)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.