Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

base here through incompetence, poor intelligence and

general mishandling of relations with the local govern-


Brzeska eyed him keenly. “I know. There’s a three-

member commission of inquiry on its way to you

should reach you just about in time to see you leave, if

this one week’s grace stands. And ah did you foul

things up that way?”

“I did not. I took it for granted that Cyclops wouldn’t

cut its collective throat. Without the income from the

base their planetary budget will go to hell in two years.”

“I know.”

“I didn’t realise you’d made a special study of the mat-

ter,” Langenschmidt said vidth some bitterness.

“But I have,” Brzeska countered softly. “It was touch

and go whether another commandant was appointed af-

ter your immediate predecessor, or whether the base

should be closed as obsolete and saperfluous. The de-

pendence of Cyclops on the revenue from it tipped the

balance. Actually, when they consulted me I advised

continuance1 went there on local leave and enjoyed

some wolfshark-hunting when I was younger.”

“It sounds as though I picked the right man to con-

tact,” Langenschmidt said, pleased.

“You certainly did. Nowlet’s see . . .” Brzeska stared

at nothing for a moment. “Oh yes. You want Keita Bak-

ary, at my old base. He’ll fix what you want in short or-


“Thanks very much. What I do plan to do, inciden-

tally, is slip away under the pretext of being called to a

top-level conference on the redeployment of personnel

from here and the selection of a substitute base-location,

and by the time they finish investigating the circum-

stances I should have the rope braided to hang Quist by

the neck.”

Brzeska shuddered visibly. “You pick some unpleasant

similes, Gus. Must be the effect of your long-time con-

tact with the ZRP’s. Well, I wish you success, and a

speedy return to your base.”

It was still quite dark, lacking another hour till dawn,

when Maddalena stole down the steps to the dock at

which Bracy’s trawler was moored. A tightly co-ordi-

nated plan to distract the attention of the Cyclopean in-

spectors, nodding at their guard-posts, ensured that she

reached her goal safely and was able to slip below unno-


There, she laid herself down in a concealed compart-

ment )ust forward of the engines and ran a quick check

of the new instrumentation which had been fitted. All

seemed to be in perfect order. She repressed a chuckle

due to sheer exhilaration and spoke in a whisper to the

microphone she wore taped against her vocal chords.

“Gas! I got aboardno troubleand your engineers

have done a magnificent )ob on the boat. I don’t know

where it’s all been put, but one still has so much room I

was afraid at first sight something had been left out!”

“If you really want to know,” Langenschmidt an-

swered in a tinny buzz from the bone-conduction re-

ceiver Nole had fitted to her, “they took out the original

lining of the hull and replaced it with solid-state and

printed circuitry. Be careful not to foul any rocksa

dent in the hull could put a dozen gadgets out of oper-


“If you wanted to hit a rock with this kind of nav

equipment, you’d have to aim deliberatelyand at that

the automatics would probably overrule you.” Mad-

dalena made reflexively to brush back her hair, and

remembered belatedly that last evening she had had it

trimmed to the regulation Patrol length of one inchas a

safety precaution when wearing a space-helmet. She

wasn’t sure why, but a set of space-kit was among the

gear she had asked to have put aboard.

“Just a second,” from Langenschmidt, and then:

“That was Nole. Bracy is now awake and they’re check-

ing him over. His condition last night appeared good,

but you’ll have to make sure he continues to take drugs

against the dose of radiation he received. Also he doesn’t

like the flavour of our standard high-vitamin rations. I

tried him on synthesiser cake and he likes that okay, so

he’ll be coming aboard with a portable diet-synthesiser

a ‘farewell gift’ from his friends in the Corps.”

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Categories: John Brunner