by Robert Silverberg

Here is Cassiday: transfixed on a table.

There wasn’t much left of him. A brain-box; a few ropes of nerves; a limb. The sudden implosion had taken care of the rest. There was enough, though. The golden ones didn’t need much to go by. They had found him in the wreckage of the drifting ship as it passed through their zone, back of Iapetus. He was alive. He could be repaired. The others on the ship were beyond hope.

Repair him? Of course. Did one need to be human in order to be humanitarian? Repair, yes. By all means. And change. The golden ones were creative.

What was left of Cassiday lay in dry dock on a somewhere table in a golden sphere of force. There was no change of season here; only the sheen of the walls, the unvarying warmth. Neither day nor night, neither yesterday nor tomorrow. Shapes came and went about him. They were regenerating him, stage by stage, as he lay in complete mindless tranquillity. The brain was intact but not functioning. The rest of the man was growing back: tendon and ligament, bone and blood, heart and elbows. Elongated mounds of tissue sprouted tiny buds that enlarged into blobs of flesh. Paste cell to cell together, build a man from his own wreckage—that was no great chore for the golden ones. They had their skills. But they had much to learn, too, and this Cassiday could help them learn it.

Day by day Cassiday grew toward wholeness. They did not awaken him. He lay cradled in warmth, unmoving, unthinking, drifting on the tide. His new flesh was pink and smooth, like a baby’s. The epithelial thickening came a little later. Cassiday served as his own blueprint. The golden ones replicated him from a shred of himself, built him back from his own polynucleotide chains, decoded the proteins and reasembled him from the template. An easy task, for them. Why not? Any blob of protoplasm could do it—for itself. The golden ones, who were not protoplasm, could do it for others.

They made some changes in the template. Of course. They were craftsmen. And there was a good deal they wanted to learn.

* * *

Look at Cassiday: the dossier.

BORN: 1 August 2316

PLACE: Nyack, New York

PARENTS: Various



OCCUPATION: Fuel technician

MARITAL STATUS: Three legal liaisons, duration eight months, sixteen months, and two months

HEIGHT: Two meters

WEIGHT: 96 kg


EYES: Blue




* * *

Watch them now: changing him.

The complete man lay before them, newly minted, ready for rebirth. Now come the final adjustments. They sought the gray brain within its pink wrapper, and entered it, and traveled through the bays and inlets of the mind, pausing now at this quiet cove, dropping anchor now at the base of that slab-sided cliff. They were operating, but doing it neatly. Here were no submucous resections, no glittering blades carving through gristle and bone, no sizzling lasers at work, no clumsy hammering at the tender meninges. Cold steel did not slash the synapses. The golden ones were subtler; they turned the circuit that was Cassiday, boosted the gain, damped out the noise, and they did it very gently.

When they had finished with him, he was much more sensitive. He had several new hungers. They had granted him certain abilities.

Now they awakened him.

“You are alive, Cassiday,” a feathery voice said. “Your ship was destroyed. Your companions were killed. You alone survived.”

“Which hospital is this?”

“Not on Earth. You’ll be going back soon. Stand up, Cassiday. Move your right hand. Your left. Flex your knees. Inflate your lungs. Open and close your eyes several times. What’s your name, Cassiday?”

“Richard Henry Cassiday.”

“How old?”


“Look at this reflection. Who do you see?”


“Do you have any further questions?”

“What did you do to me?”

“Repaired you, Cassiday. You were almost entirely destroyed.”

“Did you change me any?”

“We made you more sensitive to the feelings’ of your fellow man.”

“Oh,” said Cassiday.

* * *

Follow Cassiday as he journeys: back to Earth.

He arrived on a day that had been programed for snow. Light snow, quickly melting, an aesthetic treat rather than a true manifestation of weather. It was good to touch foot on the homeworld again. The golden ones had deftly arranged his return, putting him back aboard his wrecked ship and giving him enough of a push to get him within range of a distress sweep. The monitors had detected him and picked him up. How was it you survived the disaster unscathed, Spaceman Cassiday? Very simple, sir, I was outside the ship when it happened. It just went swoosh and everybody was killed. And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

They routed him to Mars and checked him out, and held him awhile in a decontamination lock on Luna, and finally sent him back to Earth. He stepped into the snowstorm, a big man with a rolling gait and careful calluses in all the right places. He had few friends, no relatives, enough cash units to see him through for a while, and a couple of ex-wives he could look up. Under the rules, he was entitled to a year off with full pay as his disaster allotment. He intended to accept the furlough.

He had not yet begun to make use of his new sensitivity. The golden ones had planned it so that his abilities would remain inoperative until he reached the homeworld. Now he had arrived, and it was time to begin using them, and the endlessly curious creatures who lived back at Iapetus waited patiently while Cassiday sought out those who had once loved him.

He began his quest in Chicago Urban District, because that was where the spaceport was, just outside of Rockford. The slidewalk took him quickly to a travertine tower, festooned with radiant inlays of ebony and violet- hued metal, and there, at the local Televector Central, Cassiday checked out the present whereabouts of his former wives. He was patient about it, a bland-faced, mild-eyed mass of flesh, pushing the right buttons and waiting

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