Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

traces of the impetuous girl Langenschmidt had formerly

known began to peek through.

Unfortunately, it was his turn to become distracted

and stare for long silent periods into nowhere. It was

some while before Maddalena noticed the factshe had

been gossiping about her experiences on ZRP Thirteen

and when she did, she spoke teasingly to him.

“Why, Gus! Is this any way to treat a guest? I

thought you’d spent your time here learning all the cor-

rect social behaviour!”

“Hm?” He snapped back to the present with a start.

“Oh, I’m sorry. There’s something bothering me, and I

think I just figured out what it has to be. Please excuse

me for a few minutes. I have to check on it.”

Maddalena stared at him. Suddenly she leaned forward

and put her hand on his. “I’m sorry, Gus. I didn’t intend

to act this way on seeing you for the first time in so

many years. You do have problems to handle, and I

shouldn’t be disregarding them the way I have been.”

“No, this is nothing directly to do with you. At least I

don’t believe it is. Will you excuse me?”

“Is it something I’m not allowed to know about, or

may I come with you?”

“Sure, come if yon like. I’m not going far. To a com-

municator first, then to the hospital if my suspicions

prove correct.”

“Something about this man Justin Kolb?”

“Very much so.”

She pushed back her chair and rose.

The network of communicator links knitted the base

together as intimately as the nerves in a living body, so

that none of the key personnel need ever be oat of reach

in the rare event of an emergency. Here, Maddalena

thought as she studied Langenschmidt’s strong profile

against the wall of the restaurant communicator booth,

emergencies would be even less common than on most

Corps bases. He must make a first-class commandant:;

thorough, patient, farsighted.

But he had been a first-class Patrol Major, too, and

would have been equally efficient as an on-planet agent

like herselfhad stood in as one during the Carrig crisis,

and proved that.

She sighed imperceptibly, envying his adaptability and

dedication. By comparison she felt herself pliable, weak

and self-centred.

The signal indicating access to the base computer

memory shone out of the screen in the booththe Corps

was the only regular user of vision circuits on Cyclops

apart from the government.

“Justin Kolb, Cyclopean,” Langenschmidt said briskly.

“Circumstances attending his retirement from the Cy-

clops space service, please.”

The last word tickled Maddalena’s fancy. Imagine say-

ing “please” to a machine! But after a second it didn’t

seem fannyonly characteristic of the man who uttered


“Select auditory or visual presentation,” the machine

requested, and he selected sound, thinking it was more

convenient for Maddalena, – yho had to peer into the

booth from outside.

The machine spoke dates key-ed to an unfamiliar calen-

dar, and continued. “Kolb, Jusrin. Asteroid mining engi-

neer, spaceman. Second in command of local system

mine-ship Sigma. Awarded Medal of Cyclops for hero-

ism following accidental destruction of Sigma with loss

of captain and fifteen crew. Sustained space-gangrene of

right leg to mid-thigh, resulting in permanent retirement

from space service. More?”

The gently questioning tone of the last word was a

marvel of sophisticated engineering, if you thought

about it, Maddalena informed herself absently. What was

Gus driving at?

“Who was responsible for regenerating his leg?” Lan-

genschmidt demanded.

“No information specific to this question,” the

machine answered.

“Damn. Uhwhat doctor was in charge of his case

and supervised his eventual recovery?”

“Dr Aleazar Rimerley,” the machine said.

“Thought it might have been,” Langenschmidt mut-

tered, and made as though to turn away. He hesitated,

and at length voiced another question.

“What facilities exist on Cyclops for the major regen-

eration of human limbs?”

“The hospital at the Corps Galactica base is fully

equipped for limb-regeneration.”

“Are there no other facilities for the )ob here?”

“No information,” the machine said after a pause.

“Ve-ery interesting,” Langenschmidt said, and shut the

communicator off. “Come on!” he added to Maddalena.

“We’re going down to the hospital. Are you with me so


“His right legboth times, including today?”

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Categories: John Brunner