Major-General A. C. Hewell stood in the dimly lit, glassed in balcony that overlooked the glowing white wall that illumined the rows of Space Force men and women down below at their computerized control centers.

Beside General Hewell stood a young colonel wearing a compact headset, who now said, "Density seventeen, sir. Plus one."

Hewell nodded, and one of the other two men in the room, a well-built expensively-dressed civilian, said, "Pardon me, General. That means—"

"Seventeen enemy warships per standard Tau-space unit, Senator.

"Which is an increase of one since the last reading," Hewell added.

"And the attacks usually come through—" The Senator looked a question.

"When the density is twenty-four or above."

"I see. Now, this large glowing wall-size screen before us—"

"Shows a schematic representation of Tau-space. It's impossible, of course, for a three-dimensional screen to represent Tau-space accurately. Roughly, this screen represents a cross-section. The center stands for an arbitrary fixed point in Tau-space. The scale changes as you move from the center toward the edge of the screen. The edge represents a space immeasurably far from the center. Enemy ships we show by silver dots. There are always enemy ships present."

The general turned to speak to the young colonel, and a moment later the contrast of the screen changed so that a multitude of silvery dots could be seen, like tiny darting minnows, in the central portion of the screen. These dots grew rapidly smaller as the eye glanced out toward the edge, to blend into a silvery background that merged at last into a silver rim around the edge of the screen.

"And," said the Senator, with a note of profound curiosity, "with a density of seventeen per standard unit—of *volume?—I *suppose—"

"That's right. Tau-space volume."

"—in this Tau space," the senator went on, "with a *density *of seventeen per unit, what's their *total strength *in there?"

"Infinite," said the general immediately.

The fourth man, possibly thirty years old, tall, and intellectual-appearing, spoke for the first time, his voice sharp. *"Infinite?"*

The sharp questioning tone caused the general to turn, and the colonel to look up momentarily.

"That's right," said the general.

"I would question that," said the fourth man, his voice sharp and critical, "unless you use the word merely in the lay sense of 'large beyond our ability to measure.'"

The general frowned, trying to place the peculiar quality of this voice. He glanced around. "You haven't introduced your friend, Senator."

The senator apologized. "This is Dr. T. Binding Phipps, General. Dr. Phipps, General Hewell. Dr. Phipps is a mathematician and a former classmate of my son Alex. Dr. Phipps happened to be with the committee when your report on this situation was circulated; his comments on it were so pointed and so interesting that I thought I'd bring him along. Dr. Phipps and my daughter—" The senator cleared his throat, let the sentence trail out unfinished so that the general groped for a moment after the precise nature of the relationship implied, then shrugged.

"Glad to have you with us, Dr. Phipps," he said.

Dr. Phipps inclined his head in bare acknowledgment.

The colonel said. "Density eighteen, sir. Plus one."

The general nodded.

"Might I ask," said the senator's companion abruptly, "how you determine the size of this presumed unit of volume?"

The general glanced at the senator, who looked benevolent and noncommittal.

"I think, Dr. Phipps," said the general with careful courtesy, "that Colonel Smith can answer your question better than I."

The colonel glanced around. "What was the question again, Dr. Phipps?"

"Precisely how do you determine the size of this presumed unit of volume?"

The question came over with a snap suggestive of the crack of a whip, but the colonel, after a pause, answered evenly.

"We don't *determine *it. It's a question of a repeated elementary volume that goes to make up the so-called 'Tau-space.' Another name for Tau-space is 'multiple space.' It's a space that's repeated, over and over."

"That evades my question rather neatly," said Dr. Phipps, a drill-like note evident in his voice, "rather than answering it. This inconsistency was sufficiently obvious in the report."

The colonel blinked; the general frowned. The senator looked on blandly.

"Perhaps," said the general, "we're working at cross-purposes here. There's no question about the facts."

The colonel, noting the sharpness in the general's voice and the perceptibly reddening face, said quickly, "Dr. Phipps, possibly I misunderstood your question. You asked, didn't you, how we determined the size—that is, volume—of this elementary unit when we say, for instance, that the density of enemy ships in Tau-space is seventeen or eighteen?"

"That is essentially correct." The drill-like tone gave the sensation of biting through into a nerve. "And your answer manifestly evaded the issue."

The general stiffened, and glanced sharply at the senator. The senator said nothing, continued to look on benevolently.

The colonel said carefully, "That depends on your meaning when you say 'determine,' Dr. Phipps. We don't *determine *volume in the sense that we might determine a volume of ordinary space."

"Why not, if I might ask?"

"For one thing, we can't enter Tau-space. If we send a human observer through, he comes back spread all over the inside of the ship—if we're lucky enough to get the ship back at all, that is. Then, too, we can't readily measure the volume in terms of normal space because of certain anomalous features of Tau-space."

"Then, in short, you don't have a unit volume."

"In terms of *normal *space, no. I can't say the unit volume in Tau-space is so-many cubic light-years, for instance, without creating a false mental picture. But for our purposes, we have a unit volume. It is simply the *volume of unit reception. *I'll be happy to explain what I mean by that if you're interested."

Dr. Phipps frowned as if uncertain whether it was worth bothering, but the senator said, "If you would, Colonel, we'd very much appreciate it."

The colonel said, "It's been an unusual experience for us, sir, and it's a little hard to grasp, even yet. You see, these raiders burst out to attack our local Space Center, rip up nearby cargo routes, then vanished back into what was apparently subspace. Our natural reaction was to follow them in, track them through, and find out where they came out. With manned ships, as I've mentioned, this proved disastrous. So we tried unmanned ships. Each unmanned ship we sent in had an ident-device whose function was simply to create a signal that would locate the ship. As soon as each of our ships went into what we supposed to be subspace the ident-display went insane. It was as if you tossed a glowing light-tube into a hall of mirrors, and got back images of an infinite number of images."

"You mean," Dr. Phipps interrupted patronizingly, "an indeterminate number of light-tubes."

The general drew his breath in slowly, as if timing it.

The colonel waited till the roaring went out of his ears, then said politely, "In this case, the ident-signal, which ordinarily measures Tau-distances by turning a needle over a precise distance on a dial, sent the needle spinning endlessly, as the same signal came in simultaneously from an infinite number of positions. When I say infinite, that is what I mean."

"I doubt," said Dr. Phipps, "that you are professionally qualified to appreciate the meaning of 'infinite'."

There was a lengthy silence in which the senator, after first looking benignly at the colonel and the general, took out a cigar, lit it, continued to gaze benignly through a cloud of smoke. Meanwhile, the colonel struggled successfully not to do or say any of the things that it occurred to him to do or say, and finally was able to swallow and breathe in a more-or-less normal rhythm. But a certain lightheadedness warned him to stand still and keep his mouth shut.

The senator, apparently to get the ball rolling again, said, "That's interesting, Colonel. I begin to get a picture the report didn't give. Now—"

Dr. Phipps said, "It presents nothing new whatever. The picture this presents is so—"

"Now, Binding," said the senator chidingly, "you're a Ph.D. and this is all in your field—but we laymen here have to potter and bumble around trying to find some handle on the thing so we can get a grip on it. Try to unjack yourself down onto our level. How are *you *going to understand how a layman sees these things, eh? No, when Colonel Smith was explaining that about the ident-signal, I began to get his point."

"There is no point. It would be preposterous to assume—"

"Tut, tut, Binding. Are you professionally qualified to understand a layman?"

Dr. Phipps opened his mouth, shut it in evident confusion.

The colonel's ears seemed to pop, and now he had the impression of being his normal self again. He said, "Senator, this is hard to explain. For one thing, we frankly don't pretend to know what's going on here. The *effect *is as if when we send a single ship through, it is reproduced an infinite number of times and so we detect it at an infinite number of positions. However, each ship is separately present in its own finite volume of space, which apparently remains constant—this is the 'volume of unit reception,' I was referring to. If we send six or seven ships through the entire group appears in each unit of volume."

Dr. Phipps made as if to object, then hesitated in perplexity—apparently hamstrung by the thought that he might not really have any idea what thoughts were being conveyed in laymen language.

The senator said, "And it's an optical-illusion kind of thing?"

"Well," said the colonel. "we thought so at first, but we've discovered that by a development of our remote-control technique we can concentrate two or more of these identical 'ships' in the same region—which would seem impossible if they were mere reflections of some one basic ship. By repeating a sort of subspace jump within Tau-space, we've concentrated up to several thousand ships within one given unit of Tau-space."

"When," asked the senator, "you'd only sent a few ships in there to start with?"

"Yes, sir. Unbelievable as it may seem."

"And when you come to get them out—then what?"

The colonel hesitated, and the general said, "Once we've gone through this hocus-pocus of concentrating a number of ships in one region, we don't *get *the ship out again."

*"No *ship?"

"No, sir. The ships, or 'quasi-images' of ships, or whatever they are, apparently have to be distributed, one to each and every unit of Tau-space—and positioned properly in the given units—in order for us to get back the original ship. Otherwise nothing happens; the ship stays in there."

"What happens to the ones that don't come back?"

"Well, it's hard to say what would happen if we could experiment at our leisure in there. But that isn't possible. There are always enemy ships in there, in infinite numbers just as ours are, and we're generally heavily outnumbered, so—"

*"No!" *Dr. Phipps put in sharply.

The colonel shut his eyes. The general looked around and said courteously, "Did you say something, Dr. Phipps?"

"Yes." Dr. Phipps seemed to be struggling with some awkward and unwieldy problem—possibly that of projecting his meaning down to the lay level. "Excuse me. But you said that you were *outnumbered. *You said that your ships were there in infinite numbers, just as theirs were, yet you were *outnumbered."*

"Correct. We may be outnumbered twenty to one, or momentarily, it may be as close as sixteen to twelve. The point is, we usually go in there to try and find a way through. We don't stick around if it doesn't work—and it hasn't yet—because in a very short time they close in on us and we get eliminated. The difficulty is that we don't have enough remote-controlled ships to overpower them. They outnumber us. If we could put manned ships in there . . ."

"Oh," said Dr. Phipps, "this is—this is simply—" He cleared his throat. "That is not, of course, my special field, but surely Cantor's Theorem covers this problem adequately."

The senator said, "Remember, Binding—we're just laymen. Whose theorem?"

"Cantor's." He cleared his throat. "Let me express it this way. If we have two infinite series—say the series of integers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc., and the series of *even *integers: 2, 4, 6, etc., and if these two series can be placed in one-to-one correspondence with each other, thusly—" He pulled out a piece of paper, to write:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . .

2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 . . .

"Then," he added, "it follows that the two series are *equally *numerous, since each series can be continued indefinitely—forever. Your problem is precisely analogous."

There was a brief silence, then the colonel said, "This is Cantor's Theorem?"

"Well, certainly it's a very elementary example—"

"But this theorem *does *say there are just as many *even *integers as there are odd *and *even integers together?"

"That is correct."

The colonel took the paper, and wrote:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 . . .

2 4 6 8 10 . . .

"This," he said, "matches about the most favorable situation we're usually ever in. I'd say we were outnumbered two-to-one, wouldn't you?"

"Not at all."

"We aren't?"

"Certainly not. Any class the elements of which may be placed in one-to-one correspondence with the elements of another class is equal in cardinality—that is, in numerousness—with the other class. *That *is Cantor's Theorem."

The general said, "Let's see that paper."

There was a long silence. Then the general looked up.

"I've got to admit, I don't quite understand what we're up against here. Not if this theorem is true."

"There's no question at all of that," said Dr. Phipps. "Cantor's Theorem is completely accepted."

"Well, then—that gives us a way out of this hole."

The colonel said, "Sir. If we're outnumbered two-to-one in each and every one of an *infinite number *of finite regions, which is the situation we're up against here, I don't see how it's going to equalize matters for us if we juggle ships around from one region to another."

Dr. Phipps said, "Your error lies in assuming that you are outnumbered."

"We *are *outnumbered."

"You are not."

The colonel said exasperatedly, "Suppose there are thirty-six of their ships in each unit of space, to only one of our ships? Surely *then *we're outnumbered!"

"Not at all. What you seek is to compare the series of integers with the series comprising every thirty-sixth integer. Now, from any denumerable class, there may be removed a denumerable infinite number of denumerable infinite classes, without affecting the cardinality of the class. Therefore—"

"I can't follow that," said the colonel exasperatedly.

"The lay mentality," said Dr. Phipps, "has some difficulty in handling the infinite and its paradoxes. Naturally, a certain degree of professional education and training is a prerequisite."

The colonel swallowed hard, said nothing.

The general said, "If they have a density of thirty-six ships per each unit of space throughout the region to our density of one, then we have as many ships as they have?"

"Certainly." Dr. Phipps wrote:

1 2 3 4 5 6 . . .

36 72 108 144 180 216 . . .

He held out the paper and said, "Since you can match the series of integers one-for-one with the series of every thirty-sixth integer, it follows that the two series are equal in respect to numerosity."

The general looked at the paper. "Cantor's Theorem supports this?"

"It does."

"And Cantor's Theorem is accepted as valid?"

"Certainly."

"Well— That's *fine. *What we run up against, you see, is that if our ship-density starts to approach theirs, they increase theirs faster than we can increase ours. Now if actually they *don't outnumber us, *we can get control in there because our Class I ships are individually superior to the enemy type of ship. Now, excuse me, doctor, for asking this next question, but a good deal of expensive equipment can be lost if we make a wrong move. Are you really qualified to give opinions on the infinite as you've just been doing?"

"Certainly. While this is not my particular special field of study, this has all been quite elementary."

"All right, I'll take your word for it. We'll try it. *Colonel!"*

"Sir?"

"Order one Class I Tau-ship set up to make the jump."

"Yes, sir."

The general turned to the senator. "You'll get a chance to see, Senator, just how the command-center here functions. And if this works we won't be screaming for another big appropriation on this for quite a while."

Dr. Phipps finished giving his instructions for "matching" the two fleets, ship-for-ship; the general gazed off at the huge screen thoughtfully; and the senator walked over to the colonel, and said in a low voice, "Do you think this is going to work, Colonel?"

The colonel shrugged. "I couldn't guess. The way he's had us set that up, we've got ships coming on the flying jump from all over the place, in order to match up with the enemy ships at the head of that complex curve that he starts in the 'center' of Tau-space, and then twists out from there to finally include everything else. He says we can match them ship-for-ship, because we can *always *draw in more ships; so it's bound to come out even—I don't know."

The senator nodded, and drew on his cigar. "Well, either way, we win."

"How do you figure?"

"If he's right, we win in Tau-space; one of our Class I ships will beat an enemy ship, won't it?"

"Yes, but if it doesn't work out, and we're outnumbered, then we lose the ship. How do we win?"

"There are no men in this ship?"

"No, sir. It's unmanned."

"Well," said the senator, lowering his voice, "if we *lose, *then T. Binder Phipps, Ph.D., falls flat on his face, and there is nothing I would more dearly love to see."

The now familiar dental-drill tone bit into their conversation. "General, I have checked the procedures. The matching process is entirely to my satisfaction. You may proceed at any time."

The senator growled, "How would you like to have *that *for a prospective son-in-law?"

The colonel shivered.

"In his natural state," said the senator, "he would be bad enough. But the refulgent rays of glory from his Ph.D. are forever poking me in the eye, or getting stuck crosswise halfway down my throat."

The colonel glanced at the senator. "But suppose that Cantor himself was wrong."

The senator grinned. "That's better yet. Then Binder gets to explain how a Recognized Authority In The Field could make a mistake."

"Is that so impossible?"

"For Binder it is. Binder is solid for Authority. Put him back in the Middle Ages and he'd chop Galileo's head off in a minute for arguing that a heavy weight and a light weight fall at the same speed when Aristotle said otherwise. How you can have a Believer In Sacred Authority in either mathematics or science beats me, but the bigger a field gets, the more of them migrate in and set up shop."

The general's voice said, "Density, Colonel?"

"Eighteen, sir. No change."

"Proceed."

The colonel spoke briefly into his microphone.

The big screen on the opposite wall was abruptly tinged pale-blue.

The senator said, "That bluish color—"

The general said, "One of their ships creates a silvery-white appearance on the screen. One of ours, a blue appearance. Since we're heavily outnumbered, the screen remains white, tinged with blue." He paused. "Ah—here we go."

In center of the screen, a bright blue dot had appeared, then put forth spiral arms, which, bright-blue in color, began to grow, then to curve in and out in a complex geometrical pattern that grew to fill up a small region at the center of the screen, then bend outward again—

"Minus twenty," said the colonel.

The general said, "With a concentration such as they have in there right now, we can only count on about twenty seconds, our time out here, till the enemy makes contact and starts to hit us."

Dr. Phipps said, "As you may observe, the region of one-to-one correspondence is expanding steadily."

It was true. In the huge, wall-size screen, the dark-blue area had now attained the proportions of a garbage-can lid.

"Yes," said the senator, "but it looks to me like it's expanding slower."

"Possibly, but only proportionately so. No limiting volume is involved. Of course, we must progressively obtain matching ships from further and further away. Since the supply is infinite, this is irrelevant."

The colonel said, "Minus fifteen."

The dark-blue disk now had an intense white ring around it, shading off gradually to pale-blue toward the edge of the screen.

The senator asked, "Why that intense white color?"

The general, evidently concerned, said, "Those must be the regions our ships were moved in *from, *in order to make a match in the center. Dr. Phipps, I thought you said—"

Dr. Phipps said impatiently, "It isn't important, general. We are dealing with *infinities. *All this has been taken into account."

The intense white ring faded out in a series of pulses to pale-blue around the growing dark-blue disk. But as the white faded to blue around the disk, the blue all around the rim of the screen paled noticeably at the inside edge. The disk added another few inches of diameter, the pale-blue around it bleached out to white again, and there glowed a glaring white ring several times larger than before.

The colonel said, "Minus ten."

"M'm," said the general, eyeing the dazzling-white ring around the blue disk. With a series of pulses, the inner part of this ring, next to the disk, faded to pale-blue, and, in due course, the disk built up again, as elsewhere on the screen the pale-blue leached out everywhere except at and near the very edge of the screen, and then there was a huge glaring region of dazzling white that made the disk in the center look smaller instead of bigger.

"Of course," said the general, "this screen gives us just a schematic representation, but—"

Dr. Phipps said, "Everything is proceeding quite satisfactorily, General."

The colonel said, "Minus five."

The general cleared his throat. "Contact will almost certainly be established in five seconds, and firing will begin automatically. Destruction of one element of the enemy's force will create a yellow flash on the screen. A red flash will signify the destruction of one of our force."

The blue disk expanded. Around it, the white ring expanded further.

"Zero," said the colonel.

All around the extreme rim of the screen was a brief pinkish light as the as yet unmatched human ships were destroyed. In the center, the blue lit with a mingling of yellow and red that faded out to a paler blue, as the individually-stronger human ships won out. Then the untouched ring of dazzling white squeezed in with a reddish glare that ate straight to the center of the blue disk, then faded out to leave one solid bright silvery-whiteness on the screen from end to end.

The general turned around and looked at Dr. Phipps.

The senator shook his head. "Well, General, I see *that *method won't beat them. I'll relate this incident to the committee when we get back."

Dr. Phipps said, "I—I don't—" The others waited for him to go on, but he only stared at the blank white screen, from which the blue had been wiped off with ridiculous ease.

The colonel turned and glanced at the general. "If I might ask Dr. Phipps a few questions, sir."

"Go right ahead."

"Dr. Phipps," said the colonel, "In this matching procedure you take a unit in one series, move it up to match it to one in the other series, and when you have a method by which you can match them one for one, you say they're equal, right?"

Phipps drew in a long ragged breath.

"That is correct."

"But at any given time, the *matched *parts of the two series are *finite, *aren't they? The parts of the series of digits, and the series of *even *digits, for instance, that you used as an example. Even after you've matched a million, a billion, or a quintillion terms, still, the part that's matched is *finite, *isn't it?"

"I—this is not— Well, I suppose that *is *correct."

"Then you're determining the comparative sizes of two infinite series by taking a finite end of each?"

"Ah—"

"And then, since the finite ends of each—which are always insignificant compared to the rest of the series—since these finite *ends *match, then you say the infinite remainders, which you *haven't *compared, but have only drawn numbers from—you say therefore *they *must be the same size, too? Is that right?"

Phipps mopped his forehead. "Ah—I'm afraid the difficulty is that the matching process must run on infinitely—then each of the two matched ends is infinite in length."

"Nevertheless, there remains the other end, that *isn't matched, *from which you're still drawing numbers for the matched end of the series. The procedure you use to match the series *only matches one end, *doesn't it?"

Dr. Phipps grappled with this problem, and a lengthy silence followed.

The colonel said, "Now, Dr. Phipps, just to clear the thing up, I'd like to ask you if this same matching method could be used, for example, to compare an infinite number of spaceships with an infinite number of pilots, assuming that exactly one-half of all the ships have a pilot, and the other half of the ships have no pilot. Could we use Cantor's method to find out *whether there are more pilots or spaceships?"*

"Yes. Yes, we could. Very easily."

"All right. Every alternate ship has a pilot locked inside. How do we use the method?"

"Well, we—ah—we line up the ships, and then we line the pilots up right beside them, one-for-one, which shows that there are an equal number of ships and pilots."

"Only every other ship has a pilot, but when we use this method, they come out even?"

"That is correct. There is a one-to-one correspondence."

"In other words, we match pilots to ships, by putting a pilot in the second ship in the line, for instance, using a pilot we took from further back somewhere?"

"Yes. We put pilots in the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth ships, and so on, to get a one-to-one correspondence between ships and pilots."

"All right. Let's go back to this first pilot that you put on the number two ship. *Where did you get him? *Remember, one-half of the ships have pilots, locked inside, one-half have no pilots at all. There are no loose pilots lying around. You had to get the pilot somewhere."

"Yes. I see."

"Now, when you put a pilot in ship number two, to start this one-to-one correspondence, *where do you get him from?"*

"I—ah—I took him from some ship somewhere else."

"So you take the pilot out of a piloted ship?"

"Yes."

"And you use that pilot to pilot ship number 2?"

"Yes. Exactly."

"Then, all you do is move the pilot around. Obviously, no matter how you switch the pilots around, if every time you put one pilot into a ship, here, you have to get him by taking one pilot *out *of a ship there, then there's no change in the overall ratio of piloted to unpiloted ships."

Phipps blinked. "Let's see now . . . That would seem to be correct . . . Yes. That is correct. Obviously, no matter *how *the pilots are transferred, there remain just as many unpiloted ships as piloted ones. Because, every time we put a pilot *in *one ship, we first take a pilot *out *of another ship. This is perfectly clear. The ratio of pilots to ships remains constant, overall. Necessarily, taking the entire region into account, that ratio is *fixed."*

"Then," said the colonel, "we've just shown that there are always as many unpiloted as piloted ships or, in other words, two ships for each pilot, or *twice as* *many *ships as pilots. Yet, with Cantor's method, you say you can 'prove' the number of ships and pilots to be equal. After setting up a procedure to match one pilot to each ship at the head end of the line, and incidentally piling up a lot of empty ships in the other end of the line, then you claim that the non-representative, stacked-deck condition you've set up in the front end *also *holds in the other part—which you have only looted and never counted—and on *this *basis you claim that you have compared the two series as a whole, and thus can 'prove' that they are equal. By matching one pilot to each ship at one end, you 'prove' there are as many pilots as ships. But, all the time, you're getting these extra pilots by emptying hosts of ships, which empty ships accumulate exactly fast enough to maintain the ratio of two ships for each pilot, *but you intentionally don't count these empty ships. *You call this a valid method?"

There was a lengthy silence.

Finally Phipps said hollowly, "I thought when I first heard it that there was something I didn't grasp about this method. But I knew if such an authority as Dr. Cantor used the method, it must be correct. I was puzzled, but—if I'd asked questions, it might have seemed that I didn't understand. I—I wanted to succeed, so I kept my mouth shut. And then—" Suddenly he seemed to hear how all this sounded, and abruptly stopped talking.

The general said curiously, "You 'wanted to succeed,' so you 'kept your mouth shut'?"

The senator cleared his throat, but after a momentary pause Phipps went on more confidently. "Of course, it must just be that Dr. Cantor himself really means some other thing by this method than what we meant here. Yet I'm *certain *that was the sense of it as it was taught us—and as I've seen it elsewhere, many times."

The general said, "Maybe a few other people wanted to succeed, and kept *their *mouths shut when the thing wasn't clear to them either."

"And," said the senator blandly, "in due time got their Ph.D.'s and are now infallible Authorities In The Field."

Phipps winced, then moodily hauled himself erect and looked defiant.

The general shrugged. "Well, the damage is done. Senator, I think we can stop any serious breakout here. Naturally, in normal space, we can use our advantage in manned ships, and as both sides—again in normal space—have only a finite number of ships, we can handle them. But it means we're tied up here to prevent a breakout. And we can't follow them back and finish them until we can send a superior force into Tau-space after them."

The senator nodded pleasantly. "I understand, now, General, and I think you've proved your point convincingly. I'll say so to the committee. Well, we'll be going." The corner of his mouth lifted in an odd smile. "Come along, Binding, my boy. We'll have to tell Marylou all about our adventure when we get back, won't we?"

The two men went out, the one sunk in gloom, the other genial and expansive.

The general glanced at the colonel.

"What the deuce was *he *so happy about? Does he *like *defeats?"

The colonel shook his head.

"I got the impression, sir, that a certain prospective family member has had him a bit up-tight—he thinks he's succeeded in loosening up a Binding relationship."