Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

matum for evacuation of the Corps base might be con-

nected with Kolb’s leg and the risk of its origin being

discovered, but he had been unable to see what link

could compel Quist into action. Suppose, though, it

wasn’t a matter of compulsion, but of bribery; suppose

she was due to become one of Rimerley’s customers for

the renewal of some failing organfrom her recorded

image at the Non-Interference Conference it was plain

she was no longer youthfuland Rimerley had told her

that she would lose her chance if the Corps cut off the

supply of spare parts . . .

“That must be it!” she exclaimed, and ignoring Bracy’s

bewilderment she dived for the subspace communicator

which was her link with the Corps. The bands it used

were untappable, as far as was known, by any equipment

on Cyclops, but just in case Corps intelligence was faulty

in that area there was an automatic scrambler on the cir-

cuit as well.

“Maddalena Santos,” she said as soon as she had her

connection. *1 want to speak to Commandant Langen-


“I’m sorry,” came the smooth reply. “The comman-

dant has been called off the planet for a conference on

redeployment of base personnel.”

“Damnalready? Then give me whoever*s acting for


“Dr Nole is the senior officer at present on duty, bat

he’s engaged with the Cyclopean inspection team at the

hospital. Is there anyone else you wish to speak to?”

“Not particularly,” Maddelena sighed. “Wait a second,

though, I have an idea. Can you record a scrambled

message and get it to Langenschmidt for me?”

“Yes, certainly. Just one moment.” A series of clicks;

then”Go ahead now, please. Recording.”

In terse words Maddalena summed up her suspicions

and ended, “By the way, Gus! Since you’re so sure

you’ll be back as soon as the Cyclopeans feel the pinch,

why not try and con the authorities into assigning this

evacuation fleet to search for the unknown ZRP, instead

of just tamely spreading our personnel here over a dozen

bases and leaving it at that? It’s going to take at least

thirty ships to shift what’s being lifted awayhalf that

number could carry out a thorough sweep of the high-

probability locations.

“Of course, knowing you, that’s probably exactly

what you’re doing at the moment.”

She closed the message and thanked the Corps opera-

tor. Then she turned to Bracy.

“Can you use an energy gun?” she demanded.

The boy shook his head.

“I think I’ll pass the next half hour teaching you.

Whatever’s being brought down here at midnight is

valuable, and if we interfere there may be trouble.

Lucky I brought a spare gun along, isn’t it?”


Darkness closed around the boat, still drifting as any

fishing-boat might when awaiting the arrival of a shoal

along the line of a nutrient-rich current.

“That makes us effectively invisible to the naked eye,”

Maddalena muttered. “Now let’s make ourselves invisible

to his burglar alarms, and we can go ashore.”

Bracy had tried and failed to comprehend the concepts

behind this cryptic statement. He put out his arm pas-

sively, and Maddalena strapped a miniature radio beacon

around it.

She had programmed a geepee computer for the task

of making them electronically invisible, and it was per-

haps the neatest trick of all those they were using. Essen-

tially she had shifted frequencies on the tapper and

connected both it and the computer to an ultra-tight-

beam transmitter. The beacons would show their loca-

tion at any given moment; the tapper would indicate on

what band the detectors were operating, and the trans-

mitter would put out an eddy current, so to speak,

which would confuse the circuits in the detectors and

cause them to record something as diffuse and harmless

as a patch of sea-mist. The fact that slight mist usually

followed sundown at these latitudes in summer was an

additional advantage.

“Remember, though,” Maddalena admonished Bracy

sternly, “even if it is pitch dark, and you’re masked for

the detectors, you can still make noise, and that’ll give us

away. Be careful.”

Bracy nodded and grinned. The grin vanished as he

glanced down at the butt of his energy gun, protruding

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Categories: John Brunner