This section covers the discovery of more information about the watchers.
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George found Undepoldus in his usual place by the processor when he arrived at Undepoldus House. The replica was in his usual feeding position.
George said to Undepoldus. "You are a good buddy and no mistake. I'm glad that you helped to keep the girls off me last night. I particularly want to be clear headed and fresh while all these snoopers are around. If I was tired, I could miss something critical to your safety and mine."
Undepoldus gave no indication that he had heard George speaking to him.
As had started to become usual, Undepoldus pushed the replica out of sight and took up his place well before opening time.
George carried on his usual work interspersed from time to time with the vidbook. He began to learn Swedish, step by step. The Swedish that the vidbook offered was slightly different to that spoken by Marita or Kerstin. He knew that there were likely to be similar variations in Swedish to those found in his native Scotland. Glaswegians and Edinburgians spoke quite differently although both were recognisably Scottish.
From time to time he looked up at the crowds passing by. The novelty of Undepoldus had worn off a bit so there were sometimes gaps in the stream of people using the strip outside Undepoldus House. Otherwise there was very little change from one day to the next.
In Undepoldus House he knew that he was cocooned in a very safe environment. The snoopers whoever they were could not get in. He thought of Marita and how she was in a more vulnerable situation. Hopefully the snoopers knew little or nothing about Kerstin. Time would tell how well she coped with the situation she was now in.
It was only when Undepoldus pushed the replica back into his
feeding position that George realised it was nearly time to go
home. Undepoldus had resumed his favourite place by the
processor when George wished him farewell. It was on the strip
that his vidbook produced its first alarm vibration. The man had
his back to George but the vidbook showed what he looked like
from the front and side so George would have no trouble recognising
him if he got a chance to look at the man's face. George selected
camera view on the vidbook to watch the man closely without appearing
to do so. Then, in the picture George could see that the man was
looking at him now and again in the faint reflection in a glass
partition. The vidbook had only warned him about one observer
so he was unlikely to be in serious danger. He decided to play
a game with the snooper because he was sure that the snooper did
not realise that he was being watched. He got up as if to step
off the strip and looked up and down the footpath to see that
it was safe to do so. Then he made a move as if to step off the
strip and then turned around and resumed his original seat. The
snooper had stepped off the strip before he had realised that
George was still on it. He, like George, also had to make sure
that there was nobody in the way, so he hadn't seen George go
back to his seat. George glimpsed him looking around in amazement
because George was nowhere to be seen on the footpath beside the
strip. As George was sitting down, the snooper could not see him
through the throng of people boarding or leaving the strip. George
waited until he reached the next strip interchange and transferred
to the strip going in the opposite direction. When he was near
his usual stepping off point on the other side of the road, George
looked carefully to see if the snooper was still around. He didn't
know if the vidbook would give him a second warning for the same
follower so he relied on his eyes and wits to spot the man.
George's stepping off point was close to where he usually boarded the strip to go to Regent's Park so he knew that there was an underpass that led in the direction that he wanted to go. When he was going up the steps on the other side, he looked and saw the man looking up and down the strip road and down the side street that George would normally use to go to the Spacers Club. George knew that his vidbook would not warn him of anyone who was one of his protectors so he carried on as if the man wasn't there. It took the man several seconds to spot George and begin to follow him. The vidbook vibrated, reassuring George that it would work twice with the same snooper. He stopped by a shop window and looked as if he was consulting his vidbook. The camera showed the snooper being approached by a young attractive lady. It was clear that the young lady was one of his caretakers. She was talking to the man and gesticulating. George carried on along his way. The favourite excuse would be to ask the man for directions to distract his attention. It would also provide an opportunity to get a voiceprint if the woman had a recorder with her.
As he reached the Spacers Club, George had a quick look to
see if the man was still following him. He was no longer in sight.
When he entered his cabin he found Marita and Kerstin talking with Gurprit.
The girls stood up to welcome him and both gave him a very loving kiss.
Marita said. "George, my students have found out who was bugging the processors in the University. The have also collected a lot of information about her. Kerstin thinks that she should be arrested and made to confess who she is working for. Gurprit thinks that we should use Spacer intelligence to trace who she is working for so that she will not know that she has been found out yet. What do you think?"
George thought for a minute and said. "I have a third way. Gurprit, can you modify one of the bugs so that it malfunctions slightly. It has got to be done in a way that is not immediately detectable by the person who is planting the bugs. I was thinking that its audio circuits could gradually get worse so that the signal it produces gradually becomes unintelligible. The woman who is planting the bugs would not know this but person or organisation will then have to make contact with her to tell her that the bug isn't working properly."
"I like that," said Gurprit. "But George, you don't know the whole story. One of Marita's students, Anita, is a communications wizard - or should I say witch. She used a very small camera and recorder that was triggered by anyone interfering with the processor in Marita's lecture room. She got recognisable images of a lecturer replacing the bug I disabled yesterday. With information she got from her classmates, Anita was able to catch the woman re-transmitting the bug data with a receiver and transmitter in her briefcase. Anita has recorded the re-transmitted signal and compared it with what the bug picked up in Marita's lecture, and a recording she made of Marita's lecture herself. She then found out that the data was not encoded but just compressed to reduce transmission time. The compression converts an hour's recording into ten minutes re-transmission. The same data was re-transmitted twice. Both times the transmission began at eleven minutes past the hour. Anita calculated that the re-transmitted signal could only be received within 500 metres. The person picking up the re-transmitted signal would have to use a directional antenna from a fixed point less than 500 metres away in order to pick up the signal. Otherwise he or she could use an omnidirectional antenna within around 50 metres. Anita thinks that the use of an omnidirectional antenna would be difficult because the person using it would have to stay more or less in one place very near the University gates for ten minutes to get the whole transmission."
George said. "A 500 metre radius covers a pretty large area. It would be difficult to track down someone who was not transmitting any sort of signal.
Gurprit said. "Anita is a very clever girl. She said that whoever received the signal would have to pass it on somehow. It could be done using com lines or a transmitter. If a transmitter were used, it would be easy to find. If com lines were used, the person would make a lot of calls that lasted for around ten minutes. Anita thought that the police might be able to access the billing records for all the com lines in the area and look for someone who made a lot of ten minute calls."
George said. "That is ingenious Gurprit. If the person uses a com lines, it would be easy to find out who was called and intercept the messages going in both directions."
"That was my thinking George."
Kerstin said. "A courier could be used to avoid the use of com lines or a transmitter."
Marita said. "You have forgotten something Gurprit. Mrs. Grigson has a friend who is not her husband who regularly gives her rides in his floater."
Kerstin said. "Couldn't the person with the floater pick up the signals that Mrs. Grigson transmits from her briefcase?"
George said. "It would be possible but it would attract attention. Only police floaters, news floaters and taxis waiting to pick up known fares are allowed to hover over London. The law applies to Spacers too but the police never worry us about it. Spacers never hover without a good reason to do so."
Kerstin said. "I can see that I can learn a lot about policing from you Spacers. You think things through until you find a logical answer. Your training must include a lot of what I was taught when I became a policewoman. In addition yo also seem to be able to make your own devices as you need them. Superintendent Abdullah is rather envious of the resources that Spacers can call on. He was very pleased with the equipment that you, Gurprit, supplied."
Gurprit said. "Thank you Kerstin. We gave Superintendent Abdullah some devices to detect the people who were following George and Marita more easily. It was his staff that found that George and Marita were followed in the first place. Because the devices were designed to help protect Spacers it was easy to get the authorisation to supply them to the police. If they help the Superintendent in other ways it is a bonus. I am still on duty so I had better check in with the comms centre before dinner to see if there are any messages. I will see you later."
While they were talking, George felt the familiar touch of Undepoldus. None of them had noticed him arrive. He climbed onto George's shoulders and settled into his favourite position.
George said. "Welcome home my old buddy. I wish that you could help us deal with those who keep snooping into our affairs."
Marita said. "Maybe he will be able to when he gets bigger. We know that he has some intelligence but we don't know what he knows or what he knows he can do."
Kerstin looked at Undepoldus closely. She said. "He is waving his whiskers at me."
George said. "He is always waving his whiskers. I think that is how he is able to see. If you looked at the world through a long tube, you would not be able to see very much. If you waved the tube around a bit, you could see a bit more. Now if you had lots of tubes and you could combine the views from them all, like you combine the views of your two eyes, then you would be able to see the world quite clearly."
"I see," said Kerstin when it was quite clear that she found the idea difficult to understand.
Then with a flash of inspiration she asked. "If Undepoldus can see with his whiskers, why is it that they are all over him and most of them look sideways.?"
George answered. "I have never thought much about that Kerstin. There must be a reason. Maybe there are a lot of predators where he comes from and he has to keep a constant look out in every direction. Most birds and rabbits see sideways more than they do forwards."
Marita said. "No way George. The planet I landed on was apparently lifeless. The only proof that there was any life at all is Undepoldus himself. I can infer that he had relatives where we landed because the ground was filled with what we thought were caves. These caves were most likely tunnels made by our friend's bigger relatives. If there was any other life on the surface of that planet, I am sure that we would have spotted it. There were no tracks and no signs of dens or nests, and there were certainly no signs of any civilisation."
George said. "That makes our friend's whiskers even more mysterious. We know that he can make tunnels but in a tunnel he cannot see sideways. The two things don't fit."
Marita said. "That means that Undepoldus must have come from somewhere else. There was no point in having whiskers that could see sideways on that planet. He must have come from another planet originally where sideways eyes would be useful."
George asked Marita. "If that is the case, how did he and his relatives get there?"
"I can't say George. I know that there was or is intelligent life in that planetary system because they could build space missiles. Undepoldus and his relatives could have been taken there to get rid of them or as a place where they would be undisturbed like in a wild life park."
"That still leaves one question to be answered Marita. Unless something drastic happens, Undepoldus will grow until he is more than 100 metres long and around five metres wide around his whiskers. I know that you said that there was no other life on the planet, so how can you explain the fact that you never saw any signs of an Undepoldus relative as big as that?"
"Marita said. "All I can tell you George is that the only signs of life that we saw were the caves that were probably tunnels. The probe data indicated that the caves were between one and two metres in diameter. The probe would not have been able to detect tunnels or caves much smaller than a metre in diameter. If there had been caves or tunnels much bigger, the probe would have detected them."
Kerstin said. "If some aliens could put creatures like Undepoldus on the planet, they could also take them away again. We do almost the same thing. We put fish in ponds. They grow. We catch some of them and eat them. Undepoldus and his relatives could be a part of an alien food supply."
George said. "Kerstin, it looks like you have worked out the answer. The planet could be a sort of Undepoldus farm. However, I don't think much of the idea of eating a creature like Undepoldus. Anyway, this Undepoldus will never be eaten by anybody if I can help it. He is my little buddy. He likes me and trusts me."
Marita said. "I think that the idea of a sort of farm for Undepoldus creatures is reasonable but I have the feeling that they would not be bred for eating. We breed racehorses because they can run fast and we also breed dogs as companions, hunters and herders of sheep. I think that the aliens breed Undepoldus creatures because they have a use for them. I cannot imagine what use they would have for a creature like our friend if it grew to 100 metres long. It would be too big to be a companion and it would not be much good at running or herding sheep. It looks as if we think we are getting towards a solution to one mystery and then we have another mystery to puzzle us."
George said. "I think that it is time we prepared for dinner. I'm hungry."
At dinner the three were joined by Gurprit. He came straight to the point. I have just heard from Anita Kohlvits that she has had a chance to look inside Mrs. Grigson's briefcase. She fitted one of her own bugs into it. Tonight Mrs. Grigson accepted a lift from her friend with a floater. Anita heard her call him Karim. This is a playback."
Mrs. Grigson. What steps are you taking to get rid of the
Karim: An attempt will be made soon to break into Undepoldus House. As the Spacer McFigg always leaves the real one in Undepoldus House at night, the worm will be unguarded. At first we thought that McFigg always carried the worm with him. Later we discovered that what looks like the worm is only a replica he uses to show people what the real worm looks like.
Mrs. Grigson: How will they break into Undepoldus House? It is rumoured to be the best defended building in London.
Karim: There is possibly a weak point in the ventilation system.
Gurprit stopped the playback and asked. "What is the joke George?"
"The ventilation system is full of weak points. If anyone tries to crawl along the pipework, they will find them. They will drop into one of several small rooms that have diamond coated walls and no door. Anyone who falls through will have a gentle landing because of a gravity neutraliser but will then find it impossible to stand upright afterwards.
Sorry, I stopped you. Please carry on Gurprit."
Mrs. Grigson: How long will it take before Undepoldus is disposed of?
Karim: It had better be soon because the Spacers might discover that their processors are bugged and become suspicious. This is because the alternative plan is to kidnap Andersson or McFigg - preferably both of them - and exchange them for the worm. If the Spacers become suspicious, they could arrange that Andersson and McFigg are guarded to prevent them from being kidnapped. Do you know about an old Indian man who looked at the processors?
Mrs. Grigson: Nobody seems to have seen him do anything. He made a nuisance of himself at the Bursar's office and then went away. I don't think that a doddery old mystic would know anything about bugs anyway. It was just a coincidence that the bug in Andersson's room stopped working after he had been seen at the University. When I discovered that the bug wasn't working, I installed a new one. Did Saeed receive the signal OK?
Karim: Yes, but it didn't reveal much that we didn't know already.
Gurprit said. "The recording ended then."
Kerstin commented. "Mrs. Grigson is either in charge or
she is on our side. She was checking on progress as if she were
in charge but she could have been a double agent."
George said. "Karim either trusts Mrs. Grigson or he is careless or she is senior to him."
Gurprit said. "Admiral Chang said that he would check to see if Mrs. Grigson was connected with any of the security agencies he has dealings with. There may be another agency trying to gain information as we are. We do not want to interfere if another agency is involved."
Marita remarked. "I think that Anita has done very well in a very short time. It looks like you will soon have some serious competition Gurprit."
Gurprit said. "Anita is not competing with me. She is acting as one of my colleagues with Admiral Chang's blessing. I have been told to provide her with any equipment she needs."
George said. "Anita should be able to do wonders with the resources that you can give her Gurprit."
Gurprit said. "She has not asked me for anything yet. She has made almost everything she can make use of already. She only needs to collect information and pass it on to me. She knows that the more that we have, the more we can do."
George said. "Earlier we were trying to find out who received Mrs. Grigson's signals. What we have just heard is very interesting indeed, but we need to trace Saeed."
Kerstin said. "Mrs. Grigson must know who Saeed is. He could be an intermediary or the final recipient. You are right George. Mrs. Grigson is connected in some way with those who are spying on you and Marita but it is hard to see where she fits in."
Marita said. "Recording the lectures that I give will not provide the snoopers with a great deal of information that is not publicly available. They may glean some odd snippets about the way Spacers do things and they could possibly find something in the fact that my lectures are always given from the Spacers point of view. This leads me to think that Mrs. Grigson is an undercover agent who is delivering virtually useless information to the snoopers as a cover. If this is not the case, the snoopers must be very ignorant about Spacer life."
Gurprit said. "An alternative view is that Mrs. Grigson is helping to give the snoopers a clear outline of your day. Your lectures usually last between 30 and 40 minutes and the rest of the period is used for questions and answers and the other interactions between a lecturer and her students. The recordings will show where you were and when."
Marita chuckled. She said. "That is almost silly Gurprit. The timetables for each lecturer are available on every processor in the University. If I failed to turn up for a lecture or a tutorial, it would soon be noticed and a lecturer who was free at the time would be asked to supervise the class. If nobody was free, the class would be cancelled."
Gurprit said. "I was forgetting that your lecture and tutorial schedule was widely disseminated. I was thinking of your job in the abstract sense as if you worked in a bank or a shop."
Kerstin said. "It seems to me that all the useful information was going one way. Mrs. Grigson was told what the snooper's plans are in return for a course of lectures which told them virtually nothing. Karim told Mrs. Grigson a lot in a very short time. It could be that he believed that he was being bugged and deliberately gave her misinformation."
Marita said. "We could discuss this all night without getting any nearer to the truth. I vote that we treat Mrs. Grigson as a potential enemy until we know better."
After Gurprit left the three returned to their cabin and forgot the snoopers for a while.
The next section covers strange things seen in the Park.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.