And there it was the climax of his achievement When it came to studying the

And there it was the climax of his achievement when

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And there it was: the climax of his achievement.When it came to studying the aliens’ artifacts, conventional methods were virtually useless. They could be weighed, measured, examined through optical microscopes… but try for X-ray diffraction patterns and their internal structure would prove opaque; test them with reagents and even under fluorine the surface would be stubbornly unaffected; bombard them with neutrons and there would be no disturbance of the flow, as though the particles had encountered a perfect vacuum…As though they’re not matter at all! What then? Energy somehow stabilized into a nonentropic condition? Words!What could creatures capable of such marvels have had to fear from mankind’s petty stocks of H and A-bombs? Maybe the equivalent of the static electricity generated by people wearing synthetic fibers, guilty of screwing up the micro-circuitry of computers!So the only possible course was to piece random items together, with infinite patience: choose from hundreds, even thousands, of broken and inoperative odds and ends those which looked as though they might fit.
Like these.It began with a sort of bowl, a foot across, having on its upper surface two indentations following the tautochronic curve, one larger, one smaller. The larger held a half-egg form with three more irregular objects on top; the smaller held the thin near-ovoid he had acquired from Ichabod. It was—well, it was somehow complete, not in a technical sense (for he still had no least inkling of what if anything it was for)but in an esthetic one. He recalled how his hands had shaken when he set the live artifact in place, thinking that the whole assembly would perhaps vibrate or glow or—or something. It had not done so, and he was gloomily being forced to the conclusion that the three irregular objects should in fact have been one, combined, or conjoined, or fused. But how could they be repaired, if indeed they were broken? One could not weld, or glue, or braze, this impossible substance…No time to stand around brooding, he told himself. He had to get this prize of his off Grady’s Ground, and not later than tonight. It should be in a proper government lab. All the aliens’ scrap and rubbish should go to a proper lab!He needed a crate. What could he pack the stuff into?On the verge of turning to peer under a bench for suitable containers—he was sure he had some lying around—he checked, startled. Was something happening to the… device?He stared. Yes! From the small glowing ovoid, the pattern of light was now oozing—permeating the bowl-like base, spreading into the larger ovoid, infecting the three objects piled above!“Oh my God!” Bennett whispered.For the process was not stopping when it reached the limits of the alien substance. It was spreading still further—staining the very air with radiance and taking on the shape of something as incomprehensible, as majestic and as fearful as the place from which its scattered parts had come. He gasped… and the inhalation drew with it some of the stained and colored air.

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