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Chapter 9
The dogs and the children had found a new victim in the streets below. Anthony's heart went out to him.

"The purpose," continued Colonel Cooper, "was to notice anything just a little bit peculiar in the auras and the persons they represent, anything at all odd in their comings and goings. Anything like what you have come here to report to me."

"Like the seven persons who recently arrived in the world, and not by way of birth?"

"Yes. We have been expecting the first of the aliens for months. We must know their area, and at once. Now tell me."

"What if they are not aliens at all. What if they are restricted persons like myself?"

"Restricted persons have no aura, are not persons, are not alive. And you would not receive knowledge of them."

"Then how do I know the other restricted persons here, Adrian and Wellington, and such?"

"You know them at first hand. You do not know them through the machine. Now tell me the area quickly. The center may be a primary target. It will take the machine hours to ravel it out. Your only purpose is to serve as an intuitive short-cut."

But Tin Man Tony did not speak. He only thought in his mind—more accurately, in his brain, a hundred yards away. He thought in his fabricated consciousness:

"The area is quite near. If the colonel were not burdened with a mind, he would be able to think more clearly. He would know that cruel children and dogs love to worry what is not human, and that all of the restricted persons are accounted for in this area. He would know that they are worrying one of the aliens in the street below, and that is the area that is right in my consciousness.

"I wonder if they will be better masters? He is an imposing figure, and he would be able to pass for a man. And the colonel is right: The Center is a primary target.

"Why! I never knew you could kill a child just by pointing a finger at him like that! What opportunities I have missed! Enemy of my enemy, you are my friend."

And aloud he said to the colonel:

"I will not tell you."

"Then we'll have you apart and get it out of you mighty quick."

"How quick?"

"Ten minutes."

"Time enough," said Tony, for he knew them now, coming in like snow. They were arriving in the world by the hundreds, and not arriving by birth.

The End


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