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With No Strings Attached   By: (1927-1987)

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[Transcriber's Note: This story was published in Analog , February 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

With No Strings Attached

A man will always be willing to buy something he wants, and believes in, even if it is impossible, rather than something he believes is impossible. So ... sell him what he thinks he wants!

David Gordon

Illustrated by Schelling


The United States Submarine Ambitious Brill slid smoothly into her berth in the Brooklyn Navy Yard after far too many weeks at sea, as far as her crew were concerned. After all the necessary preliminaries had been waded through, the majority of that happy crew went ashore to enjoy a well earned and long anticipated leave in the depths of the brick and glass canyons of Gomorrah on the Hudson.

The trip had been uneventful, in so far as nothing really dangerous or exciting had happened. Nothing, indeed, that could even be called out of the way except that there was more brass aboard than usual, and that the entire trip had been made underwater with the exception of one surfacing for a careful position check, in order to make sure that the ship's instruments gave the same position as the stars gave. They had. All was well.

That is not to say that the crew of the Ambitious Brill were entirely satisfied in their own minds about certain questions that had been puzzling them. They weren't. But they knew better than to ask questions, even among themselves. And they said nothing whatever when they got ashore. But even the novices among submarine crews know that while the nuclear powered subs like George Washington , Patrick Henry , or Benjamin Franklin are perfectly capable of circumnavigating the globe without coming up for air, such performances are decidedly rare in a presumably Diesel electric vessel such as the U.S.S. Ambitious Brill . And those few members of the crew who had seen what went on in the battery room were the most secretive and the most puzzled of all. They, and they alone, knew that some of the cells of the big battery that drove the ship's electric motors had been removed to make room for a big, steel clad box hardly bigger than a foot locker, and that the rest of the battery hadn't been used at all.

With no one aboard but the duty watch, and no one in the battery room at all, Captain Dean Lacey felt no compunction whatever in saying, as he gazed at the steel clad, sealed box: "What a battery!"

The vessel's captain, Lieutenant Commander Newton Wayne, looked up from the box into the Pentagon representative's face. "Yes, sir, it is." His voice sounded as though his brain were trying to catch up with it and hadn't quite succeeded. "This certainly puts us well ahead of the Russians."

Captain Lacey returned the look. "How right you are, commander. This means we can convert every ship in the Navy in a tenth the time we had figured."

Then they both looked at the third man, a civilian.

He nodded complacently. "And at a tenth the cost, gentlemen," he said mildly. "North American Carbide & Metals can produce these units cheaply, and at a rate that will enable us to convert every ship in the Navy within the year."

Captain Lacey shot a glance at Lieutenant Commander Wayne. "All this is strictly Top Secret you understand."

"Yes, sir; I understand," said Wayne.

"Very well." He looked back at the civilian. "Are we ready, Mr. Thorn?"

"Anytime you are, captain," the civilian said.

"Fine. You have your instructions, commander. Carry on."

"Aye, aye, sir," said Lieutenant Commander Wayne.

A little less than an hour later, Captain Lacey and Mr. Thorn were in the dining room of one of the most exclusive clubs in New York. Most clubs in New York are labeled as "exclusive" because they exclude certain people who do not measure up to their standards of wealth... Continue reading book >>

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