Fair and Warmer


1. Troubled By The Aliens

[Sidenote: Tensor's melancholia threatened to disturb the entire citizenry, and that was most uncivil! So--if these peculiar aliens caused him this distress, by provoking his intellectual curiosity, the remedy was for him to investigate them to his complete satisfaction.... Thus, in this manner, did Tensor get well--and did he learn a bit too....]

Tensor gazed helplessly at the fine mist sifting down from a hazy, violet sky. "I told you I was having these spells."

"But Great Oxy," the administrator sputtered, "can't you control yourself?"

"I can't help it, Ruut," Tensor replied. "I just feel sort of funny and--and--"

Ruut's hyperimage was chewing on its illusory lip. "Well, you've got to stop it. Do you understand? There'll be a lot of lichens and things growing all over the Prime's beautiful landscapes if this keeps up."

The administrator's concern amused Tensor and, as his mood lightened, the drizzle abated and the sky became clear again.

"I'm sorry," he apologized sincerely. "But I just seem to be having trouble lately. Ever since the aliens came."

"Oh, come now, son," Ruut chortled with assumed heartiness. "That's elementary somatics. Just get a grip on yourself."

"Yes sir."

"Perhaps you've been working, or exerting yourself in some other foolish way. Maybe you're tired and should take something."

The long, scrawny citizen gazed disconsolately at the beautitful violet sky, his face relaxed and soleful. He sighed and murmured, "Frankly, Ruut, I just don't seem to give a damn anymore."

On the other side of the planet, Ruut gulped convulsively. His eyes bulged out with thoroughly uncivilized amazement.

"Get out of consciousness immediately," he ordered hoarsely. "Take a nego shot, if necessary. Take one anyway. We can't take chances." The administrator's hyperimage, with calculated angry expression, glared sternly into Tensor's mind. "Did you understand me?"

"Yes sir," Tensor murmured. A vague unpleasantness began stirring in his stomach as he contemplated Ruut's thought. The administrator was absolutely right. Civilization simply could not tolerate an unhappy, uncooperative citizen. The general satisfaction of all was so clearly the responsibility of each individual, and one careless man could ruin it for everybody. Very much as he had been doing.

Obediently he nodded. Concealing his embarrassment at the artificiality of the act, he permitted the hyperimage to watch while he administered the chemical.

"Good." Ruut became calm at once, now that he was certain he could command the situation. "I'll have the physician examine you before that wears off." He hesitated and said even more mildly. "I hope this is just a passing thing, Tensor. You know I'll do everything I can for you, even teleporting to your focus. But you're a weather sensitive, and that's a pretty common classification. And you know the Council."

Tensor indicated lazy assent. As the drug took hold, he slipped soothingly into unconsciousness, and the hyperimage flickered and vanished with his powers. His last emotion was one of a vague relief that he would not have to look at the low caste face of an administrator for a while.