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."You have to burrow deep, tear away layer after layer of the person's mind before you can kill.""Have you done it?" Blaise muttered around a swelling lip."Yes, and it haunts me to this day." Polyakov stepped to the alien's side and rested a hand on his shoulder."I weighed Rabdan's life against the life of the Earth.He had to die, it was necessary but." He hugged the child close."You must learn to be kind, Blaise.Don t even joke about practicing on the humans.Our original sin was treating them as laboratory animals.Don't you-"The trill of the phone interrupted him."Doctor.This is Jane.""Jane, where-""No, no questions.Just listen.I have an address and a telephone number for Croyd.Only one.I heard the ads.I guess I can understand why you have to find, him.""Jane, I'm sorry I didn't help you before.""It's okay.I was pretty strung out.You're not going to hurt him, are you? He's been a friend.I hate to think I'm betraying him, but.""More people will die if you don't.You're right to tell me.""Okay.He's got an apartment on Eldridge.Three twentythree Eldridge.Third floor.Five five five, four four nine one.""Thank you, Jane, thank you so much.My dear child, we must " But he was talking to the buzz of a disconnected line.He replaced the receiver and stood face-to-face with a nasty moral dilemma.if.when they captured Croyd, and if he awoke in a new form minus the carrier power, well and good.But if this mutation carried over, then the decisions became harder.To keep the man in isolation for the rest of his life?Or to kill him.A woman lying back among pillows and tangled sheets.A sheen of sweat across her dark breasts and belly.The moisture-matted hair of her mons--The three-dimensional picture fragmented and vanished.Sorry, squeaked Video in Tachyon's mind.We got the wrong apartment.Wait, that might be Croyd.He reached out and touched the woman's mind.It wasn't Croyd.Floater and Video resumed their slow crawl across the back wall of the apartment building.There were a few nervous laughs from the people in the van.Elmo shifted uncomfortably.His hazardous-environment suit was scarcely able to contain his bulk, and he looked rather like an ill-stuffed sausage.They had cobbled together suits for Troll and Ernie out of four other suits.So far the seals were holding, but Tachyon winced every time he considered the expense.Video and Floater each had suits, and Tachyon wore his Network-designed spacesuit.It was impossible to protect Slither.They had tried a helmet and air supply, but the air tanks kept sliding around on her serpent's body, pulling loose the hoses.Tach had ordered her to stay out of the fight.She would be a final line of defense if Croyd got past them.Surprisingly neat room.A tall, thin man lounged on the sofa reading Newsweek.Ultrapale skin, odd eyes, brown hair with white roots showing.Another man seated at the kitchen table playing solitaire.Wonderfully handsome, but an easily forgettable face for all that.Bill Lockwood.Tachyon read a soul-deep sense of gratitude and a determination to protect.Croyd!He switched his focus to the albino.Sweat broke out on his upper lip and stung his eyes as he struggled to touch the mind.Sliding his hand through the clear bubble of the helmet, he wiped perspiration and tried again.Whirling darkness like a primordial black hole.It was a mind block, but one of the oddest he'd ever felt.He spent another twenty minutes trying to find a way over, under, around, or through it.Finally he reluctantly concluded that it was more like an immunity than an actual shield.He explained the situation to his troops, then added, "So we just go in and thump on him.How hard can it be? And remember, if you're not suited, don't go into that room."They piled out.With a wave he motioned Slither and Ernie toward the rear alley.Then he and Troll and Elmo headed up the steps to the front door.There were buzzers, but since the lock was broken off the outer door, they didn't serve much purpose.Cautiously they stepped inside and started climbing for the third floor.Fortunately the suit masked the smells, but Tach could imagine them.He had made too many house calls to just such buildings.The stink of rancid grease.The sickly-sweet scent of human and animal wastes clinging in the corners of the stairwells.Sweat, fear, poverty, and hopelessness-they too left a smell.The walls were graffiti-covered, slogans and howls of outrage in several languages.I'm in position.Video flashed him another picture of the room [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]