The man rose from the table. “You’ve sworn to me on the line of your first father. That’s good enough.”
“Lost I am,” whispered the stunned Chaheel. “Lost and disbelieving. If Lewmaklin has done truly what you claim, has participated in this monstrous evil aimed at the innocent unborn, then he should have perished long ago. Yet he lives.”
“Don’t take it so hard,” Lindsay advised him. “Look, I’m a programmer and researcher. I probably wouldn’t understand how or what you guys stuck in his brain even if you explained it to me slowly. But even you Nuel can’t make new laws of biology. All you can do is use the existing ones.
“You know what I know: that Loo-Macklin, the sorry ghit, ain’t dead. Maybe he found some way to circumvent or short-circuit whatever kind of check you put inside his head. I wish I was wrong. Wish he was dead. You guys better check up on whatever it was you did to him, ’cause it sure as hell ain’t working.”
Those were the last words the psychologist heard from Thomas Lindsay. The man vanished into the crowd, leaving a stunned Chaheel slumped alone in the booth. Hastily he concealed the packet of information chips. Then his great eyes scanned the room.
If Lindsay was wrong, if he hadn’t covered his actions with sufficient thoroughness, then there would be work here for assassins soon enough. Chaheel doubted they would hesitate to kill an alien visitor. Not one carrying the information just passed to him. He vacated the table and the establishment as fast as his cilia could carry him.
The information chips were transported to a Nuel vessel, run through human-designed computers, then reprocessed and scanned by Nuel instrumentation. Chaheel carried them aboard himself, not trusting them to anyone else to deliver safely and certainly not to ground-based transmission. There was too much at stake.
It was all there, everything Lindsay had claimed and more. Loo-Macklin himself making arrangements with high government officials, records of dates and delivery schemes, the design for the distribution of the soporific chemical to Nueleen food suppliers and when it was to commence: all in stomach-turning detail.
It was estimated it would take thirty years for the drug to reduce the maturing Nuel to a state of racial complacency through manipulation of the hormone balance in their brains. A plan as perfect as it was insidious, for while it was being carried out, the otherwise normal young adults would never suspect a thing.
When the last information chip came to an end, several of the ship’s prime officers turned in shock to Chaheel Riens. The psychologist was only slightly less stunned by the scope and sheer malignancy of the plan.
“It is clear,” one of the junior officers finally said into the devastated silence, “that the _lehl_ has failed. The humans have either found a way of extracting it without harming the host or neutralizing its reactions.”
“Impossible, impossible truly,” countered another. “They have not the medical skills necessary.”
“A renegade Nuel physician could do the operation,” suggested a third.
“That does not explain how our periodic checks on this creature continue to show positive,” Chaheel pointed out, trying to restrain the rising air of panic in the meeting chamber.
“In any case there is one advantage we retain.” The officers listened closely. “This creature Lewmaklin may by now know of this Lindsay individual’s actions, but he cannot be certain that said information was conveyed to me. He should still think that he holds our trust, that his position is unchanged. We still have time to destroy this intended assault upon the minds of our young.” A few outraged murmurs rose from the assembled ship’s officers.
“We will alert all the food distribution firms as well as those companies who produce the food. In addition, there are Nuel who monitor incoming shipments from the UTW. They can be on the watch for this additive and stop it before it reaches any family world. Surely this creature has no Nuel in his pay. I am certain those who work for him are unaware of this plan.
“And lastly, there is a simpler way to prevent this and any future such troubles.” When no one said anything, he explained further.
“Once, long ago, I actually met this Lewmaklin thing. He was friendly enough but his attitudes troubled me even then. Still he makes his residence on the world below us.” He indicated the slowly rotating globe of Evenwaith, a mass of white clouds and sapphire seas filling the sweeping port off to his right.
“Likely he is traveling now. He travels much, to attend to his vast interests. We will wait for him to return.”
“And when he returns?” prompted one of the officers.
“When he returns I will see if I can call upon that long-ago meeting to secure an appointment with him,” said Chaheel quietly. “I am sure he will suspect nothing. I will kill him. No physician, be he human or renegade Nuel, can prevent me from accomplishing that intention. The _lehl_ has failed. I assure you that I shall not….”
He had no trouble gaining the appointment. Loo-Macklin, the secretary in charge assured the psychologist, would be pleased to greet an old acquaintance. Further proof, to Chaheel’s mind, that the human knew nothing of the meeting with Thomas Lindsay.
He traveled by marcar from Cluria. Soon the car slipped free of its tube and raced across a field of ripe, waving grain. The wheat concealed the magnetic repulsion rail, which kept the car aloft and moving forward.
Chaheel studied the well-cultivated fields with interest. He knew that many years ago this world of Evenwaith was a cesspool of pollution, which was forced to import such products as grain because they couldn’t grow in the poisoned atmosphere. He knew also that Loo-Macklin was the one principally responsible for cleaning the planet’s surface. Looking at the endless fields of golden wheat, the clear blue skies, it was difficult to imagine what this land must once have been like, choking under a permanent pall of dioxides and particulates.
It was no wonder Loo-Macklin was idealized by many humans and had been raised high within their society. His greatest accomplishment, of course, lay ahead: the silent subjugation of the Nuel.
His status and intent would have given him access to secret government files and records, all of which he no doubt employed to enhance his business dealings. The government would find it repayment enough, and his competitors could only wonder at his seeming prescience. All little things, insignificant things, beside the vast evil the human intended.
A spur off the main marcar rail dead-ended atop a rocky bluff overlooking Evenwaith’s South Sea. Automatic switching devices made insect-noises beneath the tall cliff grass as Chaheel’s car was shifted to a private rail. Then he made a breathtaking descent down the cliff face, leveled off, and found himself skimming over the waves booming on shore.
Glancing out the side of the car he could just make out the rail running beneath the surface. Ahead lay a large, igneous plug whose vertical gray sides rose sharply from the sea.
The core of the long-extinct volcano, which comprised the island, was wholly owned by Loo-Macklin. From twisted lava rose his private estate, a forest of thin, gleaming towers coated with precious reflective metal enamels. Sunlight turned the island into a forest of wild mirrors.
As he neared the fortress home, Chaheel decided the towers were more than merely decorative. No doubt, many contained components of an elaborate defense system. That was only to be expected. It was hardly likely the most powerful human in the eighty-three worlds of the UTW would chose to live in a defenseless fairyland.
That did not trouble Chaheel Riens. He never expected to get off the island alive.
He was compelled to endure several checks of his person. Not all the polite guards who scanned him for weapons and made certain of his identity were human. There were two of the tall Orischians and one Orophite. No Nuel, however, much to Chaheel’s relief.
They found no weapons on the psychologist because he was carrying none. From the beginning he’d assumed anyone as important as Loo-Macklin would maintain an elaborate system of personal protection and had given up the idea at once of trying to smuggle anything lethal, even a sophisticated biological agent, into the great man’s sanctuary.
His plan called for something as simple as it was primitive. Though no athlete and half a foot shorter than the human, he was a good hundred pounds heavier. He would wait for the right instant, work his way as close as possible to the creature, and before any automatic device or living guard could react, he would throw himself on Kee-yes vain Lewmaklin and break the man’s neck.
What happened subsequent to that did not concern Chaheel Riens.
The room they ushered him into as he flexed his powerful tentacles a last time was obscenely large. The soaring, vaulted ceiling was several stories high, forming a peak of transparent gemstone, which permitted the entrance of an altered sun. It curved down in a fine sweep to meet a broad, transparent wall supported by glass buttresses. It was far too large to be called a window.