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Major Richard Martin stopped with one hand on the door of Colonel Tyler's office. From inside came voices, loud and angry. Martin glanced back past Lieutenant Schmidt at the colonel's pert, shapely, and at the moment somewhat pale receptionist. She nodded earnestly, and rolled her eyes toward the sky, which lay several thousands of feet up, through the layers of dirt, concrete, steel, and electronic shielding equipment.

Martin braced himself, waited for a pause in the uproar from the colonel's office, then knocked briskly on the door.

From inside came a short angry bark. "Come in!"

Martin glanced back at Lieutenant Schmidt—who was looking hungrily at the pretty receptionist—and took the lieutenant by the arm.

"Follow me," growled Martin, and shoved open the colonel's door.

The scene in the office suggested a pause for breath in a fistfight. Colonel Tyler was to one side of his desk, his face furious, his back half-turned to the door, and a folded paper clenched in his hand. A second colonel, with staff emblem at his collar, stood angrily by Tyler's big wall map, one hand stretched out to bang two groups of little whitely-glowing emblems at the edge of the map.

"The general," said the staff colonel tightly, "is extremely anxious to have these missing Tamars located."

Colonel Tyler glanced around, saw Martin, and relaxed slightly. "Ah, good, there you are." Then he frowned at Schmidt, and looked back at Martin reprovingly. "This is only for combat-team commanders, Major."

"I know it, sir," said Martin. "Lieutenant Schmidt is here on another matter."

The staff colonel, standing impatiently by the map, spoke brusquely. "The lieutenant can wait outside, Major."

Martin gripped Schmidt's arm, and looked at Colonel Tyler. "This is a matter of the utmost importance, sir."

The staff colonel said sharply, "It can wait. Get him outside."

Martin continued to hold Schmidt's arm, and looked directly at Colonel Tyler.

Colonel Tyler glanced at the staff colonel. "This goddamned folderol of yours will keep."

"The general—"

"Nuts! Do you think I don't want to find those missing units? I don't need your damned pep talk!"

"The whole situation is now critical—"

" 'Critical'," snarled Colonel Tyler. "It's been 'critical' since the first scout ship went down into their damned poisonous atmosphere. It's been critical since our first pilot ran into a gasbag and got mindjammed for his pains. Critical! Do you think it wasn't critical when they had the commander of the Fifth Fleet lobbing impulse torpedoes into his own base? Wasn't it critical when we found the president and the defense secretary on the floor choking each other and neither one could even speak till we got him under a shield? And that was just their first blunderings! Critical! If you'd get your head out of your boot for about five seconds, you'd see it's been nothing but one hairbreadth critical mess since that first stinking damned critical contact."

"All right!" shouted the staff colonel. "But this is the first time we've ever seen a chance ahead to put them out! This is the first time we've ever been anywhere in sight of the end! You simpleton! Can't you see that this poses an entirely new situation? Don't you see that these new—"

Colonel Tyler's eyes gave a little glint. His face went blank. "Colonel, do you realize you are discussing classified information in the presence of an officer not cleared to hear it?"

The staff colonel stopped abruptly and turned to stare at the lieutenant. Martin still had him by the arm, and he was still right there in the room.

"Naturally," said Colonel Tyler, his face expressionless, "I will have to report this breach of regulations—which has, of course, taken place in the presence of two witnesses. Take your papers outside, please, and wait in the outer office."

The staff colonel looked around dazedly, stared at Lieutenant Schmidt, started to speak, took another look at Colonel Tyler, who was watching him with a flinty expression, swallowed, took a long envelope from Colonel Tyler's desk, and the folded paper that Colonel Tyler had tossed down there, and went out.

Colonel Tyler snapped on the intercom. "Sergeant Dana?"

"Sir?" came the girl's pleasant voice.

"Colonel Burnett wishes to wait in the outer office. This is perfectly agreeable with me."

"Yes, sir."

"But if he leaves, for any reason, let me know immediately."

"Yes, sir."

Colonel Tyler snapped off the intercom, and glanced at Schmidt, then at Martin.

"Now, Major, what is the cause of this interruption?"

"Sir, we think we may have located the missing enemy units."

Tyler's face was immediately all attention. He listened intently as Martin and Schmidt explained. Then he picked up his phone, gave a few brief orders, put the phone back in its cradle, and snapped on the intercom.

"Ask Colonel Burnett if he'll step back in here for a moment."

"Yes, sir."

Colonel Tyler glanced at Martin. "As soon as we get this out of the way, I'll want the rest of the details."

"Yes, sir."

The staff colonel, perspiring freely, came back in. Colonel Tyler looked at him clinically, then glanced at Lieutenant Schmidt. "I'd appreciate it if you'd step outside for a few minutes, Lieutenant."

"Yes, sir." Schmidt went out.

Colonel Tyler glanced at the staff colonel.

"Three of my combat-team commanders are on the surface, risking their necks for a population that doesn't even know they exist. One of my other commanders is on standby reserve and totally worn out. I won't call him in here unless the general himself personally and specifically orders it. Now, you want all combat-team commanders to attend this so-called briefing. Well, Major Martin here was on the surface the day before yesterday, has had no real opportunity to rest, and is up to his ears in work. He may have to leave any time. But he's here. This is the best I can do for you, Colonel, and I'll tell you flatly that I think you're wasting our time. Now go ahead with your damned talk."

Colonel Burnett swallowed hard, then held out the folded paper that Colonel Tyler had been gripping when Martin came in.

"Read this, Major, then sign it on the back."

Martin took the paper, and read:

URGENT: Six Tamar penetration units still remain unlocated following disappearance from Sector II. Three units vanished from Plot fourteen months ago. Another block of three vanished five months ago. All six still remain off-plot. Past experience indicates enemy penetration of vital target area is proceeding unopposed. All personnel are urgently required to exercise maximum diligence and ingenuity to locate these missing enemy units at the earliest possible moment.


The message was signed by the "Commanding General NARD-COM STRIKE Field Force I." Stamped across the top and bottom were the words, "Deliver by Hand—Endorse and Return to CG FFI."

Martin turned the paper over and signed his name under Colonel Tyler's rapidly-scrawled signature. Martin was already familiar with the facts in the paper, so, as Colonel Tyler had said, it was just so much wasted time. Martin handed the paper back to Colonel Burnett.

Colonel Burnett glanced at Martin's signature, then drew a long envelope from an inside pocket, and cleared his throat.

"Now, gentlemen, this document is—" his voice dropped in reverence—"the latest Staff Evaluation."

Martin waited patiently. Colonel Tyler irritatedly glanced at the clock.

Burnett went on. "This document may not be read aloud. Its contents may not be copied. The information it contains may not be transferred in any way from any one person who has read it to another who has not. It may be discussed only in conditions of maximum security, under full shield, and only in the presence—" his voice faltered—"of those fully qualified to read it themselves. Read it, initial each page, and endorse it on the back of the final page." He handed it to Colonel Tyler, who looked it over, in the manner of one already familiar with the contents, scribbled his initials page-by-page and wrote his name on the back.

Colonel Tyler handed it to Martin, then glanced back at the staff colonel, Burnett.

"You'd have less trouble getting these things read, if you'd have your experts translate them into some language known to humans."

Martin was looking at the first section of the paper:

"1) The state of conflict currently existing between the human-controlled space military-socioeconomic complex centering on the planet Earth and the psychologically-oriented culture of the planet Tamar VI (Code 146-BL110101-976bA14-Ragan) is, in the presently existing stage of hostilities, entering upon a crucial phase requiring of all controlling personnel the highest degree of operative vigilance consonant with the attainment of previously-assigned overriding primary objectives."

Martin read this over again, shook his head, and started again at the beginning. Then he slowly read it all the way through, breaking it down as he went:

1) The war against Tamar VI is now entering a crucial phase, in which the highest vigilance will be required.

2) Essentially, this war is one of technology versus a species of mental accomplishment which can only be described as the power of telepathic assault and possession.

3) There are two main theaters of operation, very widely separated. These are the home planets of the two opposed races. We are able physically to cross the intervening space to strike at the Tamar home planet. They are able to bridge this space psychologically to strike at our home planet. Either side can attack the other offensively. Neither side has a truly effective defense.

4) Our basic war plan remains:

a) Offense: Attack by nuclear and subnuclear explosives against the Tamar home planet.

b) Defense: Countermeasures to neutralize or recapture strategically-placed individuals overcome by Tamar psychological penetration.

5) We continue under severe immediate handicaps:

a) Offense: Tamar VI is a giant planet, its atmosphere dense, heavily clouded, and corrosive. The precise nature of most of the planet's structure and inhabitants remains obscure. Attack is thus difficult to plan or evaluate.

b) Defense: Because of the cost of the complex electronic shielding equipment, the bulk of Earth's population remains exposed to Tamar psychological attack. As each Tamar penetration unit can attack only one individual at a time, as each such attack takes time, and as only several hundred Tamar penetration units are known to exist, the population as a whole, while completely exposed, appears safe from direct assault. However, to avoid panic, the public has not been informed of this attack and believes the war to be confined to the region of the Tamar home planet itself. Because of this secrecy, defensive operations must be financed through contingency funds and by other irregular means. This seriously hampers operations.

6) The basic war plan, as stated, relies on continued blocking of the Tamar attack, with ultimate victory to be won by assault against the Tamar home planet. Toward this end, the present force of Class III long-range battleships operating off Tamar VI is soon to be strengthened by the far more powerful planetary bombardment ships Revenge and Killer.

7) Owing, however, to the skill of the defensive force of Tamar penetration units operating against our fleet, this attack is not expected to be decisive. These local Tamar units not only attack unshielded personnel, but have also learned to unbalance the most advanced electronic computing equipment, with catastrophic results. This equipment must either be shielded, or else replaced where feasible by mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or other types of computing equipment. This, together with the demonstrated enemy capacity to overload, at times, all but the most powerful ship-borne shields, makes the final result of our present attack uncertain.

8) Two interstellar-drive devices, known respectively as Fuse and Match, are therefore under construction. Use of these devices on Tamar VI is scheduled for thirty-two months from date, and is expected to create a subnuclear detonation in the planet's interior. It is doubtful that the planet can survive such an explosion.

9) It follows that enemy activity should be terminated by the end of the next thirty-two months.

10) Granting the psychological powers of the Tamar and their known ruthlessness, it is inconceivable that the enemy will submit to destruction without cunning and extremely dangerous resistance. It is necessary, therefore, to maintain secrecy regarding these and other measures. Moreover, as our own physical measures approach completion, there is every reason to guard against new and more refined Tamar psychological measures.

11) Past experience shows the practical impossibility of meaningful two-way communication with the Tamars or of creating even a temporary truce. Cultural analysis, though necessarily highly uncertain, suggests that the Tamar view of the universe must be basically at variance with that of humanity. In this view, there is no true common frame of reference and hence no way out by means of a truce.

12) We must, therefore, regard the next thirty-two months as an extremely critical and dangerous period.

Martin duly initialed each page and signed his name on the back. He handed the paper to Colonel Tyler, who handed it back to the staff colonel, Burnett, and said, "Is that it?"


Colonel Tyler reached for the phone.

The staff colonel looked acutely uneasy. "Ah—about what I said earlier—"

Colonel Tyler said coldly, "I hope you aren't about to suggest anything contrary to regulations, Colonel."

Colonel Burnett shut his mouth and looked blank.

Colonel Tyler picked up the phone.

Burnett said anxiously, "I'm sure I didn't—"

Tyler put the phone back in its cradle but kept his hand on it.

"I didn't make the regulations, but I have to live by them. In the hearing of Lieutenant Schmidt, who was not cleared to receive the information, you stated authoritatively that we now, for the first time, are in a position to see the end of the war. As a matter of fact, Lieutenant Schmidt is no more likely than Major Martin or I to blab this information. But the regulations are perfectly clear.

"But I'd ordered the lieutenant to get out! I—"

"You knew Major Martin was holding him here. Were you trying to induce the lieutenant to disobey his own commanding officer? Or were you trying to block both of my officers from reporting to me on a matter of the utmost urgency? And what the devil are you doing now—trying to get me to join you in concealing the offense?"

The staff colonel opened his mouth, shut it, and swallowed.

Colonel Tyler picked up the phone, and spoke into it briefly and pointedly. Then he put the phone back in its cradle.

There was a strained silence that lasted for possibly two minutes. Then there was a rap on the door.

"Come in," said Colonel Tyler.

Six spotlessly-uniformed MP's, two of them armed with submachine guns, came in and very politely escorted the staff colonel out of the office.

Colonel Tyler glanced at Martin. "Get Schmidt in here."

Martin stepped into the outer office to find Lieutenant Schmidt talking in a low voice to the smiling Sergeant Dana.

Martin said, "Schmidt."

"Yes, sir. Just a moment, sir."

Martin stepped back into the colonel's office. Outside, he could hear the girl say something, then Schmidt say something. Then the lieutenant, looking bemused but hopeful, stepped into the office, and Martin shut the door.

Colonel Tyler glanced at Schmidt's face, and cleared his throat. "Lieutenant, this information of yours is interesting. Let's go over it again, and get the details."

"Yes, sir."

"To begin with, you got a three-day pass to the surface?"

"Yes, sir. To visit my—my girl, sir."

"But she wasn't very friendly?"

"Well—it seemed, at least, that it wasn't she so much as her mother, sir. You see, I have a cover job, as a traveling salesman selling sets of encyclopedias. The mother thinks this is pretty feeble stuff and wants her daughter to find somebody with better prospects."

The colonel nodded sympathetically.

Schmidt said, "I've known Janice's family for a long time, but apparently they'd decided they didn't know me, so this time the mother went to work with a string of questions. I think I might have gotten through this, but as it happens, I was worn out from that mess at the power station, and I kept losing the drift of the argument. Well, right on the hassock near the couch where I was sitting, while she shot these questions at me, was a newspaper. The headline kept staring me in the face: PENNSY A-BLAST AVERTED. I kept wondering how the thing had looked from the outside. So, right in the middle of the harangue, with her telling me how serious life is, I picked up the paper and started to read. That did it."

Colonel Tyler smiled. "If you'd like us to rig up some better cover—"

"Thank you, sir, but I don't think so. Janice could have stopped this third degree any time, but she sat through the whole thing, listening carefully. I got the impression that maybe her mother was just asking the questions for her anyway. Some of them were rough questions, but Janice didn't say anything on my side.—That's enough for me."

The colonel nodded. "What did you do then?"

"Well, I found myself in the road in front of the house. I should have felt low, but as a matter of fact I was too tired. I still had my pass, and I didn't know what to do with it. I could have gone home, but there was no future in that. At home, they're all sorrowful and pitying, except for my kid sister. Well, for lack of anything else, I walked down to the newsstand, got a paper with this story about "PENNSY A-BLAST AVERTED" in it, and read that. Some college students came in, and I got the idea to go see the old place again." Schmidt scowled, and the colonel leaned forward intently.

"Go on."

"Well, this is a little hard to explain, sir. I've gone back before, you see, and I've felt like some kind of ghost. The place was the same, but the faces were different, and I didn't fit in anywhere. This time it wasn't that way."

Martin was listening closely, and the colonel was leaning forward, his gaze intent.

"You noticed something wrong, is that it?"

"Not exactly wrong, sir. Strange. The trouble was, I was worn-out, and I'm afraid I wasn't too observant. The first thing that seemed odd was that a student I'd never seen before turned to me in a matter-of-fact way and said, 'Man, I can't take much more of this, can you? I mean, what's the point of everything? Why bother?'"

The colonel said, "This was as you were walking toward the college?"

"No, sir, I was just leaving the newsstand."

"What did you say to him?"

"The remark fit my mood, and I agreed. But then I wondered what he was talking about. By that time, we were slowly walking toward the college. As I say, I was tired. So was he. He seemed to be barely able to drag himself along. After a while, he said, 'I mean, what is the use?' Well, I didn't know what he was talking about, but it wasn't too far from how I felt, so I said, 'I know what you mean.' We dragged on up the hill, and pretty soon it developed we were headed for different places. He said 'See you,' and I said, 'Yeah.'"

"These were the only comments?"

"Yes, sir. By itself, it didn't mean much. But on the way up the hill, maybe half-a-dozen more men students passed us going down in the other direction. Every one of them looked as full of pep and spirit as if he'd just been hit in the stomach. A girl came out the gate just as I went in, and she looked as if she'd long since given up hope in everything. Well, I went on in, it was the change of classes, and—" He shook his head. "I can't describe it. But I had a little playback camera with me—I'd started out thinking I'd take some pictures of Janice—and I took some shots of the college instead."

"Do you have the camera with you?"

"Yes, sir, I—" He reddened slightly. "Ah, I seem to have left it in the outer office, sir. If I could—"

"Go right ahead."

The lieutenant went out. The colonel glanced quizzically at Martin, who smiled and said nothing.

Outside, there was a murmured masculine comment, a quiet feminine laugh, and then Schmidt was back, carrying a small leather case. He handed it to the colonel, who slid the camera out of the case, pulled out the two extension eyepieces, made sure the lever was at "P" for "playback," then looked into the eyepieces.

Martin, watching, could remember the recorded scenes vividly. The first showed a very pretty girl walking slowly toward him past a group of students. The girl had a dazed look, and her face was streaked, as if from tears. She passed three unshaven male students sitting on the steps of the building. She was a very pretty girl. The three male students sat with their heads in their hands and stared dully across the campus as she passed.

There was a stretch of pale transparency in the film, then a shot of a large group of intermingled students drifting listlessly across the campus. When they went by, they left behind, here and there, an eraser, a pencil, or a slide rule, that someone or other had dropped, and that no one bothered to pick up.

There was another stretch of transparency, then a view of a tall, drearily trudging student with a three-day beard, partly shaven so that the better part of one side of his face showed a less pronounced beard, and with about two square inches of that side again partly shaved, as if he tried to shave on successive days but each time had given it up.

Several other scenes showed more of the same thing—listless, dispirited men or girls, trudging singly or in groups across the campus.

Colonel Tyler ran the scenes through again, then carefully put down the camera, and glanced at Schmidt.

"The whole school was like this?"

"All that I saw of it, sir—that is, the students. I don't know about the faculty or the administration."

"How was the rest of the town?"

"Here and there, the atmosphere was odd, as if people were wondering why they bothered, anyway. But there was no other place where it was as bad as the college."

"And the students you saw off-campus were the same?"

"Yes, sir. All the ones I saw."

"Do you have any idea what's behind it?"

"No, sir. Except that there's obviously something unnatural going on. And the Tamars have hit schools before, from different angles."

Colonel Tyler nodded thoughtfully, handed the camera back to the lieutenant, and glanced briefly at Martin.

"What's your theory about this?"

"Only that the Tamars are behind it, sir. How and why are something else again."

The colonel glanced at the wall map of the continent, with its tiny glowing dots of many colors and the groups of white dots at the edge representing enemy penetration units that had been lost and had not yet been relocated.

"As for 'how,'" he said, "with six units out of eighty they normally assign to this continent, they have power enough to make plenty of trouble, though it's a good question just how they do it." He glanced back at Schmidt. "All you found out is shown on that film?"

"Yes, sir. At the time, it all seemed strange to me, but I was about knocked out, myself, and didn't realize what it might mean. I just went home and put in the rest of the three-day pass getting caught up on sleep. I didn't think of the Tamars till I got rested up, and then it was time to come back."

The colonel nodded, and said thoughtfully, "As for why they'd do this—"

The phone rang. He picked it up and said, "Colonel Tyler," and listened. "Yes," he said, "I see. You think it is worth our attention, then? ... yes ... yes ... then this is completely new to you, too? ... yes ... okay, Sam. Thanks. Good-by." He put the phone back, and smiled. "Well, gentlemen, Reconnaissance agrees with us. They don't have any better idea what's going on there than we do, and of course they've had no time to do a thorough check. But they sent a team out there with the new portable snoopers about ten minutes ago, and the reading went right off the end of the scale." The colonel beamed. "We've found them, gentlemen. And tomorrow we'll go in and take them out. For now, rest up and check your equipment."

Resting up, for Martin, meant leaving his desk, where the official forms were piled high in the IN basket, and heading for his apartment. Martin's apartment was scaled to fit the needs of an organization that had its funds funneled to it secretly and that had to spend much of these funds on expensive shielding equipment. The apartment had bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, and a room jokingly referred to as the "living-dining" room. The whole works fitted inside a space about fifteen feet on a side. The living-dining room was about six feet square and equipped with two straight-back chairs, a folding card table, and a TV set that was fed canned programs through a cable. Anyone with a tendency to claustrophobia soon imagined that the walls were starting to close in on him. As both of the hatch-like doors to the room opened inward, nearly met in the center, and were hung from the same side on walls that faced each other, this illusion had an unpleasant habit of coming true. The kitchenette was a little larger, but with more equipment crammed into it. The bathroom was smaller yet. The only room where two individuals could shut the doors and simultaneously draw a breath without making their eardrums pop was the bedroom. The bedroom was large enough to move around in. The ventilator grille opened into it, incidentally providing the source for eerie whispering sounds that echoed through the room all night.

Martin shared this apartment with his second-in-command, a burly captain by the name of Burns. Right now, Burns was stretched out flat on his cot, his hands clasped behind his head, his eyes shut, and a look of weary exasperation on his face.

"Same damned thing as always," he was saying. "Fall all over ourselves in a desperate rush for six weeks, till the men drop in their tracks, and you catch yourself staring at your hand to try and remember if you're on duty or off—and then Recon loses the bastards, and for the next six weeks there's nothing to do but run through drills and fill out forms. And then—Wham! Recon catches hold again, and we're back on the treadmill."

"It wasn't Reconnaissance this time," said Martin. "Schmidt ran into it on a three-day pass."

Burns opened his eyes.

"You mean he bumped into it by accident?"


"How did that happen?"

"His girl axed him, and he found himself with time on his hands. He wandered back to his old college, which was in the same town, and ran into a funny set-up." Martin described it, and Burns sat up, frowning.

"Apathy, huh? Well—what of it? I can't see the Tamars wasting six units on that."

Martin opened his locker, pulled out a holstered automatic, and set it on his cot.

"They may not have the whole six units on it. We don't know yet just what they've got on it."

Burns nodded, got up, and went to his locker. "I still don't get their point."

"Neither do I," said Martin. "But they're there. It follows that there's trouble for us in it somewhere."

Carefully, Martin took from his locker a small, olive-colored belt case with two short wires attached, then a helmet with a slightly-flattened bulge in front, and a little white box made of opaque plastic. One-by-one, he set them on the cot beside the gun.

Burns said exasperatedly, "What's the use of making a college full of apathetic students? So what? How does that hurt our war effort? The Tamar haven't got so many penetration units they can afford to do things for the fun of it." He frowned suddenly, and said, "Yeah, but on the other hand—how did they do it?"

Martin sat down on his cot and began disassembling the gun. "Now you're on the right track."

"How many students in this college?"

"Over a thousand."

"And they've all had the spirit knocked out of them?"

"All Schmidt saw."

Burnt swore. "The gasbags must have hit the jackpot this time. They're always trying for some kind of leverage, or some multiplier effect. Something to overcome the fact that we have greater numbers than their penetration teams can handle directly."

Carefully, Martin cleaned the disassembled gun. "They've got a multiplier effect this time."

Burns thought it over, frowning, then said, "I suppose it fits their usual method. If they can, they like best to get control of people in key positions. If they can't do that, then they try to get someone who will be in a key position, later. Like that Space Academy mess."

Martin lightly oiled the parts, and reassembled the gun. "That one was ideal, from their viewpoint, all right."

"Sure. Crack a few selected instructors, and then feed the false information directly to the future officers. Then, when they are officers, they'll make dangerous mistakes. We were lucky to break that up before they wrecked us."

Martin slid the gun back into its holster. "Still, the actual multiplier factor there wasn't up to this one. And the cadets they sabotaged—despite the hypnotic effect of the Tamars—were only hurt in one category of their knowledge. This present thing seems to strike not at a man's knowledge, but at his spirit. When a man's spirit is deadened, all his knowledge is more or less useless."

Burns finished cleaning and oiling his own gun, and, like Martin, next checked the working of a small switch recessed just under the edge of his helmet. "Yes, I see what you mean. But I don't see how they do that. Always before, the individual they succeeded in capturing was either used directly—say to give a disastrous order—or else, if he was an instructor, he was used to drive home some dangerous piece of false knowledge. A man may be made to believe, for instance, that hydrogen sulfide gas has an evil smell, but still isn't poisonous. This is false knowledge. It's dangerous. But it won't dispirit a man. The Tamars can teach carefully selected bits of false knowledge. They can do it without departing too much from the school's standard routine. Maybe no one will notice. But how do they teach apathy?"

"I don't know." Frowning, Martin opened the small white case and took out a thing like a dental bridge, with two little stainless steel arms that held a dark red capsule. He slid it into his mouth, fitting it carefully to a lower molar, touched it with his tongue, moved the capsule, and felt it swing up and over to rest on the biting surface of the tooth. Then, carefully, he removed the device.

"Not only," he said, "how do they teach it, but how do they teach the whole college to be apathetic? They must have some kind of mass-production assembly line going." He went into the bathroom, washed the device at the sink, dried it, and put it back in the box.

Across the room, Burns had the capsule in his mouth, and an inward-turned look on his face as he gingerly tried out the device.

Martin put everything back in his locker but the case with two wires attached, then took out a long, olive-colored one-piece suit, with gloves and padded boots attached.

Burns now eased the capsule out of his mouth, and stepped into the bathroom. There was a sound of rushing water. His voice came out faintly muffled.

"The more I think of it, the less I like it. Defeatism is catching, anyway. If they've found some way to compound it and strengthen it—but what's the method? They don't have courses in defeatism."

"Obviously, they'd use some other name."

"Such as what?"

"I haven't figured that out yet."

Martin put on the suit, pulled up the zipper, and carefully snapped together the long thin blocks of connectors to either side. He pressed a small button on the side of the little olive case, saw a tiny lens light up bright-green, indicating that the battery was fully charged, slid the case into a pocket of the suit, connected the two wires to their plugs, zipped the pocket shut, and snapped together the connector blocks on either side. From the sink, Burns growled his opinion of the Tamars, the war, and what they'd probably run into the next day.

"Maybe," said Martin, "by this time tomorrow, you'll be happy over the whole thing."

"Let us hope it doesn't go like that last mess." Burns came out of the bathroom. "Sorry, Mart. I didn't mean to talk while you were wrestling with that suit."

Martin grunted, and unrolled the shaped hood that fit closely over his head, with nothing open but two eyeholes and two small holes to breathe through. He zipped it on, and snapped the last connector blocks together. Then he slid his gloved hand along the center of his chest, felt the pressure-switch beneath the cloth, fine wires, and tiny spheroidal units that were linked together in a layer under the cloth. He pressed the switch, then looked at his cot against the wall. Slowly he raised his right hand to place it over his eyes. He saw neither hand nor arm. He felt the pressure as his hand pressed the cloth gently against his face, but he saw only the cot.

He turned, reached into his locker, and saw the helmet apparently drift out toward him unsupported. He settled it carefully on his head, feeling the built-in connector blocks of helmet and hood snap together. He shut the door leading to the small bathroom, felt the door with his fingers as he shut it, through the gloves of the suit, but saw the door swing eerily shut as if for no visible reason. On the back of the door was a full-length mirror.

Martin looked in the mirror, saw Burns' locker and cot across the room, saw Burns shrug into his own suit, pull up the zipper, and snap shut the blocks—but of himself Martin saw nothing until he leaned very close to the mirror. And then he saw, floating directly before him, all there was that was visible of him—two small black dots—the pupils of his eyes.

A few moments later, Burns vanished, and the two men carefully checked each other.

"Okay," said Martin. "Nothing visible."

"Same with you."

Martin shoved in the pressure-switch. At almost the same instant, Burns suddenly appeared. Methodically, the two men removed their slightly-oversize helmets, put them away, and began to unsnap the connector blocks.

The next day, they would go through the same procedure all over again, but with gun, capsule and a few other standard items in place. Now they carefully took the suits off, and hung them carefully in the lockers.

"I'd still like to know," said Burns, "how the gasbags worked this one."

Martin smiled. "The turning wheel of time reveals all. Just wait twenty-four hours."

"Yeah," said Burns dryly. "If we're still here by then."

* * *

The next day, the colonel took the unusual step of giving a brief talk to the assembled troops, before starting to the surface.

"Gentlemen, what we face today is the deadliest kind of sneak attack. Yet it appears comparatively harmless. There is some danger that we may underestimate this situation and suffer a defeat we can't afford. I think it will pay us if we go over, briefly, our past experiences, to bring this present situation into perspective."

He glanced at Martin. "Major, suppose you briefly analyze a typical enemy attack."

Martin quickly thought it over. "Their typical attack has five phases. The first apparently is a kind of psychological reconnaissance-in-force, to decide future tactics, and to test the resistance of various key-points; to us, these key-points are individuals in positions that are in one way or another sensitive. The second phase of their attack is the psychological assault to capture a selected key-point. Just how this is done is their secret; from our viewpoint, the individual under attack feels strain, tension, and severe depression.

"If he rejects the sensations, successfully throws them out of his mind, and refuses to give in, the attack finally runs down or is broken off. Apparently the enemy suffers some kind of psychic loss or injury in the process, because following an unsuccessful attack there is a lessening of enemy activity. But if the psychological attack is successful, the key-point is captured. From our viewpoint, the individual cracks, and the enemy now takes control of his actions. That control of his actions constitutes the third phase, in which, if he is a government official, he makes harmful decisions, signs the wrong documents, recommends the wrong course of action. If he's a teacher, he plants in his student's minds selected bits of false information. The damage is reinforced with almost hypnotic effect by the powerful personality, not of the individual taken over but apparently of the entity that has psychological control.

"The fourth phase of the attack is actually the effect of the bad teaching or wrong decisions, which compound and pile up, and alert us, if nothing else does, to the realization that something is wrong.

"The fifth phase is retreat. We have overall control of this planet, and there are evidently far more of us than there are of them. Using advanced electronic techniques, we counterattack, and they immediately withdraw, leaving us with possession of the key-point. Following a brief delay, they strike back at us by an attack on another key-point—that is, from our viewpoint—another individual. Meanwhile, we have the first individual to rehabilitate and all the damage he's done to repair. At any given time, there appear to be twenty to thirty enemy attacks in progress in our own sector, except after they've suffered a repulse, when the number drops by almost half. Of these various attacks, we are, at any given time, unaware of at least a few. The enemy relies heavily on concealment, and we often have to reconstruct the sequence of events afterward."

The colonel nodded. "Good." He turned to Burns. "Captain, how do we recognize a captured key-point, an individual who's given in to them?"

"In two ways, so far, sir. First, by the stream of damaging incidents that all lead back to that one individual. Industrial accidents, for instance, involving the students of one teacher. Second, by a peculiar compelling quality in the speech of the captured individual himself as he drives home his false points."

"Right. Now, one more question. Martin, at what are these attacks directed? What is the enemy's target?"

Martin frowned. "The earliest attacks were apparently random, like the blows of a person lashing out at someone in a dark room. But very quickly they came to be directed at key government officials, legislators, high officers in the Space Command. Then there was a progressive shift to attacks on our technology—directly, at first, by striking at industrial leaders and technological specialists, then indirectly by distorting the training of students going into industry. As for this latest attack—" Martin shook his head. "It seems to be directed against a whole student body. But I frankly don't see what is the actual objective."

The colonel nodded. "What our opponents are trying for, of course, is to find a decisive weak point. But as it happens, the key positions in government, industry, and the armed forces, are usually held by people who are accustomed to being under pressure and are prepared to resist pressure. After the comparative few who are susceptible have been taken over, discovered, and replaced, the enemy is driven to try a new approach. Attacking the schools gives a multiplier effect and it is comparatively easier, but the results are slow. New graduates are rarely given positions of importance. And the false knowledge given to them is likely to result in industrial accidents that are troublesome but comparatively minor, and that, one way or another, disqualify the individuals concerned. Some new tactic becomes necessary. What they have hit on now is a way to emotionally stun an entire student body. Past blows have been aimed at government and industry. This latest blow is aimed at the emotions of a large group of people."

The colonel paused, and Martin was aware of the stir in the room as some of the significance of this began to dawn.

"Attitudes," said the colonel, "are catching. And they're basic. Strike a weapon from a man's hand, and he'll find another. Make his leaders betray him, and he'll choose new leaders. Let his technology fail him, and he'll repair it. But fix him so he just doesn't give a damn about anything—" The colonel glanced around the room. "Gentlemen, this is one fight we can't afford to lose."

* * *

Now, on the surface, Martin and the others were dispersed across the campus, an invisible net of unseen eyes watching in each classroom and administrative office, joined together by little short-range transmitters at their throats and thimble-sized receivers at their ears. Painstakingly they watched and listened, and then the voice of a sergeant named Cains spoke in Martin's ear.

"Major, I think I've found it."


"Room 24 of the Nears Social Studies Building."

Martin mentally pinpointed the building on the map he'd memorized on the way to the surface. "All right. What's going on there?"

"Just a lecture in elementary psychology, sir, but it's got all the signs. The lecturer's voice goes right into your head. What he says makes you feel cheap, small, and helpless. You have to keep fighting it off, and it's hard to keep up with him."

"That sounds like it, all right. We'll be right there."

The colonel's voice spoke in Martin's ear.

"Major Carney, move your men to blocking positions outside the Nears Building. If this man should happen to get away from us, we'll mark him with a dye pellet. You will arrange the accident."

Carney's voice replied, "Yes, sir. We'll get him, sir."

"Major Martin, you will keep a continuous watch on the rest of the buildings, but move your ready squad to just outside the Nears Building. It seems to me that to straighten this out is going to be unusually tough. Sergeant Cains will step outside as soon as the door opens and wait by the door. You and I and Captain Burns will handle this ourselves."

* * *

The door of Room 24 of the Nears Building swung open as if it had been insecurely latched and blown back by the wind. The colonel, Martin and Burns waited for the count of three, then stepped through quickly, each man grasping the shoulder of the unseen man in front of him.

To their right were rows of seated students. To their left was a long blackboard, with a closed door halfway down the room. Near this closed door was a desk, and on the far side of the desk, facing the blackboard, stood an individual with an omniscient expression and a voice that carried a peculiarly penetrating blend of complaint, jeer, and triumph.

The colonel, Martin, and Burns stepped aside as the instructor stopped speaking, glanced across the room, then strode with quick decisive steps to bang shut the door. With the instructor at the door, the colonel led the way behind the desk to the opposite corner of the room, where the three men then stood with their backs to the side wall and waited.

The instructor returned to his desk.

Martin briefly studied the class, which had a uniform dulled and dreary look. Many of the students appeared to have passed into a kind of cataleptic trance and sat perfectly motionless, eyes directly to the front, as the instructor strode back, glanced briefly at an indecipherable scrawl chalked on the blackboard, then faced the class. His voice rose with the whine of a wasp preparing to sting.

"We will now," he said, "summarize our conclusions."

He turned to the blackboard and with two decisive slashes drew a pair of roughly horizontal lines, one about a foot and a half above the other. Hand raised, he paused for a moment, then with a quick snap of the arm drew an off-center egg-shaped scrawl between the two lines. Above the upper line, he rapidly scratched a series of minus signs. His motions were abrupt and exaggerated, but Martin noted that no one in the class smiled, or even changed expression.

The instructor now faced the class.

"This is the basic human situation. Here was have—" he slashed the chalk across the oval—"the ego. And here—" he slashed at the upper line—"repulsion. Here—" the lower line—"attraction. And the result?" With quick slashes he drew a downward-pointing arrow. "The ego moves down. The ego is driven by repulsion, drawn by attraction. The ego is without will. There is no such thing as will. There is only desire. Desire is rooted in the subconscious. We are unaware of the subconscious. Hence the desires that determine our actions are outside forces, not subject to our control. We do not control desires. Desires control us. Man is a puppet. Man must cast off hypocrisy and admit his will-less, soul-less, helpless state. There is only desire and nothing but desire, and desire, whether it be greed, lust—"

The keening voice rose and fell in intensity, driving home each individual thought with an impact that could be felt, and Martin had the feeling that he was being crammed head-first into a little twisted room, where all the furniture was warped, where walls and ceiling met at odd angles, and where the windows were of distorted glass, looking out on an apparently insane world.

The colonel's voice, low and distinct, spoke in his ear.

"Martin. Take him out."

Martin pressed his tongue against the base of the capsule hinged close beside a lower tooth. He felt the capsule swing up and over, to fit smoothly against the biting surface of the tooth. He stepped forward.

The keening voice went on, but as Martin paused some three feet from the slightly puffy face with its faint sheen of perspiration, and as he raised his hand to the edge of his helmet, he was barely conscious of the voice. Martin clenched his teeth, felt the capsule crush, swallowed the stinging, cool-feeling liquid, and at the same moment forced back the recessed switch set just inside the edge of his oversize helmet. Then he focused his whole mind and consciousness on the man before him.

Just how or when it happened, Martin didn't know, but abruptly he was conscious of the shift of viewpoint, saw the class suddenly in front of him instead of to the side, heard the apparent change in tone of voice, saw the slight dimming of light, now seen through different organs of vision.

To one side was a barely-perceptible creak of leather and a rustle of cloth.

The voice went on "... no individuality, but only complexity. Psych-ology becomes a science and disproves itself, for there is no psyche. Psyche is a fiction, the soul is a ..."

Then the voice abruptly came to a halt, as if awaiting fresh orders.

Martin felt, at his shoulder, a brief reassuring grip. Something brushed past, and there was the faint, barely perceptible shuffle of two men very quietly carrying a third.

Martin, looking out through the unfamiliar visual apparatus, briefly considered the jolt in store for the personality that had been put to the service of spreading this infected philosophy. It would, of course, have to be "rehabilitated." What would it feel when it came to, occupying a drone-body, with the sweat-course rising in front of it, where it would be driven to call on will-power in increasing measure, would have to surmount every kind of obstacle, to merely escape the slowly advancing boundary that meant agonizing pain. Slowly, nerve and determination would have to be built up, through one trial, failure, and sheet of agony after another, till at last the personality was strong enough to break through the final obstacle. That in turn would mean that it was strong enough to protect itself against psychological attack and could be trusted in its former position. The personality would have amnesia for the incidents of the course, but the reflexes and attitudes would remain. Martin, who had gone through it several times during his training, did not relish the idea of starting it with the belief that will-power and spirit were myths that couldn't be called upon in need.

The door of the classroom swung wide, as if it had been insecurely latched, and a gust of wind had blown it open.

Martin waited a moment, then closed the door.

The class sat motionless, waiting for the voice to go on.

Martin returned to the desk, and briefly considered the problem. The key-point was now retaken but the damage, if possible, still had to be undone. That would mean a slight change in the presentation.

He looked searchingly at the class, then leaned forward, and focused his whole attention.

The voice obediently snapped with energy. The platitudes rolled glibly out.

"... Yes, the psyche is a fiction. A figment. Imaginary. A left-over relic of past theories, amusing but vapid, unproved, prescientific." Here and there, pencils scratched, and Martin could see that he had the helpless attention of his audience. "Yes, a mere construct of prescientific minds. A myth. A theory. Unproved, though useful to its believers, and as yet, of course, not disproved." The pencils scratched on. "Just as will is unproved, just as the concept of a Supreme Being is unproved—yet they are not disproved. These concepts are prescientific, just as the sun is prescientific, and the sun is not disproved. The sun exists." The pencils continued to scratch; those few still not taking notes continued to watch him with unfocused gaze. He had the impression that he was feeding bits of information into a computer which would accept whatever he might give it and act accordingly.

Martin groped in memory for the earlier part of the lecture, seeking a way to undercut the ideas that had left him feeling as if he were being shoved into a narrow twisted room.

"Yes, the ego is driven by repulsion, drawn by attraction. But the essential consciousness of man is not the ego of psychology. The ego is without will. But man's consciousness has will. There is no such thing as will, because will is not a thing. Yet will exists."

Carefully, concentrating on each separate thought, Martin worked down the long list, drawing distinctions that undercut each separate assertion that he could trace in memory. Tensely, he hurled the ideas across:

"Man is a puppet. His body is controlled by strings called nerves. His brain is a calculating machine, built of protoplasm. Seen thus, man has complexity, but no individuality. Yet body and brain are not all. Who is the observer who considers body and brain? The idea of soul is ancient, prescientific, unproved, yet not disproved. If there is a puppet, worked by strings, what works the strings? What applies certain ultimate changes in electrical potential that control the body and the calculating machine of the brain?"

Relentlessly, he destroyed the earlier assertions, while time stretched out, and he stood drenched in sweat, and the pencils scratched on endlessly:

"... As psychology becomes a science, it is no longer psychology, as the psyche does not exist, to the present instruments of science. What science does not observe, it cannot record and cannot study. But psychology itself is not yet out of its infancy. Its conclusions are tentative, not final. Its failure to observe does not disprove the existence of the thing not observed. A man with inadequate instruments may fail to detect a particular star, but the star he fails to observe is still there. The failure is that of the method, not of the star ..."

At some point, Martin sensed a change. The pencils obediently scratched, and the watching gaze still seemed unfocused, but the look of dulled apathy was gone. It dawned on Martin that he had finally cut the foundation out from under the previous teachings.

He now spoke more freely, driving home a belief in soul, will, character, and the power of man to fight and eventually conquer obstacles. When he was through, he knew, no present-day teacher of psychology would recognize the course. But that didn't trouble Martin. A glance at the clock showed him he had only a few minutes left, but the audience was attentive, and the pencils wrote rapidly, and as the second hand of the clock on the wall swung up toward the hour mark, some memory warned Martin that these classes were ended in a special way.

"Now," he said, varying the procedure slightly, "soon the bell will ring, and you will feel wide awake. You will go out conscious that you have judgment, the power of choice, and will. When the bell rings, you will feel wide awake, fresh, full of energy."

The second hand aligned itself with the minute hand. In the hallway, a bell rang jarringly.

The class stirred, sat up, burst into an explosion of sound and energy. With a rush, the class emptied into the hall.

Drenched in sweat, Martin leaned against the desk.

Now, he thought, let that blast of energy hit the rest of them. Let faith and determination compete with apathy, and see what happens.

Martin felt the relief of a man who sees success close at hand.

Behind him, there was the quiet click of a latch.

* * *

Martin remembered the door near the desk. He turned.

A well-groomed man with an intensely-piercing gaze stood in the doorway, and stared directly into his eyes.

It dawned on Martin that this was the chairman of the department.

The two men stood staring at each other. The chairman of the department said nothing, but the intense unwavering gaze, and the sense of a powerful, dominant personality began to make itself felt.

Abruptly, Martin felt a brief sensation of dread. There was a flicker of some unspecified fear.

—Something might happen to him.

The thought wavered, then strengthened.

The dread closed around him like an iron strap.

His heart began to race.

The palms of his hands felt damp and his legs weak and shaky.

The department chairman smiled and took a slow step forward.

Somewhere within Martin, there was a sensation like the impact of a massive object striking against a granite cliff. There was a sense of heavy jarring—but nothing gave.

Martin continued to look into the intense eyes, focusing his own gaze on the faint light that seemed to be there somewhere deep in the backs of the eyes.

A thought flashed briefly through his mind: Had this entity, whatever it was, ever gone through the equivalent of the sweat course? Had it ever been compelled to call up will and nerve a thousand times, or be sent painfully back to the beginning, to start from there and do the whole thing all over again?—Just what was the limit of its resistance?

Martin stepped forward, focusing his gaze on that faint light, deep in the eyes.

Again there was a sense of mental collision.

For a long moment, nothing happened.

Then there was a slow, heavy yielding.

The light, whatever it was, didn't waver in the eyes. But the sense of attack weakened, then broke.

The department chairman abruptly shook his head, and stepped back.

For an instant, Martin was sure he had won. As this certainty flooded through him, he became vaguely aware that he was off-balance mentally.

Abruptly, with his opponent still turned away, the sensation of dread was back. The imagined iron strap drew tight around his chest.

The department chairman looked up again, the light in his eyes intense and unwavering. He looked directly into Martin's eyes.

This time, the jar and shock were heavier than Martin had ever experienced.

The room wavered around him.

It came to Martin that he was under attack from two directions at once. From the man here before him, and from a distance. With a violent effort of will, he struggled hard to stay conscious.

Once again, nothing gave. But this time, the crushing anxiety grew, drew tighter, and tighter still.

Somewhere, there was a faint rustle of cloth. Martin, his gaze watery, but still fixed on the man in front of him, knew dimly that neither of them had moved.

Now, close at hand, there was a faint quiet scuff.

The pressure mounted till Martin saw through a red haze. The blood pounded in his ears, and he couldn't breathe. Through a sea of agony, he struggled to hold out.

Then, somewhere, something broke.

The sense of pressure dropped to a fraction of its former strength, then tried to reassert itself.

Martin sucked in a deep breath. Abruptly, his vision cleared. He snapped the hallucinatory band, smashed the whole body of thoughts struggling to get control.

In front of him, the department chairman wavered on his feet.

Martin faced him steadily, uncertain what could have happened. Then he noticed the change in the eyes, as if a different personality looked out.

There was a brief compression of cloth at the sleeve, near the department chairman's shoulder, as if an invisible hand gave a brief reassuring grip.

It dawned on Martin that when the colonel planned an attack, he planned it right. After the enemy had his reserve committed, then the colonel made his move.

Martin grinned. The gasbags had lost something this time. And it wasn't over yet.

The reason for their original rapid progress was clear enough now.

By controlling the source of supposedly-valid psychological knowledge, the enemy had gained an opportunity to thoroughly sabotage the outlook of each individual student in the regular course of his education. Then, by the combined force of their wrong beliefs, the sabotaged individuals unwittingly sabotaged others, snowballing the trouble.

Given a little more time undisturbed, there was no telling what kind of a catastrophe might have been achieved. But now, using their own techniques, it should be possible to build up exactly the opposite attitudes from those they'd intended. Meanwhile, the previously-captured instructors would be experiencing the sweat course. They would return with amnesia for the details of the whole grim experience, but the resulting attitudes and reflexes would remain. By the time the latest miracle of electronic wizardry had everyone's sense of identity sorted out again, the damage ought to be more than undone.

Martin rested his knuckles on the desk and faced the new class just filing in. Abruptly, Martin thought for a moment of the swordsman of old, and of his entirely different kind of battle, and he looked around with a sense of strangeness at the quiet, peaceful surroundings. Then he shook his head.

This was different.

But it was just as deadly.

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