The Languages of Pao | Chapter 18 of 26

Author: Jack Vance | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1206 Views | Add a Review

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Page 39

"Evidently my life is to be one of many emergencies," said Beran. "The power of projecting energy from my hand might prove valuable."

"True," reflected Palafox. "And yet, on the other hand, what could more completely confuse your enemies than to see you rise into the air and float away? And since, with a novice, the easy projection of destruction endangers friends as well as enemies, we had better decide upon levitation

Each differed from the others in height, weight, skin- and hair-color, but each was like the others.

"My sons," said Palafox. "Everywhere on Pao you will find my sons...But time is valuable, and we must set about your modification."

Beran alighted from the car; the sons of Palafox led him away. They laid the anaesthetized body on a pallet, injected and impregnated the tissues with various toners and conditioners.

Then standing far back, they flung a switch. There was a shrill whine, a flutter of violet light, a distortion of the space as if the scene were observed through moving panels of poor glass.

The whine died; the figures stepped forward around the body now stiff, dead, rigid. The flesh was hard, but elastic; the fluids were congealed; the joints firm.

The men worked swiftly, with exceeding deftness. They used knives with entering edges only six molecules thick. The knives cut without pressure, splitting the tissues into glass-smooth laminae.

The body was laid open halfway up the back, slit down either side through the buttocks, thighs, calves. With single strokes of another type of knife, curiously singing, the soles of the feet were removed. The flesh was rigid, like rubber; there was no trace of blood or body fluid, no quiver of muscular motion.

A section of lung was cut out, an ovoid energy-bank introduced.

Conductors were laid into the flesh, connecting to flexible transformers in the buttocks, to processors in the calves. The antigravity mesh was laid into the bottom of the feet and connected to the processors in the calves by means of flexible tubes thrust up through the feet.

The circuit was complete. It was tested and checked; a switch was installed under the skin of the left thigh. And now began the tedious job of restoring the body.

The soles were dipped in special stimulating fluid, returned precisely into place, with accuracy sufficient to bring cell wall opposite cell wall,

A week passed, while Beran, still comatose, healed. He returned to consciousness to find Palafox standing before the pallet.

"Rise," said Palafox. "Stand on your feet."

Beran lay quiet for a moment, aware by some inner mechanism that considerable time had passed.

Palafox seemed impatient and driven by haste. His eyes glittered; he made an urgent gesture with his thin strong hand. "Rise! Stand!"

Beran slowly raised himself to his feet.


Beran walked across the room. There was a tautness down his legs, and the energy-bulb weighed on the muscles of his diaphragm and rib-sheathing.

Palafox was keenly watching the motion of his feet. "Good," he exclaimed. "I see no halting or discoordination. Come with me."

He took Beran into a high room, hitched a harness over his shoulders, snapped a cord into a ring at his back.

"Feel here." He directed Beran's left hand to a spot on his thigh. "Tap."


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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