Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

“But that’s not the whole story!” Nole rapped. “The

computer was hesitant about assigning these locations.

The correspondence is marginal. And the direction in

which the variations are significant is ridiculous! I could

print the information if you want, but it’s highly techni-


“We’ll take your word,” Langenschmidt said. “Just

make it a bit clearer, will you?”

“Welluhone could say that the direction of the

anomalies is away from the human.”

There was a puzzled silence. Maddalena broke it. “It

couldn’t be a synthesised prosthetic, could it? I’ve never

heard of such a thing, but it seems a reasonable sugges-


Impressed, Nole gave a nod. “Yon mean a limb syn-

thesised to an approximate specification, instead of regen-

erated to make a match with the opposite limb? It could

be, it just conid.”

“But is there anywhere to your knowledge where such

a technique is employed?” Langenschmidt asked.

“No . . . Though with the log)am we have in scien-

tific communication these days, that’s not conclusive. If

you like, I’ll have the data sifted and give you a verdict

jn the morning.”

“You do that,” Langenschmidt sighed. “Right now, I

want to call it a day. I’m sorry I fouled up your first

evening here, Maddalena, because I was really intending

to give you a good time.”

“What? Oh!” Maddalena had clearly not been listen-

ing. “That doesn’t matter, Gus. But before we go, can I

just check out another idea I had a moment ago?”

“Why not?”

Maddalena looked at Nole. “Can you fix an Earthside

location with your equipment? In other words, can you

determine the areas where the correspondence is closest?”

“Earth’s population is pretty damned mixed,” Nole

said, staring. “After all, every single gene-type in the

galaxy is found there, barring a few late mutations.”

“I’m pretty mixed myself,” Maddalena agreed impa-

tiently. “Iberian, Amerind, and who knows what? But

check, will you?”

Nole shrugged and put the question to the machine.

“Below the limit of acceptable probability,” he an-

nounced. The closest approach isuh how do you pro-

nounce that? Iran, would it be?”

“Gus,” Maddalena said, barely audible, “there was a

second language on Zarathustra, wasn’t there?”

“Of course there was! You’ve been speaking a bastard

cross between Irani and Galactic for the past twenty”

Langenschmidt broke off, his face going milk-pale.

“Dr Nole,” Maddalena pursued, “did you compute

your findings with non-civilised gene-types as well as

civilised? I’ll wager you didn’t!” A trifle maliciously, she

added, “I’m referring, of course, to the ZRP’s.”

Nole gave a strangled gasp and revised his instructions

to the machine. Almost instantly there was a fresh


“Probability seventy per cent plus or minus two,” he

reported. “No, I’m afraid you’re wrong, in that case

which is a relief. The reading would have to exceed

eighty to be actionable.”

“Even if we turn out to be dealing with ZRP Number

Twenty-two?” Maddalena said softly.

There was a frozen pause. Then Langenschmidt

clapped his hands and exploded. “Maddalena, how have I

managed without you for all this time? Nole, where the

hell is the nearest communicator? Maddalena, you’re a

geniusdamn you!”


Looldng slightly- dazed, Nole stared at Maddalena

while Langenschmidt waited for his communicator con-

nection to be made.

“NumberTwenty-two,” he said, as though weighing

the statement for some elusive additional meaning. “I’m

sorry, but I’m not yet sure what you mean.”

“Oh, come now!” Maddalena snapped. “If you weren’t

so worried about Gus’s threat to have your hide for let-

ting the fisherboy get loose, you’d have seen it before I

did. That leg of Kolb isn’t regenerated and it isn’t origi-

nal. So it’s got to be either a graft or a synthesised pros-

thetic. You said yourself you didn’t know of anywhere

the latter technique was being applied, though it’s per-

fectly feasible. So it’s almost certainly a graft.

“You saidagainyou don’t know of any nearby

worlds where they make graft material available. More-

over, the computer virtually rules out the chance of a

gene-type corresponding to the tissue of the leg occur-

ring on any planet near Cyclops. But it does suggest that

the ultimate origin of the ancestral strain might well

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Categories: John Brunner