nantucket distressed white finish kitchen island

nantucket distressed white finish kitchen island

four-day planet by h. beam piper chapter 1 - the ship from terra i went through the gateway, towing my equipmentin a contragravity hamper over my head. as usual, i was wondering what it would take,short of a revolution, to get the city of port sandor as clean and tidy and well lightedas the spaceport area. i knew dad's editorials and my sarcastic news stories wouldn't doit. we'd been trying long enough. the two girls in bikinis in front of me pushedon, still gabbling about the fight one of them had had with her boy friend, and i closedup behind the half dozen monster-hunters in long trousers, ankle boots and short boat-jackets,with big knives on their belts. they must


have all been from the same crew, becausethey weren't arguing about whose ship was fastest, had the toughest skipper, and madethe most money. they were talking about the price of tallow-wax, and they seemed to havepicked up a rumor that it was going to be cut another ten centisols a pound. i eavesdroppedshamelessly, but it was the same rumor i'd picked up, myself, a little earlier. "hi, walt," somebody behind me called out."looking for some news that's fit to print?" i turned my head. it was a man of about thirty-fivewith curly brown hair and a wide grin. adolf lautier, the entertainment promoter. he anddad each owned a share in the port sandor telecast station, and split their time betweenhis music and drama-films and dad's newscasts.


"all the news is fit to print, and if it'snews the times prints it," i told him. "think you're going to get some good thrillers thistime?" he shrugged. i'd just asked that to make conversation;he never had any way of knowing what sort of films would come in. the ones the peenemã¼ndewas bringing should be fairly new, because she was outbound from terra. he'd go overwhat was aboard, and trade one for one for the old films he'd shown already. "they tell me there's a real old-terran-stylewestern been showing on vã¶lund that ought to be coming our way this time," he said."it was filmed in south america, with real horses."


that would go over big here. almost everybodythought horses were as extinct as dinosaurs. i've seen so-called westerns with the cowboysriding freyan oukry. i mentioned that, and then added: "they'll think the old cattle towns like dodgeand abilene were awful sissy places, though." "i suppose they were, compared to port sandor,"lautier said. "are you going aboard to interview the distinguished visitor?" "which one?" i asked. "glenn murell or leobelsher?" lautier called leo belsher something you won'tfind in the dictionary but which nobody needs to look up. the hunters, ahead of us, heardhim and laughed. they couldn't possibly have


agreed more. he was going to continue withthe fascinating subject of mr. leo belsher's ancestry and personal characteristics, andthen bit it off short. i followed his eyes, and saw old professor hartzenbosch, the principalof the school, approaching. "ah, here you are, mr. lautier," he greeted."i trust that i did not keep you waiting." then he saw me. "why, it's walter boyd. howis your father, walter?" i assured him as to dad's health and inquiredabout his own, and then asked him how things were going at school. as well as could beexpected, he told me, and i gathered that he kept his point of expectation safely low.then he wanted to know if i were going aboard to interview mr. murell.


"really, walter, it is a wonderful thing thata famous author like mr. murell should come here to write a book about our planet," hetold me, very seriously, and added, as an afterthought: "have you any idea where heintends staying while he is among us?" "why, yes," i admitted. "after the peenemã¼nderadioed us their passenger list, dad talked to him by screen, and invited him to staywith us. mr. murell accepted, at least until he can find quarters of his own." there are a lot of good poker players in portsandor, but professor jan hartzenbosch is not one of them. the look of disappointmentwould have been comical if it hadn't been so utterly pathetic. he'd been hoping to lassomurell himself.


"i wonder if mr. murell could spare time tocome to the school and speak to the students," he said, after a moment. "i'm sure he could. i'll mention it to him,professor," i promised. professor hartzenbosch bridled at that. thegreat author ought to be coming to his school out of respect for him, not because a seventeen-year-oldcub reporter sent him. but then, professor hartzenbosch always took the attitude thathe was conferring a favor on the times when he had anything he wanted publicity on. the elevator door opened, and lautier andthe professor joined in the push to get into it. i hung back, deciding to wait for thenext one so that i could get in first and


get back to the rear, where my hamper wouldn'tbe in people's way. after a while, it came back empty and i got on, and when the crowdpushed off on the top level, i put my hamper back on contragravity and towed it out intothe outdoor air, which by this time had gotten almost as cool as a bake-oven. i looked up at the sky, where everybody elsewas looking. the peenemã¼nde wasn't visible; it was still a few thousand miles off-planet.big ragged clouds were still blowing in from the west, very high, and the sunset was evenbrighter and redder than when i had seen it last, ten hours before. it was now about 1630. now, before anybody starts asking just who'scrazy, let me point out that this is not on


terra, nor on baldur nor thor nor odin norfreya, nor any other rational planet. this is fenris, and on fenris the sunsets, likemany other things, are somewhat peculiar. fenris is the second planet of a g4 star,six hundred and fifty light-years to the galactic southwest of the sol system. everything elseequal, it should have been pretty much terra type; closer to a cooler primary and gettingabout the same amount of radiation. at least, that's what the book says. i was born on fenris,and have never been off it in the seventeen years since. everything else, however, is not equal. thefenris year is a trifle shorter than the terran year we use for atomic era dating, eight thousandand a few odd galactic standard hours. in


that time, fenris makes almost exactly fouraxial rotations. this means that on one side the sun is continuously in the sky for a thousandhours, pouring down unceasing heat, while the other side is in shadow. you sleep eighthours, and when you get up and go outside—in an insulated vehicle, or an extreme-environmentsuit—you find that the shadows have moved only an inch or so, and it's that much hotter.finally, the sun crawls down to the horizon and hangs there for a few days—periods oftwenty-four g.s. hours—and then slides slowly out of sight. then, for about a hundred hours,there is a beautiful unfading sunset, and it's really pleasant outdoors. then it getsdarker and colder until, just before sunrise, it gets almost cold enough to freeze co2.then the sun comes up, and we begin all over


again. you are picking up the impression, i trust,that as planets go, fenris is nobody's bargain. it isn't a real hell-planet, and spacemenhaven't made a swear word out of its name, as they have with the name of fluorine-atmospherenifflheim, but even the reverend hiram zilker, the orthodox-monophysite preacher, admitsthat it's one of those planets the creator must have gotten a trifle absent-minded with. the chartered company that colonized it, backat the end of the fourth century a.e., went bankrupt in ten years, and it wouldn't havetaken that long if communication between terra and fenris hadn't been a matter of six monthseach way. when the smash finally came, two


hundred and fifty thousand colonists wereleft stranded. they lost everything they'd put into the company, which, for most of them,was all they had. not a few lost their lives before the federation space navy could getships here to evacuate them. but about a thousand, who were too poor tomake a fresh start elsewhere and too tough for fenris to kill, refused evacuation, tookover all the equipment and installations the fenris company had abandoned, and tried tomake a living out of the planet. at least, they stayed alive. there are now twenty-oddthousand of us, and while we are still very poor, we are very tough, and we brag aboutit. there were about two thousand people—tenper cent of the planetary population—on


the wide concrete promenade around the spaceportlanding pit. i came out among them and set down the hamper with my telecast cameras andrecorders, wishing, as usual, that i could find some ten or twelve-year-old kid weak-mindedenough to want to be a reporter when he grew up, so that i could have an apprentice tohelp me with my junk. as the star—and only—reporter of the greatest—andonly—paper on the planet, i was always on hand when either of the two ships on the terra-odinmilk run, the peenemã¼nde and the cape canaveral, landed. of course, we always talk to themby screen as soon as they come out of hyperspace and into radio range, and get the passengerlist, and a speed-recording of any news they are carrying, from the latest native uprisingon thor to the latest political scandal on


venus. sometime the natives of thor won'tbe fighting anybody at all, or the federation member republic of venus will have some nonscandalouspolitics, and either will be the man-bites-dog story to end man-bites-dog stories. all thenews is at least six months old, some more than a year. a spaceship can log a light-yearin sixty-odd hours, but radio waves still crawl along at the same old 186,000 mps. i still have to meet the ships. there's alwayssomething that has to be picked up personally, usually an interview with some vip travelingthrough. this time, though, the big story coming in on the peenemã¼nde was a local item.paradox? dad says there is no such thing. he says a paradox is either a verbal contradiction,and you get rid of it by restating it correctly,


or it's a structural contradiction, and youjust call it an impossibility and let it go at that. in this case, what was coming inwas a real live author, who was going to write a travel book about fenris, the planet withthe four-day year. glenn murell, which sounded suspiciously like a nom de plume, and nobodyhere had ever heard of him. that was odd, too. one thing we can reallybe proud of here, besides the toughness of our citizens, is our public library. whenpeople have to stay underground most of the time to avoid being fried and/or frozen todeath, they have a lot of time to kill, and reading is one of the cheaper and more harmlessand profitable ways of doing it. and travel books are a special favorite here. i supposebecause everybody is hoping to read about


a worse place than fenris. i had checked onglenn murell at the library. none of the librarians had ever heard of him, and there wasn't asingle mention of him in any of the big catalogues of publications. the first and obvious conclusion would bethat mr. glenn murell was some swindler posing as an author. the only objection to that wasthat i couldn't quite see why any swindler would come to fenris, or what he'd expectto swindle the fenrisians out of. of course, he could be on the lam from somewhere, butin that case why bother with all the cover story? some of our better-known citizens camehere dodging warrants on other planets. i was still wondering about murell when somebodybehind me greeted me, and i turned around.


it was tom kivelson. tom and i are buddies, when he's in port.he's just a shade older than i am; he was eighteen around noon, and my eighteenth birthdaywon't come till midnight, fenris standard sundial time. his father is joe kivelson,the skipper of the javelin; tom is sort of junior engineer, second gunner, and aboutthird harpooner. we went to school together, which is to say a couple of years at professorhartzenbosch's, learning to read and write and put figures together. that is all theschooling anybody on fenris gets, although joe kivelson sent tom's older sister, linda,to school on terra. anybody who stays here has to dig out education for himself. tomand i were still digging for ours.


each of us envied the other, when we weren'tthinking seriously about it. i imagined that sea-monster hunting was wonderfully thrillingand romantic, and tom had the idea that being a newsman was real hot stuff. when we actuallystopped to think about it, though, we realized that neither of us would trade jobs and takeanything at all for boot. tom couldn't string three sentences—no, one sentence—togetherto save his life, and i'm just a town boy who likes to live in something that isn'tpitching end-for-end every minute. tom is about three inches taller than i am,and about thirty pounds heavier. like all monster-hunters, he's trying to grow a beard,though at present it's just a blond chin-fuzz. i was surprised to see him dressed as i was,in shorts and sandals and a white shirt and


a light jacket. ordinarily, even in town,he wears boat-clothes. i looked around behind him, and saw the brass tip of a scabbard underthe jacket. any time a hunter-ship man doesn't have his knife on, he isn't wearing anythingelse. i wondered about his being in port now. i knew joe kivelson wouldn't bring his shipin just to meet the peenemã¼nde, with only a couple of hundred hours' hunting left tillthe storms and the cold. "i thought you were down in the south ocean,"i said. "there's going to be a special meeting ofthe co-op," he said. "we only heard about it last evening," by which he meant after1800 of the previous galactic standard day. he named another hunter-ship captain who hadcalled the javelin by screen. "we screened


everybody else we could." that was the way they ran things in the hunters'co-operative. steve ravick would wait till everybody had their ships down on the coastof hermann reuch's land, and then he would call a meeting and pack it with his stoogesand hooligans, and get anything he wanted voted through. i had always wondered how longthe real hunters were going to stand for that. they'd been standing for it ever since i couldremember anything outside my own playpen, which, of course, hadn't been too long. i was about to say something to that effect,and then somebody yelled, "there she is!" i took a quick look at the radar bowls tosee which way they were pointed and followed


them up to the sky, and caught a tiny twinklethrough a cloud rift. after a moment's mental arithmetic to figure how high she'd have tobe to catch the sunlight, i relaxed. even with the telephoto, i'd only get a picturethe size of a pinhead, so i fixed the position in my mind and then looked around at the crowd. among them were two men, both well dressed.one was tall and slender, with small hands and feet; the other was short and stout, witha scrubby gray-brown mustache. the slender one had a bulge under his left arm, and theshort-and-stout job bulged over the right hip. the former was steve ravick, the bossof the hunters' co-operative, and his companion was the honorable morton hallstock, mayorof port sandor and consequently the planetary


government of fenris. they had held their respective positions foras long as i could remember anything at all. i could never remember an election in portsandor, or an election of officers in the co-op. ravick had a bunch of goons and triggermen—icould see a couple of them loitering in the background—who kept down opposition forhim. so did hallstock, only his wore badges and called themselves police. once in a while, dad would write a blisteringeditorial about one or the other or both of them. whenever he did, i would put my gunon, and so would julio kubanoff, the one-legged compositor who is the third member of thetimes staff, and we would take turns making


sure nobody got behind dad's back. nothingever happened, though, and that always rather hurt me. those two racketeers were in so tightthey didn't need to care what the times printed or 'cast about them. hallstock glanced over in my direction andsaid something to ravick. ravick gave a sneering laugh, and then he crushed out the cigarettehe was smoking on the palm of his left hand. that was a regular trick of his. showing howtough he was. dad says that when you see somebody showing off, ask yourself whether he's tryingto impress other people, or himself. i wondered which was the case with steve ravick. then i looked up again. the peenemã¼nde wascoming down as fast as she could without over-heating


from atmosphere friction. she was almost buckshotsize to the naked eye, and a couple of tugs were getting ready to go up and meet her.i got the telephoto camera out of the hamper, checked it, and aimed it. it has a shoulderstock and handgrips and a trigger like a submachine gun. i caught the ship in the finder and squeezedthe trigger for a couple of seconds. it would be about five minutes till the tugs got toher and anything else happened, so i put down the camera and looked around. coming through the crowd, walking as thoughthe concrete under him was pitching and rolling like a ship's deck on contragravity in a storm,was bish ware. he caught sight of us, waved, overbalanced himself and recovered, and thenchanged course to starboard and bore down


on us. he was carrying about his usual cargo,and as usual the manifest would read, baldur honey-rum, from harry wong's bar. bish wasn't his real name. neither, i suspected,was ware. when he'd first landed on fenris, some five years ago, somebody had nicknamedhim the bishop, and before long that had gotten cut to one syllable. he looked like a bishop,or at least like what anybody who's never seen a bishop outside a screen-play wouldthink a bishop looked like. he was a big man, not fat, but tall and portly; he had a ruddyface that always wore an expression of benevolent wisdom, and the more cargo he took on thewiser and more benevolent he looked. he had iron-gray hair, but he wasn't old.you could tell that by the backs of his hands;


they weren't wrinkled or crepy and the veinsdidn't protrude. and drunk or sober—though i never remembered seeing him in the lattercondition—he had the fastest reflexes of anybody i knew. i saw him, once, standingat the bar in harry wong's, knock over an open bottle with his left elbow. he spun halfaround, grabbed it by the neck and set it up, all in one motion, without spilling adrop, and he went on talking as though nothing had happened. he was quoting homer, i remembered,and you could tell that he was thinking in the original ancient greek and translatingto lingua terra as he went. he was always dressed as he was now, in aconservative black suit, the jacket a trifle longer than usual, and a black neckcloth withan uller organic-opal pin. he didn't work


at anything, but quarterly—once every planetaryday—a draft on the banking cartel would come in for him, and he'd deposit it withthe port sandor fidelity & trust. if anybody was unmannerly enough to ask him about it,he always said he had a rich uncle on terra. when i was a kid—well, more of a kid thani am now—i used to believe he really was a bishop—unfrocked, of course, or ungaitered,or whatever they call it when they give a bishop the heave-ho. a lot of people who weren'tkids still believed that, and they blamed him on every denomination from anglicans tozen buddhists, not even missing the satanists, and there were all sorts of theories aboutwhat he'd done to get excommunicated, the mildest of which was that somewhere therewas a cathedral standing unfinished because


he'd hypered out with the building fund. itwas generally agreed that his ecclesiastical organization was paying him to stay out therein the boondocks where he wouldn't cause them further embarrassment. i was pretty sure, myself, that he was beingpaid by somebody, probably his family, to stay out of sight. the colonial planets arefull of that sort of remittance men. bish and i were pretty good friends. therewere certain old ladies, of both sexes and all ages, of whom professor hartzenbosch wasan example, who took dad to task occasionally for letting me associate with him. dad simplyignored them. as long as i was going to be a reporter, i'd have to have news sources,and bish was a dandy. he knew all the disreputable


characters in town, which saved me havingto associate with all of them, and it is sad but true that you get very few news storiesin sunday school. far from fearing that bish would be a bad influence on me, he ratherhoped i'd be a good one on bish. i had that in mind, too, if i could thinkof any way of managing it. bish had been a good man, once. he still was, except for onething. you could tell that before he'd started drinking, he'd really been somebody, somewhere.then something pretty bad must have happened to him, and now he was here on fenris, tryingto hide from it behind a bottle. something ought to be done to give him a shove up onhis feet again. i hate waste, and a man of the sort he must have been turning himselfinto the rumpot he was now was waste of the


worst kind. it would take a lot of doing, though, andcareful tactical planning. preaching at him would be worse than useless, and so wouldsimply trying to get him to stop drinking. that would be what doc rojansky, at the hospital,would call treating the symptoms. the thing to do was make him want to stop drinking,and i didn't know how i was going to manage that. i'd thought, a couple of times, of gettinghim to work on the times, but we barely made enough money out of it for ourselves, andwith his remittance he didn't need to work. i had a lot of other ideas, now and then,but every time i took a second look at one, it got sick and died.


chapter 2 - reporter working bish came over and greeted us solemnly. "good afternoon, gentlemen. captain ahab,i believe," he said, bowing to tom, who seemed slightly puzzled; the education tom had beendigging out for himself was technical rather than literary. "and mr. pulitzer. or is ithorace greeley?" "lord beaverbrook, your grace," i replied."have you any little news items for us from your diocese?" bish teetered slightly, getting out a cigarand inspecting it carefully before lighting it.


"we-el," he said carefully, "my diocese isfull to the hatch covers with sinners, but that's scarcely news." he turned to tom. "oneof your hands on the javelin got into a fight in martian joe's, a while ago. lumped theother man up pretty badly." he named the javelin crewman, and the man who had been pounded.the latter was one of steve ravick's goons. "but not fatally, i regret to say," bish added."the local gestapo are looking for your man, but he made it aboard nip spazoni's bulldog,and by this time he's halfway to hermann reuch's land." "isn't nip going to the meeting, tonight?"tom asked. bish shook his head. "nip is a peace-lovingman. he has a well-founded suspicion that


peace is going to be in short supply aroundhunters' hall this evening. you know, of course, that leo belsher's coming in on the peenemã¼ndeand will be there to announce another price cut. the new price, i understand, will bethirty-five centisols a pound." seven hundred sols a ton, i thought; why,that would barely pay ship expenses. "where did you get that?" tom asked, a triflesharply. "oh, i have my spies and informers," bishsaid. "and even if i hadn't, it would figure. the only reason leo belsher ever comes tothis eden among planets is to negotiate a new contract, and who ever heard of a newcontract at a higher price?" that had all happened before, a number oftimes. when steve ravick had gotten control


of the hunters' co-operative, the price oftallow-wax, on the loading floor at port sandor spaceport, had been fifteen hundred sols aton. as far as dad and i could find out, it was still bringing the same price on terraas it always had. it looked to us as if ravick and leo belsher, who was the co-op representativeon terra, and mort hallstock were simply pocketing the difference. i was just as sore about whatwas happening as anybody who went out in the hunter-ships. tallow-wax is our only export.all our imports are paid for with credit from the sale of wax. it isn't really wax, and it isn't tallow.it's a growth on the jarvis's sea-monster; there's a layer of it under the skin, andaround organs that need padding. an average-sized


monster, say a hundred and fifty feet long,will yield twelve to fifteen tons of it, and a good hunter kills about ten monsters a year.well, at the price belsher and ravick were going to cut from, that would run a littleshort of a hundred and fifty thousand sols for a year. if you say it quick enough anddon't think, that sounds like big money, but the upkeep and supplies for a hunter-shipare big money, too, and what's left after that's paid off is divided, on a graduatedscale, among ten to fifteen men, from the captain down. a hunter-boat captain, evena good one like joe kivelson, won't make much more in a year than dad and i make out ofthe times. chemically, tallow-wax isn't like anythingelse in the known galaxy. the molecules are


huge; they can be seen with an ordinary opticalmicroscope, and a microscopically visible molecule is a curious-looking object, to saythe least. they use the stuff to treat fabric for protective garments. it isn't anythinglike collapsium, of course, but a suit of waxed coveralls weighing only a couple ofpounds will stop as much radiation as half an inch of lead. back when they were getting fifteen hundreda ton, the hunters had been making good money, but that was before steve ravick's time. it was slightly before mine, too. steve ravickhad showed up on fenris about twelve years ago. he'd had some money, and he'd boughtshares in a couple of hunter-ships and staked


a few captains who'd had bad luck and gotthem in debt to him. he also got in with morton hallstock, who controlled what some peoplewere credulous enough to take for a government here. before long, he was secretary of thehunters' co-operative. old simon macgregor, who had been president then, was a good hunter,but he was no businessman. he came to depend very heavily on ravick, up till his ship,the claymore, was lost with all hands down in fitzwilliam straits. i think that was atime bomb in the magazine, but i have a low and suspicious mind. professor hartzenboschhas told me so repeatedly. after that, steve ravick was president of the co-op. he immediatelybegan a drive to increase the membership. most of the new members had never been outin a hunter-ship in their lives, but they


could all be depended on to vote the way hewanted them to. first, he jacked the price of wax up, whichmade everybody but the wax buyers happy. everybody who wasn't already in the co-op hurried upand joined. then he negotiated an exclusive contract with kapstaad chemical products,ltd., in south africa, by which they agreed to take the entire output for the co-op. thatended competitive wax buying, and when there was nobody to buy the wax but kapstaad, youhad to sell it through the co-operative or you didn't sell it at all. after that, theprice started going down. the co-operative, for which read steve ravick, had a sales representativeon terra, leo belsher. he wrote all the contracts, collected all the money, and split with ravick.what was going on was pretty generally understood,


even if it couldn't be proven, but what couldanybody do about it? maybe somebody would try to do something aboutit at the meeting this evening. i would be there to cover it. i was beginning to wishi owned a bullet-proof vest. bish and tom were exchanging views on thesubject, some of them almost printable. i had my eyes to my binoculars, watching thetugs go up to meet the peenemã¼nde. "what we need for ravick, hallstock and belsher,"tom was saying, "is about four fathoms of harpoon line apiece, and something to haulup to." that kind of talk would have shocked dad.he is very strong for law and order, even when there is no order and the law itselfis illegal. i'd always thought there was a


lot of merit in what tom was suggesting. bishware seemed to have his doubts, though. "mmm, no; there ought to be some better wayof doing it than that." "can you think of one?" tom challenged. i didn't hear bish's reply. by that time,the tugs were almost to the ship. i grabbed up the telephoto camera and aimed it. it hasits own power unit, and transmits directly. in theory, i could tune it to the telecaststation and put what i was getting right on the air, and what i was doing was transmittingto the times, to be recorded and 'cast later. because it's not a hundred per cent reliable,though, it makes its own audiovisual record, so if any of what i was sending didn't getthrough, it could be spliced in after i got


back. i got some footage of the tugs grappling theship, which was now completely weightless, and pulling her down. through the finder,i could see that she had her landing legs extended; she looked like a big overfed spiderbeing hauled in by a couple of gnats. i kept the butt of the camera to my shoulder, andwhenever anything interesting happened, i'd squeeze the trigger. the first time i everused a real submachine gun had been to kill a blue slasher that had gotten into one ofthe ship pools at the waterfront. i used three one-second bursts, and threw bits of slasherall over the place, and everybody wondered how i'd gotten the practice.


a couple more boats, pushers, went up to helphold the ship against the wind, and by that time she was down to a thousand feet, whichwas half her diameter. i switched from the shoulder-stock telephoto to the big tripodjob, because this was the best part of it. the ship was weightless, of course, but shehad mass and an awful lot of it. if anybody goofed getting her down, she'd take the sideof the landing pit out, and about ten per cent of the population of fenris, includingthe ace reporter for the times, along with at the same time, some workmen and a coupleof spaceport cops had appeared, taken out a section of railing and put in a gate. thepeenemã¼nde settled down, turned slowly to get her port in line with the gate, and lurchedoff contragravity and began running out a


bridge to the promenade. i got some shotsof that, and then began packing my stuff back in the hamper. "you going aboard?" tom asked. "can i comealong? i can carry some of your stuff and let on i'm your helper." glory be, i thought; i finally got that apprentice. "why, sure," i said. "you tow the hamper;i'll carry this." i got out what looked like a big camera case and slung it over my shoulder."but you'll have to take me out on the javelin, sometime, and let me shoot a monster." he said it was a deal, and we shook on it.then i had another idea.


"bish, suppose you come with us, too," i said."after all, tom and i are just a couple of kids. if you're with us, it'll look a lotmore big-paperish." that didn't seem to please tom too much. bishshook his head, though, and tom brightened. "i'm dreadfully sorry, walt," bish said. "buti'm going aboard, myself, to see a friend who is en route through to odin. a dr. watson;i have not seen him for years." i'd caught that name, too, when we'd gottenthe passenger list. dr. john watson. now, i know that all sorts of people call themselvesdoctor, and watson and john aren't too improbable a combination, but i'd read sherlock holmeslong ago, and the name had caught my attention. and this was the first, to my knowledge, thatbish ware had ever admitted to any off-planet


connections. we started over to the gate. hallstock andravick were ahead of us. so was sigurd ngozori, the president of the fidelity & trust, carryinga heavy briefcase and accompanied by a character with a submachine gun, and adolf lautier andprofessor hartzenbosch. there were a couple of spaceport cops at the gate, in olive-greenuniforms that looked as though they had been sprayed on, and steel helmets. i wished wehad a city police force like that. they were odin dock & shipyard company men, all formerfederation regular army or colonial constabulary. the spaceport wasn't part of port sandor,or even fenris; the odin dock & shipyard company was the government there, and it was run honestlyand efficiently.


they knew me, and when they saw tom towingmy hamper they cracked a few jokes about the new times cub reporter and waved us through.i thought they might give bish an argument, but they just nodded and let him pass, too.we all went out onto the bridge, and across the pit to the equator of the two-thousand-footglobular ship. we went into the main lounge, and the captainintroduced us to mr. glenn murell. he was fairly tall, with light gray hair, prematurelyso, i thought, and a pleasant, noncommittal face. i'd have pegged him for a businessman.well, i suppose authoring is a business, if that was his business. he shook hands withus, and said: "aren't you rather young to be a newsman?"


i started to burn on that. i get it all thetime, and it burns me all the time, but worst of all on the job. maybe i am only going-on-eighteen,but i'm doing a man's work, and i'm doing it competently. "well, they grow up young on fenris, mr. murell,"captain marshak earned my gratitude by putting in. "either that or they don't live to growup." murell unhooked his memophone and repeatedthe captain's remark into it. opening line for one of his chapters. then he wanted toknow if i'd been born on fenris. i saw i was going to have to get firm with mr. murell,right away. the time to stop that sort of thing is as soon as it starts.


"who," i wanted to know, "is interviewingwhom? you'll have at least five hundred hours till the next possible ship out of here; ionly have two and a half to my next deadline. you want coverage, don't you? the more publicityyou get, the easier your own job's going to be." then i introduced tom, carefully giving theimpression that while i handled all ordinary assignments, i needed help to give him thefull vip treatment. we went over to a quiet corner and sat down, and the interview started. the camera case i was carrying was a snareand a deceit. everybody knows that reporters use recorders in interviews, but it neverpays to be too obtrusive about them, or the


subject gets recorder-conscious and stiffensup. what i had was better than a recorder; it was a recording radio. like the audiovisuals,it not only transmitted in to the times, but made a recording as insurance against transmissionfailure. i reached into a slit on the side and snapped on the switch while i was fumblingwith a pencil and notebook with the other hand, and started by asking him what had decidedhim to do a book about fenris. after that, i fed a question every now andthen to keep him running, and only listened to every third word. the radio was doing abetter job than i possibly could have. at the same time, i was watching steve ravick,morton hallstock and leo belsher at one side of the room, and bish ware at the other. bishwas within ear-straining range. out of the


corner of my eye, i saw another man, youngerin appearance and looking like an army officer in civvies, approach him. "my dear bishop!" this man said in greeting. as far as i knew, that nickname had originatedon fenris. i made a mental note of that. "how are you?" bish replied, grasping theother's hand. "you have been in afghanistan, i perceive." that did it. i told you i was an old sherlockholmes reader; i recognized that line. this meeting was prearranged, neither of them hadever met before, and they needed a recognition code. then i returned to murell, and decidedto wonder about bish ware and "dr. watson"


later. it wasn't long before i was noticing a fewodd things about murell, too, which confirmed my original suspicions of him. he didn't havethe firm name of his alleged publishers right, he didn't know what a literary agent was and,after claiming to have been a newsman, he consistently used the expression "news service."i know, everybody says that—everybody but newsmen. they always call a news service a"paper," especially when talking to other newsmen. of course, there isn't any paper connectedwith it, except the pad the editor doodles on. what gets to the public is photoprint,out of a teleprinter. as small as our circulation


is, we have four or five hundred of them inport sandor and around among the small settlements in the archipelago, and even on the mainland.most of them are in bars and cafes and cigar stores and places like that, operated by acoin in a slot and leased by the proprietor, and some of the big hunter-ships like joekivelson's javelin and nip spazoni's bulldog have them. but long ago, back in the first centuries,pre-atomic and atomic era, they were actually printed on paper, and the copies distributedand sold. they used printing presses as heavy as a spaceship's engines. that's why we stillcall ourselves the press. some of the old papers on terra, like la prensa in buenosaires, and the melbourne times, which used


to be the london times when there was stilla london, were printed that way originally. finally i got through with my interview, andthen shot about fifteen minutes of audiovisual, which would be cut to five for the 'cast.by this time bish and "dr. watson" had disappeared, i supposed to the ship's bar, and ravick andhis accomplices had gotten through with their conspiracy to defraud the hunters. i turnedmurell over to tom, and went over to where they were standing together. i'd put awaymy pencil and pad long ago with murell; now i got them out ostentatiously as i approached. "good day, gentlemen," i greeted them. "i'mrepresenting the port sandor times." "oh, run along, sonny; we haven't time tobother with you," hallstock said.


"but i want to get a story from mr. belsher,"i began. "well, come back in five or six years, whenyou're dry behind the ears, and you can get it," ravick told me. "our readers aren't interested in the conditionof my ears," i said sweetly. "they want to read about the price of tallow-wax. what'sthis about another price cut? to thirty-five centisols a pound, i understand." "oh, steve, the young man's from the newsservice, and his father will publish whatever he brings home," belsher argued. "we'd bettergive him something." he turned to me. "i don't know how this got out, but it's quite true,"he said. he had a long face, like a horse's.


at least, he looked like pictures of horsesi'd seen. as he spoke, he pulled it even longer and became as doleful as an undertaker ata ten-thousand-sol funeral. "the price has gone down, again. somebodyhas developed a synthetic substitute. of course, it isn't anywhere near as good as real fenristallow-wax, but try and tell the public that. so kapstaad chemical is being undersold, andthe only way they can stay in business is cut the price they have to pay for wax...." it went on like that, and this time i hadreal trouble keeping my anger down. in the first place, i was pretty sure there was nosubstitute for fenris tallow-wax, good, bad or indifferent. in the second place, it isn'tsold to the gullible public, it's sold to


equipment manufacturers who have their owntest engineers and who have to keep their products up to legal safety standards. hedidn't know this balderdash of his was going straight to the times as fast as he spoutedit; he thought i was taking it down in shorthand. i knew exactly what dad would do with it.he'd put it on telecast in belsher's own voice. maybe the monster-hunters would start lookingaround for a rope, then. when i got through listening to him, i wentover and got a short audiovisual of captain marshak of the peenemã¼nde for the 'cast,and then i rejoined tom and murell. "mr. murell says he's staying with you atthe times," tom said. he seemed almost as disappointed as professor hartzenbosch. iwondered, for an incredulous moment, if tom


had been trying to kidnap murell away fromme. "he wants to go out on the javelin with us for a monster-hunt." "well, that's swell!" i said. "you can payoff on that promise to take me monster-hunting, too. right now, mr. murell is my big story."i reached into the front pocket of my "camera" case for the handphone, to shift to two-way."i'll call the times and have somebody come up with a car to get us and mr. murell's luggage." "oh, i have a car. jeep, that is," tom said."it's down on the bottom level. we can use that." funny place to leave a car. and i was surethat he and murell had come to some kind of


an understanding, while i was being lied toby belsher. i didn't get it. there was just too much going on around me that i didn'tget, and me, i'm supposed to be the razor-sharp newshawk who gets everything. chapter 3 - bottom level it didn't take long to get murell's luggageassembled. there was surprisingly little of it, and nothing that looked like photographicor recording equipment. when he returned from a final gathering-up in his stateroom, i noticedthat he was bulging under his jacket, too, on the left side at the waist. about enoughfor an 8.5-mm pocket automatic. evidently he had been briefed on the law-and-order situationin port sandor.


normally, we'd have gone off onto the maincity level, but tom's jeep was down on the bottom level, and he made no suggestion thatwe go off and wait for him to bring it up. i didn't suggest it, either. after all, itwas his jeep, and he wasn't our hired pilot. besides, i was beginning to get curious. anabnormally large bump of curiosity is part of every newsman's basic equipment. we borrowed a small handling-lifter and oneof the spaceport roustabouts to tow it for us, loaded murell's luggage and my thingsonto it, and started down to the bottomside cargo hatches, from which the ship was discharging.there was no cargo at all to go aboard, except mail and things like adolf lautier's old filmand music tapes. our only export is tallow-wax,


and it all goes to terra. it would be pickedup by the cape canaveral when she got in from odin five hundred hours from now. but exceptfor a few luxury items from odin, everything we import comes from terra, and the peenemã¼ndehad started discharging that already. we rode down on a contragravity skid loaded with ammunition.i saw murell looking curiously at the square cases, marked terran federation armed forces,and 50-mm, mk. 608, antivehicle and antipersonnel, 25 rounds, and overage. practice only. notto be issued for service, and inspected and condemned. the hunters bought that stuff throughthe co-op. it cost half as much as new ammo, but that didn't help them any. the differencestopped with steve ravick. murell didn't comment, and neither did tom or i.


we got off at the bottom of the pit, a thousandfeet below the promenade from which i had come aboard, and stopped for a moment. murellwas looking about the great amphitheater in amazement. "i knew this spaceport would be big when ifound out that the ship landed directly on the planet," he said, "but i never expectedanything like this. and this serves a population of twenty thousand?" "twenty-four thousand, seven hundred and eight,if the man who got pounded in a barroom fight around 1330 hasn't died yet," i said. "butyou have to remember that this place was built close to a hundred years ago, when the populationwas ten times that much." i'd gotten my story


from him; now it was his turn to interviewme. "you know something about the history of fenris, i suppose?" "yes. there are ample sources for it on terra,up to the collapse of the fenris company," he said. "too much isn't known about what'sbeen happening here since, which is why i decided to do this book." "well, there were several cities built, overon the mainland," i told him. "they're all abandoned now. the first one was a conventionalcity, the buildings all on the surface. after one day-and-night cycle, they found that itwas uninhabitable. it was left unfinished. then they started digging in. the charteredfenris company shipped in huge quantities


of mining and earth-moving equipment—thatput the company in the red more than anything else—and they began making burrow-cities,like the ones built in the northern hemisphere of terra during the third and fourth worldwars, or like the cities on luna and mercury twilight zone and titan. there are a lot ofvaluable mineral deposits over on the mainland; maybe in another century our grandchildrenwill start working them again. "but about six years before the fenris companywent to pieces, they decided to concentrate in one city, here in the archipelago. thesea water stays cooler in the daytime and doesn't lose heat so rapidly in the nighttime.so they built port sandor, here on oakleaf island."


"and for convenience in monster-hunting?" i shook my head. "no. the jarvis's sea-monsterwasn't discovered until after the city was built, and it was years after the companyhad gone bankrupt before anybody found out about what tallow-wax was good for." i started telling him about the native life-formsof fenris. because of the surface temperature extremes, the marine life is the most highlydeveloped. the land animals are active during the periods after sunset and after sunrise;when it begins getting colder or hotter, they burrow, or crawl into caves and crevices amongthe rocks, and go into suspended animation. i found that he'd read up on that, and nottoo much of his information was incorrect.


he seemed to think, though, that port sandorhad also been mined out below the surface. i set him right on that. "you saw what it looked like when you werecoming down," i said. "just a flat plateau, with a few shaft-head domes here and there,and the landing pit of the spaceport. well, originally it was a valley, between two lowhills. the city was built in the valley, level by level, and then the tops of the hills weredug off and bulldozed down on top of it. we have a lot of film at the public library ofthe construction of the city, step by step. as far as i know, there are no copies anywhereoff-planet." he should have gotten excited about that,and wanted to see them. instead, he was watching


the cargo come off—food-stuffs, now—andwanted to know if we had to import everything we needed. "oh, no. we're going in on the bottom level,which is mainly storage, but we have hydroponic farms for our vegetables and carnicultureplants for meat on the second and third levels. that's counting down from the main city level.we make our own lumber, out of reeds harvested in the swamps after sunrise and convertedto pulpwood, and we get some good hardwood from the native trees which only grow in fourperiods of two hundred hours a year. we only use that for furniture, gunstocks, that sortof thing. and there are a couple of mining camps and smelters on the mainland; they employabout a thousand of our people. but every


millisol that's spent on this planet is gottenfrom the sale of tallow-wax, at second or third hand if not directly." that seemed to interest him more. maybe hisbook, if he was really writing one, was going to be an economic study of fenris. or maybehis racket, whatever it was, would be based on something connected with our local production.i went on telling him about our hydroponic farms, and the carniculture plant where anykind of animal tissue we wanted was grown—terran pork and beef and poultry, freyan zhoumy meat,zarathustran veldtbeest.... he knew, already, that none of the native life-forms, animalor vegetable, were edible by terrans. "you can get all the pat㩠de foie gras youwant here," i said. "we have a chunk of goose


liver about fifty feet in diameter growingin one of our vats." by this time, we'd gotten across the bottomof the pit, murell's luggage and my equipment being towed after us, and had entered thebottom level. it was cool and pleasant here, lighted from the ceiling fifty feet overhead,among the great column bases, two hundred feet square and two hundred yards apart, thatsupported the upper city and the thick roof of rock and earth that insulated it. the areawe were entering was stacked with tallow-wax waiting to be loaded onto the cape canaveralwhen she came in; it was vacuum-packed in plastic skins, like big half-ton bologna sausages,each one painted with the blue and white emblem of the hunters' co-operative. he was quiteinterested in that, and was figuring, mentally,


how much wax there was here and how much itwas worth. "who does this belong to?" he wanted to know."the hunters' co-operative?" tom had been letting me do the talking upto now, but he answered that question, very emphatically. "no, it doesn't. it belongs to the hunters,"he said. "each ship crew owns the wax they bring in in common, and it's sold for themby the co-op. when the captain gets paid for the wax he's turned over to the co-op, hedivides the money among the crew. but every scrap of this belongs to the ships that tookit, up till it's bought and paid for by kapstaad chemical."


"well, if a captain wants his wax back, afterit's been turned over for sale to the co-op, can he get it?" murell asked. "absolutely!" murell nodded, and we went on. the roustaboutwho had been following us with the lifter had stopped to chat with a couple of his fellows.we went on slowly, and now and then a vehicle, usually a lorry, would pass above us. theni saw bish ware, ahead, sitting on a sausage of wax, talking to one of the spaceport police.they were both smoking, but that was all right. tallow-wax will burn, and a wax fire is somethingto get really excited about, but the ignition point is 750â° c., and that's a lot hotterthan the end of anybody's cigar. he must have


come out the same way we did, and i addedthat to the "wonder-why" file. pretty soon, i'd have so many questions to wonder aboutthat they'd start answering each other. he saw us and waved to us, and then suddenlythe spaceport cop's face got as white as my shirt and he grabbed bish by the arm. bishdidn't change color; he just shook off the cop's hand, got to his feet, dropped his cigar,and took a side skip out into the aisle. "murell!" he yelled. "freeze! on your life;don't move a muscle!" then there was a gun going off in his hand.i didn't see him reach for it, or where he drew it from. it was just in his hand, firing,and the empty brass flew up and came down on the concrete with a jingle on the heelsof the report. we had all stopped short, and


the roustabout who was towing the lifter camehurrying up. murell simply stood gaping at bish. "all right," bish said, slipping his gun backinto a shoulder holster under his coat. "step carefully to your left. don't move right atall." murell, still in a sort of trance, obeyed.as he did i looked past his right shin and saw what bish had been shooting at. it wasan irregular gray oval, about sixteen inches by four at its widest and tapering up in frontto a cone about six inches high, into which a rodlike member, darker gray, was slowlycollapsing and dribbling oily yellow stuff. the bullet had gone clear through and madea mess of dirty gray and black and green body


fluids on the concrete. it was what we call a tread-snail, becauseit moves on a double row of pads like stumpy feet and leaves a trail like a tractor. thefishpole-aerial thing it had erected out of its head was its stinger, and the yellow stuffwas venom. a tenth of a milligram of it in your blood and it's "get the gate open, st.peter; here i come." tom saw it as soon as i did. his face gotthe same color as the cop's. i don't suppose mine looked any better. when murell saw whathad been buddying up to him, i will swear, on a warehouse full of bibles, korans, torahscrolls, satanist grimoires, buddhist prayer wheels and thoran grandfather-god images,that his hair literally stood on end. i've


heard that expression all my life; well, thistime i really saw it happen. i mentioned that he seemed to have been reading up on the localfauna. i looked down at his right leg. he hadn'tbeen stung—if he had, he wouldn't be breathing now—but he had been squirted, and therewere a couple of yellow stains on the cloth of his trouser leg. i told him to hold still,used my left hand to pull the cloth away from his leg, and got out my knife and flippedit open with the other hand, cutting away the poisoned cloth and dropping it on thedead snail. murell started making an outcry about cuttingup his trousers, and said he could have had them cleaned. bish ware, coming up, told himto stop talking like an imbecile.


"no cleaner would touch them, and even ifthey were cleaned, some of the poison would remain in the fabric. then, the next timeyou were caught in the rain with a scratch on your leg, walt, here, would write you oneof his very nicest obituaries." then he turned to the cop, who was gabblinginto his belt radio, and said: "get an ambulance, quick. possible case of tread-snail skin poisoning."a moment later, looking at murell's leg, he added, "omit 'possible.'" there were a couple of little spots on murell'sskin that were beginning to turn raw-liver color. the raw poison hadn't gotten into hisblood, but some of it, with impurities, had filtered through the cloth, and he'd absorbedenough of it through his skin to make him


seriously ill. the cop jabbered some moreinto the radio, and the laborer with the lifter brought it and let it down, and murell satdown on his luggage. tom lit a cigarette and gave it to him, and told him to remain perfectlystill. in a couple of minutes, an ambulance was coming, its siren howling. the pilot and his helper were both jacklegmedics, at least as far as first aid. they gave him a drink out of a flask, smeared alot of gunk on the spots and slapped plasters over them, and helped him into the ambulance,after i told him we'd take his things to the times building. by this time, between the shot and the siren,quite a crowd had gathered, and everybody


was having a nice little recrimination party.the labor foreman was chewing the cop out. the warehouse superintendent was chewing himout. and somebody from the general superintendent's office was chewing out everybody indiscriminately,and at the same time mentioning to me that mr. fieschi, the superintendent, would bevery much pleased if the times didn't mention the incident at all. i told him that was editorialpolicy, and to talk to dad about it. nobody had any idea how the thing had gotten in,but that wasn't much of a mystery. the bottom level is full of things like that; they canstay active all the time because the temperature is constant. i supposed that eventually they'dpick the dumbest day laborer in the place and make him the patsy.


tom stood watching the ambulance whisk murelloff, dithering in indecision. the poisoning of murell seemed like an unexpected blow tohim. that fitted what i'd begun to think. finally, he motioned the laborer to pick upthe lifter, and we started off toward where he had parked his jeep, outside the spaceportarea. bish walked along with us, drawing his pistoland replacing the fired round in the magazine. i noticed that it was a 10-mm colt-argentinefederation service, commercial type. there aren't many of those on fenris. a lot of 10-mm's,but mostly south african sterbergs or vickers-bothas, or mars-consolidated police specials. mine,which i wasn't carrying at the moment, was a sterberg 7.7-mm olympic match.


"you know," he said, sliding the gun backunder his coat, "i would be just as well pleased as mr. fieschi if this didn't get any publicity.if you do publish anything about it, i wish you'd minimize my own part in it. as you havenoticed, i have some slight proficiency with lethal hardware. this i would prefer not toadvertise. i can usually avoid trouble, but when i can't, i would like to retain the advantageof surprise." we all got into the jeep. tom, not too graciously,offered to drop bish wherever he was going. bish said he was going to the times, so tomlifted the jeep and cut in the horizontal drive. we got into a busy one-way aisle, crowdedwith lorries hauling food-stuffs to the refrigeration area. he followed that for a short distance,and then turned off into a dimly lighted,


disused area. before long, i began noticing stacks of tallow-wax,put up in the regular outside sausage skins but without the co-op markings. they justhad the names of hunter-ships—javelin, bulldog, helldiver, slasher, and so on. "what's that stuff doing in here?" i asked."it's a long way from the docks, and a long way from the spaceport." "oh, just temporary storage," tom said. "ithasn't been checked in with the co-op yet." that wasn't any answer—or maybe it was.i let it go at that. then we came to an open space about fifty feet square. there was ajeep, with a 7-mm machine gun mounted on it,


and half a dozen men in boat-clothes wereplaying cards at a table made out of empty ammunition boxes. i noticed they were allwearing pistols, and when a couple of them saw us, they got up and grabbed rifles. tomlet down and got out of the jeep, going over and talking with them for a few minutes. whathe had to tell them didn't seem to bring any noticeable amount of sunlight into their lives.after a while he came back, climbed in at the controls, and lifted the jeep again. chapter 4 - main city level the ceiling on main city level is two hundredfeet high; in order to permit free circulation of air and avoid traffic jams, nothing isbuilt higher than a hundred and fifty feet


except the square buildings, two hundred yardsapart, which rest on foundations on the bottom level and extend up to support the roof. thetimes has one of these pillar-buildings, and we have the whole thing to ourselves. in acity built for a quarter of a million, twenty thousand people don't have to crowd very closelyon one another. naturally, we don't have a top landing stage, but except for the buttressesat the corners and solid central column, the whole street floor is open. tom hadn't said anything after we left thestacks of wax and the men guarding them. we came up a vehicle shaft a few blocks up broadway,and he brought the jeep down and floated it in through one of the archways. as usual,the place was cluttered with equipment we


hadn't gotten around to repairing or installing,merchandise we'd taken in exchange for advertising, and vehicles, our own and everybody else's.a couple of mechanics were tinkering on one of them. i decided, for the oomptieth time,to do something about cleaning it up. say in another two or three hundred hours, whenthe ships would all be in port and work would be slack, and i could hire a couple of goodmen to help. we got murell's stuff off the jeep, and ihunted around till i found a hand-lifter. "want to stay and have dinner with us, tom?"i asked. "uh?" it took him a second or so to realizewhat i'd said. "why, no, thanks, walt. i have to get back to the ship. father wants to seeme before the meeting."


"how about you, bish? want to take potluckwith us?" "i shall be delighted," he assured me. tom told us good-by absent-mindedly, liftedthe jeep, and floated it out into the street. bish and i watched him go; bish looked asthough he had wanted to say something and then thought better of it. we floated murell'sstuff and mine over to the elevator beside the central column, and i ran it up to theeditorial offices on the top floor. we came out in a big room, half the area ofthe floor, full of worktables and radios and screens and photoprinting machines. dad, asusual, was in a gray knee-length smock, with a pipe jutting out under his ragged mustache,and, as usual, he was stopping every minute


or so to relight it. he was putting togetherthe stuff i'd transmitted in for the audiovisual newscast. over across the room, the rest ofthe times staff, julio kubanoff, was sitting at the composing machine, his peg leg proppedup and an earphone on, his fingers punching rapidly at the keyboard as he burned lettersonto the white plastic sheet with ultraviolet rays for photographing. julio was an old hunter-shipman who had lost a leg in an accident and taught himself his new trade. he still worethe beard, now white, that was practically the monster-hunters' uniform. "the stuff come in all right?" i asked dad,letting down the lifter. "yes. what do you think of that fellow belsher?"he asked. "did you ever hear such an impudent


string of lies in your life?" then, out ofthe corner of his eye, he saw the lifter full of luggage, and saw somebody with me. "mr.murell? please excuse me for a moment, till i get this blasted thing together straight."then he got the film spliced and the sound record matched, and looked up. "why, bish?where's mr. murell, walt?" "mr. murell has had his initiation to fenris,"i said. "he got squirted by a tread-snail almost as soon as he got off the ship. theyhave him at the spaceport hospital; it'll be 2400 before they get all the poison sweatedout of him." i went on to tell him what had happened. dad'seyes widened slightly, and he took the pipe out of his mouth and looked at bish with somethingvery reasonably like respect.


"that was mighty sharp work," he said. "ifyou'd been a second slower, we'd be all out of visiting authors. that would have beena nice business; story would have gotten back to terra, and been most unfortunate publicityfor fenris. and, of course," he afterthoughted, "most unfortunate for mr. murell, too." "well, if you give this any publicity, i wouldrather you passed my own trifling exploit over in silence," bish said. "i gather thespaceport people wouldn't be too happy about giving the public the impression that theirarea is teeming with tread-snails, either. they have enough trouble hiring shipping-floorhelp as it is." "but don't you want people to know what youdid?" dad demanded, incredulously. everybody


wanted their names in print or on 'cast; thatwas one of his basic articles of faith. "if the public learned about this—" he wenton, and then saw where he was heading and pulled up short. it wouldn't be tactful tosay something like, "maybe they wouldn't think you were just a worthless old soak." bish saw where dad was heading, too, but hejust smiled, as though he were about to confer his episcopal blessing. "ah, but that would be a step out of characterfor me," he said. "i must not confuse my public. just as a favor to me, ralph, say nothingabout it." "well, if you'd rather i didn't.... are yougoing to cover this meeting at hunters' hall,


tonight, walt?" he asked me. "would i miss it?" he frowned. "i could handle that myself,"he said. "i'm afraid this meeting's going to get a little rough." i shook my head. "let's face it, dad," i said."i'm a little short of eighteen, but you're sixty. i can see things coming better thanyou can, and dodge them quicker." dad gave a rueful little laugh and lookedat bish. "see how it goes?" he asked. "we spend ourlives shielding our young and then, all of a sudden, we find they're shielding us." hispipe had gone out again and he relit it. "too


bad you didn't get an audiovisual of belshermaking that idiotic statement." "he didn't even know i was getting a voice-only.all the time he was talking, i was doodling in a pad with a pencil." "synthetic substitutes!" dad snorted. "puttinga synthetic tallow-wax molecule together would be like trying to build a spaceship with ajackknife and a tack hammer." he puffed hard on his pipe, and then excused himself andwent back to his work. editing an audiovisual telecast is prettymuch a one-man job. bish wanted to know if he could be of assistance, but there was nothingeither of us could do, except sit by and watch and listen. dad handled the belsher thingby making a film of himself playing off the


recording, and interjecting sarcastic commentsfrom time to time. when it went on the air, i thought, ravick wasn't going to like it.i would have to start wearing my pistol again. then he made a tape on the landing of thepeenemã¼nde and the arrival of murell, who he said had met with a slight accident afterleaving the ship. i took that over to julio when dad was finished, along with a tape onthe announced tallow-wax price cut. julio only grunted and pushed them aside. he wassetting up the story of the fight in martian joe's—a "local bar," of course; nobody evergets shot or stabbed or slashed or slugged in anything else. all the news is fit to print,sure, but you can't give your advertisers and teleprinter customers any worse name thanthey have already. a paper has to use some


judgment. then dad and bish and i went down to dinner.julio would have his a little later, not because we're too good to eat with the help but because,around 1830, the help is too busy setting up the next paper to eat with us. the diningroom, which is also the library, living room, and general congregating and loafing place,is as big as the editorial room above. originally, it was an office, at a time when a lot offenris company office work was being done here. some of the furniture is original, andsome was made for us by local cabinetmakers out of native hardwood. the dining table,big enough for two ships' crews to eat at, is an example of the latter. then, of course,there are screens and microbook cabinets and


things like that, and a refrigerator to savegoing a couple of hundred feet to the pantry in case anybody wants a snack. i went to that and opened it, and got outa bulb of concentrated fruit juice and a bottle of carbonated water. dad, who seldom drinks,keeps a few bottles around for guests. seems most of our "guests" part with informationeasier if they have something like the locally made hydroponic potato schnapps inside themfor courage. "you drink baldur honey-rum, don't you, bish?"he said, pawing among the bottles in the liquor cabinet next to the refrigerator. "i'm surei have a bottle of it. now wait a minute; it's here somewhere."


when dad passes on and some medium claimsto have produced a spirit communication from him, i will not accept it as genuine withoutthe expression: "now wait a minute; it's here somewhere." bish wanted to know what i was fixing formyself, and i told him. "never mind the rum, ralph. i believe," hesaid, "that i shall join walt in a fruit fizz." well, whattaya know! maybe my stealthy temperancecampaign was having results. dad looked positively startled, and then replaced the bottle hewas holding. "i believe i'll make it unanimous," he said."fix me up a fruit fizz, too, walt." i mixed two more fruit fizzes, and we carriedthem over to the table. bish sipped at his


critically. "palatable," he pronounced it. "just a trifleon the mild side, but definitely palatable." dad looked at him as though he still couldn'tbelieve the whole thing. dinner was slow coming. we finished our fizzes, and bish and i bothwanted repeats, and dad felt that he had to go along. so i made three more. we were finishingthem when mrs. laden started bringing in the dinner. mrs. laden is a widow; she has beenwith us since my mother died, the year after i was born. she is violently anti-liquor.reluctantly, she condones dad taking a snort now and then, but as soon as she saw bishware, her face started to stiffen. she put the soup on the table and took offfor the kitchen. she always has her own dinner


with julio. that way, while they're eatinghe can tell her all the news that's fit to print, and all the gossip that isn't. for the moment, the odd things i'd been noticingabout our distinguished and temporarily incapacitated visitor came under the latter head. i tolddad and bish about my observations, beginning with the deafening silence about glenn murellat the library. dad began popping immediately. "why, he must be an impostor!" he exclaimed."what kind of a racket do you think he's up to?" "mmm-mm; i wouldn't say that, not right away,"bish said. "in the first place, murell may be his true name and he may publish undera nom de plume. i admit, some of the other


items are a little suspicious, but even ifhe isn't an author, he may have some legitimate business here and, having heard a few storiesabout this planetary elysium, he may be exercising a little caution. walt, tell your father aboutthat tallow-wax we saw, down in bottom level fourth ward." i did, and while i was talking dad sat withhis soup spoon poised halfway to his mouth for at least a minute before he rememberedhe was holding it. "now, that is funny," he said when i was through."why do you suppose...?" "somebody," bish said, "some group of shipcaptains, is holding wax out from the co-operative. there's no other outlet for it, so my guessis that they're holding it for a rise in price.


there's only one way that could happen, andthat, literally, would be over steve ravick's dead body. it could be that they expect steve'sdead body to be around for a price rise to come in over." i was expecting dad to begin spouting law-and-order.instead, he hit the table with his fist; not, fortunately, the one that was holding thesoup spoon. "well, i hope so! and if they do it beforethe cape canaveral gets in, they may fix leo belsher, too, and then, in the general excitement,somebody might clobber mort hallstock, and that'd be grand slam. after the triple funeral,we could go to work on setting up an honest co-operative and an honest government."


"well, i never expected to hear you advocatinglynch law, dad," i said. he looked at me for a few seconds. "tell the truth, walt, neither did i," headmitted. "lynch law is a horrible thing; don't make any mistake about that. but there'sone thing more horrible, and that's no law at all. and that is the present situationin port sandor. "you know what the trouble is, here? we haveno government. no legal government, anyhow; no government under federation law. we don'teven have a federation resident-agent. before the fenris company went broke, it was thegovernment here; when the space navy evacuated the colonists, they evacuated the governmentalong with them. the thousand who remained


were all too busy keeping alive to worry aboutthat. they didn't even care when fenris was reclassified from class iii, uninhabited butinhabitable, to class ii, inhabitable only in artificial environment, like mercury ortitan. and when mort hallstock got hold of the town-meeting pseudo government they puttogether fifty years ago and turned it into a dictatorship, nobody realized what had happenedtill it was too late. lynch law's the only recourse we have." "ralph," bish told him, "if anything likethat starts, belsher and hallstock and ravick won't be the only casualties. between ravick'sgoons and hallstock's police, they have close to a hundred men. i won't deny that they couldbe cleaned out, but it wouldn't be a lynching.


it would be a civil war." "well, that's swell!" dad said. "the federationgovernment has never paid us any attention; the federation planets are scattered overtoo many million cubic light-years of space for the government to run around to all ofthem wiping everybody's noses. as long as things are quiet here, they'll continue todo nothing for us. but let a story hit the big papers on terra, revolution breaks outon fenris—and that'll be the story i'll send to interworld news—and watch what happens." "i will tell you what will happen," bish waresaid. "a lot of people will get killed. that isn't important, in itself. people are gettingkilled all the time, in a lot worse causes.


but these people will all have friends andrelatives who will take it up for them. start killing people here in a faction fight, andsomebody will be shooting somebody in the back out of a dark passage a hundred yearsfrom now over it. you want this planet poisoned with blood feuds for the next century?" dad and i looked at one another. that wassomething that hadn't occurred to either of us, and it should have. there were feuds,even now. half the little settlements on the other islands and on the mainland had startedwhen some group or family moved out of port sandor because of the enmity of some largerand more powerful group or family, and half our shootings and knife fights grew out ofold grudges between families or hunting crews.


"we don't want it poisoned for the next centurywith the sort of thing mort hallstock and steve ravick started here, either," dad said. "granted." bish nodded. "if a civil war'sthe only possible way to get rid of them, that's what you'll have to have, i suppose.only make sure you don't leave a single one of them alive when it's over. but if you canget the federation government in here to clean the mess up, that would be better. nobodystarts a vendetta with the terran federation." "but how?" dad asked. "i've sent story afterstory off about crime and corruption on fenris. they all get the file-and-forget treatment." mrs. laden had taken away the soup platesand brought us our main course. bish sat toying


with his fork for a moment. "i don't know what you can do," he said slowly."if you can stall off the blowup till the cape canaveral gets in, and you can send somebodyto terra...." all of a sudden, it hit me. here was somethingthat would give bish a purpose; something to make him want to stay sober. "well, don't say, 'if you can,'" i said. "say,'if we can.' you live on fenris, too, don't you?" chapter 5 - meeting out of order dad called the spaceport hospital, after dinner,and talked to doc rojansky. murell was asleep,


and in no danger whatever. they'd given hima couple of injections and a sedative, and his system was throwing off the poison satisfactorily.he'd be all right, but they thought he ought to be allowed to rest at the hospital fora while. by then, it was time for me to leave for hunters'hall. julio and mrs. laden were having their dinner, and dad and bish went up to the editorialoffice. i didn't take a car. hunters' hall was only a half dozen blocks south of thetimes, toward the waterfront. i carried my radio-under-false-pretense slung from my shoulder,and started downtown on foot. the business district was pretty well lighted,both from the ceiling and by the stores and restaurants. most of the latter were in theopen, with small kitchen and storage buildings.


at a table at one of them i saw two pettyofficers from the peenemã¼nde with a couple of girls, so i knew the ship wasn't leavingimmediately. going past the municipal building, i saw some activity, and an unusually largenumber of police gathered around the vehicle port. ravick must have his doubts about howthe price cut was going to be received, and mort hallstock was mobilizing his storm troopersto give him support in case he needed it. i called in about that, and dad told me fretfullyto be sure to stay out of trouble. hunters' hall was a four-story building, fairlysubstantial as buildings that don't have to support the roof go, with a landing stageon top and a vehicle park underneath. as i came up, i saw a lot of cars and jeeps andships' boats grounded in and around it, and


a crowd of men, almost all of them in boat-clothesand wearing whiskers, including quite a few characters who had never been out in a hunter-shipin their lives but were members in the best of good standing of the co-operative. i alsosaw a few of hallstock's uniformed thugs standing around with their thumbs in their gun beltsor twirling their truncheons. i took an escalator up to the second floor,which was one big room, with the escalators and elevators in the rear. it was the socialroom, decorated with photos and models and solidigraphs of hunter-ships, photos of record-sizedmonsters lashed alongside ships before cutting-up, group pictures of ships's crews, monster tusks,dried slashers and halberd fish, and a whole monster head, its tusked mouth open. therewas a big crowd there, too, at the bar, at


the game machines, or just standing aroundin groups talking. i saw tom kivelson and his father and oscarfujisawa, and went over to join them. joe kivelson is just an outsize edition of hisson, with a blond beard that's had thirty-five years' more growth. oscar is skipper of thepequod—he wouldn't have looked baffled if bish ware called him captain ahab—and whilehis family name is old terran japanese, he had blue eyes and red hair and beard. he wasalmost as big as joe kivelson. "hello, walt," joe greeted me. "what's thistom's been telling me about bish ware shooting a tread-snail that was going to sting mr.murell?" "just about that," i said. "that snail musthave crawled out from between two stacks of


wax as we came up. we never saw it till itwas all over. it was right beside murell and had its stinger up when bish shot it." "he took an awful chance," kivelson said."he might of shot mr. murell." i suppose it would look that way to joe. heis the planet's worst pistol shot, so according to him nobody can hit anything with a pistol. "he wouldn't have taken any chance not shooting,"i said. "if he hadn't, we'd have been running the murell story with black borders." another man came up, skinny, red hair, sharp-pointednose. his name was al devis, and he was joe kivelson's engineer's helper. he wanted toknow about the tread-snail shooting, so i


had to go over it again. i hadn't anythingto add to what tom had told them already, but i was the times, and if the times saysso it's true. "well, i wouldn't want any drunk like bishware shooting around me with a pistol," joe kivelson said. that's relative, too. joe doesn't drink. "don't kid yourself, joe," oscar told him."i saw bish shoot a knife out of a man's hand, one time, in one eye swanson's. didn't scratchthe guy; hit the blade. one eye has the knife, with the bullet mark on it, over his backbar, now." "well, was he drunk then?" joe asked.


"well, he had to hang onto the bar with onehand while he fired with the other." then he turned to me. "how is murell, now?" heasked. i told him what the hospital had given us.everybody seemed much relieved. i wouldn't have thought that a celebrated author of whomnobody had ever heard before would be the center of so much interest in monster-huntingcircles. i kept looking at my watch while we were talking. after a while, the timesnewscast came on the big screen across the room, and everybody moved over toward it. they watched the peenemã¼nde being towed downand berthed, and the audiovisual interview with murell. then dad came on the screen witha record player in front of them, and gave


them a play-off of my interview with leo belsher. ordinary bad language i do not mind. i'm afraidi use a little myself, while struggling with some of the worn-out equipment we have atthe paper. but when belsher began explaining about how the price of wax had to be cut again,to thirty-five centisols a pound, the language those hunters used positively smelled. i noticed,though, that a lot of the crowd weren't saying anything at all. they would be ravick's boys,and they would have orders not to start anything before the meeting. "wonder if he's going to try to give us thatstuff about substitutes?" oscar said. "well, what are you going to do?" i asked.


"i'll tell you what we're not going to do,"joe kivelson said. "we're not going to take his price cut. if he won't pay our price,he can use his substitutes." "you can't sell wax anywhere else, can you?" "is that so, we can't?" joe started. before he could say anything else, oscar wasinterrupting: "we can eat for a while, even if we don'tsell wax. sigurd ngozori'll carry us for a while and make loans on wax. but if the waxstops coming in, kapstaad chemical's going to start wondering why...." by this time, other javelin men came driftingover—ramã³n llewellyn, the mate, and abdullah


monnahan, the engineer, and abe clifford,the navigator, and some others. i talked with some of them, and then drifted off in thedirection of the bar, where i found another hunter captain, mohandas gandhi feinberg,whom everybody simply called the mahatma. he didn't resemble his namesake. he had acurly black beard with a twisted black cigar sticking out of it, and nobody, after onelook at him, would have mistaken him for any apostle of nonviolence. he had a proposition he was enlisting supportfor. he wanted balloting at meetings to be limited to captains of active hunter-ships,the captains to vote according to expressed wishes of a majority of their crews. it wasa good scheme, though it would have sounded


better if the man who was advocating it hadn'tbeen a captain himself. at least, it would have disenfranchised all ravick's permanentlyunemployed "unemployed hunters." the only trouble was, there was no conceivable wayof getting it passed. it was too much like trying to curtail the powers of parliamentby act of parliament. the gang from the street level started comingup, and scattered in twos and threes around the hall, ready for trouble. i'd put on myradio when i'd joined the kivelsons and oscar, and i kept it on, circulating around and lettingit listen to the conversations. the ravick people were either saying nothing or arguingthat belsher was doing the best he could, and if kapstaad wouldn't pay more than thirty-fivecentisols, it wasn't his fault. finally, the


call bell for the meeting began clanging,and the crowd began sliding over toward the elevators and escalators. the meeting room was on the floor above, atthe front of the building, beyond a narrow hall and a door at which a couple of ravickhenchmen wearing guns and sergeant-at-arms brassards were making everybody check theirknives and pistols. they passed me by without getting my arsenal, which consisted of a sleep-gasprojector camouflaged as a jumbo-sized lighter and twenty sols in two rolls of forty quartersols each. one of these inside a fist can make a big difference. ravick and belsher and the secretary of theco-op, who was a little scrawny henpecked-husband


type who never had an opinion of his own inhis life, were all sitting back of a big desk on a dais in front. after as many of the crowdwho could had found seats and the rest, including the press, were standing in the rear, ravickpounded with the chunk of monster tusk he used for a gavel and called the meeting toorder. "there's a bunch of old business," he said,"but i'm going to rule that aside for the moment. we have with us this evening our representativeon terra, mr. leo belsher, whom i wish to present. mr. belsher." belsher got up. ravick started clapping hishands to indicate that applause was in order. a few of his zombies clapped their hands;everybody else was quiet. belsher held up


a hand. "please don't applaud," he begged. "what ihave to tell you isn't anything to applaud about." "you're tootin' well right it isn't!" somebodydirectly in front of me said, very distinctly. "i'm very sorry to have to bring this newsto you, but the fact is that kapstaad chemical products, ltd., is no longer able to pay forty-fivecentisols a pound. this price is being scaled down to thirty-five centisols. i want youto understand that kapstaad chemical wants to give you every cent they can, but businessconditions no longer permit them to pay the old price. thirty-five is the absolute maximumthey can pay and still meet competition—"


"aaah, knock it off, belsher!" somebody shouted."we heard all that rot on the screen." "how about our contract?" somebody else asked."we do have a contract with kapstaad, don't we?" "well, the contract will have to be re-negotiated.they'll pay thirty-five centisols or they'll pay nothing." "they can try getting along without wax. ortry buying it somewhere else!" "yes; those wonderful synthetic substitutes!" "mr. chairman," oscar fujisawa called out."i move that this organization reject the price of thirty-five centisols a pound fortallow-wax, as offered by, or through, leo


belsher at this meeting." ravick began clamoring that oscar was outof order, that leo belsher had the floor. "i second captain fujisawa's motion," mohandasfeinberg said. "and leo belsher doesn't have the floor; he'snot a member of the co-operative," tom kivelson declared. "he's our hired employee, and assoon as this present motion is dealt with, i intend moving that we fire him and hiresomebody else." "i move to amend captain fujisawa's motion,"joe kivelson said. "i move that the motion, as amended, read, '—and stipulate a priceof seventy-five centisols a pound.'" "you're crazy!" belsher almost screamed.


seventy-five was the old price, from whichhe and ravick had been reducing until they'd gotten down to forty-five. just at that moment, my radio began makinga small fuss. i unhooked the handphone and brought it to my face. "yeah?" it was bish ware's voice: "walt, get holdof the kivelsons and get them out of hunters' hall as fast as you can," he said. "i justgot a tip from one of my ... my parishioners. ravick's going to stage a riot to give hallstock'scops an excuse to raid the meeting. they want the kivelsons."


"roger." i hung up, and as i did i could hearjoe kivelson shouting: "you think we don't get any news on this planet?tallow-wax has been selling for the same price on terra that it did eight years ago, whenyou two crooks started cutting the price. why, the very ship belsher came here on broughtthe quotations on the commodity market—" i edged through the crowd till i was besideoscar fujisawa. i decided the truth would need a little editing; i didn't want to usebish ware as my source. "oscar, dad just called me," i told him. "atip came in to the times that ravick's boys are going to fake a riot and hallstock's copsare going to raid the meeting. they want joe and tom. you know what they'll do if theyget hold of them."


"shot while resisting arrest. you sure thisis a good tip, though?" across the room, somebody jumped to his feet,kicking over a chair. "that's a double two-em-dashed lie, you etaoinshrdlu so-and-so!" somebody yelled. "who are you calling a so-and-so, you thus-and-so-ingsuch-and-such?" somebody else yelled back, and a couple more chairs got smashed and aswirl of fighting started. "yes, it is," oscar decided. "let's go." we started plowing through the crowd towardwhere the kivelsons and a couple more of the javelin crew were clumped. i got one of therolls of quarter sols into my right fist and let oscar go ahead. he has more mass thani have.


it was a good thing i did, because beforewe had gone ten feet, some character got between us, dragged a two-foot length of inch-and-a-halfhigh-pressure hose out of his pant leg, and started to swing at the back of oscar's head.i promptly clipped him behind the ear with a fist full of money, and down he went. oscar,who must have eyes in the back of his head, turned and grabbed the hose out of his handbefore he dropped it, using it to clout somebody in front of him. somebody else came pushingtoward us, and i was about to clip him, too, when he yelled, "watch it, walt; i'm withit!" it was cesã¡rio vieira, another javelin man; he's engaged to linda kivelson, joe'sdaughter and tom's sister, the one going to school on terra.


then we had reached tom and joe kivelson.oscar grabbed joe by the arm. "come on, joe; let's get moving," he said."hallstock's gestapo are on the way. they have orders to get you dead or alive." "like blazes!" joe told him. "i never chickenedout on a fight yet, and—" that's what i'd been afraid of. joe is likea zarathustra veldtbeest; the only tactics he knows is a headlong attack. "you want to get your crew and your son killed,and yourself along with them?" oscar asked him. "that's what'll happen if the cops catchyou. now are you coming, or will i have to knock you senseless and drag you out?"


fortunately, at that moment somebody tooka swing at joe and grazed his cheek. it was a good thing that was all he did; he was wearingbrass knuckles. joe went down a couple of feet, bending at the knees, and caught thisfellow around the hips with both hands, straightening and lifting him over his head. then he threwhim over the heads of the people in front of him. there were yells where the human missilelanded. "that's the stuff, joe!" oscar shouted. "comeon, we got them on the run!" that, of course, converted a strategic retreatinto an attack. we got joe aimed toward the doors and before he knew it, we were out inthe hall by the elevators. there were a couple of ravick's men, with sergeant-at-arms armbands, and two city cops. one of the latter


got in joe's way. joe punched him in the faceand knocked him back about ten feet in a sliding stagger before he dropped. the other cop grabbedme by the left arm. i slugged him under the jaw with my ten-solright and knocked him out, and i felt the wrapping on the coin roll break and the quarterscome loose in my hand. before i could drop them into my jacket pocket and get out theother roll, one of the sergeants at arms drew a gun. i just hurled the handful of coinsat him. he dropped the pistol and put both hands to his face, howling in pain. i gave a small mental howl myself when i thoughtof all the nice things i could have bought for ten sols. one of joe kivelson's followersstooped and scooped up the fallen pistol,


firing a couple of times with it. then weall rushed joe into one of the elevators and crowded in behind him, and as i turned tostart it down i could hear police sirens from the street and also from the landing stageabove. in the hall outside the meeting room, four or five of ravick's free-drink mercenarieswere down on all fours scrabbling for coins, and the rest of the pursuers from the meetingroom were stumbling and tripping over them. i wished i'd brought a camera along, too.the public would have loved a shot of that. i lifted the radio and spoke into it: "this is walter boyd, returning you now tothe regular entertainment program." a second later, the thing whistled at me.as the car started down and the doors closed


i lifted the handphone. it was bish ware again. "we're going down in the elevator to secondlevel down," i said. "i have joe and tom and oscar fujisawa and a few of the javelin crewwith me. the place is crawling with cops now." "go to third level down and get up on thecatwalk on the right," bish said. "i'll be along to pick you up." "roger. we'll be looking for you." the car stopped at second level down. i puncheda button and sent it down another level. joe kivelson, who was dabbing at his cheek witha piece of handkerchief tissue, wanted to know what was up.


"we're getting a pickup," i told him. "vehiclefrom the times." i thought it would save arguments if i didn'tmention who was bringing it. chapter 6 - elementary, my dear kivelson before we left the lighted elevator car, wetook a quick nose count. besides the kivelsons, there were five javelin men—ramã³n llewellyn,abdullah monnahan, abe clifford, cesã¡rio vieira, and a whitebeard named piet dumont.al devis had been with us when we crashed the door out of the meeting room, but he'dfallen by the way. we had a couple of flashlights, so, after sending the car down to bottom level,we picked our way up the zigzag iron stairs to the catwalk, under the seventy-foot ceiling,and sat down in the dark.


joe kivelson was fretting about what wouldhappen to the rest of his men. "fine captain i am, running out and leavingthem!" "if they couldn't keep up, that's their toughluck," oscar fujisawa told him. "you brought out all you could. if you'd waited any longer,none of us would have gotten out." "they won't bother with them," i added. "youand tom and oscar, here, are the ones they want." joe was still letting himself be argued intothinking he had done the right thing when we saw the lights of a lorry coming from uptownat ceiling level. a moment later, it backed to the catwalk, and bish ware stuck his headout from the pilot's seat.


"where do you gentlemen wish to go?" he asked. "to the javelin," joe said instantly. "huh-uh," oscar disagreed. "that's the firstplace they'll look. that'll be all right for ramã³n and the others, but if they catch youand tom, they'll shoot you and call it self-defense, or take you in and beat both of you to a jelly.this'll blow over in fifteen or twenty hours, but i'm not going anywhere near my ship, now." "drop us off on second level down, about eighthstreet and a couple of blocks from the docks," the mate, llewellyn, said. "we'll borrow someweapons from patel the pawnbroker and then circulate around and see what's going on.but you and joe and oscar had better go underground


for a while." "the times," i said. "we have a whole pillar-buildingto ourselves; we could hide half the population." that was decided upon. we all piled into thelorry, and bish took it to an inconspicuous place on the second level and let down. ramã³nllewellyn and the others got out. then we went up to main city level. we passed withina few blocks of hunters' hall. there was a lot of noise, but no shooting. joe kivelson didn't have anything to say,on the trip, but he kept looking at the pilot's seat in perplexity and apprehension. i thinkhe expected bish to try to ram the lorry through every building we passed by or over.


we found dad in the editorial department onthe top floor, feeding voice-tape to julio while the latter made master sheets for teleprinting.i gave him a quick rundown on what had happened that he hadn't gotten from my radio. dad cluck-cluckedin disapproval, either at my getting into a fight, assaulting an officer, or, literally,throwing money away. bish ware seemed a little troubled. "i think,"he said, "that i shall make a circuit of my diocese, and see what can be learned frommy devoted flock. should i turn up anything significant, i will call it in." with that, he went tottering over to the elevator,stumbling on the way and making an unepiscopal remark. i watched him, and then turned todad.


"did he have anything to drink after i left?"i asked. "nothing but about five cups of coffee." i mentally marked that: add oddities, bishware. he'd been at least four hours without liquor, and he was walking as unsteadily aswhen i'd first seen him at the spaceport. i didn't know any kind of liquor that wouldpersist like that. julio had at least an hour's tape to transcribe,so dad and joe and tom and oscar and i went to the living room on the floor below. joewas still being bewildered about bish ware. "how'd he manage to come for us?" he wantedto know. "why, he was here with me all evening," dadsaid. "he came from the spaceport with walt


and tom, and had dinner with us. he calleda few people from here, and found out about the fake riot and police raid ravick had cookedup. you'd be surprised at how much information he can pick up around town." joe looked at his son, alarmed. "hey! you let him see—" he began. "the wax on bottom level, in the fourth ward?"i asked. "he won't blab about that. he doesn't blab things where they oughtn't be blabbed." "that's right," dad backed me up. he was beginningto think of bish as one of the times staff, now. "we got a lot of tips from him, but nothingwe give him gets out." he got his pipe lit


again. "what about that wax, joe?" he asked."were you serious when you made that motion about a price of seventy-five centisols?" "i sure was!" joe declared. "that's the realprice, and always has been, and that's what we get or kapstaad doesn't get any more wax." "if murell can top it, maybe kapstaad won'tget any more wax, period," i said. "who's he with—interstellar import-export?" anybody would have thought a barbwire wormhad crawled onto joe kivelson's chair seat under him. "where'd you hear that?" he demanded, whichis the galaxy's silliest question to ask any


newsman. "tom, if you've been talking—" "he hasn't," i said. "he didn't need to. itsticks out a parsec in all directions." i mentioned some of the things i'd noticed whileinterviewing murell, and his behavior after leaving the ship. "even before i'd talkedto him, i wondered why tom was so anxious to get aboard with me. he didn't know we'darranged to put murell up here; he was going to take him to see that wax, and then takehim to the javelin. you were going to produce him at the meeting and have him bid againstbelsher, only that tread-snail fouled your lines for you. so then you thought you hadto stall off a new contract till he got out of the hospital."


the two kivelsons and oscar fujisawa werelooking at one another; joe and tom in consternation, and oscar in derision of both of them. i wasfeeling pretty good. brother, i thought, sherlock holmes never did better, himself. that, all of a sudden, reminded me of dr.john watson, whom bish perceived to have been in afghanistan. that was one thing sherlockh. boyd hadn't deduced any answers for. well, give me a little more time. and more data. "you got it all figured out, haven't you?"joe was asking sarcastically. the sarcasm was as hollow as an empty oil drum. "the times," dad was saying, trying not tosound too proud, "has a very sharp reportorial


staff, joe." "it isn't interstellar," oscar told me, grinning."it's argentine exotic organics. you know, everybody thought joe, here, was getting prettyhigh-toned, sending his daughter to school on terra. school wasn't the only thing shewent for. we got a letter from her, the last time the cape canaveral was in, saying thatshe'd contacted argentine organics and that a man was coming out on the peenemã¼nde, posingas a travel-book author. well, he's here, now." "you'd better keep an eye on him," i advised."if steve ravick gets to him, he won't be much use to you."


"you think ravick would really harm murell?"dad asked. he thought so, too. he was just trying tocomfort himself by pretending he didn't. "what do you think, ralph?" oscar asked him."if we get competitive wax buying, again, seventy-five a pound will be the startingprice. i'm not spending the money till i get it, but i wouldn't be surprised to see waxgo to a sol a pound on the loading floor here. and you know what that would mean." "thirty for steve ravick," dad said. thatpuzzled oscar, till i explained that "thirty" is newsese for "the end." "i guess walt'sright. ravick would do anything to prevent that." he thought for a moment. "joe, youwere using the wrong strategy. you should


have let ravick get that thirty-five centisolprice established for the co-operative, and then had murell offer seventy-five or somethinglike that." "you crazy?" joe demanded. "why, then theco-op would have been stuck with it." "that's right. and as soon as murell's pricewas announced, everybody would drop out of the co-operative and reclaim their wax, eventhe captains who owe ravick money. he'd have nobody left but a handful of thugs and barflies." "but that would smash the co-operative," joekivelson objected. "listen, ralph; i've been in the co-operative all my life, since beforesteve ravick was heard of on this planet. i've worked hard for the co-operative, and—"


you didn't work hard enough, i thought. youlet steve ravick take it away from you. dad told joe pretty much the same thing: "you don't have a co-operative, joe. steveravick has a racket. the only thing you can do with this organization is smash it, andthen rebuild it with ravick and his gang left out." joe puzzled over that silently. he'd beenthinking that it was the same co-operative his father and simon macgregor and the otherold hunters had organized, and that getting rid of ravick was simply a matter of votinghim out. he was beginning to see, now, that parliamentary procedure wasn't any weaponagainst ravick's force and fraud and intimidation.


"i think walt has something," oscar fujisawasaid. "as long as murell's in the hospital at the spaceport, he's safe, but as soon ashe gets out of odin dock & shipyard territory, he's going to be a clay pigeon." tom hadn't been saying anything. now he clearedhis throat. "on the peenemã¼nde, i was talking about takingmr. murell for a trip in the javelin," he said. "that was while we were still pretendinghe'd come here to write a book. maybe that would be a good idea, anyhow." "it's a cinch we can't let him get killedon us," his father said. "i doubt if exotic organics would send anybody else out, if hewas."


"here," dad said. "we'll run the story wehave on him in the morning edition, and then correct it and apologize to the public formisleading them and explain in the evening edition. and before he goes, we can have himmake an audiovisual for the 'cast, telling everybody who he is and announcing the pricehe's offering. we'll put that on the air. get enough publicity, and steve ravick won'tdare do anything to him." publicity, i thought, is the only weapon dadknows how to use. he thinks it's invincible. me, i wouldn't bet on what steve ravick wouldn'tdare do if you gave me a hundred to one. ravick had been in power too long, and he was drunkeron it than bish ware ever got on baldur honey-rum. as an intoxicant, rum is practically a softdrink beside power.


"well, do you think ravick's gotten onto murellyet?" oscar said. "we kept that a pretty close secret. joe and i knew about him, and so didthe mahatma and nip spazoni and corkscrew finnegan, and that was all." "i didn't even tell tom, here, till the peenemã¼ndegot into radio range," joe kivelson said. "then i only told him and ramã³n and abdullahand abe and hans cronje." "and al devis," tom added. "he came into theconning tower while you were telling the rest of us." the communication screen began buzzing, andi went and put it on. it was bish ware, calling from a pay booth somewhere.


"i have some early returns," he said. "thecops cleared everybody out of hunters' hall except the ravick gang. then ravick reconvenedthe meeting, with nobody but his gang. they were very careful to make sure they had enoughfor a legal quorum under the bylaws, and then they voted to accept the new price of thirty-fivecentisols a pound." "that's what i was afraid of," joe kivelsonsaid. "did they arrest any of my crew?" "not that i know of," bish said. "they madea few arrests, but turned everybody loose later. they're still looking for you and yourson. as far as i know, they aren't interested in anybody else." he glanced hastily overhis shoulder, as though to make sure the door of the booth was secure. "i'm with some people,now. i'll call you back later."


"well, that's that, joe," oscar said, afterbish blanked the screen. "the ravick co-op's stuck with the price cut. the only thing leftto do is get everybody out of it we can, and organize a new one." "i guess that's so," joe agreed. "i wonder,though if ravick has really got wise to murell." "walt figured it out since the ship got in,"oscar said. "belsher's been on the ship with murell for six months. well, call it three;everything speeds up about double in hyperspace. but in three months he ought to see as muchas walt saw in a couple of hours." "well, maybe belsher doesn't know what's suspicious,the way walt does," tom said. "i'm sure he doesn't," i said. "but he andmurell are both in the wax business. i'll


bet he noticed dozens of things i never evensaw." "then we'd better take awfully good care ofmr. murell," tom said. "get him aboard as fast as we can, and get out of here with him.walt, you're coming along, aren't you?" that was what we'd agreed, while glenn murellwas still the famous travel-book author. i wanted to get out of it, now. there wouldn'tbe anything happening aboard the javelin, and a lot happening here in port sandor. dadhad the same idea, only he was one hundred per cent for my going with murell. i thinkhe wanted me out of port sandor, where i wouldn't get in the way of any small high-velocityparticles of lead that might be whizzing around. chapter 7 - aboard the javelin


we heard nothing more from bish ware thatevening. joe and tom kivelson and oscar fujisawa slept at the times building, and after breakfastdad called the spaceport hospital about murell. he had passed a good night and seemed to havethrown off all the poison he had absorbed through his skin. dad talked to him, and advisedhim not to leave until somebody came for him. tom and i took a car—and a pistol apieceand a submachine gun—and went to get him. remembering, at the last moment, what i haddone to his trousers, i unpacked his luggage and got another suit for him. he was grateful for that, and he didn't liftan eyebrow when he saw the artillery we had with us. he knew, already, what the scorewas, and the rules, or absence thereof, of


the game, and accepted us as members of histeam. we dropped to the bottom level and went, avoiding traffic, to where the wax was stored.there were close to a dozen guards there now, all heavily armed. we got out of the car, i carrying the chopper,and one of the gang there produced a probe rod and microscope and a testing kit and amicroray scanner. murell took his time going over the wax, jabbing the probe rod in andpulling samples out of the big plastic-skinned sausages at random, making chemical tests,examining them under the microscope, and scanning other cylinders to make sure there was noforeign matter in them. he might not know what a literary agent was, but he knew tallow-wax.


i found out from the guards that there hadn'tbeen any really serious trouble after we left hunter's hall. the city police had beatena few men up, natch, and run out all the anti-ravick hunters, and then ravick had reconvened themeeting and acceptance of the thirty-five centisol price had been voted unanimously.the police were still looking for the kivelsons. ravick seemed to have gotten the idea thatjoe kivelson was the mastermind of the hunters' cabal against him. i know if i'd found thatjoe kivelson and oscar fujisawa were in any kind of a conspiracy together, i wouldn'tpick joe for the mastermind. it was just possible, i thought, that oscar had been fostering thishimself, in case anything went wrong. after all, self-preservation is the first law, andoscar is a self-preserving type.


after murell had finished his inspection andwe'd gotten back in the car and were lifting, i asked him what he was going to offer, justas though i were the skipper of the biggest ship out of port sandor. well, it meant asmuch to us as it did to the hunters. the more wax sold for, the more advertising we'd sellto the merchants, and the more people would rent teleprinters from us. "eighty centisols a pound," he said. niceand definite; quite a difference from the way he stumbled around over listing his previouspublications. "seventy-five's the kapstaad price, regardless of what you people herehave been getting from that crook of a belsher. we'll have to go far enough beyond that tomake him have to run like blazes to catch


up. you can put it in the times that the dayof monopolistic marketing on fenris is over." when we got back to the times, i asked dadif he'd heard anything more from bish. "yes," he said unhappily. "he didn't callin, this morning, so i called his apartment and didn't get an answer. then i called harrywong's. harry said bish had been in there till after midnight, with some other people."he named three disreputables, two female and one male. "they were drinking quite a lot.harry said bish was plastered to the ears. they finally went out, around 0130. he saidthe police were in and out checking the crowd, but they didn't make any trouble." i nodded, feeling very badly. four and a halfhours had been his limit. well, sometimes


a ninety per cent failure is really a triumph;after all, it's a ten per cent success. bish had gone four and a half hours without takinga drink. maybe the percentage would be a little better the next time. i was surely old enoughto stop expecting miracles. the mate of the pequod called in, around noon,and said it was safe for oscar to come back to the ship. the mate of the javelin, ramã³nllewellyn, called in with the same report, that along the waterfront, at least, the heatwas off. however, he had started an ambitious-looking overhaul operation, which looked as thoughit was good for a hundred hours but which could be dropped on a minute's notice, andunder cover of this he had been taking on supplies and ammunition.


we made a long audiovisual of murell announcinghis price of eighty centisols a pound for wax on behalf of argentine exotic organics,ltd. as soon as that was finished, we loaded the boat-clothes we'd picked up for him andhis travel kit and mine into a car, with julio kubanoff to bring it back to the times, andwent to the waterfront. when we arrived, ramã³n llewellyn had gotten things cleared up, andthe javelin was ready to move as soon as we came aboard. on the main city level, the waterfront isa hundred feet above the ship pools; the ships load from and discharge onto the first leveldown. the city roof curves down all along the south side of the city into the waterand about fifty feet below it. that way, even


in the post-sunset and post-dawn storms, shipscan come in submerged around the outer breakwater and under the roof, and we don't get any windor heavy seas along the docks. murell was interested in everything he saw,in the brief time while we were going down along the docks to where the javelin was berthed.i knew he'd never actually seen it before, but he must have been studying pictures ofit, because from some of the remarks he made, i could tell that he was familiar with it. most of the ships had lifted out of the waterand were resting on the wide concrete docks, but the javelin was afloat in the pool, hercontragravity on at specific-gravity weight reduction. she was a typical hunter-ship,a hundred feet long by thirty abeam, with


a squat conning tower amidships, and turretsfor 50-mm guns and launchers for harpoon rockets fore and aft. the only thing open about herwas the air-and-water lock under the conning tower. julio, who was piloting the car, setit down on the top of the aft gun turret. a couple of the crewmen who were on deck grabbedour bags and hurried them inside. we followed, and as soon as julio lifted away, the lockwas sealed. immediately, as the contragravity field droppedbelow the specific gravity of the ship, she began submerging. i got up into the conningtower in time to see the water of the boat pool come up over the armor-glass windowsand the outside lights come on. for a few minutes, the javelin swung slowly and movedforward, feeling her way with fingers of radar


out of the pool and down the channel behindthe breakwater and under the overhang of the city roof. then the water line went slowlydown across the windows as she surfaced. a moment later she was on full contragravity,and the ship which had been a submarine was now an aircraft. murell, who was accustomed to the relativelydrab sunsets of terra, simply couldn't take his eyes from the spectacle that covered thewhole western half of the sky—high clouds streaming away from the daylight zone to thewest and lighted from below by the sun. there were more clouds coming in at a lower levelfrom the east. by the time the javelin returned to port sandor, it would be full dark andrain, which would soon turn to snow, would


be falling. then we'd be in for it again foranother thousand hours. ramã³n llewellyn was saying to joe kivelson:"we're one man short; devis, abdullah's helper. hospital." "get hurt in the fight, last night? he wasright with us till we got out to the elevators, and then i missed him." "no. he made it back to the ship about thesame time we did, and he was all right then. didn't even have a scratch. strained his backat work, this morning, trying to lift a power-unit cartridge by hand." i could believe that. those things weigheda couple of hundred pounds. joe kivelson swore.


"what's he think this is, the first centurypre-atomic? aren't there any lifters on the ship?" llewellyn shrugged. "probably didn't wantto bother taking a couple of steps to get one. the doctor told him to take treatmentand observation for a day or so." "that's al devis?" i asked. "what hospital?"al devis's strained back would be good for a two-line item; he'd feel hurt if we didn'tmention it. "co-op hospital." that was all right. they always sent in theirpatient lists to the times. tom was griping because he'd have to do devis's work and hisown.


"you know anything about engines, walt?" heasked me. "i know they generate a magnetic current andconvert rotary magnetic current into one-directional repulsion fields, and violate the daylightsout of all the old newtonian laws of motion and attraction," i said. "i read that in abook. that was as far as i got. the math got a little complicated after that, and i startedreading another book." "you'd be a big help. think you could hitanything with a 50-mm?" tom asked. "i know you're pretty sharp with a pistol or a chopper,but a cannon's different." "i could try. if you want to heave over anempty packing case or something, i could waste a few rounds seeing if i could come anywhereclose to it."


"we'll do that," he said. "ordinarily, i handlethe after gun when we sight a monster, but somebody'll have to help abdullah with theengines." he spoke to his father about it. joe kivelsonnodded. "walt's made some awful lucky shots with thattarget pistol of his, i know that," he said, "and i saw him make hamburger out of a slasher,once, with a chopper. have somebody blow a couple of wax skins full of air for targets,and when we get a little farther southeast, we'll go down to the surface and have someshooting." i convinced murell that the sunset would stillbe there in a couple of hours, and we took our luggage down and found the cubbyhole heand i would share with tom for sleeping quarters.


a hunter-ship looks big on the outside, butthere's very little room for the crew. the engines are much bigger than would be neededon an ordinary contragravity craft, because a hunter-ship operates under water as wellas in the air. then, there's a lot of cargo space for the wax, and the boat berth aftfor the scout boat, so they're not exactly built for comfort. they don't really needto be; a ship's rarely out more than a hundred and fifty hours on any cruise. murell had done a lot of reading about everyphase of the wax business, and he wanted to learn everything he could by actual observation.he said that argentine exotic organics was going to keep him here on fenris as a residentbuyer and his job was going to be to deal


with the hunters, either individually or throughtheir co-operative organization, if they could get rid of ravick and set up something hecould do business with, and he wanted to be able to talk the hunters' language and understandtheir problems. so i took him around over the boat, showinghim everything and conscripting any crew members i came across to explain what i couldn't.i showed him the scout boat in its berth, and we climbed into it and looked around.i showed him the machine that packed the wax into skins, and the cargo holds, and the electrolyticgills that extracted oxygen from sea water while we were submerged, and the ship's armament.finally, we got to the engine room, forward. he whistled when he saw the engines.


"why, those things are big enough for a five-thousand-tonfreighter," he said. "they have to be," i said. "running submergedisn't the same as running in atmosphere. you ever done any swimming?" he shook his head. "i was born in antarctica,on terra. the water's a little too cold to do much swimming there. and i've spent mostof my time since then in central argentine, in the pampas country. the sports there arehorseback riding and polo and things like well, whattaya know! here was a man who hadnot only seen a horse, but actually ridden one. that in itself was worth a story in thetimes. tom and abdullah, who were fussing aroundthe engines, heard that. they knocked off


what they were doing and began asking himquestions—i suppose he thought they were awfully silly, but he answered all of thempatiently—about horses and riding. i was looking at a couple of spare power-unit cartridges,like the one al devis had strained his back on, clamped to the deck out of the way. they were only as big as a one-liter jar,rounded at one end and flat at the other where the power cable was connected, but they weighedclose to two hundred pounds apiece. most of the weight was on the outside; a dazzlinglybright plating of collapsium—collapsed matter, the electron shell collapsed onto the nucleusand the atoms in actual physical contact—and absolutely nothing but nothing could get throughit. inside was about a kilogram of strontium-90;


it would keep on emitting electrons for twenty-fiveyears, normally, but there was a miniature plutonium reactor, itself shielded with collapsium,which, among other things, speeded that process up considerably. a cartridge was good forabout five years; two of them kept the engines in operation. the engines themselves converted the electriccurrent from the power cartridges into magnetic current, and lifted the ship and propelledit. abdullah was explaining that to murell and murell seemed to be getting it satisfactorily. finally, we left them; murell wanted to seethe sunset some more and went up to the conning tower where joe and ramã³n were, and i decidedto take a nap while i had a chance.


chapter 8 - practice, 50-mm gun it seemed as though i had barely fallen asleepbefore i was wakened by the ship changing direction and losing altitude. i knew therewere clouds coming in from the east, now, on the lower air currents, and i supposedthat joe was taking the javelin below them to have a look at the surface of the sea.so i ran up to the conning tower, and when i got there i found that the lower cloudswere solid over us, it was growing dark, and another hunter-ship was approaching with herlights on. "who is she?" i asked. "bulldog, nip spazoni," joe told me. "nip'sbringing my saloon fighter aboard, and he


wants to meet mr. murell." i remembered that the man who had roughedup the ravick goon in martian joe's had made his getaway from town in the bulldog. as iwatched, the other ship's boat dropped out from her stern, went end-over-end for an instant,and then straightened out and came circling around astern of us, matching our speed andejecting a magnetic grapple. nip spazoni and another man climbed out withlife lines fast to their belts and crawled along our upper deck, catching life linesthat were thrown out to them and snapping onto them before casting loose the ones fromtheir boat. somebody at the lock under the conning tower hauled them in.


nip spazoni's name was old terran italian,but he had slanted mongoloid eyes and a sparse little chin-beard, which accounted for hisnickname. the amount of intermarriage that's gone on since the first century, any resemblancebetween people's names and their appearances is purely coincidental. oscar fujisawa, wholooks as though his name ought to be lief ericsson, for example. "here's your prodigal, joe," he was saying,peeling out of his parka as he came up the ladder. "i owe him a second gunner's shareon a monster, fifteen tons of wax." "hey, that was a good one. you heading home,now?" then he turned to the other man, who had followed nip up the ladder. "you didn'tdo a very good job, bill," he said. "the so-and-so's


out of the hospital by now." "well, you know who takes care of his own,"the crewman said. "give me something for effort; i tried hard enough." "no, i'm not going home yet," nip was answering."i have hold-room for the wax of another one, if he isn't bigger than ordinary. i'm goingto go down on the bottom when the winds start and sit it out, and then try to get a secondone." then he saw me. "well, hey, walt; when did you turn into a monster-hunter?" then he was introduced to murell, and he andjoe and the man from argentine exotic organics sat down at the chart table and joe yelledfor a pot of coffee, and they started talking


prices and quantities of wax. i sat in, listening.this was part of what was going to be the big story of the year. finally they got thattalked out, and joe asked nip how the monsters were running. "why, good; you oughtn't to have any troublefinding one," nip said. "there must have been a nifflheim of a big storm off to the east,beyond the lava islands. i got mine north of cape terror. there's huge patches of sea-spaghettidrifting west, all along the coast of hermann reuch's land. here." he pulled out a map."you'll find it all along here." murell asked me if sea-spaghetti was somethingthe monsters ate. his reading-up still had a few gaps, here and there.


"no, it's seaweed; the name describes it.screwfish eat it; big schools of them follow it. gulpers and funnelmouths and bag-bellieseat screwfish, and monsters eat them. so wherever you find spaghetti, you can count on findinga monster or two." "how's the weather?" joe was asking. "good enough, now. it was almost full darkwhen we finished the cutting-up. it was raining; in fifty or sixty hours it ought to be gettingpretty bad." spazoni pointed on the map. "here's about where i think you ought to try, joe." i screened the times, after nip went backto his own ship. dad said that bish ware had called in, with nothing to report but a vaguesuspicion that something nasty was cooking.


steve ravick and leo belsher were taking things,even the announcement of the argentine exotic organics price, too calmly. "i think so, myself," he added. "that ganghas some kind of a knife up their sleeve. bish is trying to find out just what it is." "is he drinking much?" i asked. "well, he isn't on the wagon, i can tell youthat," dad said. "i'm beginning to think that he isn't really sober till he's half plastered." there might be something to that, i thought.there are all kinds of weird individualities about human metabolism; for all i knew, alcoholmight actually be a food for bish. or he might


have built up some kind of immunity, withantibodies that were themselves harmful if he didn't have alcohol to neutralize them. the fugitive from what i couldn't bring myselfto call justice proved to know just a little, but not much, more about engines than i did.that meant that tom would still have to take al devis's place, and i'd have to take hiswith the after 50-mm. so the ship went down to almost sea surface, and tom and i wentto the stern turret. the gun i was to handle was an old-model terranfederation army infantry-platoon accompanying gun. the mount, however, was power-driven,like the mount for a 90-mm contragravity tank gun. reconciling the firing mechanism of theformer with the elevating and traversing gear


of the latter had produced one of the craziestpieces of machinery that ever gave an ordnance engineer nightmares. it was a local job, ofcourse. an ordnance engineer in port sandor doesn't really have to be a raving maniac,but it's a help. externally, the firing mechanism consistedof a pistol grip and trigger, which looked all right to me. the sight was a standardbinocular light-gun sight, with a spongeplastic mask to save the gunner from a pair of blackeyes every time he fired it. the elevating and traversing gear was combined in one leveron a ball-and-socket joint. you could move the gun diagonally in any direction in onemotion, but you had to push or pull the opposite way. something would go plonk when the triggerwas pulled on an empty chamber, so i did some


dry practice at the crests of waves. "now, mind," tom was telling me, "this isa lot different from a pistol." "so i notice," i replied. i had also noticedthat every time i got the cross hairs on anything and squeezed the trigger, they were on somethingelse when the trigger went plonk. "all this gun needs is another lever, to control themotion of the ship." "oh, that only makes it more fun," tom toldme. then he loaded in a clip of five rounds, bigexpensive-looking cartridges a foot long, with bottle-neck cases and pointed shells. the targets were regular tallow-wax skins,blown up and weighted at one end so that they


would float upright. he yelled into the intercom,and one was chucked overboard ahead. a moment later, i saw it bobbing away astern of us.i put my face into the sight-mask, caught it, centered the cross hairs, and squeezed.the gun gave a thunderclap and recoiled past me, and when i pulled my face out of the mask,i saw a column of water and spray about fifty feet left and a hundred yards over. "you won't put any wax in the hold with thatkind of shooting," tom told me. i fired again. this time, there was no effectat all that i could see. the shell must have gone away over and hit the water a coupleof miles astern. before tom could make any comment on that shot, i let off another, andthis time i hit the water directly in front


of the bobbing wax skin. good line shot, butaway short. "well, you scared him, anyhow," tom said,in mock commendation. i remembered some of the comments i'd madewhen i'd been trying to teach him to hit something smaller than the target frame with a pistol,and humbled myself. the next two shots were reasonably close, but neither would have doneany damage if the rapidly vanishing skin had really been a monster. tom clucked sadly andslapped in another clip. "heave over another one," he called. "thatmonster got away." the trouble was, there were a lot of trickyair currents along the surface of the water. the engines were running on lift to matchexactly the weight of the ship, which meant


that she had no weight at all, and a lot ofwind resistance. the drive was supposed to match the wind speed, and the ship was supposedto be kept nosed into the wind. a lot of that is automatic, but it can't be made fully so,which means that the pilot has to do considerable manual correcting, and no human alive cando that perfectly. joe kivelson or ramã³n llewellyn or whoever was at the controls wasdoing a masterly job, but that fell away short of giving me a stable gun platform. i caught the second target as soon as it bobbedinto sight and slammed a shell at it. the explosion was half a mile away, but the shellhadn't missed the target by more than a few yards. heartened, i fired again, and thatshot was simply dreadful.


"i know what you're doing wrong," tom said."you're squeezing the trigger." "huh?" i pulled my face out of the sight-mask andlooked at him to see if he were exhibiting any other signs of idiocy. that was like criticizingsomebody for using a fork instead of eating with his fingers. "you're not shooting a pistol," he continued."you don't have to hold the gun on the target with the hand you shoot with. the mount control,in your other hand, does that. as soon as the cross hairs touch the target, just grabthe trigger as though it was a million sols getting away from you. well, sixteen thousand;that's what a monster's worth now, murell


prices. jerking won't have the least effecton your hold whatever." so that was why i'd had so much trouble makinga pistol shot out of tom, and why it would take a special act of god to make one outof his father. and that was why monster-hunters caused so few casualties in barroom shootingsaround port sandor, outside of bystanders and back-bar mirrors. i felt like newton afterhe'd figured out why the apple bopped him on the head. "you mean like this?" i asked innocently,as soon as i had the hairs on the target again, violating everything i held most sacredlytrue about shooting. the shell must have passed within inches ofthe target; it bobbed over flat and the weight


pulled it up again into the backwave fromthe shell and it bobbed like crazy. "that would have been a dead monster," tomsaid. "let's see you do it again." i didn't; the next shot was terrible. overconfidence.i had one more shot, and i didn't want to use up another clip of the javelin's ammo.they cost like crazy, even if they were army rejects. the sea current was taking the targetfarther away every second, but i took my time on the next one, bringing the horizontal hairlevel with the bottom of the inflated target and traversing quickly, grabbing the triggeras soon as the vertical hair touched it. there was a water-spout, and the target shot straightup for fifty feet; the shell must have exploded directly under it. there was a sound of cheeringfrom the intercom. tom asked if i wanted to


fire another clip. i told him i thought ihad the hang of it now, and screwed a swab onto the ramrod and opened the breech to cleanthe gun. joe kivelson grinned at me when i went upto the conning tower. "that wasn't bad, walt," he said. "you nevermanned a 50-mm before, did you?" "no, and it's all backward from anything iever learned about shooting," i said. "now, suppose i get a shot at a monster; where doi try to hit him?" "here, i'll show you." he got a block of lucite,a foot square on the end by two and a half feet long, out of a closet under the charttable. in it was a little figure of a jarvis's sea-monster; long body tapering to a three-flukedtail, wide horizontal flippers like the wings


of an old pre-contragravity aircraft, anda long neck with a little head and a wide tusked mouth. "always get him from in front," he said. "aimright here, where his chest makes a kind of v at the base of the neck. a 50-mm will gosix or eight feet into him before it explodes, and it'll explode among his heart and lungsand things. if it goes straight along his body, it'll open him up and make the cutting-upeasier, and it won't spoil much wax. that's where i always shoot." "suppose i get a broadside shot?" "why, then put your shell right under theflukes at the end of the tail. that'll turn


him and position him for a second shot fromin front. but mostly, you'll get a shot from in front, if the ship's down near the surface.monsters will usually try to attack the ship. they attack anything around their own sizethat they see," he told me. "but don't ever make a body shot broadside-to. you'll killthe monster, but you'll blow about five thousand sols' worth of wax to nifflheim doing it." it had been getting dusky while i had beenshooting; it was almost full dark now, and the javelin's lights were on. we were makingclose to mach 3, headed east now, and running away from the remaining daylight. we began running into squalls of rain, andthen rain mixed with wet snow. the underside


lights came on, and the lookout below beganreporting patches of sea-spaghetti. finally, the boat was dropped out and went circlingaway ahead, swinging its light back and forth over the water, and radioing back reports.spaghetti. spaghetti with a big school of screwfish working on it. funnel-mouths workingon the screwfish. finally the speaker gave a shrill whistle. "monster ho!" the voice yelled. "about tenpoints off your port bow. we're circling over it now." "monster ho!" kivelson yelled into the intercom,in case anybody hadn't heard. "all hands to killing stations." then he saw me standingthere, wondering what was going to happen


next. "well, mister, didn't you hear me?"he bellowed. "get to your gun!" gee! i thought. i'm one of the crew, now. "yes sir!" i grabbed the handrail of the ladderand slid down, then raced aft to the gun turret. chapter 9 - monster killing there was a man in the turret, waiting tohelp me. he had a clip of five rounds in the gun, the searchlight on, and the viewscreentuned to the forward pickup. after checking the gun and loading the chamber, i lookedin that, and in the distance, lighted by the boat above and the searchlight of the javelin,i saw a long neck with a little head on the end of it weaving about. we were making straightfor it, losing altitude and speed as we went.


then the neck dipped under the water and alittle later reappeared, coming straight for the advancing light. the forward gun wentoff, shaking the ship with its recoil, and the head ducked under again. there was a spoutfrom the shell behind it. i took my eyes from the forward screen andlooked out the rear window, ready to shove my face into the sight-mask. an instant later,the head and neck reappeared astern of us. i fired, without too much hope of hittinganything, and then the ship was rising and circling. as soon as i'd fired, the monster had sounded,headfirst. i fired a second shot at his tail, in hope of crippling his steering gear, butthat was a clean miss, too, and then the ship


was up to about five thousand feet. my helperpulled out the partly empty clip and replaced it with a full one, giving me five and onein the chamber. if i'd been that monster, i thought, i'd havekept on going till i was a couple of hundred miles away from this place; but evidentlythat wasn't the way monsters thought, if thinking is what goes on inside a brain cavity thesize of a quart bottle in a head the size of two oil drums on a body as big as the shipthat was hunting him. he'd found a lot of gulpers and funnelmouths, and he wasn't goingto be chased away from his dinner by somebody shooting at him. i wondered why they didn't eat screwfish,instead of the things that preyed on them.


maybe they did and we didn't know it. or maybethey just didn't like screwfish. there were a lot of things we didn't know about sea-monsters. for that matter, i wondered why we didn'tgrow tallow-wax by carniculture. we could grow any other animal matter we wanted. i'doften thought of that. the monster wasn't showing any inclinationto come to the surface again, and finally joe kivelson's voice came out of the intercom: "run in the guns and seal ports. secure forsubmersion. we're going down and chase him up." my helper threw the switch that retractedthe gun and sealed the gun port. i checked


that and reported, "after gun secure." hanscronje's voice, a moment later, said, "forward gun secure," and then ramã³n llewellyn said,"ship secure; ready to submerge." then the javelin began to settle, and thewater came up over the window. i didn't know what the radar was picking up. all i couldsee was the screen and the window; water lighted for about fifty feet in front and behind.i saw a cloud of screwfish pass over and around us, spinning rapidly as they swam as thoughon lengthwise axis—they always spin counterclockwise, never clockwise. a couple of funnelmouthswere swimming after them, overtaking and engulfing them. then the captain yelled, "get set for torpedo,"and my helper and i each grabbed a stanchion.


a couple of seconds later it seemed as thoughking neptune himself had given the ship a poke in the nose; my hands were almost jerkedloose from their hold. then she swung slowly, nosing up and down, and finally joe kivelsonspoke again: "we're going to surface. get set to run theguns out and start shooting as soon as we're out of the water." "what happened?" i asked my helper. "must have put the torp right under him andlifted him," he said. "he could be dead or stunned. or he could be live and active andspoiling for a fight." that last could be trouble. the times hadrun quite a few stories, some with black borders,


about ships that had gotten into trouble withmonsters. a hunter-ship is heavy and it is well-armored—install hyperdrive enginesin one, and you could take her from here to terra—but a monster is a tough brute, andhe has armor of his own, scales an inch or so thick and tougher than sole leather. alot of chair seats around port sandor are made of single monster scales. a monster strikeswith its head, like a snake. they can smash a ship's boat, and they've been known to puncharmor-glass windows out of their frames. i didn't want the window in front of me comingin at me with a monster head the size of a couple of oil drums and full of big tusksfollowing it. the javelin came up fast, but not as fastas the monster, which seemed to have been


injured only in his disposition. he was onthe surface already, about fifty yards astern of us, threshing with his forty-foot wing-fins,his neck arched back to strike. i started to swing my gun for the chest shot joe kivelsonhad recommended as soon as it was run out, and then the ship was swung around and tiltedup forward by a sudden gust of wind. while i was struggling to get the sights back onthe monster, the ship gave another lurch and the cross hairs were right on its neck, aboutsix feet below the head. i grabbed the trigger, and as soon as the shot was off, took my eyesfrom the sights. i was just a second too late to see the burst, but not too late to seethe monster's neck jerk one way out of the smoke puff and its head fly another. a secondlater, the window in front of me was splashed


with blood as the headless neck came downon our fantail. immediately, two rockets jumped from the launcherover the gun turret, planting a couple of harpoons, and the boat, which had been circlingaround since we had submerged, dived into the water and passed under the monster, comingup on the other side dragging another harpoon line. the monster was still threshing its wingsand flogging with its headless neck. it takes a monster quite a few minutes to tumble tothe fact that it's been killed. my helper was pounding my back black and blue with onehand and trying to pump mine off with the other, and i was getting an ovation from allover the ship. at the same time, a couple


more harpoons went into the thing from theship, and the boat put another one in from behind. i gathered that shooting monsters' heads offwasn't at all usual, and hastened to pass it off as pure luck, so that everybody wouldhurry up and deny it before they got the same idea themselves. we hadn't much time for ovations, though.we had a very slowly dying monster, and before he finally discovered that he was dead, acouple of harpoons got pulled out and had to be replaced. finally, however, he quieteddown, and the boat swung him around, bringing the tail past our bow, and the ship cut contragravityto specific-gravity level and settled to float


on top of the water. the boat dived again,and payed out a line that it brought up and around and up again, lashing the monster fastalongside. "all right," kivelson was saying, out of theintercom. "shooting's over. all hands for cutting-up." i pulled on a parka and zipped it up and wentout onto the deck. everybody who wasn't needed at engines or controls was there, and equipmentwas coming up from below—power saws and sonocutters and even a solenoid jackhammer.there were half a dozen floodlights, on small contragravity lifters; they were run up onlines fifty feet above the ship's deck. by this time it was completely dark and finesnow was blowing. i could see that joe kivelson


was anxious to get the cutting-up finishedbefore the wind got any worse. "walt, can you use a machine gun?" he askedme. i told him i could. i was sure of it; a machinegun is fired in a rational and decent manner. "well, all right. suppose you cover for usfrom the boat," he said. "mr. murell can pilot for you. you never worked at cutting-up before,and neither did he. you'd be more of a hindrance than a help and so would he. but we do needa good machine gunner. as soon as we start throwing out waste, we'll have all the slashersand halberd fish for miles around. you just shoot them as fast as you see them." he was courteous enough not to add: "and don'tshoot any of the crew."


the boat came in and passed out the linesof its harpoons, and murell and i took the places of cesã¡rio vieira and the other man.we went up to the nose, and murell took his place at the controls, and i got back of the7-mm machine gun and made sure that there were plenty of extra belts of ammo. then,as we rose, i pulled the goggles down from my hood, swung the gun away from the ship,and hammered off a one-second burst to make sure it was working, after which i settleddown, glad i had a comfortable seat and wasn't climbing around on that monster. they began knocking scales loose with thejackhammer and cutting into the leathery skin underneath with sonocutters. the sea was gettingheavy, and the ship and the attached monster


had begun to roll. "that's pretty dangerous work," murell said."if a man using one of those cutters slipped...." "it's happened," i told him. "you met ourpeg-legged compositor, julio. that was how he lost his leg." "i don't blame them for wanting all they canget for tallow-wax." they had the monster opened down the belly,and were beginning to cut loose big chunks of the yellow tallow-wax and throw them intocargo nets and swing them aboard with lifters, to be chucked down the cargo hatches. i wasonly able to watch that for a minute or so and tell murell what was going on, and thenthe first halberd fish, with a spearlike nose


and sharp ridges of the nearest thing to boneyou find on fenris, came swimming up. i swung the gun on the leader and gave him a secondof fire, and then a two-second burst on the ones behind. then i waited for a few secondsuntil the survivors converged on their dead and injured companions and gave them anotherburst, which wiped out the lot of them. it was only a couple of seconds after thatthat the first slasher came in, shiny as heat-blued steel and waving four clawed tentacles thatgrew around its neck. it took me a second or so to get the sights on him. he stoppedslashing immediately. slashers are smart; you kill them and they find it out right away. before long, the water around the ship andthe monster was polluted with things like


that. i had to keep them away from the men,now working up to their knees in water, and at the same time avoid massacring the crewi was trying to protect, and murell had to keep the boat in position, in spite of a steadilyrising wind, and every time i had to change belts, there'd be a new rush of things thathad to be shot in a hurry. the ammunition bill for covering a cutting-up operation isone of the things that runs up expenses for a hunter-ship. the ocean bottom around heremust be carpeted with machine-gun brass. finally, they got the job done, and everybodywent below and sealed ship. we sealed the boat and went down after her. the last i saw,the remains of the monster, now stripped of wax, had been cast off, and the water aroundit was rioting with slashers and clawbeaks


and halberd fish and similar marine unpleasantnesses. chapter 10 - mayday, mayday getting a ship's boat berthed inside the shipin the air is tricky work under the best of conditions; the way the wind was blowing bynow, it would have been like trying to thread a needle inside a concrete mixer. we submergedafter the ship and went in underwater. then we had to wait in the boat until the shiprose above the surface and emptied the water out of the boat berth. when that was doneand the boat berth was sealed again, the ship went down seventy fathoms and came to reston the bottom, and we unsealed the boat and got out.


there was still the job of packing the waxinto skins, but that could wait. everybody was tired and dirty and hungry. we took turnswashing up, three at a time, in the little ship's latrine which, for some reason goingback to sailing-ship days on terra, was called the "head." finally the whole sixteen of usgathered in the relatively comfortable wardroom under the after gun turret. comfortable, that is, to the extent that everybodycould find a place to sit down, or could move about without tripping over somebody else.there was a big pot of coffee, and everybody had a plate or bowl of hot food. there's alwaysplenty of hot food to hand on a hunter-ship; no regular meal-times, and everybody eats,as he sleeps, when he has time. this is the


only time when a whole hunter crew gets together,after a monster has been killed and cut up and the ship is resting on the bottom andnobody has to stand watch. everybody was talking about the killing, ofcourse, and the wax we had in the hold, and counting the money they were going to getfor it, at the new eighty-centisol price. "well, i make it about fourteen tons," ramã³nllewellyn, who had been checking the wax as it went into the hold, said. he figured mentallyfor a moment, and added, "call it twenty-two thousand sols." then he had to fall back ona pencil and paper to figure shares. i was surprised to find that he was reckoningshares for both murell and myself. "hey, do we want to let them do that?" i whisperedto murell. "we just came along for the ride."


"i don't want the money," he said. "thesepeople need every cent they can get." so did i, for that matter, and i didn't havesalary and expense account from a big company on terra. however, i hadn't come along inthe expectation of making anything out of it, and a newsman has to be careful aboutthe outside money he picks up. it wouldn't do any harm in the present instance, but asa practice it can lead to all kinds of things, like playing favorites, coloring news, killingstories that shouldn't be killed. we do enough of that as it is, like playing down the tread-snailbusiness for bish ware and the spaceport people, and never killing anybody except in a "localbar." it's hard to draw a line on that sort of thing.


"we're just guests," i said. "we don't workhere." "the dickens you are," joe kivelson contradicted."maybe you came aboard as guests, but you're both part of the crew now. i never saw a prettiershot on a monster than walt made—took that thing's head off like a chicken on a choppingblock—and he did a swell job of covering for the cutting-up. and he couldn't have donethat if murell hadn't handled the boat the way he did, and that was no easy job." "well, let's talk about that when we get toport," i said. "are we going right back, or are we going to try for another monster?" "i don't know," joe said. "we could stow thewax, if we didn't get too much, but if we


stay out, we'll have to wait out the windand by then it'll be pretty cold." "the longer we stay out, the more the cruise'llcost," abdullah monnahan, the engineer, said, "and the expenses'll cut into the shares." "tell the truth, i'm sort of antsy to getback," joe kivelson said. "i want to see what's going on in port sandor." "so am i," murell said. "i want to get somekind of office opened, and get into business. what time will the cape canaveral be gettingin? i want a big cargo, for the first time." "oh, not for four hundred hours, at the least,"i said. "the spaceships always try to miss the early-dark and early-daylight storms.it's hard to get a big ship down in a high


wind." "that'll be plenty of time, i suppose," murellsaid. "there's all that wax you have stored, and what i can get out of the co-operativestores from crews that reclaim it. but i'm going to have a lot to do." "yes," i agreed. "dodging bullets, for one." "oh, i don't expect any trouble," murell said."this fellow ravick's shot his round." he was going to say something else, but beforehe could say it there was a terrific roar forward. the whole ship bucked like a recoilinggun, throwing everybody into a heap, and heeled over to starboard. there were a lot of yells,particularly from those who had been splashed


with hot coffee, and somebody was shoutingsomething about the magazines. "the magazines are aft, you dunderhead," joekivelson told him, shoving himself to his feet. "stay put, everybody; i'll see whatit is." he pulled open the door forward. an instantlater, he had slammed it shut and was dogging it fast. "hull must be ruptured forward; we're makingwater. it's spouting up the hatch from the engine room like a geyser," he said. "ramã³n,go see what it's like in the boat berth. the rest of you, follow him, and grab all thefood and warm clothing you can. we're going to have to abandon."


he stood by the doorway aft, shoving peoplethrough and keeping them from jamming up, saying: "take it easy, now; don't crowd. we'llall get out." there wasn't any panic. a couple of men were in the doorway of the little galleywhen i came past, handing out cases of food. as nothing was coming out at the instant,i kept on, and on the way back to the boat-berth hatch, i pulled down as many parkas and pairsof overpants as i could carry, squeezing past tom, who was collecting fleece-lined hip boots.each pair was buckled together at the tops; a hunter always does that, even at home ashore. ramã³n had the hatch open, and had openedthe top hatch of the boat, below. i threw my double armload of clothing down throughit and slid down after, getting out of the


way of the load of boots tom dumped aheadof him. joe kivelson came down last, carrying the ship's log and some other stuff. a littlewater was trickling over the edge of the hatch above. "it's squirting up from below in a dozen places,"he said, after he'd sealed the boat. "the whole front of the ship must be blown out." "well, now we know what happened to simonmacgregor's claymore," i said, more to myself than to anybody else. joe and hans cronje, the gunner, were gettinga rocket out of the locker, detaching the harpoon and fitting on an explosive warhead.he stopped, while he and cronje were loading


it into the after launcher, and nodded atme. "that's what i think, too," he said. "everybodygrab onto something; we're getting the door open." i knew what was coming and started hugginga stanchion as though it were a long-lost sweetheart, and murell, who didn't but knewenough to imitate those who did, hugged it from the other side. the rocket whooshed outof the launcher and went off with a deafening bang outside. for an instant, nothing happened,and i told murell not to let go. then the lock burst in and the water, at seventy fathoms'pressure, hit the boat. abdullah had gotten the engines on and was backing against it.after a little, the pressure equalized and


we went out the broken lock stern first. we circled and passed over the javelin, andthen came back. she was lying in the ooze, a quarter over on her side, and her wholebow was blown out to port. joe kivelson got the square box he had brought down from theship along with the log, fussed a little with it, and then launched it out the disposalport. it was a radio locator. sometimes a lucky ship will get more wax than the holds'capacity; they pack it in skins and anchor it on the bottom, and drop one of those gadgetswith it. it would keep on sending a directional signal and the name of the ship for a coupleof years. "do you really think it was sabotage?" murellwas asking me. blowing up a ship with sixteen


men aboard must have seemed sort of extremeto him. maybe that wasn't according to terran business ethics. "mightn't it have been apower unit?" "no. power units don't blow, and if one did,it would vaporize the whole ship and a quarter of a cubic mile of water around her. no, thatwas old fashioned country-style chemical explosive. cataclysmite, probably." "ravick?" he asked, rather unnecessarily. "you know how well he can get along withoutyou and joe kivelson, and here's a chance to get along without both of you together."everybody in the boat was listening, so i continued: "how much do you know about thisfellow devis, who strained his back at the


last moment?" "engine room's where he could have plantedsomething," joe kivelson said. "he was in there by himself for a while, themorning after the meeting," abdullah monnahan added. "and he disappeared between the meeting roomand the elevator, during the fight," tom mentioned. "and when he showed up, he hadn't been markedup any. i'd have thought he'd have been pretty badly beaten—unless they knew he was oneof their own gang." "we're going to look devis up when we getback," somebody said pleasantly. "if we get back," ramã³n llewellyn told him."that's going to take some doing."


"we have the boat," hans cronje said. "it'sa little crowded, but we can make it back to port sandor." "i hope we can," abe clifford, the navigator,said. "shall we take her up, joe?" "yes, see what it's like on top," the skipperreplied. going up, we passed a monster at about thirtyfathoms. it stuck its neck out and started for us. monnahan tilted the boat almost verticaland put on everything the engines had, lift and drive parallel. an instant later, we brokethe surface and shot into the air. the wind hit the boat as though it had beena ping-pong ball, and it was several seconds, and bad seconds at that, before monnahan regainedeven a semblance of control. there was considerable


bad language, and several of the crew hadbloody noses. monnahan tried to get the boat turned into the wind. a circuit breaker popped,and red lights blazed all over the instrument panel. he eased off and let the wind takeover, and for a while we were flying in front of it like a rifle bullet. gradually, he noseddown and submerged. "well, that's that." joe kivelson said, whenwe were back in the underwater calm again. "we'll have to stay under till the wind'sover. don't anybody move around or breathe any deeper than you have to. we'll have toconserve oxygen." "isn't the boat equipped with electrolyticgills?" murell asked. "sure, to supply oxygen for a maximum of sixmen. we have sixteen in here."


"how long will our air last, for sixteen ofus?" i asked. "about eight hours." it would take us fifty to get to port sandor,running submerged. the wind wouldn't even begin to fall in less than twenty. "we can go south, to the coast of hermannreuch's land," abe clifford, the navigator, said. "let me figure something out." he dug out a slide rule and a pencil and padand sat down with his back to the back of the pilot's seat, under the light. everybodywatched him in a silence which joe kivelson broke suddenly by bellowing:


"dumont! you light that pipe and i'll feedit to you!" old piet dumont grabbed the pipe out of hismouth with one hand and pocketed his lighter with the other. "gosh, joe; i guess i just wasn't thinking..."he began. "well, give me that pipe." joe put it in thedrawer under the charts. "now you won't have it handy the next time you don't think." after a while, abe clifford looked up. "ship'sposition i don't have exactly; somewhere around east 25 longitude, south 20 latitude. i can'twork out our present position at all, except that we're somewhere around south 30 latitude.the locator signal is almost exactly north-by-northeast


of us. if we keep it dead astern, we'll comeout in sancerre bay, on hermann reuch's land. if we make that, we're all right. we'll bein the lee of the hacksaw mountains, and we can surface from time to time to change air,and as soon as the wind falls we can start for home." then he and abdullah and joe went into a huddle,arguing about cruising speed submerged. the results weren't so heartening. "it looks like a ten-hour trip, submerged,"joe said. "that's two hours too long, and there's no way of getting more oxygen outof the gills than we're getting now. we'll just have to use less. everybody lie downand breathe as shallowly as possible, and


don't do anything to use energy. i'm goingto get on the radio and see what i can raise." big chance, i thought. these boat radios wereonly used for communicating with the ship while scouting; they had a strain-everythingrange of about three hundred miles. hunter-ships don't crowd that close together when they'reworking. still, there was a chance that somebody else might be sitting it out on the bottomwithin hearing. so abe took the controls and kept the signal from the wreck of the javelindead astern, and joe kivelson began speaking into the radio: "mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday. captain kivelson,javelin, calling. my ship was wrecked by an explosion; all hands now in scout boat, proceedingtoward sancerre bay, on course south-by-southwest


from the wreck. locator signal is being broadcastfrom the javelin. other than that, we do not know our position. calling all craft, callingmayday." he stopped talking. the radio was silent exceptfor an occasional frying-fat crackle of static. then he began over again. i curled up, trying to keep my feet out ofanybody's face and my face clear of anybody else's feet. somebody began praying, and somebodyelse told him to belay it, he was wasting oxygen. i tried to go to sleep, which wasthe only practical thing to do. i must have succeeded. when i woke again, joe kivelsonwas saying, exasperatedly: "mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday..."


chapter 11 - darkness and cold the next time i woke, tom kivelson was recitingthe mayday, mayday incantation into the radio, and his father was asleep. the man who hadbeen praying had started again, and nobody seemed to care whether he wasted oxygen ornot. it was a theosophist prayer to the spirit guides, and i remembered that cesã¡rio vieirawas a theosophist. well, maybe there really were spirit guides. if there were, we'd allbe finding out before long. i found that i didn't care one hoot which way, and i setthat down to oxygen deficiency. then glenn murell broke in on the monotonecall for help and the prayer. "we're done for if we stay down here anotherhour," he said. "any argument on that?"


there wasn't any. joe kivelson opened hiseyes and looked around. "we haven't raised anything at all on theradio," murell went on. "that means nobody's within an hour of reaching us. am i right?" "i guess that's about the size of it," joekivelson conceded. "how close to land are we?" "the radar isn't getting anything but openwater and schools of fish," abe clifford said. "for all i know, we could be inside sancerrebay now." "well, then, why don't we surface?" murellcontinued. "it's a thousand to one against us, but if we stay here our chances are preciselyone hundred per cent negative."


"what do you think?" joe asked generally."i think mr. murell's stated it correctly." "there is no death," cesã¡rio said. "deathis only a change, and then more of life. i don't care what you do." "what have we got to lose?" somebody elseasked. "we're broke and gambling on credit "all right; we surface," the skipper said."everybody grab onto something. we'll take the nifflheim of a slamming around as soonas we're out of the water." we woke up everybody who was sleeping, exceptthe three men who had completely lost consciousness. those we wrapped up in blankets and tarpaulins,like mummies, and lashed them down. we gathered everything that was loose and made it fast,and checked the fastenings of everything else.


then abdullah monnahan pointed the nose ofthe boat straight up and gave her everything the engines could put out. just as we werestarting upward, i heard cesã¡rio saying: "if anybody wants to see me in the next reincarnation,i can tell you one thing; i won't reincarnate again on fenris!" the headlights only penetrated fifty or sixtyfeet ahead of us. i could see slashers and clawbeaks and funnelmouths and gulpers andthings like that getting out of our way in a hurry. then we were out of the water andshooting straight up in the air. it was the other time all over again, doubledin spades, only this time abdullah didn't try to fight it; he just kept the boat rising.then it went end-over-end, again and again.


i think most of us blacked out; i'm sure idid, for a while. finally, more by good luck than good management, he got us turned aroundwith the wind behind us. that lasted for a while, and then we started keyholing again.i could see the instrument panel from where i'd lashed myself fast; it was going completelybughouse. once, out the window in front, i could see jagged mountains ahead. i just shutmy eyes and waited for the spirit guides to come and pick up the pieces. when they weren't along, after a few secondsthat seemed like half an hour, i opened my eyes again. there were more mountains ahead,and mountains to the right. this'll do it, i thought, and i wondered how long it wouldtake dad to find out what had happened to


us. cesã¡rio had started praying again, andso had abdullah monnahan, who had just remembered that he had been brought up a moslem. i hopedhe wasn't trying to pray in the direction of mecca, even allowing that he knew whichway mecca was from fenris generally. that made me laugh, and then i thought, this isa fine time to be laughing at anything. then i realized that things were so bad that anythingmore that happened was funny. i was still laughing when i discovered thatthe boat had slowed to a crawl and we were backing in between two high cliffs. evidentlyabdullah, who had now stopped praying, had gotten enough control of the boat to keepher into the wind and was keeping enough speed forward to yield to it gradually. that wouldbe all right, i thought, if the force of the


wind stayed constant, and as soon as i thoughtof that, it happened. we got into a relative calm, the boat went forward again, and thenwas tossed up and spun around. then i saw a mountain slope directly behind us, out therear window. a moment later, i saw rocks and boulders stickingout of it in apparent defiance of gravitation, and then i realized that it was level groundand we were coming down at it backward. that lasted a few seconds, and then we hit stern-on,bounced and hit again. i was conscious up to the third time we hit. the next thing i knew, i was hanging frommy lashings from the side of the boat, which had become the top, and the headlights andthe lights on the control panel were out,


and joe kivelson was holding a flashlightwhile abe clifford and glenn murell were trying to get me untied and lower me. i also noticedthat the air was fresh, and very cold. "hey, we're down!" i said, as though i weretelling anybody anything they didn't know. "how many are still alive?" "as far as i know, all of us," joe said. "ithink i have a broken arm." i noticed, then, that he was holding his left arm stiffly athis side. murell had a big gash on top of his head, and he was mopping blood from hisface with his sleeve while he worked. when they got me down, i looked around. somebodyelse was playing a flashlight around at the stern, which was completely smashed. it wasa miracle the rocket locker hadn't blown up,


but the main miracle was that all, or evenany, of us were still alive. we found a couple of lights that could beput on, and we got all of us picked up and the unconscious revived. one man, dominicsilverstein, had a broken leg. joe kivelson's arm was, as he suspected, broken, anotherman had a fractured wrist, and abdullah monnahan thought a couple of ribs were broken. therest of us were in one piece, but all of us were cut and bruised. i felt sore all over.we also found a nuclear-electric heater that would work, and got it on. tom and i riggedsome tarpaulins to screen off the ruptured stern and keep out the worst of the cold wind.after they got through setting and splinting the broken bones and taping up abdullah'sribs, cesã¡rio and murell got some water out


of one of the butts and started boiling itfor coffee. i noticed that piet dumont had recovered his pipe and was smoking it, andjoe kivelson had his lit. "well, where are we?" somebody was askingabe clifford. the navigator shook his head. "the radio'ssmashed, so's the receiver for the locator, and so's the radio navigational equipment.i can state positively, however, that we are on the north coast of hermann reuch's land." everybody laughed at that except murell. ihad to explain to him that hermann reuch's land was the antarctic continent of fenris,and hasn't any other coast. "i'd say we're a good deal west of sancerrebay," cesã¡rio vieira hazarded. "we can't


be east of it, the way we got blown west.i think we must be at least five hundred miles east of it." "don't fool yourself, cesã¡rio," joe kivelsontold him. "we could have gotten into a turbulent updraft and been carried to the upper, eastwardwinds. the altimeter was trying to keep up with the boat and just couldn't, half thetime. we don't know where we went. i'll take abe's estimate and let it go at that." "well, we're up some kind of a fjord," tomsaid. "i think it branches like a y, and we're up the left branch, but i won't make a pointof that." "i can't find anything like that on this map,"abe clifford said, after a while.


joe kivelson swore. "you ought to know betterthan that, abe; you know how thoroughly this coast hasn't been mapped." "how much good will it do us to know wherewe are, right now?" i asked. "if the radio's smashed, we can't give anybody our position." "we might be able to fix up the engines andget the boat in the air again, after the wind drops." monnahan said. "i'll take a look atthem and see how badly they've been banged "with the whole stern open?" hans cronje asked."we'd freeze stiffer than a gun barrel before we went a hundred miles." "then we can pack the stern full of wet snowand let it freeze, instead of us," i suggested.


"there'll be plenty of snow before the windgoes down." joe kivelson looked at me for a moment. "thatwould work," he said. "how soon can you get started on the engines, abdullah?" "right away. i'll need somebody to help me,though. i can't do much the way you have me bandaged up." "i think we'd better send a couple of partiesout," ramã³n llewellyn said. "we'll have to find a better place to stay than this boat.we don't all have parkas or lined boots, and we have a couple of injured men. this heaterwon't be enough; in about seventy hours we'd all freeze to death sitting around it."


somebody mentioned the possibility of findinga cave. "i doubt it," llewellyn said. "i was on anexploring expedition down here, once. this is all igneous rock, mostly granite. therearen't many caves. but there may be some sort of natural shelter, or something we can makeinto a shelter, not too far away. we have two half-ton lifters; we could use them topile up rocks and build something. let's make up two parties. i'll take one; abe, you takethe other. one of us can go up and the other can go down." we picked parties, trying to get men who hadenough clothing and hadn't been too badly banged around in the landing. tom wanted togo along, but abdullah insisted that he stay


and help with the inspection of the boat'sengines. finally six of us—llewellyn, myself, glenn murell, abe clifford, old piet dumont,and another man—went out through the broken stern of the boat. we had two portable floodlights—ascout boat carries a lot of equipment—and llewellyn took the one and clifford the other.it had begun to snow already, and the wind was coming straight up the narrow ravine intowhich we had landed, driving it at us. there was a stream between the two walls of rock,swollen by the rains that had come just before the darkness, and the rocks in and besideit were coated with ice. we took one look at it and shook our heads. any exploring wedid would be done without trying to cross that. we stood for a few minutes trying tosee through the driving snow, and then we


separated, abe clifford, dumont and the otherman going up the stream and ramã³n llewellyn, glenn murell and i going down. a few hundred yards below the boat, the streamwent over a fifty-foot waterfall. we climbed down beside it, and found the ravine widening.it was a level beach, now, or what had been a beach thousands of years ago. the wholecoast of hermann reuch's land is sinking in the eastern hemisphere and rising in the western.we turned away from the stream and found that the wind was increasing in strength and comingat us from the left instead of in front. the next thing we knew, we were at the point ofthe mountain on our right and we could hear the sea roaring ahead and on both sides ofus. tom had been right about that v-shaped


fjord, i thought. we began running into scattered trees now,and when we got around the point of the mountain we entered another valley. trees, like everything else on fenris, areconsiderably different from anything analogous on normal planets. they aren't tall, the biggestnot more than fifteen feet high, but they are from six to eight feet thick, with allthe branches at the top, sprouting out in all directions and reminding me of picturesof medusa. the outside bark is a hard shell, which grows during the beginning of our fourhot seasons a year. under that will be more bark, soft and spongy, and this gets moreand more dense toward the middle; and then


comes the hardwood core, which may be as muchas two feet thick. "one thing, we have firewood," murell said,looking at them. "what'll we cut it with; our knives?" i wantedto know. "oh, we have a sonocutter on the boat," ramã³nllewellyn said. "we can chop these things into thousand-pound chunks and float themto camp with the lifters. we could soak the spongy stuff on the outside with water andlet it freeze, and build a hut out of it, too." he looked around, as far as the lightpenetrated the driving snow. "this wouldn't be a bad place to camp." not if we're going to try to work on the boat,i thought. and packing dominic, with his broken


leg, down over that waterfall was somethingi didn't want to try, either. i didn't say anything. wait till we got back to the boat.it was too cold and windy here to argue, and besides, we didn't know what abe and his partymight have found upstream. chapter 12 - castaways working we had been away from the boat for about twohours; when we got back, i saw that abdullah and his helpers had gotten the deck platesoff the engine well and used them to build a more substantial barricade at the rupturedstern. the heater was going and the boat was warm inside, not just relatively to the outside,but actually comfortable. it was even more crowded, however, because there was a tonof collapsium shielding, in four sections,


and the generator and power unit, piled inthe middle. abdullah and tom and hans cronje were looking at the converters, which to mynot very knowing eye seemed to be in a hopeless mess. there was some more work going on up at thefront. cesã¡rio vieira had found a small portable radio that wasn't in too bad condition, andhad it apart. i thought he was doing about the most effective work of anybody, and wadedover the pile of engine parts to see what he was doing. it wasn't much of a radio. ahundred miles was the absolute limit of its range, at least for sending. "is this all we have?" i asked, looking atit. it was the same type as the one i carried


on the job, camouflaged in a camera case,except that it wouldn't record. "there's the regular boat radio, but it'ssmashed up pretty badly. i was thinking we could do something about cannibalizing oneradio out of parts from both of them." we use a lot of radio equipment on the times,and i do a good bit of work on it. i started taking the big set apart and then rememberedthe receiver for the locator and got at that, too. the trouble was that most of the stuffin all the sets had been miniaturized to a point where watchmaker's tools would havebeen pretty large for working on them, and all we had was a general-repair kit that wasjust about fine enough for gunsmithing. while we were fooling around with the radios,ramã³n llewellyn was telling the others what


we found up the other branch of the fjord.joe kivelson shook his head over it. "that's too far from the boat. we can't trudgeback and forth to work on the engines. we could cut firewood down there and float itup with the lifters, and i think that's a good idea about using slabs of the soft woodto build a hut. but let's build the hut right here." "well, suppose i take a party down now andstart cutting?" the mate asked. "not yet. wait till abe gets back and we seewhat he found upstream. there may be something better up there." tom, who had been poking around in the converters,said:


"i think we can forget about the engines.this is a machine-shop job. we need parts, and we haven't anything to make them out ofor with." that was about what i'd thought. tom knewmore about lift-and-drive engines than i'd ever learn, and i was willing to take hisopinion as confirmation of my own. "tom, take a look at this mess," i said. "seeif you can help us with it." he came over, looked at what we were workingon, and said, "you need a magnifier for this. wait till i see something." then he went overto one of the lockers, rummaged in it, and found a pair of binoculars. he came over tous again, sat down, and began to take them apart. as soon as he had the two big objectivelenses out, we had two fairly good magnifying


glasses. that was a big help, but being able to seewhat had to be done was one thing, and having tools to do it was another. so he found asewing kit and a piece of emery stone, and started making little screwdrivers out ofneedles. after a while, abe clifford and piet dumontand the other man returned and made a beeline for the heater and the coffeepot. after abewas warmed a little, he said: "there's a little waterfall about half a mileup. it isn't too hard to get up over it, and above, the ground levels off into a big bowl-shapeddepression that looks as if it had been a lake bottom, once. the wind isn't so bad upthere, and this whole lake bottom or whatever


it is is grown up with trees. it would bea good place to make a camp, if it wasn't so far from the boat." "how hard would it be to cut wood up thereand bring it down?" joe asked, going on to explain what he had in mind. "why, easy. i don't think it would be nearlyas hard as the place ramã³n found." "neither do i," the mate agreed. "climbingup that waterfall down the stream with a half tree trunk would be a lot harder than droppingone over beside the one above." he began zipping up his parka. "let's get the cutter and thelifters and go up now." "wait till i warm up a little, and i'll gowith you," abe said.


then he came over to where cesã¡rio and tomand i were working, to see what we were doing. he chucked appreciatively at the midget screwdriversand things tom was making. "i'll take that back, ramã³n," he said. "ican do a lot more good right here. have you taken any of the radio navigational equipmentapart, yet?" he asked us. we hadn't. we didn't know anything about it. "well, i think we can get some stuff out ofthe astrocompass that can be used. let me in here, will you?" i got up. "you take over for me," i said."i'll go on the wood-chopping detail." tom wanted to go, too; abe told him to keepon with his toolmaking. piet dumont said he'd


guide us, and glenn murell said he'd go along.there was some swapping around of clothes and we gathered up the two lifters and thesonocutter and a floodlight and started upstream. the waterfall above the boat was higher thanthe one below, but not quite so hard to climb, especially as we had the two lifters to helpus. the worst difficulty, and the worst danger, was from the wind. once we were at the top, though, it wasn'tso bad. we went a couple of hundred yards through a narrow gorge, and then we came outonto the old lake bottom abe had spoken about. as far as our lights would shine in the snow,we could see stubby trees with snaky branches growing out of the tops.


we just started on the first one we came to,slicing the down-hanging branches away to get at the trunk and then going to work onthat. we took turns using the sonocutter, and the rest of us stamped around to keepwarm. the first trunk must have weighed a ton and a half, even after the branches wereall off; we could barely lift one end of it with both lifters. the spongy stuff, whichchanged from bark to wood as it went in to the middle, was two feet thick. we cut thatoff in slabs, to use for building the hut. the hardwood core, once we could get it lit,would make a fine hot fire. we could cut that into burnable pieces after we got it to camp.we didn't bother with the slashings; just threw them out of the way. there was so muchbig stuff here that the branches weren't worth


taking in. we had eight trees down and cut into slabsand billets before we decided to knock off. we didn't realize until then how tired andcold we were. a couple of us had taken the wood to the waterfall and heaved it over atthe side as fast as the others got the trees down and cut up. if we only had another cutterand a couple more lifters, i thought. if we only had an airworthy boat.... when we got back to camp, everybody who wasn'tcrippled and had enough clothes to get away from the heater came out and helped. first,we got a fire started—there was a small arc torch, and we needed that to get the densehardwood burning—and then we began building


a hut against the boat. everybody worked onthat but dominic silverstein. even abe and cesã¡rio knocked off work on the radio, andjoe kivelson and the man with the broken wrist gave us a little one-handed help. by thistime, the wind had fallen and the snow was coming down thicker. we made snow shovelsout of the hard outer bark, although they broke in use pretty often, and banked snowup against the hut. i lost track of how long we worked, but finally we had a place we couldall get into, with a fireplace, and it was as warm and comfortable as the inside of theboat. we had to keep cutting wood, though. beforelong it would be too cold to work up in the woods, or even go back and forth between thewoods and the camp. the snow finally stopped,


and then the sky began to clear and we couldsee stars. that didn't make us happy at all. as long as the sky was clouded and the snowwas falling, some of the heat that had been stored during the long day was being conserved.now it was all radiating away into space. the stream froze completely, even the waterfall.in a way, that was a help; we could slide wood down over it, and some of the billetswould slide a couple of hundred yards downstream. but the cold was getting to us. we only hada few men working at woodcutting—cesã¡rio, and old piet dumont, and abe clifford andi, because we were the smallest and could wear bigger men's parkas and overpants overour own. but as long as any of us could pile on enough clothing and waddle out of the hut,we didn't dare stop. if the firewood ran out,


we'd all freeze stiff in no time at all. abe clifford got the radio working, at last.it was a peculiar job as ever was, but he thought it would have a range of about fivehundred miles. somebody kept at it all the time, calling mayday. i think it was bishware who told me that mayday didn't have anything to do with the day after the last of april;it was old terran french, m'aidez, meaning "help me." i wondered how bish was gettingalong, and i wasn't too optimistic about him. cesã¡rio and abe and i were up at the waterfall,picking up loads of firewood—we weren't bothering, now, with anything but the hardand slow-burning cores—and had just gotten two of them hooked onto the lifters. i straightenedfor a moment and looked around. there wasn't


a cloud in the sky, and two of fenris's threemoons were making everything as bright as day. the glisten of the snow and the frozenwaterfall in the double moonlight was beautiful. i turned to cesã¡rio. "see what all you'llmiss, if you take your next reincarnation off fenris," i said. "this, and the long sunsetsand sunrises, and—" before i could list any more sights uniqueto our planet, the 7-mm machine gun, down at the boat, began hammering; a short burst,and then another, and another and another. chapter 13 - the beacon light we all said, "shooting!" and, "the machinegun!" as though we had to tell each other what it was.


"something's attacking them," cesã¡rio guessed. "oh, there isn't anything to attack them now,"abe said. "all the critters are dug in for the winter. i'll bet they're just using itto chop wood with." that could be; a few short bursts would knockoff all the soft wood from one of those big billets and expose the hard core. only whydidn't they use the cutter? it was at the boat now. "we better go see what it is," cesã¡rio insisted."it might be trouble." none of us was armed; we'd never thought we'dneed weapons. there are quite a few fenrisian land animals, all creepers or crawlers, thatare dangerous, but they spend the extreme


hot and cold periods in burrows, in almostcataleptic sleep. it occurred to me that something might have burrowed among the rocks near thecamp and been roused by the heat of the fire. we hadn't carried a floodlight with us—therewas no need for one in the moonlight. of the two at camp, one was pointed up the ravinetoward us, and the other into the air. we began yelling as soon as we caught sight ofthem, not wanting to be dusted over lightly with 7-mm's before anybody recognized us.as soon as the men at the camp heard us, the shooting stopped and they started shoutingto us. then we could distinguish words. "come on in! we made contact!" we pushed into the hut, where everybody wascrowded around the underhatch of the boat,


which was now the side door. abe shoved through,and i shoved in after him. newsman's conditioned reflex; get to where the story is. i evencaught myself saying, "press," as i shoved past abdullah monnahan. "what happened?" i asked, as soon as i wasinside. i saw joe kivelson getting up from the radio and making place for abe. "who didyou contact?" "the mahatma; helldiver," he said. "signal'sfaint, but plain; they're trying to make a directional fix on us. there are about a dozenships out looking for us: helldiver, pequod, bulldog, dirty gertie..." he went on namingthem. "how did they find out?" i wanted to know."somebody pick up our mayday while we were


cruising submerged?" abe clifford was swearing into the radio."no, of course not. we don't know where in nifflheim we are. all the instruments in theboat were smashed." "well, can't you shoot the stars, abe?" thevoice—i thought it was feinberg's—was almost as inaudible as a cat's sneeze. "sure we can. if you're in range of this makeshiftset, the position we'd get would be practically the same as yours," abe told him. "look, there'sa floodlight pointed straight up. can you see that?" "in all this moonlight? we could be half amile away and not see it."


"we've been firing with a 7-mm," the navigatorsaid. "i know; i heard it. on the radio. have yougot any rockets? maybe if you shot one of them up we could see it." "hey, that's an idea! hans, have we anotherrocket with an explosive head?" cronje said we had, and he and another mangot it out and carried it from the boat. i repeated my question to joe kivelson. "no. your dad tried to call the javelin byscreen; that must have been after we abandoned ship. he didn't get an answer, and put outa general call. nip spazoni was nearest, and he cruised around and picked up the locatorsignal and found the wreck, with the boat


berth blown open and the boat gone. then everybodystarted looking for us." feinberg was saying that he'd call the otherships and alert them. if the helldiver was the only ship we could contact by radio, theodds were that if they couldn't see the rocket from feinberg's ship, nobody else could. thesame idea must have occurred to abe clifford. "you say you're all along the coast. are theother ships west or east of you?" "west, as far as i know." "then we must be way east of you. where areyou now?" "about five hundred miles east of sancerrebay." that meant we must be at least a thousandmiles east of the bay. i could see how that


happened. both times the boat had surfaced,it had gone straight up, lift and drive operating together. there is a constant wind away fromthe sunlight zone at high level, heated air that has been lifted, and there is a windat a lower level out of the dark zone, coming in to replace it. we'd gotten completely abovethe latter and into the former. there was some yelling outside, and then icould hear hans cronje: "rocket's ready for vertical launching. tenseconds, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one; rocket off!" there was a whoosh outside. clifford, at theradio, repeated: "rocket off!" then it banged, high overhead. "did you see it? he asked.


"didn't see a thing," feinberg told him. "hey, i know what they would see!" tom kivelsonburst out. "say we go up and set the woods on fire?" "hey, that's an idea. listen, mahatma; wehave a big forest of flowerpot trees up on a plateau above us. say we set that on fire.think you could see it?" "i don't see why not, even in this moonlight.wait a minute, till i call the other ships." tom was getting into warm outer garments.cesã¡rio got out the arc torch, and he and tom and i raced out through the hut and outdoors.we hastened up the path that had been tramped and dragged to the waterfall, got the liftersoff the logs, and used them to help ourselves


up over the rocks beside the waterfall. we hadn't bothered doing anything with theslashings, except to get them out of our way, while we were working. now we gathered theminto piles among the trees, placing them to take advantage of what little wind was stillblowing, and touched them off with the arc torch. soon we had the branches of the treesburning, and then the soft outer wood of the trunks. it actually began to get uncomfortablyhot, although the temperature was now down around minus 90â° fahrenheit. cesã¡rio was using the torch. after he gotall the slashings on fire, he started setting fire to the trees themselves, going all aroundthem and getting the soft outer wood burning.


as soon as he had one tree lit, he would runon to another. "this guy's a real pyromaniac," tom said tome, wiping his face on the sleeve of his father's parka which he was wearing over his own. "sure i am," cesã¡rio took time out to reply."you know who i was about fifty reincarnations ago? nero, burning rome." theosophists neverhesitated to make fun of their religion, that way. the way they see it, a thing isn't muchgood if it can't stand being made fun of. "and look at the job i did on moscow, a littlelater." "sure; i remember that. i was napoleon then.what i'd have done to you if i'd caught you, too."


"yes, and i know what he was in another reincarnation,"tom added. "mrs. o'leary's cow!" whether or not cesã¡rio really had had anypast astral experience, he made a good job of firebugging on this forest. we waited aroundfor a while, far enough back for the heat to be just comfortable and pleasant, untilwe were sure that it was burning well on both sides of the frozen stream. it even made thedouble moonlight dim, and it was sending up huge clouds of fire-reddened smoke, and wherethe fire didn't light the smoke, it was black in the moonlight. there wouldn't be any excusefor anybody not seeing that. finally, we started back to camp. as soon as we got within earshot, we couldhear the excitement. everybody was jumping


and yelling. "they see it! they see it!" the boat was full of voices, too, from theradio: "pequod to dirty gertie, we see it, too, justoff our port bow... yes, bulldog, we see your running lights; we're right behind you...slasher to pequod: we can't see you at all. fire a flare, please..." i pushed in to the radio. "this is walterboyd, times representative with the javelin castaways," i said. "has anybody a portableaudiovisual pickup that i can use to get some pictures in to my paper with?" that started general laughter among the operatorson the ships that were coming in.


"we have one, walt," oscar fujisawa's voicetold me. "i'm coming in ahead in the pequod scout boat; i'll bring it with me." "thanks, oscar," i said. then i asked him:"did you see bish ware before you left port?" "i should say i did!" oscar told me. "youcan thank bish ware that we're out looking for you now. tell you about it as soon aswe get in." chapter 14 - the rescue the scout boat from the pequod came in aboutthirty minutes later, from up the ravine where the forest fire was sending up flame and smoke.it passed over the boat and the hut beside it and the crowd of us outside, and i couldsee oscar in the machine gunner's seat aiming


a portable audiovisual telecast camera. afterhe got a view of us, cheering and waving our arms, the boat came back and let down. weran to it, all of us except the man with the broken leg and a couple who didn't have enoughclothes to leave the fire, and as the boat opened i could hear oscar saying: "now i am turning you over to walter boyd,the times correspondent with the javelin castaways." he gave me the camera when he got out, followedby his gunner, and i got a view of them, and of the boat lifting and starting west to guidethe ships in. then i shut it off and said to him: "what's this about bish ware? you said hewas the one who started the search."


"that's right," oscar said. "about thirtyhours after you left port, he picked up some things that made him think the javelin hadbeen sabotaged. he went to your father, and he contacted me—mohandasfeinberg and i still had our ships in port—and started calling the javelin by screen. whenhe couldn't get response, your father put out a general call to all hunter-ships. nipspazoni reported boarding the javelin, and then went searching the area where he thoughtyou'd been hunting, picked up your locator signal, and found the javelin on the bottomwith her bow blown out and the boat berth open and the boat gone. we all figured you'dhead south with the boat, and that's where we went to look."


"well, bish ware; he was dead drunk, lasti heard of him," joe kivelson said. "aah, just an act," oscar said. "that wasto fool the city cops, and anybody else who needed fooling. it worked so well that hewas able to crash a party steve ravick was throwing at hunters' hall, after the meeting.that was where he picked up some hints that ravick had a spy in the javelin crew. he spentthe next twenty or so hours following that up, and heard about your man devis straininghis back. he found out what devis did on the javelin, and that gave him the idea that whateverthe sabotage was, it would be something to the engines. what did happen, by the way?" a couple of us told him, interrupting oneanother. he nodded.


"that was what nip spazoni thought when helooked at the ship. well, after that he talked to your father and to me, and then your fatherbegan calling and we heard from nip." you could see that it absolutely hurt joekivelson to have to owe his life to bish ware. "well, it's lucky anybody listened to him,"he grudged. "i wouldn't have." "no, i guess maybe you wouldn't," oscar toldhim, not very cordially. "i think he did a mighty sharp piece of detective work, myself." i nodded, and then, all of a sudden, anotheridea, under bish ware, reformation of, hit me. detective work; that was it. we coulduse a good private detective agency in port sandor. maybe i could talk him into openingone. he could make a go of it. he had all


kinds of contacts, he was handy with a gun,and if he recruited a couple of tough but honest citizens who were also handy with gunsand built up a protective and investigative organization, it would fill a long-felt needand at the same time give him something beside baldur honey-rum to take his mind off whateverhe was drinking to keep from thinking about. if he only stayed sober half the time, thatwould be a fifty per cent success. ramã³n llewellyn was wanting to know whetheranybody'd done anything about al devis. "we didn't have time to bother with any aldevises," oscar said. "as soon as bish figured out what had happened aboard the javelin,we knew you'd need help and need it fast. he's keeping an eye on al for us till we getback."


"that's if he doesn't get any drunker andforget," joe said. everybody, even tom, looked at him in angryreproach. "we better find out what he drinks and buyyou a jug of it, joe," oscar's gunner told him. the helldiver, which had been closest to uswhen our signal had been picked up, was the first ship in. she let down into the ravine,after some maneuvering around, and mohandas feinberg and half a dozen of his crew gotoff with an improvised stretcher on a lifter and a lot of blankets. we got our broken-legcase aboard, and abdullah monnahan, and the man with the broken wrist. there were moreships coming, so the rest of us waited. joe


kivelson should have gone on the helldiver,to have his broken arm looked at, but a captain's always the last man off, so he stayed. oscar said he'd take tom and joe, and glennmurell and me, on the pequod. i was glad of that. oscar and his mate and his navigatorare all bachelors, and they use the pequod to throw parties on when they're not hunting,so it is more comfortably fitted than the usual hunter-ship. joe decided not to tryto take anything away from the boat. he was going to do something about raising the javelin,and the salvage ship could stop here and pick everything up. "well, one thing," oscar told him. "bringthat machine gun, and what small arms you


have. i think things are going to get sortof rough in port sandor, in the next twenty or so hours." i was beginning to think so, myself. the menwho had gotten off the helldiver, and the ones who got off corkscrew finnegan's dirtygertie and nip spazoni's bulldog were all talking about what was going to have to bedone about steve ravick. bombing javelin would have been a good move for ravick, if it hadworked. it hadn't, though, and now it was likely to be the thing that would finish himfor good. it wasn't going to be any picnic, either.he had his gang of hoodlums, and he could count on morton hallstock's twenty or thirtycity police; they'd put up a fight, and a


hard one. and they were all together, andthe hunter fleet was coming in one ship at a time. i wondered if the ravick-hallstockgang would try to stop them at the water front, or concentrate at hunters' hall or the municipalbuilding to stand siege. i knew one thing, though. however things turned out, there wasgoing to be an awful lot of shooting in port sandor before it was over. finally, everybody had been gotten onto oneship or another but oscar and his gunner and the kivelsons and murell and myself. thenthe pequod, which had been circling around at five thousand feet, let down and we wentaboard. the conning tower was twice as long as usual on a hunter-ship, and furnished witha lot of easy chairs and a couple of couches.


there was a big combination view and communicationscreen, and i hurried to that and called the times. dad came on, as soon as i finished punchingthe wave-length combination. he was in his shirt sleeves, and he was wearing a gun. iguess we made kind of a show of ourselves, but, after all, he'd come within an ace ofbeing all out of family, and i'd come within an ace of being all out, period. after wegot through with the happy reunion, i asked him what was the situation in port sandor.he shook his head. "not good, walt. the word's gotten aroundthat there was a bomb planted aboard the javelin, and everybody's taking just one guess whodid it. we haven't expressed any opinions


one way or another, yet. we've been waitingfor confirmation." "set for recording," i said. "i'll give youthe story as far as we know it." he nodded, reached one hand forward out ofthe picture, and then nodded again. i began with our killing the monster and going downto the bottom after the cutting-up, and the explosion. i told him what we had seen afterleaving the ship and circling around it in the boat. "the condition of the hull looked very muchlike the effect of a charge of high explosive exploding in the engine room," i finished. "we got some views of it, transmitted in bycaptain spazoni, of the bulldog," he said.


"captain courtland, of the spaceport police,has expressed the opinion that it could hardly be anything but a small demolition bomb. wouldyou say accident can be ruled out?" "i would. there was nobody in the engine roomat the time; we were resting on the bottom, and all hands were in the wardroom." "that's good enough," dad said. "we'll runit as 'very convincing and almost conclusive' evidence of sabotage." he'd shut off the recorderfor that. "can i get the story of how you abandoned ship and landed, now?" his hand moved forward, and the recorder wenton again. i gave a brief account of our experiences in the boat, the landing and wreck, and ourcamp, and the firewood cutting, and how we


had repaired the radio. joe kivelson talkedfor a while, and so did tom and glenn murell. i was going to say something when they finished,and i sat down on one of the couches. i distinctly remember leaning back and relaxing. the next thing i knew, oscar fujisawa's matewas shaking me awake. "we're in sight of port sandor," he was tellingme. i mumbled something, and then sat up and foundthat i had been lying down and that somebody had thrown a blanket over me. tom kivelsonwas still asleep under a blanket on the other couch, across from me. the clock over theinstrument panel had moved eight g.s. hours. joe kivelson wasn't in sight, but glenn murelland oscar were drinking coffee. i went to


the front window, and there was a scarletglow on the horizon ahead of me. that's another sight cesã¡rio vieria willmiss, if he takes his next reincarnation off fenris. really, it's nothing but damp, warmair, blown up from the exhaust of the city's main ventilation plant, condensing and freezingas it hits the cold air outside, and floodlighted from below. i looked at it for a while, andthen got myself a cup of coffee and when i had finished it i went to the screen. it was still tuned to the times, and mohandasfeinberg was sitting in front of it, smoking one of his twisted black cigars. he had abig 10-mm sterberg stuffed into the waistband of his trousers.


"you guys poked along," he said. "i alwaysthought the pequod was fast. we got in three hours ago." "who else is in?" "corkscrew and some of his gang are here atthe times, now. bulldog and slasher just got in a while ago. some of the ships that werefarthest west and didn't go to your camp have been in quite a while. we're having a meetinghere. we are organizing the port sandor vigilance committee and renegade hunters' co-operative." chapter 15 - vigilantes when the pequod surfaced under the city roof,i saw what was cooking. there were twenty


or more ships, either on the concrete docksor afloat in the pools. the waterfront was crowded with men in boat clothes, forminglittle knots and breaking up to join other groups, all milling about talking excitedly.most of them were armed; not just knives and pistols, which is normal costume, but heavyrifles or submachine guns. down to the left, there was a commotion and people were gettingout of the way as a dozen men come pushing through, towing a contragravity skid witha 50-mm ship's gun on it. i began not liking the looks of things, and glenn murell, whohad come up from his nap below, was liking it even less. he'd come to fenris to buy tallow-wax,not to fight a civil war. i didn't want any of that stuff, either. getting rid of ravick,hallstock and belsher would come under the


head of civic improvements, but towns arerarely improved by having battles fought in maybe i should have played dumb and waitedtill i'd talked to dad face to face, before making any statements about what had happenedon the javelin, i thought. then i shrugged that off. from the minute the javelin hadfailed to respond to dad's screen-call and the general call had gone out to the hunter-fleet,everybody had been positive of what had happened. it was too much like the loss of the claymore,which had made ravick president of the co-op. port sandor had just gotten all of steve ravickthat anybody could take. they weren't going to have any more of him, and that was allthere was to it. joe kivelson was grumbling about his brokenarm; that meant that when a fight started,


he could only go in swinging with one fist,and that would cut the fun in half. another reason why joe is a wretched shot is thathe doesn't like pistols. they're a little too impersonal to suit him. they weren't foroscar fujisawa; he had gotten a mars-consolidated police special out of the chart-table drawerand put it on, and he was loading cartridges into a couple of spare clips. down on themain deck, the gunner was serving out small arms, and there was an acrimonious argumentbecause everybody wanted a chopper and there weren't enough choppers to go around. oscarwent over to the ladder head and shouted down at them. "knock off the argument, down there; you peopleare all going to stay on the ship. i'm going


up to the times; as soon as i'm off, floather out into the inner channel and keep her afloat, and don't let anybody aboard you'renot sure of." "that where we're going?" joe kivelson asked. "sure. that's the safest place in town formr. murell and i want to find out exactly what's going on here." "well, here; you don't need to put me in storage,"murell protested. "i can take care of myself." add, famous last words, i thought. "i'm sure of it, but we can't take any chances,"oscar told him. "right now, you are fenris's indispensable man. if you're not around tobuy tallow-wax, ravick's won the war."


oscar and murell and joe and tom kivelsonand i went down into the boat; somebody opened the port and we floated out and lifted ontothe second level down. there was a fringe of bars and cafes and dance halls and outfittersand ship chandlers for a couple of blocks back, and then we ran into the warehouse district.oscar ran up town to a vehicle shaft above the times building, careful to avoid the neighborhoodof hunters' hall or the municipal building. there was a big crowd around the times, mostlybusiness district people and quite a few women. they were mostly out on the street and insidethe street-floor vehicle port. not a disorderly crowd, but i noticed quite a few rifles andsubmachine guns. as we slipped into the vehicle port, they recognized the pequod's boat, andthere was a rush after it. we had trouble


getting down without setting it on anybody,and more trouble getting out of it. they were all friendly—too friendly for comfort. theybegan cheering us as soon as they saw us. oscar got joe kivelson, with his arm in asling, out in front where he could be seen, and began shouting: "please make way; thisman's been injured. please don't crowd; we have an injured man here." the crowd beganshoving back, and in the rear i could hear them taking it up: "joe kivelson; he's beenhurt. they're carrying joe kivelson off." that made joe curse a blue streak, and somebodysaid, "oh, he's been hurt real bad; just listen to him!" when we got up to the editorial floor, dadand bish ware and a few others were waiting


at the elevator for us. bish was dressed ashe always was, in his conservative black suit, with the organic opal glowing in his neckcloth.dad had put a coat on over his gun. julio was wearing two pistols and a knife a footlong. there was a big crowd in the editorial office—ships' officers, merchants, professionalpeople. i noticed sigurd ngozori, the banker, and professor hartzenbosch—he was wearinga pistol, too, rather self-consciously—and the zen buddhist priest, who evidently hadsomething under his kimono. they all greeted us enthusiastically and shook hands with us.i noticed that joe kivelson was something less than comfortable about shaking handswith bish ware. the fact that bish had started the search for the javelin that had savedour lives didn't alter the opinion joe had


formed long ago that bish was just a worthlessold souse. joe's opinions are all collapsium-plated and impervious to outside influence. i got bish off to one side as we were goinginto the editorial room. "how did you get onto it?" i asked. he chuckled deprecatingly. "no trick at all,"he said. "i just circulated and bought drinks for people. the trouble with ravick's gang,it's an army of mercenaries. they'll do anything for the price of a drink, and as long as myrich uncle stays solvent, i always have the price of a drink. in the five years i've spentin this garden spot of the galaxy, i've learned some pretty surprising things about steveravick's operations."


"well, surely, nobody was going around placeslike martian joe's or one eye swanson's boasting that they'd put a time bomb aboard the javelin,"i said. "it came to pretty nearly that," bish said."you'd be amazed at how careless people who've had their own way for a long time can get.for instance, i've known for some time that ravick has spies among the crews of a lotof hunter-ships. i tried, a few times, to warn some of these captains, but except foroscar fujisawa and corkscrew finnegan, none of them would listen to me. it wasn't thatthey had any doubt that ravick would do that; they just wouldn't believe that any of theircrew were traitors. "i've suspected this devis for a long time,and i've spoken to ramã³n llewellyn about


him, but he just let it go in one ear andout the other. for one thing, devis always has more money to spend than his share ofthe javelin take would justify. he's the showoff type; always buying drinks for everybody andplaying the big shot. claims to win it gambling, but all the times i've ever seen him gambling,he's been losing. "i knew about this hoard of wax we saw theday murell came in for some time. i always thought it was being held out to squeeze abetter price out of belsher and ravick. then this friend of mine with whom i was talkingaboard the peenemã¼nde mentioned that murell seemed to know more about the tallow-wax businessthan about literary matters, and after what happened at the meeting and afterward, i beganputting two and two together. when i crashed


that party at hunters' hall, i heard a fewthings, and they all added up. "and then, about thirty hours after the javelinleft port, i was in the happy haven, and who should i see, buying drinks for the house,but al devis. i let him buy me one, and he told me he'd strained his back hand-liftinga power-unit cartridge. a square dance got started a little later, and he got into it.his back didn't look very strained to me. and then i heard a couple of characters inone eye swanson's betting that the javelin would never make port again." i knew what had happened from then on. ifit hadn't been for bish ware, we'd still be squatting around a fire down on the coastof hermann reuch's land till it got too cold


to cut wood, and then we'd freeze. i mentionedthat, but bish just shrugged it off and suggested we go on in and see what was happening inside. "where is al devis?" i asked. "a lot of peoplewant to talk to him." "i know they do. i want to get to him first,while he's still in condition to do some talking of his own. but he just dropped out of sight,about the time your father started calling the javelin." "ah!" i drew a finger across under my chin,and mentioned the class of people who tell no tales. bish shook his head slowly. "i doubt it," he said. "not unless it wasabsolutely necessary. that sort of thing would


have a discouraging effect the next time ravickwanted a special job done. i'm pretty sure he isn't at hunters' hall, but he's hidingsomewhere." joe kivelson had finished telling what hadhappened aboard the javelin when we joined the main crowd, and everybody was talkingabout what ought to be done with steve ravick. oddly enough, the most bloodthirsty were thebanker and the professor. well, maybe it wasn't so odd. they were smart enough to know whatsteve ravick was really doing to port sandor, and it hurt them as much as it did the hunters.dad and bish seemed to be the only ones present who weren't in favor of going down to hunters'hall right away and massacring everybody in it, and then doing the same at the municipalbuilding.


"that's what i say!" joe kivelson was shouting."let's go clean out both rats' nests. why, there must be a thousand hunter-ship men atthe waterfront, and look how many people in town who want to help. we got enough men toeat hunters' hall whole." "you'll find it slightly inedible, joe," bishtold him. "ravick has about thirty men of his own and fifteen to twenty city police.he has at least four 50-mm's on the landing stage above, and he has half a dozen heavymachine guns and twice that many light 7-mm's." "bish is right," somebody else said. "theyhave the vehicle port on the street level barricaded, and they have the two floors onthe level below sealed off. we got men all around it and nobody can get out, but if wetry to blast our way in, it's going to cost


us like nifflheim." "you mean you're just going to sit here andtalk about it and not do anything?" joe demanded. "we're going to do something, joe," dad toldhim. "but we've got to talk about what we're going to do, and how we're going to do it,or it'll be us who'll get wiped out." "well, we'll have to decide on what it'llbe, pretty quick," mohandas gandhi feinberg said. "what are things like at the municipal building?"oscar fujisawa asked. "you say ravick has fifteen to twenty city cops at hunters' hall.where are the rest of them? that would only be five to ten."


"at the municipal building," bish said. "hallstock'sholed up there, trying to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary is happening." "good. let's go to the municipal building,first," oscar said. "take a couple of hundred men, make a lot of noise, shoot out a fewwindows and all yell, 'hang mort hallstock!' loud enough, and he'll recall the cops hehas at hunters' hall to save his own neck. then the rest of us can make a quick rushand take hunters' hall." "we'll have to keep our main force aroundhunters' hall while we're demonstrating at the municipal building," corkscrew finnegansaid. "we can't take a chance on ravick's getting away."


"i couldn't care less whether he gets awayor not," oscar said. "i don't want steve ravick's blood. i just want him out of the co-operative,and if he runs out from it now, he'll never get back in." "you want him, and you want him alive," bishware said. "ravick has close to four million sols banked on terra. every millisol of that'smoney he's stolen from the monster-hunters of this planet, through the co-operative.if you just take him out and string him up, you'll have the nifflheim of a time gettinghold of any of it." that made sense to all the ship captains,even joe kivelson, after dad reminded him of how much the salvage job on the javelinwas going to cost. it took sigurd ngozori


a couple of minutes to see the point, butthen, hanging steve ravick wasn't going to cost the fidelity & trust company anything. "well, this isn't my party," glenn murellsaid, "but i'm too much of a businessman to see how watching somebody kick on the endof a rope is worth four million sols." "four million sols," bish said, "and wondering,the rest of your lives, whether it was justice or just murder." the buddhist priest looked at him, a triflestartled. after all, he was the only clergyman in the crowd; he ought to have thought ofthat, instead of this outrageous mock-bishop. "i think it's a good scheme," dad said. "don'tmass any more men around hunters' hall than


necessary. you don't want the police to beafraid to leave when hallstock calls them in to help him at municipal building." bish ware rose. "i think i'll see what i cando at hunters' hall, in the meantime," he said. "i'm going to see if there's some wayin from the first or second level down. walt, do you still have that sleep-gas gadget ofyours?" i nodded. it was, ostensibly, nothing butan oversized pocket lighter, just the sort of a thing a gadget-happy kid would carryaround. it worked perfectly as a lighter, too, till you pushed in on a little gismoon the side. then, instead of producing a flame, it squirted out a small jet of sleepgas. it would knock out a man; it would almost


knock out a zarathustra veldtbeest. i'd boughtit from a spaceman on the cape canaveral. i'd always suspected that he'd stolen it onterra, because it was an expensive little piece of work, but was i going to ride a bicyclesix hundred and fifty light-years to find out who it belonged to? one of the chemists'shops at port sandor made me up some fills for it, and while i had never had to use it,it was a handy thing to have in some of the places i had to follow stories into, and itwouldn't do anybody any permanent damage, the way a gun would. "yes; it's down in my room. i'll get it foryou," i said. "be careful, bish," dad said. "that gang wouldkill you sooner than look at you."


"who, me?" bish staggered into a table andcaught hold of it. "who'd wanna hurt me? i'm just good ol' bish ware. good ol' bish! nobodyhurt him; he'sh everybody's friend." he let go of the table and staggered into a chair,upsetting it. then he began to sing: "come all ye hardy spacemen, and harken whilei tell of fluorine-tainted nifflheim, the planetary hell." involuntarily, i began clapping my hands.it was a superb piece of acting—bish ware sober playing bish ware drunk, and that'snot an easy role for anybody to play. then he picked up the chair and sat down on it. "who do you have around hunters' hall, andhow do i get past them?" he asked. "i don't


want a clipful from somebody on my own side." nip spazoni got a pencil and a pad of paperand began drawing a plan. "this is second level down," he said. "wehave a car here, with a couple of men in it. it's watching this approach here. and we havea ship's boat, over here, with three men in it, and a 7-mm machine gun. and another car—no,a jeep, here. now, up on the first level down, we have two ships' boats, one here, and onehere. the password is 'exotic,' and the countersign is 'organics.'" he grinned at murell. "complimentto your company." "good enough. i'll want a bottle of liquor.my breath needs a little touching up, and i may want to offer somebody a drink. if icould get inside that place, there's no telling


what i might be able to do. if one man canget in and put a couple of guards to sleep, an army can get in after him." brother, i thought, if he pulls this one off,he's in. nobody around port sandor will ever look down on bish ware again, not even joekivelson. i began thinking about the detective agency idea again, and wondered if he'd wanta junior partner. ware & boyd, planetwide detective agency. i went down to the floor below with him andgot him my lighter gas-projector and a couple of spare fills for it, and found the bottleof baldur honey-rum that dad had been sure was around somewhere. i was kind of doubtfulabout that, and he noticed my hesitation in


giving it to him and laughed. "don't worry, walt," he said. "this is strictlyfor protective coloration—and odoration. i shall be quite sparing with it, i assureyou." i shook hands with him, trying not to be toosolemn about it, and he went down in the elevator and i went up the stairs to the floor above.by this time, the port sandor vigilance committee had gotten itself sorted out. the rank-and-filevigilantes were standing around yacking at one another, and a smaller group—dad andsigurd ngozori and the reverend sugitsuma and oscar and joe and corkscrew and nip andthe mahatma—were in a huddle around dad's editorial table, discussing strategy and tactics.


"well, we'd better get back to the docks beforeit starts," corkscrew was saying. "no hunter crew will follow anybody but their own ships'officers." "we'll have to have somebody the uptown peoplewill follow," oscar said. "these people won't take orders from a woolly-pants hunter captain.how about you, sigurd?" the banker shook his head. "ralph boyd's theman for that," he said. "ralph's needed right here; this is g.h.q.,"oscar said. "this is a job that's going to have to be run from one central command. we'vegot to make sure the demonstration against hallstock and the operation against hunters'hall are synchronized." "i have about a hundred and fifty workmen,and they all have or can get something to


shoot with," another man said. i looked around,and saw that it was casmir oughourlian, of rodriguez & oughourlian shipyards. "they'llfollow me, but i'm not too well known uptown." "hey, professor hartzenbosch," mohandas feinbergsaid. "you're a respectable-looking duck; you ever have any experience leading a lynchmob?" everybody laughed. so, to his credit, didthe professor. "i've had a lot of experience with children,"the professor said. "children are all savages. so are lynch mobs. things that are equal tothe same thing are equal to one another. yes, i'd say so." "all right," dad said. "say i'm chief of staff,or something. oscar, you and joe and corkscrew


and the rest of you decide who's going totake over-all command of the hunters. casmir, you'll command your workmen, and anybody elsefrom the shipyards and engine works and repair shops and so on. sigurd, you and the reverend,here, and professor hartzenbosch gather up all the uptown people you can. now, we'llhave to decide on how much force we need to scare mort hallstock, and how we're goingto place the main force that will attack hunters' hall." "i think we ought to wait till we see whatbish ware can do," oscar said. "get our gangs together, and find out where we're going toput who, but hold off the attack for a while. if he can get inside hunters' hall, we maynot even need this demonstration at the municipal


building." joe kivelson started to say something. therest of his fellow ship captains looked at him severely, and he shut up. dad kept onjotting down figures of men and 50-mm guns and vehicles and auto weapons we had available. he was still doing it when the fire alarmstarted. chapter 16 - civil war postponed the moaner went on for thirty seconds, likea banshee mourning its nearest and dearest. it was everywhere, main city level and thefour levels below. what we have in port sandor is a volunteer fire organization—or disorganization,rather—of six independent companies, each


of which cherishes enmity for all the rest.it's the best we can do, though; if we depended on the city government, we'd have no fireprotection at all. they do have a central alarm system, though, and the times is connectedwith that. then the moaner stopped, and there were fourdeep whistle blasts for fourth ward, and four more shrill ones for bottom level. there wasan instant's silence, and then a bedlam of shouts from the hunter-boat captains. thatwas where the tallow-wax that was being held out from the co-operative was stored. "shut up!" dad roared, the loudest i'd everheard him speak. "shut up and listen!" "fourth ward, bottom level," a voice fromthe fire-alarm speaker said. "this is a tallow-wax


fire. it is not the co-op wax; it is wax storedin an otherwise disused area. it is dangerously close to stored 50-mm cannon ammunition, andit is directly under the pulpwood lumber plant, on the third level down, and if the fire spreadsup to that, it will endanger some of the growing vats at the carniculture plant on the secondlevel down. i repeat, this is a tallow-wax fire. do not use water or chemical extinguishers." about half of the vigilantes, businessmenwho belonged to one or another of the volunteer companies had bugged out for their fire stationsalready. the buddhist priest and a couple of doctors were also leaving. the rest, mostlyhunter-ship men, were standing around looking at one another.


oscar fujisawa gave a sour laugh. "that diversionidea of mine was all right," he said. "the only trouble was that steve ravick thoughtof it first." "you think he started the fire?" dad began,and then gave a sourer laugh than oscar's. "am i dumb enough to ask that?" i had started assembling equipment as soonas the feint on the municipal building and the attack on hunters' hall had gotten intothe discussion stage. i would use a jeep that had a heavy-duty audiovisual recording andtransmitting outfit on it, and for situations where i'd have to leave the jeep and go onfoot, i had a lighter outfit like the one oscar had brought with him in the pequod'sboat. then i had my radio for two-way conversation


with the office. and, because this wasn'tlikely to be the sort of war in which the rights of noncombatants like war correspondentswould be taken very seriously, i had gotten out my sterberg 7.7-mm. dad saw me buckling it on, and seemed ratherdistressed. "better leave that, walt," he said. "you don'twant to get into any shooting." logical, i thought. if you aren't preparedfor something, it just won't happen. there's an awful lot of that sort of thinking goingon. as i remember my old terran history, it was even indulged in by governments, at onetime. none of them exists now. "you know what all crawls into the bottomlevel," i reminded him. "if you don't, ask


mr. murell, here. one sent him to the hospital." dad nodded; i had a point there. the abandonedsections of bottom level are full of tread-snails and other assorted little nasties, and theheat of the fire would stir them all up and start them moving around. even aside fromthe possibility that, having started the fire, steve ravick's gang would try to take stepsto keep it from being put out too soon, a gun was going to be a comforting companion,down there. "well, stay out of any fighting. your job'sto get the news, not play hero in gun fights. i'm no hero; that's why i'm sixty years old.i never knew many heroes that got that old." it was my turn to nod. on that, dad had apoint. i said something about getting the


news, not making it, and checked the chamberand magazine of the sterberg, and then slung my radio and picked up the audiovisual outfit. tom and joe kivelson had left already, toround up the scattered javelin crew for fire fighting. the attack on the municipal buildingand on hunters' hall had been postponed, but it wasn't going to be abandoned. oscar andprofessor hartzenbosch and dad and a couple of others were planning some sort of an observationforce of a few men for each place, until the fire had been gotten out or under control.glenn murell decided he'd go out with me, at least as far as the fire, so we went downto the vehicle port and got the jeep out. main city level broadway was almost deserted;everybody had gone down below where the excitement


was. we started down the nearest vehicle shaftand immediately got into a jam, above a lot of stuff that was going into the shaft fromthe first level down, mostly manipulators and that sort of thing. there were no policearound, natch, and a lot of volunteers were trying to direct traffic and getting in eachother's way. i got some views with the jeep camera, just to remind any of the public whoneeded reminding what our city administration wasn't doing in an emergency. a couple ofpieces of apparatus, a chemical tank and a pumper marked salamander volunteer fire companyno. 3 came along, veered out of the jam, and continued uptown. "if they know another way down, maybe we'dbetter follow them," murell suggested.


"they're not going down. they're going tothe lumber plant, in case the fire spreads upward," i said. "they wouldn't be takingthat sort of equipment to a wax fire." "why not?" i looked at him. "i thought you were in thewax business," i said. "i am, but i'm no chemist. i don't know anythingabout how wax burns. all i know is what it's used for, roughly, and who's in the marketfor it." "well, you know about those jumbo molecules,don't you?" i asked. "they have everything but the kitchen sink in them, including enoughoxygen to sustain combustion even under water or in a vacuum. not enough oxygen to makewax explode, like powder, but enough to keep


it burning. chemical extinguishers are allsmothering agents, and you just can't smother a wax fire. and water's worse than useless." he wanted to know why. "burning wax is a liquid. the melting pointis around 250 degrees centigrade. wax ignites at 750. it has no boiling point, unless that'sthe burning point. throw water on a wax fire and you get a steam explosion, just as youwould if you threw it on molten metal, and that throws the fire around and spreads it." "if it melts that far below the ignition point,wouldn't it run away before it caught fire?" "normally, it would. that's why i'm sure thisfire was a touch-off. i think somebody planted


a thermoconcentrate bomb. a thermoconcentrateflame is around 850 centigrade; the wax would start melting and burning almost instantaneously.in any case, the fire will be at the bottom of the stacks. if it started there, meltedwax would run down from above and keep the fire going, and if it started at the top,burning wax would run down and ignite what's below." "well, how in blazes do you put a wax fireout?" he wanted to know. "you don't. you just pull away all the waxthat hasn't caught fire yet, and then try to scatter the fire and let it burn itselfout.... here's our chance!" all this conversation we had been screaminginto each other's ears, in the midst of a


pandemonium of yelling, cursing, siren howlingand bell clanging; just then i saw a hole in the vertical traffic jam and edged thejeep into it, at the same time remembering that the jeep carried, and i was entitledto use, a fire siren. i added its howls to the general uproar and dropped down one level.here a string of big manipulators were trying to get in from below, sprouting claw hooksand grapples and pusher arms in all directions. i made my siren imitate a tail-tramped tomcata couple of times, and got in among them. bottom level broadway was a frightful mess,and i realized that we had come down right between two units of the city power plant,big mass-energy converters. the street was narrower than above, and ran for a thousandyards between ceiling-high walls, and everything


was bottlenecked together. i took the jeepup till we were almost scraping the ceiling, and murell, who had seen how the audiovisualwas used, took over with it while i concentrated on inching forward. the noise was even worsedown here than it had been above; we didn't attempt to talk. finally, by impudence and plain foolhardiness,i got the jeep forward a few hundred yards, and found myself looking down on a big derrickwith a fifty-foot steel boom tipped with a four-clawed grapple, shielded in front withsheet steel like a gun shield. it was painted with the emblem of the hunters' co-operative,but the three men on it looked like shipyard workers. i didn't get that, at all. the thinghad been built to handle burning wax, and


was one of three kept on the second leveldown under hunters' hall. i wondered if bish ware had found a way for a gang to get inat the bottom of hunters' hall. i simply couldn't see steve ravick releasing equipment to fightthe fire his goons had started for him in the first place. i let down a few feet, gave a polite littlescream with my siren, and then yelled down to the men on it: "where'd that thing come from?" "hunters' hall; steve ravick sent it. theother two are up at the fire already, and if this mess ahead doesn't get straightenedout...." from there on, his remarks were not


suitable for publication in a family journallike the times. i looked up ahead, rising to the ceiling again,and saw what was the matter. it was one of the dredgers from the waterfront, really asubmarine scoop shovel, that they used to keep the pools and the inner channel fromsanding up. i wasn't surprised it was jammed; i couldn't see how they'd gotten this faruptown with it. i got a few shots of that, and then unhooked the handphone of my radio.julio kubanoff answered. "you getting everything i'm sending in?" iasked. "yes. what's that two-em-dashed thing up ahead,one of the harbor dredgers?" "that's right. hey, look at this, once." iturned the audiovisual down on the claw derrick.


"the men on it look like rodriguez & oughourlian'speople, but they say steve ravick sent it. what do you know about it?" "hey, ralph! what's this walt's picked upabout ravick sending equipment to fight the fire?" he yelled. dad came over, and nodded. "it wasn't ravick,it was mort hallstock. he commandeered the co-op equipment and sent it up," he said."he called me and wanted to know whom to send for it that ravick's gang wouldn't start shootingat right away. casmir oughourlian sent some of his men." up front, something seemed to have given way.the dredger went lurching forward, and everything


moved off after it. "i get it," i said. "hallstock's getting readyto dump ravick out the airlock. he sees, now, that ravick's a dead turkey; he doesn't wantto go into the oven along with him." "walt, can't you ever give anybody creditwith trying to do something decent, once in a while?" dad asked. "sure i can. decent people. there are a lotof them around, but mort hallstock isn't one of them. there was an old terran politiciannamed al smith, once. he had a little saying he used in that kind of case: 'let's lookat the record.'" "well, mort's record isn't very impressive,i'll give you that," dad admitted. "i understand


mort's up at the fire now. don't spit in hiseye if you run into him." "i won't," i promised. "i'm kind of particularwhere i spit." things must be looking pretty rough aroundmunicipal building, i thought. maybe mort's afraid the people will start running fenrisagain, after this. he might even be afraid there'd be an election. by this time, i'd gotten the jeep around thedredger—we'd come to the end of the nuclear-power plant buildings—and cut off into open country.that is to say, nothing but pillar-buildings two hundred yards apart and piles of baggedmineral nutrients for the hydroponic farms. we could see a blaze of electric lights aheadwhere the fire must be, and after a while


we began to run into lorries and lifter-skidshauling ammunition away from the area. then i could see a big mushroom of greasy blacksmoke spreading out close to the ceiling. the electric lights were brighter ahead, andthere was a confused roar of voices and sirens and machines. and there was a stink. there are a lot of stinks around port sandor,though the ventilation system carries most of them off before they can spread out oftheir own areas. the plant that reprocesses sewage to get organic nutrients for the hydroponicfarms, and the plant that digests hydroponic vegetation to make nutrients for the carniculturevats. the carniculture vats themselves aren't


any flower gardens. and the pulp plant whereour synthetic lumber is made. but the worst stink there is on fenris is a tallow-wax fire.fortunately, they don't happen often. chapter 17 - tallow-wax fire now that we were out of the traffic jam, icould poke along and use the camera myself. the wax was stacked in piles twenty feet high,which gave thirty feet of clear space above them, but the section where they had beenpiled was badly cut up by walls and full of small extra columns to support the weightof the pulp plant above and the carniculture vats on the level over that. however, thepiles themselves weren't separated by any walls, and the fire could spread to the wholestock of wax. there were more men and vehicles


on the job than room for them to work. i passedover the heads of the crowd around the edges and got onto a comparatively unobstructedside where i could watch and get views of the fire fighters pulling down the big skinsof wax and loading them onto contragravity skids to be hauled away. it still wasn't toohot to work unshielded, and they weren't anywhere near the burning stacks, but the fire seemedto be spreading rapidly. the dredger and the three shielded derricks hadn't gotten intoaction yet. i circled around clockwise, dodging over,under and around the skids and lorries hauling wax out of danger. they were taking them intothe section through which i had brought the jeep a few minutes before, and just dumpingthem on top of the piles of mineral nutrients.


the operation seemed to be directed from animprovised headquarters in the area that had been cleared of ammunition. there were a coupleof view screens and a radio, operated by women. i saw one of the teachers i'd gone to schoolto a few years ago, and joe kivelson's wife, and oscar fujisawa's current girl friend,and sigurd ngozori's secretary, and farther off there was an equally improvised coffee-and-sandwichstand. i grounded the jeep, and murell and i got out and went over to the headquarters.joe kivelson seemed to be in charge. i have, i believe, indicated here and therethat joe isn't one of our mightier intellects. there are a lot of better heads, but joe canbe relied upon to keep his, no matter what is happening or how bad it gets. he was sittingon an empty box, his arm in a now-filthy sling,


and one of mohandas feinberg's crooked blackcigars in his mouth. usually, joe smokes a pipe, but a cigar's less bother for a temporarilyone-armed man. standing in front of him, like a schoolboy in front of the teacher, was mayormorton hallstock. "but, joe, they simply won't!" his honor waswailing. "i did talk to mr. fieschi; he says he knows this is an emergency, but there'sa strict company directive against using the spaceport area for storage of anything butcargo that has either just come in or is being shipped out on the next ship." "what's this all about?" murell asked. "fieschi, at the spaceport, won't let us storethis wax in the spaceport area," joe said.


"we got to get it stored somewhere; we needa lot of floor space to spread this fire out on, once we get into it. we have to knockthe burning wax cylinders apart, and get them separated enough so that burning wax won'trun from one to another." "well, why can't we store it in the spaceportarea?" murell wanted to know. "it is going out on the next ship. i'm consigning it toexotic organics, in buenos aires." he turned to joe. "are those skins all marked to indicatewho owns them?" "that's right. and any we gather up loose,from busted skins, we can figure some way of settling how much anybody's entitled tofrom them." "all right. get me a car and run me to thespaceport. call them and tell them i'm on


the way. i'll talk to fieschi myself." "martha!" joe yelled to his wife. "car anddriver, quick. and then call the spaceport for me; get mr. fieschi or mr. mansour onscreen." inside two minutes, a car came in and pickedmurell up. by that time, joe was talking to somebody at the spaceport. i called the paper,and told dad that murell was buying the wax for his company as fast as it was being pulledoff the fire, at eighty centisols a pound. he said that would go out as a special bulletinright away. then i talked to morton hallstock, and this time he wasn't giving me any of therun-along-sonny routine. i told him, rather hypocritically, what a fine thing he'd done,getting that equipment from hunters' hall.


i suspect i sounded as though i were mayorof port sandor and hallstock, just seventeen years old, had done something the grownupsthought was real smart for a kid. if so, he didn't seem to notice. somebody connectedwith the press was being nice to him. i asked him where steve ravick was. "mr. ravick is at hunters' hall," he said."he thought it would be unwise to make a public appearance just now." oh, brother, what anunderstatement! "there seems to be a lot of public feeling against him, due to some misconceptionthat he was responsible for what happened to captain kivelson's ship. of course, thatis absolutely false. mr. ravick had absolutely nothing to do with that. he wasn't anywherenear the javelin."


"where's al devis?" i asked. "who? i don't believe i know him." after hallstock got into his big black air-limousineand took off, joe kivelson gave a short laugh. "i could have told him where al devis is,"he said. "no, i couldn't, either," he corrected himself. "that's a religious question, andi don't discuss religion." i shut off my radio in a hurry. "who got him?"i asked. joe named a couple of men from one of thehunter-ships. "here's what happened. there were six menon guard here; they had a jeep with a 7-mm machine gun. about an hour ago, a lorry pulledin, with two men in boat-clothes on it. they


said that pierre karolyi's corinne had justcome in with a hold full of wax, and they were bringing it up from the docks, and whereshould they put it? well, the men on guard believed that; pierre'd gone off into thetwilight zone after the helldiver contacted us, and he could have gotten a monster inthe meantime. "well, they told these fellows that therewas more room over on the other side of the stacks, and the lorry went up above the stacksand started across, and when they were about the middle, one of the men in it threw outa thermoconcentrate bomb. the lorry took off, right away. the only thing was that therewere two men in the jeep, and one of them was at the machine gun. they'd lifted to followthe lorry over and show them where to put


this wax, and as soon as the bomb went off,the man at the gun grabbed it and caught the lorry in his sights and let go. this fellowhadn't been covering for cutting-up work for years for nothing. he got one burst rightin the control cabin, and the lorry slammed into the next column foundation. after theycalled in an alarm on the fire the bomb had started, a couple of them went to see who'dbeen in the lorry. the two men in it were both dead, and one of them was al devis." "pity," i said. "i'd been looking forwardto putting a recording of his confession on the air. where is this lorry now?" joe pointed toward the burning wax piles."almost directly on the other side. we have


a couple of men guarding it. the bodies arestill in it. we don't want any tampering with it till it can be properly examined; we wantto have the facts straight, in case hallstock tries to make trouble for the men who didthe shooting." i didn't know how he could. under any kindof federation law at all, a man killed committing a felony—and bombing and arson ought toqualify for that—is simply bought and paid for; his blood is on nobody's head but hisown. of course, a small matter like legality was always the least of mort hallstock's worries. "i'll go get some shots of it," i said, andthen i snapped on my radio and called the story in.


dad had already gotten it, from fire-alarmcenter, but he hadn't heard that devis was one of the deceased arsonists. like me, hewas very sorry to hear about it. devis as devis was no loss, but alive and talking he'dhave helped us pin both the wax fire and the bombing of the javelin on steve ravick. theni went back and got in the jeep. they were beginning to get in closer to themiddle of the stacks where the fire had been started. there was no chance of getting overthe top of it, and on the right there were at least five hundred men and a hundred vehicles,all working like crazy to pull out unburned wax. big manipulators were coming up and grabbingas many of the half-ton sausages as they could, and lurching away to dump them onto skidsor into lorries or just drop them on top of


the bags of nutrient stacked beyond. jeepsand cars would dart in, throw grapnels on the end of lines, and then pull away all thewax they could and return to throw their grapnels again. as fast as they pulled the big skinsdown, men with hand-lifters like the ones we had used at our camp to handle firewoodwould pick them up and float them away. that seemed to be where the major effort wasbeing made, at present, and i could see lifter-skids coming in with big blower fans on them. iknew what the strategy was, now; they were going to pull the wax away to where it wasburning on one side, and then set up the blowers and blow the heat and smoke away on that side.that way, on the other side more men could work closer to the fire, and in the long runthey'd save more wax.


i started around the wax piles to the left,clockwise, to avoid the activity on the other side, and before long i realized that i'dhave done better not to have. there was a long wall, ceiling-high, that stretched offuptown in the direction of the spaceport, part of the support for the weight of thepulpwood plant on the level above, and piled against it was a lot of junk machinery ofdifferent kinds that had been hauled in here and dumped long ago and then forgotten. thewax was piled almost against this, and the heat and smoke forced me down. i looked at the junk pile and decided thati could get through it on foot. i had been keeping up a running narration into my radio,and i commented on all this salvageable metal


lying in here forgotten, with our perennialmetal shortages. then i started picking my way through it, my portable audiovisual cameraslung over my shoulder and a flashlight in my hand. my left hand, of course; it's neversmart to carry a light in your right, unless you're left-handed. the going wasn't too bad. most of the time,i could get between things without climbing over them. i was going between a broken-downpress from the lumber plant and a leaky 500-gallon pressure cooker from the carniculture nutrientplant when i heard something moving behind me, and i was suddenly very glad that i hadn'tlet myself be talked into leaving my pistol it was a thing the size of a ten-gallon keg,with a thick tail and flippers on which it


crawled, and six tentacles like small elephants'trunks around a circular mouth filled with jagged teeth halfway down the throat. thereare a dozen or so names for it, but mostly it is called a meat-grinder. the things are always hungry and try to eatanything that moves. the mere fact that i would be as poisonous to it as any of thelocal flora or fauna would be to me made no difference; this meat-grinder was no biochemist.it was coming straight for me, all its tentacles writhing. i had had my sterberg out as soon as i'd heardthe noise. i also remembered that my radio was on, and that i was supposed to commenton anything of interest that took place around


me. "here's a meat-grinder, coming right for me,"i commented in a voice not altogether steady, and slammed three shots down its tooth-studdedgullet. then i scored my target, at the same time keeping out of the way of the tentacles.he began twitching a little. i fired again. the meat-grinder jerked slightly, and thatwas all. "now i'm going out and take a look at thatlorry." i was certain now that the voice was shaky. the lorry—and al devis and his companion—hadcome to an end against one of the two-hundred-foot masonry and concrete foundations the columnsrest on. it had hit about halfway up and folded


almost like an accordion, sliding down tothe floor. with one thing and another, there is a lot of violent death around port sandor.i don't like to look at the results. it's part of the job, however, and this time itwasn't a pleasant job at all. the two men who were guarding the wreck andcontents were sitting on a couple of boxes, smoking and watching the fire-fighting operation. i took the partly empty clip out of my pistoland put in a full one on the way back, and kept my flashlight moving its circle of lightahead and on both sides of me. that was foolish, or at least unnecessary. if there'd been onemeat-grinder in that junk pile, it was a safe bet there wasn't anything else. meat-grindersaren't popular neighbors, even for tread-snails.


as i approached the carcass of the grinderi had shot i found a ten-foot length of steel rod and poked it a few times. when it didn'teven twitch, i felt safe in walking past it. i got back in the jeep and returned to wherejoe kivelson was keeping track of what was going on in five screens, including one froma pickup on a lifter at the ceiling, and shouting orders that were being reshouted out of loudspeakersall over the place. the odin dock & shipyard equipment had begun coming out; lorries pickingup the wax that had been dumped back from the fire and wax that was being pulled offthe piles, and material-handling equipment. they had a lot of small fork-lifters thatwere helping close to the fire. a lot of the wax was getting so soft thatit was hard to handle, and quite a few of


the plastic skins had begun to split fromthe heat. here and there i saw that outside piles had begun to burn at the bottom, fromburning wax that had run out underneath. i had moved around to the right and was gettingviews of the big claw-derricks at work picking the big sausages off the tops of piles, andwhile i was swinging the camera back and forth, i was trying to figure just how much wax therehad been to start with, and how much was being saved. each of those plastic-covered cylinderswas a thousand pounds; one of the claw-derricks was picking up two or three of them at a grab.... i was still figuring when shouts of alarmon my right drew my head around. there was an uprush of flame, and somebody began screaming,and i could see an ambulance moving toward


the center of excitement and firemen in asbestossuits converging on a run. one of the piles must have collapsed and somebody must havebeen splashed. i gave an involuntary shudder. burning wax was hotter than melted lead, andit stuck to anything it touched, worse than napalm. i saw a man being dragged out of furtherdanger, his clothes on fire, and asbestos-suited firemen crowding around to tear the burninggarments from him. before i could get to where it had happened, though, they had him in theambulance and were taking him away. i hoped they'd get him to the hospital before he died. then more shouting started around at the rightas a couple more piles began collapsing. i was able to get all of that—the wax sausagessliding forward, the men who had been working


on foot running out of danger, the flamesshooting up, and the gush of liquid fire from below. all three derricks moved in at onceand began grabbing wax cylinders away on either side of it. then i saw guido fieschi, the odin dock & shipyard'ssuperintendent, and caught him in my camera, moving the jeep toward him. "mr. fieschi!" i called. "give me a few secondsand say something." he saw me and grinned. "i just came out to see how much more couldbe saved," he said. "we have close to a thousand tons on the shipping floor or out of dangerhere and on the way in, and it looks as though


you'll be able to save that much more. that'llbe a million and a half sols we can be sure of, and a possible three million, at the newprice. and i want to take this occasion, on behalf of my company and of terra-odin spacelines,to welcome a new freight shipper." "well, that's wonderful news for everybodyon fenris," i said, and added mentally, "with a few exceptions." then i asked if he'd heardwho had gotten splashed. "no. i know it happened; i passed the ambulanceon the way out. i certainly hope they get to work on him in time." then more wax started sliding off the piles,and more fire came running out at the bottom. joe kivelson's voice, out of the loudspeakersall around, was yelling:


"everybody away from the front! get the blowersin; start in on the other side!" chapter 18 - the treason of bish ware i wanted to find out who had been splashed,but joe kivelson was too busy directing the new phase of the fight to hand out casualtyreports to the press, and besides, there were too many things happening all at once thati had to get. i went around to the other side where the incendiaries had met their end,moving slowly as close to the face of the fire as i could get and shooting the burningwax flowing out from it. a lot of equipment, including two of the three claw-derricks anda dredger—they'd brought a second one up from the waterfront—were moving to thatside. by the time i had gotten around, the


blowers had been maneuvered into place andwere ready to start. there was a lot of back-and-forth yelling to make sure that everybody was outfrom in front, and then the blowers started. it looked like a horizontal volcanic eruption;burning wax blowing away from the fire for close to a hundred feet into the clear spacebeyond. the derricks and manipulators and the cars and jeeps with grapnels went in onboth sides, snatching and dragging wax away. because they had the wind from the blowersbehind them, the men could work a lot closer, and the fire wasn't spreading as rapidly.they were saving a lot of wax; each one of those big sausages that the lifters pickedup and floated away weighed a thousand pounds, and was worth, at the new price, eight hundredsols.


finally, they got everything away that theycould, and then the blowers were shut down and the two dredge shovels moved in, scoopingup the burning sludge and carrying it away, scattering it on the concrete. i would havejudged that there had been six or seven million sols' worth of wax in the piles to start with,and that a little more than half of it had been saved before they pulled the last cylinderaway. the work slacked off; finally, there was nothingbut the two dredges doing anything, and then they backed away and let down, and it wasall over but standing around and watching the scattered fire burn itself out. i lookedat my watch. it was two hours since the first alarm had come in. i took a last swing around,got the spaceport people gathering up wax


and hauling it away, and the broken lake offire that extended downtown from where the stacks had been, and then i floated my jeepover to the sandwich-and-coffee stand and let down, getting out. maybe, i thought, icould make some kind of deal with somebody like interworld news on this. it would makea nice thrilling feature-program item. just a little slice of life from fenris, the gardenspot of the galaxy. i got myself a big zhoumy-loin sandwich withhot sauce and a cup of coffee, made sure that my portable radio was on, and circulated amongthe fire fighters, getting comments. everybody had been a hero, natch, and they were allvery unbashful about admitting it. there was a great deal of wisecracking about al devisbuying himself a ringside seat for the fire


he'd started. then i saw cesã¡rio vieira andjoined him. "have all the fire you want, for a while?"i asked him. "brother, and how! we could have used a littleof this over on hermann reuch's land, though. have you seen tom around anywhere?" "no. have you?" "i saw him over there, about an hour ago.i guess he stayed on this side. after they started blowing it, i was over on al devis'sside." he whistled softly. "was that a mess!" there was still a crowd at the fire, but theyseemed all to be townspeople. the hunters had gathered where joe kivelson had been directingoperations. we finished our sandwiches and


went over to join them. as soon as we gotwithin earshot, i found that they were all in a very ugly mood. "don't fool around," one man was saying aswe came up. "don't even bother looking for a rope. just shoot them as soon as you seethem." well, i thought, a couple of million sols'worth of tallow-wax, in which they all owned shares, was something to get mean about. isaid something like that. "it's not that," another man said. "it's tomkivelson." "what about him?" i asked, alarmed. "didn't you hear? he got splashed with burningwax," the hunter said. "his whole back was


on fire; i don't know whether he's alive nowor not." so that was who i'd seen screaming in agonywhile the firemen tore his burning clothes away. i pushed through, with cesã¡rio behindme, and found joe kivelson and mohandas feinberg and corkscrew finnegan and oscar fujisawaand a dozen other captains and ships' officers in a huddle. "joe," i said, "i just heard about tom. doyou know anything yet?" joe turned. "oh, walt. why, as far as we know,he's alive. he was alive when they got him to the hospital." "that's at the spaceport?" i unhooked my handphoneand got dad. he'd heard about a man being


splashed, but didn't know who it was. he saidhe'd call the hospital at once. a few minutes later, he was calling me back. "he's been badly burned, all over the back.they're preparing to do a deep graft on him. they said his condition was serious, but hewas alive five minutes ago." i thanked him and hung up, relaying the informationto the others. they all looked worried. when the screen girl at a hospital tells you somebody'sserious, instead of giving you the well-as-can-be-expected routine, you know it is serious. anybody whomakes it alive to a hospital, these days, has an excellent chance, but injury casesdo die, now and then, after they've been brought in. they are the "serious" cases.


"well, i don't suppose there's anything wecan do," joe said heavily. "we can clean up on the gang that startedthis fire," oscar fujisawa said. "do it now; then if tom doesn't make it, he's paid forin advance." oscar, i recalled, was the one who had beenthe most impressed with bish ware's argument that lynching steve ravick would cost thehunters the four million sols they might otherwise be able to recover, after a few years' interstellarlitigation, from his bank account on terra. that reminded me that i hadn't even thoughtof bish since i'd left the times. i called back. dad hadn't heard a word from him. "what's the situation at hunters' hall?" iasked.


"everything's quiet there. the police leftwhen hallstock commandeered that fire-fighting equipment. they helped the shipyard men getit out, and then they all went to the municipal building. as far as i know, both ravick andbelsher are still in hunters' hall. i'm in contact with the vehicles on guard at theapproaches; i'll call them now." i relayed that. the others nodded. "nip spazoni and a few others are bringingmen and guns up from the docks and putting a cordon around the place on the main citylevel," oscar said. "your father will probably be hearing that they're moving into positionnow." he had. he also said that he had called allthe vehicles on the first and second levels


down; they all reported no activity in hunters'hall except one jeep on second level down, which did not report at all. everybody was puzzled about that. "that's the jeep that reported bish ware goingin on the bottom," mohandas feinberg said. "i wonder if somebody inside mightn't havegotten both the man on the jeep and bish." "he could have left the jeep," joe said. "maybehe went inside after bish." "funny he didn't call in and say so," somebodysaid. "no, it isn't," i contradicted. "manufacturers'claims to the contrary, there is no such thing as a tap-proof radio. maybe he wasn't supposedto leave his post, but if he did, he used


his head not advertising it." "that makes sense," oscar agreed. "well, whateverhappened, we're not doing anything standing around up here. let's get it started." he walked away, raising his voice and calling,"pequod! pequod! all hands on deck!" the others broke away from the group, shoutingthe names of their ships to rally their crews. i hurried over to the jeep and checked myequipment. there wasn't too much film left in the big audiovisual, so i replaced it witha fresh sound-and-vision reel, good for another couple of hours, and then lifted to the ceiling.worrying about tom wouldn't help tom, and worrying about bish wouldn't help bish, andi had a job to do.


what i was getting now, and i was glad i wasstarting a fresh reel for it, was the beginning of the first fenris civil war. a long timefrom now, when fenris was an important planet in the federation, maybe they'd make todaya holiday, like bastille day or the fourth of july or federation day. maybe historians,a couple of centuries from now, would call me an important primary source, and if cesã¡rio'sreligion was right, maybe i'd be one of them, saying, "well, after all, is boyd such a reliablesource? he was only seventeen years old at the time." finally, after a lot of yelling and confusion,the rebel army got moving. we all went up to main city level and went down broadway,spreading out side streets when we began running


into the cordon that had been thrown aroundhunters' hall. they were mostly men from the waterfront who hadn't gotten to the wax fire,and they must have stripped the guns off half the ships in the harbor and mounted them onlorries or cargo skids. nobody, not even joe kivelson, wanted to beginwith any massed frontal attack on hunters' hall. "we'll have to bombard the place," he wassaying. "we try to rush it and we'll lose half our gang before we get in. one man withgood cover and a machine gun's good for a couple of hundred in the open." "bish may be inside," i mentioned.


"yes," oscar said, "and even aside from that,that building was built with our money. let's don't burn the house down to get rid of thecockroaches." "well, how are you going to do it, then?"joe wanted to know. rule out frontal attack and joe's at the end of his tactics. "you stay up here. keep them amused with alittle smallarms fire at the windows and so on. i'll take about a dozen men and go downto second level. if we can't do anything else, we can bring a couple of skins of tallow-waxdown and set fire to it and smoke them out." that sounded like a pretty expensive sortof smudge, but seeing how much wax ravick had burned uptown, it was only fair to lethim in on some of the smoke. i mentioned that


if we got into the building and up to maincity level, we'd need some way of signaling to avoid being shot by our own gang, and gotthe wave-length combination of the pequod scout boat, which joe and oscar were usingfor a command car. oscar picked ten or twelve men, and they got into a lorry and went uptownand down a vehicle shaft to second level. i followed in my jeep, even after oscar andhis crowd let down and got out, and hovered behind them as they advanced on foot to hunters'hall. the second level down was the vehicle storage,where the derricks and other equipment had been kept. it was empty now except for a workbench,a hand forge and some other things like that, a few drums of lubricant, and several pilesof sheet metal. oscar and his men got inside


and i followed, going up to the ceiling. iwas the one who saw the man lying back of a pile of sheet metal, and called their attention. he wore boat-clothes and had black whiskers,and he had a knife and a pistol on his belt. at first i thought he was dead. a couple ofoscar's followers, dragging him out, said: "he's been sleep-gassed." somebody else recognized him. he was the loneman who had been on guard in the jeep. the jeep was nowhere in sight. i began to be really worried. my lighter gadgetcould have been what had gassed him. it probably was; there weren't many sleep-gas weaponson fenris. i had to get fills made up specially


for mine. so it looked to me as though somebodyhad gotten mine off bish, and then used it to knock out our guard. taken it off his bodyi guessed. that crowd wasn't any more interested in taking prisoners alive than we were. we laid the man on a workbench and put a rolled-upsack under his head for a pillow. then we started up the enclosed stairway. i didn'tthink we were going to run into any trouble, though i kept my hand close to my gun. ifthey'd knocked out the guard, they had a way out, and none of them wanted to stay in thatbuilding any longer than they had to. the first level down was mostly storerooms,with nobody in any of them. as we went up the stairway to the main city level, we couldhear firing outside. nobody inside was shooting


back. i unhooked my handphone. "we're in," i said when joe kivelson answered."stop the shooting; we're coming up to the vehicle port." "might as well. nobody's paying any attentionto it," he said. the firing slacked off as the word was passedaround the perimeter, and finally it stopped entirely. we went up into the open archedvehicle port. it was barricaded all around, and there were half a dozen machine guns setup, but not a living thing. "we're going up," i said. "they've all lammedout. the place is empty." "you don't know that," oscar chided. "it mightbe bulging with ravick's thugs, waiting for


us to come walking up and be mowed down." possible. highly improbable, though, i thought.the escalators weren't running, and we weren't going to alert any hypothetical ambush bystarting them. we tiptoed up, and i even drew my pistol to show that i wasn't being foolhardy.the big social room was empty. a couple of us went over and looked behind the bar, whichwas the only hiding place in it. then we went back to the rear and tiptoed to the thirdfloor. the meeting room was empty. so were the officesbehind it. i looked in all of them, expecting to find bish ware's body. maybe a couple ofother bodies, too. i'd seen him shoot the tread-snail, and i didn't think he'd die unpaidfor. in steve ravick's office, the safe was


open and a lot of papers had been thrown out.i pointed that out to oscar, and he nodded. after seeing that, he seemed to relax, asthough he wasn't expecting to find anybody any more. we went to the third floor. ravick'sliving quarters were there, and they were magnificently luxurious. the hunters, whosemoney had paid for all that magnificence and luxury, cursed. there were no bodies there, either, or onthe landing stage above. i unhooked the radio "you can come in, now," i said. "the placeis empty. nobody here but us vigilantes." "huh?" joe couldn't believe that. "how'd theyget out?" "they got out on the second level down." itold him about the sleep-gassed guard.


"did you bring him to? what did he say?" "nothing; we didn't. we can't. you get sleep-gassed,you sleep till you wake up. that ought to be two to four hours for this fellow." "well, hold everything; we're coming in." we were all in the social room; a couple ofthe men had poured drinks or drawn themselves beers at the bar and rung up no sale on thecash register. somebody else had a box of cigars he'd picked up in ravick's quarterson the fourth floor and was passing them around. joe and about two or three hundred other hunterscame crowding up the escalator, which they had turned on below.


"you didn't find bish ware, either, i'll bet,"joe was saying. "i'm afraid they took him along for a hostage,"oscar said. "the guard was knocked out with walt's gas gadget, that bish was carrying." "ha!" joe cried. "bet you it was the otherway round; bish took them out." that started an argument. while it was goingon, i went to the communication screen and got the times, and told dad what had happened. "yes," he said. "that was what i was afraidyou'd find. glenn murell called in from the spaceport a few minutes ago. he says morthallstock came in with his car, and he heard from some of the workmen that bish ware, steveravick and leo belsher came in on the main


city level in a jeep. they claimed protectionfrom a mob, and captain courtland's police are protecting them." chapter 19 - masks off there was dead silence for two or three seconds.if a kitten had sneezed, everybody would have heard it. then it started, first an inarticulateroar, and then a babel of unprintabilities. i thought i'd heard some bad language fromthese same men in this room when leo belsher's announcement of the price cut had been telecast,but that was prayer meeting to this. dad was still talking. at least, i saw his lips movein the screen. "say that again, ralph," oscar fujisawa shouted.


dad must have heard him. at least, his lipsmoved again, but i wasn't a lip reader and neither was oscar. oscar turned to the mob—bynow, it was that, pure and simple—and roared, in a voice like a foghorn, "shut up and listen!"a few of those closest to him heard him. the rest kept on shouting curses. oscar waiteda second, and then pointed his submachine gun at the ceiling and hammered off the wholeclip. "shut up, a couple of hundred of you, andlisten!" he commanded, on the heels of the blast. then he turned to the screen again."now, ralph; what was it you were saying?" "hallstock got to the spaceport about halfan hour ago," dad said. "he bought a ticket to terra. sigurd ngozori's here; he calledthe bank and one of the clerks there told


him that hallstock had checked out his wholeaccount, around three hundred thousand sols. took some of it in cash and the rest in bankingcartel drafts. murell says that his information is that bish ware, steve ravick and leo belsherarrived earlier, about an hour ago. he didn't see them himself, but he talked with spaceportworkmen who did." the men who had crowded up to the screen seemedto have run out of oaths and obscenities now. oscar was fitting another clip into his submachinegun. "well, we'll have to go to the spaceport andget them," he said. "and take four ropes instead of three." "you'll have to fight your way in," dad toldhim. "odin dock & shipyard won't let you take


people out of their spaceport without a fight.they've all bought tickets by now, and fieschi will have to protect them." "then we'll kick the blankety-blank spaceportapart," somebody shouted. that started it up again. oscar wondered ifgetting silence was worth another clip of cartridges, and decided it wasn't. he managedto make himself heard without it. "we'll do nothing of the kind. we need thatspaceport to stay alive. but we will take ravick and belsher and hallstock—" "and that etaoin shrdlu traitor of a ware!"joe kivelson added. "and bish ware," oscar agreed. "they onlyhave fifty police; we have three or four thousand


men." three or four thousand undisciplined hunters,against fifty trained, disciplined and organized soldiers, because that was what the spaceportpolice were. i knew their captain, and the lieutenants. they were old regular army, andthey ran the police force like a military unit. "i'll bet ware was working for ravick allalong," joe was saying. that wasn't good thinking even for joe kivelson.i said: "if he was working for ravick all along, whydid he tip dad and oscar and the mahatma on the bomb aboard the javelin? that wasn't anyhelp to ravick."


"i get it," oscar said. "he never was workingfor anybody but bish ware. when ravick got into a jam, he saw a way to make somethingfor himself by getting ravick out of it. i'll bet, ever since he came here, he was planningto cut in on ravick somehow. you notice, he knew just how much money ravick had stashedaway on terra? when he saw the spot ravick was in, bish just thought he had a chanceto develop himself another rich uncle." i'd been worse stunned than anybody by dad'snews. the worst of it was that oscar could be right. i hadn't thought of that before.i'd just thought that ravick and belsher had gotten bish drunk and found out about theway the men were posted around hunters' hall and the lone man in the jeep on second leveldown.


then it occurred to me that bish might haveseen a way of getting fenris rid of ravick and at the same time save everybody the guiltof lynching him. maybe he'd turned traitor to save the rest of us from ourselves. i turned to oscar. "why get excited aboutit?" i asked. "you have what you wanted. you said yourself that you couldn't care lesswhether ravick got away or not, as long as you got him out of the co-op. well, he's outfor good now." "that was before the fire," oscar said. "wedidn't have a couple of million sols' worth of wax burned. and tom kivelson wasn't inthe hospital with half the skin burned off his back, and a coin toss whether he livesor not."


"yes. i thought you were tom's friend," joekivelson reproached me. i wondered how much skin hanging steve ravickwould grow on tom's back. i didn't see much percentage in asking him, though. i did turnto oscar fujisawa with a quotation i remembered from moby dick, the book he'd named his shipfrom. "how many barrels will thy vengeance yieldthee, even if thou gettest it, captain ahab?" i asked. "it will not fetch thee much in ournantucket market." he looked at me angrily and started to saysomething. then he shrugged. "i know, walt," he said. "but you can't measureeverything in barrels of whale oil. or skins of tallow-wax."


which was one of those perfectly true statementswhich are also perfectly meaningless. i gave up. my job's to get the news, not to makeit. i wondered if that meant anything, either. they finally got the mob sorted out, aftera lot of time wasted in pillaging ravick's living quarters on the fourth floor. however,the troops stopped to loot the enemy's camp. i'd come across that line fifty to a hundredtimes in history books. usually, it had been expensive looting; if the enemy didn't counterattack,they managed, at least, to escape. more to the point, they gathered up all the cannonand machine guns around the place and got them onto contragravity in the street. theremust have been close to five thousand men, by now, and those who couldn't crowd ontovehicles marched on foot, and the whole mass,


looking a little more like an army than amob, started up broadway. since it is not proper for reporters to looton the job, i had gotten outside in my jeep early and was going ahead, swinging my cameraback to get the parade behind me. might furnish a still-shot illustration for somebody's historyof fenris in a century or so. broadway was empty until we came to the gatewayto the spaceport area. there was a single medium combat car there, on contragravityhalfway to the ceiling, with a pair of 50-mm guns and a rocket launcher pointed at us,and under it, on the roadway, a solitary man in an olive-green uniform stood. i knew him; lieutenant ranjit singh, captaincourtland's second-in-command. he was a sikh.


instead of a steel helmet, he wore a stripedturban, and he had a black beard that made joe kivelson's blond one look like tom kivelson'schin-fuzz. on his belt, along with his pistol, he wore the little kirpan, the dagger allsikhs carry. he also carried a belt radio, and as we approached he lifted the phone tohis mouth and a loudspeaker on the combat car threw his voice at us: "all right, that's far enough, now. the firstvehicle that comes within a hundred yards of this gate will be shot down." one man, and one combat car, against fivethousand, with twenty-odd guns and close to a hundred machine guns. he'd last about aslong as a pint of trade gin at a sheshan funeral.


the only thing was, before he and the crewof the combat car were killed, they'd wipe out about ten or fifteen of our vehicles anda couple of hundred men, and they would be the men and vehicles in the lead. mobs are a little different from soldiers,and our rebel army was still a mob. mobs don't like to advance into certain death, and theydon't like to advance over the bodies and wreckage of their own forward elements. neitherdo soldiers, but soldiers will do it. soldiers realize, when they put on the uniform, thatsome day they may face death in battle, and if this is it, this is it. i got the combat car and the lone soldierin the turban—that would look good in anybody's


history book—and moved forward, taking carethat he saw the times lettering on the jeep and taking care to stay well short of thedeadline. i let down to the street and got out, taking off my gun belt and hanging iton the control handle of the jeep. then i walked forward. "lieutenant ranjit," i said, "i'm representingthe times. i have business inside the spaceport. i want to get the facts about this. it maybe that when i get this story, these people will be satisfied." "we will, like nifflheim!" i heard joe kivelsonbawling, above and behind me. "we want the men who started the fire my son got burnedin."


"is that the kivelson boy's father?" the sikhasked me, and when i nodded, he lifted the phone to his lips again. "captain kivelson,"the loudspeaker said, "your son is alive and under skin-grafting treatment here at thespaceport hospital. his life is not, repeat not, in danger. the men you are after arehere, under guard. if any of them are guilty of any crimes, and if you can show any betterauthority than an armed mob to deal with them, they may, may, i said, be turned over fortrial. but they will not be taken from this spaceport by force, as long as i or one ofmy men remains alive." "that's easy. we'll get them afterward," joekivelson shouted. "somebody may. you won't," ranjit singh toldhim. "van steen, hit that ship's boat first,


and hit it at the first hostile move anybodyin this mob makes." "yes, sir. with pleasure," another voice replied. nobody in the rebel army, if that was whatit still was, had any comment to make on that. lieutenant ranjit turned to me. "mr. boyd," he said. none of this sonny-boystuff; ranjit singh was a man of dignity, and he respected the dignity of others. "ifi admit you to the spaceport, will you give these people the facts exactly as you learnthem?" "that's what the times always does, lieutenant."well, almost all the facts almost always. "will you people accept what this times reportertells you he has learned?"


"yes, of course." that was oscar fujisawa. "i won't!" that was joe kivelson. "he's alwaystaking the part of that old rumpot of a bish ware." "lieutenant, that remark was a slur on mypaper, as well as myself," i said. "will you permit captain kivelson to come in along withme? and somebody else," i couldn't resist adding, "so that people will believe him?" ranjit singh considered that briefly. he wasn'tafraid to die—i believe he was honestly puzzled when he heard people talking aboutfear—but his job was to protect some fugitives from a mob, not to die a useless hero's death.if letting in a small delegation would prevent


an attack on the spaceport without loss oflife and ammunition—or maybe he reversed the order of importance—he was obliged totry it. "yes. you may choose five men to accompanymr. boyd," he said. "they may not bring weapons in with them. sidearms," he added, "will notcount as weapons." after all, a kirpan was a sidearm, and hisreligion required him to carry that. the decision didn't make me particularly happy. respectfor the dignity of others is a fine thing in an officer, but like journalistic respectfor facts, it can be carried past the point of being a virtue. i thought he was over-estimatingjoe kivelson's self-control. vehicles in front began grounding, and mengot out and bunched together on the street.


finally, they picked their delegation: joekivelson, oscar fujisawa, casmir oughourlian the shipyard man, one of the engineers atthe nutrient plant, and the reverend hiram zilker, the orthodox-monophysite preacher.they all had pistols, even the reverend zilker, so i went back to the jeep and put mine on.ranjit singh had switched his radio off the speaker and was talking to somebody else. after a while, an olive-green limousine pilotedby a policeman in uniform and helmet floated in and grounded. the six of us got into it,and it lifted again. the car let down in a vehicle hall in theadministrative area, and the police second lieutenant, chris xantos, was waiting alone,armed only with the pistol that was part of


his uniform and wearing a beret instead ofa helmet. he spoke to us, and ushered us down a hallway toward guido fieschi's office. i get into the spaceport administrative areaabout once in twenty or so hours. oughourlian is a somewhat less frequent visitor. the othershad never been there, and they were visibly awed by all the gleaming glass and brightwork,and the soft lights and the thick carpets. all port sandor ought to look like this, ithought. it could, and maybe now it might, after a while. there were six chairs in a semicircle facingguido fieschi's desk, and three men sitting behind it. fieschi, who had changed clothesand washed since the last time i saw him,


sat on the extreme right. captain courtland,with his tight mouth under a gray mustache and the quadruple row of medal ribbons onhis breast, was on the left. in the middle, the seat of honor, was bish ware, lookingas though he were presiding over a church council to try some rural curate for heresy. as soon as joe kivelson saw him, he roaredangrily: "there's the dirty traitor who sold us out!he's the worst of the lot; i wouldn't be surprised if—" bish looked at him like a bishop who has justbeen contradicted on a point of doctrine by a choirboy.


"be quiet!" he ordered. "i did not followthis man you call ravick here to this ... this running-hot-and-cold paradise planet, andi did not spend five years fraternizing with its unwashed citizenry and creating for myselfthe role of town drunkard of port sandor, to have him taken from me and lynched afteri have arrested him. people do not lynch my prisoners." "and who in blazes are you?" joe demanded. bish took cognizance of the question, if notthe questioner. "tell them, if you please, mr. fieschi," hesaid. "well, mr. ware is a terran federation executivespecial agent," fieschi said. "captain courtland


and i have known that for the past five years.as far as i know, nobody else was informed of mr. ware's position." after that, you could have heard a gnat sneeze. everybody knows about executive special agents.there are all kinds of secret agents operating in the federation—army and navy intelligence,police of different sorts, colonial office agents, private detectives, chartered companyagents. but there are fewer executive specials than there are inhabited planets in the federation.they rank, ex officio, as army generals and space navy admirals; they have the privilegeof the floor in parliament, they take orders from nobody but the president of the federation.but very few people have ever seen one, or


talked to anybody who has. and bish ware—good ol' bish; he'sh everybodyshfrien'—was one of them. and i had been trying to make a man of him and reform him. i'd eventhought, if he stopped drinking, he might make a success as a private detective—atport sandor, on fenris! i wondered what color my face had gotten now, and i started lookingaround for a crack in the floor, to trickle gently and unobtrusively into. and it should have been obvious to me, maybenot that he was an executive special, but that he was certainly no drunken barfly. theway he'd gone four hours without a drink, and seemed to be just as drunk as ever. thatwas right—just as drunk as he'd ever been;


which was to say, cold sober. there was thetime i'd seen him catch that falling bottle and set it up. no drunken man could have donethat; a man's reflexes are the first thing to be affected by alcohol. and the way heshot that tread-snail. i've seen men who could shoot well on liquor, but not quick-draw stuff.that calls for perfect co-ordination. and the way he went into his tipsy act at thetimes—veteran actor slipping into a well-learned role. he drank, sure. he did a lot of drinking.but there are men whose systems resist the effects of alcohol better than others, andhe must have been an exceptional example of the type, or he'd never have adopted the sortof cover personality he did. it would have


been fairly easy for him. space his drinkswidely, and never take a drink unless he had to, to maintain the act. when he was at thetimes with just dad and me, what did he have? a fruit fizz. well, at least i could see it after i hadmy nose rubbed in it. joe kivelson was simply gaping at him. the reverend zilker seemedto be having trouble adjusting, too. the shipyard man and the chemical engineer weren't sayinganything, but it had kicked them for a loss, too. oscar fujisawa was making a noble effortto be completely unsurprised. oscar is one of our better poker players. "i thought it might be something like that,"he lied brazenly. "but, bish ... excuse me,


i mean, mr. ware..." "bish, if you please, oscar." "bish, what i'd like to know is what you wantedwith ravick," he said. "they didn't send any executive special agent here for five yearsto investigate this tallow-wax racket of his." "no. we have been looking for him for a longtime. fifteen years, and i've been working on it that long. you might say, i have madea career of him. steve ravick is really anton gerrit." maybe he was expecting us to leap from ourchairs and cry out, "aha! the infamous anton gerrit! brought to book at last!" we didn't.we just looked at one another, trying to connect


some meaning to the name. it was joe kivelson,of all people, who caught the first gleam. "i know that name," he said. "something onloki, wasn't it?" yes; that was it. now that my nose was rubbedin it again, i got it. "the loki enslavements. was that it?" i asked."i read about it, but i never seem to have heard of gerrit." "he was the mastermind. the ones who werecaught, fifteen years ago, were the underlings, but ravick was the real number one. he wasresponsible for the enslavement of from twenty to thirty thousand lokian natives, gentle,harmless, friendly people, most of whom were worked to death in the mines."


no wonder an executive special would put infifteen years looking for him. you murder your grandmother, or rob a bank, or burn downan orphanage with the orphans all in bed upstairs, or something trivial like that, and if youmake an off-planet getaway, you're reasonably safe. of course there's such a thing as extradition,but who bothers? distances are too great, and communication is too slow, and the federationdepends on every planet to do its own policing. but enslavement's something different. theterran federation is a government of and for—if occasionally not by—all sapient peoplesof all races. the federation constitution guarantees equal rights to all. making slavesof people, human or otherwise, is a direct blow at everything the federation stands for.no wonder they kept hunting fifteen years


for the man responsible for the loki enslavements. "gerrit got away, with a month's start. bythe time we had traced him to baldur, he had a year's start on us. he was five years aheadof us when we found out that he'd gone from baldur to odin. six years ago, nine yearsafter we'd started hunting for him, we decided, from the best information we could get, thathe had left odin on one of the local-stop ships for terra, and dropped off along theway. there are six planets at which those terra-odin ships stop. we sent a man to eachof them. i drew this prize out of the hat. "when i landed here, i contacted mr. fieschi,and we found that a man answering to gerrit's description had come in on the peenemã¼ndefrom odin seven years before, about the time


gerrit had left odin. the man who called himselfsteve ravick. of course, he didn't look anything like the pictures of gerrit, but facial surgerywas something we'd taken for granted he'd have done. i finally managed to get his fingerprints." special agent ware took out a cigar, inspectedit with the drunken oversolemnity he'd been drilling himself into for five years, andlit it. then he saw what he was using and rose, holding it out, and i went to the deskand took back my lighter-weapon. "thank you, walt. i wouldn't have been ableto do this if i hadn't had that. where was i? oh, yes. i got gerrit-alias-ravick's fingerprints,which did not match the ones we had on file for gerrit, and sent them in. it was eighteenmonths later that i got a reply on them. according


to his fingerprints, steve ravick was reallya woman named ernestine coyã³n, who had died of acute alcoholism in the free public wardof a hospital at paris-on-baldur fourteen years ago." "why, that's incredible!" the reverend zilkerburst out, and joe kivelson was saying: "steve ravick isn't any woman...." "least of all one who died fourteen yearsago," bish agreed. "but the fingerprints were hers. a pauper, dying in a public ward ofa big hospital. and a man who has to change his identity, and who has small, woman-sizedhands. and a crooked hospital staff surgeon. you get the picture now?"


"they're doing the same thing on tom's back,right here," i told joe. "only you can't grow fingerprints by carniculture, the way youcan human tissue for grafting. they had to have palm and finger surfaces from a pairof real human hands. a pauper, dying in a free-treatment ward, her body shoved intoa mass-energy converter." then i thought of something else. "that showoff trick of his,crushing out cigarettes in his palm," i said. bish nodded commendingly. "exactly. he'd haveabout as much sensation in his palms as i'd have wearing thick leather gloves. i'd noticedthat. "well, six months going, and a couple of monthswaiting on reports from other planets, and six months coming, and so on, it wasn't untilthe peenemã¼nde got in from terra, the last


time, that i got final confirmation. dr. watson,you'll recall." "who, you perceived, had been in afghanistan,"i mentioned, trying to salvage something. showing off. the one i was trying to impresswas walt boyd. "you caught that? careless of me," bish chidedhimself. "what he gave me was a report that they had finally located a man who had beena staff surgeon at this hospital on baldur at the time. he's now doing a stretch foranother piece of malpractice he was unlucky enough to get caught at later. we will notadmit making deals with any criminals, in jail or out, but he is willing to testify,and is on his way to terra now. he can identify pictures of anton gerrit as those of the manhe operated on fourteen years ago, and his


testimony and ernestine coyã³n's fingerprintswill identify ravick as that man. with all the colonial constabulary and army intelligencepeople got on gerrit on loki, simple identification will be enough. gerrit was proven guilty longago, and it won't be any trouble, now, to prove that ravick is gerrit." "why didn't you arrest him as soon as yougot the word from your friend from afghanistan?" i wanted to know. "good question; i've been asking myself that,"bish said, a trifle wryly. "if i had, the javelin wouldn't have been bombed, that waxwouldn't have been burned, and tom kivelson wouldn't have been injured. what i did wassend my friend, who is a colonial constabulary


detective, to gimli, the next planet out.there's a navy base there, and always at least a couple of destroyers available. he's comingback with one of them to pick gerrit up and take him to terra. they ought to be in inabout two hundred and fifty hours. i thought it would be safer all around to let gerritrun loose till then. there's no place he could go. "what i didn't realize, at the time, was whata human h-bomb this man murell would turn into. then everything blew up at once. finally,i was left with the choice of helping gerrit escape from hunters' hall or having him lynchedbefore i could arrest him." he turned to kivelson. "in the light of what you knew, i don't blameyou for calling me a dirty traitor."


"but how did i know..." kivelson began. "that's right. you weren't supposed to. thatwas before you found out. you ought to have heard what gerrit and belsher—as far asi know, that is his real name—called me after they found out, when they got out ofthat jeep and captain courtland's men snapped the handcuffs on them. it even shocked a hardenedsinner like me." there was a lot more of it. bish had managedto get into hunters' hall just about the time al devis and his companion were starting thefire ravick—gerrit—had ordered for a diversion. the whole gang was going to crash out as soonas the fire had attracted everybody away. bish led them out onto the second level down,sleep-gassed the lone man in the jeep, and


took them to the spaceport, where the policewere waiting for them. as soon as i'd gotten everything, i calledthe times. i'd had my radio on all the time, and it had been coming in perfectly. dad,i was happy to observe, was every bit as flabbergasted as i had been at who and what bish ware was.he might throw my campaign to reform bish up at me later on, but at the moment he wasn'tdisposed to, and i was praising allah silently that i hadn't had a chance to mention thedetective agency idea to him. that would have been a little too much. "what are they doing about belsher and hallstock?"he asked. "belsher goes back to terra with ravick. gerrit,i mean. that's where he collected his cut


on the tallow-wax, so that is where he'd haveto be tried. bish is convinced that somebody in kapstaad chemical must have been involved,too. hallstock is strictly a local matter." "that's about what i thought. with all thisinterstellar back-and-forth, it'll be a long time before we'll be able to write thirtyunder the story." "well, we can put thirty under the steve ravickstory," i said. then it hit me. the steve ravick story wasfinished; that is, the local story of racketeer rule in the hunters' co-operative. but theanton gerrit story was something else. that was federation-wide news; the end of a fifteen-yearmanhunt for the most wanted criminal in the known galaxy. and who had that story, rightin his hot little hand? walter boyd, the ace—and


only—reporter for the mighty port sandortimes. "yes," i continued. "the ravick story's finished.but we still have the anton gerrit story, and i'm going to work on it right now." chapter 20 - finale they had tom kivelson in a private room atthe hospital; he was sitting up in a chair, with a lot of pneumatic cushions around him,and a lunch tray on his lap. he looked white and thin. he could move one arm completely,but the bandages they had loaded him with seemed to have left the other free only atthe elbow. he was concentrating on his lunch, and must have thought i was one of the nurses,or a doctor, or something of the sort.


"are you going to let me have a cigaretteand a cup of coffee, when i'm through with this?" he asked. "well, i don't have any coffee, but you canhave one of my cigarettes," i said. then he looked up and gave a whoop. "walt!how'd you get in here? i thought they weren't going to let anybody in to see me till thisafternoon." "power of the press," i told him. "bluff,blarney, and blackmail. how are they treating "awful. look what they gave me for lunch.i thought we were on short rations down on hermann reuch's land. how's father?" "he's all right. they took the splint off,but he still has to carry his arm in a sling."


"lucky guy; he can get around on his feet,and i'll bet he isn't starving, either. you know, speaking about food, i'm going to feellike a cannibal eating carniculture meat, now. my whole back's carniculture." he filledhis mouth with whatever it was they were feeding him and asked, through it: "did i miss steveravick's hanging?" i was horrified. "haven't these people toldyou anything?" i demanded. "nah; they wouldn't even tell me the righttime. afraid it would excite me." so i told him; first who bish ware reallywas, and then who ravick really was. he gaped for a moment, and then shoveled in more food. "go on; what happened?"


i told him how bish had smuggled gerrit andleo belsher out on second level down and gotten them to the spaceport, where courtland's menhad been waiting for them. "gerrit's going to terra, and from there toloki. they want the natives to see what happens to a terran who breaks terran law; teach themthat our law isn't just to protect us. belsher's going to terra, too. there was a big shipcaptains' meeting; they voted to reclaim their wax and sell it individually to murell, butto retain membership in the co-op. they think they'll have to stay in the co-op to get anythingthat's gettable out of gerrit's and belsher's money. oscar fujisawa and cesã¡rio vieiraare going to terra on the cape canaveral to start suit to recover anything they can, andalso to petition for reclassification of fenris.


oscar's coming back on the next ship, butcesã¡rio's going to stay on as the co-op representative. i suppose he and linda will be getting married." "natch. they'll both stay on terra, i suppose.hey, whattaya know! cesã¡rio's getting off fenris without having to die and reincarnate." he finished his lunch, such as it was andwhat there was of it, and i relieved him of the tray and set it on the floor beyond hischair. i found an ashtray and lit a cigarette for him and one for myself, using the biglighter. tom looked at it dubiously, predicting that sometime i'd push the wrong thing andsend myself bye-byes for a couple of hours. i told him how bish had used it.


"bet a lot of people wanted to hang him, too,before they found out who he was and what he'd really done. what's my father think ofbish, now?" "bish ware is a great and good man, and thesavior of fenris," i said. "and he was real smart, to keep an act like that up for fiveyears. your father modestly admits that it even fooled him." "bet oscar fujisawa knew it all along." "well, oscar modestly admits that he suspectedsomething of the sort, but he didn't feel it was his place to say anything." tom laughed, and then wanted to know if theywere going to hang mort hallstock. "i hope


they wait till i can get out of here." "no, odin dock & shipyard claim he's a politicalrefugee and they won't give him up. they did loan us a couple of accountants to go overthe city books, to see if we could find any real evidence of misappropriation, and whattayaknow, there were no city books. the city of port sandor didn't keep books. we can't eventake that three hundred thousand sols away from him; for all we can prove, he saved themout of his five-thousand-sol-a-year salary. he's shipping out on the cape canaveral, too." "then we don't have any government at all!" "are you fooling yourself we ever had one?"


"no, but—" "well, we have one now. a temporary dictatorship;bish ware is dictator. fieschi loaned him ranjit singh and some of his men. the firstthing he did was gather up the city treasurer and the chief of police and march them tothe spaceport; fieschi made hallstock buy them tickets, too. but there aren't goingto be any unofficial hangings. this is a law-abiding planet, now." a nurse came in, and disapproved of tom smokingand of me being in the room at all. "haven't you had your lunch yet?" she askedtom. he looked at her guilelessly and said, "no;i was waiting for it."


"well, i'll get it," she said. "i thoughtthe other nurse had brought it." she started out, and then she came back and had to fusswith his cushions, and then she saw the tray on the floor. "you did so have your lunch!" she accused. tom looked at her as innocently as ever. "oh,you mean these samples? why, they were good; i'll take all of them. and a big slab of roastbeef, and brown gravy, and mashed potatoes. and how about some ice cream?" it was a good try; too bad it didn't work. "don't worry, tom," i told him. "i'll getmy lawyer to spring you out of this jug, and


then we'll take you to my place and fill youup on mrs. laden's cooking." the nurse sniffed. she suspected, quite correctly,that whoever mrs. laden was, she didn't know anything about scientific dietetics. when i got back to the times, dad and juliohad had their lunch and were going over the teleprint edition. julio was printing correctionson blank sheets of plastic and dad was cutting them out and cementing them over things thatneeded correcting on the master sheets. i gave julio a short item to the effect thattom kivelson, son of captain and mrs. joe kivelson, one of the javelin survivors whohad been burned in the tallow-wax fire, was now out of all danger, and recovering. dadwas able to scrounge that onto the first page.


there was a lot of other news. the t.f.n.destroyer simã³n bolivar, en route from gimli to pick up the notorious anton gerrit, aliassteve ravick, had come out of hyperspace and into radio range. dad had talked to the skipperby screen and gotten interviews, which would be telecast, both with him and detective-majormacbride of the colonial constabulary. the simã³n bolivar would not make landing, butgo into orbit and send down a boat. detective-major macbride (alias dr. john watson) would remainon fenris to take over local police activities. more evidence had been unearthed at hunters'hall on the frauds practiced by leo belsher and gerrit-alias-ravick; it looked as thougha substantial sum of money might be recovered, eventually, from the bank accounts and otherholdings of both men on terra. acting resident-agent


gonzalo ware—ware, it seemed, really washis right name, but look what he had in front of it—had promulgated more regulations andedicts, and a crackdown on the worst waterfront dives was in progress. i'll bet the devotedflock was horrified at what their beloved bishop had turned into. bish would leave hisdiocese in a lot healthier condition than he'd found it, that was one thing for sure.and most of the gang of thugs and plug-uglies who had been used to intimidate and controlthe hunters' co-operative had been gathered up and jailed on vagrancy charges; prisonerswere being put to work cleaning up the city. and there was a lot about plans for a registrationof voters, and organization of election boards, and a local electronics-engineering firm hadbeen awarded a contract for voting machines.


i didn't think there had ever been a votingmachine on fenris before. "the commander of the bolivar says he'll takeyour story to terra with him, and see that it gets to interworld news," dad told me aswe were sorting the corrected master sheets and loading them into the photoprint machine,to be sent out on the air. "the bolivar'll make terra at least two hundred hours aheadof the cape canaveral. interworld will be glad to have it. it isn't often they get astory like that with the first news of anything, and this'll be a big story." "you shouldn't have given me the exclusiveby-line," i said. "you did as much work on it as i did."


"no, i didn't, either," he contradicted, "andi knew what i was doing." with the work done, i remembered that i hadn'thad anything to eat since breakfast, and i went down to take inventory of the refrigerator.dad went along with me, and after i had assembled a lunch and sat down to it, he decided thathis pipe needed refilling, lit it, poured a cup of coffee and sat down with me. "you know, walt, i've been thinking, lately,"he began. oh-oh, i thought. when dad makes that remark,in just that tone, it's all hands to secure ship for diving. "we've all had to do a lot of thinking, lately,"i agreed.


"yes. you know, they want me to be mayor ofport sandor." i nodded and waited till i got my mouth empty.i could see a lot of sense in that. dad is honest and scrupulous and public-spirited;too much so, sometimes, for his own good. there wasn't any question of his ability,and while there had always been antagonism between the hunter-ship crews and waterfrontpeople and the uptown business crowd, dad was well liked and trusted by both parties. "are you going to take it?" i asked. "i suppose i'll have to, if they really wantme. be a sort of obligation." that would throw a lot more work on me. dadcould give some attention to the paper as


mayor, but not as much as now. "what do you want me to try to handle foryou?" i asked. "well, walt, that's what i've been thinkingabout," he said. "i've been thinking about it for a long time, and particularly sincethings got changed around here. i think you ought to go to school some more." that made me laugh. "what, back to hartzenbosch?" i asked. "i could teach him more than he could teach me, now." "i doubt that, walt. professor hartzenboschmay be an old maid in trousers, but he's really a very sound scholar. but i wasn't thinkingabout that. i was thinking about your going


to terra to school." "huh?" i forgot to eat, for a moment. "let'sstop kidding." "i didn't start kidding; i meant it." "well, think again, dad. it costs money togo to school on terra. it even costs money to go to terra." "we have a little money, walt. maybe morethan you think we do. and with things getting better, we'll lease more teleprinters andget more advertising. you're likely to get better than the price of your passage outof that story we're sending off on the bolivar, and that won't be the end of it, either. fenrisis going to be in the news for a while. you


may make some more money writing. that's whyi was careful to give you the by-line on that gerrit story." his pipe had gone out again;he took time out to relight it, and then added: "anything i spend on this is an investment.the times will get it back." "yes, that's another thing; the paper," isaid. "if you're going to be mayor, you won't be able to do everything you're doing on thepaper now, and then do all my work too." "well, shocking as the idea may be, i thinkwe can find somebody to replace you." "name one," i challenged. "well, lillian arnaz, at the library, hasalways been interested in newspaper work," he began.


"a girl!" i hooted. "you have any idea ofsome of the places i have to go to get stories?" "yes. i have always deplored the necessity.but a great many of them have been closed lately, and the rest are being run in a muchmore seemly manner. and she wouldn't be the only reporter. i hesitate to give you anybetter opinion of yourself than you have already, but it would take at least three people todo the work you've been doing. when you get back from terra, you'll find the times willhave a very respectable reportorial staff." "what'll i be, then?" i wondered. "editor," dad told me. "i'll retire and gointo politics full time. and if fenris is going to develop the way i believe it will,the editor of the times will need a much better


education than i have." i kept on eating, to give myself an excusefor silence. he was right, i knew that. but college on terra; why, that would be at leastfour years, maybe five, and then a year for the round trip.... "walt, this doesn't have to be settled rightaway," dad said. "you won't be going on the simã³n bolivar, along with ravick and belsher.and that reminds me. have you talked to bish lately? he'd be hurt if you didn't see himbefore he left." the truth was, i'd been avoiding bish, andnot just because i knew how busy he was. my face felt like a tallow-wax fire every timei thought of how i'd been trying to reform


him, and i didn't quite know what i'd be ableto say to him if i met him again. and he seemed to me to be an entirely different person,as though the old bish ware, whom i had liked in spite of what i'd thought he was, had died,and some total stranger had taken his place. but i went down to the municipal building.it didn't look like the same place. the walls had been scrubbed; the floors were free fromlitter. all the drove of loafers and hangers-on had been run out, or maybe jailed and putto work. i looked into a couple of offices; everybody in them was busy. a few of the oldpolice force were still there, but their uniforms had been cleaned and pressed, they had allshaved recently, and one or two looked as though they liked being able to respect themselves,for a change.


the girl at the desk in the mayor's outsideoffice told me bish had a delegation of uptown merchants, who seemed to think that reformwas all right in its place but it oughtn't to be carried more than a few blocks abovethe waterfront. they were protesting the new sanitary regulations. then she buzzed bishon the handphone, and told me he'd see me in a few minutes. after a while, i heard thedelegation going down the hall from the private office door. one of them was saying: "well, this is what we've always been screamingour heads off for. now we've got it good and hard; we'll just have to get used to it." when i went in, bish rose from his desk andcame to meet me, shaking my hand. he looked


and was dressed like the old bish ware i'dalways known. "glad you dropped in, walt. find a seat. howare things on the times?" "you ought to know. you're making things busyfor us." "yes. there's so much to do, and so littletime to do it. seems as though i've heard somebody say that before." "are you going back to terra on the simã³nbolivar?" "oh, allah forbid! i made a trip on a destroyer,once, and once is enough for a lifetime. i won't even be able to go on the cape canaveral;i'll take the peenemã¼nde when she gets in. i'm glad macbride—dr. watson—is goingto stop off. he'll be a big help. don't know


what i'd have done without ranjit singh." "that won't be till after the cape canaveralgets back from terra." "no. that's why i'm waiting. don't publishthis, walt, i don't want to start any premature rumors that might end in disappointments,but i've recommended immediate reclassification to class iii, and there may be a colonialoffice man on the cape canaveral when she gets in. resident-agent, permanent. i hopeso; he'll need a little breaking in." "i saw tom kivelson this morning," i said."he seems to be getting along pretty well." "didn't anybody at the hospital tell you abouthim?" bish asked. i shook my head. he cursed all hospital staffs.


"i wish military security was half as good.why, tom's permanently injured. he won't be crippled, or anything like that, but therewas considerable unrepairable damage to his back muscles. he'll be able to get around,but i doubt it he'll ever be able to work on a hunter-ship again." i was really horrified. monster-hunting wastom's whole life. i said something like that. "he'll just have to make a new life for himself.joe says he's going to send him to school on terra. he thinks that was his own idea,but i suggested it to him." "dad wants me to go to school on terra." "well, that's a fine idea. tom's going onthe peenemã¼nde, along with me. why don't


you come with us?" "that would be great, bish. i'd like it. buti just can't." "well, they want dad to be mayor, and if heruns, they'll all vote for him. he can't handle this and the paper both alone." "he can get help on both jobs." "yes, but ... why, it would be years tilli got back. i can't sacrifice the time. not "i'd say six years. you can spend your voyagetime from here cramming for entrance qualifications. schools don't bother about academic creditsany more; they're only interested in how much you know. you take four years' regular college,and a year postgrading, and you'll have all


the formal education you'll need." "but, bish, i can get that here, at the library,"i said. "we have every book on film that's been published since the year zero." "yes. and you'd die of old age before yougot a quarter through the first film bank, and you still wouldn't have an education.do you know which books to study, and which ones not to bother with? or which ones toread first, so that what you read in the others will be comprehensible to you? that's whatthey'll give you on terra. the tools, which you don't have now, for educating yourself." i thought that over. it made sense. i'd hada lot of the very sort of trouble he'd spoken


of, trying to get information for myself inproper order, and i'd read a lot of books that duplicated other books i'd read, andbooks i had trouble understanding because i hadn't read some other book first. bishhad something there. i was sure he had. but six years! i said that aloud, and added: "i can't takethe time. i have to be doing things." "you'll do things. you'll do them a lot betterfor waiting those six years. you aren't eighteen yet. six years is a whole third of your pastlife. no wonder it seems long to you. but you're thinking the wrong way; you're relatingthose six years to what has passed. relate them to what's ahead of you, and see how littletime they are. you take ordinary care of yourself


and keep out of any more civil wars, and youhave sixty more years, at least. your six years at school are only one-tenth of that.i was fifty when i came here to this creator's blunder of a planet. say i had only twentymore years; i spent a quarter of them playing town drunk here. i'm the one who ought tobe in a rush and howling about lost time, not you. i ought to be in such a hurry i'dtake the simã³n bolivar to terra and let this place go to—to anywhere you might imagineto be worse." "you know, i don't think you like fenris." "i don't. if i were a drinking man, this planetwould have made a drunkard of me. now, you forget about these six years chopped out ofyour busy life. when you get back here, with


an education, you'll be a kid of twenty-four,with a big long life ahead of you and your mind stocked with things you don't have nowthat will help you make something—and more important, something enjoyable—out of it." there was a huge crowd at the spaceport tosee us off, tom and bish ware and me. mostly, it was for bish. if i don't find a monumentto him when i get back, i'll know there is no such thing as gratitude. there had beena big banquet for us the evening before, and i think bish actually got a little tipsy.nobody can be sure, though; it might have been just the old actor back in his role.now they were all crowding around us, as many as could jam in, in the main lounge of thepeenemã¼nde. joe kivelson and his wife. dad


and julio and mrs. laden, who was actuallybeing cordial to bish, and who had a bundle for us that we weren't to open till we werein hyperspace. lillian arnaz, the girl who was to take my place as star reporter. wewere going to send each other audiovisuals; advice from me on the job, and news from thetimes from her. glenn murell, who had his office open by now and was grumbling thatthere had been a man from interstellar import-export out on the cape canaveral, and if the competitiongot any stiffer the price of tallow-wax would be forced up on him to a sol a pound. andall the javelin hands who had been wrecked with us on hermann reuch's land, and the veteransof the civil war, all but oscar and cesã¡rio, who will be at the dock to meet us when weget to terra.


i wonder what it'll be like, on a world whereyou go to bed every time it gets dark and get up when it gets light, and can go outdoorsall the time. i wonder how i'll like college, and meeting people from all over the federation,and swapping tall stories about our home planets. and i wonder what i'll learn. the long yearsahead, i can't imagine them now, will be spent on the times, and i ought to learn thingsto fit me for that. but i can't get rid of the idea about carniculture growth of tallow-wax.we'll have to do something like that. the demand for the stuff is growing, and we don'tknow how long it'll be before the monsters are hunted out. we know how fast we're killingthem, but we don't know how many there are or how fast they breed. i'll talk to tom aboutthat; maybe between us we can hit on something,


or at least lay a foundation for somebodyelse who will. the crowd pushed out and off the ship, andthe three of us were alone, here in the lounge of the peenemã¼nde, where the story startedand where it ends. bish says no story ends, ever. he's wrong. stories die, and nothingin the world is deader than a dead news story. but before they do, they hatch a flock oflittle ones, and some of them grow into bigger stories still. what happens after the shiplifts into the darkness, with the pre-dawn glow in the east, will be another, a new,story. but to the story of how the hunters got anhonest co-operative and fenris got an honest government, and bish ware got anton gerritthe slaver, i can write: "the end."