Second stage Lensman

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Authors: Edward Elmer Smith
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have been wondering how I could force you to go there," she explained, naively.
         "Henderson?" The Lensman spoke into his microphone— thought-screens, of
    course, being no barrier to radio waves.
         "I'm going after the zwilnik. This woman here is taking me. Have the 'copter stay
    over me, ready to needle anything I tell them to. While I'm gone go over that speeder
    with a fine-tooth comb, and when you get everything we want, blast it. It and the
    Dauntless are the only spacecraft on the planet. These janes are man-haters and
    mental killers, so keep your thought-screens up. Don't let them down for a fraction of a
    second, because they've got plenty of jets and they're just as sweet and reasonable as
    a cageful of cateagles. Got it?"
         "On the tape, chief," came instant answer. "But don't take any chances, Kim.
    Sure you can swing it alone?"
         "Jets enough and to spare," Kinnison assured him, curtly. Then, as the Tellurians'
    helicopter shot into the air, he again turned his thought to the manager.
         "Let's go," he directed, and she led him across the way to a row of parked
    ground-cars. She manipulated a couple of levers and smoothly, if slowly, the little
    vehicle rolled away.
          The distance was long and the pace was slow. The woman was driving
    automatically, the while her every sense was concentrated upon finding some weak
    point, some chink in his barrier, through which to thrust at him. Kinnison was
    amazed—stumped—at her fixity of purpose; at her grimly single-minded determination
    to make an end of him. She was out to get him, and she wasn't fooling.
         "Listen, sister," he thought at her, after a few minutes of it; almost plaintively, for
    him. "Let's be reasonable about this thing. I told you I didn't want to kill you; why in all
    the iridescent hells of space are you so dead set on killing me? If you don't behave
    yourself, I'll give you a treatment that will make your head ache for the next six months.
    Why don't you snap out of it, you dumb little lug, and be friends?"
         This thought jarred her so that she stopped the car, the better to stare directly
    and viciously into his eyes.
         "Be friends! With a male!" The thought literally seared its way into the man's
    brain.
         "Listen, half-wit!" Kinnison stormed, exasperated. "Forget your narrow-minded,
    one-planet prejudices and think for a minute, if you can think—use that pint of bean
    soup inside your skull for something besides hating me all over the place. Get this—I
    am no more a male than you are the kind of a female that you think, by analogy, such a
    creature would have to be if she could exist in a sane and logical world."
         "Oh." The Lyranian was taken aback at such cavalier instruction. "But the others,
    those in your so-immense vessel, they are of a certainty males," she stated with
    conviction. "I understood what you told them via your telephone-with-out-conductors.
    You have mechanical shields against the thought which kills. Yet you do not have to use
    it, while the others—males indubitably—do. You yourself are not entirely male; your
    brain is almost as good as a person's."
         "Better, you mean," he corrected her. "You're wrong. All of us of the ship are
    men—all alike. But a man on a job can't concentrate all the time on defending his brain
    against attack, hence the use of thought-screens. I can't use a screen out here,
    because I've got to talk to you people. See?"
         "You fear us, then, so little?" she flared, all of her old animosity blazing out anew.
    "You consider our power, then, so small a thing?"
         "Right. Right to a hair," he declared, with tightening jaw. But he did not believe
    it—quite. This girl was just about as safe to play around with as five-feet-eleven of
    coiled bush-master, and twice as deadly.
         She could not kill him mentally. Nor could the elder sister —whoever she might
    be—and her crew; he

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