"Any problem posed by one group of
human beings can be resolved by any
other group." That's what the Handbook
said. But did that include primitive
humans? Or the Bees? Or a ...
By ROGER DEE
The cool green disk of Alphard
Six on the screen was
infinitely welcome after the arid
desolation and stinking swamplands
of the inner planets, an
airy jewel of a world that might
have been designed specifically
for the hard-earned month of
rest ahead. Navigator Farrell,
youngest and certainly most impulsive
of the three-man Terran
Reclamations crew, would have
set the Marco Four down at
once but for the greater caution
of Stryker, nominally captain of
the group, and of Gibson, engineer,
and linguist. Xavier, the
ship's little mechanical, had—as
was usual and proper—no voice
in the matter.
"Reconnaissance spiral first,
Arthur," Stryker said firmly. He
chuckled at Farrell's instant
scowl, his little eyes twinkling
and his naked paunch quaking
over the belt of his shipboard
shorts. "Chapter One, Subsection
Five, Paragraph Twenty-seven:
No planetfall on an unreclaimed
world shall be deemed
safe without proper—"
Farrell, as Stryker had expected,
interrupted with characteristic
impatience. "Do you sleep
with that damned Reclamations
Handbook, Lee? Alphard Six
isn't an unreclaimed world—it
was never colonized before the
Hymenop invasion back in 3025,
so why should it be inhabited
Gibson, who for four hours
had not looked up from his interminable
chess game with
Xavier, paused with a beleaguered
knight in one blunt brown
"No point in taking chances,"
Gibson said in his neutral baritone.
He shrugged thick bare
shoulders, his humorless black-browed
face unmoved, when
Farrell included him in his
scowl. "We're two hundred twenty-six
light-years from Sol, at
the old limits of Terran expansion,
and there's no knowing
what we may turn up here. Alphard's
was one of the first systems
the Bees took over. It must
have been one of the last to be
abandoned when they pulled back
to 70 Ophiuchi."
"And I think you live for the
day," Farrell said acidly, "when
we'll stumble across a functioning
dome of live, buzzing Hymenops.
Damn it, Gib, the Bees
pulled out a hundred years ago,
before you and I were born—neither
of us ever saw a Hymenop,
and never will!"
"But I saw them," Stryker
said. "I fought them for the better
part of the century they were
here, and I learned there's no
predicting nor understanding
them. We never knew why they
came nor why they gave up and
left. How can we know whether
they'd leave a rear-guard or
booby trap here?"
He put a paternal hand on
Farrell's shoulder, understanding
the younger man's eagerness
and knowing that their close-knit
team would have been the
more poorly balanced without it.
"Gib's right," he said. He
nearly added as usual. "We're on
rest leave at the moment, yes,
but our mission is still to find
Terran colonies enslaved and
abandoned by the Bees, not to
risk our necks and a valuable
Reorientations ship by landing
blind on an unobserved planet.
We're too close already. Cut in
your shields and find a reconnaissance
spiral, will you?"
Grumbling, Farrell punched
coordinates on the Ringwave
board that lifted the Marco Four
out of her descent and restored
the bluish enveloping haze of
Stryker's caution was justified
on the instant. The speeding
streamlined shape that had flashed
up unobserved from below
swerved sharply and exploded in
a cataclysmic blaze of atomic
fire that rocked the ship wildly
and flung the three men to the
floor in a jangling roar of
"So the Handbook tacticians
knew what they were about,"
Stryker said minutes later. Deliberately
he adopted the smug
tone best calculated to sting Farrell
out of his first self-reproach,
and grinned when the navigator
bristled defensively. "Some of
their enjoinders seem a little
stuffy and obvious at times, but
they're eminently sensible."
When Farrell refused to be
baited Stryker turned to Gibson,
who was busily assessing the
damage done to the ship's more
fragile equipment, and to Xavier,
who searched the planet's
surface with the ship's magnoscanner.
The Marco Four, Ringwave
generators humming gently,
hung at the moment just
inside the orbit of Alphard Six's
single dun-colored moon.
Gibson put down a test meter
with an air of finality.
"Nothing damaged but the
Zero Interval Transfer computer.
I can realign that in a couple
of hours, but it'll have to be
done before we hit Transfer
Stryker looked dubious.
"What if the issue is forced before
the ZIT unit is repaired?
Suppose they come up after us?"
"I doubt that they can. Any
installation crudely enough
equipped to trust in guided missiles
is hardly likely to have developed
efficient space craft."
Stryker was not reassured.
"That torpedo of theirs was
deadly enough," he said. "And
its nature reflects the nature of
the people who made it. Any race
vicious enough to use atomic
charges is too dangerous to
trifle with." Worry made comical
creases in his fat, good-humored
face. "We'll have to find
out who they are and why
they're here, you know."
"They can't be Hymenops,"
Gibson said promptly. "First,
because the Bees pinned their
faith on Ringwave energy fields,
as we did, rather than on missiles.
Second, because there's no
dome on Six."
"There were three empty
domes on Five, which is a desert
planet," Farrell pointed out.
"Why didn't they settle Six? It's
a more habitable world."
Gibson shrugged. "I know the
Bees always erected domes on
every planet they colonized, Arthur,
but precedent is a fallible
tool. And it's even more firmly
established that there's no possibility
of our rationalizing the
motivations of a culture as alien
as the Hymenops'—we've been
over that argument a hundred
times on other reclaimed
"But this was never an unreclaimed
world," Farrell said
with the faint malice of one too
recently caught in the wrong.
"Alphard Six was surveyed and
seeded with Terran bacteria
around the year 3000, but the
Bees invaded before we could
colonize. And that means we'll
have to rule out any resurgent
colonial group down there, because
Six never had a colony in
"The Bees have been gone for
over a hundred years," Stryker
said. "Colonists might have migrated
from another Terran-occupied
"We've touched at every inhabited
world in this sector, Lee,
and not one surviving colony has
developed space travel on its
own. The Hymenops had a hundred
years to condition their human
slaves to ignorance of
everything beyond their immediate
behind that conditioning usually
escape us, but that's beside the
point—and they did a thorough
job of it. The colonists have had
no more than a century of freedom
since the Bees pulled out,
and four generations simply
isn't enough time for any subjugated
culture to climb from
slavery to interstellar flight."
Stryker made a padding turn
about the control room, tugging
unhappily at the scanty fringe
of hair the years had left him.
"If they're neither Hymenops
nor resurgent colonists," he said,
"then there's only one choice remaining—they're
aliens from a
system we haven't reached yet,
beyond the old sphere of Terran
exploration. We always assumed
that we'd find other races out
here someday, and that they'd
be as different from us in form
and motivation as the Hymenops.
Why not now?"
Gibson said seriously, "Not
probable, Lee. The same objection
that rules out the Bees applies
to any trans-Alphardian
culture—they'd have to be beyond
the atomic fission stage,
else they'd never have attempted
interstellar flight. The Ringwave
with its Zero Interval Transfer
principle and instantaneous communications
applications is the
only answer to long-range travel,
and if they'd had that they
wouldn't have bothered with
Stryker turned on him almost
angrily. "If they're not Hymenops
or humans or aliens, then
what in God's name are they?"
"Aye, there's the rub," Farrell
said, quoting a passage
whose aptness had somehow seen
it through a dozen reorganizations
of insular tongue and a
final translation to universal
Terran. "If they're none of those
three, we've only one conclusion
left. There's no one down there
at all—we're victims of the first
joint hallucination in psychiatric
Stryker threw up his hands in
surrender. "We can't identify
them by theorizing, and that
brings us down to the business
of first-hand investigation.
Who's going to bell the cat this
"I'd like to go," Gibson said
at once. "The ZIT computer can
Stryker vetoed his offer as
promptly. "No, the ZIT comes
first. We may have to run for it,
and we can't set up a Transfer
jump without the computer. It's
got to be me or Arthur."
Farrell felt the familiar chill
of uneasiness that inevitably
preceded this moment of decision.
He was not lacking in courage,
else the circumstances under
which he had worked for the
past ten years—the sometimes
perilous, sometimes downright
charnel conditions left by the
fleeing Hymenop conquerors—would
have broken him long
ago. But that same hard experience
had honed rather than
blunted the edge of his imagination,
and the prospect of a close-quarters
stalking of an unknown
and patently hostile force was
anything but attractive.
"You two did the field work
on the last location," he said.
"It's high time I took my turn—and
God knows I'd go mad if
I had to stay inship and listen
to Lee memorizing his Handbook
subsections or to Gib practicing
dead languages with Xavier."
Stryker laughed for the first
time since the explosion that
had so nearly wrecked the Marco
"Good enough. Though it
wouldn't be more diverting to
listen for hours to you improvising
enharmonic variations on
the Lament for Old Terra with
Gibson, characteristically, had
a refinement to offer.
"They'll be alerted down there
for a reconnaissance sally," he
said. "Why not let Xavier take
the scouter down for overt diversion,
and drop Arthur off in
the helihopper for a low-level
Stryker looked at Farrell. "All
"Good enough," Farrell said.
And to Xavier, who had not
moved from his post at the magnoscanner:
"How does it look,
Xav? Have you pinned down
their base yet?"
The mechanical answered him
in a voice as smooth and clear—and
as inflectionless—as a 'cello
note. "The planet seems uninhabited
except for a large island
some three hundred miles in
diameter. There are twenty-seven
small agrarian hamlets surrounded
by cultivated fields.
There is one city of perhaps a
thousand buildings with a central
square. In the square rests
a grounded spaceship of approximately
ten times the bulk
of the Marco Four."
They crowded about the vision
screen, jostling Xavier's jointed
gray shape in their interest. The
central city lay in minutest detail
before them, the battered
hulk of the grounded ship glinting
rustily in the late afternoon
sunlight. Streets radiated away
from the square in orderly succession,
the whole so clearly
depicted that they could see the
throngs of people surging up
and down, tiny foreshortened
faces turned toward the sky.
"At least they're human,"
Farrell said. Relief replaced in
some measure his earlier uneasiness.
"Which means that they're
Terran, and can be dealt with
according to Reclamations routine.
Is that hulk spaceworthy,
Xavier's mellow drone assumed
the convention vibrato that
indicated stark puzzlement. "Its
breached hull makes the ship incapable
of flight. Apparently it
is used only to supply power to
the outlying hamlets."
The mechanical put a flexible
gray finger upon an indicator
graph derived from a composite
section of detector meters. "The
power transmitted seems to be
gross electric current conveyed
by metallic cables. It is generated
through a crudely governed
process of continuous atomic
Farrell, himself appalled by
the information, still found himself
able to chuckle at Stryker's
bellow of consternation.
"Continuous fission? Good
God, only madmen would deliberately
run a risk like that!"
Farrell prodded him with
cheerful malice. "Why say mad
men? Maybe they're humanoid
aliens who thrive on hard radiation
and look on the danger of
being blown to hell in the middle
of the night as a satisfactory
"They're not alien," Gibson
said positively. "Their architecture
is Terran, and so is their
ship. The ship is incredibly
primitive, though; those batteries
of tubes at either end—"
"Are thrust reaction jets,"
Stryker finished in an awed
voice. "Primitive isn't the word,
Gib—the thing is prehistoric!
Rocket propulsion hasn't been
used in spacecraft since—how
Xavier supplied the information
with mechanical infallibility.
"Since the year 2100 when
the Ringwave propulsion-communication
principle was discovered.
That principle has served
Farrell stared in blank disbelief
at the anomalous craft on
the screen. Primitive, as Stryker
had said, was not the word
for it: clumsily ovoid, studded
with torpedo domes and turrets
and bristling at either end with
propulsion tubes, it lay at the
center of its square like a rusted
relic of a past largely destroyed
and all but forgotten. What a
magnificent disregard its builders
must have had, he thought,
for their lives and the genetic
purity of their posterity! The
sullen atomic fires banked in
that oxidizing hulk—
Stryker said plaintively, "If
you're right, Gib, then we're
more in the dark than ever. How
could a Terran-built ship eleven
hundred years old get here?"
Gibson, absorbed in his chess-player's
contemplation of alternatives,
seemed hardly to hear
"Logic or not-logic," Gibson
said. "If it's a Terran artifact,
we can discover the reason for
its presence. If not—"
"Any problem posed by one
group of human beings," Stryker
quoted his Handbook, "can be
resolved by any other group, regardless
of ideology or conditioning,
because the basic
perceptive abilities of both must
be the same through identical
"If it's an imitation, and this
is another Hymenop experiment
in condition ecology, then we're
stumped to begin with," Gibson
finished. "Because we're not
equipped to evaluate the psychology
of alien motivation. We've
got to determine first which case
He waited for Farrell's expected
irony, and when the
navigator forestalled him by remaining
grimly quiet, continued.
"The obvious premise is that
a Terran ship must have been
built by Terrans. Question: Was
it flown here, or built here?"
"It couldn't have been built
here," Stryker said. "Alphard
Six was surveyed just before the
Bees took over in 3025, and there
was nothing of the sort here
then. It couldn't have been built
during the two and a quarter
centuries since; it's obviously
much older than that. It was
"We progress," Farrell said
dryly. "Now if you'll tell us how,
we're ready to move."
"I think the ship was built on
Terra during the Twenty-second
Century," Gibson said calmly.
"The atomic wars during that
period destroyed practically all
historical records along with the
technology of the time, but I've
read well-authenticated reports
of atomic-driven ships leaving
Terra before then for the nearer
stars. The human race climbed
out of its pit again during the
Twenty-third Century and developed
the technology that gave
us the Ringwave. Certainly no
atomic-powered ships were built
after the wars—our records are
complete from that time."
Farrell shook his head at the
inference. "I've read any number
of fanciful romances on the
theme, Gib, but it won't stand
up in practice. No shipboard society
could last through a thousand-year
space voyage. It's a
physical and psychological impossibility.
There's got to be
some other explanation."
Gibson shrugged. "We can
only eliminate the least likely
alternatives and accept the simplest
"Then we can eliminate this
one now," Farrell said flatly. "It
entails a thousand-year voyage,
which is an impossibility for any
gross reaction drive; the application
of suspended animation
or longevity or a successive-generation
program, and a final
penetration of Hymenop-occupied
space to set up a colony under
the very antennae of the
Bees. Longevity wasn't developed
until around the year 3000—Lee
here was one of the first to
profit by it, if you remember—and
suspended animation is still
to come. So there's one theory
you can forget."
"Arthur's right," Stryker said
reluctantly. "An atomic-powered
ship couldn't have made such a
trip, Gib. And such a lineal-descendant
project couldn't have
lasted through forty generations,
speculative fiction to the
contrary—the later generations
would have been too far removed
in ideology and intent from
their ancestors. They'd have
adapted to shipboard life as the
norm. They'd have atrophied
physically, perhaps even have
"And they'd never have
fought past the Bees during the
Hymenop invasion and occupation,"
Farrell finished triumphantly.
"The Bees had better
detection equipment than we
had. They'd have picked this
ship up long before it reached
"But the ship wasn't here in
3000," Gibson said, "and it is
now. Therefore it must have arrived
at some time during the
two hundred years of Hymenop
occupation and evacuation."
Farrell, tangled in contradictions,
swore bitterly. "But
why should the Bees let them
through? The three domes on
Five are over two hundred years
old, which means that the Bees
were here before the ship came.
Why didn't they blast it or enslave
"We haven't touched on all the
possibilities," Gibson reminded
him. "We haven't even established
yet that these people were
never under Hymenop control.
Precedent won't hold always, and
there's no predicting nor evaluating
the motives of an alien
race. We never understood the
Hymenops because there's no
common ground of logic between
us. Why try to interpret their
Farrell threw up his hands in
disgust. "Next you'll say this is
an ancient Terran expedition
that actually succeeded! There's
only one way to answer the
questions we've raised, and
that's to go down and see for
ourselves. Ready, Xav?"
But uncertainty nagged uneasily
at him when Farrell found
himself alone in the helihopper
with the forest flowing beneath
like a leafy river and Xavier's
scouter disappearing bulletlike
into the dusk ahead.
We never found a colony so
advanced, Farrell thought. Suppose
this is a Hymenop experiment
that really paid off? The
Bees did some weird and wonderful
things with human
guinea pigs—what if they've
created the ultimate booby trap
here, and primed it with conditioned
myrmidons in our own
Suppose, he thought—and derided
himself for thinking it—one
of those suicidal old interstellar
ventures did succeed?
Xavier's voice, a mellow
drone from the helihopper's
Ringwave-powered visicom, cut
sharply into his musing. "The
ship has discovered the scouter
and is training an electronic
beam upon it. My instruments
record an electromagnetic vibration
pattern of low power but
rapidly varying frequency. The
operation seems pointless."
Stryker's voice followed, querulous
with worry: "I'd better
pull Xav back. It may be something
"Don't," Gibson's baritone advised.
Surprisingly, there was
excitement in the engineer's
voice. "I think they're trying to
communicate with us."
Farrell was on the point of
demanding acidly to know how
one went about communicating
by means of a fluctuating electric
field when the unexpected
cessation of forest diverted his
attention. The helihopper scudded
over a cultivated area
of considerable extent, fields
stretching below in a vague random
checkerboard of lighter and
darker earth, an undefined cluster
of buildings at their center.
There was a central bonfire that
burned like a wild red eye
against the lower gloom, and in
its plunging ruddy glow he made
out an urgent scurrying of shadowy
"I'm passing over a hamlet,"
Farrell reported. "The one nearest
the city, I think. There's
something odd going on
Catastrophe struck so suddenly
that he was caught completely
unprepared. The helihopper's
flimsy carriage bucked and
crumpled. There was a blinding
flare of electric discharge, a
pungent stink of ozone and a
stunning shock that flung him
headlong into darkness.
He awoke slowly with a brutal
headache and a conviction of
nightmare heightened by the
outlandish tone of his surroundings.
He lay on a narrow bed in
a whitely antiseptic infirmary,
an oblong metal cell cluttered
with a grimly utilitarian array
of tables and lockers and chests.
The lighting was harsh and
overbright and the air hung
thick with pungent unfamiliar
chemical odors. From somewhere,
far off yet at the same
time as near as the bulkhead
above him, came the unceasing
drone of machinery.
Farrell sat up, groaning,
when full consciousness made his
position clear. He had been shot
down by God knew what sort of
devastating unorthodox weapon
and was a prisoner in the
At his rising, a white-smocked
fat man with anachronistic spectacles
and close-cropped gray
hair came into the room, moving
with the professional assurance
of a medic. The man stopped
short at Farrell's stare and
spoke; his words were utterly
unintelligible, but his gesture
Farrell followed him dumbly
out of the infirmary and down
a bare corridor whose metal
floor rang coldly underfoot. An
open port near the corridor's end
relieved the blankness of wall
and let in a flood of reddish Alphardian
sunlight; Farrell slowed
to look out, wondering how
long he had lain unconscious,
and felt panic knife at him
when he saw Xavier's scouter lying,
port open and undefended,
on the square outside.
The mechanical had been as
easily taken as himself, then.
Stryker and Gibson, for all their
professional caution, would fare
no better—they could not have
overlooked the capture of Farrell
and Xavier, and when they
tried as a matter of course to
rescue them the Marco would be
struck down in turn by the same
The fat medic turned and
said something urgent in his
unintelligible tongue. Farrell,
dazed by the enormity of what
had happened, followed without
protest into an intersecting way
that led through a bewildering
succession of storage rooms and
hydroponics gardens, through a
small gymnasium fitted with
physical training equipment in
graduated sizes and finally into
a soundproofed place that could
have been nothing but a nursery.
The implication behind its
presence stopped Farrell short.
"A creche," he said, stunned.
He had a wild vision of endless
generations of children growing
up in this dim and stuffy room,
to be taught from their first
toddling steps the functions they
must fulfill before the venture
of which they were a part could
One of those old ventures had
succeeded, he thought, and was
awed by the daring of that thousand-year
odyssey. The realization
left him more alarmed than
before—for what technical marvels
might not an isolated group
of such dogged specialists have
developed during a millennium
Such a weapon as had brought
down the helihopper and scouter
was patently beyond reach of his
own latter-day technology. Perhaps,
he thought, its possession
explained the presence of these
people here in the first stronghold
of the Hymenops; perhaps
they had even fought and defeated
the Bees on their own invaded
He followed his white-smocked
guide through a power room
where great crude generators
whirred ponderously, pouring
out gross electric current into
arm-thick cables. They were
nearing the bow of the ship
when they passed by another
open port and Farrell, glancing
out over the lowered rampway,
saw that his fears for Stryker
and Gibson had been well
The Marco Four, ports open,
lay grounded outside.
Farrell could not have said,
later, whether his next move
was planned or reflexive. The
whole desperate issue seemed to
hang suspended for a breathless
moment upon a hair-fine edge of
decision, and in that instant he
made his bid.
Without pausing in his stride
he sprang out and through the
port and down the steep plane
of the ramp. The rough stone
pavement of the square drummed
underfoot; sore muscles
tore at him, and weakness was
like a weight about his neck. He
expected momentarily to be
blasted out of existence.
He reached the Marco Four
with the startled shouts of his
guide ringing unintelligibly in
his ears. The port yawned; he
plunged inside and stabbed at
controls without waiting to seat
himself. The ports swung shut.
The ship darted up under his
manipulation and arrowed into
space with an acceleration that
sprung his knees and made his
vision swim blackly.
He was so weak with strain
and with the success of his coup
that he all but fainted when
Stryker, his scanty hair tousled
and his fat face comical with bewilderment,
stumbled out of his
sleeping cubicle and bellowed at
"What the hell are you doing,
Arthur? Take us down!"
Farrell gaped at him, speechless.
Stryker lumbered past him
and took the controls, spiraling
the Marco Four down. Men
swarmed outside the ports when
the Reclamations craft settled
gently to the square again. Gibson
and Xavier reached the ship
first; Gibson came inside quickly,
leaving the mechanical outside
making patient explanations
to an excited group of Alphardians.
Gibson put a reassuring hand
on Farrell's arm. "It's all right,
Arthur. There's no trouble."
Farrell said dumbly, "I don't
understand. They didn't shoot
you and Xav down too?"
It was Gibson's turn to stare.
"No one shot you down! These
people are primitive enough to
use metallic power lines to
carry electricity to their hamlets,
an anachronism you forgot
last night. You piloted the helihopper
into one of those lines,
and the crash put you out for
the rest of the night and most
of today. These Alphardians are
friendly, so desperately happy to
be found again that it's really
"Friendly? That torpedo—"
"It wasn't a torpedo at all,"
Stryker put in. Understanding
of the error under which Farrell
had labored erased his
earlier irritation, and he chuckled
commiseratingly. "They had
one small boat left for emergency
missions, and sent it up to
contact us in the fear that we
might overlook their settlement
and move on. The boat was
atomic powered, and our shield
screens set off its engines."
Farrell dropped into a chair at
the chart table, limp with reaction.
He was suddenly exhausted,
and his head ached dully.
"We cracked the communications
problem early last night,"
Gibson said. "These people use
an ancient system of electromagnetic
wave propagation called
frequency modulation, and once
Lee and I rigged up a suitable
transceiver the rest was simple.
Both Xav and I recognized the
old language; the natives reported
your accident, and we came
down at once."
"They really came from Terra?
They lived through a thousand
years of flight?"
"The ship left Terra for
Sirius in 2171," Gibson said.
"But not with these people
aboard, or their ancestors. That
expedition perished after less
than a light-year when its
hydroponics system failed. The
Hymenops found the ship derelict
when they invaded us, and
brought it to Alphard Six in
what was probably their first experiment
with human subjects.
The ship's log shows clearly
what happened to the original
complement. The rest is deducible
from the situation here."
Farrell put his hands to his
temples and groaned. "The crash
must have scrambled my wits.
Gib, where did they come from?"
"From one of the first peripheral
colonies conquered by the
Bees," Gibson said patiently.
"The Hymenops were long-range
planners, remember, and masters
of hypnotic conditioning. They
stocked the ship with a captive
crew of Terrans conditioned to
believe themselves descendants
of the original crew, and
grounded it here in disabled
condition. They left for Alphard
Five then, to watch developments.
"Succeeding generations of
colonists grew up accepting the
fact that their ship had missed
Sirius and made planetfall here—they
still don't know where
they really are—by luck. They
never knew about the Hymenops,
and they've struggled along
with an inadequate technology in
the hope that a later expedition
would find them. They found the
truth hard to take, but they're
eager to enjoy the fruits of Terran
Stryker, grinning, brought
Farrell a frosted drink that tinkled
invitingly. "An unusually
fortunate ending to a Hymenop
experiment," he said. "These
people progressed normally because
they've been let alone. Reorienting
them will be a simple
matter; they'll be properly spoiled
colonists within another generation."
Farrell sipped his drink appreciatively.
"But I don't see why the Bees
should go to such trouble to deceive
these people. Why did they
sit back and let them grow as
they pleased, Gib? It doesn't
"But it does, for once," Gibson
said. "The Bees set up this
colony as a control unit to study
the species they were invading,
and they had to give their
specimens a normal—if obsolete—background
in order to determine
their capabilities. The fact
that their experiment didn't tell
them what they wanted to know
may have had a direct bearing
on their decision to pull out."
Farrell shook his head. "It's
a reverse application, isn't it of
the old saw about Terrans being
incapable of understanding an
"Of course," said Gibson, surprised.
"It's obvious enough,
surely—hard as they tried, the
Bees never understood us
This etext was produced from Amazing Science Fiction Stories January
1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence
that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.