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´╗┐Title: Warrior Race
Author: Sheckley, Robert, 1928-2005
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 "Warrior Race" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: Illustrated by SCATTERGOOD]


    By
  ROBERT
 SHECKLEY

 WARRIOR
  RACE


 _Destroying the spirit of the enemy is the
 goal of war and the aliens had the best way!_


They never did discover whose fault it was. Fannia pointed out that if
Donnaught had had the brains of an ox, as well as the build, he would
have remembered to check the tanks. Donnaught, although twice as big as
him, wasn't quite as fast with an insult. He intimated, after a little
thought, that Fannia's nose might have obstructed his reading of the
fuel gauge.

This still left them twenty light-years from Thetis, with a cupful of
transformer fuel in the emergency tank.

"All right," Fannia said presently. "What's done is done. We can squeeze
about three light-years out of the fuel before we're back on atomics.
Hand me _The Galactic Pilot_--unless you forgot that, too."

Donnaught dragged the bulky microfilm volume out of its locker, and they
explored its pages.

_The Galactic Pilot_ told them they were in a sparse, seldom-visited
section of space, which they already knew. The nearest planetary system
was Hatterfield; no intelligent life there. Sersus had a native
population, but no refueling facilities. The same with Illed, Hung and
Porderai.

"Ah-ha!" Fannia said. "Read that, Donnaught. If you can read, that is."

"Cascella," Donnaught read, slowly and clearly, following the line with
a thick forefinger. "Type M sun. Three planets, intelligent (AA3C)
human-type life on second. Oxygen-breathers. Non-mechanical. Religious.
Friendly. Unique social structure, described in Galactic Survey Report
33877242. Population estimate: stable at three billion. Basic Cascellan
vocabulary taped under Cas33b2. Scheduled for resurvey 2375 A.D. Cache
of transformer fuel left, beam coordinate 8741 kgl. Physical descript:
Unocc. flatland."

"Transformer fuel, boy!" Fannia said gleefully. "I believe we will get
to Thetis, after all." He punched the new direction on the ship's tape.
"If that fuel's still there."

"Should we read up on the unique social structure?" Donnaught asked,
still poring over _The Galactic Pilot_.

"Certainly," Fannia said. "Just step over to the main galactic base on
Earth and buy me a copy."

"I forgot," Donnaught admitted slowly.

"Let me see," Fannia said, dragging out the ship's language library,
"Cascellan, Cascellan ... Here it is. Be good while I learn the
language." He set the tape in the hypnophone and switched it on.
"Another useless tongue in my overstuffed head," he murmured, and then
the hypnophone took over.

       *       *       *       *       *

Coming out of transformer drive with at least a drop of fuel left, they
switched to atomics. Fannia rode the beam right across the planet,
locating the slender metal spire of the Galactic Survey cache. The plain
was no longer unoccupied, however. The Cascellans had built a city
around the cache, and the spire dominated the crude wood-and-mud
buildings.

"Hang on," Fannia said, and brought the ship down on the outskirts of
the city, in a field of stubble.

"Now look," Fannia said, unfastening his safety belt. "We're just here
for fuel. No souvenirs, no side-trips, no fraternizing."

Through the port, they could see a cloud of dust from the city. As it
came closer, they made out figures running toward their ship.

"What do you think this unique social structure is?" Donnaught asked,
pensively checking the charge in a needler gun.

"I know not and care less," Fannia said, struggling into space armor.
"Get dressed."

"The air's breathable."

"Look, pachyderm, for all we know, these Cascellans think the proper way
to greet visitors is to chop off their heads and stuff them with green
apples. If Galactic says unique, it probably means unique."

"Galactic said they were friendly."

"That means they haven't got atomic bombs. Come on, get dressed."
Donnaught put down the needler and struggled into an oversize suit of
space armor. Both men strapped on needlers, paralyzers, and a few
grenades.

"I don't think we have anything to worry about," Fannia said, tightening
the last nut on his helmet. "Even if they get rough, they can't crack
space armor. And if they're not rough, we won't have any trouble. Maybe
these gewgaws will help." He picked up a box of trading
articles--mirrors, toys and the like.

Helmeted and armored, Fannia slid out the port and raised one hand to
the Cascellans. The language, hypnotically placed in his mind, leaped to
his lips.

"We come as friends and brothers. Take us to the chief."

The natives clustered around, gaping at the ship and the space armor.
Although they had the same number of eyes, ears and limbs as humans,
they completely missed looking like them.

"If they're friendly," Donnaught asked, climbing out of the port, "why
all the hardware?" The Cascellans were dressed predominantly in a
collection of knives, swords and daggers. Each man had at least five,
and some had eight or nine.

"Maybe Galactic got their signals crossed," Fannia said, as the natives
spread out in an escort. "Or maybe the natives just use the knives for
mumblypeg."

       *       *       *       *       *

The city was typical of a non-mechanical culture. Narrow, packed-dirt
streets twisted between ramshackle huts. A few two-story buildings
threatened to collapse at any minute. A stench filled the air, so strong
that Fannia's filter couldn't quite eradicate it. The Cascellans
bounded ahead of the heavily laden Earthmen, dashing around like a pack
of playful puppies. Their knives glittered and clanked.

The chief's house was the only three-story building in the city. The
tall spire of the cache was right behind it.

"If you come in peace," the chief said when they entered, "you are
welcome." He was a middle-aged Cascellan with at least fifteen knives
strapped to various parts of his person. He squatted cross-legged on a
raised dais.

"We are privileged," Fannia said. He remembered from the hypnotic
language lesson that "chief" on Cascella meant more than it usually did
on Earth. The chief here was a combination of king, high priest, deity
and bravest warrior.

"We have a few simple gifts here," Fannia added, placing the gewgaws at
the king's feet. "Will his majesty accept?"

"No," the king said. "We accept no gifts." Was that the unique social
structure? Fannia wondered. It certainly was not human. "We are a
warrior race. What we want, we take."

Fannia sat cross-legged in front of the dais and exchanged conversation
with the king while Donnaught played with the spurned toys. Trying to
overcome the initial bad impression, Fannia told the chief about the
stars and other worlds, since simple people usually liked fables. He
spoke of the ship, not mentioning yet that it was out of fuel. He spoke
of Cascella, telling the chief how its fame was known throughout the
Galaxy.

"That is as it should be," the chief said proudly. "We are a race of
warriors, the like of which has never been seen. Every man of us dies
fighting."

"You must have fought some great wars," Fannia said politely, wondering
what idiot had written up the galactic report.

"I have not fought a war for many years," the chief said. "We are united
now, and all our enemies have joined us."

Bit by bit, Fannia led up to the matter of the fuel.

"What is this 'fuel'?" the chief asked, haltingly because there was no
equivalent for it in the Cascellan language.

"It makes our ship go."

"And where is it?"

"In the metal spire," Fannia said. "If you would just allow us--"

"In the holy shrine?" the chief exclaimed, shocked. "The tall metal
church which the gods left here long ago?"

"Yeah," Fannia said sadly, knowing what was coming. "I guess that's
it."

"It is sacrilege for an outworlder to go near it," the chief said. "I
forbid it."

"We need the fuel." Fannia was getting tired of sitting cross-legged.
Space armor wasn't built for complicated postures. "The spire was put
here for such emergencies."

"Strangers, know that I am god of my people, as well as their leader. If
you dare approach the sacred temple, there will be war."

"I was afraid of that," Fannia said, getting to his feet.

"And since we are a race of warriors," the chief said, "at my command,
every fighting man of the planet will move against you. More will come
from the hills and from across the rivers."

Abruptly, the chief drew a knife. It must have been a signal, because
every native in the room did the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fannia dragged Donnaught away from the toys. "Look, lummox. These
friendly warriors can't do a damn thing to us. Those knives can't cut
space armor, and I doubt if they have anything better. Don't let them
pile up on you, though. Use the paralyzer first, the needler if they
really get thick."

"Right." Donnaught whisked out and primed a paralyzer in a single
coordinated movement. With weapons, Donnaught was fast and reliable,
which was virtue enough for Fannia to keep him as a partner.

"We'll cut around this building and grab the fuel. Two cans ought to be
enough. Then we'll beat it fast."

They walked out the building, followed by the Cascellans. Four carriers
lifted the chief, who was barking orders. The narrow street outside was
suddenly jammed with armed natives. No one tried to touch them yet, but
at least a thousand knives were flashing in the sun.

In front of the cache was a solid phalanx of Cascellans. They stood
behind a network of ropes that probably marked the boundary between
sacred and profane ground.

"Get set for it," Fannia said, and stepped over the ropes.

Immediately the foremost temple guard raised his knife. Fannia brought
up the paralyzer, not firing it yet, still moving forward.

The foremost native shouted something, and the knife swept across in a
glittering arc. The Cascellan gurgled something else, staggered and
fell. Bright blood oozed from his throat.

"I _told_ you not to use the needler yet!" Fannia said.

"I didn't," Donnaught protested. Glancing back, Fannia saw that
Donnaught's needler was still holstered.

"Then I don't get it," said Fannia bewilderedly.

Three more natives bounded forward, their knives held high. They tumbled
to the ground also. Fannia stopped and watched as a platoon of natives
advanced on them.

Once they were within stabbing range of the Earthmen, the natives were
slitting their own throats!

Fannia was frozen for a moment, unable to believe his eyes. Donnaught
halted behind him.

Natives were rushing forward by the hundreds now, their knives poised,
screaming at the Earthmen. As they came within range, each native
stabbed himself, tumbling on a quickly growing pile of bodies. In
minutes the Earthmen were surrounded by a heap of bleeding Cascellan
flesh, which was steadily growing higher.

"All right!" Fannia shouted. "Stop it." He yanked Donnaught back with
him, to profane ground. "Truce!" he yelled in Cascellan.

The crowd parted and the chief was carried through. With two knives
clenched in his fists, he was panting from excitement.

"We have won the first battle!" he said proudly. "The might of our
warriors frightens even such aliens as yourselves. You shall not profane
our temple while a man is alive on Cascella!"

The natives shouted their approval and triumph.

The two aliens dazedly stumbled back to their ship.

       *       *       *       *       *

"So that's what Galactic meant by 'a unique social structure,'" Fannia
said morosely. He stripped off his armor and lay down on his bunk.
"Their way of making war is to suicide their enemies into capitulation."

"They must be nuts," Donnaught grumbled. "That's no way to fight."

"It works, doesn't it?" Fannia got up and stared out a porthole. The sun
was setting, painting the city a charming red in its glow. The beams of
light glistened off the spire of the Galactic cache. Through the open
doorway they could hear the boom and rattle of drums. "Tribal call to
arms," Fannia said.

"I still say it's crazy." Donnaught had some definite ideas on fighting.
"It ain't human."

"I'll buy that. The idea seems to be that if enough people slaughter
themselves, the enemy gives up out of sheer guilty conscience."

"What if the enemy doesn't give up?"

"Before these people united, they must have fought it out tribe to
tribe, suiciding until someone gave up. The losers probably joined the
victors; the tribe must have grown until it could take over the planet
by sheer weight of numbers." Fannia looked carefully at Donnaught,
trying to see if he understood. "It's anti-survival, of course; if
someone didn't give up, the race would probably kill themselves." He
shook his head. "But war of any kind is anti-survival. Perhaps they've
got rules."

"Couldn't we just barge in and grab the fuel quick?" Donnaught asked.
"And get out before they all killed themselves?"

"I don't think so," Fannia said. "They might go on committing suicide
for the next ten years, figuring they were still fighting us." He looked
thoughtfully at the city. "It's that chief of theirs. He's their god and
he'd probably keep them suiciding until he was the only man left. Then
he'd grin, say, 'We are great warriors,' and kill himself."

Donnaught shrugged his big shoulders in disgust. "Why don't we knock him
off?"

"They'd just elect another god." The sun was almost below the horizon
now. "I've got an idea, though," Fannia said. He scratched his head. "It
might work. All we can do is try."

       *       *       *       *       *

At midnight, the two men sneaked out of the ship, moving silently into
the city. They were both dressed in space armor again. Donnaught carried
two empty fuel cans. Fannia had his paralyzer out.

The streets were dark and silent as they slid along walls and around
posts, keeping out of sight. A native turned a corner suddenly, but
Fannia paralyzed him before he could make a sound.

They crouched in the darkness, in the mouth of an alley facing the
cache.

"Have you got it straight?" Fannia asked. "I paralyze the guards. You
bolt in and fill up those cans. We get the hell out of here, quick. When
they check, they find the cans still there. Maybe they won't commit
suicide then."

The men moved across the shadowy steps in front of the cache. There were
three Cascellans guarding the entrance, their knives stuck in their
loincloths. Fannia stunned them with a medium charge, and Donnaught
broke into a run.

Torches instantly flared, natives boiled out of every alleyway,
shouting, waving their knives.

"We've been ambushed!" Fannia shouted. "Get back here, Donnaught!"

Donnaught hurriedly retreated. The natives had been waiting for them.
Screaming, yowling, they rushed at the Earthmen, slitting their own
throats at five-foot range. Bodies tumbled in front of Fannia, almost
tripping him as he backed up. Donnaught caught him by an arm and yanked
him straight. They ran out of the sacred area.

"Truce, damn it!" Fannia called out. "Let me speak to the chief. Stop
it! Stop it! I want a truce!"

Reluctantly, the Cascellans stopped their slaughter.

"This is war," the chief said, striding forward. His almost human face
was stern under the torchlight. "You have seen our warriors. You know
now that you cannot stand against them. The word has spread to all our
lands. My entire people are prepared to do battle."

He looked proudly at his fellow-Cascellans, then back to the Earthmen.
"I myself will lead my people into battle now. There will be no stopping
us. We will fight until you surrender yourselves completely, stripping
off your armor."

"Wait, Chief," Fannia panted, sick at the sight of so much blood. The
clearing was a scene out of the Inferno. Hundreds of bodies were
sprawled around. The streets were muddy with blood.

"Let me confer with my partner tonight. I will speak with you tomorrow."

"No," the chief said. "You started the battle. It must go to its
conclusion. Brave men wish to die in battle. It is our fondest wish. You
are the first enemy we have had in many years, since we subdued the
mountain tribes."

"Sure," Fannia said. "But let's talk about it--"

"I myself will fight you," the chief said, holding up a dagger. "I will
die for my people, as a warrior must!"

"Hold it!" Fannia shouted. "Grant us a truce. We are allowed to fight
only by sunlight. It is a tribal taboo."

The chief thought for a moment, then said, "Very well. Until tomorrow."

The beaten Earthmen walked slowly back to their ship amid the jeers of
the victorious populace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning, Fannia still didn't have a plan. He knew that he had to
have fuel; he wasn't planning on spending the rest of his life on
Cascella, or waiting until the Galactic Survey sent another ship, in
fifty years or so. On the other hand, he hesitated at the idea of being
responsible for the death of anywhere up to three billion people. It
wouldn't be a very good record to take to Thetis. The Galactic Survey
might find out about it. Anyway, he just wouldn't do it.

He was stuck both ways.

Slowly, the two men walked out to meet the chief. Fannia was still
searching wildly for an idea while listening to the drums booming.

"If there was only someone we could fight," Donnaught mourned, looking
at his useless blasters.

"That's the deal," Fannia said. "Guilty conscience is making sinners of
us all, or something like that. They expect us to give in before the
carnage gets out of hand." He considered for a moment. "It's not so
crazy, actually. On Earth, armies don't usually fight until every last
man is slaughtered on one side. Someone surrenders when they've had
enough."

"If they'd just fight _us_!"

"Yeah, if they only--" He stopped. "We'll fight each other!" he said.
"These people look at suicide as war. Wouldn't they look upon war--real
fighting--as suicide?"

"What good would that do us?" Donnaught asked.

They were coming into the city now and the streets were lined with armed
natives. Around the city there were thousands more. Natives were filling
the plain, as far as the eye could see. Evidently they had responded to
the drums and were here to do battle with the aliens.

Which meant, of course, a wholesale suicide.

"Look at it this way," Fannia said. "If a guy plans on suiciding on
Earth, what do we do?"

"Arrest him?" Donnaught asked.

"Not at first. We offer him anything he wants, if he just won't do it.
People offer the guy money, a job, their daughters, anything, just so he
won't do it. It's taboo on Earth."

"So?"

"So," Fannia went on, "maybe fighting is just as taboo here. Maybe
they'll offer us fuel, if we'll just stop."

Donnaught looked dubious, but Fannia felt it was worth a try.

       *       *       *       *       *

They pushed their way through the crowded city, to the entrance of the
cache. The chief was waiting for them, beaming on his people like a
jovial war god.

"Are you ready to do battle?" he asked. "Or to surrender?"

"Sure," Fannia said. "Now, Donnaught!"

He swung, and his mailed fist caught Donnaught in the ribs. Donnaught
blinked.

"Come on, you idiot, hit me back."

Donnaught swung, and Fannia staggered from the force of the blow. In a
second they were at it like a pair of blacksmiths, mailed blows ringing
from their armored hides.

"A little lighter," Fannia gasped, picking himself up from the ground.
"You're denting my ribs." He belted Donnaught viciously on the helmet.

"Stop it!" the chief cried. "This is disgusting!"

"It's working," Fannia panted. "Now let me strangle you. I think that
might do it."

Donnaught obliged by falling to the ground. Fannia clamped both hands
around Donnaught's armored neck, and squeezed.

"Make believe you're in agony, idiot," he said.

Donnaught groaned and moaned as convincingly as he could.

"You must stop!" the chief screamed. "It is terrible to kill another!"

"Then let me get some fuel," Fannia said, tightening his grip on
Donnaught's throat.

The chief thought it over for a little while. Then he shook his head.

"No."

"What?"

"You are aliens. If you want to do this disgraceful thing, do it. But
you shall not profane our religious relics."

       *       *       *       *       *

Donnaught and Fannia staggered to their feet. Fannia was exhausted from
fighting in the heavy space armor; he barely made it up.

"Now," the chief said, "surrender at once. Take off your armor or do
battle with us."

The thousands of warriors--possibly millions, because more were arriving
every second--shouted their blood-wrath. The cry was taken up on the
outskirts and echoed to the hills, where more fighting men were pouring
down into the crowded plain.

Fannia's face contorted. He couldn't give himself and Donnaught up to
the Cascellans. They might be cooked at the next church supper. For a
moment he considered going after the fuel and letting the damned fools
suicide all they pleased.

His mind an angry blank, Fannia staggered forward and hit the chief in
the face with a mailed glove.

The chief went down, and the natives backed away in horror. Quickly, the
chief snapped out a knife and brought it up to his throat. Fannia's
hands closed on the chief's wrists.

"Listen to me," Fannia croaked. "We're going to take that fuel. If any
man makes a move--if anyone kills himself--I'll kill your chief."

The natives milled around uncertainly. The chief was struggling wildly
in Fannia's hands, trying to get a knife to his throat, so he could die
honorably.

"Get it," Fannia told Donnaught, "and hurry it up."

The natives were uncertain just what to do. They had their knives poised
at their throats, ready to plunge if battle was joined.

"Don't do it," Fannia warned. "I'll kill the chief and then he'll never
die a warrior's death."

The chief was still trying to kill himself. Desperately, Fannia held on,
knowing he had to keep him from suicide in order to hold the threat of
death over him.

"Listen, Chief," Fannia said, eying the uncertain crowd. "I must have
your promise there'll be no more war between us. Either I get it or I
kill you."

"Warriors!" the chief roared. "Choose a new ruler. Forget me and do
battle!"

The Cascellans were still uncertain, but knives started to lift.

"If you do it," Fannia shouted in despair, "I'll kill your chief. _I'll
kill all of you!_"

That stopped them.

"I have powerful magic in my ship. I can kill every last man, and then
you won't be able to die a warrior's death. _Or_ get to heaven!"

The chief tried to free himself with a mighty surge that almost tore one
of his arms free, but Fannia held on, pinning both arms behind his back.

"Very well," the chief said, tears springing into his eyes. "A warrior
must die by his own hand. You have won, alien."

The crowd shouted curses as the Earthmen carried the chief and the cans
of fuel back to the ship. They waved their knives and danced up and down
in a frenzy of hate.

"Let's make it fast," Fannia said, after Donnaught had fueled the ship.

He gave the chief a push and leaped in. In a second they were in the
air, heading for Thetis and the nearest bar at top speed.

The natives were hot for blood--their own. Every man of them pledged his
life to wiping out the insult to their leader and god, and to their
shrine.

But the aliens were gone. There was nobody to fight.

                                                     --ROBERT SHECKLEY



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Galaxy Science Fiction_ November 1952.
    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.





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