The alarm clock went off. Al groped for the clock and switched it off. As he became fully awake, he was astonished to discover that a momentous change had taken place within his body as he slept. He did not know how or why, but he was certain that his body had cleansed itself of all impurities. He knew that he was no longer plagued with HIV, or with hemophilia, the condition that had led to HIV. He did not know how he knew this; he just knew it.
He rose and sat on the edge of the bed, and as he sat there a more rational part of his mind began to take over. Though the certainty that he was healed of all his ailments would not leave him, he began to feel bewildered, even fearful of what was happening to him.
The rational part of his mind refused to accept that his body had miraculously healed itself. And yet, he was unable to shake the certainty that he was healed. Was he losing his mind?
He went about his morning routine with mixed feelings. He was in a state of euphoria over the certainty in his mind that his body had somehow healed itself. But at the same time, he was fearful that he might be suffering from some kind of mental disorder.
He finished breakfast, and as he sipped his coffee, he stared out the window at the placid waters of Lake Lorene. On the lakeshore, only a hundred yards distant, he saw his bait and boat rental shop.
He was jolted back to the reality that he still had to run his business. The tourist season was coming to an end in Central Florida, but business would be brisk for a few more days.
Savoring the fresh morning air, he felt exhilarated as he walked to the shop. He made a mental note that he would call Dr. Bergman for an appointment. He must find out if he had indeed experienced some miraculous cure during the night, or if the whole thing was all in his mind.
Dr. Bergman studied Al’s medical record as he talked. “What you’re telling me, Al, is highly improbable, if not downright impossible. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I would guess that your feelings could simply be a result of wishful thinking. Perhaps during the night you dreamed of being miraculously healed. Dreams can sometimes seem very real”
“But I didn’t dream that night,” Al protested.
Dr. Bergman nodded. “We seldom remember our dreams, but anyway I was only speculating. As to your fear of losing your mind, I truly doubt that. You’ve been my patient for a long time, and I see nothing different or strange about your behavior. But if this continues to bother you, I can refer you to a psychiatrist.”
“Before I’m sent to a psychiatrist,” said Al, “I would like a complete physical examination. If the results show that I am not healed, I will gladly have my head examined.”
“It’s nearing time for your physical, anyway,” said Dr. Bergman. “We can go ahead and set it up.”
Several weeks passed. Al was cleaning up and getting ready to close shop when the phone rang.
“Lakeside Bait and Tackle. Can I help you?”
“May I speak to Mr. Al Rice please?”
“Yes, Ma’am. Speaking.”
“Mr. Rice, my name is Sue Hammond. I’m a UFO investigator, and I represent CAPS, The Council for Aerial Phenomena Studies. We’re in Albuquerque. I read about you in the news, and I would like very much to discuss your experience with you. I may have an explanation about your healing experience.”
The many tests and examinations that he had endured confirmed that he was no longer hemophilic, nor was he HIV positive. Dr. Bergman was completely baffled, and was never able to explain how Al’s healing had come about.
Al was curious about what explanations the UFO people might have. Actually, he was more than a little curious. For reasons that he did not understand, he felt a strange compulsion to learn how his experience might be connected with UFOs.
“Please call me Sue.”
“Okay, and I’m Al. I’d like to hear what you have to say.”
“Great. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Will you agree to a meeting if I come down to Florida next Monday?”
“That’ll be fine with me. I’ll be looking for you.” He gave her the directions to the nearby Lake Lorene Motel, then to his cottage, and they ended the conversation.
After hanging up, he called Pete, his part time helper, and arranged for Pete to run the shop that Monday.
Sue arrived in a rental car at 10:00 AM. She was a petite brunette, about thirty, Al guessed. She was dressed casually in a plaid shirt and jeans. She was business-like, but with a friendly, easygoing manner.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said. “My flight didn’t arrive until after nine.”
He invited her in, and after a brief introduction, he poured a couple of cups of fresh coffee. “So you’re a UFO investigator. I can’t see the connection with my experience, but I’m curious to hear what you have to say.”
She smiled. “I hope you’ll see a connection before we’re finished. Al, I’ve investigated a lot of cases. Most turned out to be either hoaxes or mistaken identities. Some were never explained. But I know for a fact that a few were genuine.”
“I’m curious,” said Al. “I don’t see how an organization like CAPS could make a profit, and you certainly must have expenses. How do you stay in business?”
“You’ve heard of Tom Vickers, the Texas billionaire? He secretly funds CAPS. We’re a small outfit anyway, only four of us.”
Al nodded. “Yes, Vickers has a reputation for being interested in the off beat.”
Sue laughed. “A lot of people think we’re off beat.”
She continued. “When I heard about your experience, I felt that this was very likely the result of a UFO encounter. I know of a few healing experiences resulting from UFO encounters, but nothing quite so dramatic as yours. Incidentally, have you noticed any psychic experiences lately?”
“NO, I haven’t. Why?”
“Some people develop varying degrees of psychic abilities after a UFO encounter. Some UFOlogists theorize that the beings in UFOs are psychic, and that close encounters trigger psychic abilities in certain sensitive people.”
“I’ve never even seen a UFO, much less had an encounter.”
“Did you know that a glowing UFO was reported near Lake Lorene by several people the same night you were healed?”
“Yes,” said Al, “I seem to recall something in the news about it, but I never gave it a thought.”
“Have you ever been under hypnosis, AL?”
He chuckled. “Once, years ago. A cousin made me do some pretty comical things at a party.”
“Will you agree to questioning under hypnosis now?”
“Sure. I don’t see any harm in it.”
She had him lie on a couch and relax. She sat in a chair next to the couch and began talking to him in a soothing voice. Her voice became more and more distant, and then began to fade out. “AL, I want you to go back to the morning that you first noticed your healing. Now continue to go back...back to the night before...”
...It was 11:30 PM. He turned off the TV and went into the kitchen for a glass of milk before retiring. He then went to bed and was just drifting off to sleep when he heard a whining noise. At the same time, something akin to a hypnotic state gripped his mind, and he felt compelled to go outside.
He got up, went outside, and looked up to see a large, glowing cigar-shaped object about three hundred feet overhead. At first he was terrified and wanted to run, but the hypnotic state that gripped him prevented him from moving. Suddenly he felt calm and unafraid.
As he stared up at the object, he saw a hatch slide open in the bottom of the craft. Two figures emerged and floated down toward him. Still unafraid, he stood there as the two beings flanked him. He felt a tingling sensation as he, along with the two beings, was pulled up by some unseen force toward the hovering craft.
Once aboard the craft, Al got a good look at the two beings. They were very tall, about seven feet, and their skin was brown. Their eyes were slits, and there was no visible nose or mouth. They wore yellow uniforms.
He was escorted to a room and placed into a transparent tube. A greenish mist filled the tube, and a feeling of relaxation and warmth flooded his body. He could see the beings monitoring gauges, and from time to time they adjusted controls outside the tube. He was alternately conscious and unconscious throughout the proceedings.
After a time, the two beings removed him from the tube and returned him to his cottage.
He was hearing Sue’s voice again. “...and you will have a complete recollection of everything you have told me.” He snapped out of the hypnotic trance.
“I remember everything now,” he said, “as clear as a bell.” He looked at Sue and shook his head. “I can’t believe this is happening to me. This whole thing is impossible. After my medical exam, I accepted that my body had somehow healed itself. But being abducted and healed by space aliens? That’s just too much.”
Sue nodded. “You’d might as well learn to accept that, too,” she said. “There’s no denying it happened, Al.”
Al sighed. “Guess you’re right. But it just doesn’t seem real.” He went on, “I remember the aliens erasing the whole incident from my mind. They then planted a post hypnotic suggestion that I would know that I was healed, and that my body had, in some mysterious way, healed itself.”
He sat up. “What is it that you find so out of the ordinary about this case, Sue?”
Sue raised her eyebrows. “Al, I didn’t say anything about finding this case out of the ordinary. But that thought was in my mind. How did you know that?”
“I don’t know. It just came to me. I thought that you said it aloud.”
“Maybe the experience did awaken some psychic power in you. Maybe my hypnosis triggered it. Are you always aware of what I'm thinking?"
"Not all the time. It seems to come and go."
"Anyway, the strange aspect of this case is not so much the description of your abduction, but the description of your abductors.”
“But why would you think that strange? Didn’t you suspect all along that beings from a UFO were involved?”
“Yes, and I still believe that. But there’s something I should explain to you. Prepare yourself for another shock, Al. As strange as it seems, our organization has made contact with UFO visitors. They are from a planet called Istana, and they call themselves Rylls.
“From the Rylls, we have learned of other visitors, called Dorions. The Dorions are from the same planet, Istana, and both the Rylls and the Dorions are of the same race. They have been at war with each other for years.”
She looked at him and smiled. “I can understand your feelings of disbelief, because that’s what I felt when I first learned of the Rylls. When I first saw one, I almost fainted."
Al chuckled. “I probably would’ve, too.”
“We at CAPS still marvel that we are actually dealing with beings from a distant world.” Sue continued, “Some time ago the Rylls discovered Earth. As is their policy, they did not interfere with our world. But the Dorions found out about the Ryll discovery. The Dorions also found out that Earth held certain critical minerals that were near depletion on Istana. They started plans to invade Earth to get control of the minerals.
“The Rylls found out about the Dorion’s invasion plans, and sent a force here to defend Earth. As it stands now, the two sides are in a stalemate, each waiting for the other to make a critical mistake.”
Al sipped his coffee. “This is all pretty scary stuff, if what you say is true.”
“It is true, and I'll agree that it is scary--even terrifying.” She went on. “The Rylls and Dorions are small light skinned beings. The Rylls wear silver uniforms, and the Dorions black. The description you gave under hypnosis, of tall beings in yellow uniforms, just didn’t fit. On top of that, neither side has the type of ship you describe. When I first heard of your experience, I thought you might have encountered Dorions. But now I don’t have a clue.”
“And now you’re thinking the Rylls might like to meet with me to see what they make of it.”
“Right again. There’s little doubt that psychic powers have awakened in your mind. Yes, I think they would be eager to meet with you and to hear about this mystery ship. I can arrange the meeting if you have no objection. We have a little device in Albuquerque, courtesy of the Rylls, that we use to communicate with them. I can call CAPS, and they can contact the Rylls to set it up.”
“What about the government? Shouldn‘t the Rylls be dealing with the authorities?”
“The Rylls refuse to deal with any Earth government at this stage. If we don’t respect their wishes, we’ll lose contact with them completely. Will you agree to the meeting?”
“I’m not thrilled about it,” he said. “With all that’s been happening to me, I don’t think I’m ready to meet with more space aliens. Damn, I’m almost a basket case now!”
“Considering the circumstances,” she argued, “looks like you’re holding up pretty well. Al, the Rylls are friendly. You won’t find them intimidating at all. They are here protecting us against the Dorions, and the least we can do is to help them by telling what we know about these mysterious newcomers.”
Al frowned. “Okay, I’ll meet with them, but I hope you’re right. And anyway, I’d really like to know why those aliens chose to single me out for abduction. Maybe the Rylls can figure that out.”
“Thanks, Al. You won’t regret it. I’ll be leaving now,” she said. “I’ll call CAPS and make my report. I’ll call you from the motel as soon as I have a decision from them.”
That night, Al lay awake trying to make sense of all that had happened. But the more he thought about it, the less sense it made. He finally fell asleep, his mind in turmoil.
The next morning, Sue called. “I just received a reply from CAPS. They contacted the Rylls last night and arranged the meeting. The Rylls have already surveyed the Lake Lorene area, and they say they can pick you up at your place of business tonight at 9:00 PM. You’ll have no problem communicating with them. One of the Rylls, named Nor-dinn, has learned our language.”
“Okay,” said Al, “I’ll be waiting for them at the end of the dock.”
It was almost nine when Al walked out onto the dock. Sue had assured him that the Rylls were friendly, but he still felt jittery. Friendly or not, he wasn’t looking forward to another encounter with space aliens.
At exactly nine o’clock, a glowing disk-shaped object appeared in the sky. As he watched, he saw a smaller object descending from the disk. As the object neared, he could see that it was a sphere, about eight feet in diameter. It stopped directly in front of him, hovering inches above the dock.
A door slid open, and a small humanoid stepped out. It was about four feet tall with a thin body and a large head. It had large eyes, small pointed ears, thin lips, and a small flat nose. It wore silver coveralls.
“You are the one called Al Rice?” There was a tremor in its voice, reminding Al of some old men he’d met.
Al stared at the being a moment before finding his voice. “Yes, I am.”
“I am called Nor-dinn. Please follow me.”
He followed Nor-dinn into the sphere. With no sensation of movement, the sphere zoomed up to the mother ship. They stepped out of the sphere and into the larger craft. Nor-dinn led him into a compartment where another Ryll was seated. Except for the insignia on the front of their uniforms, he couldn’t tell the two Rylls apart.
“This is Orr-pon, our intelligence officer. He has not yet learned your language, but I will interpret for him.”
Al sensed that there was telepathic conversation going on between the two Rylls, but he was unable to make sense of their thoughts.
Aloud, Nor-dinn said, “We understand that you have been in contact with an alien race unknown to us. Will you please describe the encounter?"
Al related the entire incident as he remembered it. There was more telepathic conversation between the Rylls.
“Al Rice,” said Nor-dinn, “Orr-pon has a mind probe device that is designed to penetrate subconscious thoughts. It reveals thoughts of your inner mind. If you agree to the mind probe, perhaps we can learn something about these mysterious beings. You will experience no discomfort.”
Al wanted to learn more about his strange experience. And what was there to lose? And Sue was right, the Rylls were not at all intimidating. “All right,” he said. “I agree.”
A Ryll brought a small container into the compartment. Nor-dinn opened the container and removed three metallic headbands. One of the bands was adjusted to fit Al’s head, and the other two bands were fitted to the heads of the Rylls.
Nor-dinn adjusted several dials on the container. Al began to feel drowsy, and once again he went through the abduction experience. The experience was the same as it had been under hypnosis, except for a more vivid recollection of some details.
After the session was over, the Rylls removed their own headbands, but not Al’s. Once again, Al sensed telepathic conversation going on between the two Rylls. But this time, he was astonished to realize that he was understanding the meaning of their thoughts.
He recalled Sue’s theory that her hypnosis had awakened a latent psychic ability in him. Perhaps the Ryll mind probe had somehow expanded his psychic abilities. Further, he discovered that he could now turn his psychic abilities on and off at will. The Rylls seemed to be unaware that he was awake and listening in on their telepathic conversation.
Orr-pon was speaking. “It is apparent to me that the human did not encounter a strange race. We would certainly have detected any strange ships that came near Earth.”
“Then how do you explain his account of the beings and their ship? And remember, he gave the account while under the influence of the mind probe.”
“It is simple to explain. It was actually the Dorions who abducted him. They planted false memories in his mind of tall beings in yellow uniforms with strange ships. Our own mind probe is capable of planting false memories, and apparently the Dorions have also developed such a device.
“This demonstrates that they are more advanced in the field of mind control than we thought them to be. But I don’t know how they cured the human of supposedly incurable diseases”
“Nor do I,” said Nor-dinn. “But it was probably meant to get our attention. It would seem that they have learned of our relationship with the CAPS organization. They knew that the humans would report such a strange encounter to us, and that we would certainly question this human called Al Rice. They sought to confuse us, hoping that we might make a critical mistake. They will try any ruse to beat us to the precious minerals of Earth.”
“But they did not count on our seeing through their stupid ruse,” said Orr-pon. “I am sure that the Dorions will abduct this human again and probe his mind to see how their ruse worked. We must not let them learn of our mind probe device. We will erase the memory of the device from the human’s mind. He will remember only that we questioned him and confirmed that his memories were true.”
Al, being aware that the Rylls were attempting to wipe his memory, found that he was able to throw up a mind block to prevent them from doing so. The Rylls were unaware that he was blocking their attempts. After the procedure was finished, the Rylls removed his headband.
“Thank you for agreeing to come here,” said Nor-dinn. “Our probe of your mind confirms the existence of the strange ship. We shall conduct further investigations into this matter. We will now return you to your cottage.”
Back in the cottage, Al reflected on what he had learned. He learned that not only was his body miraculously healed of supposedly incurable diseases, but his mind had undergone changes as well. He was now able to read thoughts of others--even though he didn’t know their spoken language. In addition to that, he found that he was able to use his mind to block the Rylls mind probe device. He could not help wondering why all these fantastic things were happening to him.
Through his mind reading, he had learned that the Dorions were the real abductors. They had planted false memories about nonexistent yellow-uniformed beings in his mind. They had cured his HIV and hemophilia completely. For that he was grateful, even though they had done it merely to get the attention of the Rylls. But the Rylls couldn’t figure out how the Dorions had managed to heal him.
According to the Rylls, the Dorions had done this to get him among the Rylls--as an unwitting agent--to cause confusion among the Rylls.
Al had also learned that the Rylls were not so virtuous as he had been led to believe. The Rylls were not defending Earth from the Dorions, but were competing with the Dorions to gain control of Earth’s minerals. And the Rylls had also attempted--unsuccessfully-- to plant false memories in his mind to make him forget their mind probe device.
Al’s mind was in disarray, and he was beginning to wonder which memories were real and which were false--and how he could tell the difference. He also wondered if CAPS knew the truth about the Rylls. Could he trust them?
The next morning he called Sue and told her only that the Rylls had questioned him and confirmed the existence of the mystery ship. He told her nothing of his expanded psychic abilities , nor of what he had “overheard,” for fear that she might inform the Rylls.
“I just got through talking with CAPS,” she said. “The Rylls contacted them and told them basically what you just told me, confirming the existence of a third force in our solar system.
“In any case, there’s no more that I can do here. I’ll soon be on my way to Galveston, Texas. CAPS has learned of a rash of sightings there and of a possible abduction. It may prove to be the mystery ship. If you need to contact me, call CAPS and they’ll find me. I can’t give you my cell phone number; it’s against policy. Good luck, Al. I hope we meet again.”
“I hope so, too," he said. “Take care.”
After hanging up, he wondered if he should have told her what he knew about the Rylls. But could he trust her?
At seven o’clock, Al closed shop for the day and walked to his cottage. He ate supper, then watched TV until 11:00 PM. He was getting ready for bed when he heard the familiar whining noise. He felt the hypnotic effect take hold, and stepped outside. The two tall beings were there waiting for him.
The Dorions were still playing with his mind, causing him to see illusions of tall beings. As before, the beings flanked him and they were pulled up to the cigar-shaped craft. This time, after entering the ship, the hypnotic hold on him was released.
He was surprised when one of his captors spoke to him, but not aloud. Al heard the being’s thoughts in his mind.
“We are now leaving your world to join the mother ship.” The being pointed at a port hole.
Al looked out to see Earth growing smaller and smaller. Suddenly, he saw a huge egg-shaped object hanging in space. An opening appeared in the mother ship and their craft entered.
After they were aboard, a third being, a female, approached and greeted him, her thoughts projected into his mind. “Welcome, Al Rice. We are Zenin, and not Dorions as you have been told. Please follow me. Our captain wishes to speak with you.”
Al was escorted to a large, well furnished compartment. “This is the captain’s quarters,” his escort said. “Please be seated, and he will be with you shortly.”
A moment later, the captain entered. He was tall, as were the others. His uniform was also yellow, but with silver trimming on the collar and sleeves.
“Greetings, Al Rice of Earth. I am Marl Ki of Zenin, captain of this ship.”
They were using telepathy to communicate, so Al projected his thought. “I know that you are a Dorion, so you might as well stop the illusion and show yourself as you really are.”
“I surmised that you would be skeptical, so I will prove to you that I am Zenin. I will allow my mind to merge with yours. You will know with certainty that I speak the truth.”
For an instant, Al felt disoriented. But when his head cleared, he realized that the mind merge had taken place. He knew beyond doubt that deception was impossible under this condition. Captain Marl Ki was telling him the truth.
The Zenin continued. “You have good reason to be angry, Al Rice. But I hope that you will forgive me for my blunders.”
“I don’t understand,” said Al.
“I will explain,” said Marl Ki. “Zenin law prohibits contact with other cultures. Our mission is to observe and study, nothing more. I have broken that law. When I first started observing Earth, I saw that forces from two other cultures were already here, The Rylls and Dorions.
“Zenin technology is far superior to that of both the Rylls and Dorions, and our psychic power is far greater. So it was easy for us to spy on them and to see what they were up to. I saw that the two sides were at war, and that both sides were bent on conquering Earth for certain minerals that are near depletion on their home planet of Istana.
“The few humans on Earth that were aware of these intruders were duped into believing that the Rylls were a friend of Earth.
“Both of these forces are technologically superior to Earth. Their most fearsome weapon is something they call a null force beam. The beam would be ineffectual by Zenin standards, but Earth would have no defense against such a weapon.
"The only thing saving Earth is the fact that these two forces are at a stalemate, with each side unwilling to make a move and waiting for the other to make a mistake. I wanted to warn Earth, so that at least your people might have time to set up an underground resistance. But even a warning is forbidden by our law."
"Are there no exceptions to this rule?" Al asked. "It seems a shame that a powerful force like the Zenin would standby while my world is at the mercy of two powers bent on destroying us."
“I wish it were not so, but there are no exceptions," Marl Ki replied. He went on. "I formed a plan. I intended to warn Earth without appearing to intervene. Our studies of Earth showed that a very small percentage of humans, perhaps one in a hundred million, had minds that were telepathically compatible with Zenin minds. I ordered a search for such humans. You were one of the few, and you were in a location easy for us to reach. It was I who ordered your abduction.”
Al was beginning to understand how he had gotten into this mess.
The Zenin continued. “We made certain alterations to your body. I knew that neither the Rylls nor the Dorions had the technology to regenerate tissue to stimulate a healing process in living organisms. All this was calculated to get the attention of the Rylls and to arouse their curiosity.
“I was certain that CAPS would learn of a UFO sighting and would connect it with your healing, and that they would report it to the Rylls. And I was just as certain that the Rylls would manage to get you into their hands.
"And we did wipe your memory of your first encounter with us. But we did not use the full force of our hypnotic power to do so, because we wanted your memory to gradually return. However, your friend, Sue, speeded the return of your memory with hypnotism."
“I’m beginning to understand now,” said Al. “But what about this psychic ability that suddenly came to me? Did you give me that also?”
“We didn’t give it to you. As I said, it was already in your mind. We merely awakened it. We did teach you, subconsciously, how to use your Zenin-like ability to communicate with others, even though their spoken language might be foreign to you.
“With this ability, I was counting on you to discover the true intentions of the Rylls once you were in their hands, and to report your discovery to CAPS. Because of mistrust, however, you have not told them of your discovery. I can assure you, Al Rice, that CAPS is not in league with the Rylls.”
Al was relieved that he could now trust Sue and the CAPS organization. “I’ll notify CAPS immediately on my return,” he said.
“At least that part of my plan will succeed,” said the Zenin, “but I am afraid that on the whole, my plan has failed. Several unexpected things have occurred. First, we underestimated the potential of your psychic abilities. There is yet another Zenin-like ability which still remains dormant in your mind.
“Second, we did not intend to place you in danger. The Rylls will kill you if they discover what you have learned. Also, the Dorions have learned about your encounter with the ‘mystery ship,’ and they seek to capture you to learn more about your experience. They believe that you can provide them with intelligence about the mystery ship and the Rylls.”
Al nodded in agreement, and then grinned inwardly as he thought it silly to nod at thoughts coming into his mind.
Marl Ki caught the thought and projected amusement. “And finally,” he went on, “in my zeal to help Earth, I got carried away and went much further than I intended. The Zenin High Command at first regarded my scheme as a slight infraction of the rules and looked the other way. But I went too far, and they have ordered me to return to home base immediately. I will be relieved of my command. I do not expect to command a starship for a very long time.
“I now see the folly of my meddling. My foolish actions will not harm your people, but neither will it help them. The Rylls and Dorions will continue their struggle for control of Earth. But I fear that my meddling could bring harm to you, Al Rice, and that is my biggest regret. And there is nothing I can do to change that.”
“But maybe you can still help,” Al suggested. “You said that there was another Zenin-like psychic ability lying dormant in my mind. Can’t you bring out this ability, as you did with the others?”
“I have already tried. But there is a barrier near the deepest level of your mind, where this ability lies dormant. The barrier prevents probing by outsiders. I can perceive the ability, but I can’t reach it. But perhaps that is best. The greater your psychic powers, the greater the chance that the Rylls and Dorions will find you out. Up to now, they are unaware of any powers that you possess.
“I am sorry, but now I must go. Goodbye, Al Rice, and good luck.”
It was nearly 4:00 AM when Al was returned to his cottage. He was exhausted, but he could not sleep. He lay in bed trying to collect his thoughts.
Now he was on his own. Marl Ki, who had gotten him into this mess, had deserted him. But he couldn’t blame Marl Ki. Al knew that the Zenin had sacrificed his command in trying to help Earth. But knowing that did not help Al.
He was in big trouble. He didn’t agree with Marl Ki that increasing his powers would create a greater risk of getting caught. He figured it was only a matter of time until either the Rylls or Dorions caught him anyway.
If only he could find a way to bring out this new power, he might increase his chances for survival. Marl Ki hadn’t described the power, but said only that the power was “Zenin-like.” That meant that the power must be pretty potent, since Zenin psi-power was far more potent than that of either the Rylls or Dorions. He decided to experiment.
He knew that he could probe the minds of others and read their thoughts. But could he probe his own mind? Marl Ki had said there was a barrier in his mind that blocked outsiders from entering. But Al was no outsider and should be able break through the barrier of his own mind. He had to try; he needed every advantage he could muster. He lay down on the couch and relaxed.
He willed himself to concentrate on his inner mind. He felt a strange falling sensation, and suddenly he was probing his own mind. He probed deeper and deeper, until he was sure that he had probed every level of his mind. He found no hint of a barrier, but only of a level that seemed to be blank. Nor did he find evidence of another psychic ability lying dormant in his mind. He ended the self-probe.
He would have to be content with the psychic abilities he now possessed. He could use his psi-powers to spy on the Rylls until they found him out--or until the Dorions captured him. But something nagged at his mind.
It was during the mind merge that Marl Ki had told him of the hidden psychic power, so lying about it was impossible. Therefore, he could be certain that the Zenin-like power was there in his mind, and a barrier of some kind was preventing access to it. How could he have missed it?
And something else puzzled him. Why would there be a part of his mind that would be completely blank? That made no sense. He decided to try another self-probe.
He probed until he once again reached the blank area. This had to be the barrier that Marl Ki had encountered. He willed the blank level to open and to reveal itself. And suddenly, he became aware of his new psychic ability. He willed that ability to rise to the conscious level of his mind and ended the probe.
In addition to his ability to read thoughts, to probe the minds of others, and to shield his own mind from the probes of others, Al now found himself with a new ability. He could now manipulate the minds of others through telepathic hypnosis.
Al marveled that he was now beyond being amazed at events, no matter how bizarre. He had become so accustomed to the fantastic that it now seemed normal to him.
He felt confident that his newfound ability increased his chance for survival. But he must use this new power prudently, and above all, he must not let the Rylls or the Dorions learn of his psychic powers.
He glanced at the alarm clock; it was almost 6:00 AM. Time to get up, and he hadn’t slept a wink. Wearily, he climbed out of bed.
After a cold shower, breakfast, and hot coffee, he felt well enough to face the day. He was still tired, but luckily the tourist season had ended, and business for the day was slow. Al spent much of the day trying to guess what the Rylls and Dorions had up their sleeves.
He had dealt with the Rylls, and had a fair idea what to expect of them. But the Dorions were an unknown element, and Marl Ki had said that they intended to capture him. He considered several different scenarios involving both Rylls and Dorions, and made plans to deal with them. He hoped to be ready for any eventuality.
The day passed, and Al closed shop and went to his cottage. He had no sooner arrived at the cottage than he sensed that he was under surveillance. He knew immediately that it was the Dorions. They were too far away for him to probe their minds, but he knew that they were there, watching him with their sophisticated instruments.
Al made sure that he did not deviate from his usual routine. He did not want the Dorions to suspect that he might be aware of them. He fixed his supper, watched TV for a while, and then went to bed. All the while, they kept him under surveillance.
He knew that they were planning to capture him, and he had planned for that eventuality. As he lay in bed, he mentally went over every detail of his plan. His lack of sleep caught up with him, and he drifted off.
A noise awakened him. He switched on the light and got up to investigate. A glance at the clock told him it was 2:00 AM. The bedroom door burst open and suddenly he found himself surrounded by Dorions. They could have been Rylls except for the black uniforms. One of them pointed something at him. He felt a shock and blacked out.
When he recovered, he found himself strapped to a table, surrounded by four Dorions. He began to pick up scraps of thought. At first the thoughts were jumbled and meaningless, but almost immediately he began to understand them.
“...false memories into the human’s mind in an attempt to deceive us? I am always skeptical of such devices.”
“I can assure you, Captain, that the device you see here is capable of seeing through false memories. It will bypass any false memories that might have been planted by the Rylls and draw out the actual memories of the human. This device has been tested exhaustively by our science officer, and has been found to work perfectly.”
“Very well. Proceed with the test.”
A helmet-like device was placed over Al’s head, and the four Dorions also donned helmets. One of the Dorions adjusted controls on a small hand held device.
Al set up his mind shield to prevent the machine from seeking out his actual memories. He then opened up a part of his mind that allowed the Dorions to read only the “memories” that he fed to them through telepathic hypnosis. The first probes they sent into Al’s mind were insignificant, seeking information such as his name, address, and where he worked. On those subjects, he allowed his normal memory to function.
But then a probe came searching for data on his abduction by the mysterious aliens. Through hypnotic commands, Al began to feed his fabricated memories into their probe:
“This human has recently been abducted by a force unknown to you. This force, The Zenin Imperial Fleet, has only recently moved into this star system. The Zenin Imperial Fleet has an attack force more powerful than the combined fleets of your fleet and the Ryll fleet combined. The Zenin cannot be detected because a shield covers the whole fleet, preventing detection. Your null force beam would be useless against the Zenin.”
Al knew the power of his telepathic hypnosis. Practically anything he suggested to them would be accepted as fact, except for the most irrational concepts or improbable events. He was not concerned that the Dorions might wonder how a mere human came to know all this information while in the hands of the Zenin.
He continued. “The goal of the Zenin is to seek out and conquer worlds for the glory of their exalted emperor. The Zenin intend to stay hidden behind their shield until they are ready to strike, and then they intend to learn the location of your home planet, Istana, from you and the Rylls. The Zenin plan to add Istana to their list of conquered worlds."
The Dorion captain then posed a question. "How much did the Rylls learn about the Zenin from their mind probe of the human?"
Al knew that he must be careful in answering the captain's question. "The Ryll mind probe device is much less efficient than the Dorion device, and so the Rylls were unable to extract information as detailed as the superior Dorion device has done. The Rylls merely learned that a mysterious power in the solar system had abducted the human Al Rice. They had learned nothing more."
After the probe was complete, the Dorions removed Al’s helmet and their own. Before releasing them from his hypnotic hold, Al sent three more hypnotic commands into the minds of the Dorions:
“You will not doubt the authenticity of the information obtained in this mind probe. The device worked perfectly, as expected. You will release the human unharmed.”
After the probe, The Dorions immediately began to speculate on what their commander would decide.
“We must convince the commander of the urgency of the situation. The commander will not be happy, but the Zenin represent a threat not only to our fleet, but to our home world. He will like it even less that we must also warn the Rylls. But if we do not, the Zenin will learn from them the location of Istana.”
“The Commander rarely ignores my advice,” said the captain. “I will make it clear to him that we have no choice. Even if we chose to fight, our null force weapons would be useless against them. We must withdraw immediately, and we must warn the Rylls.”
“But the Rylls will not believe us,” said one of the Dorions. “I propose that when we release the human, we leave our mind probe with him. The Rylls will surely get it from him. In this way they will learn the truth by using our mind probe device--which is obviously superior to theirs.”
“Your proposal has merit,” said the captain. “I do not like giving the Rylls our device, but the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. I’m sure that our science officer can develop an even better mind probe. Give the human the device and release him.”
Al was returned to his cottage and released. His ruse was working perfectly so far. Now it all depended on whether or not the Dorion commander would be convinced. But the four present at his mind probe would offer a very compelling argument. He was sure that the Dorion commander would have no choice but to withdraw.
Al wondered what Marl Ki would think of his portraying the peaceful Zenin as a terrible menace bent on conquering the galaxy.
Al was exhausted and drifted off to sleep.
Al awakened feeling no better. He had gotten but three hours of sleep. Because of the time difference, he waited until 10:00 AM to call CAPS.
“This is Al Rice,” he said. “I know that Sue is in Texas now, but can you relay a message to her?”
“Sure can, Mr. Rice. She left word asking that we relay any message from you immediately. What’s the message?”
“Tell her that the Dorions abducted me last night and subjected me to a mind probe. They were very alarmed by what they found in my mind. When they released me, they gave me their mind probe device. I won’t be in my shop today, so she won’t be able to reach me there.” He gave them a number for her to call, and hung up.
Al was certain that the Rylls already knew of his message to CAPS, for he was sure that CAPS headquarters was bugged. He knew that the Rylls would be curious about what the Dorions had learned from his mind. And they would certainly be curious about why the Dorions gave him their mind probe device.
Twenty minutes later, CAPS called him back. “Mr. Rice, we notified Sue, and she’ll be calling you soon. Also, the Rylls contacted us and want to know if you will agree to another meeting. They want to pick you up tonight at the same location as before.”
“Okay,” he said. “Tell them I’ll be waiting for them at 9:00 PM.”
Fifteen minutes later, Sue called.
“Sue, I suspect that the Rylls may have my phone bugged, so I gave you this number. It’s actually a pay phone near my shop.”
“But why would they bug your phone, Al? Why all the secrecy?”
Al related to her all that had happened, omitting nothing. He told her of the Zenin, and how he had convinced the Dorions that the gentle Zenin were a terrible menace, bent on conquering the galaxy. He told her of how he had used his new powers to fool the Dorions, and how he intended to also trick the Rylls.
“Al, you’re taking a big risk. Suppose either the Rylls or the Dorions discover what you’re doing? You’d have no chance.”
“Yes, I thought of that. And I know that I can’t afford to make a mistake. But if I’d done nothing, eventually one side or the other would have found me out anyway. At least now I have a chance.”
“Be careful, Al. Be sure to call me when you come back.”
After hanging up, he called Pete to run the shop the rest of the day. Al needed to catch up on his sleep.
He waited at the end of the dock. The glowing disk appeared at exactly 9:00 PM. And as before, Nor-dinn came for him and took him up to the ship. He was taken to the same compartment as before, where Orr-pon the intelligence officer awaited him. A third Ryll was there, who was introduced only by title: The Deputy Commander of The Ryll Fleet.
The Deputy Commander! The Rylls must consider this meeting to be pretty important. After reading their thoughts, he understood why.
The Dorions had fled this star system and were on their way back to Istana. But before leaving, they had contacted the Rylls, proposed a truce, and urgently advised them to also return to Istana; if not, they declared, Istana could be in grave danger. The Rylls could verify this by using the Dorion mind probe to probe the mind of the human Al Rice.
When the Dorions announced their departure, the Rylls thought that this was just another Dorion ruse. But when the commander of the Ryll fleet was informed, he decided it best to take no chances, and ordered a second probe of the human’s mind. However, the commander did not trust the Dorion device, and ordered the Rylls to use their own. He sent his deputy to observe the proceedings.
As the Rylls prepared for the mind probe, Al felt nervous. He couldn’t afford to slip up now. His heart was drumming in his ears and his palms were sweaty as they placed the band on his head.
During the probe, Al could not employ the same procedure on the Rylls that he had used on the Dorions, because the Rylls had already drawn out the memories about the tall, yellow-uniformed beings, and he could not change that. The Rylls simply went through a rerun of their previous probe. Al, however, added a “new” memory through telepathic hypnosis:
“You missed one of the human’s memories during the first probe, because the Zenin erased that memory from the human’s mind, and it has only recently resurfaced.”
Al then proceeded to feed them the same information that he had given the Dorions, including Zenin plans to learn the location of Istana and add it to the Zenin Empire.
As Al lay on the table, he felt a trickle of sweat running down the side of his face. He prayed that the Rylls wouldn’t notice.
The Rylls removed Al's headband and then their own. But before releasing the Rylls from his hypnotic hold, he sent the same three telepathic commands that he had sent to the Dorions: that all they had learned from the human’s mind was true, that their mind probe had worked perfectly, and that they must release the human and return him to his home.
But when sending those final three hypnotic commands, Al had a sickening feeling that he was not getting through to Orr-pon, the intelligence officer. Al was puzzled by this, because he was sure that Orr-pon had been under his control at all times while wearing the headbands during the probe.
After the probe ended, Orr-pon was the first to comment. “We must conduct further investigations into this matter. I suspect the Dorions have once again planted false memories into the human’s mind in attempting to confuse us.”
“I don’t understand your suspicions,” said Nor-dinn. “It is obvious that our probe worked perfectly. And how do you account for the human’s memory of null force beams? It is a force unknown to Earth. The Dorions are right. We must withdraw from this star system immediately. The Zenin may strike at any moment.”
“You are wrong,” countered Orr-pon. “Something went wrong with our probe. The Dorions are tricking us. Or worse yet, the human may be tricking us.”
For some reason, Al could not get Orr-pon under his hypnotic control without the aid of the headbands--and even with the headbands, his control over the intelligence officer was obviously weakened. Once again, he tried to telepathically project his hypnotic commands into the mind of Orr-pon, and once again, he met resistance.
Al deduced that Orr-pon was one of those individuals that could not be hypnotized, even by powerful Zenin telepathic hypnosis, but in some way the mind probe devic had weakened Orr-pon's resistance.
Orr-pon continued. “Yes, I think it is the human. Somehow, this creature has found out about our null force beams, and is trying to trick us. If these Zenin had any such plans, they would certainly not have revealed them to this creature.”
Al felt naked and exposed now. He was at their mercy if they found him out. He tried to appear relaxed, but his muscles were tensed and sweat was pouring down his face.
“Our mind probe cannot be defective,” said Nor-dinn. "Not only has the human’s memories been verified by our mind probe, but also by the Dorion’s. Our probe device cannot be fooled by our experts, much less by this primitive creature.”
“Enough!” said the deputy commander. Orr-pon and Nor-dinn immediately became silent.
“Orr-pon, do you seriously think this miserable human capable of learning about our weapons, or of outwitting our mind device? Don’t be absurd. You intelligence officers are a suspicious lot, but I will not risk the destruction of our home world merely to allay your suspicions. I will recommend to the fleet commander that we withdraw immediately. Nor-dinn is right. The Zenin may be ready to strike even now. See that the human is returned unharmed.”
Al called Sue as soon as he got back to his cottage. She was back in Albuquerque now; the UFO she had investigated in Galveston turned out to be a weather balloon, and the man who claimed to be abducted was a crackpot.
Al assured Sue that he was safe, and told her of his success with the Rylls.
“The snakes,” she said. Her voice was angry. “All this time they pretended to be our friends. It’s too bad there isn’t really a Zenin force to attack and destroy the scum.” She calmed down. “Al, it’s a pity the world will never know what you’ve done. Sadly, if we announced it, the world would laugh at us.
“But CAPS would like to honor you for your achievement. Would you mind going to Albuquerque for a few days? All of us, including Tom Vickers, would like to see you there.”
“I think it would do me good to get away for a few days. But won’t CAPS disband now?”
“Not likely. We were in business before the Rylls and Dorions came on the scene, and we’ll stay in business. Who knows what else is out there?
“All of us at CAPS will be waiting for you, Al. See you in Albuquerque.”