Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

have lain in the Iran area of Earth.

“At the time when the Zarathustra nova took place,

some ten or twelve per cent of the planet’s population

were of predominantly Irani stockenough to support

their own language as a minority tongue against the

pressure of Galactic, and to develop a Zarathustran di-

alect with Irani admixtures.” Maddalena checked. “Stop

me, by the way, if I’m ploughing old ground for you.”

Nole shook his head quickly. “Candidly, even though

at least half the patients who get sent here for ma)or

overhaul have been on the ZRP’s, I’ve never really

studied the events which led to the present situation.”

‘Ton should,” Maddalena said grimly. “The ZRP’s are

the most significant single factor in this sector of the

galaxy. But never mindthis’ll help me to get my theory

straight to my own satisfaction.

“Where was I? Oh yes. Traditions preserved on ZRP

One indicate that the incredible number of three thou-

sand ships carrying well over two million people proba-

bly managed to lift from Zarathustrafrom the night

side, which was protected from the fury of the nova by

-the mass of the planet for several hours after its incep-


“We’ve located to date twenty-one refugee planets on

which people have at least survived, even if only at the

most primitive level. But these account between them for

a mere ten per cent of the rumoured three thousand

ships which got awayin fact, just about three hundred

and six. On ZRP One, for instance, we know that pre-

cisely two ships landed; on Fourteen, only one. On Thir-

teen, where I’ve spent two decades, about sixty made

landingsthe first arrivals left a subradio beacon in orbit,

and others homed on it. Which was a disastrous mistake,

the casualties hit eighty per cent in the first year, and

despair overwhelmed the remainder to such a degree

they still haven’t made a full psychological recovery. But

I’m digressing.

“The essential point is this. Since the episode on Four-

teen with which Gus and I were involved twenty-odd

years agothe time when a gang of Cyclopean entre-

preneurs were led by a failed Corps probationer to de-

posits of radioactive ore there, and used the local people

as slave labour to exploit themwe’ve kept so keen a

watch on the known ZRP’s that the chance of outsiders

from space being able to pull another such trick is negli-


“On a hitherto undiscovered ZRP, though, all the facts

would fit neatly. The gene-type of that graft would

correspond well with an isolated group of refugees, from

Irani basal strains, and one of the reasons why the Corps

maintains its base here is that Cyclops is conveniently

located for the entire volume of space through which

the ZRP’s are scattered.”

Nole’s face was haggard and pale. She broke off and

gave him a look inviting comment.

“In other words,” he said, “you think someone from

Cyclops is using an unknown ZRP as aa spare-parts


“Exactly,” Maddalena agreed.

“But that’s murder!”

“Of course it is, if they’re killing the original owners

of the organs they’re taking. But don’t think murder is

so shocking to all human beings as it is to you! Where

I’ve just come from, assassination is a recognised political

weaponand here on Cyclops, Gus tells me, one child in

eight doesn’t survive its first year. When lifd is short like

that, it becomes cheap.”

That was too much for Nole. A Corps medical officer

was of necessity dedicated to the preservation of life no

matter what the cost to himself. The theory Maddalena

had put to him was too cold-blooded for him to endure.

He excused himself with a whisper and headed for the

nearest convenience to overcome the nausea which had

revolted him.

“Where’s Nole off to?” Langenschmidt demanded,

turning away from his communicator.

“By the look of him, he needs to vomit!” Maddalena

shrugged. “I’ve been explaining to him that Kolb’s leg

was probably cut off some poor devil on a lost ZRP, and

he’s upset.”

“Not surprised,” Langenschmidt grunted. “Though

he’s by no means a practical manwitness what he al-

lowed to happen tonight!he’s a nice guy at heart, and a

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Categories: John Brunner