By CHARLES L. FONTENAY
He was a living weapon of
powerful, utterly invulnerable.
There was only one
question: Was he human?
Trella feared she was in
for trouble even before Motwick's
head dropped forward on
his arms in a drunken stupor.
The two evil-looking men at the
table nearby had been watching
her surreptitiously, and now
they shifted restlessly in their
Trella had not wanted to come
to the Golden Satellite. It was a
squalid saloon in the rougher
section of Jupiter's View, the
terrestrial dome-colony on Ganymede.
A woman could not possibly
make her way through these
streets alone to the better section
of town, especially one clad
in a silvery evening dress. Her
only hope was that this place
had a telephone. Perhaps she
could call one of Motwick's
friends; she had no one on Ganymede
she could call a real friend
Tentatively, she pushed her
chair back from the table and
arose. She had to brush close by
the other table to get to the bar.
As she did, the dark, slick-haired
man reached out and grabbed
her around the waist with a
Trella swung with her whole
body, and slapped him so hard
he nearly fell from his chair. As
she walked swiftly toward the
bar, he leaped up to follow her.
There were only two other
people in the Golden Satellite:
the fat, mustached bartender
and a short, square-built man at
the bar. The latter swung
around at the pistol-like report
of her slap, and she saw that,
though no more than four and a
half feet tall, he was as heavily
muscled as a lion.
His face was clean and open,
with close-cropped blond hair
and honest blue eyes. She ran to
“Help me!” she cried. “Please
He began to back away from
“I can't,” he muttered in a
deep voice. “I can't help you. I
can't do anything.”
The dark man was at her
heels. In desperation, she dodged
around the short man and took
refuge behind him. Her protector
was obviously unwilling, but
the dark man, faced with his
massiveness, took no chances.
He stopped and shouted:
The other man at the table
arose, ponderously, and lumbered
toward them. He was immense,
at least six and a half
feet tall, with a brutal, vacant
Evading her attempts to stay
behind him, the squat man began
to move down the bar away
from the approaching Kregg.
The dark man moved in on
Trella again as Kregg overtook
his quarry and swung a huge
fist like a sledgehammer.
Exactly what happened, Trella
wasn't sure. She had the impression
that Kregg's fist connected
squarely with the short man's
chin before he dodged to one
side in a movement so fast it
was a blur. But that couldn't
have been, because the short
man wasn't moved by that blow
that would have felled a steer,
and Kregg roared in pain, grabbing
his injured fist.
“The bar!” yelled Kregg. “I
hit the damn bar!”
At this juncture, the bartender
took a hand. Leaning far
over the bar, he swung a full
bottle in a complete arc. It
smashed on Kregg's head,
splashing the floor with liquor,
and Kregg sank stunned to his
knees. The dark man, who had
grabbed Trella's arm, released
her and ran for the door.
Moving agilely around the end
of the bar, the bartender stood
over Kregg, holding the jagged-edged
bottleneck in his hand
“Get out!” rumbled the bartender.
“I'll have no coppers
raiding my place for the likes of
Kregg stumbled to his feet
and staggered out. Trella ran to
the unconscious Motwick's side.
“That means you, too, lady,”
said the bartender beside her.
“You and your boy friend get
out of here. You oughtn't to
have come here in the first
“May I help you, Miss?” asked
a deep, resonant voice behind
She straightened from her
anxious examination of Motwick.
The squat man was standing
there, an apologetic look on
She looked contemptuously at
the massive muscles whose help
had been denied her. Her arm
ached where the dark man had
grasped it. The broad face before
her was not unhandsome,
and the blue eyes were disconcertingly
direct, but she despised
him for a coward.
“I'm sorry I couldn't fight
those men for you, Miss, but I
just couldn't,” he said miserably,
as though reading her thoughts.
“But no one will bother you on
the street if I'm with you.”
“A lot of protection you'd be
if they did!” she snapped. “But
I'm desperate. You can carry
him to the Stellar Hotel for me.”
The gravity of Ganymede was
hardly more than that of Earth's
moon, but the way the man
picked up the limp Motwick with
one hand and tossed him over a
shoulder was startling: as
though he lifted a feather pillow.
He followed Trella out the door
of the Golden Satellite and fell
in step beside her. Immediately
she was grateful for his presence.
The dimly lighted street
was not crowded, but she didn't
like the looks of the men she
The transparent dome of Jupiter's
View was faintly visible
in the reflected night lights of
the colonial city, but the lights
were overwhelmed by the giant,
vari-colored disc of Jupiter itself,
riding high in the sky.
“I'm Quest Mansard, Miss,”
said her companion. “I'm just in
“I'm Trella Nuspar,” she said,
favoring him with a green-eyed
glance. “You mean Io, don't you—or
“No,” he said, grinning at
her. He had an engaging grin,
with even white teeth. “I meant
“You're lying,” she said flatly.
“No one has ever landed on
Jupiter. It would be impossible
to blast off again.”
“My parents landed on Jupiter,
and I blasted off from it,”
he said soberly. “I was born
there. Have you ever heard of
Dr. Eriklund Mansard?”
“I certainly have,” she said,
her interest taking a sudden
upward turn. “He developed the
surgiscope, didn't he? But his
ship was drawn into Jupiter and
“It was drawn into Jupiter,
but he landed it successfully,”
said Quest. “He and my mother
lived on Jupiter until the oxygen
equipment wore out at last. I
was born and brought up there,
and I was finally able to build
a small rocket with a powerful
enough drive to clear the
She looked at him. He was
short, half a head shorter than
she, but broad and powerful as
a man might be who had grown
up in heavy gravity. He trod the
street with a light, controlled
step, seeming to deliberately
hold himself down.
“If Dr. Mansard succeeded in
landing on Jupiter, why didn't
anyone ever hear from him
again?” she demanded.
“Because,” said Quest, “his
radio was sabotaged, just as his
ship's drive was.”
“Jupiter strength,” she murmured,
looking him over coolly.
“You wear Motwick on your
shoulder like a scarf. But you
couldn't bring yourself to help
a woman against two thugs.”
“I'm sorry,” he said. “That's
something I couldn't help.”
“I don't know. It's not that
I'm afraid, but there's something
in me that makes me back
away from the prospect of fighting
Trella sighed. Cowardice was
a state of mind. It was peculiarly
inappropriate, but not unbelievable,
that the strongest and
most agile man on Ganymede
should be a coward. Well, she
thought with a rush of sympathy,
he couldn't help being
what he was.
They had reached the more
brightly lighted section of the
city now. Trella could get a cab
from here, but the Stellar Hotel
wasn't far. They walked on.
Trella had the desk clerk call
a cab to deliver the unconscious
Motwick to his home. She and
Quest had a late sandwich in the
“I landed here only a week
ago,” he told her, his eyes frankly
admiring her honey-colored
hair and comely face. “I'm heading
for Earth on the next spaceship.”
“We'll be traveling companions,
then,” she said. “I'm going
back on that ship, too.”
For some reason she decided
against telling him that the
assignment on which she had
come to the Jupiter system was
to gather his own father's notebooks
and take them back to
Motwick was an irresponsible
playboy whom Trella had known
briefly on Earth, and Trella was
glad to dispense with his company
for the remaining three
weeks before the spaceship
blasted off. She found herself
enjoying the steadier companionship
As a matter of fact, she found
herself enjoying his companionship
more than she intended to.
She found herself falling in love
Now this did not suit her at
all. Trella had always liked her
men tall and dark. She had determined
that when she married
it would be to a curly-haired six-footer.
She was not at all happy about
being so strongly attracted to a
man several inches shorter than
she. She was particularly unhappy
about feeling drawn to a
man who was a coward.
The ship that they boarded on
Moon Nine was one of the newer
ships that could attain a hundred-mile-per-second
and take a hyperbolic path to
Earth, but it would still require
fifty-four days to make the trip.
So Trella was delighted to find
that the ship was the Cometfire
and its skipper was her old
friend, dark-eyed, curly-haired
“Jakdane,” she said, flirting
with him with her eyes as in
days gone by, “I need a chaperon
this trip, and you're ideal for
“I never thought of myself in
quite that light, but maybe
I'm getting old,” he answered,
laughing. “What's your trouble,
“I'm in love with that huge
chunk of man who came aboard
with me, and I'm not sure I
ought to be,” she confessed. “I
may need protection against myself
till we get to Earth.”
“If it's to keep you out of another
fellow's clutches, I'm your
man,” agreed Jakdane heartily.
“I always had a mind to save
you for myself. I'll guarantee
you won't have a moment alone
with him the whole trip.”
“You don't have to be that
thorough about it,” she protested
hastily. “I want to get a little
enjoyment out of being in love.
But if I feel myself weakening
too much, I'll holler for help.”
The Cometfire swung around
great Jupiter in an opening arc
and plummeted ever more swiftly
toward the tight circles of the
inner planets. There were four
crew members and three passengers
aboard the ship's tiny personnel
sphere, and Trella was
thrown with Quest almost constantly.
She enjoyed every minute
She told him only that she
was a messenger, sent out to
Ganymede to pick up some important
papers and take them
back to Earth. She was tempted
to tell him what the papers were.
Her employer had impressed upon
her that her mission was confidential,
but surely Dom
could not object to Dr.
Mansard's son knowing about it.
All these things had happened
before she was born, and she
did not know what Dom Blessing's
relation to Dr. Mansard
had been, but it must have been
very close. She knew that Dr.
Mansard had invented the surgiscope.
This was an instrument with
a three-dimensional screen as its
heart. The screen was a cubical
frame in which an apparently
solid image was built up of an
object under an electron microscope.
The actual cutting instrument
of the surgiscope was an ion
stream. By operating a tool in
the three-dimensional screen,
corresponding movements were
made by the ion stream on the
object under the microscope.
was the same as
that used in operation of remote
control “hands” in atomic laboratories
to handle hot material,
and with the surgiscope very
delicate operations could be performed
at the cellular level.
Dr. Mansard and his wife had
disappeared into the turbulent
atmosphere of Jupiter just after
his invention of the surgiscope,
and it had been developed by
Dom Blessing. Its success had
built Spaceway Instruments, Incorporated,
which Blessing headed.
Through all these years since
Dr. Mansard's disappearance,
Blessing had been searching the
Jovian moons for a second, hidden
laboratory of Dr. Mansard.
When it was found at last, he
sent Trella, his most trusted
secretary, to Ganymede to bring
back to him the notebooks found
Blessing would, of course, be
happy to learn that a son of Dr.
Mansard lived, and would see
that he received his rightful
share of the inheritance. Because
of this, Trella was tempted
to tell Quest the good news
herself; but she decided against
it. It was Blessing's privilege to
do this his own way, and he
might not appreciate her meddling.
At midtrip, Trella made a rueful
confession to Jakdane.
“It seems I was taking unnecessary
precautions when I asked
you to be a chaperon,” she said.
“I kept waiting for Quest to do
something, and when he didn't
I told him I loved him.”
“What did he say?”
“It's very peculiar,” she said
unhappily. “He said he can't
love me. He said he wants to
love me and he feels that he
should, but there's something in
him that refuses to permit it.”
She expected Jakdane to salve
her wounded feelings with a
sympathetic pleasantry, but he
did not. Instead, he just looked
at her very thoughtfully and
said no more about the matter.
He explained his attitude
after Asrange ran amuck.
Asrange was the third passenger.
He was a lean, saturnine
individual who said little and
kept to himself as much as possible.
He was distantly polite in
his relations with both crew and
other passengers, and never
showed the slightest spark of
emotion … until the day Quest
squirted coffee on him.
It was one of those accidents
that can occur easily in space.
The passengers and the two
crewmen on that particular waking
shift (including Jakdane)
were eating lunch on the center-deck.
Quest picked up his bulb
of coffee, but inadvertently
pressed it before he got it to his
lips. The coffee squirted all over
the front of Asrange's clean
“I'm sorry!” exclaimed Quest
The man's eyes went wide and
he snarled. So quickly it seemed
impossible, he had unbuckled
himself from his seat and hurled
himself backward from the table
with an incoherent cry. He
seized the first object his hand
touched—it happened to be a
heavy wooden cane leaning
against Jakdane's bunk—propelled
himself like a projectile at
Quest rose from the table in
a sudden uncoiling of movement.
He did not unbuckle his safety
belt—he rose and it snapped like
For a moment Trella thought
he was going to meet Asrange's
assault. But he fled in a long
leap toward the companionway
leading to the astrogation deck
above. Landing feet-first in the
middle of the table and rebounding,
Asrange pursued with the
In his haste, Quest missed the
companionway in his leap and
was cornered against one of the
bunks. Asrange descended on
him like an avenging angel and,
holding onto the bunk with one
hand, rained savage blows on his
head and shoulders with the
Quest made no effort to retaliate.
He cowered under the attack,
holding his hands in front
of him as if to ward it off. In a
moment, Jakdane and the other
crewman had reached Asrange
and pulled him off.
When they had Asrange in
irons, Jakdane turned to Quest,
who was now sitting unhappily
at the table.
“Take it easy,” he advised.
“I'll wake the psychosurgeon
and have him look you over. Just
Quest shook his head.
“Don't bother him,” he said.
“It's nothing but a few bruises.”
“Bruises? Man, that club
could have broken your skull!
Or a couple of ribs, at the very
“I'm all right,” insisted
Quest; and when the skeptical
Jakdane insisted on examining
him carefully, he had to admit
it. There was hardly a mark on
him from the blows.
“If it didn't hurt you any
more than that, why didn't you
take that stick away from him?”
demanded Jakdane. “You could
“I couldn't,” said Quest miserably,
and turned his face
Later, alone with Trella on
the control deck, Jakdane gave
her some sober advice.
“If you think you're in love
with Quest, forget it,” he said.
“Why? Because he's a coward?
I know that ought to make
me despise him, but it doesn't
“Not because he's a coward.
Because he's an android!”
“What? Jakdane, you can't be
“I am. I say he's an android,
an artificial imitation of a man.
It all figures.
“Look, Trella, he said he was
born on Jupiter. A human could
stand the gravity of Jupiter, inside
a dome or a ship, but what
human could stand the rocket acceleration
necessary to break
free of Jupiter? Here's a man
strong enough to break a spaceship
safety belt just by getting
up out of his chair against it,
tough enough to take a beating
with a heavy stick without being
injured. How can you believe
he's really human?”
Trella remembered the thug
Kregg striking Quest in the face
and then crying that he had injured
his hand on the bar.
“But he said Dr. Mansard was
his father,” protested Trella.
“Robots and androids frequently
look on their makers as
their parents,” said Jakdane.
“Quest may not even know he's artificial. Do you know how
“The oxygen equipment failed,
“Yes. Do you know when?”
“No. Quest never did tell me,
that I remember.”
“He told me: a year before
Quest made his rocket flight to
Ganymede! If the oxygen equipment
failed, how do you think
Quest lived in the poisonous atmosphere
of Jupiter, if he's human?”
Trella was silent.
“For the protection of humans,
there are two psychological
traits built into every robot
and android,” said Jakdane
gently. “The first is that they
can never, under any circumstances,
attack a human being,
even in self defense. The second
is that, while they may understand
sexual desire objectively,
they can never experience it
“Those characteristics fit your
man Quest to a T, Trella. There
is no other explanation for him:
he must be an android.”
Trella did not want to believe
Jakdane was right, but his reasoning
was unassailable. Looking
upon Quest as an android,
many things were explained: his
great strength, his short, broad
build, his immunity to injury,
his refusal to defend himself
against a human, his inability to
return Trella's love for him.
It was not inconceivable that
she should have unknowingly
fallen in love with an android.
Humans could love androids,
with real affection, even knowing
that they were artificial.
There were instances of android
nursemaids who were virtually
members of the families owning
She was glad now that she
had not told Quest of her mission
to Ganymede. He thought
he was Dr. Mansard's son, but
an android had no legal right of
inheritance from his owner. She
would leave it to Dom Blessing
to decide what to do about Quest.
Thus she did not, as she had
intended originally, speak to
Quest about seeing him again
after she had completed her assignment.
Even if Jakdane was
wrong and Quest was human—as
now seemed unlikely—Quest
had told her he could not love
her. Her best course was to try
to forget him.
Nor did Quest try to arrange
with her for a later meeting.
“It has been pleasant knowing
you, Trella,” he said when they
left the G-boat at White Sands.
A faraway look came into his
blue eyes, and he added: “I'm
sorry things couldn't have been
“Let's don't be sorry for what
we can't help,” she said gently,
taking his hand in farewell.
Trella took a fast plane from
White Sands, and twenty-four
hours later walked up the front
steps of the familiar brownstone
house on the outskirts of Washington.
Dom Blessing himself met her
at the door, a stooped, graying man who peered at her over his
“You have the papers, eh?”
he said, spying the brief case.
“Good, good. Come in and we'll
see what we have, eh?”
She accompanied him through
the bare, windowless anteroom
which had always seemed to her
such a strange feature of this
luxurious house, and they entered
the big living room. They sat
before a fire in the old-fashioned
fireplace and Blessing opened the
brief case with trembling hands.
“There are things here,” he
said, his eyes sparkling as he
glanced through the notebooks.
“Yes, there are things here. We
shall make something of these,
Miss Trella, eh?”
“I'm glad they're something
you can use, Mr. Blessing,” she
said. “There's something else I
found on my trip, that I think
I should tell you about.”
She told him about Quest.
“He thinks he's the son of Dr.
Mansard,” she finished, “but apparently
he is, without knowing
it, an android Dr. Mansard built
“He came back to Earth with
you, eh?” asked Blessing intently.
“Yes. I'm afraid it's your decision
whether to let him go on
living as a man or to tell him
he's an android and claim ownership
as Dr. Mansard's heir.”
Trella planned to spend a few
days resting in her employer's
spacious home, and then to take
a short vacation before resuming
her duties as his confidential
secretary. The next morning
when she came down from her
room, a change had been made.
Two armed men were with
Dom Blessing at breakfast and
accompanied him wherever he
went. She discovered that two
more men with guns were stationed
in the bare anteroom and
a guard was stationed at every
entrance to the house.
“Why all the protection?” she
“A wealthy man must be careful,”
said Blessing cheerfully.
“When we don't understand all
the implications of new circumstances,
we must be prepared for
There was only one new circumstance
Trella could think
of. Without actually intending
to, she exclaimed:
“You aren't afraid of Quest?
Why, an android can't hurt a
Blessing peered at her over his
“And what if he isn't an android,
eh? And if he is—what if
old Mansard didn't build in the
prohibition against harming humans
that's required by law?
What about that, eh?”
Trella was silent, shocked.
There was something here she
hadn't known about, hadn't even
suspected. For some reason, Dom
Blessing feared Dr. Eriklund
Mansard … or his heir … or
his mechanical servant.
She was sure that Blessing
was wrong, that Quest, whether
man or android, intended no
harm to him. Surely, Quest
would have said something of
such bitterness during their long
time together on Ganymede and
aspace, since he did not know of
Trella's connection with Blessing.
But, since this was to be
the atmosphere of Blessing's
house, she was glad that he decided
to assign her to take the
Mansard papers to the New
Quest came the day before she
was scheduled to leave.
Trella was in the living room
with Blessing, discussing the instructions
she was to give to the
laboratory officials in New York.
The two bodyguards were with
them. The other guards were at
Trella heard the doorbell ring.
The heavy oaken front door was
kept locked now, and the guards
in the anteroom examined callers
through a tiny window.
Suddenly alarm bells rang all
over the house. There was a terrific
crash outside the room as
the front door splintered. There
were shouts and the sound of a
“The steel doors!” cried Blessing,
turning white. “Let's get
out of here.”
He and his bodyguards ran
through the back of the house
out of the garage.
Blessing, ahead of the rest,
leaped into one of the cars and
started the engine.
The door from the house shattered
and Quest burst through.
The two guards turned and fired
He could be hurt by bullets.
He was staggered momentarily.
Then, in a blur of motion, he
sprang forward and swept the
guards aside with one hand with
such force that they skidded
across the floor and lay in an
unconscious heap against the
rear of the garage. Trella had
opened the door of the car, but
it was wrenched from her hand
as Blessing stepped on the accelerator
and it leaped into the
driveway with spinning wheels.
Quest was after it, like a
chunky deer, running faster
than Trella had ever seen a man
Blessing slowed for the turn
at the end of the driveway and
glanced back over his shoulder.
Seeing Quest almost upon him,
he slammed down the accelerator
and twisted the wheel hard.
The car whipped into the
street, careened, and rolled over
and over, bringing up against a
tree on the other side in a twisted
tangle of wreckage.
With a horrified gasp, Trella
ran down the driveway toward
the smoking heap of metal.
Quest was already beside it,
probing it. As she reached his
side, he lifted the torn body of
Dom Blessing. Blessing was
“I'm lucky,” said Quest soberly.
“I would have murdered
“But why, Quest? I knew he
was afraid of you, but he didn't
tell me why.”
“It was conditioned into me,”
answered Quest “I didn't know
it until just now, when it ended,
but my father conditioned me
psychologically from my birth
to the task of hunting down
Dom Blessing and killing him. It
was an unconscious drive in me
that wouldn't release me until
the task was finished.
“You see, Blessing was my father's
assistant on Ganymede.
Right after my father completed
development of the surgiscope,
he and my mother blasted off for
Io. Blessing wanted the valuable
rights to the surgiscope, and he
sabotaged the ship's drive so it
would fall into Jupiter.
“But my father was able to
control it in the heavy atmosphere
of Jupiter, and landed it
successfully. I was born there,
and he conditioned me to come
to Earth and track down Blessing.
I know now that it was
part of the conditioning that I
was unable to fight any other
man until my task was finished:
it might have gotten me in trouble
and diverted me from that
More gently than Trella would
have believed possible for his
Jupiter-strong muscles, Quest
took her in his arms.
“Now I can say I love you,”
he said. “That was part of the
conditioning too: I couldn't love
any woman until my job was
Trella disengaged herself.
“I'm sorry,” she said. “Don't
you know this, too, now: that
you're not a man, but an android?”
He looked at her in astonishment,
stunned by her words.
“What in space makes you
think that?” he demanded.
“Why, Quest, it's obvious,”
she cried, tears in her eyes.
“Everything about you … your
build, suited for Jupiter's gravity …
your strength … the
fact that you were able to live
in Jupiter's atmosphere after
the oxygen equipment failed.
I know you think Dr. Mansard
was your father, but androids
often believe that.”
He grinned at her.
“I'm no android,” he said confidently.
“Do you forget my father
was inventor of the surgiscope?
He knew I'd have to grow
up on Jupiter, and he operated
on the genes before I was born.
He altered my inherited characteristics
to adapt me to the climate
of Jupiter … even to
being able to breathe a chlorine
atmosphere as well as an oxygen
Trella looked at him. He was
not badly hurt, any more than
an elephant would have been,
but his tunic was stained with
red blood where the bullets had
struck him. Normal android
blood was green.
“How can you be sure?” she
“Androids are made,” he answered
with a laugh. “They
don't grow up. And I remember
my boyhood on Jupiter very
He took her in his arms again,
and this time she did not resist.
His lips were very human.
This e-text was produced from Amazing Science Fiction Stories March 1959.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U. S. copyright on this
publication was renewed.