Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

Haust, the living representative of those who on un-

tamed worlds struggled to wrest a precarious living from

a hostile environmentat least, that was how Quist’s

speech compositor put it, and she was far too preoccu-

pied to worry about the phrase herself. But there were

some worried faces in the public seats, where Cyclopean

notables, hurriedly summoned to show themselves, sat

listening and scrutinising the offworld delegates arranged

at a long table on the dais of the conference hall.

The matter troubling Quist was the same as it had

been since she first yielded to Rimerley’s irresistible

bribe: would or would not the Corps leave enough sal-

vageable material to balance the planetary budget this

year, while they cast around for some other external rev-

enue to replace what was being thrown away?

Gradually, through her mood of anxiety, a noise from

outside the hall began to seep. She started, turning to

gaze at the window which offered a view of the large

square outside. There, thousands of the city’s people

were watching on public telescreens the proceedings of

the conference.

They shouldn’t be shouting like that. The thought

briefly crossed her mind, and as it passed she leapt in

amazement from her seat.

Down across the frame of the tall window a mon-

strous shining shape had moved, like a fish settling

through clear water. A spaceship. A spaceship so large

that the entire square was barely wide enough to afford

it room.

Others in the hall had seen it go by, and the bewil-

dered speaker at therostram one of the lesser delegates

from Earth, heaping praise on Cyclops for its noble self-

sacrificebroke off his address. The shouting from out-

side turned to real screaming now.

The ranked notables started to get up, muttering in

alarm, and then the scene was frozen by the impact of


The tall main doors of the hall were slammed open

not sliding back into the walls as they were meant to

move, but simply buried from their frames by a tremen-

dous blow from the far side. Over them, with the stolid

tramp of machines, came what most of the people

present had never seen except in historical recordings: a

squadron of the Corps Galactica in full battle equipment,

armour tough enough to repel an energy bolt, so heavy

that it was driven by miniaturised fusion reactors mounted

at the back, and polished to more-than-mirror brilliance

in every band of the spectrum. The crazy reflections

rendered it almost impossible to focus on the wearers,

making them seem like nightmare illusions.

That was why Gus Langenschmidt had insisted it be

worn. He didn’t expect any resistance fierce enough to

justify its actual use.

The squadron wheeled right and left and filed around

the hill, taking station to surround it entirely, and he

came in last of all, striding directly towards Quist where

she stood, petrified, among the offworld delegates.

He wanted to get his opening statement out before

any of the news technicians regained enough presence of

mind to switch off the exterior transmissions.

“Alura Quist” he said, and the words rang around the

hall like the knell of doom, “I am Commandant Gustav

Langenschmidt, a duly appointed executive of the Corps

Galactica, and I arrest you for complicity in the follow-

ing violations of the Unified Galactic Code, to wit: mur-

der with malice, murder by default, conspiracy to”

The screaming and panic began then. Langenschmidt

paused; his squadron was fully- briefed on how to handle

this sort of trouble. It took only a few minutes to restore

calm, with the local notables sitting white-faced in their

chairs, their hands between their knees as though they

were trying to shrink and become too small to be seen,

the offworld delegates muttering frantic unanswerable

questions to each other, and the places of the news tech-

nicians taken by Corpsmen to ensure that the transmis-

sions would go on without a break.

Langenschmidt resumed. “Conspiracy to interfere with

the autonomous development of a Zarathustra Refugee

Planet, conspiracy with Aleazar Rimerley and Lors Heim-

dall and others to murder one Ekim Hakimi and dismem-

ber his corpse, and certain other charges.”

He wheeled where he stood, knowing that two ar-

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