stuck here. We can't move. We can't get out of the tanks. If they know
that we are the source of their trouble--"

Tropile: "Let them know! That's what we've got the others here for!" He
was cocky now, self-assured, fighting. For the first time in his life,
he was free to fight--to let his Wolf blood strive to the utmost--and
he knew what he was fighting for. This wasn't a matter of Haendl's
pitiful tanks and carbines against the invulnerable Pyramids; this was
the invulnerability of the whole Pyramid system turned against the

It was a warning, the fact that the Pyramids had become alert to
danger, had begun cutting sections of their planetary communications
system out of the main circuit. But as a warning, it didn't frighten
Tropile; it only spurred him to action.

Quick, quick, he and the woman-personality dissolved, sped away.
Figuratively they sought out the most restive Components they could
find, shook them by the shoulder, tried to wake them. Actually--well,
what is "actually?" The physical fact was surely that they didn't
move at all, for they were bound to their tank and to the surgical
joinings, each to each, at their temples. No crawling child in a
playpen was more helplessly confined than Tropile and Alla Narova and
the others.

And yet no human being had ever been more free.

       *       *       *       *       *

Regard that imbecile servant of Everyman, the thermostat.

He runs the furnace in Everyman's house, he measures the doneness of
Everyman's breakfast toast, he valves the cooling fluid through the
radiator of Everyman's car. If Everyman's house stays too hot or too
cold, the man swears at the lackwit switch and maybe buys a new one
to plug in. But he never, never thinks that his thermostat might be
plotting against him.

Thermostat : Man = Man : Pyramid. Only that and nothing more. It was
not in the nature of a Pyramid to think that its Components, once
installed, could reprogram themselves. No Component ever had. (But
before Glenn Tropile, no Component had been Wolf.)

When Tropile found himself, he found others. They were men and women,
real persons with gonads and dreams. They had been caught at the moment
of blankness--yes; and frozen into that shape, true. But they were
palimpsest personalities on which the Pyramids had programmed their
duties. Underneath the Pyramids' cabalistic scrawl, the men and women
still remained. They had only to be reached.

Tropile and Alla Narova reached them--one at a time, then by scores.
The Pyramids made that possible. The network of communication that they
had created for their own purposes encompassed every cell of the race
and all its works. Tropile reached out from his floating snowflake
and went where he wished--anywhere within the binary planet; to the
brooding Pyramid on Earth; through the Eyes, wherever he chose on
Earth's surface.

Physically, he was scarcely able to move a muscle. But, oh, the soaring
range of his mind and vision!

       *       *       *       *       *

Citizen Germyn was past shock, but just the same it was uncomfortable
to be in a room with several dozen other persons, all of them naked.
Uncomfortable. Once it would have been brain-shattering. For a Citizen
to see his own Citizeness unclothed was gross lechery. To be part of a
mixed and bare-skinned group was unthinkable. Or had been. Now it only
made him uneasy.

He said numbly to Haendl: "Citizen, I pray you tell me what sort of
place this is."

"Later," said Haendl gruffly, and led him out of the way. "Stay put,"
he advised. "We're busy."

And that was true. Something was going on, but Citizen Germyn couldn't
make out exactly what it was. The naked people were worrying out a
distribution of some sort of supplies. There were tools and there were
also what looked to Citizen Germyn's unsophisticated eyes very much
like guns. Guns? It was foolishness to think they were guns, Citizen
Germyn told himself strongly. _Nobody_ had guns. He touched the floor
with an exploratory hand. It was warm and it shook with a nameless
distant vibration. He shuddered.

Haendl came back; yes, they were guns. Haendl was carrying one.

"Ours!" he crowed. "That Tropile must've looted our armory at
Princeton. By the looks of what's here, I doubt if he left a single
round of ammunition. What the hell, they're more use here!"

"But what are we going to do with _guns_?"

Haendl looked at him with savage amusement. "Shoot."

Citizen Germyn said: "Please, Citizen. Tell me what this is all about."

Haendl sat down next to him on the warm, quivering floor and began
fitting cartridges into a clip.

"We're fighting," he explained gleefully. "Tropile did it all. You've
been shanghaied and so have all the rest of us. Tropile's alive! He's
part of the Pyramid communications network--don't ask me how. But he's
there and he has been hauling men and weapons and God knows what all up
from Earth--you're on the binary planet now, you know--and we're going
to bust things up so the Pyramids will _never_ be able to put them back
together again. Understand? Well, it doesn't matter if you don't. All
you have to understand is that when I tell you to shoot this gun, you

Numbly, Citizen Germyn took the unfamiliar stock and barrel into his
hands. Muscles he had forgotten he owned straightened the limp curve of
his back, squared his shoulders and thrust out his chest.

It had been many generations since any of Citizen Germyn's people had
known the feeling of being an Armed Man.

A naked woman with wild hair and a full, soft figure came toward them,
jiggling in a way that agonized Citizen Germyn. He dropped his eyes to
his gun and kept them there.

She cried: "Orders from Tropile! We've got to form a party and blow
something up."

Haendl demanded: "Such as what?"

"I don't know what. I only know where. We've got a guide. And Tropile
particularly asked for you, Haendl. He said you'd enjoy it."

And enjoy it Haendl did--anticipation was all over his face.

       *       *       *       *       *

They formed a party of a dozen. They armed themselves with the guns
Tropile had levitated from the bulging warehouse at Princeton. They
supplied themselves with gray metal cans of something that Haendl said
were explosives, and with fuses and detonators to match, and they set
off--with their guide.

A guide! It was a shambling, fearsome monster!

When Citizen Germyn saw it, he had to fight an almost irresistible
temptation to be ill. Even the bare skins about him no longer mattered;
this new horror canceled them out.

"What--What--" he strangled, pointing.

Haendl laughed raucously. "That's Joey."

"What's Joey?"

"He works for us," said Haendl, grinning.

Joey was neither human nor beast; it was not Pyramid; it was nothing
Citizen Germyn had ever seen or imagined before. It crouched on
many-jointed limbs, and even so was twice the height of a man. Its ropy
arms and legs were covered with fine chitinous spines, laid on as close
as hairs in a pelt, and sharp as thorns. There was a layer of chitin
around its reddish eyes. What was more horrible than all, it spoke.

It said squeakily: "You all ready? Come on, snap it up! The Pyramids
have got something big building up and we've got to squash it."

Citizen Germyn whispered feverishly to Haendl: "That voice! It sounds
odd, yes--but isn't it Tropile's voice?"

"Sure it is! That's what old Joey is good for," said Haendl. "Tropile
says he's telepathic, whatever that is. Makes it handy for us."

And it did. Telepathy was the alien's very special use to Glenn
Tropile, for what Joey was in fact was another Component, from a
previous wristwatch mine. Joey's planet had once circled a star never
visible from Earth; his home air was thin and his home sunlight was
weak, and in consequence his race had developed a species of telepathy
for communicating at long range. This was handy for the Pyramids,
because it simplified the wiring. And it was equally handy for Glenn
Tropile, once he managed to wake the creature--with its permission, he
could use its body as a sort of walkie-talkie in directing the tactics
of his shanghaied army.

That permission was very readily given. Joey remembered what the
Pyramids had done to its own planet.

"Come on!" ordered Joey in Tropile's filtered voice, and they hastened
through a straight and achingly cramped tunnel in single file, toward
what Tropile had said was their target.

They had nearly reached it when, abruptly, there was a thundering of
explosions ahead.

The party stopped, looked at each other, and got ready to move on more

At last it had started. The Pyramids were beginning to fight back.


Citizeness Roget Germyn, widow, woke from sleep like a well-mannered
cat on the narrow lower third of the bed that her training had taught
her to occupy, though it had been some days since her husband's
Translation had emptied the Citizen's two-thirds permanently.

Someone had tapped gently on her door.

"I am awake," she called, in a voice just sufficient to carry.

A quiet voice said: "Citizeness, there is exceptional opportunity to
Appreciate this morning. Come see, if you will. And I ask forgiveness
for waking you."

She recognized the voice; it was the wife of one of her neighbors.
The Citizeness made the appropriate reply, combining forgiveness and

She dressed rapidly, but with appropriate pauses for reflection and
calm, and stepped out into the street.

It was not yet daylight. Overhead, great sheets of soundless lightnings

Inside Citizeness Germyn long-unfelt emotions stirred. There was
something that was very like terror, and something that was akin to
love. This was a generation that had never seen the aurora, for the
ricocheting electron beams that cause it could not span the increasing
distance between the orphaned Earth and its primary, Old Sol, and the
small rekindled suns the Pyramids made were far too puny.

Under the sleeting aurora, small knots of Citizens stood about the
streets, their faces turned up to the sky and illuminated by the
distant light. It was truly an exceptional opportunity to Appreciate
and they were all making the most of it.

Conscientiously, Citizeness Germyn sought out another viewer with whom
to exchange comments on the spectacle above. "It is more bright than
meteors," she said judiciously, "and lovelier than the freshly kindled

"Sure," said the woman. Citizeness Germyn, jolted, looked more closely.
It was the Tropile woman--Gala? Was that her name? And what sort of
name was _that_? But it fitted her well; she was the one who had been
wife to Wolf and, more likely than not, part Wolf herself.

Still, the case was not proved. Citizeness Germyn said honestly: "I
have never seen a sight to compare with this in all my life."

Gala Tropile said indifferently: "Yeah. Funny things are happening all
the time these days, have you noticed? Ever since Glenn turned out to
be--" She stopped.

Citizeness Germyn rapidly diagnosed her embarrassment and acted to
cover it up. "That is so. I have seen Eyes a hundred times and yet
has there been a Translation with the Eyes? No. But there have been
Translations. It is queer."

"I suppose so," Gala Tropile said, looking upward at the display. She

Over their heads, a formed Eye was drifting slowly about, but neither
of the women noticed it. The shifting lights in the sky obscured it.

"I wonder what causes that stuff," Gala Tropile said idly.

Citizeness Germyn made no attempt to answer. It was not the sort of
question that would normally have occurred to her and therefore not a
sort to which she could reply.

Moreover, it was not the question closest to Gala Tropile's heart at
that moment--nor, for that matter, the question closest to Citizeness
Germyn's. The question that underlay the thoughts of both was: _I
wonder what happened to my husband._

It was strange, but true, that the answers to all their questions were
very nearly the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Alla-Narova mind said sharply: "Glenn, come back!"

Tropile withdrew from scanning the distant dark street. He laughed
soundlessly. "I was watching my wife. God, we're giving them fits down
there! The Pyramids must be churning things up, too--the sky is full of
auroral displays. Looks like there's plenty of h-f bouncing around the

"Pay attention!" the Alla-Narova mind commanded.

"All right." Obediently, Tropile returned to the war he was waging.

It was a strange conflict, strangely fought. Tropile's mind searched
the abysses and tunnels of the Pyramid planet, and what he sensed or
saw was immediately communicated to all of the awakened Components who
were his allies.

It was a godlike position. Was he sane? There was no knowing. Sanity
no longer meant anything to Tropile. He was beyond such human affairs
as lunacy or its reverse. An insane man is one who is out of joint
with his environment. Tropile was himself his environment. His mind
encompassed two planets and the space between. He saw with a thousand
eyes. He worked with a thousand hands.

And he struck mighty blows.

The weakness of a network that reaches everywhere is that it is
everywhere vulnerable. If a teletype repeater in Omaha garbles a single
digit, printing units in Atlanta and Bangor will type out errors.
Tropile, by striking at the Pyramids' net at a thousand points, garbled
their communications and made them nearly useless. More, he took the
Pyramid network for his own. The Tropile-pulse sped through the neurone
guides of the Pyramid net, and what it encountered it mastered, and
what it mastered it changed.

The Pyramids discovered that they had been attacked.

Frantically (if they felt frenzy), the Pyramids replaced Components;
the Tropile-pulse woke the new ones. Unbelievingly (did they know
how to "believe"?), the Pyramids isolated contaminated circuits; the
Tropile-pulse bypassed them.

Desperately (or joyously or uffishly--one term fits exactly as well as
another), the Pyramids returned to shove-and-haul, and there was much
destruction, and some Components died.

But by then, the Components had reprogrammed themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first job had been the matter of finding hands for the
Tropile-brain to work with. Bring hands in, then! Tropile commanded
the Pyramids' network and obediently it was done. The Translation
mechanism, the electrostatic scythe that had harvested so many crops
from the wristwatch mines, suffered a change and went to work not for
the pickers but for the fruit.

The essential change in the operation of that particular pneuma had
been simple; first, to "harvest" or "Translate" the men and women
Tropile wanted as fighters instead of the meditative Citizen kind.
Second, to divert the new arrivals to where they would not go straight
to deep-freeze. It happened that the only alternate space Tropile could
find was a sort of foundry that was nearly Hell, but that was only a
detail. The important thing was that new helpers were arriving, with
minds of their own and the capacity to move and act.

Then Tropile needed to communicate with them. He found the alien,
ropy-limbed Component whose name vaguely approached "Joey." Joey's
limited sense of telepathy was needed and so, with enormous difficulty,
Tropile and Alla Narova, combined, managed to reach and wake it.

And so he had an army, captured humans for troops, an awakened Joey
for liaison.

Tropile was lord of two worlds. Not only the Pyramids were under his
thumb, but his own fellow humans whom he had drafted into his service.
They ate when a captured circuit he controlled fed synthetic mush into
troughs for them. They breathed because a captured circuit he directed
created air. They would return to Earth when--and only when--a captured
circuit he operated sent them home.


By what standards?

And what difference did it make?


With a series of grinding shocks, like an enormous earthquake-fault
relieving a strain, the Pyramids began to fight back.

"Tropile!" the Alla-Narova mind called urgently.

Tropile flashed to the trouble spot. Through eyes that were not his
own, Tropile scanned the honeycombed world of the Pyramids. There was
an area where huge and ancient vehicles lay covered with the slow dust
of centuries, and the vehicles were beginning to move.

Caterpillar-treaded hauling machines were loading themselves with what
Tropile judged were quickly synthesized explosives. Almost forgotten
wheeled vehicles were creeping mindlessly out of nearly abandoned
storage sections and lumbering painfully along the tunnels of the

"Coming toward us," Tropile diagnosed dispassionately.

Alla Narova queried: "They mean to fight?"

"Of course. You see if you can penetrate the circuit that controls
them. I--" already he was flashing away--"I'll get to the boys through

It was queer, looking through the eyes of the alien they called Joey;
colors were all wrong, perspective was flat. But he could see, though
cloudily. He saw Haendl joyously fitting a bayonet--_a bayonet!_--to
a rifle; he saw Citizen Germyn, naked but square-shouldered, puffing
valiantly along in the rear.

Tropile said through the strange vocal cords that belonged to the
alien: "You'll have to hurry." (Strange to speak in words again!) "The
Pyramids are heading toward the chambers where the Components are kept.
I think they mean to kill us."

He flashed away, located the area, flashed back. "You'll have to go
without me--I mean without Joey-me. The only way I see to get there is
through a narrow little ventilation tunnel--I guess ventilation is what
it was for."

Quickly (but against the familiar race of thought, it seemed
agonizingly slow) he laid out the route for them and left; it was up
to them. Watching from a dozen viewpoints at once, he saw the slow
creep of the Pyramids' machines and the slower intersecting march of
his little army. He studied the alternate cross routes and contrived
to block some of them by interfering with the control-circuits of the
emergency doors and portals.

But there were some circuits he could not control. The Pyramids
had withdrawn whole sections of their net and areas of the
planet were now hidden from him entirely. Sections of the vast
maintenance-propulsion-manufacturing complex were no longer subject to
his interference or control.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be, Tropile thought dispassionately, a rather close thing.
The chances were perhaps six out of ten that his hastily assembled
task force would be able to intercept the convoy of automatic machines
before it could reach the racks of nutrient tanks.

And if they were not in time?

Tropile almost laughed out loud, if that had been possible. Why, then,
his body would be destroyed! How trivial a thing to worry about! He
began to forget he owned a body; surely it was someone else's bone and
tissue that lay floating in the eight-branched snowflake. He knew that
this was not so. He knew that if his body were killed, he would die.
And yet there was no sense of fear, no personal involvement. It was an
interesting problem in scheduling and nothing more.

Would the human fighters get there in time?

Perhaps the automatic machines had senses, for as the first of the
humans burst into the tunnel they were using, a few hundred yards ahead
of the lead load-carrier, the machines shuddered to a stop. Pause for
a second; then, laboriously, they began to back toward the nearest of
the side passages that Tropile had been unable to block. He scanned it
hurriedly. Good, good! The circuits surrounding the passage proper were
out of his reach, but it led to another passage, an abandoned pipeline
of sorts, it seemed to be. And _that_ he could reach....

Patiently (how slowly the machines crept along!) he waited until one of
the Pyramids' machines bearing explosives passed through an enormous
valve in the line--and then the valve was thrown.

The explosion triggered every vehicle in the line. The damage was

Scratch one threat from the Pyramids--

And almost at once, there was another urgent call from Alia Narova:
"Tropile, quickly!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pyramids were the mightiest race of warriors the Universe had ever
known. They were invulnerable and unconquerable, except from within.
Like Alexander the Great, they had met every enemy and whipped them
all. And, like dying Alexander, they writhed and raged against the
tiny, unseen bacillus within themselves.

Blindly, almost suicidally, the Pyramids returned to their ancient
principle of shove-and-haul.

The geography of the binary planet was like a hive of bees, nearly
featureless on the surface, but internally a congeries of tunnels,
chambers, warrens, rooms, tubes and amphitheaters. Machinery and metal
Components were everywhere thick under the planet's crust. The more
delicate and more useful Components of flesh and blood were, to a
degree, concentrated in a few areas....

And one of those areas had disappeared.

Tropile, battering futilely with his mind at the periphery of the
vanished area, cried sharply to Alla Narova and the others: "It looks
as though they've broken a piece right out of the planet! Everything
stops here--there's a physical gap which I can't cross. Hurry, one of
you--what was this section for?"


"I see." Tropile hesitated, confused for the first time since his
awakening. "Wait."

He retreated to the snowflake and communed with the other
eight-branched members, now become something that resembled his general
staff. He told them--most of them already knew, but the telling took so
little time that it was simpler to go through it from beginning to end:

"The Pyramids attempted to cut the propulsion-pneuma out of circuit
some seconds or days ago and were unsuccessful; we awakened additional
Components and were able to maintain contact with it. They have now
apparently cut it loose from the planet itself. I do not think it is
far, but there is a physical space between."

"The importance of the propulsion-pneuma is this: It controls the
master generators of electrostatic force, which are used both to
move this planet and ours, and to perform the act of Translation. If
the Pyramids control it, they may be able to take us out of circuit,
perhaps back to Earth, perhaps throwing us into space, where we will
die. The question for decision: How can we counteract this move?"

       *       *       *       *       *

A rush of voices all spoke at once; it was no trick for Tropile and the
others to sort them out and follow the arguments of each, but it cannot
be reproduced.

At last, one said: "There is a way. I will do it."

It was Alla Narova.

"What is the way?" Tropile demanded, curiously alarmed.

"I shall go with them, trace the areas the Pyramids are attempting to
isolate, place my entire self--" by this she meant her "concentration,"
her "psyche," that part of all of them which flashed along the neurone
guides unhampered by flesh or distance--"in the most likely point they
will next cut loose. And then I shall cause the propulsion units on the
severed sections to force them back into circuit."

Tropile objected: "But you don't know what will happen! We have never
been cut off from our physical bodies, Alla Narova. It may be death. It
may not be possible at all. You don't know!"

Alla Narova thought a smile and a farewell. She said: "No, I do not."
And then, "Good-by, Tropile."

She had gone.

Furiously, Tropile hurled himself after her, but she was quick as
he, too quick to catch; she was gone. _Foolishness, foolishness!_ he
shouted silently. How could she do an insane, chancy thing like this?

And yet what else was there to do? They were all ignorant babes,
temporarily successful because there had been no defense against them,
for who expects babes to rise up in rebellion? They didn't _know_.
For all they could guess or imagine, the Pyramids had an effective
counter for any move they might make. Temporary success meant nothing.
It was the final decision that counted, when either the Pyramids were
vanquished or the men, and what steps were needed to make that decision
favor the men were anyone's guess--Alla Narova's was as good as his.

Tropile could only watch and wait.

Through a great many viewpoints and observers, he was able to see
roughly what happened.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a section of the planet next the severed chunk where the mind
and senses of Alla Narova lay coiled for a moment--and were gone. For
what it had accomplished, her purpose succeeded. She had been taken.
She was out of circuit.

The overwhelming consciousness of loss that flooded through Glenn
Tropile was something outside of all his experience.

Next to him in the snowflake, the body which he had learned to think
of as the body of Alla Narova twisted sharply as though waking from a
dream--and lay flaccid, floating in the fluid.

"Alla Narova! _Alla Narova!_"

There was no answer.

A voice came piercingly: "Tropile! Here now, quickly!"

Good-by, Alla Narova! He flashed away to see what the other voice had
found. Great mindless boulders were chipping away from the crust of the
binary planet and whirling like midges in the void around it.

"What is it?" cried one of the others.

Tropile had no answer. It was the Pyramids, clearly. Were they
attempting to demolish their own planet? Were they digging away at the
crust to uncover the maggot's-nest of awakened Components beneath?

"The air!" cried Tropile sharply, and knew it was true. What the
Pyramids were up to was a simple delousing operation. If you could
destroy their own machinery for maintaining air and pressure and
temperature, they would destroy all living things within--including
Haendl and Citizen Germyn and thus, in the final analysis, including
the bodies of Tropile and his awakened fellows. For without the mobile
troops to defend their helpless cocoons against the machines of the
Pyramids, the limp bodies could be destroyed as easily as a larva under
a farmer's heel.

So Alla Narova had failed.

Alone against the Pyramids, she had been unable to bring the recaptured
sections back into the circuit that Tropile's Components now dominated.
It was the end of hope; but it was not the fear of defeat and
damnation for the Earth that paralyzed Tropile. It was Alla Narova,
gone from him forever.

The Pyramids were too strong.

And yet, he thought, quickening, they had been too strong before and
still a weak spot had been found!

"Think," he ordered himself desperately.

And then again: "Think!" Components stirred restlessly around him,
questioning. "Think!" he cried mightily. "All of you, think! Think of
your lives and hopes!





The Components were reaching toward him now, wonderingly. He commanded
them violently: "Do it--concentrate, wish, think! Let your minds run
free and think of Earth, pleasant grass and warm sun! Think of loving
and sweat and heartbreak! Think of death and birth! _Think_, for the
love of heaven, _think_!"

And the answer was not in sound, but it was deafening.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the cut-off sections, Alla Narova's soaring mind lay trapped. It
had not been enough; she could not force her will against the dull
inflexibility of the Pyramids....

Until that inflexible will began to waver.

There was a leakage of thought.

It maddened and baffled the Pyramids. The whole neuronic network was
resounding to a babble of thoughts and emotions that, to a Pyramid,
were utterly demented! The rousing Component minds throbbed with urge
and emotion that were new to Pyramid experience. What could a Pyramid
make of a human's sex drive? Or of the ropy-armed aliens' passionate
deification of the Egg? What of hunger and thirst and the blazing
Wolf-need for odds and advantage that streamed out of such as Tropile?

They wavered, unsure. Their reactions were slow and very confused.

For Alla Narova succeeded in her purpose. She was able to reach out
across the space and barrier to Tropile and the propulsion-pneuma was
back in circuit. The section that controlled the master generators of
the electronic scythe lay under his hands.

"Now!" he cried, and all of the Components reached out to grasp and

"Now!" And the central control was theirs; the full flood of power from
the generators was at their command.

"Now! Now! Now!" And they reached out, with a fat pencil of
electrostatic force and caught the sluggish, brooding Pyramid on Mount

It had squatted there without motion for more than two centuries. Now
it quivered and seemed to draw back, but the probing pencil caught
it, and whirled it, and hurled it up and out of Earth, into the tiny
artificial sun.

It struck with a flare of blue-white light.

"One gone!" gloated Tropile. "Alla Narova, are you there?"

"Still here," she called from a great distance. "Again?"


They reached for the Pyramids and found them, wherever they were. Some
lay close to the surface of the binary planet, and some were hundreds
of miles within, and a few, more desperate than the others or merely
assigned to the task, they discovered at the very portal of the single
spaceship of the Pyramids.

But wherever they were and whatever they chose to do, each one of them
was found and seized. They came wriggling and shaking, like trout
on an angler's line. They came bursting through layer on layer of
impenetrable metal that, nevertheless, they penetrated. They came by
the dozens and scores, and at last by the thousands; but they came.

There were more and more flares of blue-white light on the tiny sun--so
many that Tropile found himself scouring the planet in a desperate
search for one surviving Pyramid--not to destroy as an enemy, but to
keep for a specimen.

But he searched in vain.

The Pyramids were destroyed, gone. There was not one left. The Earth
lay open and free under its tiny sun for the first time in centuries.

It had been a strange war, but a short one.

And it was over.


Tropile swam up out of hammering blackness into daylight and pain.

It _hurt_. He was being born again--coming back to life--and it had
all the agonies of parturition, except that they were visited upon the
creature being born, himself. There were crushing blows at his temples
that pounded and pained like no other ache he had ever felt. He moaned

Someone moved blurrily over his shut eyes. He felt something sting
sharply at the base of his brain. Then it tingled, warming his scalp,
comforting it, numbing it. Pain went slowly away.

He opened his eyes.

Four masked torturers were leaning over him. He stared, not
understanding; but the eyes were not torturers' eyes, and in a moment
the masks came off. Surgical masks--and the faces beneath the masks
were human faces.

Surgeons and nurses.

He blinked at them and said groggily: "Where am we?" And then he

He was back on Earth; he was merely human again.

Someone came bustling into the room and he knew without looking that it
was Haendl.

"We beat them, Tropile!" Haendl cried. "No, cancel that. _You_ beat
them. We've destroyed every Pyramid there was, and a nice hot fire
they're making up there on the sun, eh? Beautiful work, Tropile.
Beautiful! You're a credit to the name of Wolf!"

The surgeons stirred uneasily, but apparently, Tropile thought, there
had been changes, for they did no more than that.

Tropile touched his temples fretfully and his fingers rested on gauze
bandages. It was true: he was out of circuit. The long reach of his
awareness was cut short at his skull; there was no more of the infinite
sweep and grasp he had known as part of the snowflake in the nutrient

"Too bad," he whispered hopelessly.

"What?" Haendl frowned. The nurse next to him whispered something and
he nodded. "Oh, I see. You're still a little groggy, right? Well,
that's not hard to understand--they tell me it was a tricky job of
surgery, separating you from that gunk the Pyramids had wired into
your head."

"Yes," said Tropile, and closed his ears, though Haendl went on
talking. After a while, Tropile pushed himself up and swung his legs
over the side of the operating table. He was naked. Once that would
have bothered him enormously, but now it didn't seem to matter.

"Find me some clothes, will you?" he asked. "I'm back. I might as well
start getting used to it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Glenn Tropile found that he was a returning hero, attracting a curious
sort of hero-worship wherever he went. It was not, he thought after
careful analysis, _exactly_ what he might have expected. For instance,
a man who went out and killed a dragon in the old days was received
with great gratitude and rejoicing, and if there was a prince's
daughter around, he married her. Fair enough, after all. And Tropile
had slain a foe more potent than any number of dragons.

But he tested the attention he received and found no gratitude in it.
It was odd.

What it was like most of all, he thought, was the sort of attention a
reigning baseball champion might get--in a country where cricket was
the national game. He had done something which, everybody agreed, was
an astonishing feat, but about which nobody seemed to care. Indeed,
there was an area of accusation in some of the attention he got.

Item: nearly ninety thousand erstwhile Components had now been brought
back to ambient life, most of them with their families long dead, all
of them a certain drain on the limited resources of the planet. And
what was Glenn Tropile going to do about it?

Item: the old distinctions between Citizen and Wolf no longer made much
sense now that so many Componentized Citizens had fought shoulder to
shoulder with Componentized Sons of the Wolf. But didn't Glenn Tropile
think he had gone a little too far _there_?

And item--looking pretty far ahead, of course, but still--well, just
what _was_ Glenn Tropile going to do about providing a new sun for
Earth, when the old one wore out and there would be no Pyramids to tend
the fire?

He sought refuge with someone who would understand him. That, he was
pleased to realize, was easy. He had come to know several persons
extremely well. Loneliness, the tortured loneliness of his youth, was
permanently behind him, _definitely_.

For example, he could seek out Haendl, who would understand everything
very well.

Haendl said: "It is a bit of a letdown, I suppose. Well, hell with
it; that's life." He laughed grimly. "Now that we've got rid of the
Pyramids, there's plenty of other work to be done. Man, we can breathe
now! We can plan ahead! This planet has maundered along in its stupid,
rutted, bogged-down course too many years already, eh? It's time we
took over! And we'll be doing it, I promise you. You know, Tropile--"
he sniggered--"I only regret one thing."

"What's that?" Tropile asked cautiously.

"All those weapons, out of reach! Oh, I'm not _blaming_ you. But you
can see what a lot of trouble it's going to be now, stocking up all
over again--and there isn't much we can do about bringing order to
this tired old world, is there, until we've got the guns to do it with

Tropile left him much sooner than he had planned.

       *       *       *       *       *

Citizen Germyn, then? The man had fought well, if nothing else. Tropile
went to find him and, for a moment at least, it was very good. Germyn
said: "I've been doing a lot of thinking, Tropile. I'm glad you're
here." He sent his wife for refreshments, and decorously she brought
them in, waited for exactly one minute, and then absented herself.

Tropile burst into speech as soon as she left. "I'm beginning to
realize what has happened to the human race, Germyn. I don't mean just
now, when we licked the Pyramids and so on. No, I mean hundreds of
years ago, what happened when the Pyramids arrived, and what has been
happening since. Did you ever hear of Indians, Germyn?"

Germyn frowned minutely and shrugged.

"They were, oh, hundreds _and_ hundreds of years ago. They were a
different color and not very civilized--of course, nobody was then. But
the Indians were nomads, herdsmen, hunters--like that. And the white
people came from Europe and wanted this country for themselves. So they
took it. And do you know something? I don't think the Indians ever knew
what hit them."

"_They_ didn't know about land grants and claiming territory for the
crown and church missions and expanding populations. They didn't have
those things. It's true that they learned pretty well, by and by--at
least they learned things like guns and horses and firewater; they
didn't have those things, either, but they could see some sense to
them, you know. But I really don't think the Indians ever knew exactly
what the Europeans were up to, until it was too late to matter.

"And it was the same with us and the Pyramids, only more so. What
the devil _did_ they want? I mean, yes, we found out what they did
with the Translated people. But what were they _up_ to? What did
they _think_? _Did_ they think? You know, I've got a kind of a crazy
idea--maybe it's not crazy, maybe it's the truth. Anyway, I've been
thinking. Suppose even the _Pyramids_ weren't the Pyramids? We never
talked to one of them. We never gave it a Rorschach or tested its knee
jerks. We licked them, but we don't know anything about them. We don't
even know if they were the guys that started the whole bloody thing, or
if they were just sort of super-sized Components themselves. Do we?

"And meanwhile, here's the human race, up against something that it not
only can't understand, same as the Indians couldn't the whites, but
that it can't begin to make a _guess_ about. At least the Indians had
a clue now and then, you know--I mean they'd see the sailors off the
great white devil ship making a beeline for the Indian women and so on,
and they'd begin to understand there was _something_ in common. But we
didn't have that much.

"So what did we do? Why, we did like the reservation Indians. We turned
inward. We got loaded on firewater--Meditation--and we closed our minds
to the possibility of ever expanding again. And there we were, all
tied up in our own knots. Most of the race rebelled against action,
because it had proven useless--Citizens. A few of the race rebelled
against _that_, because it was not only useless but _deliberately_
useless--Wolves. But they're the same kind of people. You've seen that
for yourself, right? And--"

Tropile stopped, suddenly aware that Citizen Germyn was looking tepidly

"What's the matter?" Tropile demanded harshly.

Citizen Germyn gave him the faint deprecatory Quirked Smile. "I know
you thought you were a Wolf, but--I told you I've been thinking a lot,
and that's what I was thinking about. _Truly_, Citizen, you do yourself
no good by pretending that you really thought you were Wolf. Clearly
you were not; the rest of us might have been fooled, but certainly you
couldn't fool yourself.

"Now here's what I think you ought to do. When I found you were coming,
I asked several rather well-known Citizens to come here later this
evening. There won't be any embarrassment. I only want you to talk to
them and set the record straight, so that this terrible blemish will no
longer be held against you. Times change and perhaps a certain latitude
is advisable now, but certainly you don't want--"

Tropile also left Citizen Germyn sooner than he had expected to.

       *       *       *       *       *

There remained Alla Narova, but, queerly, she was not to be found.

Instantly it became clear to Tropile that it was she above all whom he
needed to talk to. He remembered the shared beauty of their plunging
drive through the neurone-guides of the Pyramids, the linked and
inextricable flow of their thoughts and of their most hidden feelings.

She could not be very far, he thought numbly, cursing the blindness of
his human eyes, the narrowness of his human senses. Time was when two
worlds could not have hidden her from him; but that time was gone. He
walked from place to place with the angry resentful tread of one used
to riding--no, to flying, or faster than flying. He asked after her. He

And at last he found--not her. A note. At one of the stations where the
re-awakened Components were funneled back into human affairs, there was
a letter waiting for him:

    _I'm sure you will look for me. Please don't. You thought that
    there were no secrets between us, but there was one._

    _When I was Translated, I was sixty-one years old. Two years before
    that, I was caught in a collapsing building; my legs are useless,
    and I had grown quite fat. I do not want you to see me fat and

    _Alla Narova._

And that was that, and at last Glenn Tropile turned to the last person
of all those on his list who had known him well. Her name was Gala

       *       *       *       *       *

She had got thinner, he observed. They sat together quietly and there
was considerable awkwardness, but then he noticed that she was weeping.
Comforting her ended the awkwardness and he found that he was talking:

"It was like being a god, Gala! I swear, there's no feeling like it.
I mean it's like--well, maybe if you'd just had a baby, and invented
fire, and moved a mountain, and transmuted lead into gold--maybe if
you'd done all of those things, then you might have some idea. But I
was everywhere at once, Gala, and I could do anything! I fought a whole
world of Pyramids, do you realize that? Me! And now I come back to--"

He stopped her in time; it seemed she was about to weep again.

He went on: "No, Gala, don't misunderstand, I don't hold anything
against you. You were right to leave me in the field. What did I have
to offer you? Or myself, for that matter? And I don't know that I have
anything now, but--"

He slammed his fist against the table. "They talk about putting the
Earth back in its orbit! Why? And how? My God, Gala, we don't know
_where_ we are. Maybe we could tinker up the gadgets the Pyramids used
and turn our course backward--but do you know what Old Sol looks like?
I don't. I never saw it.

"And neither did you or anyone else alive.

"It was like being a god--

"And they talk about going back to things as they were--

"I'm sick of that kind of thinking! Wolves or Citizens, they're dead on
their feet and don't know it. I suppose they'll snap out of it in time,
but I can't wait. I won't live that long.


He paused and looked at her, confused.

Gala Tropile met her husband's eyes.

"Unless what, Glenn?"

He shrugged and turned away.

"Unless you go back, you mean." He stared at her; she nodded. "You want
to go back," she said, without stress. "You don't want to stay here
with me, do you? You want to go back into that tub of soup again and
float like a baby. You don't want to _have_ babies--you want to _be_

"Gala, you don't understand. We can own the Universe. I mean mankind
can. And I can do it. Why not? There's nothing for me--"

"That's right, Glenn. There's nothing for you here. Not any more."

He opened his mouth to speak, looked at her, spread his hands
helplessly. He didn't look back as he walked out the door, but he knew
that his back was turned not only on the woman who happened to be his
wife, but on mankind and all of the flesh.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was night outside, and warm. Tropile stood in the old street
surrounded by the low, battered houses--and he could make them new and
grand! He looked up at the stars that swung in constellations too new
and changeable to have names. _There_ was the Universe.

Words were no good; there was no explaining things in words. Naturally
he couldn't make Gala or anyone else understand, for flesh couldn't
grasp the realities of mind and spirit that were liberated from flesh.
Babies! A home! And the whole grubby animal business of eating and
drinking and sleeping! How could anyone ask to stay in the mire when
the stars challenged overhead?

He walked slowly down the street, alone in the night, an apprentice
godling renouncing mortality. There was nothing here for him, so why
this sense of loss?

Duty said (or was it Pride?): "Someone must give up the flesh to
control Earth's orbit and weather--why not you?"

Flesh said (or was it his soul--whatever that was?): "But you will be

He stopped, and for a moment he was poised between destiny and the

Until he became aware of footsteps behind him, running, and Gala's
voice: "Wait! Wait, Glenn! I want to go with you!"

And he turned and waited, but only until she caught up, and then he
went on.

But not--forever and always again--not alone.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wolfbane" ***

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