Back | Next




The office was bare of all furniture except for a seat pulled drawer fashion out of the softly glowing wall. The report shining in fiery script up at the Inspector was on a desk. Or perhaps those letters only appeared fiery because of the possible conflagration to come, masked in the official idiom of his particular security section. As long ago as his third month in the Service, a time now he found difficult to recall, he had ceased abruptly to believe that any operation could run smoothly. In past experience the most placid landscapes hid the nastiest traps.

Now he leaned back in the seat which accommodatingly changed shape to fit his middle-aged bulk at the new angle. Though his expression had not changed, he ran a finger tip nervously back and forth along the edge of the reader plate on which the message still stood. He had already wasted too much time on this, but—

CLASSIFIED REPORT: Division 1 Plus Information
NATURE OF OFFENSE: Attempt to influence
other level history.
Section Leader: Com Varlt, MW 69321
Crew: Horman Tilis MW 69345 Fal Korf AW 70958
Pague Lo Sig AW 70889
Traced subject—Kmoat Vo Pranj—to Levels 415-426 inclusive. Established prime base on likeliest world (E641—marked, on survey of Kol 30, 51446 E.G. as "culturally retarded, critical, forbidden, except to sociological investigators, rank 1-2" ). But subject may be on another world of this grouping or engaged in hopping.
Have assumed credentials and background of members of native law enforcement body, national in scope (Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Dawn atomic—inhabitants on this level appear to possess no psi powers—highly unstable civilization—just the type to attract Pranj.
There was the meat of it, entered under "remarks." The Inspector's eyes lifted to the restful, unbroken glow of the opposite wall. They were getting all too many of such "remarks" at Headquarters lately. Why, when he had been in the field force—He shook his head and then had the grace to laugh at his own dawning pomposity. The important point was—the man in the field knew. He read the final sentence on which his decision must be made.
Must term operation "solution dubious"—critical plus—require extreme powers under 202 classification.
Com Varlt, MW in charge.

Com Varlt. The Inspector triggered a button with one of those nervous finger tips. The report flashed off and in its place was a series of code symbols. Hmm, that agent had a rather impressive record all the way along. The Inspector's hesitation was gone. He pressed a second button and smiled almost grimly. Varlt had asked for it—now he had his wish. Only "solution dubious" had better turn out "Solution Satisfactory"! A new report clicked on the reader and the Inspector turned to consider another case.



Back | Next