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Mondschein's eyes were wide as the monuments of antiquity flashed by. The Forum, the Colosseum, the Theater of Marcellus, the gaudy Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Mussolini Column—their route took them through the heart of the ancient city. He saw also the blue glow of a Vorster chapel as he whizzed down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and that struck him as harshly incongruous here in this city of an older religion. The Brotherhood had a solid foothold here, though. When Gregory XVIII appeared in the window at his Vatican palace, he could still draw a crowd of hundreds of thousands of cheering Romans, but many of those same Romans would melt from the square after viewing the Pope and head for the nearest chapel of the Brotherhood.

Evidently the Harmonists were making headway here, too, Mondschein thought. But he kept his peace as the car sped northward out of the city.

"This is the Via Flaminia," his guide announced. "The old route was followed when the electronic roadbed was installed. They have a deep sense of tradition here."

"I'm sure they do," said Mondschein wearily. It was mid-evening by his time, and he had had nothing to eat but a snack aboard the quickboat. The ninety-minute journey had dumped him in Rome in the hours before dawn. A wintry mist hung over the city; spring was late. Mondschein's face itched fiercely beneath his mask. Fear chilled his fingers.

They halted in front of a drab brick building somewhere a few dozen miles north of Rome. Mondschein shivered as he hurried within. The woman with platinum eyelids led him up the stairs and into a warm, brightly lit room occupied by three men in green Harmonist robes. That confirmed it, Mondschein thought: I'm in a den of heretics.

They did not offer their names. One was short and squat, with a sallow face and bulbous nose. One was tall and spectrally thin, arms and legs like spider's limbs. The third was unremarkable, with pale skin and narrow, bland eyes. The squat one was the oldest and seemed to be in charge.

Without preamble he said, "So they turned you down, did they?"


"Never mind how. We've been watching you, Mondschein. We hoped you'd make it. We want a man in Santa Fe just as much as you want to be there."

"Are you Harmonists?"

"Yes. What about some wine, Mondschein?"

The acolyte shrugged. The tall heretic gestured, and the slim woman, who had not left the room, came forward with a flask of golden wine. Mondschein accepted a glass, thinking dourly that it was almost certainly drugged. The wine was chilled and faintly sweet, like a middling-dry Graves. The others took wine with him.

"What do you want from me?" Mondschein asked.

"Your help," said the squat one. "There's a war going on, and we want you to join our side."

"I don't know of any wars."

"A war between darkness and light," said the tall heretic in a mild voice. "We are the warriors of light. Don't think we're fanatics, Mondschein. Actually, we're quite reasonable men."

"Perhaps you know," said the third of the Harmonists, "that our creed is derived from yours. We respect the teachings of Vorst, and we follow most of his ways. In fact, we regard ourselves as closer to the original teachings than the present hierarchy of the Brotherhood. We're a purifying body. Every religion needs its reformers."

Mondschein sipped his wine. He allowed his eyes to twinkle maliciously as he remarked, "Usually it takes a thousand years for the reformers to put in their appearance. This is only 2095. The Brotherhood's hardly thirty years old."

The squat heretic nodded. "The pace of our times is a fast one. It took the Christians three hundred years to get political control of Rome—from the time of Augustus to that of Constantine. The Vorsters didn't need that long. You know the story: there are Brotherhood men in every legislative body in the world. In some countries they've organized their own political parties. I don't need to tell you about the financial growth of the organization, either."

"And you purifiers urge a return to the old, simple ways of thirty years ago?" Mondschein asked. "The ramshackle buildings, the persecutions, and all the rest? Is that it?"

"Not really. We appreciate the uses of power. We simply feel that the movement's become sidetracked in irrelevancies. Power for its own sake has become more important than power for the sake of larger goals."

The tall one said, "The Vorster high command quibbles about political appointments and agitates for changes in the income tax structure. It's wasting time and energy fooling around with domestic affairs. Meanwhile the movement's drawn a total blank on Mars and Venus—not one chapel among the colonists, not even a start there, total rejection. And where are the great results of the esper breeding program? Where are the dramatic new leaps?"

"It's only the second generation," Mondschein said. "You have to be patient" He smiled at that—counseling patience to others—and added, "I think the Brotherhood is heading in the right direction."

"We don't, obviously," said the pale one. "When we failed to reform from within, we had to leave and begin our own campaign, parallel to the original one. The long-range goals are the same. Personal immortality through bodily regeneration. And full development of extrasensory powers, leading to new methods of communication and transportation. That's what we want—not the right to decide local tax issues."

Mondschein said, "First you get control of the governments. Then you concentrate on the long-range goals."

"Not necessary," snapped the squat Harmonist. "Direct action is what we're interested in. We're confident of success, too. One way or another, we'll achieve our purposes."

The slim woman gave Mondschein more wine. He tried to shake her away, but she insisted on filling his glass, and he drank. Then he said, "I presume you didn't waft me off to Rome just to tell me your opinion of the Brotherhood. What do you need me for?"

"Suppose we were to get you transferred to Santa Fe," the squat one said.

Mondschein sat bolt upright. His hand tightened on the wineglass, nearly breaking it.

"How could you do that?"

"Suppose we could. Would you be willing to obtain certain information from the laboratories there and transmit it to us?"

"Spy for you?"

"You could call it that."

"It sounds ugly," Mondschein said.

"You'd have a reward for it."

"It better be a good one."

The heretic leaned forward and said quietly, "We'll offer you a tenth-level post in our organization. You'd have to wait fifteen years to get that high in the Brotherhood. We're a much smaller operation; you can rise in our hierarchy much faster than where you are. An ambitious man like you could be very close to the top before he was fifty."

"But what good is it?" Mondschein asked. "To get close to the top in the second-best hierarchy?"

"Ah, but we won't be second-best! Not with the information you'll provide for us. That will allow us to grow. Millions of people will desert the Brotherhood for us when they see what we have to offer—all that they have, plus our own values. We'll expand rapidly. And

you'll have a position of high rank, because you threw your lot in with us at the beginning."

Mondschein saw the logic of that. The Brotherhood was swollen already, wealthy, powerful, top-heavy with entrenched bureaucrats. There was no room for advancement there. But if he were to transfer his allegiance to a small but dynamic group with ambitions that rivaled his own—

"It won't work," he said sadly.


"Assuming you can wangle me into Santa Fe, IH be screened by espers long before I get there. They'll know I'm coming as a spy, and they'll screen me out. My memories of this conversation will give me away."

The squat man smiled broadly. "Why do you think you'll remember this conversation? We have our espers, too, Acolyte Mondschein!"

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