Looking for a science-fiction story about a man who breaks an alien out of a secure facility. They travel around with the alien in disguise. The alien releases something—gas, virus, spores?—that benefits humanity.

Read sometime in the past 25 years and it was in a short story collection.

1 Answer 1


Rule Golden by Damon Knight. I read it in his anthology Natural State, thought I cannot lay my hands on a copy so this is from memory.

The alien has three legs and is called Aza-Kra. It emits a pheromone that causes humans to feel each others pain, and the pheromone brings world peace because no-one will fight wars when they can feel the pain of those injured.

At the start of the story Aza-Kra was captured when they landed on Earth and has been imprisoned in a research facility. The protagonist helps Aza-Kra escape, and they go on a rapid world tour so that Aza-Kra can distribute the pheromone as quickly as possible. They travel with Aza-Kra disguised as a little old lady, with a long trailing dress that hides the three legs.

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    According to a conversation between Aza-Kra and the protagonist, "... as quickly as possible", because otherwise the humans already affected by the pheromone may well be wiped out by those not yet affected, which would be the opposite of what the aliens want to achieve.
    – straycat
    Jul 18, 2021 at 18:38
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    @straycat: And then in the sequel you find that the rest of the alien army is waiting beyond the Kuiper belt, and most of the humans cannot fight back.
    – user21820
    Jul 19, 2021 at 5:55
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    From tvtropes the cyberiad: "...has a drug, Altruzine, that causes tele-empathy. A man with a toothache has the painful tooth ripped out by nearby people who don't want to feel his pain."
    – user108131
    Jul 19, 2021 at 6:09

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