Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

nel within a reasonable time. Unofficially, I’m to inform

you that the government regards seven days as reason-


“Seven days!” Langenschmidt hadn’t meant to let the

exclamation go, but he could not restrain his dismay as

he surveyed the immense repair docks and all the build-

ings beyonda complete self-contained city, with some

of its foundations including those under the space-drive

test-beds going clear to the bedrock of the planet.

“Seven days,” the tall thin young man said, and gave a

cadaverous smile. “My name is Bengt Early, incidentally.

I hold the rank of major in the Cyclops space-force.”

“Hold tight,” Langenschmidt told him savagely.

“You’re apt to drop it any moment.”

He swung on his heel and signalled one of his subordi-


“This is Major Early” he snapped. “No doubt he

would prefer to deal with someone of his own status.

Certainly I’d rather he did so.”

Early coloured bright pink, which gave Langen-

schmidt a moment of gloomy satisfation. But that was

the last such moment he enjoyed for sometime.

What possibilities were open to him, other than com-

plying with the edict of the government? His superiors

said there were none; ships would be detached from

other posts and sent to conduct the evacuation in the

speediest and most efficient manner available resources

would allow. And that was that.

He drove fist into palm in helpless fury. Clearly, the

only recourse was to overset the Quist governmentand

how could he do that? If only they had delayed this

lunatic expulsion order another couple of days, long

enough to pile up concrete evidence on the matter of

Kolb’s leg!

Which reminded him that Maddalena hadn’t shown up

this morning. He looked around vaguely for her, but she

wasn’t to be seen, and immediately his other worries

drove her out of his thoughts.

Overset the Quist government . . . This was the obvi-

ous lever. But already, during the night, radar-carrying

vessels had encircled the base island, and a ship had gone

into stationary orbit at twenty-three thousand miles,

watching through sensitive detectors for any breach of

the rule that there was to be no contact whatever be-

tween the Corps and the rest of Cyclops. Even a sub-

mersible wouldn’t get away to hunt the evidence

Maddalena had suggested and check on rich Cyclopeans

who had made miraculous recoveries lately. After all,

even the Bracy kid’s trawler had an electronic fish-

finder, and submarine detectors would certainly be

watching the nearby waters

The trawler!

He stopped himself, by a tremendous effort, from

turning to look at the ramshackle craft, with its peeling

paint and torn solar sails which were in fact currently

being replaced by a robot to which no one had remem-

bered to give contrary orders.

Hmmm . . . / But the idea was only- a germ so far,

and there still remained his other obligations: more ines-

capable ones. He shelved the problem of what could be

done with a sure method of escape from the island, and

went to attend to another pressing matter. It derived

from one of his unsuccessful pleas to headquarters; beg-

ging for orders to decline Quist’s ultimatum, he had

suggested that this was a plot to get the Cyclopeans’

hands on the material resources at the base, and perhaps

set up a commercial starship repair service with what

they inherited.

The staff of Corps HQ were sufficiently cynical for

that to register. But they didn’t change their instructions.

They merely recommended the installation of a new

switch, radio-controlled, on the main fusion generator

buried at the island’s heart, so that as soon as the person-

nel had been evacuated what was left could be reduced

to a smolang crater.

That would be a small consolation. Sighing, Langen-

schmidt set off to rout out his chief power engineer.

Maddalena had thought of the trawler much sooner

last night, to be precise, while restlessly trying to doze

off. She had also taken into consideration the fact that,

not being on the established strength of the Corps here,

she figured in the computer records only as “personnel

on leave” and a tap on a computer keyboard could abol-

ish her without explaining where she had gone.

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Categories: John Brunner