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Stellar Scout James Connely and Sector Chief of Scouts Gregory MacIntyre eyed each other with mutual suspicion. Connely, his blood pressure already well above normal, could see that this latest meeting was going to develop along the lines of those that had gone before.

"Look, Mac," said Connely, "my ship's fine. I'm fine. I don't need anything re-equipped. Spare me the new improvements and just let me know—What's the job this time?"

MacIntyre, a powerfully-built man with heavy brows and light-blue eyes of unusual brilliance, watched Connely with that look of alert concentration seen on bullfighters, duelists, and cats springing for mice.

"This isn't the usual scout job," said MacIntyre emphatically. "We've sent out two ships four months apart, and heard nothing more from either. Obviously they came up against something that outclassed them."

MacIntyre gestured at the new and weird devices that sat on tables and chairs around the room. "We flatly will not let you go out half-equipped. This job is risky."

Connely looked at the new equipment with no enthusiasm, and jerked a thumb in the direction of his ship, "Look, I can already outfight any ordinary ship up to twice the weight of my own. I keep away from territory infested with commerce raiders. If I do get surprised, my ship's as fast as they come. If I have to, I can even outrun the Space Force."

MacIntyre snorted. "The Space Force. Who cares about them? When they aren't hide-bound, they're budget-bound. I hate to hear an Stellar Scout measure himself by the Space Force."

"Mac," said Connely, lowering his voice with an effort, "it took me six months to figure out that last batch of new equipment you put in the ship. Some of that stuff is fine, and some of it's poison. Now that I know which is which, leave it alone."

MacIntyre visibly controlled himself. "Why don't we at least try to be logical about this, Con?"

"Sure. Go ahead."

"All right. Now, look. These two ships I've mentioned went out on the same route you're going to take. They weren't heard from again. They had more advanced equipment than your ship has. And yet they were lost."

"So, you think I should have the same equipment they had, eh?"

"Oh, no, Con." MacIntyre looked shocked. "That's the whole point. We've got better equipment, now, and you've got to have it."

"Where were these two ships headed?"

MacIntyre snapped on a three-dimensional stellar projection and pointed out a distant sun-system.

Connely scowled. "The shortest route there is thick with Maury's commerce raiders. That's the worst gang there is. Maury's got a reconverted dreadnought."

"I know," said MacIntyre. He touched a button, and a complex set of lines appeared in the projection, showing a series of awkward roundabout jumps to detour the dangerous territory.

Connely scowled at the long route. "Damn and blast commerce raiders."

MacIntyre nodded, "With the Space Force tied up in that sector, they crop up like toadstools. But there they are and we have to face it." He snapped a switch, and the projection faded out. "You noticed how complex the detour was? That makes it extra hard to know where the trouble happened. But at least it is obvious that it happened en route. As soon as either of those scouts reached his destination, he'd have orbited a signal satellite. The satellite has an automatic trip that triggers a subspace emergency call if it's not canceled every twelve hours. No call has been received. Now, we have no knowledge of anything natural along these routes that would finish off two ships four months apart. Therefore, we're up against something manmade."

"An undeclared commerce-raider preying on the secondary routes?"

"Most likely," said MacIntyre. "You see how we arrive at this conclusion by simple logic. But let's go further. If the other two ships were lost because of inferior speed or weapons, what we have to do to prevent your loss is to remove the inferiority. Therefore, your ship needs to be re-equipped. Q.E.D."

Connely opened his mouth and shut it.

MacIntyre beamed. "All right, Con?" He reached for the work-order.

"No," said Connely. He struggled for an explanation of his own viewpoint and finally said, "The thing doesn't feel right to me, Mac. I've got a hunch the equipment caused the trouble."

MacIntyre's face changed expression several times. As if tasting the sentence, he growled, "I've got a hunch." He nodded his head in disgust and got up. "Well, Con, don't say I didn't warn you." He started for the door, and paused with his hand on the knob. "If you want your mail, incidentally, it's in the top drawer on the left." When he went out, he slammed the door so hard that a badly-balanced piece of equipment slid off a chair, gave a low whistling sound, and lit up in green lights.

Connely blew his breath out and glanced around suspiciously. It was not like MacIntyre to give up without a knock-down, drag-out fight. Puzzled, Connely crossed to MacIntyre's desk and reached down to pull open the drawer.

The faint sound from the device that had slid off the chair rose to a howl the instant Connely touched the drawer handle. The lights on the device all flashed yellow. A thing like a miniature gun popped out of a turret, and gave a high-pitched whistle with a weird variation that riveted Connely's attention. Then bubbles seemed to be bursting in the air all around him. He was conscious of a faint sweetish odor, and of a sensation that he was falling in a long, long, seemingly endless fall.

* * *

Connely opened his eyes, to see before him the control board of his ship. Glancing around, he saw a number of changes. On a bulkhead to his left, the meteor-warning gong had been ripped out, and a new panel installed. The panel was covered with toggle switches and pink, green, and flashing yellow lights. Hanging from one of the switches near the bottom of the panel was a note:



Sorry you got into a disagreement with one of our new items of equipment. But that's life.

As you'll notice, I've re-equipped your ship from end to end. You've even been outfitted with our new reflex helmet and clothing. The instructions for everything but the clothing are attached to the pieces of equipment they refer to. Knowing your violent temper, I've decided to put the instructions for the clothing where you won't be likely to tear them up in an outburst of rage. Check the other equipment, and you'll find the instructions for your garments, too.

You'll notice that your course has been all taped and set up in the new-type course control. Keep your eyes open, make the best use of your new equipment, and perhaps you'll succeed where the men before you failed.

As for your mail—you couldn't read it while you were here, and you'd be distracted if you read it out there—so I will hold it against your return.

All the best,



Connely stared at the note, then nodded sourly. Mac had done it again. Now it would be Connely's job to stay alive in a ship crammed with new equipment just one jump out of the experimental stage. Connely bent, raised an edge of his non-regulation gray carpet, and dropped the note underneath for future reference. He scowled at the new panel with its colored lights, and saw a slim brown envelope hanging beside the cabinet and marked, "Instructions."

Connely took down the envelope, glanced over several sheets of instructions and diagrams, and found that the panel was a supplementary control box for various new devices installed all over the ship—such of them as were not purely automatic. From this panel, Connely worked his way slowly toward the rear of the ship. He found numerous changes. The already strong frame had been reinforced by heavy cross-members that angled through the ship, half-blocking the corridors. Everything metal had a peculiar gloss that refused to dent under the roughest treatment Connely dared to give it.

A variety of new weapons had been installed, including one whose thick instruction manual asserted that it fired "holes." Each piece of equipment had its own weighty instruction manual, and the combined mass of information presented in these manuals made Connely feel dizzy.

After he'd glanced through an unusually complicated manual, Connely paused to scratch his head. He immediately felt as if someone had placed a hand on top of his head and given a sharp twist. There was a low whir, his vision cut off, and something gave his hand a painful whack.

Then something spun across his face, and Connely's vision returned.

Cautiously, he raised his hand and felt the slick glossy surface of some kind of helmet. As long as he felt along the surface of the helmet, nothing happened. As soon as he tried to touch his face, however, the helmet spun around, giving his head a sharp twist in the process, and knocked his hand out of the way. This, Connely realized, must be the "reflex helmet" MacIntyre had mentioned in his note. Connely tried to get hold of the edge of the helmet to take it off, but whenever his hand approached the edge, the helmet swiveled rapidly, to knock his hand away.

This, Connely conceded, might be a very fine defense if someone was trying to smash his face in with a club. But how did he get out of the thing, anyway?

A few minutes of neck-wrenching experiments convinced him that the quickest way would be to locate the instructions. But he had by now worked his way back almost to the drive unit, and he had seen nothing of the instructions so far. He pulled open the door of the drive chamber, looked inside, and swallowed hard. The old drive was gone, and in its place sat a monstrous unit of such dimensions that special handholds had been installed to make it possible to climb back around it. Gradually it dawned on Connely that the new drive unit took up so much space that it actually projected forward into the place formerly occupied by the fuel tanks. In order to fit the drive unit in, the fuel tanks had been ripped out. Connely blinked, and glanced all around. Where was the fuel?

He climbed into the drive chamber, looked around, climbed up and around past a number of blocky projections, and eventually located a container not much bigger than a foot-locker, that was surrounded by big coils and a complicated arrangement of braces, wires, and tubes. This was such a formidable-looking thing that Connely was careful not to even touch it. He crouched in the narrow space between the tank—if that was what it was—and a projecting bulge on the drive unit. He reached carefully in without touching the maze of wires and tubes and got the instruction manual dangling behind it. Sure enough, the manual was labeled, "Fuel Tank M81-x, Service and Operating Instructions."

Scowling, Connely flipped back past diagrams and data tables, and was relieved to find a summary at the end. He skimmed it rapidly, then slowed as he came to a section that read:

" . . . the tank, therefore, 'contains' only the head end of each keyed chain of packed fuel molecules. The remainder of each chain is selectively distorted into subspace. This allows for a very great reduction in the size of the fuel tank. It is, however, MOST IMPORTANT that no interruption in the action of the subspace-control unit be permitted to take place. Should such interruption occur, the normal volume of the molecules, no longer distorted into subspace, will attempt to fill the tank. The tank, of course, cannot possibly contain this volume of fuel. It will, therefore, burst. The outsurge of fuel, no longer molecularly oriented, and removed from contact with the negative catalyst layers of tank and fuel lines, will explode. As no part of the ship can possibly survive the release of such quantities of energy, it is strongly recommended that the preventive maintenance procedures in this manual be thoroughly understood BEFORE the tank is filled."

Connely swallowed, shut the manual, and started to get up. The back of his head bumped the bulge on the drive unit. He slouched a little to avoid banging into the drive unit again, and as he did so he came close to one of a number of copper-colored tubes that angled up from the tank to the drive unit. There was a whir, a twist at the top of his head, and his vision cut off. Alarmed, he tried to ease himself back to a sitting position. There was another sharp twist, as the helmet spun around again. He had a momentary glimpse of blurred light, then Bang!—the edge of the helmet hit the drive unit and knocked his head forward. Immediately there was another whir and another twist.

Whack! Bang!

Bathed in sweat, Connely dropped to a sitting position on the metal deck, and sat as motionless as he could. The helmet came to a stop. He drew in a shaking breath and looked around. Everything seemed to be all right. He edged carefully out from under the bulge of the drive unit and got to his feet, still clutching the instruction manual. Gradually he relaxed, and began to breathe easily again. He grabbed a nearby handhold to climb back into the forward part of the ship, and cast a last glance back at the fuel tank.

A glittering drop of liquid fell from a bend in the coppery fuel line, hit the top of tank, and disappeared.

* * *

Connely, frozen into a state of paralysis, watched the dripping fuel for some time. With unvarying regularity, each drop appeared at the same point on the tube, fell in the same way through a maze of wires and supports, and hit the top of the tank, to vanish without a trace. A new drop then formed, to fall in exactly the same way.

Gradually, Connely dragged his gaze from the sight of these falling, highly-explosive drops. He forced himself to move up along the hand-holds, and gradually worked his way into the front end of the ship. He felt no safer here, but at least, he could move without the fear of doing yet more damage.

He sank into the control seat, pulled out his handkerchief, and reached up to wipe the perspiration out of his eyes.

Whir! His head twisted and his vision cut off. The helmet knocked his hand aside.

Connely sprang to his feet, furious.

The helmet swung around again, and now he could see.

* * *

Boiling mad, Connely thumbed through the fuel tank manual, hoping against hope that the instruction sheet for the helmet was inside somewhere. But it wasn't there.

Connely pulled back his rug, got out MacIntyre's note, and read:

Knowing your violent temper, I've decided to put the instructions for the clothing where you won't be likely to tear them up . . . Check the other equipment, and you'll find the instructions for your garments—

Connely read this over several times and swore savagely. He had checked the other pieces of equipment! Angrily, he shoved the note back under the rug, and straightened up. A flashing yellow light on the new panel caught his eye.

Having skimmed through the sheet of instructions for that panel, Connely knew that a flashing yellow light indicated something that needed attention. The light for the fuel tank was still glowing a comfortable green and he had checked everything else, so what was that one flashing light for?

Connely asked himself if he could possibly have missed some piece of equipment? If so, maybe MacIntyre had put the instructions for the helmet near that very piece of equipment. Connely got out the list that identified the various lights, checked it through carefully, and discovered something called "IntruGrab MI-X, Medium."

What in space, Connely asked himself, is an "IntruGrab?" He stared at the diagram, found the location of the thing, and trod down the corridor, pausing here and there to duck under or climb over the reinforcing structural members that got in his way. When he came to the spot marked on the diagram, the only thing there was the inner space-lock door. Connely glanced around, and turned to go back to the control room.

From somewhere came a faint thumping sound. He stopped, and tried without success to locate it. He stepped back around a beam and looked up. Over his head was a hemisphere of metal plate and shiny metal bars wrapped around a transparent globe.

Inside the globe, red-faced, furious, and hammering on the transparent surface with a calloused fist, was Sector Chief of Scouts Gregory MacIntyre.

* * *

At first, Connely couldn't believe it. He climbed up on a beam for a closer look, and MacIntyre glared out at him through the transparent layer. When Connely merely stared, MacIntyre jabbed a finger at something out of Connely's range of vision, opened his mouth as if shouting, shook his fist at Connely, drew a finger across his throat and then banged his fist against the transparent layer, which gave forth a faint thump.

Connely shrugged and reached up for the instruction manual which was tied by a string to one of the bars. Once he had the manual, he dropped off the beam and walked back up the corridor, a smile on his face. He was aware that at any moment the ship might still be exploded into its component atoms. Or a commerce-raider might appear from nowhere and reel him in on a souped-up gravitor beam. But for some reason these thoughts no longer bothered him.

He settled down comfortably in the control room and flipped through the instruction manual for the Model M1-X IntruGrab (medium). Connely hoped to find the instructions for his helmet—but they weren't there. Scowling, he went back to the beginning of the manual, and carefully worked his way past diagrams and descriptions, noting a sentence here and a technical detail there, which gave him enough to go on so that he saw the purpose and general mode of operation of the device even before he read the final paragraph at the back of the manual:

"In brief, the M1-X IntruGrab (medium) is designed to prevent human or other intruders from gaining entrance to restricted localities. Once keyed to the physical characteristics of the personnel legitimately present, and activated to prevent entry of others, the IntruGrab will selectively remove unauthorized intruders, will imprison such intruders for an indefinite period, removing waste products and providing minimal nutritive requirements according to the specifications table on page 32. The IntruGrab (medium) will handle individuals from the size of a grasshopper to that of an adult male gorilla, and will signal capture by flashing light, tone alarm, or other standard warning mechanism. CAUTION: The manufacturers do not warrant use of the M1-X IntruGrab (medium) for any purpose contrary to local statute or ordinance. Consult your lawyer or local law-enforcement agencies before installing."

Connely skimmed back through the manual to the instructions for releasing captured intruders. He discovered that there were two methods of release: permanent, and provisional. He decided he should not overburden his mind by studying too much at once, so he only learned how to release an intruder provisionally. Armed with this information, he went back down the corridor, and looked up.

MacIntyre was glaring down through the bars with a look that would have shriveled the self-confidence of almost any subordinate. Connely, however, had not gravitated into the Stellar Scouts by accident. and so as he looked back at MacIntyre, a grin gradually spread over his face. This brought MacIntyre to a state of boiling rage bordering on apoplexy.

Connely, alarmed lest MacIntyre hurt himself, mentally reviewed the instructions, then raised his hand toward the globe. An orange light blinked on.

"Lower," said Connely.

The globe came down on a frame like a set of lazy tongs. A number of plastic tubes snapped loose from the globe and coiled up into the ceiling.

"Release," said Connely.

The transparent layer slid back, the bars came open, and MacIntyre stumbled out. The cage went back up to the ceiling, and MacIntyre swayed unsteadily on his feet.

It occurred to Connely that the food served by the M1-X IntruGrab (medium) was probably pretty poor stuff, to say nothing of being locked up in the thing for all this time. He guided MacIntyre down the corridor to the control room, helped him sit down, and got some instant heated hot broth for him.

"Thanks," said MacIntyre, his voice hardly more than a croak. He glared across the room at the new control panel, then looked away. He stiffened his jaw and said nothing.

* * *

Connely cheerfully refrained from making any comment. He thought the situation was sufficiently clear as it was. While he was enjoying a sensation of comfortable superiority, the aroma of the hot broth made him aware that he was extremely hungry. He got some of the same broth for himself, and raised a steaming spoonful.

Whir. The helmet whipped around, knocked the spoon out of his hand, and splashed most of the hot broth from the spoon across his face. When he tried to wipe off his face, the helmet knocked his hand away.

Connely, boiling mad, but unwilling to admit the fix he was in, said casually, "By the way, Mac, where are the instructions for this helmet?"

"In the Mangle," said MacIntyre, his voice hoarse.

Connely frowned. He had no memory of any "Mangle." He checked the list of devices controlled from the new panel and found no "Mangle" listed. Mentally, he worked his way from the front of the ship to the rear, crossing off the places he had already looked over. Suddenly he realized that he hadn't looked in the General Supplies storeroom.

Connely went back along the corridor, opened an air-tight door, went down a short cross-corridor, and opened the door to his left. Inside, cramping the shelves and bins of parts and equipment, stood an enigmatic gray block about six feet wide, eight feet high, and twelve feet long, with smoothly rounded corners. Connely touched it, and it gave him a snappy shock. Connely looked all around it. A single lens, about an inch across, and set about eighteen inches below the top, traveled around from side to side as if keeping an eye on him.

Connely lost patience, and muttered to himself, "Where in space is the manual for this thing?"

A wide slot promptly popped open in the side nearest him. A gray oblong about an inch thick by eight inches wide popped out, and folded apart down the center to reveal a gray metal book marked with glossy black lettering: "Mangle MI-X (small, medium, large) Instruction Manual."

Connely flipped back the flexible metal pages of this book, which were almost hot to the touch. Between the last page and the back cover was a sheet of what appeared to be fine charcoal. Connely looked at it closely, and an odor of creosote and wood alcohol wafted up to meet him. It dawned on Connely that this must be the remains of the instruction sheet he wanted.

Connely went back to the control room, and found MacIntyre looking much improved. Connely, using short and simple language, described the trouble he'd had with the Mangle, the new fuel tank, and the "reflex helmet."

MacIntyre looked serious. "That business with the fuel tank sounds bad."

"Oh," said Connely, "the fuel tank sounds had, does it? I have to eat, you know. How do I get out of this helmet?"

MacIntyre appeared to be searching his memory. He said hesitantly. "To tell you the truth. Con, the microcircuit for that helmet was so unusual, and I got so interested in it, that I don't believe I ever did read the operating instructions."

Connely restrained himself with an effort. In a very low voice, be said, "You don't happen to have any suggestions, do you, Mac?"

"Hm-m-m," said MacIntyre. "Well, maybe we could squirt the food in?"

This suggestion left Connely speechless. Before he had recovered, the annunciator gave a buzz, and announced in its synthetic voice: "Ship sighted. Class III cruiser, identity unknown. No recognition signal."

MacIntyre growled, "A Space Force ship would have identified itself right away. That must be the raider we're looking for."

* * *

Connely whirled to thrust the drive control full ahead. The accelerometer needle wound around its dial in a tribute to the power of the ship's monster drive unit. The communications screen cut into the battle-control circuit to show a small green image being overtaken by a much larger red image.

After a little while, Connely saw that the cruiser was losing its struggle to narrow the gap fast enough, and stepped over to look at the trip meter.

On the rectangular chartlike face above the meter itself a little white dot representing the scout ship was moving past within easy distance of Space Center 7.

MacIntyre said, "As I remember, the fleet based at Seven has half-a-dozen dreadnoughts, and around eighty other ships above the size of scouts. To operate here, any raider would need to be out of his head."

Connely tried the communicator, and could contact neither the cruiser nor Space Center 7.

The annunciator sounded its buzzer. "Ship sighted. Dreadnought of unknown class and identity. No recognition signal."

The battle screen now showed a huge red image closing in fast on an intersecting course. The likelihood of its being on this course by pure chance wasn't worth thinking about.

Connely said, "We're trapped, Mac. We built up so much momentum getting away from that cruiser that we'll land right in the lap of the dreadnought."

"That's the dreadnought's worry," snapped MacIntyre. "With the stuff we've got on board, we could take on the sector fleet."

"If it works."

"It'll work," said MacIntyre positively.

The communicator chimed and Connely snapped it on. A bored voice said, "You come through Maury's territory, you either pay your tariff or we squash you. We already picked off two of you little bugs."

Connely snapped off the communicator and glanced at MacIntyre.

MacIntyre said, "We can't be in Maury's territory. I specifically set up the course to avoid that."

Connely snapped on the communicator. "According to our trip-meter, we're nowhere near Maury's territory."

"Your trip-meter must have a busted bolt, pal. Now cut out the 6-V act and pay your tariff like a good little boy. Or get squashed."

MacIntyre knocked forward a lever that put the handling of the ship and its weapons completely under control of the battle computer.

On the view screen a pair of the dreadnought's monster turrets lit up in a white blaze as the fusion guns let loose their warning blasts. The scout ship continued on its course.

MacIntyre set his jaw. Connely, bathed in sweat, watched the two screens.

* * *

On the battle screen, a burst of yellow lines left the dreadnought as ultra fast missiles and missile-killers streaked out on their tracks. The dreadnought lit with dazzling blasts from its fusion weapons, and the space distorters of the two ships reflected these blasts, to hurl the searing bolts of energy back and forth between them. Enormous blue-white blurs reached out from the dreadnought, to haul the scout ship bodily off its course.

Connely felt a gathering vibration of the deck underfoot. On the screen, the racing missiles arced in, like a fist closing to squash a gnat. Then the overloaded space-distorters ceased to throw the fusion bolts back at the dreadnought, but merely deflected them into space.

The yellow tracks of the missiles abruptly ended. It took Connely a few seconds to realize that the space distorters, in deflecting the accumulated fusion blasts from the dreadnought, had done it with such accuracy as to burn up every missile approaching the scout ship. A small faint dotted line traveled from the scout ship to the huge red image of the dreadnought. Red dots began appearing here and there all over the battle screen.

Connely blinked and glanced at the outside viewscreen. The dreadnought, filling the screen from end to end, was fast taking on the look of a piece of Swiss cheese. As Connely watched, chunks of armor plate and turret vanished right and left, leaving round holes several yards across.

A thin purple fan now reached out on the battle screen from the scout ship to the dreadnought. On the outside viewscreen, the dreadnought appeared to lengthen out like an image on a sheet of live rubber. It stretched out into an elongated cylinder dotted with oval slits.

Abruptly the fan faded. The cylinder snapped back, and the viewscreen showed the dreadnought with the look of a ground car that has just run into a tree at a hundred and fifty miles an hour.

Connely and MacIntyre looked at each other. MacIntyre grinned suddenly, "Well, Con, now what do you have to say about new equipment? Without the new drive the cruiser would have gotten us. Without the new weapons, the dreadnought would have."

"It's not new equipment I'm against," said Connely, "but unreliable equipment. And I never saw a piece of new equipment yet that didn't have at least one nasty shock built into it."

"The new drive and weapons saved us."

"And the leak the new helmet put in the new fuel line may finish us."

"Oh" said MacIntyre. "I forgot that." He grabbed the fuel tank instruction manual, and instantly buried himself in it.

Connely hit the Astroposit button, and a few moments later, got their position based on a comparison of the stellar patterns around them with known stellar patterns. This informed them they were right in the middle of Maury's territory.

Scowling, Connely glanced at the trip-meter, which showed distance traveled so far, and, in its projected chart showed the ship drawing away from Space Center 7. Connely looked at the trip-meter, a standard item of equipment, as if it were a traitor. He pulled off inspection covers, peered in with lights and jointed mirrors, and found nothing wrong. Next he looked suspiciously at the new course-control, where MacIntyre had set up his course. A look into this strange item merely confused Connely, so he contented himself with a study of the instruction manual.

After a considerable time, MacIntyre handed Connely the tank instruction manual, and pointed out a paragraph:

Node Effect. CAUTION! Do not touch exterior surface of fuel tank while subspace control unit is in operation. Such contact may unbalance the matter-energy equilibrium designed into the tank, causing momentary formation of a subspace node at the point of contact. That portion of an object within the node will be projected into subspace and may not reappear within several light-years of the tank. Severe injury may result.

"Evidently," said MacIntyre, "the dripping fuel is being thrown harmlessly into subspace. Since there's a special repair kit for the fuel line, I think we can fix it all right."

Connely sighed in relief. "Good. Now let me show you something." He handed MacIntyre a big sheet of thin paper thick with diagrams and text in fine type, that had been pasted into an envelope in the back of the course-control manual.

MacIntyre scowled at the paper. then squinted at a sentence Connely pointed out, and read aloud:

"Unlike most course-controls, the late model Z60 is perfectly foolproof. If the inexperienced pilot sets the Z60 for an unnecessarily complex route from point to point, the new corrector circuits shorten the route automatically."

MacIntyre looked up, speechless.

* * *

"Isn't that nice?" said Connely. "You or I or anyone else painstakingly sets the Z60 for a roundabout route to keep out of dangerous territory. The Z60 then charitably decides we are too ignorant to know there's a shorter way, so it puts us right through the middle of the place where we don't want to go. Meanwhile, the standard trip-meter has no way to know the Z60 has changed the course, so the pilot finds it out when it's too late."

MacIntyre shook his head in disgust.

Connely said, "I had a hunch it was the equipment that was making the trouble. But I didn't have all the facts, so I couldn't prove I was right."

"But how," MacIntyre objected, "could you guess what was wrong without knowing the facts? That's not logical."

"It sure isn't. Logic has to do with chains of individual facts. Intuition takes whole groups of facts at once. You can recognize a familiar pattern—like a familiar face—even though you don't consciously know all the details. Sometimes it's a mistake, but then you can often use logic as a check. With intuition you see it; with logic you check it."

Connely, now that the excitement was over, was again feeling hungry and uncomfortable. "You don't have any idea how this helmet works?"

"I think it's a psionic circuit. That's all I can tell you." MacIntyre glared at the course-control manual and suddenly slammed it down. "The devil with it. I'd better fix that fuel line."

As MacIntyre went out, Connely had a vague hunch that something was wrong. However, he was too busy trying to get out of the helmet. Psionics, he told himself, had to do with the interaction of devices and the human organism itself. Maybe mental attitude would affect the helmet. Connely tilted his head forward, and visualized, pleaded, urged, insisted, believed that the helmet would fall off.

With a thud the helmet fell to the deck.

For an instant Connely felt as if all his troubles and difficulties were over. Then he saw the familiar flashing yellow light on the new control panel.

The light told him that, like all the other pure machinelike devices on board, the M1-X IntruGrab (medium) was doing its duty with ironclad, black-and-white, absolutely indisputable logic.

But Connely did not belabor the point as, for the second time, he let MacIntyre loose.


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