Code in the Head and The Penal Cluster [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Randall Garrett
eBook Category: Young Adult/Science Fiction
eBook Description: Two of Garrett's Best Novelettes! Code in the Head is a delightful science fiction puzzler such as only Randall Garrett can write, and not available from any other publisher. And as an added bonus, read his The Penal Cluster which suggests that tomorrow's technocracy will produce criminals considered too abominable to live on this Earth. But what exactly does abominable mean? And to who?
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2008
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5 Reader Ratings:
THE DIRECTOR, said, "That's it; they can't unlock it without burning you out, and if they do that, they'll never get it."
I still felt groggy, but I reached out and took the cigarette out of the old man's hands. "Sure," I said, "I'm glad of that."
He got the sarcasm, but his expression didn't change as I took a deep drag of smoke. "When you leave here," he said, "you won't even remember this conversation until it's keyed in. But it is important that you remember it later. Got it?"
I nodded. "I've got it," I said. And I knew I had.
The Director's heavy, lined face broke into a sardonic grin. "Here's your weapons," he said ungrammatically; "they're all you get."
And he handed me the packages. "Now get going."
TWO HOURS later, I was on a jet transport for Texas, in Southwest Territory.
I should have known that Senator Lasser would be on the lookout for anyone headed for Texas, and I should have known that the lookouts would be watching for any opposition. But I didn't actually spot the group until we were well over Pennsylvania.
There were five Senators left. When longevity treatments had been discovered, they were expensive as hell; and the decision had been to give them to those who deserved them--by popular vote. Naturally, the treatments had gone to those who controlled the vote. That went without saying.
Originally, there had been fifty-two Senators. But as each one's territory had been vacated by violent death, his neighbors took over until now, after years and decades of intrigue, five Senators controlled all of North America.
There was only one Immortal that the Senate didn't know about--the Director of the FBI, And his sole purpose in life was to see that the country which had once been the United States eventually regained its freedom to vote and act as it chose.
I, personally, consider it to be a rather silly ideal, but, what the hell, I'm an FBI man; I follow orders.
I had no more idea why I was going to El Paso than the man in the moon does, but I knew that I'd know when I got there.
The thing that made me grin was that all five of the Senators were watching me so closely. One of them was scheduled to die, but none of them knew that for sure--and they all thought it was another of the Senators that was planning the death. None of them suspected the feeble, worthless Federal Government.
They did, however, know that someone, somehow, was transmitting important information El Paso--and they had somehow managed to narrow it down to this particular plane.
I looked around at the other passengers. The boys were easy to spot--all five groups of them. Each Senator had sent three men, and I had spotted them all from their pics in the FBI files.
Fifteen men on a dead I man's chest,
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!
And the only ones that would be on my side in a toss-up would be Senator Lasser's men--only they didn't know who I was, any more than the other twelve did. I wondered how the opposition was going to try to get the information before this jet landed at Briggs Field.
Frankly, I wasn't too worried. In the first place, they'd find it hard to spot me; in the second place, they'd have to know the key word or phrase that would unlock my subconscious and release the information that had been hypnotically planted there. Until then, I wouldn't have any more idea what it was than they did.
I settled myself into my seat and tried not to look as though I were trying to be inconspicuous. There was no one in the seat next to me. The seat in front of me held two of Senator Grendon's men; the third one was two seats further up. The seat across the aisle held one of Senator Lasser's men and one of Senator Rowley's. There were two women, probably mother and daughter, in the seat behind me. The rest of the hatchet men were scattered through the plane. I wondered how many of them knew each other; and I wondered if any of them had spotted me. * * * *
I GOT up quietly and strolled down the aisle to the big door that opened into the right wing, where the bar was. Nobody arose to follow me, but one of Lasser's agents was already at the bar, arguing with the barkeep.
Only in a stratoliner can you still find human bartenders; weight considerations forbid installing robot mixers. The only robot on one of those babies is the pilot.
"The proper method of mixing a Martini," the mild-looking young man at the bar was, saying, "is gin and vermouth at a ratio of three point seven-seven to one. And don't use an olive; it spoils the flavor--the vinegar I mean."
The bartender nodded sagely and began the ritual of mixing a Martini properly for a Martini nut.
"I'll have one, too," I said. Then I added: "Mixed his way," and jerked my thumb at the Martini nut.
The Martini nut smiled his thanks, and I smiled back, which gave me a chance to look the guy over. He didn't look like the "typical" stage Texan--but then, what Texan does? He, looked very mild and inoffensive, but I knew him for one of the deadliest men in the Texas Rangers. He was probably armed to his armpits, and it was kind of nice to know that, in case of a fracas, he would be on my side.