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      "His 'Nervous' index is about the highest I've ever seen." The Trainee, seated tensely next to the Controller, gaped in wonder at the blue-green indicator on his panel. Indeed, its level was higher than that of any of the other colored bands displayed there.
      The Controller sighed at the familiar image in the Infitron Viewer. It was as if Alund, the Reportee, sat in the next room, rather than hundreds of miles away in the perfect cube of a Reporting Chamber. "Yes, I've always had that trouble with him; I've had him for ten years now, but he's still nervous when he comes to his Reporting Session. I've just about given up. Start his spool for us, would you please?"
      The Trainee bent forward in concentration and pressed the Start button on the Spool console. The mechanism of the Infitron Viewer itself selected the proper spool. Every atom of the image in the Viewer corresponded precisely with every atom of the Reportee's own body, just as every frequency of sound from a loudspeaker corresponds to the voice frequency of an individual at the microphone. An Infitron Flux, rather than sound waves, acted as the microphone, the transmission media, and the loudspeaker. Analogous to decillions of electric eyes, infitrons bombarded the Reportee from all six sides of the Reporting Chamber.
      Since the infitron beam was far more dense (1032 infitrons/cm2) than the infitron cross-section density of the human body (1026 infitrons/cm2), each infitron which comprised each proton and neutron and electron, which in turn comprised each atom of the body, was "displaced" by an infitron from the beam, and these "displaced" infitrons formed a mass of data which "remembered", from and instant to instant, where each moving atom was, so that any body could be recreated at a distance by "replacing" the infitrons in a similar (though it could be a larger or a smaller) area. Infitron beams could thus recreate bodies, probe the mind, and "amplify" the very wishes of the mind from the neuron pattern of the thought of, say, a rose, to the actual, physical, corresponding rose, whether large or small, black or crimson, sweet-smelling or rank.
      Now, the Comparator Mechanism analyzed the data from the beam, continuously changing as the Reportee moved in three-space, and identified him beyond any possibility of error. A voice poured goldenly from the loudspeaker: "Alund, high nervousness, 44.37; low openness, 13.74."
      During this time, Alund was glancing around the Chamber in which he was standing, frowning at the water-blue walls of the comfortable room. He poked at the brand-new furniture, tapped his shoes lightly on the green tiled floor, and craned his neck up to the star-spotted ceiling. His mouth twisted into an impatient line as he stared at the chair in the middle of the room. With the speed of thought it spread to a lavishly brocaded violet divan with golden cushions, widened into a scented aqua pool, shrank into a small transparent womb-like sack, billowed into an intricately-patterned floating cloud-carpet, dwindled into a slatted, scrawny stool, burst into a gelatinous mass of turquoise foam, then vanished. As Alund heaved a weary sigh, a white foam chair appeared, and he sank into it, closing his eyes. Reporting was so tiresome!
      "Why did he do that?" The Trainee tried to restrain a grin. This was supposed to be serious business.
      "He thinks he's superior to the System," said the Controller, as he turned the "Environmental Stabilization" dial further to the right. "You'll have to get accustomed to that. He tends to play tricks; I put limitations on his thoughts, leaving him only the chair to play with. If he's given full rein, he'd switch in an instant from the driest, hottest desert to a rather enormous Chamber-full of unappetizing oatmeal."
      The Trainee laughed aloud. "Is he completely nuts?"
      "No, check your "Intellect" index. By rights, he should be a Controller, like I am. His post-natal tests indicated Controller training, but he refused at the age of three insisted on taking piano lessons."
      "And since the System doesn't direct, only guide," the Trainee went on, an annoyed frown on his face, "he was permitted to do as he wished." The Trainee pushed the "Freeze" button quickly, but released it before the Controller could protest. Alund's movements on the screen halted momentarily, as if a projected film stopped at one frame, then resumed. "That just makes our job the harder," grumbled the Trainee, tapping a tattoo on the "Freeze", setting Alund into a spasmodic jerky motion like a poorly animated cartoon. Of course, the Reportee had no way of knowing that the Reporting Chamber intermittently congealed about him. The feature's intended purpose was to give the Controller time to think his way through any difficulties the Reportee might pose during his Reporting Session.
      "Stop that." The Controller reached forward and disabled the "Freeze" mechanism. To himself he thought he had a bit of work to do on the Trainee when it was HIS time to report. Decidedly too impatient. Not enough understanding. "This Reporting Session is for Alund; you're to try to make things easier for him, not for yourself."
      The Trainee began to say something, but was silenced by the Controller. "If you don't feel qualified to handle someone with such a strong "Intellect" index, I'll record that in your Proficiency Chart, and you'll never be permitted to deal with Alund again." All sulky lines vanished from the youthful face, and the Controller suspected that his age-old appeal to vanity had succeeded.
      "Sorry, sir," said the Trainee, and he meant it.
      All the while Alund fretted in his chair. He stared fixedly into a corner, concentrated, and the "Environment" plenum flowed with energy. But the associated dial, set at maximum System control, prevented any transitory modifications of the Reporting Chamber. The Controller smiled inwardly as Alund shrugged his shoulders and slouched further into his foam chair. The heat sensors which detected that the small of his spine was unsupported sent orders that a back support be built in the exact healthful contour for Alund's bone structure, but again the canceling System control prevented the environment from changing. Alund grinned grimly in a way that the Controller could only call masochistic.
      "He insists on fighting the System," the Controller said slowly, "yet he has no way of knowing how much the System HAS changed him over the course of years."
      The Trainee looked puzzled. "You mean he was worse before?"
      "Much worse. I can pretty well predict what he's going to be doing now he'll begin talking soon, and he'll get a certain minimal usage from the System. A couple of years ago, I had to act very quickly to prevent him from vaporizing himself inadvertently. He had demanded that the Reporting Chamber be a perfect vacuum."
      "Some people are permitted to willingly vaporize themselves." The Trainee had learned his Basics well.
      "Yes, but Alund must be guarded from himself. He loves living much too much. He was testing the System, trying to beat it, even though it might have meant death."
      Trying to remain objective, though his quick temper still showed beneath his impassive forehead, the Trainee asked, "Why did you save him?"
      A study in patience, the Controller said, "The System is not merely a complex of environment controls, heat perceptors, emotions analyzers, and mind adjusters. The System operates primarily under the guidance of a Controller. The Controller is all-important. That's why you at 30, are still a Trainee. You have not yet matured to the Controller status. A Controller must use wisdom and mercy: a purely mechanistic System shows no mercy, but a Controller " he groped for a better phraseology, but couldn't find it, " controls the System."
      The Trainee made a mental note to ask his "Applied Controls" instructor a question. His calm mask replied, "I understand," and the Reporting Session continued.
      As Alund talked, the body sensors and mind probers and sound analyzers picked up not only the surface, explicit, intentional data broadcast by the Reportee, but also the internal, implicit unintentional information emitted by his nervousness, his evasiveness, his hatred of the System. Somewhere, in a location known neither to Alund, nor to the Trainee, nor even to the Controller, a computer encased in a black vacuum only a few microdegrees above absolute zero absorbed the data from Alund and hundreds of thousands of other Reportees all over the solar system as they sat in their Reporting Chambers for their weekly report. When Alund began talking about his wife, vacationing on Venus, the computer reviewed what his wife had said about Alund only a few hours earlier.
      A suspicion, unexpressed, that his wife was unfaithful, prompted Alund's Imago to say, soothingly, "You KNOW how much your wife loves you."
      The Trainee simultaneously noted two differing reactions to the Imago's statement. "Alund seems surprised," he said, studying the Controller, who looked like the flabbergasted driver of an Omnicar which had just shifted out of Automatic on the Greater Manhattan Skyway.
      "Er, yes; ah, yes, he seems pleasantly surprised." The Controller was trying vainly to remember what subconscious urge had prompted him to control the Imago into SUCH a statement. It wasn't like the old days, he thought, nervous himself. The Imago sometimes seemed TOO intelligent to be under his own control. The Controller much preferred the old times when a loudspeaker merely parroted his thoughts. The Imago was too life-like, too the thought flickered independent.
      Alund's choice of Imago was of the Father type. The Controller appreciated the effectiveness of the Father, which he considered superior to the Brother type; however, the Trainee preferred the female side: particularly the Mistress and the Sister. Created out of an Infitron Flux capable of exactly simulating any element, the Imago presented an ideal image to the Reportee. Since, generally, the Reportee was in love with his Imago, any suggestions by the Imago were rendered most palatable for the Reportee. Yes, thought the Controller reluctantly, the Imago was SOME help.
      But the Imago was also terrifying. The System was frighteningly swift in amalgamating into the Imago those characteristics which the Reportee liked. The Controller's personal Imago was of the Mother type, yet the love he had for his Imago was not quite the love he bore for his mother. Since he knew how the mind probes could detect thoughts, even semi-conscious thoughts, the same fine intellect which made him a good Controller managed to blind the System to the fact that he would actually prefer the Mistress. The same shyness about taking an actual mistress prevented him from owning up to his desire for a Mistress Imago.
      Alund continued, "I wish Cyndria were more physical in her relations with me." Although the indicator showed that Alund had a different meaning hidden underneath his words, merely the stating of this wish lowered his nervousness indications: he had gotten something off his chest; he DID realize that the System could be helpful. As invisible storage banks catalogued this information, additional indicators, not displayed on the Controller's panel, were modified slightly. After all, no one man could keep track of all the parameters about which the machine gathered information. Somewhere, unknown, a Supervisor of Controllers watched HIS panel of graphic lights.
      "He used the System," said the Trainee, "but why isn't he more at ease?"
      The Controller had been over this before. Alund was a difficult speciman. "Let me use an analogy. The System is enormously rich in information, but the information must be requested before it is imparted. Alund treats the System as if it were an enormously wealthy father, trying to do everything for his son, but the son has a strange twisted desire to make a living on his own. The father would love to help his son," the Controller spoke slowly, his eyes resting on Alund, "but the son doesn't want the father's money."
      The Trainee's eyes narrowed, "But if the father loves him "
      "Love complicated the operation of the System. Love is the only emotion which make the System possible." The Controller felt vaguely that he was mouthing paradoxes, and felt uncomfortable with the Trainee staring at him. "The System is only a machine," he repeated, softly. "The Controller must "
      In a remote monitor room, the Supervisor of Controllers leaned forward in his foam chair. Sensors perceived the movement, and infitron circuits built modifications into the chair which adapted to his new position.
      "I'm beginning to like him." The Trainee's words cut across the Controller's thoughts, destroying mental patterns which the Supervisor of Controllers had been eagerly studying. The Supervisor of Controllers sat back, and infitron circuits vaporized molecules of foam to accommodate the Supervisor's body.
      "That's good," managed the Controller. "The Imago is actually the equivalent of the old-fashioned psychiatrist, and an intense feeling must develop between the two, the Imago and the Reportee, before good can be done. Since you represent the Imago, you must feel love for the Reportee, as " the Controller swallowed the words, but the Trainee caught them anyway, " as I do."
      "You must adopt my techniques as much as you can. A Reportee must never know when a Trainee takes over his Controller's position." Vaguely, the Controller recalled that his Imago had been remarkably constant. "It must be as if the Controller can live forever." He repeated, wonderingly, "live forever."
      In its black pit, the computer froze, wrapped in bat-wings of night.
      The Trainee sat silent, his own thoughts probing into the aging man before him.
      "The Imago can cover tiny blunders, smooth over small mistakes, but remember," and the Trainee could hear the same words coming again, "the Controller controls the System."
      When the NEW model comes out, thought the Trainee, we won't HAVE this trouble.
      The Supervisor of Controllers smiled, since he knew that that thought did not precisely express the truth of the matter.
      At this the Manager of Supervisors would have laughed aloud, if the Manager of Supervisors could have laughed at all.