The brown native jerked off the instructor's clothes, then worked quickly but deftly with his knife. As he finished, the instructor's hand separated from the arm at the wrist.
"He said no one would ever think of doing anything like that," Billy Kasker said.
"Nobody but one of us stinking natives." The brown man removed the plasticum bracelet, began to work with the fingers of his left hand. "I've spent years learning how to throw my thumb out of joint, just getting ready for the time--"
The plasticum bracelet slipped over the collapsed thumb. It fitted very snugly on his wrist. He held it up.
"Neat, eh. This makes me one of the conquerors."
"A nice fit. But we have very little time. The group will become alarmed."
The second native began to take the instructor's body down the trap door. The brown native swiftly slipped off his clothes and donned the garments the instructor had worn.
"Ed, where's that Thor gun model? I've got to have something that looks and feels like a genuine Thor gun to turn in at the gate."
"Here it is, sir." The third native handed a gleaming replica of the Thor gun to the brown man. He slipped it into the holster. It fitted snugly.
"How do I look, Billy?"
Billy Kasker surveyed the brown native. He was remarkably changed. No longer did he look like one of the natives, he looked like a conqueror. "Just a little higher on the nose with the glasses. And maybe a little less stuffing inside the brim of the hat. But--can you carry off the part of the instructor?"
"I can carry it off or die trying," the brown native said.
"Good!" The two shook hands, then turned and went out the door. As they left, Billy Kasker saw that Ed was mopping the last remnants of the green blood from the floor.
"Perfect, down to the last detail," Billy Kasker said. "You're a genius at planning."
"You have to be a genius to stay alive. Okay, Billy. Here is where we go into our act."
They had moved into the street and the group had seen them. The voice that came from the brown native's mouth was the voice of the instructor, hot and angry.
"Billy, this sort of conduct is intolerable. You know better than to wander off like this. What possible explanation can you offer for your conduct?"
Billy Kasker was very penitent. He was embarrassed, he was humiliated, and he showed both very clearly. He had lost all of his air of easy aplomb. "I'm very sorry, sir. I didn't think--"
"That's just it, you didn't think. You saw nothing in that alley, yet you asked me to come back and look. Is that the way you waste your and my time?"
"It won't happen again, sir," Billy Kasker said contritely.
"See that it doesn't."
"Yah!" Joe Buckner gloated. "This is one time the class president got it in the neck!"
"A very good point you have brought out," the instructor said. "Billy has just demonstrated his unfitness to be class president. I am therefore removing him from this position and appointing you in his stead."
"What?" Joe Buckner gasped, giddy with pleasure.
Billy Kasker took his position in line. No longer did he bring up the rear. Joe Buckner now had that position of honor. The group showed some sympathy for Billy, but not very much or very long. When he lost his position as president they seemed to change their minds about him.
The group moved slowly through the city. As if nothing had happened, the instructor explained what they were seeing. When they asked questions, he answered them. Billy Kasker asked no more questions.
They finally came to the gate and the same resplendent captain greeted them. He accepted the Thor gun and the holster, handed them to the guard.
"How are things in the museum?"
"Everything is in good order, sir."
"Good. I've had the impression they were getting a little restless lately."
"I saw no signs of it."
"Fine. Did you have any trouble with the group?"
"Very little. Billy Kasker wandered off for a few moments and I had to demote him. But it was nothing. See you next year when I bring another graduating class through to show them around."
The group began to separate to go to their own homes. Billy Kasker lingered a little, to speak to the instructor. "I've already asked my folks, sir, so I know it will be all right with them, so if you would like to come home with me tonight--"
"Trying to suck in again," Joe Buckner said. "It won't do you any good now. You're cooked for good this time!"
Billy Kasker seemed not to hear him. His eyes were on the instructor. "We would be very glad to have you, sir. We could talk about a great many things."
"Why, Billy, in that case I will be glad to come home with you."
They moved away together. "There's one thing I want made completely clear," Billy Kasker said.
"What is that?"
"When the time comes, there is one conqueror I've got on my list!"
"That jerk I made class president? Of course, Billy. We will be glad to save him for you alone." The instructor's smile was a happy one.
"Good. That's agreed then." In the gathering dusk, Billy Kasker's voice was as sharp as the edge of a knife driving home into a throat from which green blood spurted....