Voyage From Yesteryear

“What are you talking about, Bernard?”

“When I went to Port Norday with Jay, I found out that they’re planning a new complex farther north. They’re going to need engineers-fusion engineers. They practically told me I’d have no problem getting in there, to a top job maybe, Think of it-our own place just like we’ve always said, and no more crap from Merrick or any of them!” Bernard threw his hands high. “I could be me for the first time in my life. . . and so could you, all of us. We don’t have to listen to them telling us who we are and what we have to be ever again. Doesn’t that..” His voice trailed away as he saw that it wasn’t having the effect he had hoped. Jean was backing away through the door, shaking her head in mute protest.

“It’s getting to you too,” she whispered tightly. “Just as it’s already gotten to Eve and Jerry. Oh, how I hare this place! Can’t you see what it’s doing to us all?”

“But, hon. all I-”

Jean spun round and ran back to the elevator. Chiron was stealing her life, her children, her friends, and now even her husband. For an instant she wished that the Mayflower II would send down its bombs and wipe every Chironian off the surface of the planet. Then they would be able to begin again, cleanly and decently. Ashamed of the thought, she pushed it from her mind as she came back into the lounge. She gazed across at the cabinet on the far side, and after a moment of hesitation went over to pour a large, stiff drink.


“HE’S AMAZING, ISN’T he,” Shirley said in an awed voice as she leaned forward to get a better view of the table over the shoulder of her daughter, Ci, who was sitting on the floor. “It must be a genetic mutation that makes sticky fingers or something.”

“Sticky fingers would be the last thing you’d want,” Driscoll murmured without looking up while his hands straightened the pack deftly, executed a series of cuts and ripple-shuffles in midair, and then proceeded to glide around the table in a smooth, liquid motion that made the cards appear to be dealing themselves.

“Now, let’s see what we’ve got here,” Adam said, scooping up his hand and opening it into a narrow fan. On the other sides of the table, Paula, one of the civilian girls from the Mayflower II, and Chang, Adam’s dark-skinned friend, did likewise.

“There’s no need to look,” Driscoll told him nonchalantly. “You’ve got a pair of kings.” Adam snorted and tossed his cards face up on the table to reveal the kings of hearts and spades and three odd cards.

“What about me?” Ci asked, hooking at Driscoll. She leaned to one side to let her mother see the hand she was holding.

Driscoll stared at her. “Three queens, and I could beat it,” he said. Ci and Shirley exchanged baffled looks.

Paula was looking at him impishly. “Do you think you could beat mine?” she asked in a curious voice.

“Sure,” Driscoll told her. His eyes twinkled just for an instant. “If you want to know how, I’d beat you with aces.”

“Are you sure, Tony? Paula asked. “You wouldn’t want to bet on that, now, would you?” Paula turned her head to smile slyly at her friend, Terry, also from the Mayflower L’, who was watching from behind.

Driscoll met her eyes calmly. “I’d risk it,” he said. “Sure, if this was for real, I’d put money on it.”

“How much?” Paula asked.

Driscoll shrugged. “What would you stake?’


“Sure, I’d cover that.”


“I’m still with you.’

“A hundred?’

“A hundred.”

Paula slapped down four aces gleefully. “You lose! Hey, how about that? I just cleaned him out. See, I knew he had to be bluffing.”

“Bluffing, hell.” Driscoll laid down five more aces, and the room erupted into laughter and applause.

“Hey, you haven’t asked me,” Chang said. “I beat that.”

“You do?” Driscoll looked surprised.

Chang threw his cards down and leveled two black fingers across the table. “A Smith and Wesson beats five aces.” He grinned and stood up. “Everybody set for another drink?” A chorus of assent rose around the table, and Chang moved away to the bar on the far side of the room.

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Categories: Hogan, James