Chapter 11

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Zaius was still questioning the wisdom of his decision to let Urko visit him in his own home when the Gorilla was already knocking on his door. Orangutans were solitary creatures; only the devotion to the Lawgiver's Word, and the knowledge that apekind needed their wisdom and guidance, drove them out of their gated communities every day, into a world of constant social interaction that was profoundly opposed to their instincts.

Home was sanctuary. And now he'd let Urko invade it.

At least he'd have to knock this time.

„I already thought you'd changed your mind and sneaked out the back door," Urko grumbled as he pushed past him. „Don't worry, I won't stay long. Just need to clear up some things."

„And those things couldn't have been cleared up in my office?" Zaius closed the door behind him and followed him into his living room. Gorillas traditionally preferred to live on the ground, but if Urko felt uncomfortable about the height and open walls of Zaius' tree home, he didn't show it. He moved as if he had studied the layout of Zaius' abode before.

No, Urko was much too impulsive for that. Zaius shook off that unsettling thought and gestured for Urko to sit down. This time, though, the Gorilla shook his head when he offered him flint and steel, and Zaius pocketed both without a word.

„So, how many more extensions do you plan to grant that little macaque?" Urko asked without preamble.

„I thank you for not using that language in my house, General," Zaius said mildly. You couldn't really stop the Gorilla when he indulged in one of his rages, but it helped if you laid down the rules early. Zaius was careful to always establish his rules inside his territories. With Urko, he had to do it every time the general entered the room. It was exhausting and entertaining at the same time.

Urko just bared his teeth in a mixture of amusement and annoyance, and continued as if Zaius hadn't said anything. „Five days! She promised us results in five days! Then she asked for an extension, and then another one, and I'm sure she's already scratched at your door again, and this time, you'll tell her she won't get another one, or..."

For a long moment, the men just stared at each other.

It was true, Zaius remembered, Vanda had come to him earlier - had visited him in his office , as manners demanded. She had been livid.

„The general is constantly interfering with my process, he's debilitating the subject so that it's unable to interact with me in our sessions... or even react to stimuli - I have to waste precious time just to nurse it back to a state where we can continue our work. No, sir, scratch that - I can't continue my work, I have to retread the last five steps and begin anew. And anew. And anew."

She had paced the room, all former deference to his age and title buried under professional rage. „And what's worse, the subject's progress has become completely unpredictable! It is compliant in one session, then Urko barges in, brutalizes it, and when I get it back the next time, it's either in a stupor, or distrustful and obstinate! And we haven't even completed stage one!"

„I had thought that stage one was about breaking the prisoner," Zaius had remarked, „and that Urko would be exactly the right lever."

Vanda snorted. „He's crude, he's unable to control or gradate his violence, and he's unable to take orders. Especially from me." She turned around to face him. „So I was hoping he'd at least take them from you."

Zaius shook his head. „The Chief General has reached a position where he doesn't have to take orders from a lot of people anymore. And he's doing everything in his power to remove those last stopping blocks, too." He smiled wryly. „Which is where you come in, my dear Vanda. Don't let him frustrate you - and don't let him suspect that you're anything else but an eager, young scientist."

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