The Seventh Order, p.1Jerry Sohl
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THE 7TH ORDER
By JERRY SOHL
Illustrated by EMSH
[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science FictionMarch 1952. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that theU.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
[Sidenote: History is filled with invincible conquerors. This one fromspace was genuinely omnipotent, but that never keeps humanity fromresisting!]
The silver needle moved with fantastic speed, slowed when it neared theair shell around Earth, then glided noiselessly through the atmosphere.It gently settled to the ground near a wood and remained silent andstill for a long time, a lifeless, cylindrical, streamlined silverobject eight feet long and three feet in diameter.
Eventually the cap end opened and a creature of bright blue metal slidfrom its interior and stood upright. The figure was that of a man,except that it was not human. He stood in the pasture next to the wood,looking around. Once the sound of a bird made him turn his shiny bluehead toward the wood. His eyes began glowing.
An identical sound came from his mouth, an unchangeable orifice in hisface below his nose. He tuned in the thoughts of the bird, but his mindencountered little except an awareness of a life of low order.
The humanoid bent to the ship, withdrew a small metal box, carried it toa catalpa tree at the edge of the wood and, after an adjustment ofseveral levers and knobs, dug a hole and buried it. He contemplated itfor a moment, then turned and walked toward a road.
He was halfway to the road when his ship burst into a dazzling whitelight. When it was over, all that was left was a white powder that wasalready beginning to be dispersed by a slight breeze.
The humanoid did not bother to look back.
* * * * *
Brentwood would have been just like any other average community of10,000 in northern Illinois had it not been for Presser College, whichwas one of the country's finest small institutions of learning.
Since it was a college town, it was perhaps a little more alive in manyrespects than other towns in the state. Its residents were used to theunusual because college students have a habit of being unpredictable.That was why the appearance of a metal blue man on the streets attractedthe curious eyes of passersbys, but, hardened by years of pranks,hazings and being subjected to every variety of inquiry, poll, test andpractical joke, none of them moved to investigate. Most of them thoughtit was a freshman enduring some new initiation.
The blue humanoid realized this and was amused. A policeman whoapproached him to take him to jail as a matter of routine suddenly foundhimself ill and abruptly hurried to the station. The robot allowedchildren to follow him, though all eventually grew discouraged becauseof his long strides.
Prof. Ansel Tomlin was reading a colleague's new treatise on psychologyon his front porch when he saw the humanoid come down the street andturn in at his walk. He was surprised, but he was not alarmed. When theblue man came up on the porch and sat down in another porch chair,Tomlin closed his book.
Prof. Tomlin found himself unexpectedly shocked. The blue figure wasobviously not human, yet its eyes were nearly so and they came as closeto frightening him as anything had during his thirty-five years of life,for Ansel Tomlin had never seen an actual robot before. The thought thathe was looking at one at that moment started an alarm bell ringinginside him, and it kept ringing louder and louder as he realized thatwhat he was seeing was impossible.
Prof. Tomlin jumped at the sound of the voice. It was not at allmechanical.
"I'll be damned!" he gasped. Somewhere in the house a telephone rang.His wife would answer it, he thought.
"Yes, you're right," the robot said. "Your wife will answer it. She iswalking toward the phone at this moment."
"Professor Tomlin, my name--and I see I must have a name--is, let ussay, George. I have examined most of the minds in this community in mywalk through it and I find you, a professor of psychology, most nearlywhat I am looking for.
"I am from Zanthar, a world that is quite a distance from Earth, morethan you could possibly imagine. I am here to learn all I can aboutEarth."
Prof. Tomlin had recovered his senses enough to venture a token replywhen his wife opened the screen door.
"Ansel," she said, "Mrs. Phillips next door just called and said thestrangest--Oh!" At that moment she saw George. She stood transfixed fora moment, then let the door slam as she retreated inside.
"Who is Frankenstein?" George asked.
Prof. Tomlin coughed, embarrassed.
"Never mind," George said. "I see what you were going to say. Well, toget back, I learn most quickly through proximity. I will live here withyou until my mission is complete. I will spend all of your waking hourswith you. At night, when you are asleep, I will go through your library.I need nothing. I want nothing.
"I seek only to learn."
"You seem to have learned a lot already," Prof. Tomlin said.
"I have been on your planet for a few hours, so naturally I understandmany things. The nature of the facts I have learned are mostlysuperficial, however. Earth inhabitants capable of thought are of onlyone type, I see, for which I am grateful. It will make the job easier.Unfortunately, you have such small conscious minds, compared to yourunconscious and subconscious.
"My mind, in contrast, is completely conscious at all times. I also havetotal recall. In order to assimilate what must be in your unconsciousand subconscious minds, I will have to do much reading and talking withthe inhabitants, since these cerebral areas are not penetrable."
"You are a--a machine?" Prof. Tomlin asked.
George was about to answer when Brentwood Police Department Car No. 3stopped in front of the house and two policemen came up the walk.
"Professor Tomlin," the first officer said, "your wife phoned and saidthere was--" He saw the robot and stopped.
Prof. Tomlin got to his feet.
"This is George, gentlemen," he said. "Late of Zanthar, he tells me."
The officers stared.
"He's not giving you any--er--trouble, is he, Professor?"
"No," Prof. Tomlin said. "We've been having a discussion."
The officers eyed the humanoid with suspicion, and then, with obviousreluctance, went back to their car.
* * * * *
"Yes, I am a machine," George resumed. "The finest, most complicatedmachine ever made. I have a rather unique history, too. Ages ago, humanson Zanthar made the first robots. Crude affairs--we class them as FirstOrder robots; the simple things are still used to some extent for menialtasks.
"Improvements were made. Robots were designed for many specializedtasks, but still these Second and Third Order machines did not satisfy.Finally a Fourth Order humanoid was evolved that performed everyfunction demanded of it with great perfection. But it did not feelemotion. It did not know anger, love, nor was it able to handle anyproblem in which these played an important part.
"Built into the first Fourth Order robots were circuits which prohibitedharming a human being--a rather ridiculous thing in view of the factthat sometimes such a thing might, from a logical viewpoint, benecessary for the preservation of the race or even an individual. Itwas, roughly, a shunt which came into use when logic demanded actionthat might be harmful to a human being."
"You are a Fourth Order robot, then?" the professor asked.
"No, I am a Seventh Order humanoid, an enormous improvement over all theothers, since I have what amounts to an endocrine balance createdelectronically.
"You will become aware of the fact that I am superior to you and therest of your race because I do not need oxygen, I never am ill, I needno sleep, and every experience is indelibly recorded on circuits andinstantly available. I am telekinetic, practically omniscient andcontrol my environment to a large extent. I have a great many moresenses than you and all are more highly developed. My kind performs nowork, but is given to study and the wise use of full-time leisure. You,for example, are comparable to a Fifth Order robot."
"Are there still humans on Zanthar?"
The robot shook his head. "Unfortunately the race died out through theyears. The planet is very similar to yours, though."
"But why did they die out?"
The robot gave a
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