The next week kept us busy following Edith’s instructions. I didn’t see how they would apply to Alice, but Edith knew her species better than I. Alice’s silence and the prying inquisitiveness of her parents and her boyfriend worked like magic. Alice finally became angry and after a stormy scene left the house, swearing never to return. Edith picked her up as she walked away; Ven turned on the control and turned the threat to fact. Later I took a leaf from Edith’s book and sent Alice to San Francisco, where I had her write a pair of bitter letters to her parents and her extralegal mate. After that I felt more secure.
The others worked out exactly as Edith predicted. No trouble at all. By the time Donald returned from the East with a ton of tin ingots in a small truck our training schedule was well set up. The robots and I had managed to build a multiplex controller similar to those we used on Thalassa on the state farms, but much smaller. It could handle the proxies en masse or as individuals. While far less sensitive than the one in the ship, it was effective enough for our rather elementary purposes.
Edith, who was running the group under Ven’s supervision, had them lined up in a row to greet Donald as he came up the hill toward the ship.
“The place looks like a nudist colony,” Donald grumbled. “You haven’t improved it any.” He eyed the file of mammals trooping down to the truck to unload the tin ingots. “I have another ton lined up for delivery as soon as you get this processed,” he said.
“Good,” I replied. “We’ll leave as soon as it’s aboard. I don’t like the looks of your recent actions.”
“Mine?” I shook my head. “Oh, you mean the world situation.” I nodded. “You shouldn’t worry about it. You should have seen it this time last year.”
I shrugged. I would never really understand these creatures. Their brains functioned differently. “You frighten me with your wild displays of emotion. Someday one of you is going to start something and your world is going to go up in fire.”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I have some ideas about that. With the money from your stories and with what you have taught me, I think there will be some changes.” There was a peculiar expression in his eyes that I couldn’t identify. It made me vaguely uneasy. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since you met up with Edie and me. What this world needs is someone who can run it.”
“That’s obvious,” I said. “Until your society catches up with your technology you will be in constant danger. You mammals will have to learn to discipline your emotions.”
His face twisted. “I’ve had a good practical course in that,” he said. “Now I’m getting post-graduate training.” He gestured at the women coming up the hill carrying the silver tin ingots. “Just how long do you think I can endure something like this?”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Do I have to draw you a diagram?” he asked. “Ever since you lizards came into my life I haven’t been able to touch a woman. Not even Edith--and she’s my wife. Just how much of this do you think I can take?”
“Oh!” I exclaimed with dawning comprehension. “I think I see.”
The situation would have been amusing if it wasn’t so stupid. I was surprised that I hadn’t realized it before. There was, I knew, a certain amount of feedback in a bipolar control circuit. Obviously enough of Ven’s conditioning, and mine, had seeped through to affect Donald and Edith’s normal relationships. Mammals were far more preoccupied with sex than we were. Their books, magazines, television and motion pictures reeked of it. It was present in almost every piece of advertising, and four of our six new proxies were living histories of it. Yet Donald and Edith, because of our feedback, had been kept as continent as novitiates for the priesthood of Authority!
“I’m a perfectly normal male,” Donald said. “Just what do you think you’ve been doing to me? I can’t drink. I can’t make love. I can’t do anything except collect tin for you lizards. Just why do you think I hate you? Now you surround me with a whole damned untouchable harem! Are you trying to drive me insane?”
I laughed, and Donald recognize the sound for what it was.
“Oh, damn you!” he said bitterly. “How would you like to be married for eight months and for six of them be unable to touch your wife? Just why do you think Edith tried to get drunk? I could kill you cheerfully for what you’ve done to us!”
“Oh!” I said. There was a world of understanding opening in front of me. Of course, it would do no good to tell him that Ven and I had remained in enforced continence for five years. It was just the Eugenics council working through us--entirely involuntarily. What was bothering Donald and Edith was so absurdly simple that neither Ven nor I would have thought to ask. And the mammals with their peculiar customs and habits would never have told us unless--as had happened--the pressure became too great.
What our mammals needed was a good dose of Va Krul’s basic therapy. If Edith were fertilized as a result of it, so much the better. It would keep her attention where it more properly belonged. The thought would never have occurred to me in my present state. Since I was content, I had erroneously assumed that everything was in harmony.
“You might as well go home,” I said. “Take Edith with you. We won’t need you for several days.”
“You’ll find things a little different. I’ll make a few adjustments on the controller.”
To my surprise Don didn’t appear happy at all. “Does that mean what I think it does?” he demanded. “Do you think I’ll get any satisfaction out of being controlled even there?”
“I don’t know about the pleasure,” I said coldly, “but I do know that it will improve your attitude.”
Donald raged at me, his brain white with anger. “So help me God, Eu Kor, someday I’m going to kill you for this! It’s the ultimate insult.”
“You’re not going to do anything,” I said calmly. His voice dissolved into obscenity. For a moment I felt sorry for him until I remembered the basic truth that none of us are free--and the most intelligent, naturally, are the least free of all. They are bound by their commitments, their duties, their responsibilities, and by their intelligence itself. If a superior intelligence occasionally exhibits petty lapses--which amuse him or relieve his boredom--it is not the place of the less endowed to construe it as a sign of equality.
Some--like Ven and me--have known their place from birth. Others, like Edith and Alice, learn easily with a minimum amount of pain. Some like Grace learn hard; and some--like Donald--do not learn at all.
Donald was the eternal rebel, complying because he must, yet seething with resentment because he did. He was the personification of drive without innate control, ambition without humility, intelligence without wisdom. As he had been, he was not quite enough. At best he would have been a minor author and a petty domestic tyrant. He would never have been a threat simply because he didn’t have the ability or training. But I had given him what he lacked. The knowledge I had impressed upon his mind would give him a tremendous advantage over his fellow mammals, and his tendencies toward domestic tyranny would expand to include others. His glandular attitude would pervert his knowledge to the detriment of humankind. He could become a thing so dangerous that it could destroy this precariously balanced world.
I went into the ship and set up a world matrix on the computer, using all the data I had accumulated, secured the answer, and then inserted Donald’s potential into the matrix. I then ordered a probability extrapolation for both matrices, equating the solutions with survival.
The answers confirmed my thoughts. With the matrix as it stood, the twenty year survival prediction was 65 per cent, which wasn’t too bad since few advanced-technology worlds have better than an 85 per cent survival probability. But with Donald in the matrix, the survival prediction was zero!
I knew what I must do. I could not leave him behind as I had planned. Nor could I inflict the senseless cruelty of brainblotting. He would have to be mercifully destroyed.
Although I was fond of Donald, and his death would leave me sick for weeks, it would not be right to let my creation live and condemn the mammal race to death. I could not exterminate a race Authority had created. The guilt syndrome would be shattering. Of course, if they killed each other that was not my concern.
But until we left I would give him all the freedom he could use. Outside of the minimum of control, he would be free to do and act as he pleased. I didn’t owe it to him, yet it was not his fault that he had come into my hands. And when I returned to Thalassa I would tell the Council what I had done and ask for justice. Perhaps we could save this world from itself even as we had saved others. The question of gratitude would be immaterial.
With a firm hand to set them on the track, the mammals might learn the values of intelligence and cooperation before it was too late. They might understand the realities of existence rather than fall victim to their glandular fancies. They might. But if they did, one thing would be certain--they would learn it the hard way. Donald was proof of that.
I went to our living quarters, and presently Ven joined me. “They’re all in for the night, Eu,” she said.
“That’s good. How are they coming along?”
“Splendidly. Another week should see the end of the training. Edith was a good experience for me in handling these. I’m not making the mistakes I did. I’m finding the blocks and removing them. One of them, the one called Grace, should be even better than Edith.”
“As a mount?” I asked with faint humor. “Or as a working proxy?”
“Both,” Ven said promptly. “She’s stronger and more intelligent. Yet even so I think I shall always like Edith best.”
“One’s first dependent is always one’s fondest memory,” I replied sententiously, “But you’ll forget them all when we’re back on Thalassa.”
“I won’t,” Ven said. “I’ll never forget Edith.”
“Never is a long time,” I said gently. “I shall even forget the pain of killing Donald some day.”
“Then you’ve decided to eliminate him?” Ven said.
I nodded. “It’s necessary,” I said. “This world wouldn’t be safe with him alive.”
“Poor Edith. She’s fond of the brute,” Ven said. She moved toward the doorway.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I want to talk to Edith. Perhaps I can prepare her.”