VII Behind the wheel of the high-velocity police cruiser, Anderton outlined what the minority report tape contained. Lisa listened without comment, her face pinched and strained, her hands clasped tensely in her lap. Below the ship, the war-ravaged rural countryside spread out like a relief map, the vacant regions between cities crater-pitted and dotted with the ruins of farms and small industrial plants.
"I wonder," she said, when he had finished, "how many times this has happened before."
"A minority report? A great many times."
"I mean, one precog misphased. Using the report of the others as data - superseding them." Her eyes dark and serious, she added, "Perhaps a lot of the people in the camps are like you."
"No," Anderton insisted. But he was beginning to feel uneasy about it, too. "I was in a position to see the card, to get a look at the report. That's what did it."
"But-" Lisa gestured significantly. "Perhaps all of them would have reacted that way. We could have told them the truth."
"It would have been too great a risk," he answered stubbornly.
Lisa laughed sharply. "Risk? Chance? Uncertainty? With precogs around?"
Anderton concentrated on steering the fast little ship. "This is a unique case," he repeated. "And we have an immediate problem. We can tackle the theoretical aspects later on. I have to get this tape to the proper people - before your bright young friend demolishes it."
"You're taking it to Kaplan?"
"I certainly am." He tapped the reel of tape which lay on the seat between them. "He'll be interested. Proof that his life isn't in danger ought to be of vital concern to him."
From her purse, Lisa shakily got out her cigarette case. "And you think he'll help you."
"He may - or he may not. It's a chance worth taking."
"How did you manage to go underground so quickly?" Lisa asked. "A completely effective disguise is difficult to obtain."
"All it takes is money," he answered evasively.
As she smoked, Lisa pondered. "Probably Kaplan will protect you," she said. "He's quite powerful."
"I thought he was only a retired general."
"Technically - that's what he is. But Witwer got out the dossier on him. Kaplan heads an unusual kind of exclusive veterans' organization. It's actually a kind of club, with a few restricted members. High officers only - an international class from both sides of the war. Here in New York they maintain a great mansion of a house, three glossy-paper publications, and occasional TV coverage that costs them a small fortune."
"What are you trying to say?"
"Only this. You've convinced me that you're innocent. I mean, it's obvious that you won't commit a murder. But you must realize now that the original report, the majority report, was not a fake. Nobody falsified it. Ed Witwer didn't create it. There's no plot against you, and there never was. If you're going to accept this minority report as genuine you'll have to accept the majority one, also."
Reluctantly, he agreed. "I suppose so."
"Ed Witwer," Lisa continued, "is acting in complete good faith. He really believes you're a potential criminal - and why not? He's got the majority report sitting on his desk, but you have that card folded up in your pocket."
Lisa leaned earnestly toward him. "Ed Witwer isn't motivated by any desire to get your job," she said. "He's motivated by the same desire that has always dominated you. He believes in Precrime. He wants the system to continue. I've talked to him and I'm convinced he's telling the truth."
Anderton asked, "Do you want me to take this reel to Witwer? If I do - he'll destroy it."
"Nonsense," Lisa retorted. "The originals have been in his hands from the start. He could have destroyed them any time he wished."
"That's true." Anderton conceded. "Quite possibly he didn't know."
"Of course he didn't. Look at it this way. If Kaplan gets hold of that tape, the police will be discredited. Can't you see why? It would prove that the majority report was an error. Ed Witwer is absolutely right. You have to be taken in - if Precrime is to survive. You're thinking of your own safety. But think, for a moment, about the system." Leaning over, she stubbed out her cigarette and fumbled in her purse for another. "Which means more to you - your own personal safety or the existence of the system?"
"My safety," Anderton answered, without hesitation.
"If the system can survive only by imprisoning innocent people, then it deserves to be destroyed. My personal safety is important because I'm a human being. And furthermore - "
From her purse, Lisa got out an incredibly tiny pistol. "I believe," she told him huskily, "that I have my finger on the firing release. I've never used a weapon like this before. But I'm willing to try."
After a pause, Anderton asked: "You want me to turn the ship around? Is that it?"
"Yes, back to the police building. I'm sorry. If you could put the good of the system above your own selfish - "
"Keep your sermon," Anderton told her. "I'll take the ship back. But I'm not going to listen to your defense of a code of behavior no intelligent man could subscribe to."
Lisa's lips pressed into a thin, bloodless line. Holding the pistol tightly, she sat facing him, her eyes fixed intently on him as he swung the ship in a broad arc. A few loose articles rattled from the glove compartment as the little craft turned on a radical slant, one wing rising majestically until it pointed straight up.
Both Anderton and his wife were supported by the constraining metal arms of their seats. But not so the third member of the party.
Out of the corner of his eye, Anderton saw a flash of motion. A sound came simultaneously, the clawing struggle of a large man as he abruptly lost his footing and plunged into the reinforced wall of the ship. What followed happened quickly. Fleming scrambled instantly to his feet, lurching and wary, one arm lashing out for the woman's pistol. Anderton was too startled to cry out. Lisa turned, saw the man - and screamed. Fleming knocked the gun from her hand, sending it clattering to the floor.
Grunting, Fleming shoved her aside and retrieved the gun. "Sorry," he gasped, straightening up as best he could. "I thought she might talk more. That's why I waited."
"You were here when - " Anderton began - and stopped. It was obvious that Fleming and his men had kept him under surveillance. The existence of Lisa's ship had been duly noted and factored in, and while Lisa had debated whether it would be wise to fly him to safety, Fleming had crept into the storage compartment of the ship.
"Perhaps," Fleming said, "you'd better give me that reel of tape." His moist, clumsy fingers groped for it. "You're right - Witwer would have melted it down to a puddle."
"Kaplan, too?" Anderton asked numbly, still dazed by the appearance of the man.
"Kaplan is working directly with Witwer. That's why his name showed on line five of the card. Which one of them is the actual boss, we can't tell. Possibly neither." Fleming tossed the tiny pistol away and got out his own heavy-duty military weapon. "You pulled a real flub in taking off with this woman. I told you she was back of the whole thing."
"I can't believe that," Anderton protested. "If she - "
"You've got no sense. This ship was warmed up by Witwer's order. They wanted to fly you out of the building so that we couldn't get to you. With you on your own, separated from us, you didn't stand a chance."
A strange look passed over Lisa's stricken features. "It's not true," she whispered. "Witwer never saw this ship. I was going to supervise - "
"You almost got away with it," Fleming interrupted inexorably. "We'll be lucky if a police patrol ship isn't hanging on us. There wasn't time to check." He squatted down as he spoke, directly behind the woman's chair. "The first thing is to get this woman out of the way. We'll have to drag you completely out of this area. Page tipped off Witwer on your new disguise, and you can be sure it has been widely broadcast."
Still crouching, Fleming seized hold of Lisa. Tossing his heavy gun to Anderton, he expertly tilted her chin up until her temple was shoved back against the seat. Lisa clawed frantically at him; a thin, terrified wail rose in her throat. Ignoring her, Fleming closed his great hands around her neck and began relentlessly to squeeze.
"No bullet wound," he explained, gasping. "She's going to fall out - natural accident. It happens all the time. But in this case, her neck will be broken first."
It seemed strange that Anderton waited so long. As it was, Fleming's thick ringers were cruelly embedded in the woman's pale flesh before he lifted the butt of the heavyduty pistol and brought it down on the back of Fleming's skull. The monstrous hands relaxed. Staggered, Fleming's head fell forward and he sagged against the wall of the ship. Trying feebly to collect himself, he began dragging his body upward. Anderton hit him again, this time above the left eye. He fell back, and lay still.
Struggling to breathe, Lisa remained for a moment huddled over, her body swaying back and forth. Then, gradually, the color crept back into her face.
"Can you take the controls?" Anderton asked, shaking her, his voice urgent.
"Yes, I think so." Almost mechanically she reached for the wheel. "I'll be all right. Don't worry about me."
"This pistol," Anderton said, "is Army ordnance issue. But it's not from the war. It's one of the useful new ones they've developed. I could be a long way off but there's just a chance - "
He climbed back to where Fleming lay spread out on the deck. Trying not to touch the man's head, he tore open his coat and rummaged in his pockets. A moment later Fleming's sweat-sodden wallet rested in his hands.
Tod Fleming, according to his identification, was an Army Major attached to the Internal Intelligence Department of Military Information. Among the various papers was a document signed by General Leopold Kaplan, stating that Fleming was under the special protection of his own group - the International Veterans' League.
Fleming and his men were operating under Kaplan's orders. The bread truck, the accident, had been deliberately rigged.
It meant that Kaplan had deliberately kept him out of police hands. The plan went back to the original contact in his home, when Kaplan's men had picked him up as he was packing. Incredulous, he realized what had really happened. Even then, they were making sure they got him before the police. From the start, it had been an elaborate strategy to make certain that Witwer would fail to arrest him.
"You were telling the truth," Anderton said to his wife, as he climbed back in the seat. "Can we get hold of Witwer?"
Mutely, she nodded. Indicating the communications circuit of the dashboard, she asked: "What - did you find?"
"Get Witwer for me. I want to talk to him as soon as I can. It's very urgent."
Jerkily, she dialed, got the closed-channel mechanical circuit, and raised police headquarters in New York. A visual panorama of petty police officials flashed by before a tiny replica of Ed Witwer's features appeared on the screen.
"Remember me?" Anderton asked him.
Witwer blanched. "Good God. What happened? Lisa, are you bringing him in?" Abruptly his eyes fastened on the gun in Anderton's hands. "Look," he said savagely, "don't do anything to her. Whatever you may think, she's not responsible."
"I've already found that out," Anderton answered. "Can you get a fix on us? We may need protection getting back."
"Back!" Witwer gazed at him unbelievingly. "You're coming in? You're giving yourself up?"
"I am, yes." Speaking rapidly, urgently, Anderton added, "There's something you must do immediately. Close off the monkey block. Make certain nobody gets it - Page or anyone else. Especially Army people."
"Kaplan," the miniature image said.
"What about him?"
"He was here. He - he just left."
Anderton's heart stopped beating. "What was he doing?"
"Picking up data. Transcribing duplicates of our precog reports on you. He insisted he wanted them solely for his protection."
"Then he's already got it," Anderton said. "It's too late."
Alarmed, Witwer almost shouted: "Just what do you mean? What's happening?"
"I'll tell you," Anderton said heavily, "when I get back to my office."
VIII Witwer met him on the roof on the police building. As the small ship came to rest, a cloud of escort ships dipped their fins and sped off. Anderton immediately approached the blond-haired young man.
"You've got what you wanted," he told him. "You can lock me up, and send me to the detention camp. But that won't be enough."
Witwer's blue eyes were pale with uncertainty. "I'm afraid I don't understand - "
"It's not my fault. I should never have left the police building. Where's Wally Page?"
"We've already clamped down on him," Witwer replied. "He won't give us any trouble."
Anderton's face was grim.
"You're holding him for the wrong reason," he said. "Letting me into the monkey block was no crime. But passing information to Army is. You've had an Army plant working here." He corrected himself, a little lamely, "I mean, I have."
"I've called back the order on you. Now the teams are looking for Kaplan."
"He left here in an Army truck. We followed him, but the truck got into a militarized Barracks. Now they've got a big wartime R-3 tank blocking the street. It would be civil war to move it aside."
Slowly, hesitantly, Lisa made her way from the ship. She was still pale and shaken and on her throat an ugly bruise was forming.
"What happened to you?" Witwer demanded. Then he caught sight of Fleming's inert form lying spread out inside. Facing Anderton squarely, he said: "Then you've finally stopped pretending this is some conspiracy of mine."
"You don't think I'm - " He made a disgusted face. "Plotting to get your job."
"Sure you are. Everybody is guilty of that sort of thing. And I'm plotting to keep it. But this is something else - and you're not responsible."
"Why do you assert," Witwer inquired, "that it's too late to turn yourself in? My God, we'll put you in the camp. The week will pass and Kaplan will still be alive."
"He'll be alive, yes," Anderton conceded. "But he can prove he'd be just as alive if I were walking the streets. He has the information that proves the majority report obsolete. He can break the Precrime system." He finished, "Heads or tails, he wins - and we lose. The Army discredits us; their strategy paid off."
"But why are they risking so much? What exactly do they want?"
"After the Anglo-Chinese War, the Army lost out. It isn't what it was in the good old AFWA days. They ran the complete show, both military and domestic. And they did their own police work."
"Like Fleming," Lisa said faintly.
"After the war, the Westbloc was demilitarized. Officers like Kaplan were retired and discarded. Nobody likes that." Anderton grimaced. "I can sympathize with him. He's not the only one. But we couldn't keep on running things that way. We had to divide up the authority."
"You say Kaplan has won," Witwer said. "Isn't there anything we can do?"
"I'm not going to kill him. We know it and he knows it. Probably he'll come around and offer us some kind of deal. We'll continue to function, but the Senate will abolish our real pull. You wouldn't like that, would you?"
"I should say not," Witwer answered emphatically. "One of these days I'm going to be running this agency." He flushed. "Not immediately, of course."
Anderton's expression was somber. "It's too bad you publicized the majority report. If you had kept it quiet, we could cautiously draw it back in. But everybody's heard about it. We can't retract it now."
"I guess not," Witwer admitted awkwardly. "Maybe I - don't have this job down as neatly as I imagined."
"You will, in time. You'll be a good police officer. You believe in the status quo. But learn to take it easy." Anderton moved away from them. "I'm going to study the data tapes of the majority report. I want to find out exactly how I was supposed to kill Kaplan." Reflectively, he finished: "It might give me some ideas."
The data tapes of the precogs "Donna" and "Mike" were separately stored. Choosing the machinery responsible for the analysis of "Donna," he opened the protective shield and laid out the contents. As before, the code informed him which reels were relevant and in a moment he had the tape-transport mechanism in operation.
It was approximately what he had suspected. This was the material utilized by "Jerry" - the superseded time-path. In it Kaplan's Military Intelligence agents kidnapped Anderton as he drove home from work. Taken to Kaplan's villa, the organization GHQ of the International Veterans' League. Anderton was given an ultimatum: voluntarily disband the Precrime system or face open hostilities with Army.
In this discarded time-path, Anderton, as Police Commissioner, had turned to the Senate for support. No support was forthcoming. To avoid civil war, the Senate had ratified the dismemberment of the police system, and decreed a return to military law "to cope with the emergency." Taking a corps of fanatic police, Anderton had located Kaplan and shot him, along with other officials of the Veterans' League. Only Kaplan had died. The others had been patched up. And the coup had been successful.
This was "Donna." He rewound the tape and turned to the material previewed by "Mike." It would be identical; both precogs had combined to present a unified picture. "Mike" began as "Donna" had begun: Anderton had become aware of Kaplan's plot against the police. But something was wrong. Puzzled, he ran the tape back to the beginning. Incomprehensibly, it didn't jibe. Again he relayed the tape, listening intently.
The "Mike" report was quite different from the "Donna" report. An hour later, he had finished his examination, put away the tapes, and left the monkey block. As soon as he emerged, Witwer asked. "What's the matter? I can see something's wrong."
"No," Anderton answered slowly, still deep in thought. "Not exactly wrong." A sound came to his ears. He walked vaguely over to the window and
The street was crammed with people. Moving down the center lane was a four-column line of uniformed troops. Rifles, helmets ... marching soldiers in their dingy wartime uniforms, carrying the cherished pennants of AFWA flapping in the cold afternoon wind.
"An Army rally," Witwer explained bleakly. "I was wrong. They're not going to make a deal with us. Why should they? Kaplan's going to make it public."
Anderton felt no surprise. "He's going to read the minority report?"
"Apparently. They're going to demand the Senate disband us, and take away our authority. They're going to claim we've been arresting innocent men - nocturnal police raids, that sort of thing. Rule by terror."
"You suppose the Senate will yield?"
Witwer hesitated. "I wouldn't want to guess."
"I'll guess," Anderton said. "They will. That business out there fits with what I learned downstairs. We've got ourselves boxed in and there's only one direction we can go. Whether we like it or not, we'll have to take it." His eyes had a steely glint.
Apprehensively, Witwer asked: "What is it?"
"Once I say it, you'll wonder why you didn't invent it. Very obviously, I'm going to have to fulfill the publicized report. I'm going to have to kill Kaplan. That's the only way we can keep them from discrediting us."
"But," Witwer said, astonished, "the majority report has been superseded."
"I can do it," Anderton informed him, "but it's going to cost. You're familiar with the statutes governing first-degree murder?"
"At least. Probably, you could pull a few wires and get it commuted to exile. I could be sent to one of the colony planets, the good old frontier."
"Would you - prefer that?"
"Hell, no," Anderton said heartily. "But it would be the lesser of the two evils. And it's got to be done."
"I don't see how you can kill Kaplan."
Anderton got out the heavy-duty military weapon Fleming had tossed to him. "I'll use this."
"They won't stop you?"
"Why should they? They've got that minority report that says I've changed my mind."
"Then the minority report is incorrect?"
"No," Anderton said, "it's absolutely correct. But I'm going to murder Kaplan anyhow."