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THE CAPTAIN walked into the officers' mess after coffee. The new third mate, just out of the Academy, started to rise. The Captain motioned him back into his seat.

After a while, the mate asked, "Have you heard the reports over space news?"

The Captain poured the coffee into his saucer. "No."

"About Johnson. Earth's in a stew."

"They say it's unfair," the mate continued. "There have been stories of criminals building up Empires. We are dumping the refuse of humanity on the innocent natives, making others suffer for our mistakes."

"The law says a man convicted of a capital crime shall be exiled," the Captain said.

"Yes, but to set him down on a planet whose natives are weak and defenseless—where he can rule whole races by his slightest whim—that's not right."

The purser gave Johnson fifteen days ration. They sent him down to the surface of the planet in an escape ship.

He got out and stood in the warm air, cursing them. They left him there. Murder had been his crime. He had made a clever job of it, too. He killed for the love of killing. A clueless murder on a dark night. A repeat performance in a week. He struck again and again, senselessly. Eventually, of course, he struck once too often and his luck ran out.

He had always been far too clever to underestimate his opponents. His knowledge of human psychology was flawless. He was caught only because fate had dealt a hand off the bottom of the deck. The councilor had examined his personality, and, with a wry smile, named the planet most suited to it.

Johnson felt sorry for himself; he stood surveying the planet and fuming against the evil machinations of a fickle fortune.

It wasn't an unpleasant li...

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