Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

)ob, that he was prepared to accept far less adequate

material and work it over to the required specifications;

so much trouble would not after all be necessary.

He bent to spread the coverlet over Soraya again, and

paused with his hands grasping the cloth. Of course, it

was quite true that in the long run it wouldn’t matter

no actual physical damage would result, apart from the

inevitable minimum, and on any world with reasonable

sexual standards that would have been sustained within a

year or two of puberty, while as to psychological dam-

age, that was absolutely irrelevant.

He blocked off the train of thought with deter-

mination, however, and threw the coverlet back to its

former position. Then he crossed the room and seated

himself before the carved wooden chest which concealed

the subspace communicator.

Rimerley had been waiting tensely for the call ever

since Kolb was brought in and he finished making his

checks of the man’s condition. As he had expected, he

was in amazingly good shape considering what he had

been through less than one full day earlierthe Corps

hospital offered treatment which Rimerley simply had

no facilities for.

But the facilities he could offer had brought him im-

mense wealth and not inconsiderable hidden power.

Now was the time to use that power, to protect himself.

The moment the call came, he knew from the ex-

pression of near-gloating on Heirndall’s face that the

worst of the risks had passed: that resulting from delay

in making the key proposition to Quist.

“You got someone?” he rapped, leaning forward ex-


“I think so,” Heirndall nodded. “I haven’t yet found

the material for Kolb, but”

“The hell with that,” Rimerley interrupted. “We can

attend to Kolb at our leisure. First we have to make sure

the leisure happens!” He peered at the corner of the

screen, where a draped body was dimly visible, slightly

out of focus, beyond Heirndall’s shoulder. “Is that the

girl behind you?”

“That’s the one. We had to bring her in by giving her

a phoney attack of the local killing diseasethe quakes,

as they call itbut she’s over the symptoms now and in

artificial coma. In view of the circumstances, we weren’t

able to find out much about her barring what her boy-

friend told us, but it is definite that she’s no older than

her midteens, and all the items which you listed for me

when you put in the request appear to be satisfactory.

She even has the right blood-group, which I gather you

were worried about.”

“Has she? That’s amazing!” Rimerley felt tension go

out of him like air from a punctured spacesuit. “The

commonest groups on Cyclops seem to be the least com-

mon out there. I take it you’re sending her home straight


“I was wondering, in view of the urgency, whether

we ought not to risk bringing the ship down directly to

some point near here. The chance of it being seen”

“Isn’t worth taking,” Rimerley cut in. “No, even if it

means a day’s delay, transport her by inconspicuous

means to the usual landing-area in the hills. There re-

mains a slight chance of being caught, you know, and

the compounding what we’ve done by exposing a ZRP

to open contact with space-travel is a needless additional


“I’ve always assumed they’ll throw the book at us if

they catch us,” Heirndall grunted.

“I’ve had this out with you a dozen times,” Rimerley

countered. “There are enough worlds offering voluntary

euthanasia for us to make a case Just a moment! Have

you told the girl anything?”

“Haven’t spoken to her since we gave her the fake dis-

ease, of course!”

“Hpi . . . We’ll have to convince her, for the sake of

appearances, that she’s deathly ill and better off enjoying

a quiet demise.”

“We’ve done that successfully more times than I can

count,” Heirndall commented with a cynical smile.

“Yes, butHell, why I’m wasting time / don’t know!

I’m going to see Quist now. Wish me luck.”

The message was brought to Quist during the second

session of the day’s conference. Dr Aleazar Rimerley was

waiting to see her at her earliest convenience.

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Categories: John Brunner