Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

stopped quickly.”

“Where does it lead?” Maddalena demanded.

“I told you, didn’t I? The hospital’s power-plant is

down there, all its automatic service controls, all its sup-

plies of things like activated water, oxygen, life-sustain-

ing nutrient flows, artificial tissue-synthesisthe whole


“Why in the galaxy, then, do you just leave the tunnel

open like that?” Maddalena exclaimed, astonished.

“Anyone likely to come this way in the normal course

of events is a Corpsman, and too sensible to pry into

dark corners,” Langenschmidt grunted. “I’m going to

have your hide, Noleyou realise that, don’t you.? Leav-

ing the kid in an unlocked room! ”

“Yes, but” Nole recognised the futility of making

excuses, and turned away.

Men and women were joining them now from every

direction, one or two in the same self-sterilising whites as

Nole, the majority in casual clothing, having been routed

out of their quarters or called back from recreation.

Langenschmidt briefed them crisply on the situation.

Dismayed, they exchanged glances.

“Is there any risk of him doing deliberate damage?”

one of the earliest arrivals inquired.

“No, but he’s probably in panic. He ran as soon as he

saw us. Any suggestions?”

For a moment there was silence. Then an elderly

woman who had apparently left the solar therapy room

to come here, for she wore only a muslin thigh-length

shift, spoke up.

“Not more than two people to go after him, wearing

respirators, and carrying cylinders of some anaesthetic

would be easier than trying to reason with him.”

“Great,” Langenschmidt said. “Let’s”

“Just a moment,” Nole put in. “How about the radia-


“What?” Langenschmidt biinked. “We’re on fusion,

aren’t we? What radiation?”

“I have a couple of cases at the moment in need of iso-

tope treatment. I’m processing iodine-131 and potas-

sium-40. I’m not saying he will, but he might go too

close to the bombardment source.”

“Marvellous,” Langenschmidt said bitterly. “So we

don’t just go after him looking like monsterswe go

looking like mechanical men, in armoured suits. Well, if

it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done. Volunteers?”

“I’ll go,” Nole muttered. “My fault.”

Bracy Dyge was hardly thinking at all now. The ef-

fect of irrational terror had been multiplied a score of

times in his mind by the combined impact of the drugs

he had been given and the violent expenditure of energy

while he was fleeing from unnamable horrors. To find

himself among machineryseemingly without end, floor

to ceilingwhich at any moment might devour him as

the naked woman behind the window had appeared to

be being consumed, was more than the fragile web of his

self-control could stand. He was moaning and panting as

he stumbled around the banked machines seeking a place

of safety.

When he first came down here, it had been dark, but

some distant switch had been turned and now the whole

huge room glowed with sourceless light. Was there no

shadowy corner for him to skulk in?

Movements at the corner of vision terrified him; lamps

signalling on instrument panels made him jump. Even the

high-ozone smell, indicative of the immense power slum-

bering within the apparatus, was fearful to him who had

never before been so near a fusion plant.

Gasping for breath, he halted on a gleaming panel set

into the floor, which was warm to his bare feet, and

heard a noise behind him. Jerking his head around, he

saw two white, bulky forms like distorted human beings

approaching noiselessly, carrying what his fright-warped

eyes interpreted as guns. He screamed wordlessly and

ran forward again, randomly, to begin a deadly game of

cat-and-mouse all over the big hall.

It was not long before his remnants of cunning discov-

ered that there was one place where his pursuers were

reluctant to go; twice, he saw them sidle away from a

large black machine the body of which was a metal tube

as long as his ann, with thick power cables snaldng away

from it across the floor. Why they avoided it, he

conidn’t guess, but as soon as he found a means of doing

so, he dived for this tabooed zone.

Bat those attending him had not bothered to remove

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Categories: John Brunner