Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

ing the blood-smeared killers, for the ocean teemed with


Yet it was rare to see more than six buzzards to every

wolfshark. By twos and threes, they would sate them-

selves and flap heavily away, while others took their

place, the total number in the sky remaining roughly

constant. And there were reasons why those that roamed

furthest north were followed usually only by two or

three buzzards: first, the sea offered fewer victims and

hence less carrion; second, the birds were still feeding

their young at this time of year, and could not wander

too far from their breeding-mats, the vast raft-like as-

semblies of Cyclops kelp which occurred only in a nar-

row belt around the planet’s centre.

Nonetheless, here it was: a wolfshark so big, so fast,

and so murderous that a hundred miles away from home

it was killing in quantities great enough to tip the bal-

ance in the buzzards’ dim minds on the side of greed

rather than loyalty to their offspring.

He pursed his lips and eased his harpoon-gun closer to

the firing-notch out in the forward gunwale of the skim-

mer. Would one shot do the )ob? Would it be better to

load first with an unlined harpoon, to weaken the killer,

before risking a shot with line attached and the conse-

quent danger of being dragged to the bottom? Had this

enormous beast been attacked and escaped beforeif it

had, how many times? The more often, the warier it

would be of an approaching skimmer, and the more

likely” it would be to attack even if there was easy prey

closer to hand.

He weighed possibilities with half his mind, while with

the other half he reviewed the area where he found him-


This was the water-hemisphere of Cyclops, insofar as

the differentiation was meaningful. It was a shallow-sea

planetits moon being rather small, and incapable of

raising large tides either in the cnistal material or in the

oceans, although its sun exerted considerable tidal influ-


The shallowness of the sea, combined with a total vol-

ume of water close to the average for Class A planets

(those on which human beings could survive, eating

some of the vegetation and at least a few of .the native

animals) meant that the dry-land area was chopped up

into small sections. The other half of the planet boasted

some quite sizeable islands, and even a quasi-conrinent

consisting of a score of large islands linked by isthmuses.

This side was sparsely inhabited, and the largest island

within hundreds of miles was officially not even part of

Cyclops, but a repair and recreation base for the Corps


A certain amount of fishing; a certain amount of

scrap-reclamation; some terrafarms on islands isolated

enough to be worth maintaining as pure-human ecologi-

cal units against the risk of drifting seeds and wandering

fauna from the Cyclops-normal islands around them

that was the sum of human engagement with this hemi-

sphere, apart from solar and tidal power installations

operating with a minimum of manned supervision.

Kolb hesitated. Then he gave a harsh laugh. Was he

going to let the risk of dying alone and far from rescue

prevent him from going after this record-breaking wolf-

shark? He would never be able to face his image in the

mirror again.’

In any case, out in space he had faced death not

hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of miles from the

nearest other humans.

His mind darkened briefly. He never cared to recall

the circumstances that had brought him back from space

to a planet-bound existence, and forbidden him to com-

bine his lust for danger with valuable work. There was

nothing of value to anyone but himself in this single-

handed hunting; men had shared Cyclops with wolf-

sharks for long enough to determine the limits within

which they could be a nuisance, and if the necessity

arose, the species was culled efficiently and with preci-

sion by teams working from the air.

In fact, thought Kolb greyly, there’s damned little

value to anybody in anything I’ve done with my life

lately. Least of all to me…

Slowly, as the wing-glints came closer, following a line

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