Fair and Warmer


3. Investigation As Cure

The nego had to be recomposed twice in his body before Curl returned, his long, unkempt, black beard floating gently around his ears.

"Tensor," he said gravely, "the Council has acted. It has been decided not to order you to destroy yourself immediately, because I managed to convince them that it would be interesting to try that old scheme I told you about. I hope you don't mind."

Naturally there was no reply from Tensor. In his emotionless state, he did not care one way or the other. He waited.

"At any rate," the physician continued, "what they did was order you to satisfy this curiosity that is causing all your trouble.

"The reason, of course, isn't that the Council is interested in your cure. But they do desire some coherent information about the aliens. And since it is unlikely that anyone will ever volunteer to take the trouble to investigate them on their own initiative, they felt your illness a satisfactory excuse for requiring you to make the investigation."

"Yes sir."

Curl sighed. It was monotonous, this trying to carry on a conversation with an unconscious man. However, it was his duty as a physician, and he had promised the Council. One thing he was sure of, though, and that was never again to get involved in teleporting himself about the planet like this on any account. He would send an assistant. Provided he could find one.

"The Council would like a report when you get back. Do you think you can control yourself if you know that you are going to investigate the aliens whether you like it or not?"

"I guess so, sir," Tensor replied without interest.

"Splendid. I'll return to my own focus and give you the privacy for administering the antidote."

Tensor waited. When the physician was gone, he constructed the chemical in the vein of his left wrist, and in less than a minute he felt the surging pleasure of his re-awakened faculties. He glanced doubtfully at the sky, but it remained clear.

Curl's hyperimage began forming in his mind. "Everything all right now?" the physician inquired genially.

"Perfect," replied Tensor contentedly. "This won't be so bad, even if it is useful work. Maybe I'm just a little peculiar."

"Ha, ha," Curl replied noncommittally.

"Oh, one thing further. What about the privacy screen set up around the aliens?"

"That was dropped months ago," Curl laughed. "Can you imagine the Council sustaining anything like that for long?"

"It doesn't require any effort."

"Yes, but it looks like it ought to, and you know how that affects a civilized man. You can go any time you like."

Tensor nodded and withdrew.