This section covers George's meeting with the Students.
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George and Kerstin found that the students had arranged some tables in the dining room into a clover leaf with twenty-seven chairs around them. Two chairs were empty. George and Kerstin took their places at the two vacant points of the clover leaf arrangement. George found that he was the focus of a group of eight students with Marita and Kerstin in similar situations.
Undepoldus made his way onto the table in front of George as
he sat down.
The students introduced themselves: Kate and Boris, Alice and Ryuchi, Rachel and Wilhelm, and finally Susannah and Roberto.
Kate spoke first. She said. "Mr. McFigg, may we call you George?"
"George, you must know by now how much we admire your partner Marita. She has not only taught us but she has helped us to learn what it is like to be a Spacer. We thought that she was a bit strange at first because she had so many out of date ideas about things on Earth. That is why we refer to her affectionately as 'Rock of Ages'. She learned quickly and we discovered that she was doing the latest College course while she was teaching us. It was not long before she was telling us about the latest discoveries and developments."
Kate stopped but Ryuchi took over from her with hardly a pause.
"George, we also found that she knew more than most of the other lecturers knew about their own specialist subjects. If we had been set a problem by one of the other lecturers, she would tell us how to solve it. She would never give us the answer until we had found it out for ourselves."
Susannah took over. She said. "When we heard that you had become her partner, we knew that you must be very special too. We wondered what sort of man would suit someone as big and talented as Marita. When we talked to Kerstin about you she said that she fell in love with you the first night that you were together. She said that you think like a chess player. You can think ahead to an amazing degree."
Rachel followed on. She said. "Everyone we have talked to about you has said: 'If you want to know George McFigg, read his paper about cows.' We have all read it several times. We copied your experiments with twenty-three of us as the cows and one as you. It was like magic. All the cows identified with you. When we repeated the experiment the effect was just the same."
Wilhelm continued: "Your paper made us all understand each other better. Your paper said that your cows joined forces to protect you from an angry bull when there was no other protection around. We wondered what it was that made the cows want to cooperate with each other."
Roberto made his point. He said. "We tried to use your way of thinking. All the cows knew each other before you came on the scene. The answer could be that we must all get to know each other better. We have therefore tried this and it has worked. Now we are all in a partnership because of your insight."
George said. "Thank you for your very kind words. I never imagined that my experiments with cows would be duplicated by a group of students like yourselves. Spacers like to cooperate with each other because we are basically altruistic and we all benefit from the cooperation. You have taken the principle further - you love to cooperate with each other and the results are incredible. There is a possible problem with the future development of your group. How can you extend the group without giving the impression to outsiders that you are the insiders?"
Kate answered. "George, can't you see that we are doing it now. We were twenty-four. If you, Marita and Kerstin join us we will be twenty-seven."
Wilhelm said. "We would be honoured if you would."
Rachel said. "We would love it if you three came to our suite tonight."
George asked. "Are you sure that we will fit in? You hardly know us."
Susannah answered. We didn't knew each other before we became Marita's students. We found a way to break down all the barriers - partly with your paper. We know it must work with you. We think it will work with Marita. We hope that it will work with Kerstin."
Alice said. "Because you three are so close to each other, we are sure that you think in similar ways to us."
George said "You have demonstrated how well you associate with each other by the way you talk. It has been a long speech delivered by several voices. Have you rehearsed it like a play?"
Roberto replied. "Not really George. It is a game we play among ourselves. It is a variation of a game we played as small children called consequences. In the game each child would make a contribution to a picture or a text without knowing what the others had done. The result was often amusing but mostly it was very silly. Kate started what we call target consequences. We have to start a speech on a topic and put in all we know about it in less than ten seconds. The next speaker has to add a contribution that adds more information."
Wilhelm took over. He said. "Our target this time was to provide a lead up to an invitation to join us. We came to the conclusion that three groups of eight would be able to speak to you, Marita and Kerstin at the same time. When we are in a group like this we tend to talk in short speeches so that everyone can make a contribution and no-one feels left out."
Alice added. "This has made the interchange of ideas much quicker and helps us to become a more cohesive group. We all have the same objectives and we feel that our way of thinking can be of benefit to others. We now know that any one of us can speak for all of us."
Roberto followed with. "Our technique allows us to collate a lot of information quickly. You have seen now how the principle works. Marita made us use a written form of it because of the bugs in the classroom."
Kate said. "Then we concentrated on security issues. It worked even though it was inefficient in written form. Each item of information was passed to Anita who could make use of it. The information we collected helped to avoid a nasty situation."
Boris contributed. "Our discussions about security led to suggestions that we thought were possible with our limited resources. Anita devised a way to spot the person who was planting the bugs in Marita's lecture room with an alarm so that she could see who was planting the bugs when it was being done."
Ryuchi continued the story. He said. "The next thing was to check what else the bug planter might do. This enabled Anita to spot that something that was possibly a bomb was put under Marita's lectern. Alexander and Jean thought that they should check if Undepoldus House was really impregnable. They thought that the designers might not have considered tunnelling under the building. They discussed it with the rest of us and we all thought that we should check to see if anyone had thought of it and tried it. Anita devised a detector bug that would fit beside the strip next to the display window."
Then it was Kate's turn. She said. "We decided to start on Saturday and found something that did not sound like the strip mechanism. We had to have a schedule of observers to check that the bug had not been moved and that it was still working. Anita recorded the output of the bug several times to find out how the borer was moving. After several hours she concluded that it was boring its way under the display area. She contacted Gurprit and he passed on the message."
Roberto followed with. "We don't know when the borer was removed but it was gone by Sunday evening. The area around the strip had been resurfaced with very hard material. The weak point had been made secure. Marita had told us not to interfere and try to protect you but we thought that we had to take action anyway."
Then Ryuchi said. "There are a lot of fixed cameras around the Park so we thought that the people who had been following you would not hang around long enough to notice us doing our patrols. We told Mr. Davies that we were students doing research for Marita and you. After he checked who we were, he said we could go ahead with our plans. He did not ask what those plans were and we did not tell him. We did not expect you to notice us but we had an explanation ready in case you did."
George said. "Your combined efforts have been outstandingly worthwhile. You have proved that you are already fit to be Spacers in my opinion. I am sure that when you get to the College, you will be asked to give seminars on your methods. The Spacers League will have to decide how to make the best use of your talents for the common good. You may be called upon to advise them. In the meantime, make the most of your time here."
Wilhelm said. "Now George, would you please go to your cabin and discuss our invitation with Marita and Kerstin. If the three of you are unanimous, please come back to us with your answer when you are ready."
George replied. "That will not be necessary. I know that Marita and Kerstin will be delighted to accept your invitation and I am sure that they will say the same about me to your other classmates."
Kate stood up and shortly afterwards Fan Cho and Anita from the other groups stood up as well.
Kate said. "We hoped that the three of you would accept at around the same time. Fan Cho, Anita and myself had agreed to stand up to show if our invitation had been accepted. It is clear that you three understand each other very well. It has been an exciting and interesting day for all of us."
George said. "Thank you for your kind invitation to Marita, Kerstin and myself. It has been a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to meeting those that I have not met yet. Before I leave you now I must say that we have won some battles but the war may not yet be over. We may have to face new challenges at any time so try to be prepared for any problems that may arise."
When George, Marita and Kerstin arrived at the students' suite, they were greeted by Anita and Marcos.
Marcos said. "In the next room we have prepared our own style of welcome for you. Everyone there is nude because we do not have formfits. We would be pleased if you would be nude too but we will understand if you prefer not to be or you would like to change your minds about meeting us in this way."
Marita and Kerstin laughed. Marita said. "You underestimate us Marcos. That is no problem. We look forward to the meeting however you are dressed."
The activities that occurred during the meeting are not included in this transmission. A separate transmission is available that includes these activities. It may be obtained by requesting Sharing with Friends from your vidcom entertainment supplier. Viewers who wish this sequence to be included in chronological order in this program should say Friends and supply the appropriate identity code now.
Marita, Kerstin and George returned from the meeting a bit tired and very happy with the way it went. Undepoldus made no comment about his tiredness or state of mind.
The next section covers a sample of Kerstin's role as a policewoman.
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