Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

to do that, Kolb will have to get the same as he did be-

fore: a limb-graft, which is easier and cheaper.”

“Before? You mean-”

“I’m coming to what I mean. And it’s going to take a

lot of explaining, so I’d better sit down.” Rimerley

glanced around for a chair and did as he said.

“Graft!” he continued. “The taking of an existing or-

gan and the incorporation of it into another body.

Clear? You gave me Justin Kolb with a leg lost to space-

gangrene, and I replaced it with a nearly perfect match,

immunologically neutral, the nerves and muscles tied in

as well as might be hoped. Not well enough for him to

endure the strain of space-side work any longer, but this

wasn’t a drawback you’d object to in view of your

uh relationship.”

“Rimerley,” Quist said between clenched teeth, “I

don’t know what you’re getting at, but”

“Then wait till you find out!” Rimerley ordered.

“Yesterday that leg was being attended to by Corps doc-

tors. I have no way of knowing whether they looked at

it closely enough to determine its origin, but if they did,

you’re in trouble. Apparently you didn’t actually know

that limb-regeneration was beyond our facilities; it’s

common knowledge, however, and it would be assumed

that you connived at what was done”

Quist was waving a feeble hand, floundering two sen-

tences behind Rimerley’s urgent flow of words.

“Origin?” she forced out.

“Yes, origin. What do you think I didbought the leg

off some dockside layabout in Gratignol, maybe? Even a

starving fisherman wouldn’t be likely to sell a healthy

limb, would he? No, it was imported. From somewhere

where none of the natives can spread the newsto be

precise, from an unnumbered ZRP.”

Quist’s mouth worked, but no sound emerged.

“I was going to say,” Rimerley pursued, “no intelli-

gent outsider would credit that you, Alura Quist, imag-

ined I’d regenerated the leg! You must have known. And

what happens to your precious conference, to start with,

when the word gets out?”

The prospect of this news reaching the delegates was

appalling. Quist clenched her hands into bony fists.

“This is blackmail!” she whispered. “You won’t get

away with it! I’ll denounce you1 don’t care what hap-

pens to Jusrin. Maybe the Corps will mend his leg when

I tell them about”

“Denounce me? It’ll look like panic to save your cam-

paign against the Corps, and they won’t fall for it!

Besides, the Corps will have other things on their minds.

After what you do to them!”

She gave him a blank stare.

“The Corps mightyes, }ust possibly might heal Jasrin

Kolb as a generous gesture,” Rimerley conceded with a

judicious air. “But they won’t offer you a new lease of

life, as I will. You’re afraid of old age, aren’t you?

You’re afraid of death, and the long dark silence be-


There was something so evocative of terror in the

words that Quist found herself nodding numbly.

“So now we come to the point,” Rimerley said. “The

proposal I have for you, which is to the advantage of

both of us. I don’t want this story to get out, even

though you’d be the worst sufferer. I’m saving my own

skin, and I won’t deny the fact. But the chance of the

Corps being sufficiently intrigued by Kolb’s leg to make

investigations depends on what else they have to occupy

them, and you’re in a position to give them a problem

which will drive everything else into the background

for good, let’s hope. What’s more, I see from the news

reports on your current conference that you’ve already

prepared the ground for what I want you to do.”

He added, offhand, “Kolb will get his leg back too, of


Quist was absolutely frozen for long moments. Finally,

in a voice drained of emotion, she said, “What, then?”

“What I offer?” Rimerley countered. “Oh, nothing

much. Twenty years of additional youth. Maybe fifty!”

Greed blazed in Quist’s eyes for a moment, until it

was extinguished by tears. “It’s a cruel joke!” she said

hoarsely. “It’s the foulest, dirtiest”

“I’m not joking.” Rimerley leaned back in his chair

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Categories: John Brunner