Hawkes frowned, but wrote it down that way.
"Work card number--well, we don't know that. And they want five or six other numbers too. We'll just have to skip them. Better give me a full physical description as of the last time you saw him."
Alan thought a moment. "He looked pretty much like me. Height 73 inches, weight 172 or so, reddish-blonde hair, and so on."
"Don't you have a gene-record?"
Blankly, Alan said, "A what?"
Hawkes scowled. "I forgot--I keep forgetting you're a spacer. Well, if he's not using his own name any more it may make things really tough. Gene-records make absolute identification possible. But if you don't have one----"
Whistling tunelessly, Hawkes filled out the rest of the form. When it came to REASON FOR APPLICATION, he wrote in, Tracing of missing relative.
"That just about covers it," he said finally. "It's a pretty lame application, but if we're lucky we may find him." He rolled the form up, shoved it into a gray metal tube, and dropped it in a slot in the wall.
"What happens now?" Alan asked.
"Now we wait. The application goes downstairs and the big computer goes to work on it. First thing they'll do is kick aside all the cards of men named Steve Donnell. Then they'll check them all against the physical description I supplied. Soon as they find a man who fits the bill, they'll 'stat his card and send it up here to us. We copy down the televector number and have them trace him down."
"The what number?"
"You'll see," Hawkes said, grinning. "It's a good system. Just wait."
They waited. One minute, two, three.
"I hope I'm not keeping you from something important," Alan said, breaking a long uncomfortable silence. "It's really good of you to take all this time, but I wouldn't want to inconvenience you if----"
"If I didn't want to help you," Hawkes said sharply, "I wouldn't be doing it. I'm Free Status, you know. That means I don't have any boss except me. Max Hawkes, Esquire. It's one of the few compensations I have for the otherwise lousy deal life handed me. So if I choose to waste an hour or two helping you find your brother, don't worry yourself about it."
A bell rang, once, and a gentle red light glowed over the slot. Hawkes reached in and scooped out the container that sat there.
Inside he found a rolled-up slip of paper. He pulled it out and read the message typed on it several times, pursing his lips.
"Well? Did they find him?"
"Read it for yourself," Hawkes said. He pushed the sheet over to Alan.
It said, in crisp capital letters, A SEARCH OF THE FILES REVEALS THAT NO WORK CARD HAS BEEN ISSUED ON EARTH IN THE PAST TEN YEARS TO STEVE DONNELL, MALE, WITH THE REQUIRED PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS.
Alan's face fell. He tossed the slip to the table and said, "Well? What do we do now?"
"Now," Hawkes said, "we go upstairs to the cubbyhole where they keep the Free Status people registered. We go through the same business there. I didn't really expect to find your brother here, but it was worth a look. It's next to impossible for a ship-jumping starman to buy his way into a guild and get a work card."
"Suppose he's not registered with the Free Status people?"
Hawkes smiled patiently. "Then, my dear friend, you go back to your ship with your mission incomplete. If he's not listed upstairs, there's no way on Earth you could possibly find him."
The sign over the office door said REGISTRY OF FREE-STATUS LABOR FORCE, and under that ROOM 1104. Hawkes nudged the door open and they went in.
It was not an imposing room. A fat pasty-faced man sat behind a scarred neoplast desk, scribbling his signature on forms that he was taking from an immense stack. The room was lined with records of one sort or another, untidy, poorly assembled. There was dust everywhere.
The man at the desk looked up as they entered and nodded to Hawkes. "Hello, Max. Making an honest man of yourself at last?"
"Not on your life," Hawkes said. "I came up here to do some checking. Alan, this is Hines MacIntosh, Keeper of the Records. Hines, want you to meet a starman friend of mine. Alan Donnell."
"Starman, eh?" MacIntosh's pudgy face went suddenly grave. "Well, boy, I hope you know how to get along on an empty stomach. Free Status life isn't easy."
"No," Alan said. "You don't under----"
Hawkes cut him off. "He's just in the city on leave, Hines. His ship blasts off in a couple of days and he figures to be on it. But he's trying to track down his brother, who jumped ship nine years back."
MacIntosh nodded. "I suppose you drew a blank in the big room downstairs?"
"Not surprising. We get these ship-jumping starmen all the time up here; they never do get work cards, it seems. What's that thing on your shoulder, boy?"
"He's from Bellatrix VII."
"I should say so!" Rat burst in indignantly. "Just because I have a certain superficial physiological resemblance to a particular species of unpleasant Terran rodent----"
MacIntosh chuckled and said, "Ease up! I didn't mean to insult you, friend! But you'll have to apply for a visa if you're going to stay here more than three days."
Alan frowned. "Visa?"
Hawkes cut in: "The boy's going back on his ship, I told you. He won't need a visa, or the alien either."
"Be that as it may," MacIntosh said. "So you're looking for your brother, boy? Give me the specifications, now. Name, date of birth, and all the rest."
"His name is Steve Donnell, sir. Born 3576. He jumped ship in----"
"Born when, did you say?"
"They're spacers," Hawkes pointed out quietly.
MacIntosh shrugged. "Go ahead."
"Jumped ship in 3867--I think. It's so hard to tell what year it is on Earth."
"And physical description?"
"He was my twin," Alan said. "Identical twin."
MacIntosh jotted down the data Alan gave him and transferred it to a punched card. "I don't remember any spacers of that name," he said, "but nine years is a long time. And we get so many starmen coming up here to take out Free Status."
"Oh, fifteen or twenty a year, at least--and that's in this office alone. They're forever getting stranded on leave and losing their ships. Why, there was one boy who was robbed and beaten in the Frisco Enclave and didn't wake up for a week. Naturally he missed his ship, and no other starship would sign him on. He's on Free Status now, of course. Well, let's see about Donnell Steve Male, shall we? You realize the law doesn't require Free Status people to register with us, and so we may not necessarily have any data on him in our computer files?"
"I realize that," Alan said tightly. He wished the chubby records-keeper would stop talking and start looking for Steve's records. It was getting along toward late afternoon now; he had come across from the Enclave around noontime, and certainly it was at least 1600 by now. He was getting hungry--and he knew he would have to start making plans for spending the night somewhere, if he didn't go back to the Enclave.
MacIntosh pulled himself laboriously out of his big webwork cradle and wheezed his way across the room to a computer shoot. He dropped the card in.
"It'll take a few minutes for them to make the search," he said, turning. He looked in both directions and went on, "Care for a drink? Just to pass the time?"
Hawkes grinned. "Good old Hinesy! What's in the inkwell today?"
"Scotch! Bottled in bond, best syntho stuff to come out of Caledonia in the last century!" MacIntosh shuffled back behind his desk and found three dingy glasses in one of the drawers; he set them out and uncorked a dark blue bottle plainly labelled INK.
He poured a shot for Hawkes and then a second shot; as he started to push it toward Alan, the starman shook his head. "Sorry, but I don't drink. Crewmen aren't allowed to have liquor aboard starships. Regulation."
"Oh, but you're off-duty now!"
Alan shook his head a second time; shrugging, MacIntosh took the drink himself and put the unused third glass back in the drawer.
"Here's to Steve Donnell!" he said, lifting his glass high. "May he have had the good sense to register his name up here!"
They drank. Alan watched. Suddenly, the bell clanged and a tube rolled out of the computer shoot.
Alan waited tensely while MacIntosh crossed the room again, drew out the contents of the tube, and scanned them. The fat man's face was broken by a smile.
"You're in luck, starman. Your brother did register with us. Here's the 'stat of his papers."
Alan looked at them. The photostat was titled, APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO FREE-STATUS LABOR FORCE, and the form had been filled out in a handwriting Alan recognized immediately as Steve's: bold, untidy, the letters slanting slightly backward.
He had given his name as Steve Donnell, his date of birth as 3576, his chronological age as seventeen. He had listed his former occupation as Starman. The application was dated 4 June 3867, and a stamped notation on the margin declared that Free Status had been granted on 11 June 3867.
"So he did register," Alan said. "But now what? How do we find him?"
Hawkes reached for the photostat. "Here. Let me look at that." He squinted to make out the small print, then nodded and wrote down something. "His televector number's a local one. So far, so good." He turned the form over and glanced at the reproduced photo of Steve on the back. He looked up, comparing it with Alan.
"Dead ringers, these two. But I'll bet this one doesn't look much like this any more--not after nine years of Free Status!"
"It only pays off for the lucky few, eh, Max?" MacIntosh asked slyly.
Hawkes grinned. "Some of us make out all right. You have to have the knack, though. You can get awful hungry otherwise. Come on, kid--let's go up a little higher, now. Up to the televector files. Thanks for the help, Hinesy. You're a pal."
"Just doin' my job," MacIntosh said. "See you tonight as usual?"
"I doubt it," Hawkes replied. "I'm going to take the night off. I have it coming to me."
"That leaves the coast clear for us amateurs, doesn't it? Maybe I'll come out ahead tonight."
Hawkes smiled coldly. "Maybe you will. Let's go, kid."
They took the lift tube outside and rode it as high as it went. It opened out into the biggest room Alan had ever seen, bigger even than the main registry downstairs--a vast affair perhaps a hundred feet high and four hundred feet on the side.
And every inch of those feet was lined with computer elements.
"This is the nerve-center of the world," Hawkes said as they went in. "By asking the right questions you can find out where anybody in the world happens to be at this very moment."
"How can they do that?"
Hawkes nudged a tiny sliver of metal embedded in a ring on his finger. "Here's my televector transmitter. Everyone who has a work card or Free Status carries one, either on a ring or in a locket round his neck or somewhere else. Some people have them surgically embedded in their bodies. They give off resonance waves, each one absolutely unique; there's about one chance in a quadrillion of a duplicate pattern. The instruments here can pick up a given pattern and tell you exactly where the person you're looking for is."
"So we can find Steve without much trouble!"
"Probably." Hawkes' face darkened. "I've known it to happen that the televector pattern picks up a man who's been at the bottom of the sea for five years. But don't let me scare you; Steve's probably in good shape."
He took out the slip of paper on which he had jotted down Steve's televector code number and transferred the information to an application blank.
"This system," Alan said. "It means no one can possibly hide anywhere on Earth unless he removes his televector transmitter."
"You can't do that, though. Strictly illegal. An alarm goes out whenever someone gets more than six inches from his transmitter, and he's picked up on suspicion. It's an automatic cancellation of your work card if you try to fool with your transmitter--or if you're Free Status a fine of ten thousand credits."
"And if you can't pay the fine?"
"Then you work it off in Government indenture, at a thousand credits a year--chopping up rocks in the Antarctica Penitentiary. The system's flawless. It has to be. With Earth as overpopulated as it is, you need some system of tracking down people--otherwise crime would be ten times as prevalent as it is now."
"There still is crime?"
"Oh, sure. There's always somebody who needs food bad enough to rob for it, even though it means a sure arrest. Murder's a little less common." Hawkes fed the requisition slip into the slot. "You'd be surprised what a deterrent the televector registry system is. It's not so easy to run off to South America and hide when anybody at all can come in here and find out exactly where you are."
A moment went by. Then the slot clicked and a glossy pink slip came rolling out.
Alan looked at it. It said: TELEVECTOR REGISTRY 21 May 3876 Location of Donnell Steve, YC83-10j6490k37618 Time: 1643:21 There followed a street map covering some fifteen square blocks, and a bright red dot was imprinted in the center of the map.
Hawkes glanced at the map and smiled. "I thought that was where he would be!"
"68th Avenue and 423rd Street."
"Is that where he lives?" Alan asked.
"Oh, no. The televector tells you where he is right now. I'd venture to say that was his--ah--place of business."
Alan frowned. "What are you talking about?"