Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner


The face vanished, and re-appeared, this time in the

context of a large conference hall, in which sat delegates

from worlds affecting over a dozen different styles of

dress. Quist was addressing them, and had clearly won

the approval of all those listening.

“You will recall,” she was saying, “that the respected

representative from ZRP Onewho is regrettably indis-

posed and cannot hear me make this public pronounce-

mentsuggested a lever to oust the Corps from its role

of policy-maker in this area. I have reflected on what

was suggested, and come to an inescapable conclusion: it

is not consistent with our professed ideals to tolerate the

Corps’s presence here while they are flouting our


Stunned silence, from the audience in the screen and

from Maddalena.

“I therefore wish to inform you that I am serving no-

tice today on the base’s commandant to withdraw all

Corps personnel from Cyclops and close the base. This

cannot presumably be done overnight, but it must be

done quickly, and in any case from this moment forward

the base will be quarantined, and all contact whatever

between Cyclops and the Corps Galactica will cease bar-

ring such official conversations as the evacuation may

call for. I-”

Stormy applause drowned out the remainder of the

statement. Langenschmidt snapped the switch to stop the


“Well?” he rapped.

Maddalena shook her head, dazed. “I thought you said

the planet couldn’t afford to lose the base!”

“It can’t. Which means the Quist woman has gone in-

sane. Insane or not, though, she’s legally the boss of Cy-

clops, and when I get word from Corps HQwhich I’ve

sent forI’m damned sure they’ll tell me I’ve got to do

as she orders.”


Langenschmidt’s gloomy assessment of the situation

was justified; his own computers assured him of that

even before a verdict came through from headquarters.

No inhabited world was compelled to provide facilities

for the Corps. To obtain those which it needed and

could not adequately arrange on the airless lumps of

rock where most of its bases were sited, the Corps wrote

treaties like an independent sovereign planet. But it

wasn’t one, and in the event of a planetary- government

deciding that it wished to withdraw leased territory, the

decision was unilateral and unarguable.

When the legal experts from HQ informed him of this

situation, Langenschmidt railed at them, demanding why

such a predicament had not been foreseen and guarded

against. There was a chilly tone in the voice of the man

he was talking to as he retorted that the circumstances

were unique and unprecedented, and after’ all hethe

base commandant on the spothad been in the ideal posi-

tion to do the foreseeing.

Sweating, Langenschmidt cut the connection.

But that crack was srill ringing in his memory the next

morning when he went out on the main pontoon of the

repair docks to meet the official Cyclopean representa-

tive he had been warned to expect. This was a very tall,

very thin, very bitter young man in immaculate white

uniform, who stepped down the gangway from the big

skimmer which had brought him and even before Lan-

genschmidt had a chance to speak waved a brisk hand at

the men who had gathered on the vessel’s deck as she ap-

proached the pontoon.

“My staff,” he said. “Empowered by the government

of Cyclops to supervise the evacuation of Corps person-


Langenschmidt looked them over. In all, they num-

bered at least two hundred. Like a good many worlds

whose economy was too precarious to support full em-

ployment and too poor to pass the leisure barrier beyond

which working became irrelevant for the individual, Cy-

clops made the worst of both worlds by maintaining a

government labour force analogous to the pregalactic

armed forces of Earthside nation-states. These would be

a detachment of picked men drawn from that pool.

They were armed, Langenschmidt saw sickly, with

obsolete but doubtless workable energy guns. Quist must

have lost her mind!

“And madriel!” he snapped.

The tall thin young man biinked at him. “My instruc-

tions are not definite on that point,” he replied. “I am

simply to see that this base is evacuated of all its person-

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