Little Fuzzy – Day 70 of 77

Lieutenant j.g. Ortheris, under a calmly blue globe, testified to coming to Zarathustra as a Federation Naval Reserve officer recalled to duty with Intelligence, and taking a position with the Company.

“As a regularly qualified doctor of psychology, I worked under Dr. Mallin in the scientific division, and also with the school department and the juvenile court. At the same time I was regularly transmitting reports to Commander Aelborg, the chief of Intelligence on Xerxes. The object of this surveillance was to make sure that the Zarathustra Company was not violating the provisions of their charter or Federation law. Until the middle of last month, I had nothing to report beyond some rather irregular financial transactions involving Resident General Emmert. Then, on the evening of June fifteen—”

That was when Ben had transmitted the tape to Juan Jimenez; she described how it had come to her attention.

“As soon as possible, I transmitted a copy of this tape to Commander Aelborg. The next night, I called Xerxes from the screen on Dr. van Riebeek’s boat and reported what I’d learned about the Fuzzies. I was then informed that Leonard Kellogg had gotten hold of a copy of the Holloway-Rainsford tape and had alerted Victor Grego; that Kellogg and Ernst Mallin were being sent to Beta Continent with instructions to prevent publication of any report claiming sapience for the Fuzzies and to fabricate evidence to support an accusation that Dr. Rainsford and Mr. Holloway were perpetrating a deliberate scientific hoax.”

“Here, I’ll have to object to this, your Honor,” Coombes said, rising. “This is nothing but hearsay.”

“This is part of a Navy Intelligence situation estimate given to Lieutenant Ortheris, based on reports we had received from other agents,” Captain Greibenfeld said. “She isn’t the only one we have on Zarathustra, you know. Mr. Coombes, if I hear another word of objection to this officer’s testimony from you, I am going to ask Mr. Brannhard to subpoena Victor Grego and question him under veridication about it.”

“Mr. Brannhard will be more than happy to oblige, Commander,” Gus said loudly and distinctly.

Coombes sat down hastily.

“Well, Lieutenant Ortheris, this is most interesting, but at the moment, what we’re trying to establish is how these Fuzzies got to Xerxes Naval Base,” the chubby associate justice, Ruiz, put in.

“I’ll try to get them there as quickly as possible, your Honor,” she said. “On the night of Friday the twenty-second, the Fuzzies were taken from Mr. Holloway and brought into Mallorysport; they were turned over by Mohammed O’Brien to Juan Jimenez, who took them to Science Center and put them in cages in a room back of his office. They immediately escaped. I found them, the next morning, and was able to get them out of the building, and to turn them over to Commander Aelborg, who had come down from Xerxes to take personal charge of the Fuzzy operation. I will not testify as to how I was able to do this. I am at present and was then an officer of the Terran Federation Armed Forces; the courts have no power to compel a Federation officer to give testimony involving breach of military security. I was informed, through my contact in Mallorysport, from time to time, of the progress of the work of measuring the Fuzzies’ mental level there; I was able to pass on suggestions occasionally. Any time any of these suggestions was based on ideas originating with Dr. Mallin, I was careful to give him full credit.”

Mallin looked singularly unappreciative.

Brannhard got up. “Before this witness is excused, I’d like to ask if she knows anything about four other Fuzzies, the ones found by Jack Holloway up Ferny Creek on Friday.”

“Why, yes; they’re my Fuzzies, and I was worried about them. Their names are Complex, Syndrome, Id and Superego.”

“Your Fuzzies, Lieutenant?”

“Well, I took care of them and worked with them; Juan Jimenez and some Company hunters caught them over on Beta Continent. They were kept at a farm center about five hundred miles north of here, which had been vacated for the purpose. I spent all my time with them, and Dr. Mallin was with them most of the time. Then, on Monday night, Mr. Coombes came and got them.”

“Mr. Coombes, did you say?” Gus Brannhard asked.

“Mr. Leslie Coombes, the Company attorney. He said they were needed in Mallorysport. It wasn’t till the next day that I found out what they were needed for. They’d been turned loose in front of that Fuzzy hunt, in the hope that they would be killed.”

She looked across at Coombes; if looks were bullets, he’d have been deader than Kurt Borch.

“Why would they sacrifice four Fuzzies merely to support a story that was bound to come apart anyhow?” Brannhard asked.

“That was no sacrifice. They had to get rid of those Fuzzies, and they were afraid to kill them themselves for fear they’d be charged with murder along with Leonard Kellogg. Everybody, from Ernst Mallin down, who had anything to do with them was convinced of their sapience. For one thing, we’d been using those hearing aids ourselves; I suggested it, after getting the idea from Xerxes. Ask Dr. Mallin about it, under veridication. Ask him about the multiordinal polyencephalograph experiments, too.”

“Well, we have the Holloway Fuzzies placed on Xerxes,” the Chief Justice said. “We can hear the testimony of the people who worked with them there at any time. Now, I want to hear from Dr. Ernst Mallin.”

Coombes was on his feet again. “Your Honors, before any further testimony is heard, I would like to confer with my client privately.”

“I fail to see any reason why we should interrupt proceedings for that purpose, Mr. Coombes. You can confer as much as you wish with your client after this session, and I can assure you that you will be called upon to do nothing on his behalf until then.” He gave a light tap with his gavel and then said: “Dr. Ernst Mallin will please take the stand.”

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