Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

ous person. He fished said notorious person out of the

water short of most of one leg. Luckily for him, he was

wearing a medisuit, and though he’s unconscious he isn’t

dead. But it’s who he is which may interest you.”

“Well, then, spit it out,” Langenschmidt grunted.

“It’s Jusrin Kolb,” said the disembodied voice.

Alura Quist was pleased with the way things were go-

ing. Not even the reflection which came back to her

from the polyview mirror at which she was preparing

for the official banquet due at sunset could wholly dispel

the mood of grim satisfaction the offworld delegation

had generated in her.

Of course, those from the wealthier worlds such as

Earth had felt patronising about the best Cyclops could

offer, but it was out of keeping with their professed

charitable intentions towards the underprivileged of the

ZRP’s to make open complaint, so they had been on

their best behaviour. And the ferocity of the representa-

tive from ZRP OneOmar Haust, an old man now but

still vehementoutweighed a dozen of his fainter-hearted

colleagues. He still clung to views that most people on

his planet had reluctantly abandoned.

The banquet would be magnificent; the food and

liquor would be so expensive as to have to figure as a

special entry in the planetary budget for the yearbut

never mind, it could appropriately be written off against

a one per cent surcharge on the rental of the Corps

Galactica base. Afterwards there would have to be

speeches, of coursecurious how tradition lingered in

these formal areas of human activity, even after countless

generationsbut she could endure that In sight of a

success schemed for over so many years, she could put

up with acouple of hours’ repetitious mouthing.

“We of Cyclops,” she said to the mirror, and watched

how the muscles of her throat moved with the words,

“are not among the most prosperous peoples of the

galaxy. Yet what we have we do not regard selfishly.

We would eagerly share it with those who are still

worse off than we. In pre-galactic days, the historians

tell us, there was a fable recounted about a dog which

made its bed on the fodder of a draft-animal and so

caused the animal to starve.”

She paused, at first because she was still uncertain

about including this arcane literary reference even now

the speech-compositor had shorn it of obsolete words

like “manger” and “ox”, and then to carry out yet one

more inspection of her appearance.

She was still slender; she had the nervous, energetic

constitution which assured her of boniness rather than

excess fat in her declining years. Her hair, fair and

warmly coloured, was impeccably dressed and framed a

strong face in which her eyes were blue and brilliant as

sapphires. Her gown was of Earthside manufacture-

dated, no doubt, in the eyes of the visitors from the

mother world, but suiting her so well she could disre-

gard that minority opinion.

How long would it all last? Her mouth twisted into a

harsh grimace, instantly destroying her usual pretriness,

as the thought of such a man as Gus Langenschmidt

crossed her mind. After fifty years patrolling a beat

among the ZRP barbarians, he was promised survival in

good health and artificial youth when she was long rele-

gated to footnotes in local history records.

That fact could scarcely be changed. But the purpose

to which he had dedicated his life could be emptied of


Oh, the draft of her speech would do well enough.

She let that matter drop, and spoke to the attendant

manicuring her toenails on another subject which was

currently worrying her.

“Would you tell Justin Kolb that I wish to speak with

him before the banquet?”

“Is he going to be there, mistress?” the girl countered.

Quist started. Was there mockery in that level voice?

There was no obvious sign of it in the dark eyes which

met hers; she relaxed fractionally.

“What do you mean? Of course he will be there.

Why not?”

“I understood from his valet, mistress, that he had not

returned half an hour ago.”

“Returned?” Bewildered, Quist stared down at the

girl. In the past two days, since the arrival of the

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Categories: John Brunner