By Frederik Pohl

Returning to Earth, it is as much as Dannerman--all 3 of him--to get to the bottom of the bits and bobs of the alien expertise in time to stave off the upcoming destruction of the planet.

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I thought of how much heat those things could produce, and wondered if Beert knew she had it in his fire-free nest. " I didn't want to get into a discussion, so I lied. "I was wondering why the Horch have so many empty rooms like this," I said. "Why," she said, closing the door and leading me down the steps, "the reason is simple. " That much I knew, more or less, but I kept her talking. " She gave me one of those massive arms-and-shoulders shrugs. " That got my interest. If Beert and the "cousins" disagreed, there might be a place to drive a useful wedge between them.

They are Horch. But are you all right? " I shook my head. I wasn't willing to let her know how quickly I tired, not to mention that the steps sagged and protested Pirraghiz's weight with soft, squeaking sounds. I didn't think it was a good idea to add my weight to hers. The stairs we were climbing circled an interior courtyard, like the atrium in a five-story Roman villa-if any Roman villa ever got five stories high. Balconies ran all around the inside of the structure at every level, and a few Horch paused in whatever they were doing on them to peer at us.

I was wrong about that, though. I dropped off as soon as Pirraghiz left the room, and I didn't even dream. Maybe that was my own way of turning away, like Pirraghiz, from what was too hard to face. It didn't last. The minute I woke up, there it was. I didn't have any choice. I had to face it. I stumbled across the dimly lit room to the balcony, my mind full of what I had seen. When I threw the accordion slides open it was bright daylight outside, and three or four Horch were getting into their tricycles to go to work in the fields.

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