"Humans, Go Home!" (1969) by A. E. van Vogt

(actualisé le ) by A. E. van Vogt

Miliss and Dav are the only two humans on the Jana planet, and their mission is to help the population evolve progressively towards a more advanced state of civilization, more compatible with the ultra-developed nature of the rest of the human-controlled galaxy. But there are big problems, not the least of which is the increasing decadence of the human race and a seemingly-inevitable death-wish urge on the part of its females such as Miliss. Also there is a civil-war situation on Jana and the hard-line group that has the upper hand wants to execute the humans as traitors. And the leaders of both clans have the hots for Miliss, as does Dav. Will the humans and their Janae allies be able to win the day?

First published in Galaxy magazine in September 1969 [1] with the numerous original illustrations by Frank Gaeger that are shown here, this well-written novelette [2] on the very van-Vogtian theme of the relations between civilizations of different levels of development is one of the most successful of his longer later-period stories.


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CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII


His mission was to make a gift of humanity’s past to beings of an alien planet—and discover: could Man survive his own immortality?

OF SYMBOLS AND MAN

Jana is a planet with one large continent and a number of small islands. All the rest is ocean.
The continent is about two thousand miles square and from time immemorial scores of powerful tribes of the Janae have fought each other to one uneasy truce after another.
Then came two human beings, Dav and Miliss. They set up headquarters in a big, sprawling White House-by the river.
Their civilizing task had been to bring the warring tribes up to the status of city states, then to unions of cities and finally to one state for the entire continent, headed by the hereditary general of the largest of the original tribes. At the same time they were to create a scientific civilization of a kind that never existed during similar natural developments on other planets.
In effect, 4,000 years of Jana socio-political development was telescoped into 400 through the use of Symbols familiar to Man through centuries of infancy but finally refined to powerful physical forces of instant effectiveness.
Normally a Symbol motivates. During a span of time millions of minds align in support of a single idea. At its most intense the idea is so strongly held by so many persons that rebellion against it becomes a mortal offense.
Study of the chemistry of such an alignment of minds behind an idea had revealed two common denominators. For each Symbol the body actually manufactured a substance which varied slightly from Symbol to Symbol. The variations were expressed in different codings and energy charges.
The energy charges were the second common denominator when reproduced artificially—and amplified—they showed as palpable force fields. Such fields had only a mild effect on individuals who believed in the Symbol. But they became progressively more palpable when experienced by persons who resisted the Symbol. In the presence of someone who was totally against the Symbol the field attained such an intensity that it acquired a spinning motion-at which stage it could be dangerous to life.
Already begun on Jana was a special type of parliament: The Chosen. This body would eventually show its remarkable qualities but was currently restricted by the power of the nobles.
The elective system was simple. The electorate was divided into groups of a hundred voters. Each group sent a representative to an Elected Board. Each Elected Board consisted of a hundred delegates and, in turn, elected members to Elected Committees, who selected The Chosen.
Each level group had its political, local or national duties which, for the time being, were subordinated to the automatic privileges of the nobles.


CHAPTER I

’EACH morning,’ Miliss said, ’is the dawn of nothing.’ So she was leaving.
’No children, no future,’ the woman continued. ’Every day like every other, going nowhere. The sun shines, but I’m in darkness — ’
It was, Dav realized, the beginning of the death talk. He tensed his perfect muscles. His blue eyes — they could observe with a deep understanding on many levels — misted with sudden anxiety. But his lips and his infinitely adaptable tongue — which in its time, and that time was long indeed, had spoken a hundred languages — said no word.
He watched her, made no move to help her and no effort to stop her as she piled her clothes on to a powered dolly, to be wheeled into the east wing of the house. Her clothes, her jewels from a score of planets; her special pillows and other bedroom articles; the specific furniture — each piece a jewel in itself — in which she stored her possessions; her keys — plain and electronic, pushbotton-control types for energy relays and tiny combination systems for entry into the great Reservoir of the Symbols — all now were made ready to be transported with a visibly growing impatience.
Finally she snapped, ’Where is your courtesy? Where is your manliness — letting a woman do all this work?’
Dav said evenly, ’It would be foolish of me to help you leave me.’
’So all those years of politeness — I merely bought them with unalienated behaviour. You have no natural respect for a woman — or for me.’
She yelled the accusations at him. Dav felt a tremor stir inside him, not from her words but from the meaning of the anger that accompanied them, the unthinking automatic quality of that anger.
He said flatly, ’I am not going to help you leave me.’
It was the kind of answer one made to a stereotype. His hope had to be that these preliminaries of the death com­pulsion could be headed off.
His words, however, were far from effective. Her blonde cheeks gradually turned to a darker colour as the day — unlike other days, which were often as slow as forever — devoured itself, digesting hours in great gulps. And still her possessions, more numerous evidently than she had realized, were not shifted from the west to the east wing of the long, big house.
Late in the afternoon Dav pointed out that her act of withdrawal was a well-known phenomenon of internal female chemistry. He merely wanted from her the analytical consciousness of this fact — and her permission to give her the drugs that would rectify the condition.
She rejected the argument. From her lips poured a stream of angry rationalizations.
’The woman is always to blame. The fault is in her, not in the man. The things that I have had to put up with — they don’t count — ’
Long ago, when she was still in her natural state, before the administration of the first immortality injections, there might have been genuine cause for accusations which attacked male subjectiveness. But that was back in a distant time. After the body had been given chemical aids, all things were balanced by a diet of understanding drugs.

DAV located the relevant book in the library and aban­doned his initial attempts to keep from her the seriousness of her condition. He walked beside her and read paragraphs detailing the emotional affliction that had led to the virtual destruction of the human race. The dark thoughts she had expressed — and was now acting on — were described so exactly that abruptly, as he walked beside her, he bent in her direction and held the book up to her face. His finger pointed out the significant sentences.
Miliss stopped. Her eyes, a deceptive grey-green, nar­rowed. Her lips tightly compressed, unmistakably resisting what he was doing. Yet she spoke in a mild tone.
’Let me see that!’
She reached for the book.
Dav surrendered it reluctantly. The sly purpose he detected in her seemed even more automatic than the earlier anger. In those few hours she appeared to have become a simpler, more primitive person.
So he was not surprised when she raised the book above her head and, with a wordless vocalization, flung it to the floor behind him.
They had come to within a few yards of a door which led to her part of the house. Dav resignedly stooped to pick up the book, aware of her walking rapidly to that door. It opened and slammed shut behind her.
After silence descended, after the coming of the brilliant, purple Jana twilight, when the sun finally sank out of sight behind the slickrock mountains to the west and the sweet, soft darkness of the shining, starlit night of Jana settled, Dav tested the connecting doors between the two wings. All four resisted his pull with the rigidity of unbreakable locks.

THE following morning.
The sound of a buzzer precipitated Dav into the new day. For a meagre moment the hope stirred in him that Miliss was calling. But he rejected that possibility even as he formed the image in his mind that triggered the nearest thought amplifier. His dismissal of the idea turned out to be correct. The buzzing ceased. A picture formed on the ceiling screen. It showed a Jana tradesboy with groceries standing at the outer door.
Dav spoke to the boy in the Jana tongue and glided out of bed. Presently he was accepting the bag from the long-nosed youth, who said, ’There was a message to bring this to another part of the house. But I didn’t understand clearly—’
Dav hesitated with the fleeting realization that the ever-present Java spy system was probably behind those words. And that if he explained, the information would be instantly relayed to the authorities. Not that he could ever tell these beings the truth. Their time for immortality was not yet.
Nor was it their time to learn the numerous details of the final disaster — when, in a period of a few months, virtually the entire human population of the galaxy rejected life, refused the prolongation drugs. People by the billion hid themselves and died unattended and uncaring.
A few, of course, were captured by appalled survivors and had treatment forced on them. A wrong solution, it devel­oped. For the people who sympathized and helped, by those very desperate feelings, in some manner attuned themselves into the same deadly psychic state as the naturally doomed.
In the end it was established that the only real survivors were individuals who felt a scathing contempt for people who could not be persuaded to accept help. Such a disdainful survivor could sarcastically argue with someone — yes, for a while. But force him, no.
Dav stood at the door of the great house in which he and Miliss had lived these several hundred years. And he realized that his was the moment.
To save himself, he had to remember that what Miliss was doing deserved his total disgust.
He shrugged and said, ’My wife has left me. She is living alone on the other side of the house. So deliver these to the door at the far east side.’
He thrust the bag of groceries back into the hands of the Jana and motioned him away.
The boy took the big sack and backed off with visible reluctance.
’Your wife has left you?’ he echoed finally.
Dav nodded. In spite of himself he felt vaguely regretful at the revelation. To these Jana males, pursuit of females began early and continued into late life, terminating approximately at the moment of death. Until now the human woman had been a forbidden and unapproachable female. But no question — there had always been a perverted Jana male interest in Miliss.
With an abrupt dismissal Dav suppressed such thoughts. What they represented was unimportant. It did not matter.

LATER that day he saw her in her part of the garden, lissome, still beautiful, showing no signs of immediate deterioration. Apparently — even on this second day — she was still an im­mortal blonde woman. Seeing her, Dav shrugged and turned away, his lip curling, and in his mind the thought that she was not really human.
She could not reason.
Still later, darkness had fallen when, after testing with the various keys the Blaze Points of the Great Reservoir of the Symbols, he came to the summit of the hill from which he could see their long, white house.
Its night lights showed the garden and the glint of the river on the far side. But around it nothing moved. Silent stood the old house, familiar, a centuries-old landmark.
Something about the stillness below disturbed him. He had a sudden feeling that no one was there. The house itself was dark — both wings.
Puzzled but not alarmed — because he was safe and Miliss did not count, for she was doomed anyway — Dav hurried down. He tried first a door to her wing. It was unlocked.
An amplified thought hit him. Miliss speaking mentally.
Dav, I have been arrested by Jaer Dorrish and am being taken to a military prison. I have the impression that this is a Dorrish clan takeover scheme and that it is connected with the fact that Rocquel has now been gone for a year. That’s all . . .
The account was succinct, as impersonal as his own receipt of it. She had left him a communication of facts. In her message was no appeal, no request for help.
Dav stood silent. He was evoking a mental picture of the sardonic Jaer Dorrish and, more vaguely, the image of Rocquel, the hereditary leader of the Janae, who had disappeared slightly more than one Jana year ago. A year on Jana was three hundred ninety-two and a fraction days long.
He felt opposed to Jaer, of course — in a way wished the steely-minded Rocquel were back. Usurpations usually meant trouble and unrest. But if it had to be, it had to. The Janae constituted a problem for him as Guardian of the Symbols. But individuals among them were not, in one sense, important. Though he had liked Rocquel, and still liked Rocquel’s — widow?
Nerda.
In the morning, I’ll look into this . . .

CHAPTER II

ROCQUEL’S senses blurred in arriving. He lay down for a few seconds on the shadowy grass. It was already day — fairly early morning, he noticed when he climbed to his feet. He could see the palace, visible among the trees of the vast garden which surrounded the building.
Rocquel stood for a moment, head thrown back, breath­ing deeply of the air of his native planet. A year had seemed a long absence. So much had happened. Yet the sky of Jana and these hills that he had known in his lost youth so intimately seemed unchanged. Here, during all those tremen­dous days of his absence, time had sculptured with a slow and exacting chisel. A gentle wind blew in Rocquel’s face as he started slowly towards the road beyond the near trees, the winding road that would take him to the palace.
Incredibly, he made it to within a hundred yards of the sprawl of building before a Jana male came suddenly from around some trees, saw him, and stopped. Rocquel recognized the other at once; Jaer Dorrish. Jaer was a big fellow, bigger than Rocquel, good-looking in a swarthy way. His eyes narrowed. He seemed to brace himself.
He said arrogantly in the tone of one addressing an intruder, ’What are you doing here — stranger?’
Rocquel walked forward at a deliberate pace. He had been cautioned to take up his old position before he revealed the new facets of his personality. He didn’t need the warning — it was implicit in the sly act of a person who knew him, pretending not to.
The problem of what one of the Dorrish men was doing in the Rocquel grounds so early in the morning — or ever — he would come to later. Right now the denial of his identity was surpassingly significant.
This time Jaer Dorrish showed his understanding of the situation.
’By Dilit,’ he said exultantly, ’I’ve caught you unarmed.’
He drew his sword in a single, continuous movement and began to circle Rocquel, apparently not quite believing that he need merely rush in and slash. His eyes speculatively sized up Rocquel’s condition.

ROCQUEL backed and simultaneously turned. He paused where Jaer had been standing. It took him moments to locate consciously the symbol made by the invisible Tizane energy, which he had directed to the spot the instant he saw Jaer. He kicked it cautiously, leaning backward so that his body would not be attracted by the symbol. His foot tingled unpleasantly — it was a feeling of something grabbing at him, something very powerful that did not quite reach him but only clawed the outer threads of his clothing, failing to get a good hold. Twice he pulled clear of it. Presently he was able to step over the broken ground without experiencing a reaction.
He was already out of danger when Jaer laughed and replaced his sword.
The big male said arrogantly, ’If one does not threaten, one cannot show mercy. You see, Rocquel, I expected that you would return today. I have had observers watching the grounds all night so that I could have this confrontation with you.’ He grimaced triumphantly. ’I analyse that you owe your return to me. Because yesterday I arrested the human woman, Miliss, and here you are this morning, exactly as I anticipated. It was a sudden intuition of mind. You have a lot of explaining to do — sir.’
Jaer was visibly jubilant. He waved at somebody behind Rocquel. Rocquel was wary of the gesture. In his careful defensive maneuvering he had gotten his back to the buildings. Finally he glanced carefully around and saw that Nerda was walking towards them.
As she came near, she said, ’You were not really in danger were you? It showed in your manner.’
Rocquel said, ’Not from one person.’
He walked to her, and she did not resist his kiss. She might as well have. Her lips were cool and unresponsive. Her passive body did not welcome his embrace.
Rocquel drew back, scowling. An old anger against this defiant young female rose to gall him.
’Damn you,’ he said. ’Aren’t you glad to see me?’ Nerda merely gazed at him cooly.
’I forgot,’ said Rocquel, stung. ’It was a welcome period of rest for you. It’s difficult for a male to remember that Jana females do not have feelings.’
His wife shrugged.
Rocquel stared at her, curious now rather than hostile. Like all Jana females, she was icily aloof. He had married her in the usual fashion by having her father bring her to his house. She had subsequently born him a son and a daughter, but in the Jana female tradition she continued to treat him like an intruder in her life — whom she must tolerate but did not particularly care to have around.
Rocquel scowled jealously.
’What about Jaer?’
That brought a reply.
’I think he has already explained his presence. Rather than have any further words from him, I would prefer to hear your explanation of your absence.’
Rocquel rejected explanations. ’Come along,’ he said gruffly. ’Let us go inside.’

THERE were things to do. The news of his return would spread rapidly. The men in control of the council must not be allowed too much time to decide what to do about him. There would be regents, generals, and their aides — who would be unhappy at the return of the hereditary ruler of the army. Before this night he must again be recognized as entitled by law and right to wield the sceptre of his sphere.
He took Nerda’s arm gently. The move was calculated. He wanted to enter the palace beside her, his identity given validity by her presence. A year was a long time on Jana. Jana males particularly had short memories. He could not have planned his arrival better if he had personally made all the arrangements in advance.
Rocquel had the tocsin sounded as soon as he reached the main guard station. Shortly the palace guard and the servants were drawn up in five lines of a hundred each. He addressed them in his deepest baritone, recalling himself to the older men, inviting the younger men to remember his face and body structure. He wanted them to be able to identify him under all circumstances.
He felt a little better when that job was done and the people had been dismissed to return to their duties. But not much better. The servants and guards could be talked to like a schoolroom full of children. But not the officers. Not the nobility.
He had a new, superior — yet not at all condescending —attitude toward these people. They were simple souls. He now understood how rapidly Dav and Miliss were rushing Janae into civilization by a trial-and-error system that attempted to take each man for what he was.
The lower classes were given easy tests. Those who showed even a modicum of mechanical ability were soon placed on assembly lines, where they performed one action, then two, then several — but never many. For decades now some pretty sharp mechanics had been coming up the line, and from their ranks arose a new class — engineers.
The officers and nobility were a different breed. Quick to take insult, they were truly impervious to all but the barest elements of education. They had been persuaded that being able to read and write was a mark of distinction, but they were never entirely convinced. Why, they wanted to know grimly, were the lower classes also being taught reading and writing? The resultant, infinitely stubborn attitude had made it necessary to have a different written language for the people — one the upper classes didn’t respect — before the nobles sullenly allowed their children to go to special, separate schools.
Telling the nobility of his return, it seemed to Rocquel, would have to be done at an all-male dinner in the vast dining hall adjoining the even vaster jousting room.

ABOUT mid-morning Dav at last felt free to put through a call to Nerda. There was a long delay. Finally an aide came to the phone.
He said in a formal tone. ’The queen wishes me to inform you that her lord, Rocquel, has returned, and since he will in future represent the power of the armed forces, her talking to you might be misconstrued at this stage. That is all, sir.’
Dav hung up, startled. The great Rocquel was home. Where had he been?
The hereditary general had always been a male first, his every movement and the tenor of his being expressing the quiescent violence of his powerful, super-masculine breed. It seemed an unfortunate coincidence for Miliss that the deadly, narrow-eyed Jana ruler had returned. Dav divined that, if a struggle for power took place, Miliss might be its first victim.
After some thought, Dav phoned the palace a second time and asked for Rocquel.
Once more he endured delay.
At last another aide said, ’His Excellency, the lord-general Rocquel wishes me to inform you that a new law will be promulgated tomorrow to the council. He invites you to attend the council meeting which will be held at the slickrock rendezvous.’

THE dinner that night shocked Rocquel. He had forgotten the extreme coarseness of his peers — at least it had become vague in his mind. An uproar of yelling and jesting began as the first male arrived. More arrivals simply added to the pandemonium. Things quieted down only to a degree when the meal was finally served. Plates clanked. Forks and knives clattered. Males yelled a peculiar type of acceptable insult at acquaintances farther along a table — insults having to do with the jester’s belief that the other lacked sexual prowess. Such remarks always brought bellows of laughter, while onlookers insultingly urged the object of the attack to prove his capabilities.
Yet since humour always probed the abyss of a male’s sensitivity to criticism, suddenly a word would be unaccept­able. In a flash the aggrieved male was on his feet, ragefully demanding satisfaction. Moments later the two nobles, yelling furiously at each other, would stamp out to the jousting room and add the clash of their steel to the sound of the dozens that were already there.
Shortly a scream of outrage announced the first blood had been drawn. In the presence of Rocquel the custom was that the male initially blooded in any way was expected to acknowledge defeat. Such acknowledgement meant that the insult was nullified. But the loser who felt himself still aggrieved could demand a later reckoning away from the palace grounds.
It was of this assembled group of mad creatures that Rocquel demanded silence when the eating was completed. Getting it, he gave the explanation for his absence that had been suggested to him — a religious withdrawal, a year of wandering among the people as a mendicant, a time of self-searching and thorough selflessness, of deliberate, temporary abdication of power.
He concluded his fabricated account.
’I saw our people in their daily actions. I lived among them, survived on their generosity, and can report that the Jana world is indeed a worthy one.’
He received a prolonged ovation. But a bad moment came when he presently went into the jousting room, where the guests had drifted after his talk.
A voice grated beside his ear, ’Your sword, sire.’ Rocquel experienced a blank instant as he realized he was being challenged.
He swung around as of old in a swift, automatic defence action. His blade came out, weaving, before he saw that his challenger was Jaer Dorrish.
Rocquel poised, sword ready. He gazed questioningly into the dark, cynical eyes of his enemy.
From somewhere in the sea of faces surrounding them, from out of the diminishing curtain of sound — diminishing as more males grew aware of what was happening — Rocquel was aware of a top officer speaking sharply.
’Jaer — have you forgotten? You have to state your reason when you challenge the crown. And it must be a reason acceptable to the majority present.’
’My reason,’ said Jaer in his deliberate fashion, ’is that story of where he said he was during the past year — ’
The officer who had spoken walked forward. He was grave, fortyish, narrow-eyed.
’Is it a matter of misunderstanding the story or of rejecting it?’
Silence had settled over the room, and the words made an echo into the distances of that cavernous space. The question visibly gave Jaer pause. His expression showed his compre­hension that a to-the-death had to follow any total challenge of a noble’s word.
Abruptly he laughed and put away his sword.
He said, ’I think I shall ask privately for a clarification. If Rocquel decides what I have to say is truly a reason for a challenge — then we shall have our bout. Perhaps tomorrow.’ He thereupon stepped close to Rocquel and said in a low, insolent voice. ’Your Excellency — the coincidence of my arresting Miliss and your prompt return needs to be explained. If the two are not related — you will, of course, have no objection to my plans for disposing of her.’
Rocquel said evenly, ’If you are operating within the frame of the law — ’
’The law is what the council decides,’ replied Jaer arro­gantly. ’Do I have your word that you will not interfere — in view of my suspicions?’
’There will be a new law,’ said Rocquel in a formal tone. ’Within the frame of that law — I shall not interfere.’
He walked away, leaving Jaer Dorrish with a black scowl on his face and a query about the ’new law’ unspoken on his pursed lips. In his mind Rocquel read the thought that this very night he must attend on the human woman — must force her before any protecting law was passed.
Yet Rocquel could not be sure he had read correctly even when Jaer left the party within minutes.

NERDA was waiting for Rocquel when he came in. He was late, very late. As soon as he entered — and after he had nodded to her — she retreated to her dressing-room and began to get ready for bed. He watched her shadow through the translucent door. A regretful thought passed through his mind that he should have given her permission to retire without waiting for his return.
Presently he rejected the thought of such leniency. According to Jana law a wife could not undress at night to go to bed until her husband gave permission. She could lie down with her clothes on. She could even sleep, though that was frowned on. She could go to bed before his return only with his written permission or if a doctor stated in writing or in the presence of witnesses that she was ill.
The rules seemed harsh. But Rocquel had read the ancient documents containing the results of studies made of Jana female behaviour prior to the passing of the stringent laws, and there was no question. Jana females would associate with males only when forced. A female, unforced, would promptly move off by herself and remain that way all her life.
The facts had been set down by amazed historians who named names and places. The truths of the long-ago experiments in allowing freedom to females were attested to by famous people of Jana history. There was no point in repeating the experience in modern times.
Jana females had no maternal instinct and particularly detested their male children. It had been a sad thing to read some of the comments made by females during the free period.
A male child will eventually become a Jana male — that most detestable being. And so any charming childlike attri­butes he may have are an illusion . . .
Another female had been in favour of the race’s dying out — because its continuance required that Jana males also survive, to which she was ’totally opposed.’
What could males do, confronted by such females? They had done it.
The laws were just and as kind as they could be. A female could complain if she suffered any ill-treatment — and receive an immediate hearing from a court. No expense was spared by the State to protect her from a brutal husband.
In return she must do her duty by her husband and her children. Since she had no feeling about her functions, the law prescribed her exact routine.
Obviously even the hereditary general could not lightly alter either the custom or the law. Nerda came to bed, and presently he gave her permission to sleep.
She slept — it seemed, instantly.

CHAPTER III

MILISS heard a key in the lock of her cell. She had not undressed. She sat up in the rough bunk and watched curiously as a manlike figure, waving a long flashlight, unlocked the door and entered.
From the vast shadowy size of him she divined his identity. But not until he deliberately raised the light and beamed it into his face did she recognize Jaer Dorrish.
His face, like that of all Jana males, was too long, too much given over to nose. But the skin was a clear reddish colour and smooth.
She was not repelled.
At least, she thought, the Janae were a distinctly human­like breed, for which — in view of the fate she sensed was in store of her — she was thankful. It did not occur to her to formulate in her mind the mental pattern that would activate a thought amplifier in the house where she and Dav lived — no help for her from that rigid mind, she decided.
But she did have purpose of her own, adaptable to this situation. It had been growing on her all day. The male stepped briskly across the cell towards her cot.
She said hurriedly, ’I’ve been thinking about what you told me last night — your prediction that Rocquel would return as a consequence of my arrest. And it happened. He did come back.’
Jaer stopped his forward movement. He did not reply. Her next words quivered on the tip of her tongue but remained unspoken.
Miliss was startled. She had an enormous sensitivity to small signals. He had been coming forward with that Jana-male arrogance, his whole manner vibrating with the message that he would not be denied.
And now he stood still. And the way he stood telegraphed uncertainty.
’Is something wrong?’ Miliss asked.
More silence, a sense of darker emotions. She was astounded. Jana males were reputed to have a peculiar calm humour in the rape situation. Both humour and savoir faire required expression in words, not silence.
During the strange pause, like a suspension of time in the cell, she had nevertheless become aware of the night and the prison. A time had been on Jana when there had been no prisons, only a few compounds where ’enemies’ were kept prior to execution.
On Jana, for more millennia than she cared to recall, people had been tolerated — or executed. No middle situation had existed. This and similar prisons were actually a great victory for less harsh attitudes.
So the sounds of a vast life around her were presently heartening to Miliss. She heard metallic clanks, distant throat raspings, Jana males snarling in their sleep, and occasional echoes of faraway voices. Sounds of many prisoners. The Nunbrid prison was large. It was filled with people who would be tried in court for their offences and who were not subject — as had once been the case — to the compulsive masculine rage of some intolerant noble.
A feeling of peaceful accomplishment was settling over Miliss. Dav and she had civilized these people.
Jaer finally spoke.
’I had a sudden insight — and I’m having another one.’
His voice was strained, not really calm. She sensed in its tone an advantage for her. Somehow the situation was no longer as dangerous as it had been. This male was genuinely disturbed.
By what?

MILISS pressed her own purpose upon him.
’Is that all you can say about the coincidence of your prediction and Rocquel’s return?’
’I’m still wondering about it myself,’ was the grim answer. The threat was in his voice again. She rushed past it. ’Don’t you realize the impossibility of such an unsupported insight — the odds against its baring truth?’
For a tense moment in the unyielding closeness of the cell, in the darkness broken only by a flashlight that sometimes pointed at her and sometimes at the metal bars — and occasionally, briefly, at Jaer himself — she thought that he would acknowledge reason and dismiss the subject. But Jana nobles, she shortly decided in despair, were not up to her kind of strict logic. His mien told her he was accepting his intuition.
For a long moment, while he stood there silently, her fear grew.
Then: ’There’s only one explanation,’ he said slowly. ’Rocquel was in hiding with you and Dav while he was gone.’
’No. That’s absolutely not true. If you’re acting on that assumption — you’re in danger.’
’Danger?’
’There’s a hidden force at work. It can strike at you if you ignore it. In fact, it probably has already struck — or how could you have had two insights?’
’You’re trying to alarm me,’ said Jaer harshly. ’And a Jana male cannot be frightened.’
’But he can think about how best to survive,’ countered Miliss. ’At least’ — she couldn’t help the biting remark — ’the males I know always do.’
Again silence filled the cell. The light winked off. Into that darkness and that silence Miliss projected what seemed to her to be the only possible explanation.
’What has happened means that you’ve been programmed,’ she said.
’Programmed? I don’t understand.’
’It’s impossible that you could have a second major intuition unless somebody had installed it in your mind under mechanical hypnosis.’
’I just had it. It’s my own thought.’
’It’s not your own thought. You’re being manipulated.’ She broke off. ’Don’t you see, you couldn’t possibly – being a Jana noble — have all by yourself predicted Rocquel’s return on the basis of my arrest. It’s too radical and fantastic a prediction. Yet it came true. And now another one? Impossible.’
Once more he was silent. The flashlight was on again, its beam tilted casually, showing his scowling face, narrowed eyes and lower lip pushed up. He was evidently having unpleasant, calculating thoughts.
Abruptly he asked, ’Why did you and Dav separate?’
Miliss hesitated, then said, ’He was more and more adopting the attitudes and behavior of the Jana male — and treating me as Jana males treat Jana females. I had had enough years ago — but we were alone here, two human beings, the last of our kind in this area. So I tried to make my peace with the situation as Jana females have done for so long.’
There was actually more to it than that. It had, of course, kept occurring to her that the frequent despair she had felt over Dav might in fact be the death wish that had destroyed the human race. She had fought against her growing embitterment, until, one day not too long since, she had had an insight of her own.
Human males were, had always been, exactly as vicious as the Janae. But human women, having their own maternal instinct to satisfy, had endlessly compromised with the egotistical villains. The need for motherhood had put a fortunate — for the men and the race — veil over a woman’s awareness of the impossible true nature of the beasts.
Once she had recognized the thought, leaving Dav was only a matter of a brief period of rethinking her reasons, and convincing herself finally.
Jaer’s voice came grimly.
He said, ’I didn’t have my first insight until after I had arrested you. I’ve had my second one in your presence. So you’re doing this to me. By Dilit, woman — ’
Miliss said urgently, ’Tell me what your second insight is.’ When he had told her, she said, ’But that’s ridiculous — what good does that do me?’
Jaer must have recognized her logic. He stood very still. After a long pause he said slowly, ’But I did get both thoughts in your presence, so someone knows I’m here.’
His manner showed unease. The implication of danger was visibly penetrating his awareness. Miliss sensed her advan­tage.
She said, ’What is so meaningless about these insights is that I detect that your purpote in arresting me was entirely personal. You saw a possibility of challenging the throne and simultaneously obtaining me as a mistress — ’
’Silence, woman.’ Jaer sounded alarmed. ’I have never desired the throne — that’s treason. I’d better leave before I damage you and ruin my case against you in court. But don’t think I’m through with you.’
The light winked out. Quick steps sounded. A metal door clicked open and clanged shut.
She heard him retreating along a corridor. And realized that she was almost as shaken as he.
That second insight, she told herself, is absolutely mad . . . But for the first time in many years she slept poorly.

CHAPTER IV

THE next day.
Shortly after sunrise the council members began cycling up to the meeting place at the beginning of the slickrock range, seven miles west of Nunbrid. By the time Rocquel arrived on his new motorbike, Dav and eight Jana males of high rank were already there. The human sat on his bike off to one side, but the Jana nobles were impatiently gunning their motors, visibly anxious to get started on their hazard­ous meeting-in-motion.
Rocquel was greeted by a number of insulting but quite good-natured comments about his overweight machine. He responded with well-placed sneers about overcautious small-bike riders. But he was curious. There had been changes in design during his absence. Wheeling around with the casual daring of an expert cyclist, he made quick, searching examination of the mount of each council member to see what time and manufacturers had wrought.
As always for slickrocking, all the motorcycles were small, tough, and light. But Rocquel noticed that three of the bikes were smaller than he remembered — not more than 100 cc, perhaps even 90 or 80 — compared to his 175-cc machine.
He questioned the three owners about it. He was still getting boastful replies when Jaer Dorrish and a sly-eyed air-force officer roared up and charged their metal steeds up the first incline.
Jaer yelled, ’Meeting called to order — ’
A number of nobles uttered wild cries, gunned their motors, and took off in pursuit of the late-comers.
Dav brought up the rear.
Moments later everyone was in motion, and the meeting of the supreme council of Jana was in session.
In the old days — before the machines — a king had held his council meetings while riding a tamed, high-backed Mesto-beast. The Mestos were dangerous, cunning creatures, always looking for an opportunity to upset their riders, and Mesto-riding was, accordingly, considered great fun. But a Mesto simply could not cover the distances or go over the rough and beautiful slickrock country.
At first the nobles climbed steadily, strung out unevenly, bobbing up and down over domes, knobs, and ridges, skipping at a good clip over the almost glass-smooth, steel-hard straights. Rocquel, coming up from behind, kept edging up to Jaer and finally had his bike racing along parallel to the bright green machine of the big male.
’What’s on the agenda?’ he yelled.
Jaer’s answering cry brought up the subject of Miliss. He made a slashing gesture with one hand, cutting the air with it as if it were a blade, then showed his teeth in a grimacing smile.
He shouted, ’I propose that this woman be put to death.’
’On what grounds?’ Rocquel roared back, surprised.
Jaer’s suggestion was discourteous in view of the fact that Dav was at the council meeting. Or was it possible that Jaer had not yet seen Dav?
As the day dragged by, Jaer’s unawareness of Dav began to seem less and less a coincidence. But Jaer’s intentness on Miliss and on the new law might have accounted for his attitude towards Dav.

DAV anticipated a crisis as soon as he was told what was on the agenda, and the nature of the new law.
The law itself required no special explanation for him. It was he who had proposed the idea of a constitutional monarchy to a resistant Rocquel. The very next day — a year ago — the powerful Jana leader had gone off on a religious hegira.
Now he was back, acceptant.
Mentally, Dav triggered a thought amplifier. It in turn channelled power into a relay that blazed one of the Symbols.
The Symbol of a constitutional monarchy.
That done, he considered with mirthless good humour the proposal to execute Miliss. Ironic that Jaer was planning to put on trial a person already doomed.
Should Jaer be told?
But when Dav finally joined the group, the crisis came so rapidly that there was no time to mention anything.
The council members stopped in front of a big cave, at the 9,000-foot level. Here the great nobles of Jana sat on bikes with engines idling while they gulped breakfast.
Rocquel was aware of an ugly, throaty sound from Jaer. He spun around and saw Dav easing his bike into the clear­ing. Dav came to a full stop.
Beside Rocquel, Jaer let out a bellow and gunned his motor.

THAT night Rocquel described the day to Nerda, then asked curiously, ’What do you think happened to Jaer? You know more about what Dav can do than anyone.’
Conversations between them were not common. She was not required by law or custom to speak to him as long as she performed her wifely duties. He was not surprised when she did not reply. But he deduced from the thoughtful expression on her face that she was considering the matter and would eventually give him an answer.
Yet it was morning before she answered.
’A symbol,’ she said then, ’as Dav has described it, represents a real thing or thought. It is not itself the thing or the thought — ’
Rocquel waited, uneasily aware that he was being pre­sented with a concept that might be too subtle for a Jana noble — too subtle even for himself, despite his past year of indoctrination.
Nerda continued, ’When the Symbol representing con­stitutional monarchy is finally a part of the thinking of millions of Janae, the force of it in all those minds will maintain such a system for decades under normal circumstances — or at least until another Symbol replaces it, which, of course, is happening very rapidly with Dav and Miliss forcing us into civilization.’
Rocquel felt helpless before her explanation. She seemed to understand what she was saying, and he didn’t.
We males of the nobility are really no longer a part of what is happening . . .
It was discouraging, but he persisted.
’What I saw,’ he said, ’was Jaer’s motorcycle stop — not short — but as if it ran into an elastic wall that took the full force of his forward impetus and gently flung him back. He ended up on the ground. But he was not hurt.’
’He struck the Symbol,’ said Nerda. ’These Symbols have become progressively more violent in their reaction. The most violent so far is the Symbol of a constitutional monarchy.’
He said, ’You say the Symbol. But what was the force involved?’
’The force of the Symbol.’ Her expression showed her awareness of his bewilderment. ’Don’t you see?’ she urged. ’All those millions of people who believe.’
What Rocquel was seeing was that he had made a mistake in asking her for her opinion. He wanted to say that nobody yet believed in the new law. It would not even be publicly announced until later this morning. But his awful feeling leaped past that idea to the more personal awareness that he had lowered himself in her eyes. He recalled with a sinking sensation the Jana-male conviction that if a female even once gained a genuine advantage over her husband, it was the end of their relationship. Nothing the male did after that could repair the damage.
Fighting for recovery, he nodded and said aloud, ’I see. Your many conversations with Dav have been very educa­tional and valuable for both of us. I congratulate you. It’s a difficult concept.’
He divined from an odd look in her eyes that she saw through his verbal stratagem.
She said slowly, ’We mustn’t expect too much from a constitutional monarchy in terms of change in the passions. Rule of law merely regulates a society in a more orderly fashion than absolutism. An accused individual is no longer subject to arbitrary judgements but is allowed time by the courts to defend himself within the frame of the law. Yet in the end he may pay the same penalty.’ She concluded: ’And so, to answer your question of last night — I believe we shall see how Jaer was affected by the way he allows the trial of Miliss to be conducted.’
Rocquel, who was still striving for recovery from his fateful error in having this discussion with her at all, said in his matter-of-fact voice, ’What I’m curious about is the nature of the charges he intends to level against her — ’

THOSE charges surprised Dav more than Rocquel, who still nursed memories of his year away. He had learned something about humans during his absence, and could even control a certain Symbol himself — without, he realized, really understanding it.
Miliss was accused of being an enemy alien, illegally resident on Jana; spying for an invading alien force from space; conspiring to pretend to be a member of a decadent race when in fact she was a member of a superior, dominant race set down among primitives.
She was also charged with harbouring criminal intent.
Dav scanned the headlines unbelievingly, standing in the rain in front of a news-stand. Janae in colourful raincoats drifted past him as — directed by a guide sentence on page one — he turned to the editorial page. There he read in the language of Low Jana:

In an unprecedented action, the government today challenged the right to live on this planet of the two relics of an older civilization. Almost melodramatic charges of conspiracy were leveled at the couple, but only the woman has been arrested.
We propose to leave to the courts the resolution of the legal tangle implicit in this arrest, but find ourselves thoughtful about the matter on a strictly theoretical basis.
Explorers have recently found isolated tribes of Janae still living in stone-age cultures. Contact with our superior civilization was enacted as a depressant on the aspirations and mores of the backward peoples, and they have seemed unable to recover as a group.
Until today’s governmental action, we have known a reverse condition with the two human beings resident on Jana. They represent an older culture — one that ap­parently had virtually died out for reasons never analysed. Such a decadent culture, even though it had clearly attained heights of scientific achievement far in advance of what is available on Jana, has not acted as depressant on spirit of the Janae.
Matters to be adjudicated by the courts include the following. Are Dav and Miliss representatives of a superior culture that is merely pretending to be decadent, so that the normal depressant impact upon an inferior culture is avoided? If so, does their presence here come under the heading of an alien conspiracy? And can such a purpose be interpreted as an invasion?

THE account was perceptive. It indicated the presence of a highly intelligent professional class already in existence in Nunbrid and hundreds of other cities. The lower-class Janae had clearly matured more rapidly than their heredi­tary rulers. Yet the tone of the editorial was neither in­flammatory nor antagonistic. In fact, it showed respect for the government and awareness of the meaning of the new law.
Dav’s own thought ceased at that point. He had been aware that passersby were glancing at him. Now, suddenly, one big male stopped, uttered an explosive oath, and lifted an arm threateningly, as if to strike.
Dav shrank back involuntarily. The male grew instantly contemptuous and kicked at him. Dav, alert now, dodged with easy skill but dropped his newspaper. The big fellow scooped it up from the wet sidewalk and pounded the soggy sheets.
He roared, ’You’ve got to be nothing. You’re the last of a vanished race. A nothing! A nothing!’
Dav retreated. He found a side street, slipped into its darker, damp distances, heading for home. As he approached the edge of the city, he heard a sound in the night ahead of him, a swelling murmur of ugly voices. Then, out in the open spaces between himself and his house, he saw a huge crowd carrying torches.
Startled, Dav withdrew from the open area and headed for a small house on a nearby street. The place was actually a secret entrance to the big white mansion. Long ago, when Jana had been more primitive, unpleasant incidents had occurred. The secret access had often proved useful.
He made his way safely through the connecting tunnel to the big house, and from its interior gazed out at the crowd through a viewplate. The plate magically dissolved the night and the rain, showing a dull day-view of the large grounds in front of the house.
At first look the mob seemed even huger than he had estimated. Dav shook his head sadly. The pattern was the same as it had once been on old Earth. At the top was the hereditary hierarchy. Next came a law-abiding middle class of people. At the bottom seethed the vast mass of the unthinking.
The hierarchy was semi-psychotic, murderous, subjective. And the middle class was still relatively new and unaware of its future power. The mob was completely duped.
Dav observed with relief that several hundred troops patrolled an area between him and the angry crowd. An officer spoke through a loudspeaker system, addressing the mob.
’Go home. The rule of law shall prevail. Go home. If these people are spies, they will be judged by the law. Go home — ’
The frequently repeated admonition began to have its effects towards midnight. Dav saw that there were fewer people outside, and more were drifting back towards the city. But it was nearly two in the morning before, feeling that the danger was over, he went to bed.
Lying there, he rejected the accusations against Miliss and himself with little more than a moment’s consideration.
It was true, as the newspaper editorial had pointed out, that primitives had in the past suffered psychic and racial disaster as a result of being exposed abruptly to a superior culture. And, conceivably, somebody might mercifully evolve a more systematic approach to the problem.
But the mentors would know. That had to be. It would be absolutely ridiculous if Miliss and he weren’t aware of their own realities.
All these hundreds of years of ignorance on so vital a point?
The truth was that simple and obvious. Nearly four hundred empty years made a weight of time in his mind that no words and no Jana accusation could penetrate.
He had no trouble sleeping.

CHAPTER V

ROCQUEL had stayed in the palace communications centre during the period of threat against Dav. Several times he spoke directly to the commanding officer of the troops patrolling the grounds.
At last, weary and a little guilty at having been out late again, he went to his apartment. The bedroom was dark as he entered and he had an instant, awful intuition.
He flicked on the light and stood confused and shaken. Nerda was in bed, undressed under the sheets. Her eyes were closed. Her breathing came with the regularity of sleep.
Rocquel’s thought flashed back to their conversation of the morning and to his sudden feeling that he had ruined himself with her. His inability to grasp the meaning of the Symbol idea troubled him again.
Standing beside his sleeping wife, he visualized the repercussions of her rebellion if it were ever found out. His absence had shaken the throne, and he had returned too recently to have fully recovered his power and position. He had divined an uneasiness in the nobility — it would take a little while before those suspicious, violent beings were reassured that the new law was not a direct threat.
And if they found out that he was so weak that he could not control his wife — Instantly an old impulse propelled him towards her sleeping body. His hands and jaws clenched with the automatic effort that would shove her in a single thrust out of the far side of the bed.
He poised before that act, suddenly gripped and held by a thought and feeling new to him.
He had been about to act on the Jana-male attitude. But was Nerda justified in her rebellion? Was the old way the way women should be treated? Had his analysis of her reason for what she had done been accurate?
A flash of an old male paranoia darkened his face and mind — the absolute conviction that Nerda was doing this because another male had gotten to her.
Dav, the human?
Some portion of Rocquel’s mind recognized the total irrationality of the thought — recognized that if it were true, Jana females would not associate with males of their own free will, they obviously did not betray their husbands. He was also aware that Dav, who had an unlimited sense of personal responsibility, would not have taken advantage of the queen’s year of ’widowhood.’
The recognition and awareness were not enough for his fevered brain, alive with brutal images.
He had to know.
He turned and walked out of the room. Within minutes, he was part of a motorcycle army unit roaring through the night streets of Nunbrid towards the military prison where Miliss was confined.

THE long, bleak concrete corridors of the prison echoed to his footsteps and those of his guards. The light carried by the prison’s officer-of-the-night was bright enough, but it cast wavering shadows.
In that uneven brightness, Rocquel noted the grey drab­ness of this prison world, and some of the singleness of his purpose softened. The thought came to him that Miliss had been held here now for several days and that this was wrong.
He could do nothing about it under the new law, but within himself he felt a deep anger against Jaer.
The rage was brief. It ended as they reached Miliss’s cell —and there she was. Rocquel went in alone, his guards retreating, waiting.
Their first moments together were ordinary. Miliss’s sur­prise and pleasure when she recognized him, then her puzzlement that he should come at so late an hour, gave him his opening.
He asked her the question : Why had she and Dav separated?
The woman was startled. She sensed the dark purpose in him — who had always been so friendly to her and with whom she had communicated so well in the past.
After a moment, realizing that delay was unwise, she gave him Dav’s diagnosis — that she had gone into the death thing that had destroyed man. She deemed it the best reply, considering all possibilities.
Her answer and its deadly implications for her shocked him out of his madness. She explained in greater detail.
Rocquel said, ’Then what you are saying is that you acted out of some parallel to the type of emotion used by people who actually did have the death thing. You did this consciously, knowing Dav would believe it was in fact the death thing.’
’I think that’s what I did,’ Miliss replied. She added quickly, ’The death thing is subtle. One can fool oneself.’
Rocquel persisted, ’But as far as you’re concerned, you’re not really dying?’
’As far as I know, I’m not.’
Rocquel considered that in a gathering amazement. Finally: ’But why aren’t you doing something about get­ting out of this prison? You shouldn’t be here.’
’What can I do?’
’Don’t you have any protection of your own?’
’Nothing,’ she said, ’but the Symbols so far activated. Except for a few hand weapons and mobile energy units, most of which we’ve given to the Janae, that’s all we have.’
’What about other — later — Symbols?’
’Their time is not yet,’ said Miliss. ’They wouldn’t work —not for Jana.’
Rocquel sighed.
But, he wanted to say, Dav used the power of millions of believers in a constitutional monarchy before they ever believed in it — in fact, before they even knew about it. Why not use the power of millions of believers in some future Symbol before they ever believe in it?
He did not ask the question. The concept of any Symbol was beyond his ability to grasp. He realized humbly that he was a Jana nobleman of a somewhat simple nature and that the year he had spent aboard the earth battleship — the time he had described to no one — had been really like some tribal king’s being . . . entertained, if that was the right word, by traders or scientists from a superior civilization. Being kindly disposed, they had been anxious not to hurt his feelings — but to them he had been a nothing. His status had been meaningless except insofar as they had a policy of using native kings in their interplanetary welfare work.
Nonetheless, he tried again to reach understanding.
At his request Miliss explained the power of a Symbol once more. But it didn’t penetrate.
We thick-skulled males . . .

’AND the ridiculous thing,’ he explained his failure to Miliss, ’is that I myself actually have control of a Symbol —’
He stopped. It was an admission that he would have made to no other living person — only to this one individual with whom he had always felt able to speak freely.
He finished lamely, ’Of course, that was given to me as a protection.’
He stopped again because of the look on her face —intent, avid, seeking, startled, unbelieving but finally believing.
Miliss whispered, ’Who gave you control of that Symbol?’ ’Human beings,’ Rocquel said simply.
She sank back. She seemed to cringe on the cot, as if, like a mental patient, she were wracked by a psychic disease that contracted her body, curling it, twisting her head to one side.
Finally she said, ’Then Jaer’s intuitions, accusations, may be true. There are human beings out there — ’ She suddenly broke off, breathless. ’Tell me exactly where you were, what you saw — ’
Rocquel described his year on the battleship.
She whispered, ’There were both men and women?’
’Yes. It was a community of several thousand, I would say.’
’They never landed anywhere?’
’Not that I was aware of.’ He sighed. ’But it was such a big ship. I saw only what appeared on the visual screens in the sections where I was permitted to wander. They didn’t teach me the language. I only heard what the interpreting machines said to me.’ He considered possibilities. ’Landing parties could have gone down to planets without my knowing it.’
’It was one of these humans that taught you control of a Symbol?’
’Yes.’
Miliss persisted. ’But what was it supposed to do? If Jaer had actually slashed at you with his sword — what would have happened to him?’
Rocquel didn’t know.
He explained slowly, ’They warned me to be careful with it — because if I wasn’t, it would hook on to me too.’ He added: ’When I set it up against Jaer, I could feel it tugging at me, sort of like —’ he paused, groping — ’maybe like a magnet.’
’But what is it a Symbol of?’ Miliss asked.
Rocquel had no idea.
She went on, baffled: ’It must be drawing its energy from some meaningful idea on another planet — since we didn’t sense anything here. But what could it be? No answer came to her, and she asked, ’You still have control of it?’
He nodded.
’Did they say they would let you maintain it permanently?’
Rocquel gazed at her unhappily. ’I can’t remember. I was told something — but each time I think I’m going to recall it, it fades.’
’That sounds like close-to-the-surface programming,’ Miliss nodded. ’As if whatever it relates to might happen at any time. So we must be near a crisis.’ She added, obviously thinking out loud, that only a Symbol could act with subtle or powerful influence over distances. She finished: ’It must be very personal to you, which in itself is unusual. For example, if I could do what you have described — I could get out of this prison.’

MILISS’S second admission of helplessness focused Rocquel’s attention on her situation. Her confession that she could not protect herself was abruptly enormously significant. It placed control back in Jana hands. Janae could accept or reject a gift of knowledge from the reservoir on a self-determined basis.
We can use what they have, but we don’t have to . . .
Rocquel felt somehow stronger in his Jana identity as he had that awareness. The accusations leveled at Miliss by Jaer had had a certain truth to them. The entire populace felt a displacement as a consequence of the human presence, gentle as it was.
After a little he was able to reason out the extent of her predicament. He was appalled. Her position was very severe if she and Dav could not really protect themselves.
With an effort he pushed aside his anxiety for her, grew calm and grave.
’There will be a difficult time ahead, my dear,’ he said gently. ’The new law binds me as much as it does everyone else. I cannot arbitrarily set you free. Have you an attorney?’
’Not yet,’ Miliss answered.
’I’ll call Dav and tell him that it is imperative he get one for you.’
’He won’t do a thing.’ She reminded him of the death-drive situation — how only those survived who refused to help. She finished, ’I counted on that to keep him away from me. So there can be no help from him ’
Rocquel shook his head, smiling, and pointed out that his position in the matter was stronger than Dav’s.
’I’ll call him,’ he said firmly. ’He’ll do it because I ask him, not necessarily to help you.’ He broke off. ’He’s the one who should act in this matter. It will look odd if he doesn’t. So he will.’
At that moment Rocquel accidentally caught a glimpse of his watch. It registered nearly four in the morning. He was instantly contrite.
’I’m sorry,’ he apologized. ’I’ve kept you awake.’ Miliss brushed his words aside.
’I feel so much better. You’ve given me the first inform­ation from — out there —’ she gazed upward, waved vaguely —’that I’ve had in all the years Dav and I have been here. It’s not clear — it’s hard to decide what it means. But now I know that there are still a few other human beings.’
On that note they separated. Rocquel returned to the palace and presently slipped into bed beside the sleeping Nerda.
She was a problem to which he had no quick solution either.

CHAPTER VI

THE Jana attorney whom Dav consulted shook his head gravely over the fourth count.
’The other accusations,’ he said, ’have as yet no legal penalties. The judge could do anything, could even release her. But criminal intent has proved dangerous in the past. It can bring a capital verdict.’
Dav attended the trial as a witness, getting angrier every minute as all his ’gifts’ to the Janae were used as evidence against Miliss. The argument of the State was that a superior culture was, by way of its scientific gifts, cunningly guicing the Janae away from their natural development and into a mental enslavement that was the equivalent of a takeover of one people by another. Dav’s concern was with the accusations, not with Miliss.
Called to the stand by Miliss’s attorney, he denied all such intent.
’Science is neutral,’ he said. ’It is the truth of nature. Jana scientists would normally and in due course have discovered exactly the same truths. In giving the Janae the scientific artifacts of Earth’s ancient civilization, I fulfilled a duty imposed upon me by a vanished race to hand on the torch of knowledge as rapidly as feasible in the hope that, with such a head start, the Janae would succeed in establishing a permanent growing civilization instead of one that would eventually dwindle as others, including men’s, have been— ’
When he later came out on the street a troop of guards sent by Rocquel saved him from a demonstrating crowd.
KEEP YOUR FOREIGN SCIENCE . . . JANA MUST BE FREED FROM THE ALIEN YOKE . . . JANA FOR THE JANAE . . . DEATH TO THE INVADERS . . . HUMANS, GO HOME —
The crowds screamed insults as Dav was escorted to a bus that took him, accompanied by several guards, to the end of the line. From there the soldiers walked with him to his house, where other soldiers patrolled the approaches, back, front, and sides.
Miliss was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death. Three appeals to ever higher courts failed. But Rocquel granted her a full pardon on the grounds that the Chosen had not legislated on the matters at issue.
’Prime Minister’ Jaer Dorrish — and where had the title come from? — thereupon introduced amendments to criminal law. They were duly passed by the Chosen. Rocquel, to Jaer’s surprise, did not veto the legislation.
He asked Rocquel about it. The hereditary ruler gestured.
’I told you I wouldn’t interfere.’ He paused, curious. ’Suppose all those charges you’re making turn out to be true. If man is really a superior race, then presumably a fleet of total power will come to the rescue of his representatives on Jana — and we will all be degraded by having to submit, however briefly, to an occupation force. What would you gain if that were to happen?’
Jaer scowled.
’Jana honour,’ he said with the traditional arrogance of the Jana male, ’demands that the truth of this matter be brought out into the open. We shall deal with this so-called total power when we see it.’
’With what weapons?’ Rocquel asked derisively.
Jaer said, ’The human man is being watched night and day. At the proper moment we’ll make a raid and we’ll capture all man’s scientific secrets and make an end of this degrading dole system on which he seems to have been operating — one secret at a time. Such doling is an unbear­able insult. We want to have everything — now!’
Rocquel stared sardonically at the other’s flushed face.
Finally he said skeptically, ’Your concern with such minor matters does not fit with your previous character, Jaer. I wonder what you’re really up to.’
The big male stiffened. ’Do you question my loyalty, sire?’
It could have been a dangerous moment. But Rocquel merely shook his head chidingly.
’No, Jaer. I expect you will accept the new law. It is to your advantage. What is your next move?’
’You’ll see.’
Jaer turned abruptly and walked away.

LATER Rocquel sought out Nerda, reported Jaer’s state­ments, and asked her opinion.
She answered at once — no longer a surprise to him. Ever since her rebellion on the matter of going to sleep without his permission — which she now did as a matter of course —she had been freer in her responses in every way, even in their personal relations.
She told him that in her opinion Jaer wanted the human woman and that therefore his real target in the trial was not Miliss but Dav.
Rocquel stared at his wife.
’But — ’ he began, and stopped.
Careful, he thought. Don’t give her another reason for losing respect for you. No knowing what repercussions that would have . . .
But he felt slightly helpless before her statement. What she suggested was an immensely tricky thing for Jaer to be doing. Presumably the head of the Dorrish clan expected that Miliss would be freed.
Rocquel’s thought paused, a light dawning. Of course, in the trial of Miliss all the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case — and the strength of the defence — would be revealed, whereupon all the various loopholes in the law would be rectified — at which time Dav would be tried and irrevocably convicted.
Rocquel stepped forward impulsively, and embraced Nerda.
’You’re very brilliant,’ he said. ’There’s no question — I’ve got a very unusual and perceptive queen. Thank you.’
He kissed her and was aware for the barest instant that she kissed him back. The action must have been involuntary. She broke the kiss and became passive.
Rocquel was not offended. In the back of his mind was the thought that Jana females were, perhaps, not as un­emotional as was believed.
It might be worthwhile some day to conduct a deeper experiment.
Meanwhile — he had to warn Dav.
The next morning Rocquel learned that Miliss, who had been returned to custody on the formal charge of being a danger to the realm, was to be retried. Her attorney’s plea at the preliminary hearing that afternoon was double jeopardy and the inapplicability of retroactive legislation.
The judge released her.
The prosecution requested and got a warrant for the arrest of Dav.
The evening paper reported that the arresting officers had failed to find the Earth man.

DAV spent the late afternoon in one of the hiding places of the Reservoir of Symbols, planning his escape.
It was time for the kind of disappearance that Miliss and he in times past had occasionally had to undertake. There had been other Janae like Jaer Dorrish. They, too, had had their own remorseless purposes. Escape in those distant times had almost always consisted of their waiting somewhere for the particular enemy to live out his short life span.
Dav left his hiding place after dark and made his way through the brush. His destination was a certain hillside where, nearly seventy years ago, he had buried a small spaceship.
In years gone by, such long-buried machinery had not always been readily located when needed — but this one had survived its seven decades totally free of unpleasant ac­cidents. No bulldozer had nosed near it. No one had perched a building on top of it. The craft waited for him in its temporary grave.
Dav was carefully clearing away a particularly dense clump of tall shrubs when he heard a sound. Noiselessly he sank to the ground.
Too late. He heard a swift pad of footsteps in the dark. Two pairs of eyes glowed at him from beside some brush. Then strong, lean fingers had him pinned down.
The unmistakable long nose of a Jana male was silhouet­ted against the haze of city lights. A Jana female stood beyond him.
The deep voice of the male said exultantly, ’Got you. Perna, quick, come over here and turn a light on this spying rascal — ’ The words halted on a curse. ’By Dilit, it isn’t that scoundrel suitor of yours after all. Perna, bring that light, and let’s see what we’ve got here.’
There was silence except for the unhurrying footsteps of the female.
Dav lay unresisting. He could have taken steps. He could have reached up and, with the enormous strength that he could focus into any part of his body, with unerring fingers stabbed at the two vital nerve centres in the Jana, to send the big male sprawling in agony. Or he could simply have contemptuously and effortlessly disengaged himself by a direct muscular thrust.
He did neither. As in past times, he was prepared to act defensively according to the need.
A blaze of light cut off his thought. The light beat pitilessly down on his upturned face. And then, the female’s voice came, thick with disgust.
’Why, it’s the man. So this is the kind of lover you protect me from. Bah!’
’Not so fast with your criticism,’ growled ’the male. ’There’s a reward. We can get married.’ His grip tightened on Dav. ’Get up, you antique. It’s time you and that woman ceased hanging on to life. Your kind is dead.’
The moment for action had arrived, but Dav did nothing.
He offered no resistance as he was jerked roughly to his feet. In those moments, an astounding thing had happened. He did not care.
His thought was: Man’s civilization is dead — why should Miliss and I be bound by the values of a society that has failed?
The barriers he had erected against Miliss collapsed, and a great guilt overwhelmed him. Suddenly he saw how rigid he had been as the dedicated saviour of a new race.
In that prolonged moment of anguish, something she had once said flashed in his memory.
I’m sure even your nose is getting a little longer. Pretty soon you’ll even look like the Janae
He had lived in a dream, he saw now, a kind of self-induced hypnotism — an ideal which had given a temporary significance to an otherwise meaningless existence. With Miliss doomed, nothing here was worth saving. He went wordlessly with his captor.

THE news came to Rocquel in the small hours of the morning that Dav had been arrested. He left his bed, dressed, phoned Miliss.
’Have you had a visitor yet?’
’No. But I imagine he’ll be here soon.’
Rocquel said, ’I’m coming right over.’
He arrived by way of the secret entrance, and walked along a narrow, dim-lit corridor until he came to a closed door.
Voices sounded from beyond it.
Rocquel drew the door towards him and stepped through. He found himself in an alcove lighted by reflections from a bright room beyond a green and gold screen. The voices came from the other side of the screen. He recognized the calm bass of Jaer Dorrish and Miliss’s indignant soprano.
’I’m surprised,’ Miliss was saying, ’that you continue to pursue me despite the fact that you are probably personally programmed and may be in grave danger.’
Jaer answered her with complete assurance, ’I once allowed myself to be alarmed by such words. That will not happen again.’
’What you’re saying,’ said Miliss sharply, ’is that you’ve abandoned reason.’
’The Jana male,’ was the cool reply, ’knows what is important. A female is. Motivations for fear are not.’ He chuckled lazily. ’Let me reason out this situation for you. If you resist me, you may be arrested again. But I may not even press charges against Dav if you give in. Who knows what privileges may continue for you two if you and I occasionally meet privately during the many, otherwise dull years ahead.’
Rocquel stood there behind the screen and shook his head. Nerda’s intuition was correct. This entire action against the human beings was simply a typical Jana-male scheme in connection with a female.
He was not shocked. Or surprised, really.
Jaer said, ’It is late, my dear. Surely you do not expect any other visitors this evening.’
The remark made it the ideal moment for Rocquel to come out of his hiding place.

’WHAT I said to him,’ he told Nerda after he returned to the palace, ’was, "Jaer, if I’m going to surrender some of the prerogatives of the crown — it is because I believe you and others of the nobility, in exchange for greater political power, will give up the purely personal privileges of forcing individuals to yield to a lordly whim." ’
’And what did he answer?’
’Nothing. He turned and walked out of the room and out of the house.’
Nerda made a distasteful gesture.
’If he can get rid of Dav, he’ll count on eventually forcing Miliss to accept his protection.’
’Then you think he will press charges against Dav?’
’Your words didn’t reach him. He’s still an old-style Jana male.’ She shrugged. ’So, of course.’

DAV sat apathetic throughout his trial. The defence attorney appointed by Rocquel could not even persuade him to testify on his own behalf.
He was convicted of being an alien spy and sentenced to be beheaded.

CHAPTER VII

BY THE time Rocquel’s helicopter settled down on the big compound where the executions would take place, the male nobility was milling around inside, catcalling and gambling. The wagers usually consisted of someone’s maintaining that he would win the chance to chop off the head of a convicted person.
Rocquel walked through the crowd of would-be execu­tioners, hearing grumbling about the increasing shortage of criminal heads. He came to the roped-off area where the victims were guarded and saw what the problem was. Fewer than a hundred males, including Dav — and four females —were herded together at one end of an area that in the past had often held as many as five hundred.
Roughly one hundred heads were to be divided among nearly eighteen hundred eager young nobles.
Rocquel was handed the list of the doomed. Silently he scanned down it, looking for identifying comments. His attention caught two names. Their owners were classified as engineers. He scowled and turned to Jaer.
’What are valuable men like that doing on this list?’ Jaer held up a hand in a demanding way.
’Your Majesty,’ he said in a formal tone. ’I must call to your attention that you are violating the procedure of the new law. The king can no longer deal directly with in­dividual cases. As your prime minister, I will consult you or listen to your advice and, in some instances but not all, will recommend that you grant mercy. Please give me that list.’
With a sinking sensation Rocquel handed it over. He had been intent on trying to save Dav and had automatically, as in times past, taken charge. He grew aware that the big male Jana was smiling satirically.
’As for your question, sire,’ Jaer said blandly, ’the new law specifies that all prisoners are subject to due process and to similar penalties.’ He shrugged. ’They killed. They were tried. The sentence was automatic.’
’I see,’ said Rocquel.
What he saw most of all was that the noisy crowd would be against Dav and that he had no solution to his problem of how to save the human.
Jaer was speaking again.
’Would you like to have me single these males out for questioning, sire?’
The Jana prime minister’s tone was tantalizing. He clearly felt himself in total ascendancy in this situation and was prepared to play hard at the game of constitutional mon­archy. It seemed so obviously in his favour.
Rocquel nodded yes to the question. While the two doomed males were being located, he consciously forced himself to remember his old way of dealing with one thing at a time. Presently he was able to put the fate of the human being out of the forefront of his mind and concentrate his attention on the here and now.

THE scene that he was thus able to focus on was almost literally right out of old Jana. He saw everywhere the swishing silks of the nobles, a glinting ocean of changing colours. Each male’s head was an elongated red shape that was visible at about the same height above the almost solid wall of silk. Eighteen hundred such heads made a picture of — oddly enough — innocent beauty.
But it was the beauty of a beast of prey, proud, arrogant, strong, untamed. It was as if a natural state of being were on display. The primitive impulses that still moved these males from violence to violence in a never-ending madness were the product of equally primitive necessities — their truth unquestioned on Jana until Dav and Miliss had begun to force self-control on a hierarchy that lived by the bloody law of super-masculinity.
I am looking, thought Rocquel, on the end of an era. Here, in these eighteen hundred, is embodied the last of the really feudal thing . . .
It had to go, of course. But how?
His thought ended as the two scientists were brought before Jaer. The Dorrish male glanced questioningly at Rocquel, who stepped forward. A moment later he was confronting their reality.
Professional scientists and all technical personnel had received special treatment from the courts for many years. They were not let off totally free, as a noble might be, but were given a preferred status. A person with an advanced degree was proclaimed to be the equal of twenty ordinary persons. Possession of a secondary degree made him the equivalent of fifteen persons. And the lowest degree, ten. Technicians started at two and went up to nine.
Thus a twenty-person engineer who killed a wholly non­professional individual suffered what was only a one-twentieth penalty — usually a fine. Only if he killed another scientist of a twenty-person status was he in serious danger of being executed. That was murder by law.
Jaer was speaking.
’Here they are, sire. I don’t really see that we can do anything for them under the new regulations.’
Rocquel had the same thought. But he said nothing as Jaer turned away and ordered the males to be brought closer. The two engineers came forward and were identified as, respectively, a fifteen and a ten. The former had killed in a fit of rage, which — when his gag was removed — he earnestly protested had been a proper reaction to an insolent three. And the ten had killed a unit person in a fit of typical Jana-male temper for no particular reason.
No occasion existed for favouritism. The new law must convince by its impartiality. The two were simply unlucky that they were the first examples of their class.
Rocquel nodded. Jaer had the gags replaced and then read in a loud, clear voice the confirmation of the sentences.
Moments later the lottery machine drew the names of the executioners. And, to the sound of much cursing on the part of those who had lost, the grinning winners came forward, simultaneously raised their swords, and simul­taneously struck at the heads on the blocks.
And missed.
A roar of amazement came from the gallery of noble Janae.

ROCQUEL was fighting a peculiar confusion. Something — some energy — had snatched at one side of his body, pulled at one arm, spun him slightly. At that moment the yelling started, and he realised that something was wrong.
He whirled.
The two nobles had recovered. Muttering words of outrage, they raised their swords for a second blow.
’Wait!’ Rocquel roared.
The swords wavered, were sullenly grounded. Two angry, embarrassed nobles glared at their hereditary king ques­tioningly.
’What happened?’ Rocquel demanded.
Both told the same story.
Something like a wind had snatched at their swords. Or it was as if they had struck at a blast of air so strong it had diverted their slashing blows.
Catcalls were beginning among the onlookers. Rocquel glanced unhappily at the prison compound and saw that Dav had come to the gate.
Rocquel spoke to Jaer.
’Let nothing happen till I return.’
The Dorrish leader gave him a startled look but said nothing as Rocquel walked over to where Dav stood. The human greeted him with: ’What happened?’
’That’s what I was going to ask you.’
He explained what the nobles had said.
’Sounds like a Symbol,’ Dav admitted, frowning. ’But I know of none that is applicable in a situation such as this. Due process has occurred. There’s nothing better on Jana right now. Why don’t you have Jaer continue with the executions? Maybe it was an accident.’
Rocquel, who was remembering the grabbing sensation that had affected his right side moments before, and also on the morning of his return to Jana, silently doubted it. But he walked back to the executioners’ blocks and ordered the two engineers released. That was the tradition.
’You forfeit your wagers,’ he curtly told the would-be executioners.
The two males walked off, cursing.
The order of procedure now required that the females be killed. One of the four was a poor little old thing who was quite insane. She believed the crowd was present to fete her. It did not even occur to Rocquel to do anything for her. Jana had no place for insane people. They were invariably put to death if they became a burden — and a burden she was.
As Rocquel turned to consider the other females, he found his way barred by Jaer. The big male was shaking his head.
’Sire,’ he said, ’you have been taking command again.’ The truth was obvious. Rocquel shook his head.
He said with a twisted smile, ’Giving up power seems to be quite a difficult process. So bear with me, Lord Jaer. I mean well.’
No answering smile moved that grim countenance.
Rocquel thought, What a remarkable man the ancient king on earth must have been who first agreed — when there were no precedents — to limit his absolute rights under a constitutional monarchy . . .
At the moment he could not remember the name of that king, though Dav had told him.
What brought the historic precedent to mind was that, even now, Rocquel found it hard to adjust to the idea that what he gave up, Jaer would gain. But finally Rocquel relaxed.
He stepped back.
’Continue, Lord of the Dorrish.’
He was able then to observe the scene once more without interference from his troubled inner self.
Of the other three females, two were beyond anyone’s power to help. They had been accused of adultery by their noble husbands and had been convicted. Rocquel privately doubted that the unnatural crime had occurred, but this was not the time to take issue with a court’s findings.
The remaining woman had denied the truth of religion. As she was brought before them, Jaer glanced questioningly at Rocquel. He evidently expected no interference, intended the glance to be a matter of form only.
He was turning away when Rocquel caught his arm.
The Dorrish leader faced about with a tolerant expression. It became quite evident, as he listened to Rocquel, that on these minor matters he was prepared to allow the king the prerogative of granting mercy.
He finally said, ’Sire, why don’t I say that in this instance a reprieve will be granted and then you state the reasons.’ That was the way it was done.
Rocquel spoke briefly to the assembled nobles, stressing the need — as Dav had urged upon him long ago — to keep religion humanitarian.
He spared her life.

HE STOOD by then, tense, not knowing what to expect as the three overjoyed winners came forward. The two who were assigned the adulterous females uttered expressions of pleasure at having the privilege of performing so necessary a task.
All three swords whipped high and came down as one. The females had been kneeling fatalistically. They looked up after a little as if to ask what was wrong.
What was wrong was that the swords were lying a dozen feet away — Rocquel, who had watched closely, thought he had seen the glint of too much metal as the weapons had flown through the air. But he could not be sure. Something strong had grabbed at him, as with fingers of steel, and had moved him inches at the moment of attempted execution.
He saw that Jaer was lying on the ground nearby. Rocquel helped the big male to his feet.
’What happened?’
’This is magic,’ Jaer muttered. ’Something hit me a terrific blow.’
He seemed uncertain and offered no objection to Roc­quel’s suggestion that the executions should be temporarily halted, pending an investigation.
’But what kind of investigation?’ he asked in a bewildered tone.
Rocquel assured him that there was at least one person to question.
And so, after the women had been released and the second group of executioners dismissed, Rocquel had Dav brought out of the compound.
’You saw that?’ he asked accusingly.
’Yes. There’s no doubt. It’s a Symbol, and the second time it was more violent. The power behind it is increasing very rapidly.’
’But what Symbol can it be?’ Rocquel protested. ’I thought Symbols were — ’ He stopped, remembering that he had no idea what Symbols were. He finished lamely: ’What do you suggest?’
Dav said, ’The next time there may be feedbacks, and the executioners may get hurt.’ He seemed interested. Some of the apathy he had displayed earlier seemed to be lifting. His eyes were suddenly bright. He looked around hopefully. ’Why don’t you let Jaer try to execute me? That would solve a lot of problems.’
Rocquel frowned. He shook his head. Injury to — or the death of — the head of the Dorrish clan would merely create confusion in an important segment of the Jana populace.

THE catcalls were beginning again, demanding decisions. But the nobles sounded puzzled. The tone of the raised voices showed that the vocalizers were not clear as to what was going on. And only a percentage was actually yelling. It struck Rocquel that to the aristocratic onlookers the events at the focal point of the executions had probably been obscure.
Besides, no one had ever been able to explain anything, really, to Jana nobles as a group.
The fact that no help could be expected from the nobility made the situation even more difficult. Rocquel stood distracted, not knowing what to do. The yelling grew louder, more insistent. Abruptly Rocquel realized why. By bringing Dav out of the compound he had given the impression that the human was next in line for execution.
And Dav’s life was what those who cried out were demanding.
Dav was pale but yelled above the bedlam almost directly into Rocquel’s ear. ’Why not make the attempt? Let’s see what happens.’
Rocquel tried to answer back, tried to say, What’s going on? What’s happening? Is the Symbol I believed I had control of acting independently of my command — or any command at all?
He couldn’t say it. The words wouldn’t come. His face contorted with his effort to speak.
Dav asked, ’What’s the matter, sire?’
Rocquel tried again to speak, could not. A degrading awareness overwhelmed him.
I’m programmed. I could tell Miliss about the Symbol I controlled, but I can’t tell Dav . . .
Not — the realization suddenly was strong — that he had ever really controlled it. It had been attached to him some­how — but in the manner of a Symbol it had reacted in this situation because this was what it related to.
’I feel,’ said Rocquel — and now the words came easily —’that these executions are not being allowed.’
So he could speak if he made no direct reference to his Symbol.
Dav was shaking his head.
’I don’t understand it. The time is not yet on Jana for the end of capital punishment. In fact — ’ He sounded appalled. He waved vaguely, his gesture taking in the horizon. ’If a few million of those paranoid males out there ever get the idea that they cannot be executed, all hell will break loose.’
The picture of total disaster — of pillage, rape, and mayhem — evoked by the man’s words sent a chill through Rocquel. He visualized vast armies of criminals rioting in the streets, swarming in gangs through the country. Something had to be done at once.
Belatedly, again he remembered that the Dorrish leader was in charge here and should be consulted. He swung about and became aware that the big male was standing off to one side, watching Dav from narrowed eyes.
Rocquel had time for only a glance — the seconds were flying by, and the noise from the gallery was rising to such a crescendo that further conversation was impossible. Rocquel signalled the royal drummers to beat for silence.
Moments later he explained to a startled audience what Dav had said about a Symbol’s being involved.
When he had finished, a loud voice cried from somewhere in the crowd, ’If we mob that so-and-so it’ll end the non­sense.’
Whoever spoke must have tried to push forward. A movement started. A dozen, then dozens, then hundreds surged forward.
A voice yelled in Rocquel’s ear, ’Run for your life! — ’
The tone was so urgent that Rocquel was a score of feet towards safety before he realized that it was Dav who had yelled at him. He stopped and turned — and was barely in time to see the disaster.

CHAPTER VIII

MALE bodies were being spun as if in a whirlpool. A fountain was already up in the air, being held and twisted by an invisible force.
From the corner of one eye he saw Dav frantically pushing through the retreating crowd towards him The human broke through abruptly.
’Quick!’ he yelled. ’It they’re whirled any higher, they may be hurt or killed when they fall.’
Rocquel said blankly, ’What do you mean — quick? Quick what?’
Dav’s eyes, so bright for a moment, misted. A puzzled look came to his face.
He muttered, ’What’s the matter with me? I don’t know why I said that.’
But the real message of his reaction had penetrated. Rocquel was thinking. He’s programmed also. . .
He felt the truth grow in him. It bothered him. Bothered him a lot. But the truth was that he was unquestionably watching the Symbol over which he had been given control.
What was reassuring was the fact that in this decisive hour the ultimate decision had been left to the hereditary general of Jana — himself.
As he hastily evoked within his mind the mental pattern that would bring the Tizane energy to bear on the Symbol, Rocquel thought, It really doesn’t take very much direct interference with individuals to control a planet with Symbols. Only a few key persons . . .
In the entire sequence of events, the most unique facet was that both of the mentors — Dav and Miliss — had also not been allowed free will.

AFTER the whirlpool of noble males of Jana began to drop to the ground — where some lay for a long time — Rocquel suggested to Jaer that the executions continue.
The big male stared at him blankly.
’Your Majesty,’ he said finally in amazement. ’I doubt we could find a single person at this moment willing to act the role of executioner.’
Rocquel was convinced of it. He worded his reply blandly. The decision to suspend executions must be made by the government and not by the constitutional monarch.
He added, watching Jaer closely: ’I have a feeling that the government should also grant a pardon to Dav.’
Those words got him, first, a dark, darting look. Slowly a crooked smile stretched across that normally grim face.
’Your Majesty,’ said Jaer Dorrish, let me refer to an earlier remark of yours. I have realized today that you do mean well and that it is hard to give up power. Apparently it is almost as hard for a person like myself to accept an accretion of power gracefully — but I should like to assure you that it is my intention to try. I see the role of prime minister as one that will involve a great deal of integrity. So — ’ He made a gesture with one hand, said in a formal tone, ’To prove to you that I have the intent of living up to that level of integrity, I hereby request in my capacity as leader of the government until the first election under the new law that you grant a reprieve and full pardon to Dav, the human.’
’I grant it,’ said Rocquel.
It was a great victory — yet he experienced a sudden drop in spirits on the way home. He rode nearly a hundred yards with his motorcycle guard before he realized that he was having a more severe recurrence of an earlier feeling.
I’m programmed, and that degrades me . . .
Back in the palace, he told Nerda his feeling. All the rest of that afternoon and part of the evening, she argued with him.
Programming, she pointed out, was like a drop of chem­ical which might give to a flowing stream slightly bluish tinge. Nothing but a dam could stop or divert the stream —yet after the injection of the chemical it was coloured in a specific way.
Her analogy triggered a thought in Rocquel. His pro­gramming had taken the form of accelerated civilizing of a paranoid male — himself. He was still hereditary general, still married to Nerda, with no intention of giving up either the position or the wife. Yet he had tolerated a change in the form by which he exercised his power, and he had accepted less total control over his wife.
And in neither instance did he feel a real loss.
Nerda suggested to him that the long-term programming of Miliss and Dav had been designed to make it possible for them to accept the unendurable existence of a lovely human couple marooned on an alien planet. And because the stream of life flowed immortally through them, they were separately programmed as a man and a woman to survive periodic crises. So the great civilization out there controlled even its own emissaries.
In this generation, Nerda continued, perhaps only she and Rocquel would know the truth and, to a lesser extent, Jaen. The hereditary general and his wife, and the hereditary leader of the principal subordinate group, the Dorrish. But their own personalities remained overwhelmingly private.
The stream of Jana identity flowed on in them — but it was now a more civilized being that felt the flow.
She must have realized from the accepting expression of his face and body that she could finally change the subject. ’Do you still have control of the Symbol?’ she asked. It was night, and they were standing at a huge window looking towards the slickrock mountains.
Rocquel imaged the first three stages of the Tizane pattern. Something grazed his leg. He knew a hackles-raising sensation — a sense of an energy field of enormous power.
Hastily he turned his thoughts aside.
’Yes,’ he said. ’It’s still there.’
’In your presence,’ said Nerda, ’no one can be killed — as long as you control that Symbol. Did they say when they would take it away from you?’
Rocquel was about to make the same reply he had given to Miliss — when he realized that there was quite a different awareness in him. A barrier had lifted from his memory. He recalled exactly what he had been told.
’No,’ he said simply, ’they just gave it to me. It’s a lifetime gift.’
He began to feel better.
In my presence, no one can be killed . . .
Suddenly he divined that his was a very advanced Symbol indeed. He stood at a nearly unthinkable height of understanding and power.
Deep inside him something that was almost infinitely savage was mollified. Possessing what was surely one of the ultimate human Symbols — he accepted his lesser than human status.

FOR Dav it felt strange to be free. He walked slowly to a nearby restaurant and sat down at a table. He was eating almost mindlessly when he heard the radio announce that he had been pardoned. The news struck him with an odd impact. The life force within him quickened.
He grew aware that the Janae in the restaurant were star­ing at him curiously. No one showed hostility.
He had no place that he wanted to go — so later he walked the streets. Finally he began to wonder.
Am I trying to solve a problem — and if so, what?
He could not decide. Everything seemed very far away.
He had a feeling that there was something he should be doing. But he did not know what.
Night came.
He waved a surface car to a halt. It drew up, its lights glittering, its bells clanging. No one said anything to him as he swung aboard.
Some younger Janae climbed on at the next stop. They sat giggling at him. But they rushed off into a brilliantly lighted park where hundreds of youthful Janae were dancing to the rhythm of a low, fast-tempo, sobbing music.
He continued his public exposure until almost midnight, without any untoward incidents. He returned to the white house by the river. As he entered the west wing, he presumed Miliss was in her part of the residence. But he made no effort to contact her.
He slept the special deep sleep which triggered long-ago programming deep in his brain. Still asleep, he went to a room that was deceptively equipped with what seemed to be ordinary Jana-level electronic equipment. But by pressing certain buttons and turning certain dials in a specific sequence, Dav activated a communications system hidden in a remote part of the Jana planet.
Subspace radio waves thereupon transmitted a message to a receiver many light-years away.
The message was: ’The crisis of the last stage of kings has passed — ’
The message completed automatically, then repeated and repeated. Finally a relay was closed on the receiving planet by an accepting mind.
A voice — or a thought —said, ’Message received, recorded.’ A light flashed on in an instrument in front of Dav and, still asleep, he returned to bed.

MILISS had watched him first through scanners and then — as she realized his catatonic unawareness of his surroundings — by following him closely.
So that, as he turned away from the equipment, she stepped up to it and spoke to the distant listener. It was almost as if her communication were expected.
The voice answered, ’We have come to a time when the woman — you — must know something of the truth.’
’What is the truth?’ Miliss asked. She did not wait for the reply, but rushed on: Was there a universal death, or was the idea the result of early programming?
’At the next crisis,’ was the reply, ’you will be allowed to visit — and see for yourself. Meanwhile, the man — Dav —must not be told. In fact, you will discover if you try that you cannot tell him.’
’Why not tell him?’
It seemed that the reasons for that were deeply bound up in the godlike cravings of masculinity in the male and related idealistic motivations.
’And that’s all we are allowed to say,’ concluded the faraway voice.
When the connection had been broken, Miliss — feeling suddenly much better, even lighthearted, as if she were again somebody and not a living artifact of a dead culture; feeling strangely tender towards that poor, programmed super-being, her husband — began the long task of moving back into the west wing.
By morning she had most of her beautiful things in their proper locations. And so, when Dav awakened and turned over, he saw a blonde woman with a smile on her face — and a faint look of innocence, as if everything she had done, including this return, had been totally rational.
This vision said to him, ’I hope you’ll be glad to know that you have a wife again.’
On a planet where there is only one woman, and that woman beautiful, what could the only man say to that? Dav said he was glad.
’Come over here,’ he said.


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Footnotes

[1and in October of the same year in the British edition of Galaxy, with the splendid full cover by Donald Menzel shown just above.

[217,300 words.