Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

“Barly will probably take it off him,” Maddalena said


“He won’t get the chance. I obtained his permit to

clear the trawler for open sea last night, and then Nole

fixed himuha liquid lullaby. He’ll sleep till noon.”

“A shame. I had as much as I could stand of synthe-

siser cake away back when on Fourteen. Well, all I have

to do now, I guess, is wait.”

“Exactlyanril you’re hull-down away from the last

of the Cyclopean ships watching this area. And then-

swift journey!”

Maddalena gave a throaty laugh and signed off.

Bracy Dyge played his part magnificently, Langen-

schmidt had to admit. He came down the steps to the

dock with just the right mixture of regret at leaving the

comfortable island and the luxuries the Corps enjoyed,

and eagerness to try out the new solar sails and mended

fish-finder which were the official extent of the modifica-

tions to his boat.

“There was no call to go to such trouble for the lad,”

said one of the Cyclopean inspectors, a man with a face

like a lemon whom Langenschmidt had preferred not to

fix a name on in case it was as ugly as he was. “I’m sure

Alura Quist will see he gets properly rewarded.”

“I’m sure,” Langenschmidt agreed blandly, forbearing

to mention that if all went well Quist would be getting a

reward of her own quite shortly.

He was almost holding his breath as the trawler eased

out to open water, with Bracy proudly waving at his

new solar sails. Then he relaxed. In two hours, or three

at the most, the boat would have passed the outermost

circle of quarantine vessels, and then some remarkable

changes would come over it.

The solar sails would be furled, and a pair of hydro-

foils would extrude from a hidden compartment under

the hull, and the compact fusion reactor which had re-

placed the old stored-power accumulators would feed

power to the pipesand the trawler, shaking a little, but

perfectly sound after what the engineers had done to it,

would take off for Rimerley’s private island at a com-

fortable hundred and fifty knots.

Quite neat. Quite neat. He only hoped he would have

been able to wipe the grin from his face by the time he

next had to confront Barly and explain about the need

for his departure to attend this important conference

about a base to substitute for the one being closed down.


That voyage was among the most extraordinary ex-

periences of Maddalena’s chequered life. She had hung

from the talons of a parradile; she had dropped through

atmosphere with nothing but a spacesuit’s reacdon jets to

save her from a fatal crash; she had canoed over rapids

and ridden all manner of odd beasts of burden. But

streaking across the oceans of Cyclops was perhaps the

weirdest journey of all.

To start with, the news that a Gratignol trawlerlast

seem limping along at a typical speed of a few knots-

was outrunning all but the fastest passenger skimmers

plying between the more densely inhabited islands would

certainly have alerted someone’s interest if it had been

noised around. Accordingly, whenever the automatic de-

tectors spotted another vessel in the vicinity, they cut

the power and spread the solar sails. Bracy and Mad-

dalena then sat out idly on the deck looking as though

they hadn’t a worry in the universe bar the shortage of

oilfish in these waters. The danger past, the power re-

turned, the sails furled, and once more they leapt

towards their goal at the front tip of a mile-long jet of

heated water.

Bracy, although he had been very willing to start on

this mission, and at the outset was delighted with what

had been done to his craft, grew bored within a few

hours. Maddalena had shown him the operation of ev-

erything, including the devices which had no connection

with seafaring, in order to entertain him, but the fact

that control of his vessel had been given over to

machinery disturbed him, and he sat with a worried ex-

pression staring at the wake and listening with head

cocked to the hum of power emanating from below.

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