Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

Repairmen of Cyclops


John Brunner

Repairmen of Cyclops


John Brunner

The sky rang with the reverberation of fierce white

sunlight like the interior of a blue drum. Wind hot as the

breath of a furnace teased the silver ocean into ripples,

and the ripples shattered the sun’s image into ablazing

pathway of diamond fragments. Itching with sweat,

aching with tension, Justin Kolb had to narrow his eyes

even behind his wholeface visor because the response-

limit of the glass was exceeded if he turned his head

towards that glistening track over the water and the

opacity curve took a sudden dive towards complete


Maddeningly, it was to sunward that he had caught

the first wing-glints.

He had expected that the sight of the Jackson’s buz-

zards would crystallise his formless tension into the old

familiar excitement, re-unite mind and body into the effi-

cient combination, as much weapon as person, which was

Juson Kolb at peak operational efficiency. He had been

trying for so long to get away on his own like this, on

the hunter’s trail which now had to make do for his old,

preferred pastimes, that the strain of habituation to wait-

ing had soured his keen anticipation of the chase.

Only till I see the buzzards, he had promised himself.

And then

But he’d seen the buzzards at last, when he had half

decided he was too far north even at this season, two

days past midsummer, and the instant of thrill had

beenan instant. Now he was back in the slough of

dreary awareness which had plagued him the whole of

yesterday and the whole of the day before. He was con-

scious of suffocating heat, of blinding brightness, of

prickling perspiration, of cramp from keeping the skim-

mer level and aligned despite the tag of the waves. His

hands were slippery on the controls, and the hard butt of

his harpoon-gan seemed to take up twice as much room

on the skimmer’s deck as it usually did.

Briefly, he shut his eyes, wishing with all his force that

somehow time could turn back and he could be free to

return to space.

Cyclops, though, was a relatively poor world. It could

not support luxury spaceflight. Out there, a man had to

be productivemining asteroids, servicing solar power

relays, doing some clock-around job with the absolute

concentration of machinery.

What the hell am I now? A gigolo.

The thought passed. True or not, he was at least able

to indulge this much of his thirst for excitement and

challenge; if he had taken any other of the courses open

to him, he would have been drudging away this glorious

summer in a city or on a farm or in some squalid fish-

ing-port, pestered continually by the demands of other

people, by the need to stack up work-credits, by holes in

his shoes or leaks in his roof.

Even her high-and-mightiness is preferable to that. ..

He biinked. The wing-glints had come again, and this

time remained in view instead of vanishing into the blur

of heat-haze and shimmery reflection along the skyline.

His pulse beat faster as he began to count: five, six

eight, ten, at least a dozen and possibly more.

Name of the cosmos, but it must be a giantf

For one moment, uncharacteristic alarm filled him. He

had come deliberately to this northern extreme of the

wolfsharks* range, because those that beat a path of

slaughter more than a hundred miles from the equatorial

shallows which were their customary habitat were cer-

tain to be the largest and greediest specimens, and after

his long impatient chafing in Frecity he had felt nothing

less than a monster would compensate him.

But seeing a dozen or more buzzards hovering was ft


It was perhaps the most characteristic sight on Cy-

clops: Jackson’s buzzards, swift, cniel-taloned, steely-

winged, on the track of a wolfshark, which killed for

savage delight and not for hunger, so that even the mon-

strous appetites of the birds were easily glutted by its

gore-leaking victims. At this time of year, nearer the

equator, one could look out over the sea and espy as

many as five or six groups of the carrion-eaters follow-

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