Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

anything but the water and the sky. His heart gave a

lurch and seemed to go out of rhythm for several beats,

and he almost spilled the spare parts from the makeshift

tray balanced on his legs.

Jackson’s buzzards! This far north, they could mean

Only one thinga wolfshark!

With frantic haste he gathered the bits of the fish-

finder and thrust them in a bag where at least he could

find them again, and scrambled to his feet. There was

one other way of tracking oilfish besides using electronic

aids, and that was to follow a wolfshark as the buzzards

did, until its eagerness for prey led it to a school. It

could sense the same nutrient-rich currents as all the

other fish, and those currents always defined the oilfish’s


Of course, not all such currents held oilfishthere

were too many of them. But it was an idea.

He hesitated, eyes screwed np against the glare, raising

the sole of one foot to rub it on the calf of the opposite

leg as he always did when concentrating on a problem.

There were several factors to weigh before a decision

was reached. First off, this wolfshark must be a whopper

to have so many blizzards trailing him. Second, he was

already four days from home, and a wolfshark finding

plenty of prey might kill the clock around for a week

before tiring and turning towards the equator again.

Third, although he had heard about using a wolfshark as

a pilot on the traces of an oilfish school, he had never

known anyone really do itit was needlessly chancy

now that everyone sailing from Grarignol could afford a


Finally, if a wolfshark that size decided to attack his

trawler, it could probably sink it with a single fierce


Bracy drew a very deep breath. Now was the time for

desperate measures, he concluded, and went to see

whether he was equipped for the job.

Stores were no problem, apart from water, and unless

the weather broke he could keep the solar still going.

– Power, likewiseduring the day he drew enough to

move the boat at a sluggish walking pace from silicon-

dynide sails spread to catch the sun, and at night he

could spare a little of his stored reserves. He could tisk a

couple of days on the wolfshark’s trail.

Defending himself if the beast turned nasty was an-

other matter altogether. His only weapons were two

fish-gaffs, rather corroded from long use and one in par-

ticular looking likely to snap soon, and an unreliable

self-seeking seine, not much use for anything except

bringing up jellyfish to be melted in the sun.

One moment! An inspiration struck him. In the

emergency locker he had at least half a dozen signal

rockets, which on a sparsely populated world like this

needed to reach stratospheric altitude if they were to be

any use. They weighed sixty-five pounds apiece, and

were triggered automatically by contact with sea-water

at one-hour intervals after the life-raft was cast over-


He spent fifteen sweaty, swearing minutes manhan-

dling two of them into position on the forward rail, and

fishing up a bucket of sea-water to fire them with. If

luck and judgement combined, he could give even a mon-

ster wolfshark a meal worth remembering with these


Then, feeling remarkably cold despite the heat of the

day, he fed power to the weakly-responding reaction jets

and the trawler began to creep in the wolfshark’s general


He was about a mile distant when the skimmer came

in sight.

It seemed to appear from nowhere. It was so low in

the water, even the shallow troughs of this oily swell had

concealed it until it got up on its planes and spewed a

frothy plume astem. There seemed to be nothing of it,

toojust a platform with a slightly raised rim forward,

and a man lying on it, his face masked with a visor

against the sun.

Bracy gulped. Going after the wolfshark? Yes! For

he was lying on the butt of a harpoon-gun, and a gleam

of sun caught the barbs of the missile.

He saw the wolfshark then, and wished he hadn’t

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