Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

scale; in a galaxy where the older worlds were so rich it

literally made no difference whether a given individual

worked or not, it required either accidental dedication or

a tempting bait to enlist volunteers for the necessary

drudgery of governmental service.

Not that you can really call it government, Maddalena

reminded herself listlessly. It’s more like herding cattle.

And lazy cattle, at that.

The other branches of government service paid at

lower rates; only the Patrol paid ten-for-one in the

unique currency of life.

She had served twenty years as an on-planet agent,

among stinking barbarians lost in a mud-wallow, and she

was entitledif she chose to take it here and nowto a

guaranteed two centuries of comfortable, healthy life,

anywhere she chose. She could even go clear back to

Earth, for she had been born there.

Wistfully, she looked at the black star-spangled back-

drop of space, wondering what had happened on the

mother world in the period she had been away.

She had been so optimistic . . . Right at the beginning

of her career, when she was making out so badly in the

Corps that she risked not even being promoted lieutenant

from her initial probationer statusand hence losing for-

ever her chance at longevity-paymentshe had saved ev-

erything and indeed acquired some small reputation by a

successful coup on a barbarian planet: one of the isolated

Zarathustra Refugee Planets where fugitives had survived

after fleeing the hell of the Zarathustra nova more than

seven centuries previous.

But when she was offered a post as an on-planet agent,

supervising and watching the progress of these stranded

outcasts of humanity, since she was not permitted to re-

turn to the world where she had stirred up such a to-do,

she had had to pick almost at random from the existing

four or five vacancies.

And she had realised quite shortly after being assigned

her post, in which the minimum stay was twenty years,

that she had chosen wrong.

It had seemed that something was going to happen on

the planet she selecteda transition from the typical

mud-grubbing peasant level where many of the refugees

had got stuck, .to an expanding phase of incipient civilisa-

tion, with some industrialisation and a great deal of

cross-cultural influence: fascinating material to study at


But that occurrence depended on the survival of an

organisational genius who had inherited the headship of a

strategically sited city-state. And within a month of her

arrival, one of his jealous rivals assassinated him and

seized power, condemning the planet to at least one more

generation of stagnancy.

She was absolutely forbidden to interfere. And, having

to sit helplessly- by and watch nothing happen, she had

grown so bored she hardly dared think about it.

Now was time for leave, and reassignment. Her

“death” had been arranged; her successor had been

briefed and was even now aboard the Patrol ship which

would land him with utter secrecy to take over his care-

fully prepared r61e in the local society. . . and she was

on her way to Cyclops, a planet she had never conceived

she might want to visit.

Yet she had welcomed the reasonless order to come

here before proceeding on leave. The delay gave her

time to arrive at the decision she had postponed so long:

stay on, ask for transfer to some lower-paying )ob, or


She thought enviously of Gus Langenschmidt, the Pa-

trol Major who had maintained the beat including her

assigned world when she first went there; he was aging,

greying, even running to fat when she last saw him, yet

because he could think of no better purpose to which to

devote his accrued longevity, he was continuing far be-

yond the maximum service-time which qualified for ten-

to-one pay. Five centuries was the limit of credit Fifty

years in the Patrol.

More than the total of years Fve yet lived, Maddalena

reflected. How is Gus? Where is he? It would have been

easier to endure my job if I’d .known he was still going

to call two or three times a yearbut they ‘pulled him off

his beat to do something else when he topped the limit,

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