Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking to filter what the eyes see and what the ears hear.

- The Abnethe Case, BuSab Private Files

Whip and severed Palenki arm arrived at the proper BuSab laboratory while it was temporarily unoccupied. The lab chief, a Bureau veteran named Treej Tuluk, a back-bowing Wreave, was away at the time, attending the conference which McKie's report had precipitated.

As with most back-bowers, Tuluk was an odor-id Wreave. He had an average-appearing Wreave body, two and a half meters tall, tubular, pedal bifurcation, vertical face slit with manipulative extensors dangling from the lower corner. From long association with humans and humanoids he had developed a brisk, slouching gait, a predilection for clothing with pockets, and un-Wreavish speech mannerisms of a cynical tone. The four eye tubes protruding from the top of his facial slit were green and mild.

Returning from the conference, he recognized the objects on his lab floor immediately. They matched Siker's description. Tuluk complained to himself briefly about the careless manner of delivery and was soon lost in the intricacies of examination. He and the assistants he summoned made initial holoscans before separating whip and arm.

As they had expected, the Palenki gene structure offered no comparatives. The arm had not come from one of the few Palenkis on record in the ConSentient Register. Tuluk filed the DNA chart and message sequence, however. These could be used to identify the arm's original owner, if that became necessary.

At the same time study of the whip went ahead. The artifact report came out of the computers as "Bullwhip, copy of ancient earth type." It was made of steerhide, a fact which gave Tuluk and his vegetarian aides a few brief moments of disgust, since they had assumed it was a synthetic.

"A sick archaism," one of Tuluk's Chither assistants called the whip. The others agreed with this judgment, even a PanSpechi for whom periodic reversion to carnivorous type in his creche cycle was necessary to survival.

A curious alignment in some of the cell molecules attracted their attention then. Study of whip and arm continued at their respective paces.



----