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The actions of those settlers who call Zeb Griffin their teacher, mentor and prophet once again mortify Operative Sheridan, sent to the barren and rocky planet named Sutherland in order to protect the ancient water baskets that harvest moisture from a dry sky. Some settler of Zeb has broken an ancient water basket. Some settler of Zeb has failed to appreciate the water baskets' value and splendor. The baskets represent the first traces of another intelligence other than mankind's amid the stars. Yet those who claim to follow the long-dead philosopher named Zeb Griffin still damage the mechanisms their clumsy hands cannot work, whose design their closed minds cannot understand. Operative Sheridan holds the pieces of a water basket destroyed by a careless settler of Zeb, and his crafty mind hatches a plan to secure those incredible devices from the settlers' folly. He will fire no shot, nor request a single soldier. Yet in the end, those who call Zeb their mentor will serve as puppets to Operative Sheridan's designs.