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. Leaving fun out of it, it may be the only way to keep a knife out of our ribs."
"What do you mean?" Joe demanded suspiciously. "You heard what Ertz had to say." Jim flicked a thumb toward the prisoner. "The Ship's officers are planning to clean out the upper levels. How would you like to go into the Converter, Joe? You can't play checkers after we're broken down into hydrogen."
"Bunk! The Crew can't exterminate the muties; they've tried before."
Jim turned to Etrz. "How about it?"
Ertz answered somewhat diffidently, being acutely aware of his own changed status from a senior Ship's officer to prisoner of war. He felt befuddled anyhow; too much had happened and too fast. He had been kidnaped, hauled up to the Captain's veranda, and had there gazed out at the stars. The stars.
His hard-boiled rationalism included no such concept. If an Earth astronomer had had it physically demonstrated to him that the globe spun on its axis because someone turned a crank, the upset in evaluations could have been no greater.
Besides that, he was acutely aware that his own continued existence hung in fine balance. Joe-Jim was the first upper-level mutie he had ever met other than in combat, knife to knife. A word from him to that great ugly dwarf sprawled on the deck-- He chose his words. "I think the Crew would be successful, this time. We . . . they have organized for it. Unless there are more of you than we think there are and better organized, I think it could be done