Carlyle Deston, the only human being of his time to work the Fifth, reached it the hard way. He had a hunch, but he could neither show it nor explain it to his fellows. They got behind him a few times and pushed, but nothing happened. He, however, did not forget it. It kept on niggling at him, and he kept on nibbling at it, until the two Aceys graduated. They had something he needed and lacked; a subconscious-and therefore ineradicable by experience, education, or knowledge innate conviction of superiority to any other race of man. He added them, and the Funny Four-n.o.body knew what that uninhibited foursome could do(-to his pushers; and the thirteen strongest psiontists of his time rammed his questing ego into and through the psionic barriers in the direction he knew he had to go.
He went: came back in zero time: and lay in a deep coma for forty hours. He could not explain, even to hysterical Barbara or to eagerly inquisitive Adams, where he had been or what he had done or what he had learned. However, he knew what he knew: wherefore a crew of the finest technicians of Galmetia, working under his minute supervision, built a machine.
It was like no other machine ever built by man. Everything, apparently, was input. It could take half the power of the gigantic leybyrdite-built generators of the gigantic leybyrdite-built Explorer, but there was no visible or perceptible output of any kind. There were no controls; no b.u.t.tons or meters or dials or gauges. All the immense power of that machine would be controlled purely by thought. If that machine performed at all, it would perform at the immeasurable speed of thought.
His hunch was that the thing would work. Since he could work the Fifth Nume alone (no woman can even perceive that Nume) as well as he and Barbara together could work the Fourth, he was practically certain that it would work. Certain enough to let the others who had insisted on coming along, even Barbara, do so: but no one else. And most certainly not the kids. Something might happen.
Shortly after Dann's last protest to Adams, the psiontists aboard the Explorer gathered in the control room, around Deston's enigmatic "Z-gun."
"But what could happen, Babe?" Bernice asked, nervously.
Don't worry, Bun. What is going to happen, as nearly as. I can express it, is that I'm going to transform the coordinates of those ships from the continuous phase to the discontinuous phase of Reality; using just enough energy to control the balance."
"You are not answering her question," Adams said. "There is an indeterminate and at present indeterminable probability that any disturbance of equilibrium will initiate an irreversibly accelerating transformation of the entire cosmos, so that..."
"Wow(" Cecily exclaimed. "It's bad enough, thinking of destroying one whole planet, but the whole cosmos!" "Compared to the discontinuous imbalances always there?" Deston protested. "Have a heart, Doc! And you two gals, listen-what Doe calls a probability isn't even an actual possibility-it's out beyond nine sigmas exactly as possible as that an automatic screw machine running six-thirty-two hex nuts would accidentally turn out a cash-register full of money. If it wasn't safe do you think I'd have Bobby here? h.e.l.l, I wouldn't be here myself!"
"Young man, your reasoning is deplorable," Adams said. "Your data is entirely insufficient for the computation of sigma in this case. Furthermore, the term probability,' in its meaningful sense, is defined by..."
"Meaningful sense and all, we'll drop all that stuff right now," Barbara said, unusually sharply for her. "Besides, it's about time to, isn't it?"
It was, and Deston stretched out on a davenport and closed his eyes. When the first Communist warship appeared in subs.p.a.ce he stiffened suddenly and it vanished. As more and more warships immerged and were caught in whatever it was that Deston and his Z-gun were doing, nothing seemed to be happening in the Explorer at all. The machine never had done anything, apparently, and Deston's body was stiffly rigid all the time.
Adams, leaving Stella behind, bored into that psionic murk with every iota of his psionic might. He perceived much-no two of those disappearances occurred in exactly the same way-and he would remember every detail of everything he perceived.
When the ghastly performance was over Deston got up, jerked his head at Barbara, and the two walked out of the room with their arms tightly around each other. No words pa.s.sed between them; or any thoughts except the knowledge of complete oneness. Neither words nor thoughts would do any good. It had had to be done and he was the only one who could do it. So he had done it.
They would have to live with it. That was the way it was. Nothing could be done about it.
Adams, on the other hand-tall, lean, gray-haired, gray-eyed, gray-clad Adams-was purring like a tomcat full of canaries. "Fabulous! Utterly priceless!" he enthused, to anyone who cared to listen. "Thus is probably the greatest break-through of all time! The data we have obtained here will undoubtedly be the basis for a completely new system of science!"
Just before the adjournment of the board meeting following the fall of New Russia, Maynard said: "Since science has not yet devised a recorder of thought, I will sum up briefly, for the minutes, the sense of this meeting.
"The political 'situation on Earth, while better than it was, is still bad. We have discussed strategy and have formulated plans by virtue of which we expect to win the next election.
"Plastics' serf world presents many problems, but they appear to be more a matter of time than of intrinsic impossibility. The psiontists of that world are working out a program of rehabilitation that promises excellent results.
"The ordinary citizens of New Russia will not present any problems. The non-psionic commissars and hardcore Party members will not be allowed to present any problems. The New Russian psiontists do, however, present a very serious problem; one that has taken up practically all of the time of this meeting.
"Psionics is necessarily ethical, but ethics is not at present an absolute. Thus most of the New Russian psiontists, steeped from infancy in Communist doctrine and never exposed to any except Communist thought, are as thoroughly convinced that Communism is right as we are that it is wrong. This difference of opinion in these cases, while total at present, is probably not irreconcilable. It is believed that when these uninformed persons have studied all aspects of the truth they will of their own accord come around to our way of thinking.
"There are some well-informed Communists psiontists, however, who believe so thoroughly that Communism is right that they would rather become martyrs to its cause than renounce it. Feodr Ilyowicz, a man of wide learning, knowledge, and experience, was one. What can be done about such men as he was?
"Are we right? We do not know. We cannot know.
All we can do-what we must do-is what eighty percent or more of this Board believes to be right.
"Our prime tenet, the solid bed-rock foundation upon which the Galactic Federation is being built, defines right' as that which, in the opinion of at least four fifths of the membership of its Board of Directors, is for the best good of humanity as a whole.
"It is a fact that about seventy percent of all known human population is non-Communist. This Board is in virtually unanimous agreement that about ninety six percent of all people now under Communist rule as we know it would be vastly better off under Galaxianism; would live much fuller, freer, and better lives than under Communism. Thus, we believe that Galaxianism is for the best good of about ninety eight and eight tenths percent of all humanity known to us.
"More than the required four fifths of us have agreed upon three points. First: each such psiontist as Feodr Ilyowicz was will be watched. Second: no general ruling will be made, but each such case will be decided upon its own merits. Third, the penalty of death will not be imposed.
"If there is no other business requiring our attention at this time, a voiced motion for adjournment is now in order."