Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

toon resonated under themshot a starded glance at her.

“Weren’t you told why you were being sent here? I’d

have expected you to raise hell at having your leave

postponed when you’ve waited twenty years for it!”

“No, I just did as I was told.” Maddalena narrowed

her eyes against the brilliant sunshine and let her gaze

rove over the ddily-parked spaceships.

“Hm! You must have changed in the years since we

last met,” Langenschmidt said. “Yon used to be a con-

siderable spitfire. Well, IWell!” He ran his hand

around the collar of his full-dress jacket. “I’d better start

by explaining, hadn’t I? It’s to do with the ZRP’s, of

course. The row about non-interference has blown up

yet once moreit’s been in the wind since shortly before

I was recalled from my beat and put in charge here, and

I was put in charge here for precisely the reason that the

centre of the whole brewing row was right on Cyclops.”

Maddalena, hardly paying attention, made some sort of

sound interpretable as an interested comment.

Langenschmidt went on: “In fact, some of it was to

do with our little affair at Carrig. Although they were

never able to come out and complain openly, the pride

of the Cyclops government was badly hurt by the fact

that a hundred or so Cyclopeans had been dropped into

volcanoes by dirty smelly barbarians, and that we hadn’t

acted to stop this because of the principle of non-inter-

ference with ZRP development. It takes years to stir up

trouble when there are two hundred and whatevertwo

hundred sixty, isn’t it?worlds with a say in running the

Corps, but a determined party can get the wheels turn-

ing eventually. And on Cyclops we have just such a de-

termined party. Her name is Alura Quist, and if there

weren’t officially a representative government here I’d

say she was a dictator. She’s just ahunstoppable.

“The Cyclopeans don’t like having our base here, but

they can’t balance their planetary budget without the

revenue it brings in. So short of kicking the Corps off-

planet, there’s only one way they can get back at us for

the Carrig business. That’s to attack our prized principle

of non-interference. And with a view to this, Quist is

right now staging a big conference on the subject, with

delegates from all kinds of worlds including Earth, and

frankly I’m horrified at the influential names she’s man-

aged to rope in.

“The problem is in my lap, Maddalena, and I’ve wor-

ried myself stupid about it. They put me here to try and

stave off what Quist is doing, and I’m losing out. When I

heard you were at the end of your tour, I thought, ‘By

Cosmos! She’s from Earth, and out this way Earthborn

Corpsmen are few and far betweenshe’s served as an

on-planet agent, so she has first-hand testimony avail-

able.’ For all these and several other reasons, I thought

maybe you’d jolt my mind out of its old grooves and

somehow inspire me to get the better of Quist.”

Maddalena stirred and turned her finely-shaped head.

Her former look of fragility, Langenschmidt noted, had

faded, and she seemed toughened and far less feminine.

“After twenty years watching a gang of Zarathustra

refugees getting nowhere, Gus, I’m pretty well con-

vinced myself that it’s a crime to leave them to make

fools of themselves. I’m sorry to disappoint you within

minutes of our first meeting in years, but that’s the way I

feel right now, and if you want to convince the dele-

gates to this conference that non-interference is the right

course, you can start by trying it on me!”


For the third time Bracy Dyge began on the miscel-

laneous collection of transistors littering the bottom of

his spares box, hoping against hope that the fault in his

fish-finder would put itself right. He was four days from

port, even if he started home right away, in this sluggish

ancient trawler which represented his whole family’s

means of supportwith himself as sole able-bodied

seaman. He had been three days on the fishing-grounds,

and only last night had he cottoned on to the fact that

the reason for his inability to locate any schools of oilfish

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Categories: John Brunner