The story of Ray Bradbury about the later famous butterfly, whose death in the past significantly changed the future, appeared in 1952. Azimov's story, similar in storytelling, is in 1958. In both, we are talking about how very small, extremely small changes in the surrounding reality can cause serious consequences in the future.
Marshall Zhebatinski felt like a complete idiot. He had the feeling that thousands of eyes were looking at him through the dirty glass of the shop, staring impudently from behind a chipped wooden fence.
He was terribly uncomfortable in the old suit, which he had pulled out of the closet, and in the hat with the brimmed down - he would never wear it in any other situation in his life. And even glasses - Marshall decided to do without them and did not take them out of the case.
Zhebatinski felt like a complete idiot, and this made the wrinkles on his forehead deeper, and his face turned a little pale of undetermined age.
It is unlikely that he could explain to anyone why a nuclear physicist decided to visit a "specialist" in magic numbers - a numerologist. (Never, he thought. Not for anything in the world.) Damn it, he couldn't explain it to himself. Did he succumb to the persuasion of his wife?
The numerologist was sitting at an old table, probably bought from a second-hand store. No table can come to this state, being the property of one person. The same could be said about the clothes of a short, dark-haired man, who was examining Zhebatinski with lively black eyes.
“I’ve never come across a physicist among my clients, Dr. Zhebatinski,” he said.
“I hope you understand that no one should know about my visit,” Zhebatinski said quickly, flushing.
The numerologist smiled, wrinkles appeared near his mouth, and the skin on his chin tightened.
- I work strictly confidentially.
“You know, I suppose I need to tell you something right away. I do not believe in numerology and do not expect to believe it after my visit to you, - said Zhebatinski.
- In that case, what are you doing here?
- My wife thinks that you have something there, I don’t know what exactly … I promised her - so I came. - He shrugged, and the feeling of idiocy of everything that was happening became almost unbearable.
- What do you want? Money? Security? Longer life?
Zhebatinski sat for a long time in silence, while the numerologist looked at him calmly, without signs of impatience, not trying to nudge the client, to make him speak as soon as possible.
“I wonder,” thought Zhebatinski, “and what am I going to tell him? What am I thirty-four years old and no prospects, no future?"
“I dream of success,” he finally answered. - I need recognition.
- Best job?
- Another job. Another type of work. Now I am a member of the team and I am supervised. Team!.. Government-sponsored research work is always done by teams. You become a violinist, lost in a huge symphony orchestra.
- Do you dream of soloing?
- I no longer want to be a member of the team, I want to become myself. - Zhebatinski suddenly overwhelmed with incredible excitement, he even felt a little dizzy - after all, for the first time in his life, he was telling about his innermost thoughts not to his wife, but to another, completely stranger. He continued: “Twenty-five years ago, with my education and ability, I would have gotten a job at one of the first factories to use nuclear energy. Today I would run such a plant or head a research group at a university. And what awaits me in twenty-five years? Nothing. I will still be a member of the team - which is about two percent beneficial.I'm drowning in an unnamed crowd of nuclear physicists! I just need to get out on dry land, if you know what I'm talking about.
The numerologist nodded.
“I hope you are aware, Dr. Zhebatinski, that I am not a guarantee of success.
Despite the fact that Zhebatinski did not believe in his wife's idea, he was seized with disappointment.
- Do you guarantee success? What the hell do you guarantee then?
- Other possibilities. My method is based on statistics. You are dealing with atoms, therefore, it seems to me, you must understand the laws of statistics.
- Do you think so? the physicist asked venomously.
“To tell the truth, that's exactly what I think. I am a mathematician and I deal with mathematics. And I tell you this not at all because I intend to increase the payment for my services. It is standard. Fifty dollars. However, as a scientist, you can understand what I do better than my other clients. To be honest, I'm even glad that I can explain everything to you.
“To be honest, I would not like this,” said Zhebatinski. - The numerical meaning of letters, their mystical meaning and the like do not interest me. Let's get down to business …
- So, I have to help you, but not burden your consciousness with all sorts of unscientific nonsense and tell you how my system works, so what?
- That's it. You understand everything correctly.
- And you think that I am a numerologist … However, I am not. I just don't want to be bothered by the police and,”the little man laughed dryly,“the psychiatrists. I am a mathematician and nothing else.
“I work with computers,” the numerologist continued. - And I'm exploring options for the future.
- Do you think this is even worse than numerology? Why? If you have enough information and a computer capable of performing a certain number of operations in a certain time, you can predict the future - at least from the point of view of the theory of probability. When you enter data on the movement of a missile into a computer to launch an anti-missile, are you not predicting the future? The interceptor missile will not hit the target if your prediction is wrong. I am doing the same. Because I deal with a lot of variables, my research results are less accurate.
- In other words, are you going to predict my future?
- Very approximately. By doing this, I will modify the data, changing only your name and nothing else. After that I will launch the new information into the operating system. Then I will try to do the same with other names. I will study all the options for the future obtained and try to find the one in which you have the opportunity to become famous. No, no, wait, I'll try to explain it differently. I will look for a future where your ability to be recognized is greater than it is in the present.
- Why change your name?
- For several reasons. First, it's a very simple change. After all, if I make any major modifications, or there are too many of them, I will have to deal with so many variables that I will not be able to interpret the result. My computer is not very powerful. Secondly, this is a perfectly reasonable approach to solving the problem. After all, I am not able to change your height, eye color or temperament, right? Thirdly, changing the name is quite a serious thing. Names play an extremely important role in people's lives. And finally, fourthly, in our time, many are taking on new names.
“What if you don’t manage to find a better future for me?” asked Zhebatinski.
“You won’t get any worse, my friend.
“I don’t believe a single word you say. Rather, I am ready to be imbued with respect for numerology. - Zhebatinski looked doubtfully at the little man.
“It seemed to me,” the numerologist said with a sigh, “that the physicist would feel calmer if he found out the truth. I really want to help, and you still have a lot to do. If you considered me a numerologist, we would have failed.I had no doubt that, having learned the truth, you would allow me to help you.
“If you can see the future…” Zhebatinski began.
- Why am I then not the richest man in the world? Are you interested in this? You know, I am very rich - I have everything I need. You need recognition, and I love loneliness. I'm doing my job. Nobody touches me. And that makes me feel like a billionaire. I don't need much money, and I get it from people like you. Helping others is nice - a psychiatrist would probably say that my work gives me a sense of power over people and flatters my pride. So, do you want me to help you?
- How much did you say it will cost?
- Fifty dollars. I will need your detailed biographical information; I have prepared a list of questions to make your task easier. It's long enough, but there's nothing you can do about it. However, if you can mail the replies by the end of this week, we will get the result by…”The numerologist put his lower lip forward and frowned as he verbally calculated,“by the twentieth of next month.
- Five weeks? So long?
“I have another job, my friend, you are not the only client. If I were a fraud, I would have done everything much faster. Well, okay?
Zhebatinski stood up.
- Well, we agreed … Strictly between us.
- Do not doubt. You will receive all your profiles back when I let you know what changes need to be made. And yet - I give my word of honor that I will not use the information received in my own interests.
The physicist stopped at the door.
- Aren't you afraid that I will expose you?
- And who will believe you, my friend? the numerologist answered, shaking his head. - Even if you imagine for a moment that you will tell someone about your visit to me.
On the twentieth, Marshall Zhebatinski stood at the shabby door, glancing sideways at a small sign that read: Numerology; the letters were barely visible through the thick layer of dust. Zhebatinski cautiously peered inside, secretly hoping that there would be some visitor and then it would be possible to go home with a clear conscience.
He tried several times to get rid of the thought of his first visit here. Several times he took up the questionnaire and put it aside. For some reason, this occupation annoyed him. He felt kind of stupid, rewriting the names of friends, answering questions about how much the house cost and whether his wife had miscarriages, and if so, when. Yes, Marshall Zhebatinski put the questionnaire aside several times.
But he also could not forget about her completely and irrevocably. And he returned to her stupid questions every night.
Perhaps it was a computer, that the impudent little man claimed to have a computer. Zhebatinski could not resist the temptation to take a chance and see what would come of it all.
In the end, he sent information about himself by mail, deciding, without weighing the envelope, to stick nine cents stamps on it. "If the letter comes back," he decided, "I will not do anything else."
The letter did not return.
And now Zhebatinski stood and looked into the shop - it was empty. There was no choice but to enter. The bell rang.
A numerologist appeared from behind a curtain covering an inner door.
- Yes? Oh, it's you, Dr. Zhebatinski.
- You remember me? - Zhebatinski tried to smile.
- Well, what is the verdict?
The old man rubbed his hands with jagged knobby fingers.
- Before … sir, one little business …
- You mean the fee?
“I did the job, sir. And he made money.
Zhebatinski did not object. He was willing to pay. If he has come this far, there is no point in turning back for money.
He took out five ten-dollar bills and put them on the counter.
The numerologist carefully counted the money and then stuffed it into the cash drawer on the counter.
“Your case turned out to be incredibly interesting,” he said. - I advise you to change your name to Sebatinski.
- Seba … How is it spelled?
Zhebatinski was genuinely outraged.
- What, change the first letter? Change "F" to "S"? Is that all?
- Yes. If such a small change is enough, that's great, because making small changes is always safer.
- Listen, how can such a change affect anything?
- And how does the name affect the fate of a person? the numerologist asked quietly. - I do not know. And nevertheless it is quite possible, I have nothing more to tell you. I warned you that I do not give any guarantees, have you forgotten? Naturally, if you do not want to change the name, leave it as it is. But in this case, I will not return your money to you.
- So what should I do? - asked Zhebatinski. - Tell everyone that now my name is spelled with the letter "C"?
- I would advise you to contact a lawyer. Change your name legally. A lawyer will advise on how to do this.
- And how long will it take? I mean … well, before my life is different?
- How should I know? Maybe this will never happen. Maybe everything will change tomorrow.
“But you saw the future. You claim to have seen it.
- Well, not at all as you think - as if your future appeared before me in a shimmering crystal ball. No, no, Dr. Zhebatinski. My computer produced a series of encoded digits. I can tell you about the possible options, but I have not seen any colorful pictures.
Zhebatinski turned and quickly left the shop. Fifty dollars to change one letter in the last name! Fifty dollars for the Sebatinski! Lord, what a name! Even worse than Zhebatinski.
Another month passed before Zhebatinski decided to go to his lawyer. He convinced himself that he could always change his name again, get his old one back.
He had to try, he told himself.
Damn it, it's not illegal.
Henry Brand went through the folder page by page, he was a professional and devoted fourteen years of his life to the Security Service. He didn't have to pay attention to every word. Any discrepancy, any oddity, would have caught his attention.
“This guy seems completely clean to me,” he said.
Henry Brand was also absolutely clean, a large, pretty belly, a pink, carefully shaved face, as if it had just been washed. Precisely the fact that he has to deal with all sorts of unseemly acts, ranging from simple thoughtlessness and ending with possible betrayal, forces him to wash more often than is customary.
Lieutenant Albert Quincy, who brought him the file, was young and full of responsibility - he was proud to be a member of the Security Service.
- But why Sebatinski? - he insistently demanded an answer.
- Why not?
- Because this is some kind of nonsense. Zhebatinski is a foreign name, I would change it myself, but to something Anglo-Saxon. If Zhebatinski did this, it would be understandable, I would not even pay attention to him. But why change "F" to "C"? I think we need to find out.
- Did anyone ask him himself?
- Certainly. Naturally, in private conversation. I followed this. He only said that he was terribly tired of wearing a surname that begins with the last letter of the alphabet [Z (Zebatinsky) - the last letter of the English alphabet].
“Why not, Lieutenant?
“It’s possible, but he could have changed his name to Sands or Smith if he really wanted his last name to start with“S”. And in general, if the guy is so tired of the letter "Ж", why not change the name at all and take the letter "A"? For example … well … Aarons?
“I’d say it’s not a very Anglo-Saxon name,” Brand grumbled, then added, “But we don’t have anything for him. It is unlikely that we can indict him only on the grounds that he wants to change his last name, no matter how strange his behavior may seem to us.
Lieutenant Quincy looked terribly unhappy.
“Come on, lay it out, Lieutenant,” Brand said, “I have a feeling that something specific is bothering you.Any ideas? Do you have a theory about Zhebatinski? Admit it, what's the matter?
The lieutenant frowned, light eyebrows came together at the bridge of his nose, his lips turned into a thin thread.
“Well… damn it, sir, he's Russian.
“Not at all,” Brand said. - He is a third generation American.
- I wanted to say that he has a Russian name.
A deceivingly soft expression left Brenda's face.
“Another mistake, Lieutenant. This is a Polish name.
The lieutenant threw up his hands angrily, palms up.
- What's the difference!
Brenda's mother's maiden name was Vishevskaya, so he raised his voice:
“Never say this to a Pole, Lieutenant,” and after thinking a little, he added: “Or a Russian.
“I only meant, sir,” the lieutenant blushed, “that the Poles and the Russians are on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
- Who does not know this?
- And Zhebatinski or Sebatinski, it doesn't matter what we call him, there may be relatives there.
- For three generations Zhebatinski have been living in our country. He, of course, may have some second cousins there. So what of that?
“By itself, it doesn't mean anything. Many have distant relatives there. Only now ebatinski decided to change his name.
- Maybe he wants to divert attention. Maybe some second cousin of Zhebatinski has become too famous there, and ours is afraid that this will interfere with him here, deprive him of the opportunity to advance in the service, or something like that.
- Changing the name won't help here. They will still remain relatives.
“Of course, but he probably thinks it won't be so striking.
- Have you heard anything about some Zhebatinski on the other side?
- No, sir.
- In that case, he is hardly very famous. And how can our Zhebatinski know about him?
- Why doesn't he keep in touch with his relatives? This, of course, would look very suspicious - he is a nuclear physicist.
The brand went over the folder again and methodically.
“I think this is far-fetched, Lieutenant. Very unlikely.
- Do you have any other explanation, sir, why he decided to change his name in this way?
- Not. I agree, I cannot explain this in any way.
“In that case, sir, I think we ought to do a little digging in this case. Let's look for a person named Zhebatinski there, with them, and see if we can somehow connect him with ours. - The lieutenant got a new idea, and he spoke a little louder: - Perhaps the guy decided to change the name to distract our attention from them. Well, to protect them.
- It seems to me that he achieved exactly the opposite result.
- Maybe he does not understand this, and yet such a motive cannot be discounted.
- Okay, - Brand sighed, - let's take care of these Zhebatinski. But if we can't find anything definite, we'll close the case, Lieutenant. Leave me the folder.
When the information finally got to Brend, he managed to forget about the lieutenant and his theories. Having received a list of Polish and Russian citizens bearing the surname Zhebatinski, and their detailed biographies, the first thing he thought was: "What the hell is this?"
Then he remembered, swore to himself and began to read.
It all started with American Zhebatinski: Marshall Zhebatinski (fingerprints are attached) was born in Buffalo, New York (date of birth, extract from hospital card). His father was also born in Buffalo, his mother in Osungo, New York. His father's parents were born in Bialystok, Poland (date of entry into the United States, date of citizenship, photographs).
Seventeen Russian and Polish citizens named Zhebatinski were all descendants of people who lived near Bialystok about half a century ago. It can be assumed that they are all relatives, but in no case has this been proven for certain. (Statistics in Eastern Europe after World War I were collected and stored in bad faith, if any.)
The brand reviewed the life stories of contemporary Zhebatinski, men and women (it's amazing how thoroughly the work was done, probably the Russian security service works the same way). Brenda was interested in one biography - his eyebrows immediately went up, he frowned. He put the folder aside and continued studying the rest. In the end he put all the folders in a pile, all except the one that interested him, and, pensively looking into the distance, he tapped for a long time with a neat, well-groomed nail on his table. Then he reluctantly went to call Dr. Paul Kristov of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Dr. Kristov listened to him with a stony expression on his face. Only from time to time he touched the nose resembling a huge potato with his little finger, as if he wanted to brush away a tiny speck of dust. He had steel-gray hair, cut short and very few in number.
- No, I have not heard anything about Russian Zhebatinski. However, I haven’t heard anything about American either,”he admitted.
“Well,” Brand scratched his temple, “I personally don’t think there’s anything in this, but I don’t want to put off the investigation. A young lieutenant is pressing me - you know they can be very persistent. It is not my plan at all to report to the congressional committee. In addition, one of the Russians in Zhebatinski, Mikhail Andreevich, is a nuclear physicist. Are you sure you've never heard of him?
- Mikhail Andreevich Zhebatinski? No … no, never.
- One could consider all this a simple coincidence, but it looks somehow strange. One Zhebatinski here and another Zhebatinski there, both nuclear physicists, and ours suddenly decides to change his surname to Sebatinski, and behaves extremely persistently. Never agree to another spelling. Requires: "Write my name with" C "". This is quite enough for a certain suspicious lieutenant who sees spies everywhere to be right for a minute … And here's another strange thing: Russian Zhebatinski, about a year ago, suddenly disappeared somewhere.
- He was executed! - said Dr. Kristov confidently.
- May be. Under normal circumstances, I would think so, although the Russians are no more stupid than we are and do not kill nuclear physicists in situations where they can save their lives. There is another reason why a physicist can suddenly disappear from view. Hopefully there is no need to explain to you what the reason is.
- Research, top secret. Is that what you mean?
- If we consider everything in the aggregate, add here the lieutenant's intuition … You know, I had certain doubts.
- Well, give me this biography! Dr. Kristov reached for a piece of paper and read it carefully twice. He shook his head, and then said, "We need to check in the Articles on Nuclear Research."
"Articles on Nuclear Research" occupied an entire wall in Dr. Kristov's office, where the microfilms lay in neat little drawers.
A spokesman for the Atomic Research Committee took up the projector, and Brand called for whatever patience he had at his disposal.
- A certain Mikhail Zhebatinski was the author and co-author of a dozen articles published in Soviet journals over the past six years. Now let's find these articles and see what can be learned from them. This is hardly anything serious.
The selector has selected the required microfilms. Dr. Kristov folded them up, then threw them into the projector, and suddenly surprise appeared on his face:
- How strange …
- What's strange? Brand asked.
Dr. Kristov leaned back in his chair.
- It is too early to say anything, but could you get me a list of the names of other nuclear physicists who have disappeared from sight in the Soviet Union over the past year?
- In other words, did you manage to find something?
- Not really. At least these articles themselves do not tell me anything. Only if we consider them from the point of view of secret research and take into account the suspicions that you have instilled in me with your questions … - He shrugged his shoulders. - So far, nothing concrete.
- Can you tell me what's on your mind? - Brand said seriously. - I can keep you company - together we will feel like idiots.
“Well, if you feel like it… There is a possibility that this person is interested in gamma radiation.
- If it is possible to create a screen against gamma rays, it will be possible to build individual shelters that will protect against radioactive fallout. You should know that the main danger is precisely radioactive fallout. A hydrogen bomb can destroy a city, but precipitation can end the population over vast territories.
- Are we doing such research? Brand asked quickly.
- And if they get such a screen, and we do not, they will be able to destroy the United States, losing, say, only ten cities?
- Well, this is a matter of the distant future … Besides, what are our suspicions based on? On the fact that some person decided to change one letter in his surname.
“Okay, let's say I'm nuts,” Brand agreed. “But I'm not going to close this case at this stage. Not at this stage. I will get you a list of the disappeared physicists, even if I have to fly to Moscow for him.
The brand pulled out a list. He and Dr. Kristov carefully reviewed the work of these physicists. All the members of the Commission were gathered, and then the best nuclear physicists of the country. Dr. Kristov left the night meeting, which was attended by the President himself.
Brand was waiting for him. Both looked exhausted, and they had clearly not had enough sleep lately.
- Well? Brand asked.
“Most agree with us,” nodded Kristov. - Some people still doubt, but most agree.
- And you? Are you sure?
“I’m not sure of anything, but I’ll tell you this: it’s much easier to believe that the Russians are working on shielding against gamma rays than it is that all the data we’ve found is unrelated.
- Have you decided that we should do the same research?
- Yes. Kristov tried to smooth down his short, stubble hair. - We are going to pay the most serious attention to this problem. By studying the work of those physicists who have disappeared from the horizon, we can quickly catch up with the Russians. Maybe we can even get around them … They, naturally, will learn about what we are doing.
“That's great,” Brand said. - Let them find out. Then they won't attack us. I don’t think it would be right to give them ten of our cities in order to get ten of them in return; if they know we have invented the shield, great.
“Not too early. We do not want them to find out about everything too early. What about American ebatinski-Sebatnski?
The brand shook his head.
- He has nothing to do with all this, we have not found anything - yet. Oh Lord, we were looking, here you can be sure! Naturally, I agree with you. Now he is in a very unsuitable place, and we cannot afford to have him stay there, even if he is completely clean.
- But we also cannot throw him out of work just like that, without a reason, because then the Russians will have suspicions.
- Do you have any ideas?
They walked along an empty, long corridor towards the elevator, it was four in the morning.
“I was interested in his activities,” said Dr. Kristov. Zhebatinski is a good worker, better than many, but he is dissatisfied with his position. It is not designed to work as a team.
- So what?
- This person is more suitable for an academic career. If we can arrange for some big university to offer him to teach physics, he will gladly agree. There he will be busy with an interesting business, and we will get him out of the "inappropriate" place. Besides, we will be able to look after him, and in general, it will be a real promotion. And the Russians will not suspect anything. How is it?
“Great idea,” Brand agreed. - Sounds great. I'll report it to the boss.
They entered the elevator, and only then did Brand think about what a funny turn of events the man's desire to change one letter in his last name led to.
Marshall Sebatinski was so agitated that he could hardly speak.
“I swear I have no idea how it all happened,” he told his wife. - I was sure that I was not noticed … Oh my God, Sophie, associate professor, physics teacher at Princeton. Just think!
- Could it be thanks to your speech at the meeting of the American Physicists Association? Sophie suggested.
- I doubt. The report became so dreary after being criticized by everyone in our group. He snapped his fingers. “It must have been Princeton who tested me. That's it. You know, over the past six months I had to fill out a whole sea of questionnaires, and various interviews, the purpose of which I was not told about. Honestly, I already decided that I fell under suspicion and I was about to be accused of espionage … but in fact, Princeton is interested in me! I must say, they do their job very carefully.
“Maybe it's your name,” Sophie said. - I mean you changed your last name.
- Well, now you will see. Finally, my professional life will only belong to me. I'll turn around! As soon as I have the opportunity to work without … - He suddenly fell silent and turned to his wife: - Name! Did you mean "S"?
“You got this offer after you changed your last name, didn't you?
- Well, to tell the truth, not right away. No, it's probably just a coincidence. I told you before that I threw fifty dollars to the wind just to please you. God, what an idiot I felt lately, insisting that my last name now be written with this stupid letter "C".
Sophie immediately rushed into the attack.
“I didn't force you, Marshall. I just offered, and that's it, I didn't insist on anything. And you don't have to say that it's all because of me. In addition, it turned out to be the best possible way. I have no doubt that it is your name.
“In my opinion, these are prejudices,” Sebatinski smiled condescendingly.
“I don’t care what you call it, you’re not going to change your last name back, are you?”
- Well, no, why? With such difficulty I managed to teach everyone to write it with the letter "C" that I am even afraid to think about the fact that I will have to return everything back and, therefore, undergo new suffering. Maybe you should have taken the last name Jones, eh? He laughed hysterically.
But Sophie was completely serious.
- And forget to think.
- Come on, okay, I was joking. You know, I'll go to that old man one of these days, tell him that everything worked out, and give him ten more. Well, are you satisfied?
Sebatinski was so happy that the next week he set out to fulfill his promise. This time he did not dress so that no one would recognize him. He wore glasses, his usual suit and no hat.
Approaching the shop, he even hummed something quietly under his breath, and when he saw a woman with an exhausted, melancholy face pushing a carriage with twins in front of her, he gallantly stepped aside and made way for her.
He put his palm on the door handle, but for some reason she did not give in. The door was locked. The dusty, faded sign with the inscription "Numerologist" had disappeared, Sebatinski noticed it only now, when he began to examine the door, on which now was another inscription on a piece of paper, already slightly yellowed in the sun and frayed by the wind: "For surrender."
Sebatinski shrugged. Well, he tried.
- Oh, come on. Here it is all here, in front of you. Look, I did this especially for you.
“I give up,” Mestak said reluctantly. - Class R incentive.
- So I won. Come on, admit it!
“As soon as the Observer knows about this, we both will be in trouble.
Haraund, who portrayed an old numerologist on Earth and was not yet very relieved that he had ceased to be one, said:
“When you made a bet with me, it didn't bother you very much.
“Well, I was sure you weren't stupid enough to do this sort of thing.
- Fu, stop wasting energy! Besides, why bother? The observer in life will not notice the R-class stimulus.
- Maybe he won't notice, but he will definitely pay attention to the effect of class A. These bodily ones will be here even after a dozen microcycles. The observer will definitely pay attention to them.
“The problem is, Mestak, you don’t want to pay. So you come up with all sorts of reasons.
- Yes, I'll pay you! You’ll see what will happen when the Observer finds out that you and I have tackled a problem that no one instructed us to solve, and even made an unauthorized change. Of course, if we…”He trailed off.
“Okay,” Haraound said, “let's get it back. He won't know anything.
The energy cloud of Mestak shone brighter, a rogue shine appeared in it.
“You’ll need another P-class stimulus if you want him not to notice.”