Little Fuzzy – Day 63 of 77

“Ha!” He started feeling warm inside, as though he had just downed a slug of Baldur honey-rum. “How?”

“Well, you know Nick Emmert has a hunting lodge down there. Post Eight keeps an eye on it for him. This afternoon, one of Lieutenant Obefemi’s cars was passing over it, and they picked up some radiation and infrared on their detectors, as though the power was on inside. When they went down to investigate, they found Woller and Fuentes making themselves at home. They brought them in, and both of them admitted under veridication that Emmert had given them the keys and sent them down there to hide out till after the trial.

“They denied that Emmert had originated the frameup. That had been one of Woller’s own flashes of genius, but Emmert knew what the score was and went right along with it. They’re being brought up here the first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Well, that’s swell, Colonel! Has it gotten out to the news services yet?”

“No. We would like to have them both questioned here in Mallorysport, and their confessions recorded, before we let the story out. Otherwise, somebody might try to take steps to shut them up for good.”

That had been what he had been thinking of. He said so, and Ferguson nodded. Then he hesitated for a moment, and said:

“Max, do you like the situation here in Mallorysport? Be damned if I do.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are too many strangers in town,” Ian Ferguson said. “All the same kind of strangers—husky-looking young men, twenty to thirty, going around in pairs and small groups. I’ve been noticing it since day before last, and there seem to be more of them every time I look around.”

“Well, Ian, it’s a young man’s planet, and we can expect a big crowd in town for the trial….”

He didn’t really believe that. He just wanted Ian Ferguson to put a name on it first. Ferguson shook his head.

“No, Max. This isn’t a trial-day crowd. We both know what they’re like; remember when they tried the Gawn brothers? No whooping it up in bars, no excitement, no big crap games; this crowd’s just walking around, keeping quiet, as though they expected a word from somebody.”

“Infiltration.” Goddamit, he’d said it first, himself after all! “Victor Grego’s worried about this.”

“I know it, Max. And Victor Grego’s like a veldbeest bull; he isn’t dangerous till he’s scared, and then watch out. And against the gang that’s moving in here, the men you and I have together would last about as long as a pint of trade-gin at a Sheshan funeral.”

“You thinking of pushing the panic-button?”

The constabulary commander frowned. “I don’t want to. A dim view would be taken back on Terra if I did it without needing to. Dimmer view would be taken of needing to without doing it, though. I’ll make another check, first.”

Gerd van Riebeek sorted the papers on the desk into piles, lit a cigarette and then started to mix himself a highball.

“Fuzzies are members of a sapient race,” he declared. “They reason logically, both deductively and inductively. They learn by experiment, analysis and association. They formulate general principles, and apply them to specific instances. They plan their activities in advance. They make designed artifacts, and artifacts to make artifacts. They are able to symbolize, and convey ideas in symbolic form, and form symbols by abstracting from objects.

“They have aesthetic sense and creativity,” he continued. “They become bored in idleness, and they enjoy solving problems for the pleasure of solving them. They bury their dead ceremoniously, and bury artifacts with them.”

He blew a smoke ring, and then tasted his drink. “They do all these things, and they also do carpenter work, blow police whistles, make eating tools to eat land-prawns with and put molecule-model balls together. Obviously they are sapient beings. But don’t please don’t ask me to define sapience, because God damn it to Nifflheim, I still can’t!”

“I think you just did,” Jack said.

“No, that won’t do. I need a definition.”

“Don’t worry, Gerd,” Gus Brannhard told him. “Leslie Coombes will bring a nice shiny new definition into court. We’ll just use that.”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)