on me. If I give you
the signal, go to work with a couple of narrow needle-beams. Pretty sure that I won't
need any help, but you can't always tell."
The airlock opened and Kinnison stepped out. He had a high-powered thought-
screen, but he did not need it—yet. He had his DeLameters. He had also a weapon
deadlier by far even than those mighty portables; a weapon so utterly deadly that he
had not used it. He did not need to test it— since Worsel had said that it would work, it
would. The trouble with it was that it could not merely disable: if used at all it killed, with
complete and grim finality. And behind him he had the full awful power of the Dauntless.
He had nothing to worry about.
Only when the space-ship had settled down upon and into the hard-packed soil
of the airport could those at work there realize just how big and how heavy the visitor
was. Practically everyone stopped work and stared, and they continued to stare as
Kinnison strode toward the office. The Lensman had landed upon many strange
planets, he had been met in divers fashions and with various emotions; but never before
had his presence stirred up anything even remotely resembling the sentiments written
so plainly upon these women's faces and expressed even more plainly in their seething
Loathing, hatred, detestation—not precisely any one of the three, yet containing
something of each. As though he were a monstrosity, a revolting abnormality that
should be destroyed on sight. Beings such as the fantastically ugly, spider-like denizens
of Dekanore VI had shuddered at the sight of him, but their thoughts were mild
compared to these. Besides, that was natural enough. Any human being would appear
a monstrosity to such as those. But these women were human; as human as he was.
He didn't get it, at all.
Kinnison opened the door and faced the manager, who was standing at that
other-worldly equivalent of a desk. His first glance at her brought to the surface of his
mind one of the peculiarities which he had already unconsciously observed. Here, for
the first time in his life, he saw a woman without any touch whatever of personal
adornment. She was tall and beautifully proportioned, strong and fine; her smooth skin
was tanned to a rich and even brown. She was clean, almost blatantly so.
But she wore no jewelry, no bracelets, no ribbons; no decoration of any sort or
kind. No paint, no powder, no touch of perfume. Her heavy, bushy eyebrows had never
been plucked or clipped. Some of her teeth had been expertly filled, and she had a two-
tooth bridge that would have done credit to any Tellurian dentist—but her hair! It, too,
was painfully clean, as was the white scalp beneath it, but aesthetically it was a mess.
Some of it reached almost to her shoulders, but it was very evident that whenever a lock
grew long enough to be a bother she was wont to grab it and hew it off, as close to the
skull as possible, with whatever knife, shears, or other implement came readiest to
These thoughts and the general inspection did not take any appreciable length of
time, of course. Before Kinnison had taken two steps toward the manager's desk, he
directed a thought:
"Kinnison of Sol III—Lensman, Unattached. It is possible, however, that neither
Tellus nor the Lens are known upon this planet?"
"Neither is known, nor does anyone of Lyrane care to know anything of either,"
she replied coldly. Her brain was keen and clear; her personality vigorous, striking,
forceful. But, compared with Kinnison's doubly-Arisian-trained mind, hers was woefully
slow. He watched her assemble the mental bolt which was intended to slay him then
and there. He let her send it, then struck back. Not lethally, not even paralyzingly, but
solidly enough so that she slumped down, almost unconscious, into a nearby chair.
"It's good technique to size a man up before