Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

and I could never like his successor so well.

The communicators announced the imminence of

planetfall. The whisper of air began on the hull, like the

drumming of scores of marching feet. Maddalena leaned

back and closed her eyes, struggling once more with the

irresoluble problem. She scarcely noticed the actual land-

ing period, although her fellow passengers were chatter-

ing and joking and exchanging snippets of information

about Cyclops. A rough world, they thought it was.

Rough world.’ Maddalena echoed silently. These soft-

handed chair-warmers should go where I’ve just come


And yet…

Her mind drifted back two decades on the instant. “A

predatory kind of world”that was the description she

had been given when it was first learned Cyclopeans

were behind the interference with a ZRP which she had

cancelled out by an inspired improvisation.

What did they want her here for, anyway? Why in

the galaxy had that message come through at the Corps

base where she had been trying to decide whether to go

all the way home to Earth for her leave-year, instructing

that she be sent to Cyclops on the next available flight?

The answer turned up the moment the locks were

opened on the landing-groundor rather, pontoon. Cy-

clops, having so much water, had correspondingly little

dry ground available for parking spaceships. More than si

dozen vessels were in view from the seat in which she

still sat listlessly although the others had risen excitedly

to await permission to step outside. The gawky shapes of

cranes, the abstract formations of hulls in process of cut-

ting up for scrap, the clean bright rails of overhead gan-

tries, wove webs of metal across the blinding blue

background of a summer sky.

She had not expected to find such bright light; the pri-

mary of the world she had left was cooler than Earth’s,

but that of Cyclops was whiter and hotter.

A man in summer undress uniform, hair clipped close

and indicating that he was called on to fly space where

long hair was forbidden because it was dangerous inside

a helmet, hauled himself dexterously through the lock

even before the mobile gangvroy trundled into position.

He peered down the shadowy aisle of the passenger


“Senior Lieutenant Santos?” he inquired.

Maddalena stirred and got up.

“The base commandant is waiting for you,” the man

said. “Would you come with me?”

The other passengers exchanged resentful glances, es-

pecially the woman. She had never been out of range of

civilised cosmetic treatment, and her age was impossible

to assess, whereas Maddalena had had to age the full

twenty years she’d spent where cosmetics were mere

primitive pastes and powders.

She obeyed the instruction apathetically. But the mo-

ment she came to the lock and saw who was waiting be-

low in the open cockpit of the ground-skimmer, she

forgot everything in a wave of pure joy.

“Gus.”‘ she shouted, and flew down the gangway three

steps at a time to hurl her arms around his neck.

“Easy, girl, easy!” he said, disengaging her grip. “I

have to maintain some show of authority around this

dump, even though I hate it. Let’s have a look at you.

It’s been a long time.”

Maddalena pulled back to arm’s reach and studied her

old friend. “You look better on. it than I do,” she said

with a twinge of envy. And indeed he did; his grey hair

had been treated, his face smoothed to wipe away

worry-lines, his waistline trimmed to a lean youthfulness.

In his immaculate commandant-rank uniform, he looked

like a come-on advertisement for Patrol recruitment.

“Have to maintain appearances, the same way you’ve

had to,” he grunted. “Here, get in and I’ll run you back

to my HQ for a bit of refreshment. Your gear will be

taken care of. It’s not often I get the chance to use my

position for my own amusement, but this time I’ve done

it, and you’re getting the finest treatment the planet can


“Amusement?” Maddalena said, relaxing with a sigh

into the soft padding of the passenger seat. “Did you

fetch me here simply for amusement?”

Langenschmidt, easing the ground-skimmer around the

tail of the newly-landed shipthe metal shell of the pon-

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