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. "Blade for blade!"
Ertz's eyebrows shot up. He whipped out his newly acquired blade and cut himself in the same location. The blood spurted and ran down to the crook of his arm. "Back to back!" He shoved the table aside and pressed his gory shoulder against the wound on Joe-Jim.
Alan Mahoney, Hugh Hoyland, Bobo: all had their blades out, all nicked their arms till the skin ran red and wet. They crowded in, bleeding shoulders pushed together so that the blood dripped united to the death.
"Blade for blade!"
"Back to back!"
"Blood to blood!"
"Blood brothers, to the end of the Trip!"
An apostate scientist, a kidnaped scientist, a dull peasant, a two-headed monster, a apple-brained moron; five knives, counting Joe-Jim as one; five brains, counting Joe-Jim as two and Bobo as none; five brains and five knives to overthrow an entire culture.
"But I don't want to go back, Hugh." Alan shuffled his feet and looked dogged. "Why can't I stay here with you? I'm a good blade."
"Sure you are, old fellow. But right now you'll be more useful as a spy."
"But you've got Bill Ertz for that."
"So we have, but we need you too. Bill is a public figure; he can't duck out and climb to the upper levels without it being noticed and causing talk. That's where you come in; you're his go-between."
"I'll have a Huff of a time explaining where I've been."
"Don't explain any more than you have to