Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

time, we’ll re-contact them openly and help them.”

“Can we define progress?” countered Langenschmidt.

“I thought that was one of the basic precepts behind

non-interference. We must have lost our sense of direc-

rion if we can breed Heirndalls and Rimerleys on a so-

called ‘civilised world’. Maybe the ZRP’s will re-discover

what we’ve lost.”

“I’ve heard all that,” Maddalena snapped. “It still

doesn’t Well, take a current conspicuous example. That

poor girl Soraya had a boy-friend at home, and a sick

mother. She was going to be married. We apply the non-

interference rule strictly, and forbid her to return to

her own planet with the memory of what she’s seen since

she was kidnapped. Precious little that must be, if she was

kept in coma, but there the ruling stands, and I can’t say

I like it.”

“In fact, you’ve chosen a bad example,” Langen-

schmidt grunted. “Her adoring boy-friend accepted the

payment Heirndall offered as a means of keeping the

people eager to part with their sick kinfolk, took it

home, and was promptly so well off he could take his

pick of the eligible girls. And did, within the week.”

“What? How do you know?” Disbelieving, Mad-

dalena stared at him.

“Report came in a few hours ago. Using the informa-

tion supplied by Heirndall’s crew, a Corps party dressed

themselves up as Receivers of the Sick and went to So-

raya’s home village. It’s going to be a very useful dis-

guise for our permanent agents, thatand I think you

can rely on the non-interference rule being bent far

enough to heal a really deserving case, now and again.”

He grinned maliciously. “Wouldn’t like your next as-

signment to be a Twenty-two, would you? Or are you

leaving the Corps?”

“Nono, I don’t think so. Not yet.” Maddalena’s at-

tention had been caught by two figures moving beyond

the window: a youth and a girl both with long black

hair. “Is that Bracy and Soraya out there?”

“Haven’t you noticed how much time they’re spend-

ing together? I took Bracy aside and told him what she’d

been through, and gave him his first Corps assignment

looking after her. Not that he needed orders.”

“He’s already had his first Corps assignment. With


“He hadn’t even applied for probationary status

thenexcept verbally, to Nole, and that doesn’t count.

This time it’s official: rehabilitation of victim of criminal


Maddalena laughed, and the sound was gratifyingly

unforced to Langenschmidt’s keen ears. “Damn you,

Gus! Why do you have to be such a nice guy?”

“Long practice,” he retorted. “When you reach my


“You’re also an idiot, but that must be congenital.”

Maddalena’s face clouded again. “Seriously, you know

. . . I had had it in mind to apply for another on-planet

posting. In spite of what I said when I first came here.

But I feel I wouldn’t be able to tackle the )ob ob)ecriv&-

ly. I’ve been so submerged in dirt and disease and stupid-

ity and barbarism I’m in danger of thinking of galactic

civilisation as the next thing to paradise. Well, I guess in

some senses it is, but it isn’t my idea of paradise. Not


She paused and looked directly at him.

“Gus, I’d like to postpone my leave. I can, if I wish. I

don’t much want to go back to Earthif I was attached

to my home world, I’d never have left it in the first

place. At this distance it seems like an illusion. But

planets like Cyclops are all too real. Could you bear to

have me on your staffsay for a yearwhile I catch up

on reality by degrees?”

“I’d be honoured,” Langenschmidt said. “Do you

know something? Long ago1 hadn’t thought of it in

years until I spoke to Pavel Brzeska the other day1 told

him I thought you were going to make history eventu-

ally, and I’d like to be around when it happened. Well,

twenty years passed and no history to speak of. And

then suddenly you orbit back into my sector and things

happen. I want to thank you for staying your hand until

I was present as a witness and could have my wish

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Categories: John Brunner