Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

damned good doctor. But for pity’s sake, Maddalena,

don’t go spreading this notion of yours broadcast, will

yon? There are all lands of possibilities we have to elim

inate before we can act on the suggestion.”

“Such as?” Maddalena said sourly.

“Well, the most likely is this one you put forward

yourselfthat the leg is synthetic. This would be much

easier to do than a normal regeneration job, you realise,

and probably within the capacity of medical computers

such as you might find here. I’m having a search of the

data initiated to determine whether Nole’s right in say-

ing the practice is unknown. If it is, I’ll be surprised.”

“Why? The number of worlds which can’t afford full

regeneration techniques is strictly limited, and of those,

damned few would support a short-term stopgap ar-

rangementthey’d rather go for the advanced method as

soon as possible.”

“I guess so,” Langenschmidt sighed. “Nonetheless, I’m

making the check. I’m also requesting the latest informa-

tion on all the known ZRP’s. I’ve asked for fullest details

on the gene-type records which the Corps has made.”

“But you think I’m right,” Maddalena pressed him.

He was silent for long seconds. At last he gave a reluc-

tant nod.

“I hope you’re wrong, blast it! To have another scan-

dal on Cyclops will give me headaches fbr the rest of my

tour as Commandant, and if we find out that this is a

collective-guilt case, so we have to administer punitive

measures, we shall be living here like an occupying


“Is that likely?”

“Yes and no. The mass of the people, insofar as they

understand the ZRP problem, sympathise with a plight

which so nearly resembles their own. Otherwise Quist

wouldn’t have popular support for her campaign against

the policy of non-interference, and she certainly does. So

a dirty business like this could scarcely be public

knowledgeand indeed if it were we’d have stumbled on

it before.

“But Kolb’s isn’t likely to be an isolated case. And we

still have here a top twentieth of the population who’ve

reached positions of wealth and power by ruthlessness. I

said this to you earlier, didn’t I? And if you find being

callous pays, then you’re quite likely to feel that some

primitive survivor on a ZRP isis a null quantity. Who

the hell cares what becomes of him so long as I’m made


“The pattern would be similar to that in the Carrig af-

fair, then?” Maddalena hazarded. “A small group would

be in full possession of the facts, but because what they

have to offer is so valuable, those who benefit from it

won’t investigate what they’re gettingturn a blind eye,

as they say.’*


“Turn a blind eye. It’s a phrase that’s survived on

Thirteen, where there are a good many eye afflictions. I

believe it’s pre-galactic in origin.”

“Prehistoric, I’d have said,” Langenschmidt muttered.

“Except on the ZRP’s, I’ve never seen a blind person.

When eyesight is so valuable, it’s worth taking the trou-

ble to preserve.”

“Hmmm . . .” Maddalena cocked her head. “You said

Kolb’s isn’t apt to be a unique case, didn’t you? Would

it be possible to find out whether any of the ‘top twenti-

eth’ of the people of Cyclops have made unexpected

recoveries from serious injuries or illnesses lately? Failure

of their eyesight strikes me as a good starting-point.”

“I must be tired,” Langenschmidt said. “Or else life on

this damned planet has sapped my intelligence. I should

have thought of that myself. I’ll get the matter looked

into in the morning. I don’t think there’s much I can do

tonight. It’s gone midnight, you realise?”

“I’ve been keeping Corps time for the past few weeks

on an airless base-planet,” Maddalena said tardy. “I’ve

got out of gear with natural day and night.” But the

reference to the lateness of the hour made her stretch ab-

sent-mindedly and repress a yawn.

“What action do you propose talong if my guess turns

out to be well-founded? Will you hold Kolb here in-

stead of letting them take him off to this local doctor

Rimerley, I think the name was?”

“Of course not!” Langenschmidt snapped.

“But he’s the only evidence we have”

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