Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

turned about and countermanded all his orders, and re-

fused to see me and explain his high-handed obstinacy.”

“Hmmm!” General Baden looked him over. “Who

are you?”

“My apologies.” Barly recollected himself and clicked

his heels. “Bengt Barly, Major, Cyclops Space Force, as-

signed to supervise the evacuation of this base.”

“I see. Where is this commandant now? Why didn’t

he come down to meet us on our arrival?” A chill per-

vaded the general’s words.

“Commandant Langenschmidt is awaiting you in his

villa. General,” Nole said calmly. “I am asked to take

you there at once.”

“Carry on, then,” the general said grimly. “I shall

want an explanationand it will have to be a good one.”

Langenschmidt greeted the newcomers with a mask of

inscrutability. He was not alone in the room where he

received them. In addition to six armed Corpsmen, there

were an aging man who looked to be ill from some cause

subtler than diseasepossibly fear; a youth who held

himself as erect as a Corpsman but clearly wasn’t, for his

hair was completely shaven, not trimmed to the Patrol’s

standard inch; a very young girl with dark hair and

wide, doe-like eyes full of alarm; and a woman in

undress Corps uniform around whose mouth played the

suspicion of a smile.

Without preamble. General Baden said, “I’m told by

the head of the Cyclopean inspection team that you’ve

countermanded the orders to evacuate. Why?”

Not twitching an eyelid, Langenschmidt retorted, “Be-

cause the base is not going to be closed. Furthermore, I

intend to ask that the ships assigned to transport our per-

sonnel away, which are released from that duty now, be

reassigned to me for a special task.” He paused. “In fact,

I think about half the total number of ships will suffice

the rest can return to regular duty.”

“Have you taken leave of your senses, man?” rapped

the general, emphasising the last word as though she had

long ago ceased to expect intelligence in members of the

opposite sex.

“General, if you’d sit down? Chairs!” Langenschmidt

barked, and the Corpsmen moved hastily to bring some.

“I think you need only listen to me for a few minute

to see I know what I’m talking about. I’d like to

start by introducing all those present, if I may. Ah . . .

Maddalena Santos here is attached to my staff for special

duties, and I’ll be asking you to take back with you a

commendation in her name for diligence above the call

of duty. But that’s by the way. This young man here is a

Cyclopean fisherboy from a place called Grarignol,

Bracy Dyge; he has applied for probadoner status in the

Corps and has so conducted himself as to earn my max-

imum approval for the application.”

Bracy grinned broadly and went back to the pastime

mainly engaging his attention at the moment: looking at

the slender, attractive girl next to him.

“This,” Langenschmidt continued, “is Dr Aleazar Ri-

merley, who is not here under quite such favourable aus-

pices. He is in fact under arrest for systematic and

flagrant violation of several clauses of the Unified Galac-

tic Code, details of which I shall be giving you.

“And thischild, I think one must say,” he concluded,

turning, “is named Soraya. She doesn’t understand much

of what we are saying, which is hardly surprising. She

wasn’t brought up to speak pure Galactic, but an Irani.

dialect with some Galactic admixtures. She is, in

fact”and he looked straight at General Baden, wanting

to see the full impact of his bombshell”a native of ZRP

Number Twenty-two, whose location we haven’t yet es-

tablished, but which narrows down to a thirty-parsec

sphere now, and”

“Twenty-two?” echoed the general in a strangled


“But” said both colonels simultaneously.

Langenschmidt let his face relax at last, into a beaming

smile. “Have I your permission to explain my actions


It had been decided at the last moment to make the

closing session of the Conference on Non-Interference

with Zarathustra Refugee Planets a public affair, with as

much pomp and spectacle as Cyclopean resources could

furnish at short notice, and full coverage by the planet’s

news services. There was much adulation of Omar

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Categories: John Brunner