Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

Damn the man! Picking this moment to comeand in

person, for some inconceivable reason! A communicator

would have served for any message, surely!

She bit her lip, looking around the conference hall

while the servant who had brought the message waited

discreetly at the back of her tall chair. The morning had

seen the last of the differences of opinion between dele-

gates ironed out to acceptable levels; this afternoon,

there had been several much-applauded suggestions for

lines of action to secure a reversal of the non-interfer-

ence policy. Two of them even, in Quist’s view, offered

a better-than-fifty-fifty chance of succeeding; a record.

Omar Haust hadn’t shown up after his disgraceful ex-

hibition of last evening. Maybe that had something to do

with itdelegates from wealthy advanced worlds always

seemed to be uncomfortable in the presence of a genuine

ZRP native.

The speaker who had the floor at the moment sensed

that something was amiss. He paused courteously and

looked at Quist. So did everyone else.

Cursing again silently, but keeping her face composed,

she stood up.

“I’ll beg your indulgence,” she said. “A very dear

friendas some of you may have heardwas savaged by

a wolfshark yesterday.”

A murmur of sympathy spread around the meetings,

she saw one or two baffled expressions, but seat-neigh-

bours of those who didn’t know about wolfsharks soon


“I’m told that the doctor attending him wishes to see

me urgently. If you can forgive me?”

“Of course!” exclaimed a dozen voices, and she slipped

away with a bow.

Rimerley was waiting for her in an audience room

with delicate silver-filigree walls. The setting seemed

particularly appropriate to the most highly reputed med-

ical man on the planet, Quist thought, and her irritation

at being summoned away from the conference gave way

to anxiety at Kolb’s condition. If Rimerley had come

here in person, that might all too easily mean bad news.

She said, “Doctor, is it something about?”

He cut her short brusquely. “Before we discuss any-

thing, I want your assurance that we are neither over-

heard nor recorded.”

“Doctor! I assure you”

“Save it. I know that no one gets to the heights you’ve

scaled on a planet like ours without being very cautious

and far-sighted. But caution says we talk privately about

the matter I’ve come to raise with you.”

She stared at him. Previously, Rimerley had treated

her with urbane courtesyeven obsequiousness. Now he

was addressing her not merely as an equal, but even as an

inferior. The last statement was an order: gift-wrapped,

but an order nonetheless.

Colouring, she snapped, “I prefer not to be spoken to

in those terms!”

“I know. But if you care about Justin Kolb, you’ll

have to put up with it.”

There was a pause. Finally she shrugged and crossed

the room to the far side. Lifting one of the elaborate fili-

gree decorative motifs, she exposed a small switch and

twisted it through ninety degrees.

“All right. The record will show nothing now, not

even the fact that I came in to join you. What is it you

want to say? Have youhave you attended to Jusdn


“No. Oh, there’s nothing to worry about as far as he’s

concernedthe Corps doctors did a good first-aid job on

the stump and it’ll heal quickly.”

“The reference to a stump made her flinch. To cover his

out-of-character weakness, she countered him harshly.

“How soon will he be well? And why, if that’s all

that’s been done to him so far, have you left him directly

after taking him into your care?”

“There’s nothing I can do until we find a graft for

him,” Rimerley said. And waited for his meaning to sink


“A graft?’* Quist listened to her own repetition of the

word, as if it were mere noise. “But I thought you used

regeneration. Isn’t that what it’s called?”

“For a woman who’s been the effective government of

a planet for so long, you’re astonishingly ignorant,” Ri-

merley said. “I’ll cheerfully regenerate the limb for

youif you’ll buy me a megabrain-capacity medical

computer to do it, and pay for having it stocked with

the appropriate data for Cyclops. Since you can’t afford

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Categories: John Brunner