Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 23

I knew it, he said to himself. Well, there goes the first thousand dollars bounty; probably skipped all the way to the Antarctic Circle. Out of my jurisdiction; another bounty hunter from another police department will retire Polokov and claim the money. On, I suppose, to the andys who haven't been warned, as was Polokov. On to Luba Luft.

Back again on the roof in his hovercar he reported by phone to Harry Bryant. "No luck on Polokov. Left probably right after he lasered Dave." He inspected his wristwatch. "Want me to pick up Kadalyi at the field? It'll save time and I'm eager to get started on Miss Luft." He already had the poop sheet on her laid out before him, had begun a thorough study of it.

"Good idea," Bryant said, "except that Mr. Kadalyi is already here; his Aeroflot ship - as usual, he says - arrived early. Just a moment." An invisible conference. "He'll fly over and meet you where you are now," Bryant said, returning to the screen. "Meanwhile read up on Miss Luft."

"An opera singer. Allegedly from Germany. At present attached to the San Francisco Opera Company." He nodded in reflexive agreement, mind on the poop sheet. "Must have a good voice to make connections so fast. Okay, I'll wait here for Kadalyi." He gave Bryant his location and rang off.

I'll pose as an opera fan, Rick decided as he read further. I particularly would like to see her as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. In my personal collection I have tapes by such oldtime greats as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Lotte Lehmann and Lisa Della Casa; that'll give us something to discuss while I set up my Voigt-Kampff equipment.

His car phone buzzed. He picked up the receiver.

The police operator said, "Mr. Deckard, a call for Von from Seattle; Mr. Bryant said to put it through to you. From the Rosen Association."

"Okay," Rick said, and waited. What do they want? he wondered. As far as he could discern, the Rosens had already proven to be bad news. And undoubtedly would continue so, whatever they intended.

Rachel Rosen's face appeared on the tiny screen. "Hello, Officer Deckard." Her tone seemed placating; that caught his attention. "Are you busy right now or can I talk to you?"

"Go ahead," he said.

"We of the association have been discussing your situation regarding the escaped Nexus-6 types and knowing them as we do we feel that you'll have better luck if one of us works in conjunction with you."

"By doing what?"

"Well, by one of us coming along with you. When you go out looking for them."

"Why? What would you add?"

Rachael said, "The Nexus-6s would be wiry at being approached by a human. But if another Nexus-6 made the contact - "

You specifically mean yourself."

"Yes." She nodded, her face sober.

"I've got too much help already."

"But I really think you need me."

"I doubt it. I'll think it over and call you back." At some distant, unspecified future time, he said to himself. Or more likely never. That's all I need: Rachael Rosen popping up through the dust at every step.

"You don't really mean it," Rachael said. "You'll never call me. You don't realize how agile an illegal escaped Nexus-6 is, how impossible it'll be for you. We feel we owe you this because of - you know. What we did."

"I'll take it under advisement." He started to hang up.

"Without me," Rachael said, "one of them will get you before you can get it."

"Good-by," he said and hung up. What kind of world is it, he asked himself, when an android phones up a bounty hunter and offers him assistance? He rang the police operator back. "Don't put any more calls through to me from Seattle," he said.

"Yes, Mr. Deckard. Has Mr. Kadalyi reached you, yet?"

"I'm still waiting. And he had better hurry because I'm not going to be here long." Again he hung up.

As he resumed reading the poop sheet on Luba Luft a hovercar taxi spun down to land on the roof a few yards off. From it a red-faced, cherubic-looking man, evidently in his mid-fifties, wearing a heavy and impressive Russian-style greatcoat, stepped and, smiling, his hand extended, approached Rick's car.

"Mr. Deckard?" the man asked with a Slavic accent. "The bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department?" The empty taxi rose, and the Russian watched it go, absently. "I'm Sandor Kadalyi," the man said, and opened the car door to squeeze in beside Rick.

As he shook hands with Kadalyi, Rick noticed that the W.P.O. representative carried an unusual type of laser tube, a subform which he had never seen before.

"Oh, this?" Kadalyi said. "Interesting, isn't it?" He tugged it from his belt holster. "I got this on Mars."

"I thought I knew every handgun made," Rick said. "Even those manufactured at and for use in the colonies."

"We made this ourselves," Kadalyi said, beaming like a Slavic Santa, his ruddy face inscribed with pride. "You like it? What is different about it, functionally, is - here, take it." He passed the gun over to Rick, who inspected it expertly, by way of years of experience.

"How does it differ functionally?" Rick asked. He couldn't tell.

"Press the trigger."

Aiming upward, out the window of the car, Rick squeezed the trigger of the weapon. Nothing happened; no beam emerged. Puzzled, he turned to Kadalyi.

"The triggering circuit," Kadalyi said cheerfully, "isn't attached. It remains with me. You see?" He opened his hand, revealed a tiny unit. "And I can also direct it, within certain limits. Irrespective of where it's aimed."