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´╗┐Title: History Repeats
Author: Smith, George Oliver, 1911-1981
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History Repeats" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Astounding Science Fiction_ May
    1959. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.



[Illustration]

HISTORY REPEATS

Illustrated by Martinez

[Illustration]

BY GEORGE O. SMITH

_There are--and very probably
will always be--some Terrestrials
who can't, and for
that matter don't want, to call
their souls their own...._


Xanabar lays across the Spiral Arm, a sprawling sphere of influence
vast, mighty, solid at the core. Only the far-flung boundary shows the
slight ebb and flow of contingent cultures that may win a system or two
today and lose them back tomorrow or a hundred years from now. Xanabar
is the trading post of the galaxy, for only Xanabar is strong enough to
stand over the trading table when belligerents meet and offer to take
them both at once if they do not sheathe their swords. For this service
Xanabar assesses her percentage, therefore Xanabar is rich. Her riches
buy her mercenaries to enforce her doctrines. Therefore Xanabar is
rotten at the under-core, for mercenaries have no god but gold.

       *       *       *       *       *

The clatter of a hundred tongues mingled with the clink of glasses and
floated through strata of smoke from the burning weeds of a hundred
planets. From one of the tables, voices rise in mild disagreement. There
is a jeering laugh from one side and a roar of anger from the other. Two
men rise and face one another ready to follow their insults with
violence. Before the eruption can start, a mercenary steps forward on
lithe feet and lightly catches the back-swung arm, a quick hand removes
the poised glass before it can be thrown into the adversary's face.

"Sit!" says the mercenary in a cold voice, and they sit still glaring at
one another.

"Now," says the mercenary, "settle your differences by talk. Or depart
in opposite directions. This is Xanabar!"

"He lies! He brags!"

"I do not lie. They _are_ barbarians. I do not brag. I _can_ bring you
one."

"You--"

"A wager," said the mercenary. "A wager. Xanabar can take no tax in
blood." He faces one. "You claim you can do that which he says you can
not." Then not waiting for a reply he faces the other, "And if he does,
how much are you willing to pay?"

"How much is his life worth?"

"How much are you willing to pay?" demands the mercenary coldly.

"Five hundredweight in crystal-cut."

"An honorable sum. Do you agree?"

"Not enough--"

"For a task as easy as you claim it to be," said the mercenary, "Five
hundredweight of crystal-cut seems honorable."

"But it means--"

"We in Xanabar are not interested in the details. Only in the tax. An
honest wager-contract, outlanders. Otherwise I rule that your eruption
here disturbed the peace."

The two outlanders look at one another; schoolboys caught fighting in
the alley by a monitor who demands a bite of their apple in lieu of a
visit to the principal. As if loath to touch one another they reach
forward hesitantly and handshake in a quick light grip.

"Good!" glows the mercenary. He waves a hand and his fellows converge
with contract-platen and etching stylus. "Now, gentlemen, please state
the terms for Xanabar."

       *       *       *       *       *

Peter Hawley strolled down a side street with a dog at his heel. It was
a dog of many breeds, but not a mixture of careless parentage. Peter
paused at a cross-street and looked uncertainly to left and right. "What
do you make, Buregarde?"

"The noble dog says right," replied Buregarde.

"Right," said Peter turning up the street. "And stop this 'Noble dog'
routine."

"Man is dog's best friend," said Buregarde. "If you'd called me
something sensible, I wouldn't have looked it up. There is a statue to
me in the Okeefenokee back on Earth. I am the noble dog. Pogo says so."

"I--"

"Easy Peter!" said the dog in a near-whisper.

"All right. Do we play down the chatter?"

Buregarde sat, lifted his nose and sniffed. His natural voice gave a
faint whine of discontent. "I'm supposed to have a nose," he complained.
"This is like trying to smell out a lone mouse in a zoological garden in
midsummer."

"Why the warning?" asked Peter.

"All races smell the same when they are poised for violence," said the
dog. "Trouble is that man-smell isn't pointed the way it's going, only
where it's coming from."

Peter grunted. "Catch any woman-smell?"

"Just the usual whiff. Stale scent. She was here; she passed this way.
But which way?"

"We can guess they made it away from the spaceport."

"Unless," said the dog taking another sniff of the air, "they're taking
her back to some other spacecraft." Buregarde looked up at Peter. "Do
you catch anything?"

"Just the usual mingled fright and danger, frantic despair."

"Directional?"

Peter shook his head. "No," he said. "The source is too close."

"Let's stroll up this street to the end and come back on the other
side," said the dog. "Quietly."

In a saunter they went, alert and poised. A man and his dog from all
appearances. But in Xanabar, the principal city of Xanabar the Empire
they were huntsman and companion.

Like all cities of more than ten million souls, Xanabar had its
glistening and lofty area and its slums--and what would have been a
waterfront region in a seafaring city. The conditions were the same as
they'd been everywhere for a few decades of thousands of years. Only the
technology changes. Man's cave is stainless steel and synthetic plastic;
the cave's man is swinging a better axe, and his hide is protected from
the weather by stuff far more durable than his awn skin. But he's the
same man with the same hackles; they just rise for a few more thousand
reasons than the hackles of his ancestors.

"Got it!" said Buregarde coming to a brief point at a closed door.

"Let's go in!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Buregarde's reply was half-snarl and half, "Look out!"

Peter whirled to catch a glimpse of a man upon him with pencil-ray
coming to point. He faded down and toward the other, almost in a fall
out of the path of the pencil-ray that flicked on and began a sweep
upward and in. Peter caught his balance at the same time he clutched the
wrist in his right hand. Then he went on down around and over, rising on
his knees to flip the other man heels high in an arc that ended with a
full-length, spine-thudding body smash on the pavement. Buregarde leaped
in and slashed at the hand clutching the pencil-ray, snapped his head
back and forth thrice and sent the weapon flying. Then with a savage
growl he set a soft mouth against the other's throat and let the man
feel the pressure of his fangs.

"Easy," said Peter.

Buregarde backed away a few inches. "Easy nothing," he snapped. "This
man is the noble dog's worst enemy. He wanted your blood."

"Take it easy. I want his information."

The man looked up. "Barbarian Terrestrial!" he snarled.

Peter sneered. "And this is the capital city of the glorious
civilization called Xanabar? Marble palaces with nobles of the blood,
and stinking alleys with human rats. Where is she?"

The stranger spat.

"Buregarde, want some red meat?"

"He'd make me upchuck. Only rodents eat their own kind."

"Just a bite?"

"Do I have to swallow?"

"No. Just slash--"

"Wait, barbarian--"

"Barbarian Terrestrial, am I? You were maybe going to invite me for tea
and cakes with that pencil-ray?"

"I--"

"Talk!" snapped Peter. "Where is she?"

"Who?"

"Buregarde--?"

"Yes, boss. The throat or the other hand?"

"All right--for the good it'll do you. She's in there. Go on in--and
we'll have two of you!"

Buregarde growled, "Three of us. And we might be hard to handle."

Peter stood up and hauled the stranger to his feet. His right hand
dripped blood from the dog's teeth. Peter looked for, and found the
pencil-ray smashed against the stone front of the building. He cuffed
the stranger across the face, turned him around, and pointed him toward
the far corner.

"I count three," he said. "If you're not out of sight by three--"

"It'll be a pleasure, Peter," said Buregarde.

       *       *       *       *       *

The stranger loped away on a crazy run. As he turned the corner he ran
face on to one of the uniformed mercenaries of Xanabar. The mercenary
collared the stranger and took a quick inventory of the slashed right
hand, the ripped clothing, and adding those to the frightened gallop he
came back with the stranger's left arm held in a backlock.

Haughtily he demanded, "What goes on in Xanabar?"

Peter eyed the mercenary sourly. "Kidnaping and attempted murder."

"Who says such lawlessness runs rife in Xanabar?"

"I say so. Peter Hawley of the Extraterrestrial Service. I say so."

"You are mistaken, barbarian."

"I say so," said Buregarde.

"You're an animal."

"I am--and so are you."

"I'll not be insulted by an animal! I am--"

"Take it easy, Buregarde."

"Take it easy nothing. This mercenary foot-soldier forgets one thing--or
maybe he doesn't know about it."

"Don't call His Excellency's Peacekeepers 'mercenaries'!" snapped the
mercenary.

"Peacekeeper," chuckled the dog. "Well listen and become wise. Dog and
man, man and dog, have been together for about a half-million years.
Once dog helped man in war and peace, and man gave dog food and shelter.
Dog helped man rise above the level of the savage, and man has helped
dog rise to the level of intelligence. But dog has one advantage. None
of us has been intelligent long enough to really believe that dog has a
soul, and those of us who do believe that also know that dog's soul is
devoted to man. Do you know about dog, Xanabian--Peacekeeper?"

"No--"

"Then don't force me to show you what kind of adversary intelligent dog
can be. Mere man is a pushover!"

"Bah!"

Buregarde loped in a mad circle around the mercenary. His Excellency's
Peacekeeper turned to stay facing the dog but found himself turning his
back on Peter. He stepped back and to one side and reached for his
heavy-duty pencil--the dog gave a low growl of warning and crouched for
a leap.

"He means it--Peacekeeper," said Peter Hawley quietly. "Draw that pencil
and he'll have your hand in ribbons before you can level it."

The mercenary drew in his breath.

"Whistle for help and he'll have your throat."

"I shall not permit this high handed--"

"Then stop sounding off and listen to us!" snapped Peter. "I charge the
Empire of Xanabar with the crime of being indifferent to the welfare of
the stranger within her gate. I charge kidnaping and attempted murder,
and I charge the latter against the specimen you hold in your hand."

"An outlander!"

"Does he bring his own law to Xanabar? If he does, then so do I!"

"I arrest you all for breaking the Peace of Xanabar."

"Me, too?" asked Buregarde.

The mercenary ignored the dog's eager sally. "You are armed,
Terrestrial."

"So was he."

"So am I!" snarled Buregarde showing a fine set of white fangs in the
most effective gesture.

"This must cease!" thundered the mercenary. "You cannot threaten His
Excellency's Peacekeepers!"

Buregarde growled, "Slip the mercenary a crystal-cut, boss. We've got a
girl to find!"

"A girl? A Terrestrial girl?" asked the mercenary with his eyes opening.

"The daughter of our envoy to Lonaphite. Miss Vanessa Lewis. Last
reported in her stateroom aboard the Terrestrial Spacecraft _Polaris_
during landing pattern at Xanabar Citadel Spaceport."

The mercenary said, "The work of outlanders--riffraff such as this!"

"Well," snapped Peter Hawley, "do His Excellency's Peacemakers condone
such goings-on?"

"We keep the Peace of Xanabar. Your charge is your word, Terrestrial."

"Terrestrial Barbarian, isn't it?"

"I arrest you--"

"Oh, stop it. For fiveweight of crystal-cut can you be bribed to haul
that specimen off to jail and let me go about making my own Peace with
Xanabar?"

"You accuse me of accepting bribes?"

"You re a mercenary, aren't you? Sevenweight of crystal-cut."

"Ten."

"Seven," said Peter.

"Ten," said the mercenary, "and you have one more caper coming."

"Ten," agreed Peter Hawley, "and you look the other way when I take the
lid off."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Still got it," said Buregarde, sniffing at the closed door but keeping
one eye on the disappearing mercenary and his prisoner.

"I've got it, too. Still fright and concern: fear of harm, concern over
what happens next."

"Strong?"

"Definitely," said Peter closing his eyes and holding his breath.

"Nothing measurable?" asked the dog after a full minute.

"No. Too bad I was never introduced to her. I have no idea of her
strength of mind--wait!" Another minute went by in personal silence;
Peter Hawley's concentration far too deep to be disturbed by the sounds
of the city's spaceport slum by night. The dog backed away from the door
and took an alert position to guard Peter while the man was immersed in
his own mind. Finally Peter alerted and shook his head sadly. "I thought
for a moment that she'd caught me. A fleeting thought of rescue or
escape, concept of freedom, flight, safety. But wish-thinking. Not
communication. Let's go in."

"Barge, or slink?" asked the dog.

"Slink."

"Have it your way," said Buregarde.

Outside, the place looked closed. The door was solid, a plastic in
imitation of bronze through which neither light nor sound passed. The
windows were dark. But once the door was cracked, the wave of sound came
pouring out along the slit of light and filled the street with echo and
re-echo.

[Illustration]

"Slink, now," said the dog.

"So everybody makes mistakes."

Inside, a woman leaned over a low counter. "Check your weap ... say! You
can't bring that animal in here!"

Buregarde said, "He isn't bringing me. I'm here because I like it."

The woman's eyes bugged. "What ... kind--?"

"I am man's best friend--the noble dog of Barbarian Terra."

"Yes ... but--"

"Oh," said Peter airily, "we're looking for a friend."

"Friend? Who is he?"

"It's a she and her name is Vanessa Lewis."

"She ain't here."

"The dame's a liar-ess, Peter. I scent her strong."

"We'll just take a look around," said Peter to the check girl.

"You'll have to check your weapons."

"I'd rather go in naked. Sorry. Not today. Weapons happen to be my
business today. Come on, Buregarde."

       *       *       *       *       *

Man and dog started along the hallway warily. Buregarde said, "Any
touch?"

"Got a faint impression of alarm, danger, call out the guards."

"I scent violence," said the dog. "And--"

The door at the end of the hallway opened and a big man stepped out.
"What's going on here?" he demanded flatly.

The check girl said, "He wouldn't check ..."

The big man reached for his hip pocket.

Peter said, "Take him high!" and they plunged.

Peter dove for the man's knees, Buregarde went in a three-stride lope
like an accordion folding and unfolding and then arched in a long leap
with his snarling fangs aimed at the man's throat. Man and dog hit him
low and high before he could open his mouth, before he could free the
snub pencil-ray. There was a short scrabble that ended when Buregarde
lifted the man's head and whammed it down hard against the floor.

Weakly, the check girl finished her statement, "...His weapons!" and
keeled over in a dead faint.

Buregarde shook himself violently and worked his jaws, licking blood
from his chops. Peter looked in through the open wall-door opposite the
check counter; the racket had not been noticed by the roomful of
spacemen and riffraff. The babble of a hundred tongues still went on
amid the clink of glasses and the disturbing strains of Xanabian music.
Smoke from a hundred semi-noxious weeds lay in strata across the room,
and at a table in the far corner two men faced one another, their
expressions a mixed pair. One held heavily begrudged admiration as he
paid off five hundredweight of crystal-cut in the legal tender of
Xanabar to the other, whose expression was greedy self-confidence. One
of His Excellency's Peacekeepers presided over the exchange. Coldly he
extracted a fiftyweight from the pile and folded it into the signed and
completed wager-contract. For his own coffer he extracted a fiveweight
and slipped it into his boot top.

Peter Hawley and Buregarde passed on, went through the far door dragging
their late adversary ignominiously by the heels. Amid the lessened
publicity of the distant hall, Peter checked the man and shrugged. "He
may live," he said coldly, "if he doesn't bleed to death."

"You really ought to take 'em on the high side," said Buregarde,
plaintively. "All I've got is my teeth to grab with. They don't bleed so
bad from the ankle."

"They don't stay stopped that way either," said Peter harshly.

"You'd not be getting any praise from the Chief for that sort of
brutality."

"If Xanabar weren't rotten to the core, we wouldn't be plowing through
it in the first place. Now, let's get going."

"Shouldn't you call for the rest of the crew?"

"Not until I'm certain the girl's here. I'd hate to cut the city-wide
search for cold evidence."

"She's here. I scent her."

"Maybe it's past tense, Buregarde. Or maybe it's another woman."

"Could be. But one thing: It is definitely Terrestrial woman." The dog
sniffed again. "You get anything?"

"No more than before. It's close and they're the same set of impressions
Yet, any woman would be frantic with fear and concern."

"I ... _shhh_!" Buregarde's sharp ears lifted instinctively at a distant
sound not heard by the man. With a toss of his head, the dog folded one
ear back, uncovering the inner shell. Like a sonic direction finder,
Buregarde turned his head and listened.

"Man," he said finally with a low growling voice. "Peter, there'll be
hell to pay around here directly. He's stumbled over our recent
conquest."

"Let's get cutting!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Peter started trying doors and peering in; the dog raced on ahead of the
man, sniffing deep at the bottom of each. It was the dog that found the
room. He called, "Here!" and Peter raced forward just as the fellow on
the stairs yelled something in his native tongue.

Peter hit the door with the heel of his foot and slammed it open by
splintering the doorframe. The dog crouched low and poised; Peter
slipped in and around feeling for a light-switch. From inside there was
a voiceless whimper of fright and from outside and below there came the
pounding of several sets of heavy feet. Peter found the switch and
flooded the room with light. The girl--whether she was Miss Vanessa
Lewis or someone else, and kidnap-wise it was still a Terrestrial
girl--lay trussed on the bed, a patch of surgical tape over her mouth.

"Sorry," said Peter in a voice that he hoped was soothing. He reached,
freed a corner of the tape and ripped it off in a single swipe. The girl
howled. Peter slapped her lightly. "Stop it!" he commanded sharply.
"Vanessa Lewis?"

"Yes, but--"

"Call out the marines, Peter," snarled the dog.

"No! Bo! Back!"

Reluctantly the dog backed into the room. He crouched low, poised to
spring, with his nose just beyond the doorframe.

"Four of 'em," he whimpered pleadingly. "I can get two--"

"Well, I can't get the other two unless I'm lucky," snapped Peter.
"Don't be so eager to die for nothing, Buregarde."

"All this calculation," grumbled the dog sourly. "I don't call it a loss
if I get two for one."

"I call it a loss if I don't get four for nothing--or the whole damned
Empire of Xanabar for nothing, for that matter. We've a job to do and it
ain't dying--until Miss Lewis is out of this glorious citadel."

The girl looked from one to the other. They did not need any
identification; they were their own bona fides. Only man--Terrestrial
Man--had intelligent dogs to work beside him. Period, question closed.
Buregarde snarled at the door warningly while Peter stripped surgical
tape from wrists and ankles.

Outside, someone called, "Come out or we blast!"

Buregarde snarled, "Come in and we'll cut you to bits!"

The quick flash of a pencil-ray flicked in a lance above the dog's nose:
Buregarde snapped back as the lancet of light cut downward, then snapped
forward for a quick look outside as the little pencil of danger
flickered dark.

"Careful, Bo!"

"You call the boys," snapped the dog. "I'll--"

       *       *       *       *       *

Something came twisting forward to hit the doorframe, it dropped just
inside the doorjamb. Buregarde leaped, snapped at the thing and caught
it in midair, snapped his head in a vicious shake and sent it whirling
back outside again before it could be identified. The dog sunfished and
landed on all four. Then the thing went off with a dull _pouf_! outside.
There was a gentle flash of quick light that was smothered by a billow
of smoke. Buregarde leaped into the cloud and disappeared. There was a
hoarse shriek and the mad scrabble of dog-claws on the hard floor, the
sound of a heavy thud, and the angry snarl of a dog with its teeth
fastened into something soft. Then there was the fast patter of dog-feet
and Buregarde came around the door on a dead run, sliding side-wise to
carom off the opened door into safety just as a pencil-ray flicked to
follow him.

"Got him," said the dog in a satisfied tone. "That's one!"

He took his post by the doorframe again, the tip of his nose just
outside. There was a consultation out there in the hallway, at which
Buregarde called, "Make a wild rush for us!"

Miss Lewis said, "What are we going to do?"

"Fight it out," said Peter. "They can't win so long as we're alive now.
I've got my crew on its way in a dead run, and if we make enough noise,
some of His Excellency's Peacemakers will step in and demand their cut
of the finances." He grinned. "How much are you worth, Miss Lewis?"

She shuddered. "I don't know how much father would pay--"

"Hit 'em low, Peter!" came Buregarde's snarl.

Three of them came in a-slant, bounced shoulders against the opened
door, caught their bearings and hell was out for noon. Buregarde caught
the first with a slash at the throat; they went down in a mad whirl of
dog and thug, paws, tail, arms, legs and a spurt of blood. The second
flicked his pencil-ray at Peter, its capsule charge faded to a mere
sting before it cut into him. The third aimed a kick at the struggling
dog. Vanessa Lewis snatched a box from the bureau and hurled it at the
second. Peter thumbed his pencil-ray and winged the third man in the
biceps. Buregarde leaped for the second man's gun hand and closed on it
as the hurled box opened and scatter-shotted his face with bric-a-brac.
The man with the bloody throat flailed out and caught Peter by the
ankle. Peter stomped his face with his other heel. Miss Lewis picked up
the table lamp and with a single motion turned off the light and
finished felling the one with the ray-burned shoulder.

Buregarde dropped from the second man's wrist and crouched to spring.
The man cowered back, his good arm covering his throat and his other arm
hanging limp. He mouthed fright-noises in some tongue native to some
star a thousand light-years across the galaxy.

Coldly, Peter stepped forward and belted him in the plexus.

"Now," he said calmly, "we shall vacate the premises!"

They went side by side, facing slightly outward, Buregarde between them
and slightly ahead. "We're coming out!" called the dog. "Three
Barbarians from Terra!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Down on the dark street, they met their mercenary again. He eyed them
sourly. "I see you were, in a sense, successful."

Peter Hawley faced the mercenary. "We were successful and would you like
to make something of it?"

"I'm going to have to arrest you, you know."

"You'll lose an arm trying!" snapped the dog.

"There's murder been committed tonight," said His Excellency's
Peacemaker. "The Peace of Xanabar has been disturbed."

"Why you chiseling crook, there's been kidnaping tonight, and--"

"I'm afraid that I shall have to ask that the young lady produce her
passport," said the mercenary. "Otherwise she's in Xanabar Citadel
illegally."

Buregarde said, "Hit him low, Peter. Here come the boys."

"No!"

"Just once--for fun?"

"No. I want our money-grubbing Peacekeeper to carry a message to His
Excellency. I want His Excellency to read some Terrestrial History. Once
upon a time there was a place called the Byzantine Empire that laid
across the trade routes. The upper crust of people used to serve the
Presence of God in a golden throne whilst their underlings dealt in
human slaves and procured comely concubines for the emperor; their
policemen took bribes and human life was cheap. And when Byzantium fell,
all the world was forced to seek a new trade route. So tell His
Excellency that he'd better clean up his own foul mess, or some
barbarians will clean it up for him."

"And that," said Buregarde, "goes for your dad-ratted cat!"

[Illustration: FIN]





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