Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

to fetch another signal rocket, this time to cry for help

from wherever it might be available.


Even on a poor world like Cyclops, the Corps en)oyed

the best of everything. It was a necessity to compensate

personnel for the often heartbreaking tasks that faced

them; likewise, however, it was a drawback in the same

way as the pay system based on longevity treatment,

creating envy and troubling Corps selection boards with

mobs of totally unsuitable candidates.

Symptomatic of Corps luxury here was Langen-

schmidt’s home and headquarters, a villa crowning the

highest point on the island which the Cyclops govern-

ment leased to them. There was no need for the com-

mandant to be in close physical touch with his

responsibilities in the repair-yard and portelectronic

links served the purpose and permitted the privacy pre-

ferred by a man whose longest service had been on a

lonely Patrol beat one tour of which might take a de-


His dismay at Maddalena’s unexpected response to his

first remarks after their meeting kept him silent until

they were together in the long, low, cool main room of

the villa, with the panorama of the island and its offshore

pontoons spread like a map in front of the wall-high

windows. Then, cradling a drink in both hands, he

leaned back in a contoured chair and stared at this

woman whom subconsciously he had still regarded an

hour ago as the hot-headed stand-in agent of the Carrig

affair, twenty years previous.

He had grown accustomed to the changes wrought in

himself by a return to comfort and civilisationthe rever-

sal of the aging effect, for instance. The sight of Madda-

lena at a “natural” forty-five years of age was a shock to

him. Her bones were still fine, her head still as exquisitely

shaped as an abstract sculpture, her eyes srill bright as

gems on either side of her regal nose, sharp as though to

symbolise her innate curiosity. But her skin was coarse,

her hands were rough, and there was an aura of exhaus-

tion in her attitude and her voice.

Tp try and dispel the disturbance she had caused in his

mind, he said with insincere heartiness, “Well, Mad-

dalena! How have things been going for you since we

last met?”

“Badly.” She made no move to sip the drink provided

for her, although she had taken a dry savoury cracker-

ball from a bowl and was rolling it absently between her

fingers. “I doubt if it was more than a logbook entry

for you, but you may remember that Headman Cashus

was assassinated soon after my assignment, and with him

went any hope of progress. So”

She crumbled the crackerball into dust and dropped

the fragments back in the dish. “So I’ve spent one hell of

a long time watching absolutely nothing happen. And


“AhI’ve been learning a new trade and finding I’m

not very good at it. Contemporary diplomacy, I guess

you’d say. I haven’t seen nothing happen, but on the

galactic scale things take place so slowly as to make a

fair approximation.” Langenschmidt hesitated. “Mad-

dalena, were you serious m what you said earlier, about

non-interference, or was that just due to tiredness after

your trip?”

“The tiredness has been building up for a long, long

time.” Now, finally, she tasted her drink, making no

comment on it. “Andyes. I’m serious.”

“Are you going clear back to the point of view I had

such trouble kicking you out ofalong with Pavel

Brzeskawhen we were going to Carrig?”

“No. That was the preconceived notion of a silly girl.

It’s been a long time, Gus, even for a Corpsman, and

I’vechanged, I guess.”

“Now look here!” Langenschmidt leaned forward.

“You’ve been on Thirteen, which barely counts as Class

A, where the refugees have had extremes of climate to

contend with, and in any case started off on the worst

possible basis by having no adequately trained leaders. I

can understand the sight of a primitive peasant commu-

nity getting anybody down. But before you change sides

on the question of non-interference, think of Fourteen

and Carrigyou should see the recent reports from

there, incidentally. Think of Seven, where they’re de-

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