Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

These points led her to pester Nole for half an hour,

until in sheer desperation he allowed her what she

wanted: to see Bracy Dyge, in private.

When she opened the door of his room, the fisherboy

cowered back like a frightened animal, doubtless having

taken the shaving of his headpart of the treatment

necessitated by his exposure to an overdose of radia-

tionas a prelude to some terrible punishment for his

temerity last night.

It took all Maddalena’s experience as a diplomat

among primitive peoples to bring him to the point where

he would listen to her without trembling. Time was

wasting; she had to seize her hard-won advantage.

“Bracy,” she coaxed, “didn’t you say when you first

came here that you had always dreamed of working for

the Corps?”

The boy’s answer was inaudible; she had to wheedle

for minutes to get him to speak his mind honestly. Then

what he had to say was hardly promising. She damned

Nole for the sarcastic reception he must have given the

boy’s reluctant plea; it had closed him up tighter than a

Pelagian clam.

She was forced to make wild promises and offer wild-

er bribesnot to him: for his family, which was more

honourablebefore she got the assurance of his help.

Langenschmidt wouldn’t like this, but then he might

well not like any of it.

The door of the room slid aside, and there he was.

“Beat me to it again, did you?” he muttered.

Maddalena was bewildered for a moment, and then she

started to laugh. “You mean you thought of it too?”

“Of course I did!” Langenschmidt rapped. “Did you

expect me to lie down under the edict of this damned

idiot Quist? Nole told me you were down here, and I

immediately saw why I’d had that boat of Dyge’s on my

mind all day, in spite of the swarm of Cyclopean officials

crawling over the base like bedbugs.”

“Well, it’s no good to you, is it?” Maddalena coun-

tered. “Your chance of staying behind on Cyclops is


“I could swing it so that”

“Could you, hell! The protocol of the evacuation of a

Corps base traces all the way back to the abandonment

of a sea-going ship on Earth. I’m closer to my Corps

training than you are, by a long way. You’ve probably

forgotten the irrelevancies you pick up in traininglike

that onebut there’s the regulation if you care to check:

the commandant is the last to leave the base, and the per-

son responsible for handing over control to the successor


Langenschmidt gave a groan. “They planned this to

drive me out of my mind with frustration! But what

good is the boat to you?”

“If you’ll let me finish what I was saying to young

Bracy here, you’ll see soon enough.” And, turning to the

fisherboy, who had listened with blank incomprehension

to this exchange, she resumed, “Now if you had good

maps, and perhaps a radio, you wouldn’t mind sailing

half around the planet, would you?”

“I’d sail to the stars if I had a ship,” Bracy declared

with a sudden fit of braggadocio.

“I believe you. You’re a brave boy man. Anyone

could tell that after hearing how you killed the giant

wolfshark. Now here’s your chance to prove it still fur-

ther, and to do the kind of job which will interest the

Corps in you, as well as earning you that new set of so-

lar sails, and a new set of reactors, and a radio for your

ship.” Maddalena eyed Langenschmidt as she spoke, and

received a shrug to indicate that if the Corps was leaving

behind much of its mat6riel here at the base it could af-

ford to give Bracy a few such odds and ends.

The coaxing went on, the flattery, the cajolement.

Langenschmidt’s mind, greatly preoccupied, went dart-

ing away. If only they had waited till this business of

Maddalena’s “undiscovered ZRP” had been cleared

up … Was it coincidence or not? Oh, surely it must

be! True, Rimerley was in the space parts trade up to his

neckmust be, as the surgeon who performed the graft

on Kolbbut surely he couldn’t have a hold over Quist

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