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"I put up a lot of the money, too, don't forget," Carl told him. "Or the Union did; I'm a poor man, myself." He was smoking an excellent cigar, for a poor man, and his clothes could have come from the same tailor as Walter's. "Look, we got a real Union--the Union of all unions. Every working man in North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa belongs to it. And The Guide has us all hog-tied."

"He won't let you strike," Benson chuckled.

"That's right. And what can we do? Why, we can't even make our closed-shop contracts stick. And as far as getting anything like a pay-raise...."

"Good thing. Another pay-raise in some of my companies would bankrupt them, the way The Guide has us under his thumb...." Walter began, but he was cut off.

"Well! It seems as though this Guide has done some good, if he's made you two realize that you're both on the same side, and that what hurts one hurts both," Benson said. "When I shipped out for Turkey in '77, neither Labor nor Management had learned that." He looked from one to another of them. "The Guide must have a really good bodyguard, with all the enemies he's made."

Gregory shook his head. "He lives virtually alone, in a very small house on the UN Capitol grounds. In fact, except for a small police-force, armed only with non-lethal stun-guns, your profession of arms is non-existent."

"I've been guessing what you want me to do," Benson said. "You want this Guide bumped off. But why can't any of you do it? Or, if it's too risky, at least somebody from your own time? Why me?"

"We can't. Everybody in the world today is conditioned against violence, especially the taking of human life," Anthony told him.

"Now, wait a moment!" This time, he was using the voice he would have employed in chiding a couple of Anatolian peasant partisans who were field-stripping a machine gun the wrong way. "Those babies in that film you showed me weren't dying of old age...."

"That is not violence," Paula said bitterly. "That is humane beneficence. Ugly people would be unhappy, and would make others unhappy, in a world where everybody else is beautiful."

"And all these oppressive and tyrannical laws," Benson continued. "How does he enforce them, without violence, actual or threatened?"

Samuel started to say something about the Power of the Evil One; Paula, ignoring him, said: "I really don't know; he just does it. Mass hypnotism of some sort. I know music has something to do with it, because there is always music, everywhere. This laboratory, for instance, was secretly soundproofed; we couldn't have worked here, otherwise."

"All right. I can see that you'd need somebody from the past, preferably a soldier, whose conditioning has been in favor rather than against violence. I'm not the only one you snatched, I take it?"

"No. We've been using that machine to pick up men from battlefields all over the world and all over history," Gregory said. "Until now, none of them could adjust.... Uggh!" He shuddered, looking even sicker than when the film was being shown.

"He's thinking," Walter said, "about a French officer from Waterloo who blew out his brains with a pocket-pistol on that table, and an English archer from Agincourt who ran amok with a dagger in here, and a trooper of the Seventh Cavalry from the Custer Massacre."

Gregory managed to overcome his revulsion. "You see, we were forced to take our subjects largely at random with regard to individual characteristics, mental attitudes, adaptability, et cetera." As long as he stuck to high order abstractions, he could control himself. "Aside from their professional lack of repugnance for violence, we took soldiers from battlefields because we could select men facing immediate death, whose removal from the past would not have any effect upon the casual chain of events affecting the present."

A warning buzzer rasped in Benson's brain. He nodded, poker-faced.

"I can see that," he agreed. "You wouldn't dare do anything to change the past. That was always one of the favorite paradoxes in time-travel fiction.... Well, I think I have the general picture. You have a dictator who is tyrannizing you; you want to get rid of him; you can't kill him yourselves. I'm opposed to dictators, myself; that--and the Selective Service law, of course--was why I was a soldier. I have no moral or psychological taboos against killing dictators, or anybody else. Suppose I cooperate with you; what's in it for me?"

There was a long silence. Walter and Carl looked at one another inquiringly; the others dithered helplessly. It was Carl who answered.

"Your return to your own time and place."

"And if I don't cooperate with you?"

"Guess when and where else we could send you," Walter said.

Benson dropped his cigarette and tramped it.

"Exactly the same time and place?" he asked.

"Well, the structure of space-time demands...." Paula began.

"The spatio-temporal displacement field is capable of identifying that spot--" Gregory pointed to a ten-foot circle in front of a bank of sleek-cabineted, dial-studded machines "--with any set of space-time coordinates in the universe. However, to avoid disruption of the structure of space-time, we must return you to approximately the same point in space-time."

Benson nodded again, this time at the confirmation of his earlier suspicion. Well, while he was alive, he still had a chance.

"All right; tell me exactly what you want me to do."

A third outbreak of bedlam, this time of relief and frantic explanation.

"Shut up, all of you!" For so thin a man, Carl had an astonishing voice. "I worked this out, so let me tell it." He turned to Benson. "Maybe I'm tougher than the rest of them, or maybe I'm not as deeply conditioned. For one thing, I'm tone-deaf. Well, here's the way it is. Gregory can set the machine to function automatically. You stand where he shows you, press the button he shows you, and fifteen seconds later it'll take you forward in time five seconds and about a kilometer in space, to The Guide's office. He'll be at his desk now. You'll have forty-five seconds to do the job, from the time the field collapses around you till it rebuilds. Then you'll be taken back to your own time again. The whole thing's automatic."

"Can do," Benson agreed. "How do I kill him?"

"I'm getting sick!" Paula murmured weakly. Her face was whiter than her gown.

"Take care of her, Samuel. Both of you'd better get out of here," Gregory said.

"The Lord of Hosts is my strength, He will.... Uggggh!" Samuel gasped.

"Conditioning's getting him, too; we gotta be quick," Carl said. "Here. This is what you'll use." He handed Benson a two-inch globe of black plastic. "Take the damn thing, quick! Little button on the side; press it, and get it out of your hand fast...." He retched. "Limited-effect bomb; everything within two-meter circle burned to nothing; outside that, great but not unendurable heat. Shut your eyes when you throw it. Flash almost blinding." He dropped his cigar and turned almost green in the face. Walter had a drink poured and handed it to him. "Uggh! Thanks, Walter." He downed it.

"Peculiar sort of thing for a non-violent people to manufacture," Benson said, looking at the bomb and then putting it in his jacket pocket.

"It isn't a weapon. Industrial; we use it in mining. I used plenty of them, in Walter's iron mines."

He nodded again. "Where do I stand, now?" he asked.

"Right over here." Gregory placed him in front of a small panel with three buttons. "Press the middle one, and step back into the small red circle and stand perfectly still while the field builds up and collapses. Face that way."

Benson drew his pistol and checked it; magazine full, a round in the chamber, safety on.

"Put that horrid thing out of sight!" Anthony gasped. "The ... the other thing ... is what you want to use."

"The bomb won't be any good if some of his guards come in before the field re-builds," Benson said.

"He has no guards. He lives absolutely alone. We told you...."

"I know you did. You probably believed it, too. I don't. And by the way, you're sending me forward. What do you do about the fact that a time-jump seems to make me pass out?"

"Here. Before you press the button, swallow it." Gregory gave him a small blue pill.

"Well, I guess that's all there is," Gregory continued. "I hope...." His face twitched, and he dropped to the floor with a thud. Carl and Walter came forward, dragged him away from the machine.

"Conditioning got him. Getting me, too," Walter said. "Hurry up, man!"

Benson swallowed the pill, pressed the button and stepped back into the red circle, drawing his pistol and snapping off the safety. The blue mist closed in on him.

This time, however, it did not thicken into blackness. It became luminous, brightening to a dazzle and dimming again to a colored mist, and then it cleared, while Benson stood at raise pistol, as though on a target range. He was facing a big desk at twenty feet, across a thick-piled blue rug. There was a man seated at the desk, a white-haired man with a mustache and a small beard, who wore a loose coat of some glossy plum-brown fabric, and a vividly blue neck-scarf.

The pistol centered on the v-shaped blue under his chin. Deliberately, Benson squeezed, recovered from the recoil, aimed, fired, recovered, aimed, fired. Five seconds gone. The old man slumped across the desk, his arms extended. Better make a good job of it, six, seven, eight seconds; he stepped forward to the edge of the desk, call that fifteen seconds, and put the muzzle to the top of the man's head, firing again and snapping on the safety. There had been something familiar about The Guide's face, but it was too late to check on that, now. There wasn't any face left; not even much head.

A box, on the desk, caught Benson's eye, a cardboard box with an envelope, stamped Top Secret! For the Guide Only! taped to it. He holstered his pistol and caught that up, stuffing it into his pocket, in obedience to an instinct to grab anything that looked like intelligence matter while in the enemy's country. Then he stepped back to the spot where the field had deposited him. He had ten seconds to spare; somebody was banging on a door when the blue mist began to gather around him.

He was crouching, the spherical plastic object in his right hand, his thumb over the button, when the field collapsed. Sure enough, right in front of him, so close that he could smell the very heat of it, was the big tank with the red star on its turret. He cursed the sextet of sanctimonious double-crossers eight thousand miles and fifty years away in space-time. The machine guns had stopped--probably because they couldn't be depressed far enough to aim at him, now; that was a notorious fault of some of the newer Pan-Soviet tanks--and he rocked back on his heels, pressed the button, and heaved, closing his eyes. As the thing left his fingers, he knew that he had thrown too hard. His muscles, accustomed to the heavier cast-iron grenades of his experience, had betrayed him. For a moment, he was closer to despair than at any other time in the whole phantasmagoric adventure. Then he was hit, with physical violence, by a wave of almost solid heat. It didn't smell like the heat of the tank's engines; it smelled like molten metal, with undertones of burned flesh. Immediately, there was a multiple explosion that threw him flat, as the tank's ammunition went up. There were no screams. It was too fast for that. He opened his eyes.

The turret and top armor of the tank had vanished. The two massive treads had been toppled over, one to either side. The body had collapsed between them, and it was running sticky trickles of molten metal. He blinked, rubbed his eyes on the back of his hand, and looked again. Of all the many blasted and burned-out tanks, Soviet and UN, that he had seen, this was the most completely wrecked thing in his experience. And he'd done that with one grenade....

At that moment, there was a sudden rushing overhead, and an instant later the barrage began falling beyond the crest of the ridge. He looked at his watch, blinked, and looked again. That barrage was due at 0550; according to the watch, it was 0726. He was sure that, ten minutes ago, when he had looked at it, up there at the head of the ravine, it had been twenty minutes to six. He puzzled about that for a moment, and decided that he must have caught the stem on something and pulled it out, and then twisted it a little, setting the watch ahead. Then, somehow, the stem had gotten pushed back in, starting it at the new setting. That was a pretty far-fetched explanation, but it was the only one he could think of.

But about this tank, now. He was positive that he could remember throwing a grenade.... Yet he'd used his last grenade back there at the supply dump. He saw his carbine, and picked it up. That silly blackout he'd had, for a second, there; he must have dropped it. Action was open, empty magazine on the ground where he'd dropped it. He wondered, stupidly, if one of his bullets couldn't have gone down the muzzle of the tank's gun and exploded the shell in the chamber.... Oh, the hell with it! The tank might have been hit by a premature shot from the barrage which was raging against the far slope of the ridge. He reset his watch by guess and looked down the valley. The big attack would be starting any minute, now, and there would be fleeing Commies coming up the valley ahead of the UN advance. He'd better get himself placed before they started coming in on him.

He stopped thinking about the mystery of the blown-up tank, a solution to which seemed to dance maddeningly just out of his mental reach, and found himself a place among the rocks to wait. Down the valley he could hear everything from pistols to mortars going off, and shouting in three or four racial intonations. After a while, fugitive Communists began coming, many of them without their equipment, stumbling in their haste and looking back over their shoulders. Most of them avoided the mouth of the ravine and hurried by to the left or right, but one little clump, eight or ten, came up the dry stream-bed, and stopped a hundred and fifty yards from his hiding-place to make a stand. They were Hindus, with outsize helmets over their turbans. Two of them came ahead, carrying a machine gun, followed by a third with a flame-thrower; the others retreated more slowly, firing their rifles to delay pursuit.

Cuddling the stock of his carbine to his cheek, he divided a ten-shot burst between the two machine-gunners, then, as a matter of principle, he shot the man with the flame-thrower. He had a dislike for flame-throwers; he killed every enemy he found with one. The others dropped their rifles and raised their hands, screaming: "Hey, Joe! Hey, Joe! You no shoot, me no shoot!"

A dozen men in UN battledress came up and took them prisoner. Benson shouted to them, and then rose and came down to join them. They were British--Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, advertising the fact by inconspicuous bits of tartan on their uniforms. The subaltern in command looked at him and nodded.

"Captain Benson? We were warned to be on watch for your patrol," he said. "Any of the rest of you lads get out?"

Benson shrugged. "We split up after the attack. You may run into a couple of them. Some are locals and don't speak very good English. I've got to get back to Division, myself; what's the best way?"

"Down that way. You'll overtake a couple of our walking wounded. If you don't mind going slowly, they'll show you the way to advance dressing station, and you can hitch a ride on an ambulance from there."

Benson nodded. Off on the left, there was a flurry of small-arms fire, ending in yells of "Hey, Joe! Hey, Joe!"--the World War IV version of "Kamarad"!

His company was a non-T/O outfit; he came directly under Division command and didn't have to bother reporting to any regimental or brigade commanders. He walked for an hour with half a dozen lightly wounded Scots, rode for another hour on a big cat-truck loaded with casualties of six regiments and four races, and finally reached Division Rear, where both the Division and Corps commanders took time to compliment him on the part his last hunter patrol had played in the now complete breakthrough. His replacement, an equine-faced Spaniard with an imposing display of fruit-salad, was there, too; he solemnly took off the bracelet a refugee Caucasian goldsmith had made for his predecessor's predecessor and gave it to the new commander of what had formerly been Benson's Butchers. As he had expected, there was also another medal waiting for him.

A medical check at Task Force Center got him a warning; his last patrol had brought him dangerously close to the edge of combat fatigue. Remembering the incidents of the tank and the unaccountably fast watch, and the mysterious box and envelope which he had found in his coat pocket, he agreed, saying nothing about the questions that were puzzling him. The Psychological Department was never too busy to refuse another case; they hunted patients gleefully, each psych-shark seeking in every one proof of his own particular theories. It was with relief that he watched them fill out the red tag which gave him a priority on jet transports for home.

Ankara to Alexandria, Alexandria to Dakar, Dakar to Belm, Belm to the shattered skyline of New York, the "hurry-and-wait" procedures at Fort Carlisle, and, after the usual separation promotion, Major Fred Benson, late of Benson's Butchers, was back at teaching high school juniors the difference between H^{2}O and H^{2}SO^{4}.

There were two high schools in the city: McKinley High, on the east side, and Dwight Eisenhower High, on the west. A few blocks from McKinley was the Tulip Tavern, where the Eisenhower teachers came in the late afternoons; the McKinley faculty crossed town to do their after-school drinking on the west side. When Benson entered the Tulip Tavern, on a warm September afternoon, he found Bill Myers, the school psychologist, at one of the tables, smoking his pipe, checking over a stack of aptitude test forms, and drinking beer. He got a highball at the bar and carried it over to Bill's table.

"Oh, hi, Fred." The psychologist separated the finished from the unfinished work with a sheet of yellow paper and crammed the whole business into his brief case. "I was hoping somebody'd show up...."

Benson lit a cigarette, sipped his highball. They talked at random--school-talk; the progress of the war, now in its twelfth year; personal reminiscences, of the Turkish Theater where Benson had served, and the Madras Beachhead, where Myers had been.

"Bring home any souvenirs?" Myers asked.

"Not much. Couple of pistols, couple of knives, some pictures. I don't remember what all; haven't gotten around to unpacking them, yet.... I have a sixth of rye and some beer, at my rooms. Let's go around and see what I did bring home."

They finished their drinks and went out.

"What the devil's that?" Myers said, pointing to the cardboard box with the envelope taped to it, when Benson lifted it out of the gray-green locker.

"Bill, I don't know," Benson said. "I found it in the pocket of my coat, on my way back from my last hunter patrol.... I've never told anybody about this, before."

"That's the damnedest story I've ever heard, and in my racket you hear some honeys," Myers said, when he had finished. "You couldn't have picked that thing up in some other way, deliberately forgotten the circumstances, and fabricated this story about the tank and the grenade and the discrepancy in your watch subconsciously as an explanation?"

"My subconscious is a better liar than that," Benson replied. "It would have cobbled up some kind of a story that would stand up. This business...."

"Top Secret! For the Guide Only!" Myers frowned. "That isn't one of our marks, and if it were Soviet, it'd be tri-lingual, Russian, Hindi and Chinese."

"Well, let's see what's in it. I want this thing cleared up. I've been having some of the nastiest dreams, lately...."

"Well, be careful; it may be booby-trapped," Myers said urgently.

"Don't worry; I will."

He used a knife to slice the envelope open without untaping it from the box, and exposed five sheets of typewritten onion-skin paper. There was no letterhead, no salutation or address-line. Just a mass of chemical formulae, and a concise report on tests. It seemed to be a report on an improved syrup for a carbonated soft-drink. There were a few cryptic cautionary references to heightened physico-psychological effects.

The box was opened with the same caution, but it proved as innocent of dangers as the envelope. It contained only a half-liter bottle, wax-sealed, containing a dark reddish-brown syrup.

"There's a lot of this stuff I don't dig," Benson said, tapping the sheets of onion-skin. "I don't even scratch the surface of this rigamarole about The Guide. I'm going to get to work on this sample in the lab, at school, though. Maybe we have something, here."

At eight-thirty the next evening, after four and a half hours work, he stopped to check what he had found out.

The school's X-ray, an excellent one, had given him a complete picture of the molecular structure of the syrup. There were a couple of long-chain molecules that he could only believe after two re-examinations and a careful check of the machine, but with the help of the notes he could deduce how they had been put together. They would be the Ingredient Alpha and Ingredient Beta referred to in the notes.

The components of the syrup were all simple and easily procurable with these two exceptions, as were the basic components from which these were made.

The mechanical guinea-pig demonstrated that the syrup contained nothing harmful to human tissue.

Of course, there were the warnings about heightened psycho-physiological effects....

He stuck a poison-label on the bottle, locked it up, and went home. The next day, he and Bill Myers got a bottle of carbonated water and mixed themselves a couple of drinks of it. It was delicious--sweet, dry, tart, sour, all of these in alternating waves of pleasure.

"We do have something, Bill," he said. "We have something that's going to give our income-tax experts headaches."

"You have," Myers corrected. "Where do you start fitting me into it?"

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