Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

world, for medical treatment, when he was indispensable

to Rimerley and could persuade the doctor to overhaul

him without charge?

All this aside, though, he did wonder very seriously

whether his men had not guessed the truth behind his or-

der to pull out.

It was lucky the trip was such a short one; the ship

was crowded, and in a confined space tempers could eas-

ily be rubbed raw.

Also there was the girl, who was indisputably attrac-

tive. Most of the men hadn’t been able to overcome their

revulsion against dirt and take themselves a native

woman during their stay on the ZRP. Now Soraya had

been washed and disinfected, though . . . Yes: the

shortness of the journey was something to be thankful


“They’re waiting for us at the landing ground,” the

pilot reported unnecessarily. “I’m going straight in.”

“You’re watching out for Patrol ships? With the evac-

uation of the Corps base, I’d expected local space to be

crawling with them.”

“They’re over the shoulder of the planet,” the pilot

grunted. “Two, two and a half thousand miles from

where we’re setting down.”

Not a hitch. Heirndall found himself relaxing from un-

noticed tension.

Everything, indeed, went with such smoothness that he

was almost disappointed to have wasted so much energy

on needless apprehension. The ship settled with hardly a

bumpthe pilot had become accustomed to rough land-

ings on the ZRP, and this was the next best thing to a.

public spaceport. Heirndall was already at the port when

the all-clear lamps winked on, and the panels slid back to

reveal the night outside, and a few glinring lights silhou-

etting a parked ‘copter with a group of four men close


“Wait a moment!” Heirndall snapped to those of his

own team who were excessively eager to jump down,

and called in a low voice across the field. “Doctor?”

“Here I am,” Rimerley answered. “You weren’t Jboth-

ered, were you?”

“No, no challengesnothing. Can you take the girl

down in the ‘copter? I’ve kept her in coma all the way.”

“Yes, there’s a cradle slung for her stretcher. Get her

over here quickly and we’ll take her to the house. Then

I’ll come back for you.”

“Right!” Heirndall turned and gestured curtly for the

girl to be carried to the lock. He thought it as well not

to tell Rimerley yet that there would have to be at least

three trips with the ‘copter to bring down all the men

who had returned with him.

Soraya was carried by two complaining bearers over

to the ‘copter and placed in the cradle. Heirndall walked

with her, and as soon as the job was done nodded to Ri-


“Off you gobut don’t be too long over sending back

the ‘copter, will you?”

Rimerley, edgy, caught a false note in the words, and

gave him a long hard stare. Then he walked a few paces

away, beyond the pool of light in which the ‘copter

rested, so that he could see the dim glow of the ship’s

lock. There were more craning, peering heads in view

than there ought to have been.

“Heirndall, have you brought your whole damned

team with you?” he rasped.

Heirndall took a deep breath. “Yes. And we’re not go-

ing back till the pressure is off.”

Starded, the men who had come up with Rimerley

closed on their boss; similarly, catching Heirndall’s words

and finding their half-formed suspicions confirmed, ev-

eryone from the ship came scrambling out of the lock

and hurried to ask frantic questions. There was a bab-

bling argument within seconds, and accusations and

counter-accusations poured out as though a dam had


Couldift be better, Maddalena thought. That’s every-

one from the ship outside now. I’ll bet on itthere sim-

ply wovldn’t be room for any more. And they said

something about bringing a girl with them. From the

ZRP, beyond doubt.

She nudged Bracy, who slipped away into the

darkness a score of paces, and as soon as he was at his ap-

pointed position she rose to her feet.

Her voice rang out with shocking authority, amplified

to ten rimes natural volume. “Stand still, all of you! I am

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Categories: John Brunner