“The year was 750 AA (Ante Atomic) or 1200 AD (Anno Domini), approximately. Hanville Svetz stepped out of the extension cage and looked around him.”
“To Svetz the atomic bomb was eleven hundred years old and the horse was a thousand years dead. It was his first trip into the past. His training didn’t count; it had not included actual time travel, which cost several million commercials a shot. Svetz was groggy from the peculiar gravitational side effects of time travel. He was high on pre-industrial age air, and drunk on his own sense of destiny; while at the same time he was not convinced that he had gone anywhere. Or any when. Trade joke.” (Niven 212)
Svetz considered this once again for the third time, despaired that he was forced to return to another time in Man’s history, in order to secure pets for the more than retarded Secretary-General. The inbred ruler had fallen in love with a child’s picture book from the past and Svetz had been sent back through the dimensions of time in the extension cage, each time entrusted with a new flight stick, a fresh supply of corundum, AL2O3, additives and the heat and pressure gadget, in order to create the gems of spectacular beauty that the people of this era seemed to admire and crave.
Had not the homely maiden accepted these as satisfactory payment for the strange horse he had brought back; that horse with its pure milk white coat, flowing mane and tail and the peculiar horn appendage on its forehead. Though it had not looked exactly like the horse in the child’s book, the similarity was so close that the animal more than satisfied the Secretary-General. A simple computer change of all the pictures was done to give them all horns and had allowed the animal to pass perfectly as a horse for the ruler. The fact that the horse had seemed immune against the anesthetic gun because it had not slowed it down one bit in its vicious charge at him while they traveled towards Svetz’s time in the suspension cage had given Svetz more than enough time to consider the personal danger of these time travel missions.
The second time the Secretary-General wanted a Gila monster.
“Svetz barely made it back that time. He was suffering from total exhaustion and extensive second degree burns. The thing he brought back was thirty feet long, had vestigial bat-like wings, breathed fire, and didn’t look very much like the illustration, but it was as close as anything he’d found.”
“The Secretary-General loved it.” (Niven 229)
Now, the Secretary-General wanted a tiger like he had read about it in a story about a young boy that had grown up in a jungle filled with wild animals. Svetz prayed that the anesthetic gun would subdue this beast where it had failed to subdue the horse and the Gila monster or rather the creatures he had found that resembled them.
When the door of the suspension cage opened after landing, Svetz had indeed found his time of tropical forest. Heavy moisture permeated the air, causing Svetz to sweat which was a body function almost unknown to him. Giant lush plant growth grew everywhere and the forest was filled with booming sounds. Taking the flight stick, Svetz left the suspension cage and covered the ground seeking the tiger. He had to depend upon its speed to dodge some huge bird-like flying reptiles that seemed intent on eating him. When at last he found his tiger, he lured the great beast back to the suspension cage with machine produced fresh meat. He had pushed the large cat into the cage after emptying every one of his anesthetic pellets in it. As it slept in a drugged stupor, he hoped that they could computer enhance the teeth of the pictured tiger as this animal had fangs the size of a long sword.