sufficient to compel her to act this wayl The existence of
a link between them wasn’t proof of criminal complicity.
Even if he was blacimiailing her because she knew the
source of Kolb’s new leg, that alone wouldn’t make her
jeopardise the planetary budget of Cyclops for the indef-
inite future. As soon as the drawbacks of losing the
Corps’ rent began to be felt, she would be done for any-
way. Someone else would overthrow her government
and more than likely invite the Corps back. In which
case, perhaps he shouldn’t blow up the baserepossessing
a workable installation was one thing, rebuilding a pile
of rubble was another, and progress over the past cen-
tury had probably made the job uneconomic.
Running the base here wasn’t as challenging as
maintaining his old Patrol beat, but it had its own re-
wards, and he had enjoyed the work.
If I do leave here for good, he told himself sourly, I
can go two waysback to headquarters to serve as the
walkitlg spokesman for a computer, or out of the Corps.
Or eke I can jump in space.
He grew suddenly aware that Maddalena was ad-
dressing him, and muttered an apology for his rudeness.
“I was aslang,” she repeated with a twinkle, “whether
you’ve booby-trapped the island.”
“How did you? Oh, I guess it’s an obvious precau-
tion. Yes, I have, but with a radio-activated trigger.”
“Don’t be in too much of a hurry to press the button,
then. Bracy here has just agreed to smuggle me out of
the area and around the world to Rimerley’s private is-
land, and with his help I may very well give you back
your job when the Quist government falls in the wake
of the row I’m cooking up.”
“You? ” Langenschmidt said.
“Yes, me!” She gave him a defiant stare. “Gus, the rea-
son I’ve been hanging around making up my mind what
to do with my furlough is perfectly simple. I don’t want
to ‘rest up’ on Earth or any other soft-centred planet.
I’ve been doing damn-all for twenty mortal years. I want
some action to get my blood flowing againand here it
“What’s thatobject over there?” inquired the insuf-
ferable Major Barly, gesturing.
Langenschmidt turned, hoping that his personal
concern with the “object” would not show. The sun lay
bright and full over the gloaming hulls of the vessels
from space currently in the repair dock, making the con-
trast between them and the tiny, dirty trawler all the
more marked. Around the fishing-boat, robots and men
were busy in a manner that could not be glossed over ex-
cept by a half-truth.
“That?” he said with maximum smoothness. “Oh,
you’ll recall that Justin KolbQuist’s friendwas res-
cued from an encounter with a wolfshark. That trawler
belongs to the boy who saved him. We don’t want to ex-
acerbate relations with the populace more than we can
help, so we thought we’d overhaul it for him while he’s
recovering from his experience.”
Major Barly’s opinion was clear from his expression:
Only idiots would concern themselves with one worth-
less fisherboy at a juncture like this. However, he vouch-
safed his gracious permission to carry on, so long as it
did not interfere with the speedy departure of all Corps
It was lucky, Langenschmidt reflected, that Quist had
sent them a fool to supervise the evacuation. Maybe
there were none but fools in the Cyclopean government
forces, but that was doubtful. An intelligent man, Lan-
genschmidt suspected, would have wondered what was
amiss when the base commandantso gruff and ill-man-
nered on first meetingsuddenly turned extremely affa-
ble and insisted on spending the entire working day
escorting his visitors over the base, snapping at subordi-
nates who seemed reluctant to comply- with the Cy-
clopeans’ requests, apologising for any- delay longer than
two minutes, and in general being co-operative to the
point of parody.
Registers of personnel were printed out of the com-
puters; roll-calls were taken to ensure that no one slipped
away unaccounted for; ships were called in from nearby
stations to orbit Cyclops until the momentscheduled
for day six after the ultimatumwhen loading of person-