concealed the ground.
If it was true that he had built his fortune by selling
the spare parts of human beings, he must have run
through scorespossibly hundredsof victims, Mad-
dalena thought, and the realisation made her stomach
churn with nausea.
Faint from below came the sound of martial music,
and then a voice too muted for her to catch the words,
but having a distinctly coaxing tone. Bracy was playing
with the radio again. Though his family had had one be-
fore his parents died, he had had to sell it, he told her,
during the hungry month of last winter, and in any case
the one which the Corps had fitted aboard the trawler
was far superior to any in Grarignol.
She continued her study of the land ahead, looking for
signs of life. Some turned up: a man came back from
taking in fish-lines, carrying a large basket of gloaming
sea-creatures; a man in white, probably a mechanic, came
out to attend to some job on the ‘copter and went into
the house again.
“Bracy! “she called.
“Just a moment.” There was a pause, and then he put
his head out of the cockpit. “Yes?”
“I’m sorrywere you listening to something?”
The boy’s lip curled. “A government announcement.
The man was saying how the closing of your base would
make life more difficult, but we must think of our poor
brothers on the refugee planets. What I want to know is,
why are they so eager to have more poor people to cope
with when they can’t even give us a decent living?”
Good question, Maddalena commented silently. Dur-
ing the voyage Bracy had plied her with questions about
Cyclops and other planets, and had shown a surprising
degree of natural insight into the problems they dis-
cussed. Most likely, Maddalena assumed, his parents had
been comparatively literate as Cyclopean fisherfolk -went,
and had done their best to pass on their education to
“You wanted something?” Bracy added.
“Yes. I want to find out if there’s any communication
going on between the island and some other part of the
planet. There’s a device for doing that among the equip-
ment below. I showed you how it worksdo you think
you can remember the details?”
“Yes, I think so. If I can’t, I’ll be honest.” He gave her
a flashing grin and vanished again.
She chuckled, resuming her examination of the island’s
image. Shortly, he called back to her.
“No, there are no communicators operating as close as
that. The nearest is over to the eastward1 think it’s a
pleasure-boat acknowledging an alteration of schedule.”
“Goodthank you. Now how about internal commu-
And within minutes: “Maddalena! There’s a conversa-
tion going on I think you might like to hear.”
She rose in a lithe movement and dropped through the
open hatch. A voice was coming from the remote tapper
which enabled eavesdropping on room-to-room commu-
nicators at distances up to ten miles.
“everything ready by midnight,” the crisp words
rang out. “Now there must be no delays! I know I al-
ways say that, but tonight is more crucial than usual,
even. We must have the entire job finished within half
A different voice said, “With this quarantine and em-
bargo business, what happens if they recognise an un-
scheduled landing and take it for a Corps intrusion?”
“They won’t!” the first voice snapped. “It’s not an un-
scheduled landing. This one is for Quist, remember?
And I got her to have it officially scheduled. I don’t
blow what it’s being called: luxury goods for private
consumption, I think”
An appreciative though fawning laugh broke in, and a
muttered, “Very good, very good!”
“So!” the first speaker said. “Anything else?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Get on with it, then.”
The tapper went silent; there were no communicators
in use on the island any longer.
“What was all that about?” Bracy demanded, staring.
“Something is going to be brought down-from space,
for Quist,” Maddalena said. “At about midnight. That
much is clear, but exactly what”
She broke off, a light dawning. Langenschmidt had
mentioned to her his half-formed suspicion that the ulti-