being, had actually given a poor, respectful spaceship Captain a


It made me want to butt holes in the bulkheads. Not that I hadn't had

time to get used to the treatment; every man in my corps gets a full

dose of awe and respect from the services, from Government officials

and even from the United Cabinets. The only reason we don't get it

from the man in the street is that the man in the street--unless he

happens to be a very special man in a very unusual street--doesn't

know the corps exists. Which is a definite relief, by the way; at

least, off the job, I'm no more than Ephraim Carboy, citizen.

I took a puff on my cigarette, and the Captain followed suit, very

respectfully. I felt like screaming at him but I kept my voice polite.

"The war's definitely over, isn't it?" I said.

He shrugged. "That depends, Mr. Carboy," he said. "The armies have

surrendered, and the treaty's been signed. That happened even before

we left Earth--three or four weeks ago. But whether you could say the

war was over ... well, Mr Carboy, that depends."

"Guerrillas," I said.

He nodded. "Wohlen's a jungle world, mostly," he said. "Sixty per cent

water, of course, but outside of that there are a few cities, two

spaceports, and the rest--eighty or ninety per cent of the land

area--nothing but jungle. A few roads running from city to city, but

that's all."

"Of course," I said. He was being careful and accurate. I wondered

what he thought I'd do if I caught him in a mistake. Make a magic pass

and explode him like a bomb, probably. I took in some more smoke,

wondering whether the Captain thought I had psi powers--which, of

course, I didn't; no need for them in my work--and musing sourly on

how long it would take before the job was done and I was on my way

back home.

Then again, I told myself, there was always the chance of getting

killed. And in the mood I found myself, the idea of a peaceful,

unrespectful death was very pleasant.

For a second or two, anyhow.

"The Government holds the cities," the Captain was saying, "and

essential trade services--spaceports, that sort of thing. But a small

band of men can last for a long time out there in the wilds."

"Living off the country," I said.

He nodded again. "Wohlen's nine-nines Earth normals," he said. "But

you know that already."

"I know all of this," I said. "I'm just trying to update it a little,

if I can."

"Oh," he said. "Oh, certainly, S ... uh ... Mr. Carboy."

I sighed and puffed on the cigarette and waited for him to go on.

After all, what else was there to do?

* * * * *

For a wonder, the hypno had been just about accurate. That was

helpful; if I'd heard some new and surprising facts from the Captain

it would have thrown all the other information I had into doubt. Now I

could be pretty sure of what I was getting into.

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