Frederickson. Tribes. National tribes; religious tribes; ethnic tribes; family tribes; sexual tribes; cultural tribes. By swinging down from the trees, by emerging from the caves, we only ensured our own eventual destruction. We are an evolutionary dead end precisely because we were able to replace sticks and stones with nerve gas and thermonuclear weapons without ever evolving, intellectually and morally, beyond the ridiculous, childish superstitions and primitive, tribal mind-sets that necessitated the use of the comparatively harmless sticks and stones in the first place. Once we poisoned the wells of neighboring tribes; now we poison oceans. The Triage Parabola provided me with a mathematical demonstration of our species' demise; I have given the world a practical demonstration. Of all people on earth, the Frederickson brothers have experienced the greatest overall view of that demonstration. By accident, my work touched your bodies; by design, I touched your souls. Yet you react to me as if I were some kind of mad scientist.'

Garth and I looked at each other. 'Perish the thought,' I said quickly. 'You're planning to send us all back in evolutionary time to see if we can't get it right the second time, aren't you? That's what the Valhalla Project is about, right?'

Loge slowly nodded. 'Yes. Once I have tested the formulation in an initial trial run in my communes, any necessary corrections will be made, and then a second batch of 'Father's Treasure' will be delivered. This formulation will be highly infectious. Then the commune members will all be sent out into the world to await what the members of the commune you visited think of as the 'Good Time.' That time will come quickly. We will be rendered comparatively harmless to each other, at least on a global scale, and can only hope that we will evolve in a more appropriate manner if given this second chance. It is the ultimate, most humane, use of the Triage Parabola, gentlemen, and it is humankind's only hope for long-term survival.'

'Uh, Loge…' I swallowed, found my mouth was just a bit dry. 'Dr. Loge, before you go ahead and do anything we all may regret in the morning, why don't you recheck your figures?'

Loge shook his head sadly, looked at me with profound sadness in his eyes. 'I have rechecked them, Dr. Frederickson; I've rechecked them hundreds of times. I know you're not a scientist or a mathematician, so it may be difficult for you to understand. Without the intervention represented by the Valhalla Project, our extinction is a certainty.'

'You mentioned that no one else had tried to apply the Triage Parabola to humans because it was almost impossible. Maybe it is impossible. Now, you're a fairly bright man, but you're not a god, despite what a lot of folks think. Even you could be wrong.'

'No, I'm not a god,' Loge said simply. 'There are no gods, of course. I'm just a man, one representative of a species that, quite possibly, may be the only one in the entire universe which has such a high degree of self- awareness and intelligence. No other species anywhere may have the potential to travel to the stars to find out. Unless someone intervenes to save us from ourselves, it is doubtful we will even have time to accomplish the relatively simple task of traveling to another planet and colonizing it. I am not a god; I can be wrong, and often have been in the past. This is not such a time. I am not wrong. The figures are correct. Someone had to take the responsibility for altering our course, and I have done it; the Valhalla Project is the only solution I could think of. I feel I've come to know the two of you quite well, through the reports that came to me of the havoc you've been wreaking. Once, I thought perhaps the two of you could appreciate my burden and understand my terrible loneliness. Now I believe I was mistaken. The Triage Parabola is correct about the imminent extinction of humankind; I was wrong about you.'

'Jesus Christ,' Garth said with a snort of disgust. 'You don't think you're insane?!'

Loge said nothing. He continued to stare at us with his sad eyes.

'Damn it, Loge,' I said, 'don't do it. Even if you're right, there must be some answer besides the Valhalla Project.'

'No,' Loge replied softly. 'There is no other answer.'

'You didn't need us anymore,' Garth said. 'You still haven't explained why we were thawed out and brought here. If you consider us so dangerous, why didn't you just let us die?'

Loge sighed, shrugged his shoulders. 'But I have explained. I've explained everything, only to you. I wanted to meet you. I needed to explain to someone, and I needed someone to understand. I'd even entertained the hope that the two of you would help me.'

'Help you do what?' I asked. 'Manufacture and distribute 'Father's Treasure'?'

'No. I have hundreds of people to do that. The first of the manufacturing technicians will begin arriving tomorrow.'

'Then what?'

'I wanted you to help me bear witness,' Loge said softly. 'I believe the two of you are now immune to the formulation; you are the only two people on the planet who will not change. I can take steps to protect myself against infection, and I will. I'd hoped that until our natural deaths, the three of us could travel over the face of the earth, safeguarding treasures when we can, but primarily bearing witness, as the last humans, to the goodness and beauty that was in our genes. Our existence, and our passage among the beasts, would serve as a kind of prayer for human salvation in the future.'

'It sounds like a good idea to me,' I said as Garth and I exchanged quick glances. 'My brother and I are honored by your invitation, and we accept.'

Loge didn't speak for some time, and I didn't like the look of the shadows that moved in his eyes. 'You mock me, Dr. Frederickson,' he said at last. 'You do believe I am nothing more than a mad scientist, perhaps a paranoid schizophrenic, like my son-or simply morally corrupt, like my grandson. Do you believe I haven't seen into your hearts? You are both transparent. You believe that you can trick me into releasing you, so that you can stop the Valhalla Project-perhaps by killing me. Incredibly-despite all you have seen, and all I have told you-you still have hope. That is your insanity.'

Loge abruptly moved to one side of the shield, disappeared from sight. There was a soft click, and then an even more ominous sound in the apartment.


'I've taken great care in preparing this gas,' Loge said kindly as he stepped back into view. 'It is a gentle death; indeed, I think you will find it delightful. The two of you have suffered enough, and now I hope to give you considerable pleasure as you die. It's the least I can do.'


The sound seemed to be coming from everywhere inside the apartment, and there was the strong smell of lilacs.

My mother's dream.

'Loge, shut off the gas,' I said, making a desperate effort to keep my voice even. 'We have to talk to you. You still need us, because there's still one drawback to your plan, which you don't seem to understand. The rest of the body changes, but the brain cells don't. Somehow, the brain protects itself-like in the infant diving reflex, when the brain in a drowning person conserves its own oxygen. Your stuff won't work, because the membrane of the brain filters it out. Memory, self-awareness, instinct, prejudice, love, hate-all remain. You may have a planet filled with monkey people, but their human consciousness will remain the same. You'll accomplish nothing- nothing, Loge, except to inflict unimaginable suffering on the species you profess to love so much. You still need us if you hope to solve that problem. Shut off the gas.'

Loge smiled gently, brushed a lock of silver hair away from his face. 'I'm aware of what you just told me, Dr. Frederickson. I discovered this phenomenon when Garth was examined for the last time at the Institute. The adjustment in the formulation has already been made. All of the things you mentioned will be erased. Humankind will be able to start anew on its evolutionary path with a clean slate.'



My mother's dream!

'Loge, you have no right to decide alone what's best for four billion people!'

'Of course not,' Siegmund Loge replied evenly. 'I hope you don't think I would be so presumptuous as to take on such an awesome responsibility alone, without guidance.'

'But you said nobody else knows what you're doing.'

'God knows.'

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