By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Starman's Quest
Author: Silverberg, Robert, 1935-
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 "Starman's Quest" ***

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

Starman's Quest


    _Starman's Quest_
    _Revolt on Alpha C_
    _The Thirteenth Immortal_
    _Master of Life and Death_
    _The Shrouded Planet_
      (with Randall Garrett)
    _Invaders from Earth_




 GNOME PRESS            [Device]


        Copyright 1958 by Robert Silverberg

        _First Edition. All Rights Reserved_

 _This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced
 in any form without permission, except for brief
 quotations in critical articles and reviews._

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-8767


Transcriber's Note:

    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. Variant
    spellings have been retained.

_Author's Preface_

This was my second novel, which I wrote when I was 19, in my junior year
at Columbia. I've written better ones since. But readers interested in
the archaeology of a writing career will probably find much to explore

                                                       Robert Silverberg
                                                             17 May 2008




The Lexman Spacedrive was only the second most important theoretical
accomplishment of the exciting years at the dawn of the Space Age, yet
it changed all human history and forever altered the pattern of
sociocultural development on Earth.

Yet it was only the _second_ most important discovery.

The Cavour Hyperdrive unquestionably would have held first rank in any
historical assessment, had the Cavour Hyperdrive ever reached practical
use. The Lexman Spacedrive allows mankind to reach Alpha Centauri, the
closest star with habitable planets, in approximately four and a half
years. The Cavour Hyperdrive--if it ever really existed--would have
brought Alpha C within virtual instantaneous access.

But James Hudson Cavour had been one of those tragic men whose
personalities negate the value of their work. A solitary, cantankerous,
opinionated individual--a crank, in short--he withdrew from humanity to
develop the hyperspace drive, announcing at periodic intervals that he
was approaching success.

A final enigmatic bulletin in the year 2570 indicated to some that
Cavour had achieved his goal or was on the verge of achieving it;
others, less sympathetic, interpreted his last message as a madman's
wild boast. It made little difference which interpretation was accepted.
James Hudson Cavour was never heard from again.

A hard core of passionate believers insisted that he _had_ developed a
faster-than-light drive, that he had succeeded in giving mankind an
instantaneous approach to the stars. But they, like Cavour himself, were
laughed down, and the stars remained distant.

Distant--but not unreachable. The Lexman Spacedrive saw to that.

Lexman and his associates had developed their ionic drive in 2337, after
decades of research. It permitted man to approach, but not to exceed,
the theoretical limiting velocity of the universe: the speed of light.

Ships powered by the Lexman Spacedrive could travel at speeds just
slightly less than the top velocity of 186,000 miles per second. For the
first time, the stars were within man's grasp.

The trip was slow. Even at such fantastic velocities as the Lexman
Spacedrive allowed, it took nine years for a ship to reach even the
nearest of stars, stop, and return; a distant star such as Bellatrix
required a journey lasting two hundred fifteen years each way. But even
this was an improvement over the relatively crude spacedrives then in
use, which made a journey from Earth to Pluto last for many months and
one to the stars almost unthinkable.

The Lexman Spacedrive worked many changes. It gave man the stars. It
brought strange creatures to Earth, strange products, strange languages.

But one necessary factor was involved in slower-than-light interstellar
travel, one which the Cavour drive would have averted: the Fitzgerald
Contraction. Time aboard the great starships that lanced through the
void was contracted; the nine-year trip to Alpha Centauri and back
seemed to last only six weeks to the men on the ship, thanks to the
strange mathematical effects of interstellar travel at high--but not

The results were curious, and in some cases tragic. A crew that had aged
only six weeks would return to find that Earth had grown nine years
older. Customs had changed; new slang words made language

The inevitable development was the rise of a guild of Spacers, men who
spent their lives flashing between the suns of the universe and who had
little or nothing to do with the planet-bound Earthers left behind.
Spacer and Earther, held apart forever by the inexorable mathematics of
the Fitzgerald Contraction, came to regard each other with a bitter sort
of distaste.

The centuries passed--and the changes worked by the coming of the Lexman
Spacedrive became more pronounced. Only a faster-than-light spacedrive
could break down the ever-widening gulf between Earther and Spacer--and
the faster-than-light drive remained as unattainable a dream as it had
been in the days of James Hudson Cavour.

                                              --_Sociocultural Dynamics_
                                                Leonid Hallman
                                                London, 3876

_Chapter One_

The sound of the morning alarm rang out, four loud hard clear
gong-clangs, and all over the great starship _Valhalla_ the men of the
Crew rolled out of their bunks to begin another day. The great ship had
travelled silently through the endless night of space while they slept,
bringing them closer and closer to the mother world, Earth. The
_Valhalla_ was on the return leg of a journey to Alpha Centauri.

But one man aboard the starship had not waited for the morning alarm.
For Alan Donnell the day had begun several hours before. Restless,
unable to sleep, he had quietly slipped from his cabin in the fore
section, where the unmarried Crewmen lived, and had headed forward to
the main viewscreen, in order to stare at the green planet growing
steadily larger just ahead.

He stood with his arms folded, a tall red-headed figure, long-legged, a
little on the thin side. Today was his seventeenth birthday.

Alan adjusted the fine controls on the viewscreen and brought Earth
into sharper focus. He tried to pick out the continents on the planet
below, struggling to remember his old history lessons. Tutor Henrich
would not be proud of him, he thought.

_That's South America down there_, he decided, after rejecting the
notion that it might be Africa. They had pretty much the same shape, and
it was so hard to remember what Earth's continents looked like when
there were so many other worlds. _But that's South America. And so
that's North America just above it. The place where I was born._

Then the 0800 alarm went off, the four commanding gongs that Alan always
heard as _It's! Time! Wake! Up!_ The starship began to stir into life.
As Alan drew out his Tally and prepared to click off the start of a new
day, he felt a strong hand firmly grasp his shoulder.

"Morning, son."

Alan turned from the viewscreen. He saw the tall, gaunt figure of his
father standing behind him. His father--and the _Valhalla's_ captain.

"Good rising, Captain."

Captain Donnell eyed him curiously. "You've been up a while, Alan. I can
tell. Is there something wrong?"

"Just not sleepy, that's all," Alan said.

"You look troubled about something."

"No, Dad--I'm not," he lied. To cover his confusion he turned his
attention to the little plastic gadget he held in his hand--the Tally.
He punched the stud; the register whirred and came to life.

He watched as the reading changed. The black-on-yellow dials slid
forward from _Year 16 Day 365_ to _Year 17 Day 1_.

As the numbers dropped into place his father said, "It's your birthday,
is it? Let it be a happy one!"

"Thanks, Dad. You know, it'll feel fine to have a birthday on Earth!"

The Captain nodded. "It's always good to come home, even if we'll have
to leave again soon. And this will be the first time you've celebrated
your birthday on your native world in--three hundred years, Alan."

Grinning, Alan thought, _Three hundred? No, not really._ Out loud he
said, "You know that's not right, Dad. Not three hundred years. Just
seventeen." He looked out at the slowly-spinning green globe of Earth.

"When on Earth, do as the Earthers do," the Captain said. "That's an old
proverb of that planet out there. The main vault of the computer files
says you were born in 3576, unless I forget. And if you ask any Earther
what year this is he'll tell you it's 3876. 3576-3876--that's three
hundred years, no?" His eyes twinkled.

"Stop playing games with me, Dad." Alan held forth his Tally. "It
doesn't matter what the computer files say. Right here it says _Year 17
Day 1_, and that's what I'm going by. Who cares what year it is on
Earth? _This_ is my world!"

"I know, Alan."

Together they moved away from the viewscreen; it was time for breakfast,
and the second gongs were sounding. "I'm just teasing, son. But that's
the sort of thing you'll be up against if you leave the Starmen's
Enclave--the way your brother did."

Alan frowned and his stomach went cold. He wished the unpleasant topic
of his brother had not come up. "You think there's any chance Steve will
come back, this time down? Will we be in port long enough for him to
find us?"

Captain Donnell's face clouded. "We're going to be on Earth for almost a
week," he said in a suddenly harsh voice. "That's ample time for Steve
to rejoin us, if he cares to. But I don't imagine he'll care to. And I
don't know if I want very much to have him back."

He paused outside the handsomely-panelled door of his private cabin, one
hand on the thumb-plate that controlled entrance. His lips were set in a
tight thin line. "And remember this, Alan," he said. "Steve's not your
twin brother any more. You're only seventeen, and he's almost
twenty-six. He'll never be your twin again."

With sudden warmth the captain squeezed his son's arm. "Well, better get
up there to eat, Alan. This is going to be a busy day for all of us."

He turned and went into the cabin.

Alan moved along the wide corridor of the great ship toward the mess
hall in Section C, thinking about his brother. It had been only about
six weeks before, when the _Valhalla_ had made its last previous stop on
Earth, that Steve had decided to jump ship.

The _Valhalla's_ schedule had called for them to spend two days on Earth
and then leave for Alpha Centauri with a load of colonists for Alpha C
IV. A starship's time is always scheduled far in advance, with bookings
planned sometimes for decades Earthtime by the Galactic Trade

When blastoff time came for the _Valhalla_, Steve had not reported back
from the Starmen's Enclave where all Spacers lived during in-port stays.

Alan's memories of the scene were still sharp. Captain Donnell had been
conducting check-off, making sure all members of the Crew had reported
back and were aboard. This was a vital procedure; in case anyone were
accidentally left behind, it would mean permanent separation from his
friends and family.

He had reached the name _Donnell, Steve_. No answer came. Captain
Donnell called his name a second time, then a third. A tense silence
prevailed in the Common Room of the starship, where the Crew was

Finally Alan made himself break the angry silence. "He's not here, Dad.
And he's not coming back," he said in a hesitant voice. And then he had
had to explain to his father the whole story of his unruly, aggressive
twin brother's plan to jump ship--and how Steve had tried to persuade
him to leave the _Valhalla_ too.

Steve had been weary of the endless shuttling from star to star, of
forever ferrying colonists from one place to another without ever
standing on the solid ground of a planet yourself for more than a few
days here, a week there.

Alan had felt tired of it too--they all did, at some time or
another--but he did not share his twin's rebellious nature, and he had
not gone over the hill with Steve.

Alan remembered his father's hard, grim expression as he had been told
the story. Captain Donnell's reaction had been curt, immediate, and
thoroughly typical: he had nodded, closed the roll book, and turned to
Art Kandin, the _Valhalla's_ First Officer and the Captain's

"Remove Crewman Donnell from the roster," he had snapped. "All other
hands are on board. Prepare for blastoff."

Within the hour the flaming jets of the _Valhalla's_ planetary drive had
lifted the great ship from Earth. They had left immediately for Alpha
Centauri, four and a half light-years away. The round trip had taken the
_Valhalla_ just six weeks.

During those six weeks, better than nine years had passed on Earth.

Alan Donnell was seventeen years old.

His twin brother Steve was now twenty-six.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Happy rising, Alan," called a high, sharp voice as he headed past the
blue-painted handholds of Gravity Deck 12 on his way toward the mess

Startled, he glanced up, and then snorted in disgust as he saw who had
hailed him. It was Judy Collier, a thin, stringy-haired girl of about
fourteen whose family had joined the Crew some five ship-years back. The
Colliers were still virtual newcomers to the tight group on the
ship--the family units tended to remain solid and self-contained--but
they had managed to fit in pretty well by now.

"Going to eat?" she asked.

"Right enough," said Alan, continuing to walk down the plastifoam-lined
corridor. She tagged along a step or two behind him.

"Today's your birthday, isn't it?"

"Right enough," Alan said again, more abruptly. He felt a sudden twinge
of annoyance; Judy had somehow developed a silly crush on him during the
last voyage to Alpha C, and since then she had contrived to follow him
around wherever he went, bombarding him with questions. She was a silly
adolescent girl, Alan thought scornfully.

"Happy birthday," she said, giggling. "Can I kiss you?"

"No," returned Alan flatly. "You better watch out or I'm going to get
Rat after you."

"Oh, I'm not afraid of that little beast," she retorted. "One of these
days I'll chuck him down the disposal hatch like the little vermin

"You watch out who you're calling vermin," said a thin, dry,
barely-audible voice from the floor.

Alan glanced down and saw Rat, his pet and companion, squatting near
Judy and flicking his beady little red eyes mischievously in the
direction of the girl's bare skinny ankle.

"He _bit_ me," Judy complained, gesturing as if she were going to step
on the little creature. But Rat nimbly skittered to one side, leaped to
the trousers of Alan's uniform, and from there clambered to his usual
perch aboard his master's shoulder.

Judy gestured at him in frustration, stamped her foot, and dashed away
into the mess hall. Chuckling, Alan followed and found his seat at the
bench assigned to Crewmen of his status quotient.

"Thanks, fellow," he said softly to the little being on his shoulder.
"That's kid's getting to be pretty annoying."

"I figured as much," Rat said in his chittering birdlike voice. "And I
don't like the way she's been looking at me. She's just the kind of
individual who _would_ dump me in a disposal hatch."

"Don't worry about it," Alan said. "If she pulls anything of the sort
I'll personally see to it that she goes out right after you."

"That does _me_ a lot of good," Rat said glumly as Alan's breakfast came
rolling toward him on the plastic conveyor belt from the kitchen.

Alan laughed and reached avidly for the steaming tray of food. He poured
a little of his synthorange juice into a tiny pan for Rat, and fell to.

Rat was a native of Bellatrix VII, an Earth-size windswept world that
orbited the bright star in the Orion constellation. He was a member of
one of the three intelligent races that shared the planet with a small
colony of Earthmen.

The _Valhalla_ had made the long trip to Bellatrix, 215 light-years from
Earth, shortly before Alan's birth. Captain Donnell had won the
friendship of the little creature and had brought him back to the ship
when time came for the _Valhalla_ to return to Earth for its next

Rat had been the Captain's pet, and he had given Alan the small animal
on his tenth birthday. Rat had never gotten along well with Steve, and
more than once he had been the cause of jealous conflicts between Alan
and his twin.

Rat was well named; he looked like nothing so much as a small
bluish-purple rodent, with wise, beady little eyes and a scaly curling
tail. But he spoke Terran clearly and well, and in every respect he was
an intelligent, loyal, and likable creature.

They ate in silence. Alan was halfway through his bowl of protein mix
when Art Kandin dropped down onto his bench facing him. The _Valhalla's_
First Officer was a big pudgy-faced man who had the difficult job of
translating the concise, sometimes almost cryptic commands of Alan's
father into the actions that kept the great starship going.

"Good rising, Alan. And happy birthday."

"Thanks, Art. But how come you're loafing now? Seems to me you'd be busy
as a Martian dustdigger today, of all days. Who's setting up the landing
orbit, if you're here?"

"Oh, that's all been done," Kandin said lightly. "Your Dad and I were up
all last night working out the whole landing procedure." He reached out
and took Rat from Alan's shoulder, and began to tickle him with his
forefinger. Rat responded with a playful nip of his sharp little teeth.
"I'm taking the morning off," Kandin continued. "You can't imagine how
nice it's going to be to sit around doing nothing while everyone else is
working, for a change."

"What's the landing hour?"

"Precisely 1753 tonight. It's all been worked out. We actually are in
the landing orbit now, though the ship's gimbals keep you from feeling
it. We'll touch down tonight and move into the Enclave tomorrow." Kandin
eyed Alan with sudden suspicion. "You're planning to stay in the
Enclave, aren't you?"

Alan put down his fork with a sharp tinny clang and stared levelly at
the First Officer. "That's a direct crack. You're referring to my
brother, aren't you?"

"Who wouldn't be?" Kandin asked quietly. "The captain's son jumping
ship? You don't know how your father suffered when Steve went over the
hill. He kept it all hidden and just didn't say a thing, but I know it
hit him hard. The whole affair was a direct reflection on his authority
as a parent, of course, and that's why he was so upset. He's a man who
isn't used to being crossed."

"I know. He's been on top here so long, with everyone following his
orders, that he can't understand how someone could disobey and jump
ship--especially his own son."

"I hope _you_ don't have any ideas of----"

Alan clipped off Kandin's sentence before it had gotten fully started.
"I don't need advice, Art. I know what's right and wrong. Tell me the
truth--did Dad send you to sound me out?"

Kandin flushed and looked down. "I'm sorry, Alan. I didn't

They fell silent. Alan returned his attention to his breakfast, while
Kandin stared moodily off into the distance.

"You know," the First Officer said finally, "I've been thinking about
Steve. It just struck me that you can't call him your twin any more.
That's one of the strangest quirks of star travel that's been recorded

"I thought of that. He's twenty-six, I'm seventeen, and yet we used to
be twins. But the Fitzgerald Contraction does funny things."

"That's for sure," Kandin said. "Well, time for me to start relaxing."
He clapped Alan on the back, disentangled his long legs from the bench,
and was gone.

_The Fitzgerald Contraction does funny things_, Alan repeated to
himself, as he methodically chewed his way through the rest of his meal
and got on line to bring the dishes to the yawning hopper that would
carry them down to the molecular cleansers. _Real funny things._

He tried to picture what Steve looked like now, nine years older. He

_As velocity approaches that of light, time approaches zero._

That was the key to the universe. _Time approaches zero._ The crew of a
spaceship travelling from Earth to Alpha Centauri at a speed close to
that of light would hardly notice the passage of time on the journey.

It was, of course, impossible ever actually to reach the speed of light.
But the great starships could come close. And the closer they came, the
greater the contraction of time aboard ship.

It was all a matter of relativity. Time is relative to the observer.

Thus travel between the stars was possible. Without the Fitzgerald
Contraction, the crew of a spaceship would age five years en route to
Alpha C, eight to Sirius, ten to Procyon. More than two centuries would
elapse in passage to a far-off star like Bellatrix.

Thanks to the contraction effect, Alpha C was three weeks away, Sirius a
month and a half. Even Bellatrix was just a few years' journey distant.
Of course, when the crew returned to Earth they found things completely
changed; years had passed on Earth, and life had moved on.

Now the _Valhalla_ was back on Earth again for a short stay. On Earth,
starmen congregated at the Enclaves, the cities-within-cities that grew
up at each spaceport. There, starmen mingled in a society of their own,
without attempting to enter the confusing world outside.

Sometimes a Spacer broke away. His ship left him behind, and he became
an Earther. Steve Donnell had done that.

_The Fitzgerald Contraction does funny things._ Alan thought of the
brother he had last seen just a few weeks ago, young, smiling, his own
identical twin--and wondered what the nine extra years had done to him.

_Chapter Two_

Alan dumped his breakfast dishes into the hopper and walked briskly out
of the mess hall. His destination was the Central Control Room, that
long and broad chamber that was the nerve-center of the ship's
activities just as the Common Recreation Room was the center of off-duty
socializing for the Crew.

He found the big board where the assignments for the day were chalked,
and searched down the long lists for his own name.

"You're working with me today, Alan," a quiet voice said.

He turned at the sound of the voice and saw the short, wiry figure of
Dan Kelleher, the cargo chief. He frowned. "I guess we'll be crating
from now till tonight without a stop," he said unhappily.

Kelleher shook his head. "Wrong. There's really not very much work. But
it's going to be cold going. All those chunks of dinosaur meat in the
preserving hold are going to get packed up. It won't be fun."

Alan agreed.

He scanned the board, looking down the rows for the list of cargo crew.
Sure enough, there was his name: _Donnell, Alan_, chalked in under the
big double C. As an Unspecialized Crewman he was shifted from post to
post, filling in wherever he was needed.

"I figure it'll take four hours to get the whole batch crated," Kelleher
said. "You can take some time off now, if you want to. You'll be working
to make up for it soon enough."

"I won't debate the point. Suppose I report to you at 0900?"

"Suits me."

"In case you need me before then, I'll be in my cabin. Just ring me."

Once back in his cabin, a square cubicle in the beehive of single men's
rooms in the big ship's fore section, Alan unslung his pack and took out
the dog-eared book he knew so well. He riffled through its pages. _The
Cavour Theory_, it said in worn gold letters on the spine. He had read
the volume end-to-end at least a hundred times.

"I still can't see why you're so wild on Cavour," Rat grumbled, looking
up from his doll-sized sleeping-cradle in the corner of Alan's cabin.
"If you ever do manage to solve Cavour's equations you're just going to
put yourself and your family right out of business. Hand me my
nibbling-stick, like a good fellow."

Alan gave Rat the much-gnawed stick of Jovian oak which the Bellatrician
used to keep his tiny teeth sharp.

"You don't understand," Alan said. "If we can solve Cavour's work and
develop the hyperdrive, we won't be handicapped by the Fitzgerald
Contraction. What difference does it make in the long run if the
_Valhalla_ becomes obsolete? We can always convert it to the new drive.
The way I see it, if we could only work out the secret of Cavour's
hyperspace drive, we'd----"

"I've heard it all before," Rat said, with a note of boredom in his
reedy voice. "Why, with hyperspace drive you'd be able to flit all over
the galaxy without suffering the time-lag you experience with regular
drive. And then you'd accomplish your pet dream of going everywhere and
seeing everything. Ah! Look at the eyes light up! Look at the radiant
expression! You get starry-eyed every time you start talking about the

Alan opened the book to a dog-eared page. "I know it can be done
eventually. I'm sure of it. I'm even sure Cavour himself actually
succeeded in building a hyperspace vessel."

"Sure," Rat said drily, switching his long tail from side to side. "Sure
he built one. That explains his strange disappearance. Went out like a
snuffed candle, soon as he turned on his drive. Okay, go ahead and build
one--if you can. But don't bother booking passage for me."

"You mean you'd stay behind if I built a hyperspace ship?"

"Sure I would." There was no hesitation in Rat's voice. "I like this
particular space-time continuum very much. I don't care at all to wind
up seventeen dimensions north of here with no way back."

"You're just an old stick-in-the mud." Alan glanced at his wristchron.
It read 0852. "Time for me to get to work. Kelleher and I are packing
frozen dinosaur today. Want to come along?"

Rat wiggled the tip of his nose in a negative gesture. "Thanks all the
same, but the idea doesn't appeal. It's nice and warm here. Run along,
boy; I'm sleepy." He curled up in his cradle, wrapped his tail firmly
around his body, and closed his eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a line waiting at the entrance to the freezer section, and
Alan took his place on it. One by one they climbed into the spacesuits
which the boy in charge provided, and entered the airlock.

For transporting perishable goods--such as the dinosaur meat brought
back from the colony on Alpha C IV to satisfy the heavy demand for that
odd-tasting delicacy on Earth--the _Valhalla_ used the most efficient
freezing system of all: a compartment which opened out into the vacuum
of space. The meat was packed in huge open receptacles which were
flooded just before blastoff; before the meat had any chance to spoil,
the lock was opened, the air fled into space and the compartment's heat
radiated outward. The water froze solid, preserving the meat. It was
just as efficient as building elaborate refrigeration coils, and a good
deal simpler.

The job now was to hew the frozen meat out of the receptacles and get it
packed in manageable crates for shipping. The job was a difficult one.
It called for more muscle than brain.

As soon as all members of the cargo crew were in the airlock, Kelleher
swung the hatch closed and threw the lever that opened the other door
into the freezer section. Photonic relays clicked; the metal door swung
lightly out and they headed through it after Kelleher gave the go-ahead.

Alan and the others set grimly about their work, chopping away at the
ice. They fell to vigorously. After a while, they started to get
somewhere. Alan grappled with a huge leg of meat while two fellow
starmen helped him ease it into a crate. Their hammers pounded down as
they nailed the crate together, but not a sound could be heard in the
airless vault.

After what seemed to be three or four centuries to Alan, but which was
actually only two hours, the job was done. Somehow Alan got himself to
the recreation room; he sank down gratefully on a webfoam pneumochair.

He snapped on a spool of light music and stretched back, completely
exhausted. I don't ever want to see or taste a dinosaur steak again, he
thought. Not ever.

He watched the figures of his crewmates dashing through the ship, each
going about some last-minute job that had to be handled before the ship
touched down. In a way he was glad he had drawn the assignment he had:
it was difficult, gruelingly heavy labor, carried out under nasty
circumstances--it was never fun to spend any length of time doing manual
labor inside a spacesuit, because the sweat-swabbers and the
air-conditioners in the suit were generally always one step behind on
the job--but at least the work came to a definite end. Once all the meat
was packed, the job was done.

The same couldn't be said for the unfortunates who swabbed the floors,
scraped out the jets, realigned the drive mechanism, or did any other
tidying work. Their jobs were _never_ done; they always suffered from
the nagging thought that just a little more work might bring the
inspection rating up a decimal or two.

Every starship had to undergo a rigorous inspection whenever it touched
down on Earth. The _Valhalla_ probably wouldn't have any difficulties,
since it had been gone only nine years Earthtime. But ships making
longer voyages often had troubles with the inspectors. Procedure which
passed inspection on a ship bound out for Rigel or one of the other far
stars might have become a violation in the hundreds of years that would
have passed before its return.

Alan wondered if the _Valhalla_ would run into any inspection problems.
The schedule called for departure for Procyon in six days, and the ship
would as usual be carrying a party of colonists.

The schedule was pretty much of a sacred thing. But Alan had not
forgotten his brother Steve. If he only had a few days to get out there
and maybe find him----

Well, I'll see, he thought. He relaxed.

But relaxation was brief. A familiar high-pitched voice cut suddenly
into his consciousness. _Oh, oh_, he thought. _Here comes trouble._

"How come you've cut jets, spaceman?"

Alan opened one eye and stared balefully at the skinny figure of Judy
Collier. "I've finished my job, that's how come. And I've been trying to
get a little rest. Any objections?"

She held up her hands and looked around the big recreation room
nervously. "Okay, don't shoot. Where's that animal of yours?"

"Rat? Don't worry about him. He's in my cabin, chewing his
nibbling-stick. I can assure you it tastes a lot better to him than your
bony ankles." Alan yawned deliberately. "Now how about letting me rest?"

She looked wounded. "If you _want_ it that way. I just thought I'd tell
you about the doings in the Enclave when we land. There's been a change
in the regulations since the last time we were here. But you wouldn't be
interested, of course." She started to mince away.

"Hey, wait a minute!" Judy's father was the _Valhalla's_ Chief Signal
Officer, and she generally had news from a planet they were landing on
a lot quicker than anyone else. "What's this all about?"

"A new quarantine regulation. They passed it two years ago when a ship
back from Altair landed and the crew turned out to be loaded with some
sort of weird disease. We have to stay isolated even from the other
starmen in the Enclave until we've all had medical checkups."

"Do they require every ship landing to go through this?"

"Yep. Nuisance, isn't it? So the word has come from your father that
since we can't go round visiting until we've been checked, the Crew's
going to have a dance tonight when we touch down."

"A dance?"

"You heard me. He thought it might be a nice idea--just to keep our
spirits up until the quarantine's lifted. That nasty Roger Bond has
invited me," she added, with a raised eyebrow that was supposed to be

"What's wrong with Roger? I just spent a whole afternoon crating
dinosaur meat with him."

"Oh, he's--well--he just doesn't _do_ anything to me."

I'd like to do something to you, Alan thought. Something lingering, with
boiling oil in it.

"Did you accept?" he asked, just to be polite.

"Of course not! Not _yet_, that is. I just thought I might get some more
interesting offers, that's all," she said archly.

_Oh, I see the game_, Alan thought. _She's looking for an invitation._
He stretched way back and slowly let his eyes droop closed. "I wish you
luck," he said.

She gaped at him. "Oh--you're _horrible_!"

"I know," he admitted coolly. "I'm actually a Neptunian mudworm,
completely devoid of emotions. I'm here in disguise to destroy the
Earth, and if you reveal my secret I'll eat you alive."

She ignored his sally and shook her head. "But why do I always have to
go to dances with Roger Bond?" she asked plaintively. "Oh, well. Never
mind," she said, and turned away.

He watched her as she crossed the recreation room floor and stepped
through the exit sphincter. She was just a silly girl, of course, but
she had pointed up a very real problem of starship life when she asked,
"_Why do I always have to go to dances with Roger Bond?_"

The _Valhalla_ was practically a self-contained universe. The Crew was
permanent; no one ever left, unless it was to jump ship the way Steve
had--and Steve was the only Crewman in the _Valhalla's_ history to do
that. And no one new ever came aboard, except in the case of the
infrequent changes of personnel. Judy Collier herself was one of the
newest members of the Crew, and her family had come aboard five ship
years ago, because a replacement signal officer had been needed.

Otherwise, things remained the same. Two or three dozen families, a few
hundred people, living together year in and year out. No wonder Judy
Collier always had to go to dances with Roger Bond. The actual range of
eligibles was terribly limited.

That was why Steve had gone over the hill. What was it he had said? _I
feel the walls of the ship holding me in like the bars of a cell._ Out
there was Earth, population approximately eight billion or so. And up
here is the _Valhalla_, current population precisely 176.

He knew all 176 of them like members of his own family--which they
were, in a sense. There was nothing mysterious about anyone, nothing

And that was what Steve had wanted: something new. So he had jumped
ship. Well, Alan thought, development of a hyperdrive would change the
whole setup, if--if----

He hardly found the quarantine to his liking either. The starmen had
only a brief stay on Earth, with just the shortest opportunity to go
down to the Enclave, mingle with starmen from other ships, see a new
face, trade news of the starways. It was almost criminal to deprive them
of even a few hours of it.

Well, a dance was the second best thing. But it was a pretty distant
second, he thought, as he pushed himself up out of the pneumochair.

He looked across the recreation room. _Speak of the devil_, he thought.
There was Roger Bond now, stretched out and resting too under a
radiotherm lamp. Alan walked over to him.

"Heard the sad news, Rog?"

"About the quarantine? Yeah." Roger glanced at his wristchron. "Guess
I'd better start getting spruced up for the dance," he said, getting to
his feet. He was a short, good-looking, dark-haired boy a year younger
than Alan.

"Going with anyone special?"

Roger shook his head. "Who, special? Who, I ask you? I'm going to take
skinny Judy Collier, I guess. There's not much choice, is there?"

"No," Alan agreed sadly, "Not much choice at all."

Together they left the recreation room. Alan felt a strange sort of
hopeless boredom spreading over him, as if he had entered a gray fog. It
worried him.

"See you tonight," Roger said.

"I suppose so," Alan returned dully. He was frowning.

_Chapter Three_

The _Valhalla_ touched down on Earth at 1753 on the nose, to nobody's
very great surprise. Captain Mark Donnell had not missed schedule once
in his forty ship years in space, which covered a span of over a
thousand years of Earth's history.

Landing procedure was rigidly set. The Crew debarked by family, in order
of signing-on; the only exception to the order was Alan. As a member of
the Captain's family--the only other member, now--he had to wait till
the rest of the ship was cleared. But his turn came eventually.

"Solid ground again, Rat!" They stood on the jet-fused dirt field where
the _Valhalla_ had landed. The great golden-hulled starship was reared
up on its tail, with its huge landing buttresses flaring out at each
side to keep it propped up.

"Solid for _you_, maybe," Rat said. "But the trip's just as wobbly as
ever for me, riding up here on your shoulder."

Captain Donnell's shrill whistle sounded, and he cupped his hands to
call out, "The copters are here!"

Alan watched the little squadron of gray jetcopters settle to the
ground, rotors slowing, and headed forward along with the rest of the
Crew. The copters would take them from the bare landing field of the
spaceport to the Enclave, where they would spend the next six days.

The Captain was supervising the loading of the copters. Alan sauntered
over to him.

"Where to, son?"

"I'm scheduled to go over in Copter One."

"Uh-uh. I've changed the schedule." Captain Donnell turned away and
signalled to the waiting crew members. "Okay, go ahead and fill up
Copter One!"

They filed aboard. "Everyone get back," the Captain yelled. A tentative
_chugg-chuff_ came from the copter; its rotors went round and it lifted,
stood poised for a moment on its jetwash, and shot off northward toward
the Starmen's Enclave.

"What's this about a change in schedule, Dad?"

"I want you to ride over with me in the two-man copter. Kandin took your
place aboard Copter One. Let's go now," he shouted to the next group.
"Start loading up Number Two."

The Crewmen began taking their places aboard the second copter, and soon
its pilot signalled through the fore window that he was loaded up. The
copter departed. Seeing that he would be leaving the field last, Alan
made himself useful by keeping the younger Crew children from wandering.

At last the field was cleared. Only Alan and his father remained, with
the little two-man copter and the tall gleaming _Valhalla_ behind them.

"Let's go," the Captain said. They climbed in, Alan strapping himself
down in the co-pilot's chair and his father back of the controls.

"I never see much of you these days," the Captain said after they were
aloft. "Running the _Valhalla_ seems to take twenty-four hours a day."

"I know how it is," Alan said.

After a while Captain Donnell said, "I see you're still reading that
Cavour book." He chuckled. "Still haven't given up the idea of finding
the hyperdrive, have you?"

"You know I haven't, Dad. I'm sure Cavour really did work it out, before
he disappeared. If we could only discover his notebook, or even a letter
or something that could get us back on the trail----"

"It's been thirteen hundred years since Cavour disappeared, Alan. If
nothing of his has turned up in all that time, it's not likely ever to
show. But I hope you keep at it, anyway." He banked the copter and cut
the jets; the rotors took over and gently lowered the craft to the
distant landing field.

Alan looked down and out at the heap of buildings becoming visible
below. The crazy quilt of outdated, clumsy old buildings that was the
local Starmen's Enclave.

He felt a twinge of surprise at his father's words. The Captain had
never shown any serious interest in the possibility of faster-than-light
travel before. He had always regarded the whole idea as sheer fantasy.

"I don't get it, Dad. Why do you hope I keep at it? If I ever find what
I'm looking for, it's going to mean the end of Starman life as you know
it. Travel between planets will be instantaneous. There--there won't be
this business of making jumps and getting separated from everyone you
used to know."

"You're right. I've just begun thinking seriously about this business
of hyperdrive. There wouldn't be any Contraction effect. Think of the
changes it would mean in Starman society! No more--no more permanent
separations if someone decides to leave his ship for a while."

Alan understood what his father meant. Suddenly he saw the reason for
Captain Donnell's abrupt growth of interest in the development of a

_It's Steve that's on his mind_, Alan thought. _If we had had a
hyperspace drive and Steve had done what he did, it wouldn't have
mattered. He'd still be my age._

Now the _Valhalla_ was about to journey to Procyon. Another twenty years
would pass before it got back, and Steve would be almost fifty by then.

That's what's on his mind, Alan thought. He lost Steve forever--but he
doesn't want any more Steves to happen. The Contraction took one of his
sons away. And now he wants the hyperdrive as much as I do.

Alan glanced at the stiff, erect figure of his father as they clambered
out of the copter and headed at a fast clip toward the Administration
Building of the Enclave. He wondered just how much pain and anguish his
father was keeping hidden back of that brisk, efficient exterior.

_I'll get the Cavour drive someday_, Alan thought suddenly. _And I'll be
getting it for him as well as me._

The bizarre buildings of the Enclave loomed up before him. Behind them,
just visible in the purplish twilight haze, were the tips of the shining
towers of the Earther city outside. Somewhere out there, probably, was

_I'll find him too_, Alan thought firmly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Most of the _Valhalla's_ people had already been assigned rooms in the
quarantine section of one of the Enclave buildings when Alan and his
father arrived.

The bored-looking desk clerk--a withered-looking oldster who was
probably a retired Starman--gave Alan his room number. It turned out to
be a small, squarish room furnished with an immense old pneumochair long
since deflated, a cot, and a washstand. The wall was a dull green, with
gaping cracks in the faded paint, and cut heavily with a penknife into
one wall was the inscription, BILL DANSERT SLEPT HERE, _June 28 2683_ in
sturdy block letters.

Alan wondered how many other starmen had occupied the room before and
after Bill Dansert. He wondered whether perhaps Bill Dansert himself
were still alive somewhere between the stars, twelve centuries after he
had left his name in the wall.

He dropped himself into the pneumochair, feeling the soggy squish of the
deflated cushion, and loosened the jacket of his uniform.

"It's not luxurious," he told Rat. "But at least it's a room. It's a
place to stay."

The medics started coming around that evening, checking to see that none
of the newly-arrived starmen had happened to bring back any strange
disease that might cause trouble. It was slow work--and the _Valhalla_
people were told that it would take at least until the following morning
before the quarantine could be lifted.

"Just a precautionary measure," said the medic apologetically as he
entered Alan's room clad in a space helmet. "We really learned our
lesson when that shipload from Altair came in bearing a plague."

The medic produced a small camera and focused it on Alan. He pressed a
button; a droning sort of hum came from the machine. Alan felt a curious
glow of warmth.

"Just a routine check," the medic apologized again. He flipped a lever
in the back of the camera. Abruptly the droning stopped and a tape
unravelled out of the side of the machine. The medic studied it.

"Any trouble?" Alan asked anxiously.

"Looks okay to me. But you might get that cavity in your upper right
wisdom tooth taken care of. Otherwise you seem in good shape."

He rolled up the tape. "Don't you starmen ever get time for a fluorine
treatment? Some of you have the worst teeth I've ever seen."

"We haven't had a chance for fluorination yet. Our ship was built before
they started fluorinating the water supplies, and somehow we never find
time to take the treatment while we're on Earth. But is that all that's
wrong with me?"

"All that I can spot just by examining the diagnostic tape. We'll have
to wait for the full lab report to come through before I can pass you
out of quarantine, of course." Then he noticed Rat perched in the
corner. "How about that? I'll have to examine it, too."

"I'm not an _it_," Rat remarked with icy dignity. "I'm an intelligent
extra-terrestrial entity, native of Bellatrix VII. And I'm not carrying
any particular diseases that would interest you."

"A talking rat!" The medic was amazed. "Next thing we'll have sentient
amebas!" He aimed the camera at Rat. "I suppose I'll have to record you
as a member of the crew," he said, as the camera began to hum.

After the medic had gone, Alan tried to freshen up at the washstand,
having suddenly recalled that a dance was on tap for this evening.

As he wearily went through the motions of scrubbing his face clean, it
occurred to him that he had not even bothered to speak to one of the
seven or eight Crew girls he had considered inviting.

He sensed a curious disturbed feeling growing inside him. He felt
depressed. Was this, he wondered, what Steve had gone through? The wish
to get out of this tin can of a ship and really see the universe?

"Tell me, Rat. If you were me----"

"If I were you I'd get dressed for that dance," Rat said sharply. "If
you've got a date, that is."

"That's just the point. I _don't_ have a date. I mean, I didn't bother
to make one. I know all those girls so well. Why bother?"

"So you're not going to the dance?"


Rat clambered up the arm of the pneumochair and swivelled his head
upward till his glittering little eyes met Alan's. "You're not planning
to go over the hill the way Steve did, are you? I can spot the symptoms.
You look restless and fidgety the way your brother did."

After a moment of silence Alan shook his head. "No. I couldn't do that,
Rat. Steve was the wild kind. I'd never be able just to get up and go,
the way he did. But I've got to do _something_. I know what he meant. He
said the walls of the ship were pressing in on him. Holding him back."

With a sudden impatient motion he ripped open the magnesnaps of his
regulation shirt and took it off. He felt himself changing, inside.
Something was happening to him. Maybe, he thought, he was catching
whatever it was Steve had been inflamed by. Maybe he had been lying to
himself all along, about being different in makeup from Steve.

"Go tell the Captain I'm not going to the dance," he ordered Rat.
"Otherwise he'll wonder where I am. Tell him--tell him I'm too tired, or
something. Tell him anything. But don't let him find out how I feel."

_Chapter Four_

The next morning, Roger Bond told him all about the dance.

"It was the dullest thing you could imagine. Same old people, same dusty
old dances. Couple of people asked me where you were, but I didn't tell
them anything."


They wandered on through the heap of old, ugly buildings that composed
the Starmen's Enclave. "It's just as well they think I was sick," Alan
said. "I was, anyway. Sick from boredom."

He and Roger sat down carefully on the edge of a crumbling stone bench.
They said nothing, just looking around. After a long while Alan broke
the uncomfortable silence.

"You know what this place is? It's a ghetto. A self-imposed ghetto.
Starmen are scared silly of going out into the Earther cities, so they
keep themselves penned up in this filthy place instead."

"This place is really old. I wonder how far back those run-down
buildings date."

"Thousand years, maybe more. No one ever bothers to build new ones. What
for? The starmen don't mind living in the old ones."

"I almost wish the medical clearance hadn't come through after all,"
said Roger moodily.

"How so?"

"Then we'd be still quarantined up there. We wouldn't be able to come
down and get another look at the kind of place this really is."

"I don't know which is worse--to be cooped up in quarantine or to go
wandering around a dismal hole like the Enclave." Alan stood up,
stretched, and took a deep breath. "Phew! Get a lungful of that sweet,
fresh, allegedly pure Terran air! I'll take ship atmosphere, stale as it
is, any time over this smoggy soup."

"I'll go along with that. Say, look--a strange face!"

Alan turned and saw a young starman of about his own age coming toward
them. He wore a red uniform with gray trim instead of the
orange-and-blue of the _Valhalla_.

"Welcome, newcomers. I suppose you're from that ship that just put down?
The _Valhalla_?"

"Right. Name's Alan Donnell, and this is Roger Bond. Yours?"

"I'm Kevin Quantrell." He was short and stocky, heavily tanned, with a
square jaw and a confident look about him. "I'm out of the starship
_Encounter_, just back from the Aldebaran system. Been in the Enclave
two weeks now--with a lot more ahead of me."

Alan whistled. "Aldebaran! That's--let's see, 109 years round trip. You
must be a real old-timer, Quantrell!"

"I was born in 3403. Makes me 473 years old, Earthtime. But I'm
actually only seventeen and a half. Right before Aldebaran we made a hop
to Capella, and that used up 85 years more in a hurry."

"You've got me by 170 years," Alan said. "But I'm only seventeen

Quantrell grinned cockily. "It's a good thing some guy thought up this
Tally system of chalking up every real day you live through. Otherwise
we'd be up to here in confusion all the time."

He leaned boredly against the wall of a rickety building which once had
proudly borne the chrome-steel casing characteristic of early 27th
Century architecture, but whose outer surface was now brown and scaly
from rust. "What do you think of our little paradise?" Quantrell asked
sarcastically. "Certainly puts the Earther cities to shame."

He pointed out across the river, where the tall, glistening buildings of
the adjoining Earther city shone in the morning sunlight.

"Have you ever been out there?" Alan asked.

"No," Quantrell said in a tight voice. "But if this keeps up much
longer----" He clenched and unclenched his fists impatiently.

"What's the trouble?"

"It's my ship--the _Encounter_. We were outspace over a century, you
know, and when we got back the inspection teams found so many things
wrong with the ship that she needs just about a complete overhauling.
They've been working her over for the last two weeks, and the way it
looks it'll be another couple of weeks before she's ready to go. And I
don't know how much longer I can stand being penned up in this

"That's exactly how your brother----" Roger started to say, and stopped.

"That's okay," Alan said.

Quantrell cocked an eye. "What's that?"

"My brother. I had a twin, but he got restless and jumped ship last time
we were down. He got left behind at blastoff time."

Quantrell nodded understandingly. "Too bad. But I know what he was up
against--and I envy the lucky so-and-so. I wish _I_ had the guts to just
walk out like that. Every day that goes by in this place, I say I'm
going over the hill next day. But I never do, somehow. I just sit here
and wait."

Alan glanced down the quiet sun-warmed street. Here and there a couple
of venerable-looking starmen were sitting, swapping stories of their
youth--a youth that had been a thousand years before. The Enclave, Alan
thought, is a place for old men.

They walked on for a while until the buzzing neon signs of a feelie
theater were visible. "I'm going in," Roger said. "This place is
starting to depress me. You?"

Alan shot a glance at Quantrell, who made a face and shook his head. "I
guess I'll skip it," Alan said. "Not just now."

"Count me out too," Quantrell said.

Roger looked sourly from one to the other, and shrugged. "I think I'll
go all the same. I'm in the mood for a good show. See you around, Alan."

After Roger left them, Alan and Quantrell walked on through the Enclave
together. Alan wondered whether it wasn't a good idea to have gone to
the feelie with Roger after all; the Enclave was starting to depress
him, too, and those three-dimensional shows had a way of taking your
mind off things.

But he was curious about Quantrell. It wasn't often he had a chance to
talk with someone his own age from another ship. "You know," he said,
"we starmen lead an empty life. You don't get to realize it until you
come to the Enclave."

"I decided that a long time ago," Quantrell said.

Alan spread his hands. "What do we do? We dash back and forth through
space, and we huddle here in the Enclave. And we don't like either one
or the other, but we fool ourselves into liking them. When we're in
space we can't wait to get to the Enclave, and once we're down here we
can't wait to get back. Some life."

"Got any suggestions? Some way of fixing things up for us without
queering interstellar commerce?"

"Yes," Alan snapped. "I do have a suggestion. Hyperspace drive!"

Quantrell laughed harshly. "Of all the cockeyed----"

"There you are," Alan said angrily. "First thing you do is laugh. A
spacewarp drive is just some hairbrained scheme to you. But haven't you
ever considered that Earth's scientists won't bother developing such a
drive for us if we don't care ourselves? They're just as happy the way
things are. _They_ don't have to worry about the Fitzgerald

"But there's been steady research on a hyperdrive, hasn't there? Ever
since Cavour, I thought."

"On and off. But they don't take it very seriously and they don't get
anywhere with it. If they'd really put some men to work they'd find
it--and then there wouldn't be any more Enclaves or any Fitzgerald
Contraction, and we starmen could live normal lives."

"And your brother--he wouldn't be cut off from his people the way he

"Sure. But you laughed instead of thinking."

Quantrell looked contrite. "Sorry. Guess I didn't put much jet behind my
think-machine that time. But a hyperdrive would wipe out the Enclave
system, wouldn't it?"

"Of course! We'd be able to come home from space and take a normal part
in Earth's life, instead of pulling away and segregating ourselves

Alan looked up at the seemingly unreachable towers of the Earther city
just across the river from the Enclave. Somewhere out there was Steve.
And perhaps somewhere out there was someone he could talk to about the
hyperdrive, someone influential who might spur the needed research.

The Earther city seemed to be calling to him. It was a voice that was
hard to resist. He savagely jammed down deep inside him the tiny inner
voice that was trying to object. He turned, looking backward at the
dingy dreary buildings of the Enclave.

He looked then at Quantrell. "You said you've been wanting to break
loose. You want to get out of the Enclave, eh, Kevin?"

"Yes," Quantrell said slowly.

Alan felt excitement beginning to pound hard in the pit of his stomach.
"How'd you like to go outside there with me? See the Earther city?"

"You mean _jump ship_?"

The naked words, put just that bluntly, stung. "No," Alan said, thinking
of how his father's face had gone stony the time Alan had told him Steve
wasn't coming back. "I mean just going out for a day or so--a sort of
change of air. It's five days till the _Valhalla's_ due to blast off,
and you say the _Encounter_ is stuck here indefinitely. We could just go
for a day or so--just to see what it's like out there."

Quantrell was silent a long time.

"Just for a day or so?" he asked, at last. "We'll just go out, and have
a look around, just to see what it's like out there." He fell silent
again. Alan saw a little trickle of sweat burst out on Quantrell's
cheek. He felt strangely calm himself, a little to his own surprise.

Then Quantrell smiled and the confidence returned to his tanned face.
"I'm game. Let's go!"

But Rat was quizzical about the whole enterprise when Alan returned to
his room to get him.

"You aren't serious, Alan. You really are going over to the Earther

Alan nodded and gestured for the little extra-terrestrial to take his
usual perch. "Are you daring to take my word in vain, Rat?" he asked in
mock histrionics. "When I say I'm going to do something, I do it." He
snapped closed his jacket and flipped the switch controlling the archaic
fluorescent panels. "Besides, you can always stay here if you want to,
you know."

"Never mind," Rat said. "I'm coming." He leaped up and anchored himself
securely on Alan's shoulder.

Kevin Quantrell was waiting for them in front of the building. As Alan
emerged Rat said, "One question, Alan."


"Level, now: are you coming back--or are you going over the way Steve

"You ought to know me better than that. I've got reasons for going out,
but they're not Steve's reasons."

"I hope so."

Quantrell came up to them, and it seemed to Alan that there was
something unconvincing about his broad grin. He looked nervous. Alan
wondered whether he looked the same way.

"All set?" Quantrell asked.

"Set as I'll ever be. Let's go."

Alan looked around to see if anybody he knew might be watching. There
was no one around. Quantrell started walking, and Alan fell in behind

"I hope you know where you're going," Alan said. "Because I don't."

Kevin pointed down the long winding street. "We go down to the foot of
this street, turn right into Carhill Boulevard, head down the main drive
toward the bridge. The Earther city is on the other side of the river."

"You better be right."

They made it at a fairly good clip through the sleepy Enclave, passing
rapidly through the old, dry, dusty streets. Finally they came to the
end of the street and rounded the corner onto Carhill Boulevard.

The first thing Alan saw was the majestic floating curve of the bridge.
Then he saw the Earther city, a towering pile of metal and masonry that
seemed to be leaping up into the sky ahead of them, completely filling
the view.

Alan pointed to the bridge-mouth. "That's where we go across, isn't it?"

But Quantrell hung back. He stopped in his tracks, staring dangle-jawed
at the immense city facing them.

"There it is," he said quietly.

"Sure. Let's go, eh?" Alan felt a sudden burst of impatience and started
heading toward the approach to the bridge.

But after three or four paces he realized Quantrell was not with him. He
turned and saw the other spaceman still rooted to the ground, gazing up
at the vast Earther city as if in narcoshock.

"It's big," Quantrell murmured. "_Too_ big."

"_Kevin!_ What's wrong?"

"Leave him alone," Rat whispered. "I have a hunch he won't be going with

Alan watched in astonishment as Quantrell took two steps hesitantly
backward away from the bridge, then a third. There was a strange, almost
thunderstruck expression on Kevin's face.

Then he broke out of it. He shook his head.

"We aren't really going across--huh, Donnell?" He gave a brittle little

"Of course we are!" Alan looked around nervously, hoping no one from the
_Valhalla_ had spotted him in all this time. Puzzled at Quantrell's
sudden hesitation after his earlier cockiness, Alan took a couple of
shuffling steps toward the bridge, slowly, keeping his eyes on the other

"I can't go with you," Kevin finally managed to say. His face was
flushed and strained-looking. He was staring upward at the seemingly
topless towers of the city. "It's too big for me." He choked back a
half-whimper. "The trouble with me is--the--trouble--with--me--is----"
Quantrell lowered his head and met Alan's stare. "I'm afraid, Donnell.
Stinking sweaty afraid. The city's too big."

Red-faced, he turned and walked away, back up the street.

Alan silently watched him go.

"Imagine that. Afraid!"

"It's a big place," Rat warned. "Don't you feel the same way? Just a

"I feel perfectly calm," Alan said in utter sincerity. "I know why I'm
going over there, and I'm anxious to get moving. I'm not running away,
the way Steve was. I'm going to the Earther city to find my brother and
to find Cavour's drive, and to bring them both back here!"

"That's a tall order, Alan."

"I'll do it."

Alan reached the approach to the bridge in a few more brisk steps and
paused there. The noonday sun turned the long arch of the bridge into a
golden ribbon in the sky. A glowing sign indicated the pedestrian
walkway. Above that, shining teardrop autos whirred by, leaving faint
trails of exhaust. Alan followed the arrows and soon found himself on
the bridge, heading for the city.

He glanced back a last time. There was no sign of Kevin. The Starmen's
Enclave seemed utterly quiet, almost dead.

Then he turned and kept his gaze forward. The Earther city was waiting
for him.

_Chapter Five_

He reached the end of the walkway and paused, a little stunned, staring
at the incredible immensity of the city spread out before him.

"It's a big place," he said. "I've never been in a city this big."

"You were born here," Rat reminded him.

Alan laughed. "But I only stayed here a week or two at most. And that
was three hundred years ago. The city's probably twice as big now as it
was then. It----"

"Hey, you! Move on!" a harsh voice from behind snapped suddenly.

"What's that?"

Alan whirled and saw a tall, bored-looking man in a silver-gray uniform
with gleaming luminescent bands across the sleeves, standing on a raised
platform above the road.

"You can't just stand here and block the walkway," the tall man said.
His words were heavily accented, thickly guttural; Alan had a little
trouble understanding them. The ship's language never changed; that of
Earth kept constantly evolving. "Get back in the Enclave where you
belong, or get moving, but don't stand here or I'll punch your ticket
for you."

Alan took a couple of steps forward. "Just hold on a minute. Who----"

"He's a policeman, Alan," Rat said softly. "Don't make trouble. Do as he

Throttling his sudden anger, Alan nodded curtly at the officer and
stepped off the walkway. He was an outsider here, and knew he couldn't
expect the sort of warm fellowship that existed aboard the ship.

This was a city. A crowded, uncomfortable Earther city. These were the
people who were left behind, who never saw the stars in naked glory.
They weren't going to be particularly polite.

Alan found himself at an intersection, and wondered where he was to
begin. He had some vague idea of finding Steve in this city as easily as
he might aboard ship--just check the A Deck roster, then the B Deck, and
so on until he found him. But cities weren't quite that neatly
organized, Alan realized.

A long broad street ran parallel to the river. It didn't seem very
promising: lined with office buildings and warehouses. At right angles
to it, though, stretching out in front of him, was a colorful, crowded
avenue that appeared to be a major artery of the city. He glanced
tentatively in both directions, waited till a lull came in the steady
procession of tiny bullet-shaped automobiles flashing by, and hastily
jogged across the waterfront street and started down the avenue.

Maybe there was some kind of register of population at the City Hall.
If Steve still lived in this city, he could look him up that way. If

Facing him were two rows of immense buildings, one on each side of the
street. Above every three blocks there was a lacy aerial passageway
connecting a building on one side of the street with one on the other,
high above the ground. Alan looked up and saw black dots--they looked
like ants, but they were people--making their way across the
flexi-bridges at dizzying altitudes.

The streets were crowded. Busy stern-faced people raced madly from one
place to the next; Alan was accustomed to the more orderly and peaceful
life of a starship, and found himself getting jostled by passersby from
both directions.

He was surprised to find the streets full of peddlers, weary-looking
little men trundling along behind small slow-moving self-powered
monocars full of vegetables and other produce. Every few moments one
would stop and hawk his wares. As Alan started hesitantly up the
endless-seeming street, one of the venders stopped virtually in front of
him and looked at him imploringly. He was a small untidy-looking man
with a dirty face and a red scar streaking his left cheek.

"Hey, boy." He spoke in a soft slurred voice. "Hey, boy. Got something
nice for you here."

Alan looked at him, puzzled. The vender reached into his cart and pulled
out a long yellow fruit with a small, thick green stem at one end. "Go
on, boy. Treat yourself to some of these. Guild-grown, fresh-ripened,
best there are. Half a credit for this one." He held it almost under
Alan's nose. "Go on," he said insistently.

Alan fished in his pocket and produced one of the half-credit pieces he
had been given in the Enclave commissary. For all he knew it was the
custom of this city for a new arrival to buy the first thing offered to
him by a vender; in any event, he was hungry, and it seemed that this
was the easiest way to get rid of the little man. He held out the coin.

"Here. I'll take it."

The vender handed the piece of fruit over and Alan accepted it. He
studied it, wondering what he was supposed to do now. It had a thick,
tough rind that didn't seem at all appetizing.

The vender chuckled. "What's the matter, boy? Never seen a banana
before? Or ain't you hungry?" The little man's derisive face was thrust
up almost against Alan's chin.

He backed away a step or two. "Banana? Oh, sure."

He put the end of the banana in his mouth and was just about to take a
bite when a savage burst of laughter cut him off.

"Looka him!" the vender cried. "Stupid spacer don't even know how to eat
a banana! Looka! Looka!"

Alan took the fruit out of his mouth unbitten and stared
uncomprehendingly at it. He felt uneasy; nothing in his past experience
had prepared him for deliberate hostility on the part of other people.
Aboard ship, you did your job and went your way; you didn't force your
presence on other people or poke fun at them maliciously. It was the
only way to live when you had to spend your whole lifetime with the same
shipload of men and women.

But the little vender wasn't going away. He seemed very amused by
everything. "You--you a spacer, no?" he demanded. By now a small crowd
had paused and was watching the scene.

Alan nodded.

"Lemme show you how, spacer," the vender said, mockery topmost in his
tone. He snatched the banana back from Alan and ripped back the rind
with three rough snaps of his wrist. "Go on. Eat it this way. She tastes
better without the peel." He laughed raucously. "Looka the spacer!"

Someone else in the crowd said, "What's he doing in the city anyway? He
jump ship?"

"Yeah? Why ain't he in the Enclave like all the rest of them?"

Alan looked from one to the other with a troubled expression on his
face. He didn't want to touch off any serious incident, but he was
determined not to let these Earthers push him around, either. He ignored
the ring of hostile faces about him and calmly bit into the banana. The
unfamiliar taste pleased him. Despite hoots and catcalls from the crowd
he finished it.

"Now the spacer knows how to eat a banana," the vender commented acidly.
"Here, spacer. Have another."

"I don't want another."

"Huh? No good? Earth fruits are _too_ good for you, starman. You better
learn that fast."

"Let's get out of here," Rat said quietly.

It was sensible advice. These people were just baiting him like a bunch
of hounds ringing a hare. He flexed his shoulder in a signal that meant
he agreed with Rat's suggestion.

"Have another banana," the vender repeated obstinately.

Alan looked around at the crowd. "I said I didn't want another banana,
and I _don't_ want one. Now get out of my way!"

No one moved. The vender and his monocar blocked the path.

"Get out of my way, I said." Alan balled the slimy banana peel up in his
hand and rammed it suddenly into the vender's face. "There. Chew on that
a while."

He shouldered his way past the spluttering fruit vender, and before
anyone in the crowd could say or do anything he was halfway down the
street, walking briskly. He lost himself in the passing stream of
pedestrians. It was easy to do, despite the conspicuous orange-and-blue
of his _Valhalla_ uniform. There were so many people.

He went on for two unmolested blocks, walking quickly without looking
back. Finally he decided he was safe. He glanced up at Rat. The little
extra-terrestrial was sitting patiently astride his shoulder, deep, as
usual, in some mysterious thoughts of his own.


"What, Alan?"

"Why'd they do that? Why did those people act that way? I was a perfect
stranger. They had no business making trouble for me."

"That's precisely it--you _were_ a complete stranger. They don't love
you for it. You're 300 years old and still 17 at the same time. They
can't understand that. These people don't like starmen very much. The
people in this city aren't ever going to see the stars, Alan. Stars are
just faint specks of light that peek through the city haze at night.
They're terribly, terribly jealous of you--and this is the way they show

"Jealous? But why? If they only knew what a starman's life is like, with
the Contraction and all! If they could only see what it is to leave your
home and never be able to go back----"

"They can't see it, Alan. All they can see is that you have the stars
and they don't. They resent it."

Alan shrugged. "Let them go to space, then, if they don't like it here.
No one's stopping them."

They walked on silently for a while. Alan continued to revolve the
incident in his mind. He realized he had a lot to learn about people,
particularly Earther people. He could handle himself pretty well aboard
ship, but down on Earth he was a rank greenhorn and he'd have to step

He looked gloomily at the maze of streets before him and half-wished he
had stayed in the Enclave, where starmen belonged. But somewhere out
ahead of him was Steve. And somewhere, too, he might find the answer to
the big problem, that of finding the hyperspace drive.

But it was a tall order. And he had no idea where to begin. First thing
to do, he thought, is find someone halfway friendly-looking and ask if
there's a central directory of citizens. Track down Steve, if possible.
Time's running out. The _Valhalla_ pulls out in a couple of days.

There were plenty of passersby--but they all looked like the kind that
would keep on moving without answering his question. He stopped.

"_Come right in here!_" a cold metallic voice rasped, almost back of his
ear. Startled, Alan looked leftward and saw a gleaming multiform robot
standing in front of what looked like a shop of some sort.

"Come right in here!" the robot repeated, a little less forcefully now
that it had caught Alan's attention. "One credit can win you ten; five
can get you a hundred. Right in here, friend."

Alan stepped closer and peered inside. Through the dim dark blue window
he could vaguely make out long rows of tables, with men seated before
each one. From inside came the hard sound of another robot voice,
calling off an endless string of numbers.

"Don't just stand there staring, friend," the robot urged. "Go right on
through the door."

Alan nudged Rat quizzically. "What is it?"

"I'm a stranger here too. But I'd guess it was some sort of gambling

Alan jingled the few coins he had in his pocket. "If we had time I'd
like to stop off. But----"

"Go ahead, friend, go ahead," the robot crooned, his metallic tones
somehow managing to sound almost human in their urgent pleading. "Go on
in. One credit can win you ten. Five can get you a hundred."

"Some other time," Alan said.

"But, friend--one credit can win you----"

"I know."

"--ten," the robot continued, undismayed. "Five can get you a hundred."
By this time the robot had edged out into the street, blocking Alan's

"Are we going to have trouble with you too? It looks like everybody in
this city is trying to sell something."

The robot pointed invitingly toward the door. "Why not try it?" it
cooed. "Simplest game ever devised. Everybody wins! Go on in, friend."

Alan frowned impatiently. He was getting angrier and angrier at the
robot's unceasing sales pitch. Aboard ship, no one coaxed you to do
anything; if it was an assigned job, you did it without arguing, and if
you were on free time you were your own master.

"I don't want to play your stupid game!"

The robot's blank stainless vanadium face showed no display of feeling
whatsoever. "That's not the right attitude, friend. _Everyone_ plays the

Ignoring him, Alan started to walk ahead, but the robot skipped lithely
around to block him. "Won't you go in just once?"

"Look," Alan said. "I'm a free citizen and I don't want to be subjected
to this sort of stuff. Now get out of my way and leave me alone before I
take a can opener to you."

"That's not the right attitude. I'm just asking you as a friend----"

"And I'm answering you as one. Let me go!"

"Calm down," Rat whispered.

"They've got no business putting a machine out here to bother people
like this," Alan said hotly. He took a few more steps and the robot
plucked at his sleeve.

"Is that a final refusal?" A trace of incredulity crept into the robot's
voice. "Everyone plays the game, you know. It's unconsumerlike to
refuse. It's uncitylike. It's bad business. It's unrotational. It's----"

Exasperated, Alan pushed the robot out of the way--hard. The metal
creature went over surprisingly easily, and thudded to the pavement with
a dull clanking sound.

"Are you sure----" the robot began, and then the voice was replaced by
the humming sound of an internal clashing of unaligned gears.

"I guess I broke it." Alan looked down at the supine robot. "But it
wasn't my fault. It wouldn't let me pass."

"We'd better move on," Rat said. But it was too late. A burly man in a
black cloak threw open the door of the gambling parlor and confronted

"What sort of stuff is this, fellow? What have you done to our servo?"

"That thing wouldn't let me pass. It caught hold of me and tried to drag
me inside your place."

"So what? That's what he's for. Robohucksters are perfectly legal."
Disbelief stood out on the man's face. "You mean you don't want to go

"That has nothing to do with it. Even if I _did_ want to go in, I
wouldn't--not after the way your robot tried to push me."

"Watch out, kid. Don't make trouble. That's unrotational talk. You can
get in trouble. Come on inside and have a game or two, and I'll forget
the whole thing. I won't even bill you for repairs on my servo."

"Bill me? I ought to sue you for obstructing the streets! And I just got
through telling your robot that I didn't plan to waste any time gambling
at your place."

The other's lips curled into a half-sneer, half-grin. "Why not?"

"My business," Alan said stubbornly. "Leave me alone." He stalked
angrily away, inwardly raging at this Earther city where things like
this could happen.

"Don't ever let me catch you around here again!" the parlor man shouted
after him. Alan lost himself once again in the crowd, but not before he
caught the final words: "You filthy spacer!"

_Filthy spacer._ Alan winced. Again the blind, unreasoning hatred of the
unhappy starmen. The Earthers were jealous of something they certainly
wouldn't want if they could experience the suffering involved.

Suddenly, he realized he was very tired.

He had been walking over an hour, and he was not used to it. The
_Valhalla_ was a big ship, but you could go from end to end in less than
an hour, and very rarely did you stay on your feet under full grav for
long as an hour. Working grav was .93 Earth-normal, and that odd .07%
made quite a difference. Alan glanced down at his boots, mentally
picturing his sagging arches.

He had to find someone who could give him a clue toward Steve. For all
he knew, one of the men he had brushed against that day was Steve--a
Steve grown older and unrecognizable in what had been, to Alan, a few
short weeks.

Around the corner he saw a park--just a tiny patch of greenery, two or
three stunted trees and a bench, but it was a genuine park. It looked
almost forlorn surrounded by the giant skyscrapers.

There was a man on the bench--the first relaxed-looking man Alan had
seen in the city so far. He was about thirty or thirty-five, dressed in
a baggy green business suit with tarnished brass studs. His face was
pleasantly ugly--nose a little too long, cheeks hollow, chin a bit too
apparent. And he was smiling. He looked friendly.

"Excuse me, sir," Alan said, sitting down next to him. "I'm a stranger
here. I wonder if you----"

Suddenly a familiar voice shouted, "There he is!"

Alan turned and saw the little fruit vender pointing accusingly at him.
Behind him were three men in the silver-gray police uniforms. "That's
the man who wouldn't buy from me. He's an unrotationist! Damn Spacer!"

One of the policemen stepped forward--a broad man with a wide slab of a
face, red, like raw meat. "This man has placed some serious charges
against you. Let's see your work card."

"I'm a starman. I don't have a work card."

"Even worse. We'd better take you down for questioning. You starmen come
in here and try to----"

"Just a minute, officer." The warm mellow voice belonged to the smiling
man on the bench. "This boy doesn't mean any trouble. I can vouch for
him myself."

"And who are you? Let's see _your_ card!"

Still smiling, the man reached into a pocket and drew forth his wallet.
He handed a card over to the policeman--and Alan noticed that a blue
five-credit note went along with the card.

The policeman made a great show of studying the card and succeeded in
pocketing the bill with the same effortless sleight-of-hand that the
other had used in handing it over.

"Max Hawkes, eh? That you? Free status?"

The man named Hawkes nodded.

"And this Spacer's a pal of yours?"

"We're very good friends."

"Umm. Okay. I'll leave him in your custody. But see to it that he
doesn't get into any more jams."

The policeman turned away, signalling to his companions. The
fruit vender stared vindictively at Alan for a moment, but saw he would
have no revenge. He, too, left.

Alan was alone with his unknown benefactor.

_Chapter Six_

"I guess I owe you thanks," Alan said. "If they had hauled me off I'd be
in real trouble."

Hawkes nodded. "They're very quick to lock people up when they don't
have work cards. But police salaries are notoriously low. A five-credit
bill slipped to the right man at the right time can work wonders."

"Five credits, was it? Here----"

Alan started to fumble in his pocket, but Hawkes checked him with a wave
of his hand. "Never mind. I'll write it off to profit and loss. What's
your name, spacer, and what brings you to York City?"

"I'm Alan Donnell, of the starship _Valhalla_. I'm an Unspecialized
Crewman. I came over from the Enclave to look for my brother."

Hawkes' lean face assumed an expression of deep interest. "He's a
starman too?"



"He jumped ship last time we were here. That was nine years ago
Earthtime. I'd like to find him, though. Even though he's so much older

"How old is he now?"

"Twenty-six. I'm seventeen. We used to be twins, you see. But the
Contraction--you understand about the Contraction, don't you?"

Hawkes nodded thoughtfully, eyes half-closed. "Mmm--yes, I follow you.
While you made your last space jump he grew old on Earth. And you want
to find him and put him back on your ship, is that it?"

"That's right. Or at least talk to him and find out if he's all right
where he is. But I don't know where to start looking. This city is so
big--and there are so many other cities all over Earth----"

Hawkes shook his head. "You've come to the right one. The Central
Directory Matrix is here. You'll be able to find out where he's
registered by the code number on his work card. Unless," Hawkes said
speculatively, "he doesn't have a work card. Then you're in trouble."

"Isn't everyone supposed to have a work card?"

"I don't," Hawkes said.


"You need a work card to hold a job. But to get a job, you have to pass
guild exams. And in order to take the exams you have to find a sponsor
who's already in the guild. But you have to post bond for your sponsor,
too--five thousand credits. And unless you have the work card and have
been working, you don't have the five thousand, so you can't post bond
and get a work card. See? Round and round."

Alan's head swam. "Is that what they meant when they said I was

"No, that's something else. I'll get to that in a second. But you see
the work setup? The guilds are virtually hereditary, even the fruit
venders' guild. It's next to impossible for a newcomer to crack into a
guild--and it's pretty tough for a man in one guild to move up a notch.
You see, Earth's a terribly overcrowded planet--and the only way to
avoid cutthroat job competition is to make sure it's tough to get a job.
It's rough on a starman trying to bull his way into the system."

"You mean Steve may not have gotten a work card? In that case how will I
be able to find him?"

"It's harder," Hawkes said. "But there's also a registry of Free Status
men--men without cards. He isn't required to register there, but if he
did you'd be able to track him down eventually. If he didn't, I'm afraid
you're out of luck. You just can't find a man on Earth if he doesn't
want to be found."

"Free Status? Isn't that what the policeman said----"

"I was in?" Hawkes nodded. "Sure, I'm Free Status. Out of choice,
though, not necessity. But that doesn't matter much right now. Let's go
over to the Central Directory Matrix Building and see if we can find any
trail for your brother."

They rose. Alan saw that Hawkes was tall, like himself; he walked with
easygoing grace. Questioningly Alan twitched his shoulder-blade in a
signal that meant, _What do you think of this guy, Rat?_

_Stick with him_, Rat signalled back. _He sounds okay._

The streets seemed a great deal less terrifying now that Alan had a
companion, someone who knew his way around. He didn't have the feeling
that all eyes were on him, any more; he was just one of the crowd. It
was good to have Hawkes at his side, even if he didn't fully trust the
older man.

"The Directory Building's way across town," Hawkes said. "We can't walk
it. Undertube or Overshoot?"


"I said, do you want to take the Undertube or the Overshoot? Or doesn't
it matter to you what kind of transportation we take?"

Alan shrugged. "One's as good as any other."

Hawkes fished a coin out of his pocket and tossed it up. "Heads for
Overshoot," he said, and caught the coin on the back of his left hand.
He peered at it. "Heads it is. We take the Overshoot. This way."

They ducked into the lobby of the nearest building and took the elevator
to the top floor. Hawkes stopped a man in a blue uniform and said,
"Where's the nearest Shoot pickup?"

"Take the North Corridor bridge across to the next building. The
pickup's there."


Hawkes led the way down the corridor, up a staircase, and through a
door. With sudden alarm Alan found himself on one of the bridges linking
the skyscrapers. The bridge was no more than a ribbon of plastic with
handholds at each side; it swayed gently in the breeze.

"You better not look down," Hawkes said. "It's fifty stories to the

Alan kept his eyes stiffly forward. There was a good-sized crowd
gathered on the top of the adjoining building, and he saw a metal
platform of some kind.

A vender came up to them. Alan thought he might be selling tickets, but
instead he held forth a tray of soft drinks. Hawkes bought one; Alan
started to say he didn't want one when he felt a sharp kick in his
ankle, and he hurriedly changed his mind and produced a coin.

When the vender was gone, Hawkes said, "Remind me to explain rotation to
you when we get aboard the Shoot. And here it comes now."

Alan turned and saw a silvery torpedo come whistling through the air and
settle in the landing-rack of the platform; it looked like a jet-powered
vessel of some kind. A line formed, and Hawkes stuffed a ticket into
Alan's hand.

"I have a month's supply of them," he explained. "It's cheaper that

They found a pair of seats together and strapped themselves in. With a
roar and a hiss the Overshoot blasted away from the landing platform,
and almost immediately came to rest on another building some distance

"We've just travelled about half a mile," Hawkes said. "This ship really

A jet-propelled omnibus that travelled over the roofs of the buildings,
Alan thought. Clever. He said, "Isn't there any public surface
transportation in the city?"

"Nope. It was all banned about fifty years ago, on account of the
congestion. Taxis and everything. You can still use a private car in
some parts of the city, of course, but the only people who own them are
those who like to impress their neighbors. Most of us take the Undertube
or the Overshoot to get around."

The Shoot blasted off from its third stop and picked up passengers at
its fourth. Alan glanced up front and saw the pilot peering over an
elaborate radar setup.

"Westbound Shoots travel a hundred feet over the roof-tops, eastbound
ones two hundred. There hasn't been a major accident in years. But about
this rotation--that's part of our new economic plan."

"Which is?"

"_Keep the money moving!_ Saving's discouraged. Spending's the thing
now. The guilds are really pushing it. Instead of buying one piece of
fruit from a vender, buy two. Spend, spend, spend! It's a little tough
on the people in Free Status--we don't offer anything for sale, so we
don't benefit much--but we don't amount to one per cent of the
population, so who cares about us?"

"You mean it's sort of subversive not to spend money, is that it?" Alan

Hawkes nodded. "You get in trouble if you're too openly penny-pinching.
Keep the credits flowing; that's the way to be popular around here."

That had been his original mistake, Alan thought. He saw he had a lot to
learn about this strange, unfriendly world if he were going to stay here
long. He wondered if anyone had missed him back at the Enclave, yet.
Maybe it won't take too long to find Steve, he thought. I should have
left a note for Dad explaining I'd be back. But----

"Here we are," Hawkes said, nudging him. The door in the Overshoot's
side opened and they got out quickly. They were on another rooftop.

Ten minutes later they stood outside an immense building whose walls
were sleek slabs of green pellucite, shining with a radiant inner warmth
of their own. The building must have been a hundred stories high, or
more. It terminated in a burnished spire.

"This is it," Hawkes said. "The Central Directory Building. We'll try
the Standard Matrix first."

A little dizzy, Alan followed without discussing the matter. Hawkes led
him through a vast lobby big enough to hide the _Valhalla_ in, past
throngs of Earthers, into a huge hall lined on all sides by computer

"Let's take this booth here," Hawkes suggested. They stepped into it;
the door clicked shut automatically behind them. There was a row of
blank forms in a metal rack against the inside of the door.

Hawkes pulled one out. Alan looked at it. It said, CENTRAL DIRECTORY

Hawkes took a pen from the rack. "We have to fill this out. What's your
brother's full name?"

"Steve Donnell." He spelled it.

"Year of birth?"

Alan paused. "3576," he said finally.

Hawkes frowned, but wrote it down that way.

"Work card number--well, we don't know that. And they want five or six
other numbers too. We'll just have to skip them. Better give me a full
physical description as of the last time you saw him."

Alan thought a moment. "He looked pretty much like me. Height 73 inches,
weight 172 or so, reddish-blonde hair, and so on."

"Don't you have a gene-record?"

Blankly, Alan said, "A what?"

Hawkes scowled. "I forgot--I keep forgetting you're a spacer. Well, if
he's not using his own name any more it may make things really tough.
Gene-records make absolute identification possible. But if you don't
have one----"

Whistling tunelessly, Hawkes filled out the rest of the form. When it
came to REASON FOR APPLICATION, he wrote in, _Tracing of missing

"That just about covers it," he said finally. "It's a pretty lame
application, but if we're lucky we may find him." He rolled the form up,
shoved it into a gray metal tube, and dropped it in a slot in the wall.

"What happens now?" Alan asked.

"Now we wait. The application goes downstairs and the big computer goes
to work on it. First thing they'll do is kick aside all the cards of men
named Steve Donnell. Then they'll check them all against the physical
description I supplied. Soon as they find a man who fits the bill,
they'll 'stat his card and send it up here to us. We copy down the
televector number and have them trace him down."

"The _what_ number?"

"You'll see," Hawkes said, grinning. "It's a good system. Just wait."

They waited. One minute, two, three.

"I hope I'm not keeping you from something important," Alan said,
breaking a long uncomfortable silence. "It's really good of you to take
all this time, but I wouldn't want to inconvenience you if----"

"If I didn't want to help you," Hawkes said sharply, "I wouldn't be
doing it. I'm Free Status, you know. That means I don't have any boss
except me. Max Hawkes, Esquire. It's one of the few compensations I have
for the otherwise lousy deal life handed me. So if I choose to waste an
hour or two helping you find your brother, don't worry yourself about

A bell rang, once, and a gentle red light glowed over the slot. Hawkes
reached in and scooped out the container that sat there.

Inside he found a rolled-up slip of paper. He pulled it out and read the
message typed on it several times, pursing his lips.

"Well? Did they find him?"

"Read it for yourself," Hawkes said. He pushed the sheet over to Alan.

It said, in crisp capital letters, A SEARCH OF THE FILES REVEALS THAT

Alan's face fell. He tossed the slip to the table and said, "Well? What
do we do now?"

"Now," Hawkes said, "we go upstairs to the cubbyhole where they keep the
Free Status people registered. We go through the same business there. I
didn't really expect to find your brother here, but it was worth a look.
It's next to impossible for a ship-jumping starman to buy his way into a
guild and get a work card."

"Suppose he's not registered with the Free Status people?"

Hawkes smiled patiently. "Then, my dear friend, you go back to your ship
with your mission incomplete. If he's not listed upstairs, there's no
way on Earth you could possibly find him."

_Chapter Seven_

The sign over the office door said REGISTRY OF FREE-STATUS LABOR FORCE,
and under that ROOM 1104. Hawkes nudged the door open and they went in.

It was not an imposing room. A fat pasty-faced man sat behind a scarred
neoplast desk, scribbling his signature on forms that he was taking from
an immense stack. The room was lined with records of one sort or
another, untidy, poorly assembled. There was dust everywhere.

The man at the desk looked up as they entered and nodded to Hawkes.
"Hello, Max. Making an honest man of yourself at last?"

"Not on your life," Hawkes said. "I came up here to do some checking.
Alan, this is Hines MacIntosh, Keeper of the Records. Hines, want you to
meet a starman friend of mine. Alan Donnell."

"Starman, eh?" MacIntosh's pudgy face went suddenly grave. "Well, boy, I
hope you know how to get along on an empty stomach. Free Status life
isn't easy."

"No," Alan said. "You don't under----"

Hawkes cut him off. "He's just in the city on leave, Hines. His ship
blasts off in a couple of days and he figures to be on it. But he's
trying to track down his brother, who jumped ship nine years back."

MacIntosh nodded. "I suppose you drew a blank in the big room


"Not surprising. We get these ship-jumping starmen all the time up here;
they never do get work cards, it seems. What's that thing on your
shoulder, boy?"

"He's from Bellatrix VII."


"I should say so!" Rat burst in indignantly. "Just because I have a
certain superficial physiological resemblance to a particular species of
unpleasant Terran rodent----"

MacIntosh chuckled and said, "Ease up! I didn't mean to insult you,
friend! But you'll have to apply for a visa if you're going to stay here
more than three days."

Alan frowned. "Visa?"

Hawkes cut in: "The boy's going back on his ship, I told you. He won't
need a visa, or the alien either."

"Be that as it may," MacIntosh said. "So you're looking for your
brother, boy? Give me the specifications, now. Name, date of birth, and
all the rest."

"His name is Steve Donnell, sir. Born 3576. He jumped ship in----"

"Born _when_, did you say?"

"They're spacers," Hawkes pointed out quietly.

MacIntosh shrugged. "Go ahead."

"Jumped ship in 3867--I think. It's so hard to tell what year it is on

"And physical description?"

"He was my twin," Alan said. "Identical twin."

MacIntosh jotted down the data Alan gave him and transferred it to a
punched card. "I don't remember any spacers of that name," he said, "but
nine years is a long time. And we get so many starmen coming up here to
take out Free Status."

"You do?"

"Oh, fifteen or twenty a year, at least--and that's in this office
alone. They're forever getting stranded on leave and losing their ships.
Why, there was one boy who was robbed and beaten in the Frisco Enclave
and didn't wake up for a week. Naturally he missed his ship, and no
other starship would sign him on. He's on Free Status now, of course.
Well, let's see about Donnell Steve Male, shall we? You realize the law
doesn't require Free Status people to register with us, and so we may
not necessarily have any data on him in our computer files?"

"I realize that," Alan said tightly. He wished the chubby records-keeper
would stop talking and start looking for Steve's records. It was getting
along toward late afternoon now; he had come across from the Enclave
around noontime, and certainly it was at least 1600 by now. He was
getting hungry--and he knew he would have to start making plans for
spending the night somewhere, if he didn't go back to the Enclave.

MacIntosh pulled himself laboriously out of his big webwork cradle and
wheezed his way across the room to a computer shoot. He dropped the card

"It'll take a few minutes for them to make the search," he said,
turning. He looked in both directions and went on, "Care for a drink?
Just to pass the time?"

Hawkes grinned. "Good old Hinesy! What's in the inkwell today?"

"Scotch! Bottled in bond, best syntho stuff to come out of Caledonia in
the last century!" MacIntosh shuffled back behind his desk and found
three dingy glasses in one of the drawers; he set them out and uncorked
a dark blue bottle plainly labelled INK.

He poured a shot for Hawkes and then a second shot; as he started to
push it toward Alan, the starman shook his head. "Sorry, but I don't
drink. Crewmen aren't allowed to have liquor aboard starships.

"Oh, but you're off-duty now!"

Alan shook his head a second time; shrugging, MacIntosh took the drink
himself and put the unused third glass back in the drawer.

"Here's to Steve Donnell!" he said, lifting his glass high. "May he have
had the good sense to register his name up here!"

They drank. Alan watched. Suddenly, the bell clanged and a tube rolled
out of the computer shoot.

Alan waited tensely while MacIntosh crossed the room again, drew out the
contents of the tube, and scanned them. The fat man's face was broken by
a smile.

"You're in luck, starman. Your brother did register with us. Here's the
'stat of his papers."

Alan looked at them. The photostat was titled, APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION
TO FREE-STATUS LABOR FORCE, and the form had been filled out in a
handwriting Alan recognized immediately as Steve's: bold, untidy, the
letters slanting slightly backward.

He had given his name as Steve Donnell, his date of birth as 3576, his
chronological age as seventeen. He had listed his former occupation as
_Starman_. The application was dated 4 June 3867, and a stamped
notation on the margin declared that Free Status had been granted on 11
June 3867.

"So he did register," Alan said. "But now what? How do we find him?"

Hawkes reached for the photostat. "Here. Let me look at that." He
squinted to make out the small print, then nodded and wrote down
something. "His televector number's a local one. So far, so good." He
turned the form over and glanced at the reproduced photo of Steve on the
back. He looked up, comparing it with Alan.

"Dead ringers, these two. But I'll bet this one doesn't look much like
this any more--not after nine years of Free Status!"

"It only pays off for the lucky few, eh, Max?" MacIntosh asked slyly.

Hawkes grinned. "Some of us make out all right. You have to have the
knack, though. You can get awful hungry otherwise. Come on, kid--let's
go up a little higher, now. Up to the televector files. Thanks for the
help, Hinesy. You're a pal."

"Just doin' my job," MacIntosh said. "See you tonight as usual?"

"I doubt it," Hawkes replied. "I'm going to take the night off. I have
it coming to me."

"That leaves the coast clear for us amateurs, doesn't it? Maybe I'll
come out ahead tonight."

Hawkes smiled coldly. "Maybe you will. Let's go, kid."

They took the lift tube outside and rode it as high as it went. It
opened out into the biggest room Alan had ever seen, bigger even than
the main registry downstairs--a vast affair perhaps a hundred feet high
and four hundred feet on the side.

And every inch of those feet was lined with computer elements.

"This is the nerve-center of the world," Hawkes said as they went in.
"By asking the right questions you can find out where anybody in the
world happens to be at this very moment."

"How can they do that?"

Hawkes nudged a tiny sliver of metal embedded in a ring on his finger.
"Here's my televector transmitter. Everyone who has a work card or Free
Status carries one, either on a ring or in a locket round his neck or
somewhere else. Some people have them surgically embedded in their
bodies. They give off resonance waves, each one absolutely unique;
there's about one chance in a quadrillion of a duplicate pattern. The
instruments here can pick up a given pattern and tell you exactly where
the person you're looking for is."

"So we can find Steve without much trouble!"

"Probably." Hawkes' face darkened. "I've known it to happen that the
televector pattern picks up a man who's been at the bottom of the sea
for five years. But don't let me scare you; Steve's probably in good

He took out the slip of paper on which he had jotted down Steve's
televector code number and transferred the information to an application

"This system," Alan said. "It means no one can possibly hide anywhere on
Earth unless he removes his televector transmitter."

"You can't do that, though. Strictly illegal. An alarm goes out whenever
someone gets more than six inches from his transmitter, and he's picked
up on suspicion. It's an automatic cancellation of your work card if
you try to fool with your transmitter--or if you're Free Status a fine
of ten thousand credits."

"And if you can't pay the fine?"

"Then you work it off in Government indenture, at a thousand credits a
year--chopping up rocks in the Antarctica Penitentiary. The system's
flawless. It _has_ to be. With Earth as overpopulated as it is, you need
some system of tracking down people--otherwise crime would be ten times
as prevalent as it is now."

"There still is crime?"

"Oh, sure. There's always somebody who needs food bad enough to rob for
it, even though it means a sure arrest. Murder's a little less common."
Hawkes fed the requisition slip into the slot. "You'd be surprised what
a deterrent the televector registry system is. It's not so easy to run
off to South America and hide when anybody at all can come in here and
find out exactly where you are."

A moment went by. Then the slot clicked and a glossy pink slip came
rolling out.

Alan looked at it. It said:

                 TELEVECTOR REGISTRY
                     21 May 3876
    Location of Donnell Steve, YC83-10j6490k37618
                    Time: 1643:21

There followed a street map covering some fifteen square blocks, and a
bright red dot was imprinted in the center of the map.

Hawkes glanced at the map and smiled. "I thought that was where he would

"Where's that?"

"68th Avenue and 423rd Street."

"Is that where he lives?" Alan asked.

"Oh, no. The televector tells you where he is right now. I'd venture to
say that was his--ah--place of business."

Alan frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"That happens to be the address of the Atlas Games Parlor. Your brother
Steve probably spends most of his working day there, when he has enough
cash to get in. I know the place. It's a cheap joint where the payoffs
are low but easy. It's the kind of place a low-budget man would

"You mean Steve's a gambler?"

Hawkes smiled. "Most Free Status men are. It's one of the few ways we
can earn a living without getting a work card. There isn't any gamblers'
guild. There are a few other ways, too, but they're a lot less savory,
and the televector surveillance makes it hard for a man to stay in
business for long."

Alan moistened his lips. "What do _you_ do?"

"Gamble. I'm in the upper brackets, though. As I say: some of us have
the knack. I doubt if your brother does, though. After nine years he
wouldn't still be working the Atlas if he had any dough."

Alan shrugged that off. "How do we get there? I'd like to go right away.

"Patience, lad," Hawkes murmured. "There's plenty of time for that. When
does your ship leave?"

"Couple of days."

"Then we don't need to rush right over to the Atlas now. Let's get some
food in ourselves first. Then a good night's rest. We can go over there

"But my brother----"

"Your brother," Hawkes said, "has been in York City for nine years, and
I'll bet he's spent every night for the last eight of them sitting in
the Atlas. He'll keep till tomorrow. Let's get something to eat."

_Chapter Eight_

They ate in a dark and unappealing restaurant three blocks from the
Central Directory Matrix Building. The place was crowded, as all Earth
places seemed to be. They stood on line for nearly half an hour before
being shown to a grease-stained table in the back.

The wall clock said 1732.

A robowaiter approached them, holding a menu board in its metal hands.
Hawkes leaned forward and punched out his order; Alan took slightly
longer about it, finally selecting protein steak, synthocoffee, and
mixed vegetables. The robot clicked its acknowledgement and moved on to
the next table.

"So my brother's a gambler," Alan began.

Hawkes nodded. "You say it as if you were saying, _so my brother's a
pickpocket_, or _so my brother's a cutpurse_. It's a perfectly
legitimate way of making a living." Hawkes' eyes hardened suddenly, and
in a flat quiet voice added, "The way to stay out of trouble on Earth is
to avoid being preachy, son. This isn't a pretty world. There are too
many people on it, and not many can afford the passage out to Gamma
Leonis IV or Algol VII or some of the nice uncluttered colony-worlds. So
while you're in York City keep your eyes wide and your mouth zippered,
and don't turn your nose up at the sordid ways people make their

Alan felt his face go red, and he was happy to have the trays of food
arrive at that moment, causing some sort of distraction. "Sorry, Max. I
didn't mean to sound preachy."

"I know, kid. You lead a pretty sheltered life on those starships. And
nobody can adjust to Earthside life in a day. How about a drink?"

Alan started to say that he didn't drink, but kept the words back. He
was on Earth, now, not aboard the _Valhalla_; he wasn't required to keep
ship's regs. And he didn't want to be trying to look superior. "Okay.
How about Scotch--is that the stuff MacIntosh was drinking?"

"Fair enough," Hawkes said.

He signalled for a robot waiter, and after a moment the robot slithered
up to them. Hawkes punched a lever on the robot's stomach and the metal
creature began to click and glow. An instant later a panel in its
stomach slid open and two glasses appeared within. The robot's wiry
tentacles reached in, took out the drinks, and set them on the table.
Hawkes dropped a coin in a slot in the robot's side, and the machine
bustled away, its service completed.

"There you are," Hawkes said, pointing to the glass of amber-colored
liquid. "Drink up." As if to set an example he lifted his own drink and
tossed it down in one gulp, with obvious pleasure.

Alan picked up the little glass and held it before his eyes, staring at
the man opposite him through its translucent depths. Hawkes appeared
oddly distorted when viewed through the glass.

He grinned. He tried to propose a toast, but couldn't think of any
appropriate words, so he simply upended the glass and drained its
contents. The stuff seemed to burn its way down his throat and explode
in his stomach; the explosion rose through his gullet and into his
brain. For a moment he felt as if the top of his head had been blown
off. His eyes watered.

"Pretty potent stuff!"

"It's the best there is," Hawkes said. "Those boys really know the

Alan felt a wave of dizziness, but it passed quickly; all that was left
was a pleasant inner warmth, now. He pulled his tray toward him and
attacked the synthetic meat and vegetables.

He ate quietly, making no attempt at conversation. Soft music bubbled up
around them. He thought about his brother. So Steve was a gambler! And
doing poorly at it, Hawkes said. He wondered if Steve would want to go
back on the ship. He wondered also how it would be if Steve did agree to
go back.

The old comradeship would be gone, he realized sadly. They had shared
everything for seventeen years, grown up together, played together,
worked together. Up till six weeks ago they had been so close that Alan
could almost read Steve's mind, and Steve Alan's. They made a good team.

But that was finished, now. Steve would be a stranger to him aboard the
_Valhalla_--an older, perhaps wiser man, with nine solid years of tough
Earther life behind him. He would not be able to help but regard Alan as
a kid, a greenhorn; it was natural. They would never be comfortable in
each other's presence, with the old easy familiarity that was so close
to telepathy. That nine-year gulf would see to that.

"Thinking about your brother, aren't you?"

Alan blinked. "How did you know?"

Grinning, Hawkes said, "A gambler has to know how to figure things. And
it's written in permoscript all over your forehead anyway. You're
wondering what the first face-to-face meeting's going to be like. I'll
bet on it."

"I won't cover the bet. You'd win."

"You want to know how it'll be? I can tell you, Alan: you'll feel sick.
Sick and bewildered and ashamed of the guy who used to be your brother.
But that'll pass. You'll look behind the things the nine years did to
him, and you'll see your brother back there. He'll see you, too. It
won't be as bad as you're expecting."

Somehow Alan felt relieved. "You're sure of that?"

Hawkes nodded. "You know, I'm taking such a personal interest in this
business because I've got a brother too. _Had_ a brother."


"Kid about your age. Same problem I had, too: no guild. We were born
into the street sweepers' guild, but neither of us could go for that, so
we checked out and took Free Status. I went into gambling. He hung
around the Enclave. He always wanted to be a spacer."

"What happened to him?"

"He pulled a fast one. Starship was in town and looking for a new
galley-boy. Dave did some glib talking and got aboard. It was a fluke
thing, but he made it."

"Which ship?" Alan asked.

"_Startreader_. Bound out on a hop to Beta Crucis XVIII. 465
light-years." Hawkes smiled faintly. "He left a year, year and a half
ago. The ship won't be back on Earth again for nine hundred thirty years
or so. I don't figure to be around that long." He shook his head. "Let's
get out of here. People waiting for tables."

Out in the street again, Alan noticed that the sun was low in the sky;
it was past 1800, and getting along toward evening. But the streets were
not getting dark. From everywhere a soft glow was beginning to
radiate--from the pavement, the buildings, everywhere. It was a gentle
gleaming brightness that fell from the air; there was no perceptible
change from day-illumination to night-illumination.

But it was getting late. And they would miss him back at the
Enclave--unless Captain Donnell had discovered that Alan had gone into
the Earther city, in which case he wouldn't be missed at all. Alan
remembered sharply the way the Captain had calmly blotted the name of
his son Steve from the _Valhalla's_ roster as if Steve had never

"Are we going to go over to the Atlas now?"

Hawkes shook his head. "Not unless you want to go in there alone?"


"I can't go in there with you. I've got an A card, and that's a Class C

"You mean even gambling places are classified and regulated and

Hawkes nodded. "It has to be that way. This is a very complicated
society you've stumbled into, Alan. Look: I'm a first-rate gamesman.
That's not boasting; it's empirical truth proven over and over again
during the course of a fifteen-year career. I could make a fortune
competing against beginners and dubs and has-beens, so they legislate
against me. You make a certain annual income from gambling and you go
into Class A, and then you can't enter any of the lower-class joints
like the Atlas. You slip under the Class A minimum three years in a row
and you lose your card. I stay over the minimum."

"So I'll have to go after Steve myself. Well, in that case, thanks for
all the help, and if you'll show me which Shoot I take to get to the

"Not so fast, son." Hawkes grasped Alan's wrist. "Even in a Class C dump
you can lose plenty. And you can't just stand around hunting for your
brother. Unless you're there as a learner you'll have to play."

"So what am I supposed to do?"

"I'll take you to a Class A place tonight. You can come in as a learner;
they all know me. I'll try to show you enough about the game so you
don't get rooked. Then you can stay over at my place and tomorrow we'll
go up to the Atlas and look around for your brother. I'll have to wait
outside, of course."

Alan shrugged. He was beginning to realize he was a little nervous about
the coming meeting with Steve--and perhaps, he thought, a little extra
delay would be useful. And he still had plenty of time to get back to
the _Valhalla_ after he saw Steve, even if he stayed in the city

"Well?" Hawkes said.

"Okay. I'll go with you."

This time they took the Undertube, which they reached by following a
glowing sign and then an underground passageway. Alan rode down behind
Hawkes on the moving ramp and found himself in a warm, brightly-lit
underground world with stores, restaurants, newsboys hawking telefax
sheets, milling swarms of homebound commuters.

They reached the entrance to a tube and Hawkes handed him a small oval
object with figures engraved on it. "That's your tube-token. It goes in
the slot."

They passed through the turnstile and followed signs indicating the West
Side Tube. The tube was a long sleek affair, windowless, shaped like a
bullet. The tube was already packed with commuters when they got aboard;
there were no empty seats, of course, and everyone seemed to be jostling
everyone else for the right to stand upright. The sign at the end of the
tube said, _Tube X#3174-WS_.

The trip took only a few minutes of seemingly effortless gliding, and
then they emerged far on the other side of the giant city. The
neighborhood they were in was considerably less crowded; it had little
of the mad hubbub of the downtown district.

A neon sign struck his eyes at once: SUPERIOR GAMES PARLOR. Under that
in smaller letters was: CLASS A ESTABLISHMENT. A robot stood outside, a
gleaming replica of the one he had tussled with earlier in the day.

"Class A only," the robot said as they came near. "This Games Parlor is
for Class A only."

Hawkes stepped around him and broke the photo-contact on the door. Alan
followed him in.

The place was dimly lit, as all Earther pleasure-places seemed to be.
Alan saw a double row of tables spreading to the back of the parlor. At
each table was an earnest-looking citizen hunched over a board, watching
the pattern of lights in front of him come and go, change and shift.

Another robot glided up to them. "May I see your card, please?" It

Hawkes passed his card before the robot's photonic scanners and the
robot clicked acknowledgement, stepping to one side and letting Hawkes
pass. It turned to Alan and said, "May I see your card, please?"

"I don't----"

"He's with me," Hawkes said. "A learner."

A man in a dirty gray smock came up to them. "Evening, Max. Hinesy was
here already and told me you weren't coming in tonight."

"I wasn't, but I changed my mind. I brought a learner along with
me--friend of mine name of Alan Donnell. This is Joe Luckman, Alan. He
runs this place."

Luckman nodded absently to Alan, who mumbled a greeting in return.

"Guess you want your usual table?" Luckman asked.

"If it's open," Hawkes said.

"Been open all evening."

Luckman led them down the long aisle to the back of the big hall, where
there was a vacant table with one seat before it. Hawkes slid smoothly
into the seat and told Alan to stand behind him and watch carefully.

"We'll start at the beginning of the next round," he said.

Alan looked around. Everywhere men were bent over the patterns of lights
on the boards before them, with expressions of fierce concentration on
their faces. Far in the corner Alan saw the pudgy figure of MacIntosh,
the Keeper of the Records; MacIntosh was bathed in his own sweat, and
sat rigid as if hypnotized.

Hawkes nudged him. "Keep your eyes on me. The others don't matter. I'm
ready to get started."

_Chapter Nine_

Hawkes took a coin from his pocket and dropped it in a slot at the side
of the board. It lit up. A crazy, shifting pattern of colored lights
passed over it, restless, never pausing.

"What happens now?"

"You set up a mathematical pattern with these keys," Hawkes said,
pointing to a row of enamelled studs along the side of the machine.
"Then the lights start flashing, and as soon as they flash--at random,
of course--into the pattern you've previously set up, you're the winner.
The skill of the game comes in predicting the kind of pattern that will
be the winning one. You've got to keep listening to the numbers that the
croupier calls off, and fit them into your sequence."

Suddenly a bell rang loudly, and the board went dead. Alan looked around
and saw that all the other boards in the hall were dark as well.

The man on the rostrum in the center of the hall cleared his throat and
sang out, "Table 403 hits us for a hundred! 403! One hundred!"

A pasty-faced bald man at a table near theirs rose with a broad grin on
his face and went forward to collect. Hawkes rapped sharply on the side
of the table to get Alan's attention.

"Look here, now. You have to get a head start. As soon as the boards
light up again, I have to begin setting up my pattern. I'm competing
against everyone else here, you see. And the quickest man wins, usually.
Of course, blind luck sometimes brings you a winner--but not very

Alan nodded and watched carefully as Hawkes' fingers flew nimbly over
the controlling studs the instant the tables lit for the next round. The
others nearby were busy doing the same thing, but few of them set about
it with the air of cocky jauntiness that Hawkes wore.

Finally he stared at the board in satisfaction and sat back. The
croupier pounded three times with a little gavel and said, "103
sub-prime 5."

Hastily Hawkes made a correction in his equation. The lights on the
board flickered and faded, moving faster than Alan could see.

"377 third-quadrant 7."

Again a correction. Hawkes sat transfixed, staring intently at the
board. The other players were similarly entranced, Alan saw. He realized
it was possible for someone to become virtually hypnotized by the game,
to spend days on end sitting before the board.

He forced himself to follow Hawkes' computations as number after number
was called off. He began to see the logical pattern of the game.

It was a little like astrogation, in which he had had the required
preliminary instruction. When you worked out a ship's course, you had to
keep altering it to allow for course deflection, effects of planetary
magnetic fields, meteor swarms, and such obstacles--and you had to be
one jump ahead of the obstacles all the time.

It was the same here. The pilot board at the croupier's rostrum had a
prearranged mathematical pattern on it. The idea of the game was to set
up your own board in the identical pattern. As each succeeding
coordinate on the graph was called out, you recomputed in terms of the
new probabilities, rubbing out old equations and substituting new ones.

There was always the mathematical chance that a pattern set up at random
would be identical to the master control pattern--but that was a pretty
slim chance. It took brains to win at this game. The man whose board was
first to match the pilot pattern won.

Hawkes worked quietly, efficiently, and lost the first four rounds. Alan
commiserated. But the gambler snapped, "Don't waste your pity. I'm still
experimenting. As soon as I've figured out the way the numbers are
running tonight, I'll start raking it in."

It sounded boastful to the starman, but Hawkes won on the fifth round,
matching the hidden pattern in only six minutes. The previous four
rounds had taken from nine to twelve minutes before a winner appeared.
The croupier, a small, sallow-faced chap, shoved a stack of coins and a
few bills at Hawkes when he went to the rostrum to claim his winnings. A
low murmur rippled through the hall; Hawkes had evidently been

His take was a hundred credits. In less than an hour, he was already
seventy-five credits to the good. Hawkes' sharp eyes glinted brightly;
he was in his element now, and enjoying it.

The sixth round went to a bespectacled round-faced man three tables to
the left, but Hawkes won a hundred credits each on the seventh and
eighth rounds, then lost three in a row, then plunged for a heavy stake
in his ninth round and came out ahead by five hundred credits.

So Hawkes had won four times in nine rounds, Alan thought. And there
were at least a hundred people in the hall. Even assuming the gambler
did not always have the sort of luck he was having now, that meant most
people did not win very often, and some did not win at all.

As the evening went along, Hawkes made it look simple. At one point he
won four rounds in a row; then he dropped off for a while, but came back
for another big pot half an hour later. Alan estimated Hawkes' night's
work had been worth more than a thousand credits so far.

The gambler pushed his winnings to fourteen hundred credits, while Alan
watched; the fine points of the game became more comprehensible to him
with each passing moment, and he longed to sit down at the table
himself. That was impossible, he knew; this was a Class A parlor, and a
rank beginner such as himself could not play.

But then Hawkes began to lose. Three, four, five rounds in a row slipped
by without a win. At one point Hawkes committed an elementary mistake in
arithmetic that made Alan cry out; Hawkes turned and silenced him with a
fierce bleak scowl, and Alan went red.

Six rounds. Seven. Eight. Hawkes had lost nearly a hundred of his
fourteen hundred credits. Luck and skill seemed to have deserted him
simultaneously. After the eleventh consecutive losing round, Hawkes rose
from the table, shaking his head bitterly.

"I've had enough. Let's get out of here."

He pocketed his winnings--still a healthy twelve hundred credits,
despite his late-evening slump--and Alan followed him out of the parlor
into the night. It was late now, past midnight. The streets, fresh and
clean, were damp. It had rained while they were in the parlor, and Alan
realized wryly he had been so absorbed by the game that he had not even

Crowds of home-going Yorkers moved rapidly through the streets. As they
made their way to the nearest Undertube terminal, Alan broke the
silence. "You did all right tonight, didn't you?"

"Can't complain."

"It's too bad you had that slump right at the end. If you'd quit half an
hour earlier you'd be two hundred credits richer."

Hawkes smiled. "If you'd been born a couple of hundred years later,
you'd be a lot smarter."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Alan felt annoyed by Hawkes' remark.

"Simply that I lost deliberately toward the end." They turned into the
Undertube station and headed for the ticket windows. "It's part of a
smart gambler's knowhow to drop a few credits deliberately now and


"So the jerks who provide my living keep on coming back," Hawkes said
bluntly. "I'm good at that game. Maybe I'm the best there is. I can feel
the numbers with my hands. If I wanted to, I could win four out of five
times, even at a Class A place."

Alan frowned. "Then why don't you? You could get rich!"

"I _am_ rich," Hawkes said in a tone that made Alan feel tremendously
foolish. "If I got much richer too fast I'd wind up with a soft burn in
the belly from a disgruntled customer. Look here, boy: how long would
_you_ go back to that casino if one player took 80% of the pots, and a
hundred people competed with you for the 20% he left over? You'd win
maybe once a month, if you played full time every day. In a short time
you'd be broke, unless you quit playing first. So I ease up. I let the
others win about half the time. I don't want _all_ the money the mint
turns out--just some of it. It's part of the economics of the game to
let the other guys take a few pots."

Alan nodded. He understood. "And you don't want to make them too jealous
of you. So you made sure you lost consistently for the final half hour
or so, and that took the edge off your earlier winning in their minds."

"That's the ticket!"

The Undertube pulled out of the station and shot bullet-like through its
dark tunnel. Silently, Alan thought about his night's experience. He saw
he still had much, very much to learn about life on Earth.

Hawkes had a gift--the gift of winning. But he didn't abuse that gift.
He concealed it a little, so the people who lacked his talent did not
get too jealous of him. Jealousy ran high on Earth; people here led
short ugly lives, and there was none of the serenity and friendliness of
life aboard a starship.

He felt very tired, but it was just physical fatigue; he felt wide awake
mentally. Earth life, for all its squalor and brutality, was
tremendously exciting compared with shipboard existence. It was with a
momentary pang of something close to disappointment that he remembered
he would have to report back to the _Valhalla_ in several days; there
were so many fascinating aspects of Earth life he still wanted to

The Undertube stopped at a station labelled _Hasbrouck_. "This is where
we get off," Hawkes told him.

They took a slidewalk to street level. The street was like a canyon,
with towering walls looming up all around. And some of the gigantic
buildings seemed quite shabby-looking by the street-light. Obviously
they were in a less respectable part of the city.

"This is Hasbrouck," Hawkes said. "It's a residential section. And
there's where I live."

He pointed to the tarnished chrome entrance of one of the biggest and
shabbiest of the buildings on the street. "Be it ever so humble, there's
no place like North Hasbrouck Arms. It's the sleaziest, cheapest, most
run-down tenement in one hemisphere, but I love it. It's a real palace."

Alan followed him through a gate that had once been imposing; now it
swung open rather rustily as they broke the photobeam in front of it.
The lobby was dark and dimly lit, and smelled faintly musty.

Alan was unprepared for the shabbiness of the house where the gambler
lived. A moment after he spoke, he realized the question was highly
impertinent, but by then it was too late: "I don't understand, Max. If
you make so much money gambling, why do you live in a place like this?
Aren't there any better--I mean----"

An unreadable expression flitted briefly across the gambler's lean face.
"I know what you mean. Let's just say that the laws of this planet
discriminate slightly against Free Status people like yours truly. They
require us to live in approved residences."

"But this is practically a slum."

"Forget the _practically_. This is the raw end of town, and no denying
it. But I have to live here." They entered a creaky old elevator
decorated with too much chrome, most of it chipped, and Hawkes pressed
_106_. "When I first moved in here, I made up my mind I'd bribe my way
into a fancier neighborhood as soon as I had the cash. But by the time I
had enough to spare I didn't feel like moving, you see. I'm sort of

The elevator stopped with a jarring jolt at the hundred-sixth floor.
They passed down a narrow, poorly-lit corridor. Hawkes paused suddenly
in front of a door, pressed his thumb against the doorplate, and waited
as it swung open in response to the imprint of his fingerprints against
the sensitive electronic grid.

"Here we are," he said.

It was a three-room apartment that looked almost as old and as
disreputable as the rooms in the Enclave. But the furniture was new and
attractive; these were not the rooms of a poor man. An elaborate audio
system took up one entire wall; elsewhere, Alan saw books of all kinds,
tapes, a tiny mounted globe of light-sculpture within whose crystal
interior abstract colors flowed kaleidoscopically, a handsome robot bar.

Hawkes gestured Alan to a seat; Alan chose a green lounge-chair with
quivering springs and stretched out. He did not want to go to sleep; he
wanted to stay up half the night and talk.

The gambler busied himself at the bar a moment and returned with two
drinks. Alan looked at the glass a moment: the drink was bright yellow
in color, sparkling. He sipped it. The flavor was gentle but striking, a
mixture of two or three tastes and textures that chased each other round
Alan's tongue.

"I like it. What is it?"

"Wine from Antares XIII. I bought it for a hundred credits a bottle
last year. Still have three bottles left, too. I go easy on it; the next
ship from Antares XIII won't be in for fourteen more years."

The drink made Alan mellow and relaxed. They talked a while, and he
hardly noticed the fact that the time was getting along toward 0300 now,
long past his shiptime bunk-hour. He didn't care. He listened to every
word Hawkes had to say, drinking it in with the same delight he felt
when drinking the Antarean wine. Hawkes was a complex, many-faceted
character; he seemed to have been everywhere on Earth, done everything
the planet had to offer. And yet there was no boastfulness in his tone
as he spoke of his exploits; he was simply stating facts.

Apparently his income from gambling was staggering; he averaged nearly a
thousand credits a night, night in and night out. But a note of
plaintiveness crept into his voice: success was boring him, he had no
further goals to shoot for. He stood at the top of his profession, and
there were no new worlds for him to conquer. He had seen and done
everything, and lamented it.

"I'd like to go to space someday," he remarked. "But of course that's
out. I wouldn't want to rip myself away from the year 3876 forever. You
don't know what I'd give to see the suns come up over Albireo V, or to
watch the thousand moons of Capella XVI. But I can't do it." He shook
his head gravely. "Well, I better not dream. I like Earth and I like the
sort of life I lead. And I'm glad I ran into you, too--we'll make a good
team, you and me, Donnell."

Alan had been lulled by the sound of Hawkes' voice--but he snapped to
attention now, surprised. "Team? What are you talking about?"

"I'll take you on as my protege. Make a decent gambler out of you. Set
you up. We can go travelling together, see the world again. You've been
to space; you can tell me what it's like out there. And----"

"Hold on," Alan said sharply. "You've got things mixed up a little bit.
I'm going to Procyon on the _Valhalla_ at the end of this week. I
appreciate everything you've done for me, but if you think I'm going to
jump ship permanently and spend the rest of my life----"

"You'll stay on Earth, all right," Hawkes said confidently. "You're in
love with the place. You know yourself you don't want to spend the next
seven decades of your life shuttling around in your old man's starship.
You'll check out and stay here. I know you will."

"I'll bet you I don't!"

"That bet is herewith covered," Hawkes drawled. "I never pass up a sure
thing. Is ten to one okay--your hundred against my thousand that you'll

Alan scowled angrily. "I don't want to bet with you, Max. I'm going back
on the _Valhalla_. I----"

"Go ahead. Take my money, if you're so sure."

"All right, I will! A thousand credits won't hurt me!" Suddenly he had
no further desire to listen to Hawkes talk; he rose abruptly and gulped
down the remainder of his drink.

"I'm tired. Let's get some sleep."

"Fair enough," Hawkes said. He got up, touched a button in the wall, and
a panel slid back, exposing a bed. "You sack out here. I'll wake you in
the morning and we'll go looking for your brother Steve."

_Chapter Ten_

Alan woke early the next morning, but it was Rat, not Hawkes, who pulled
him out of sleep. The little extra-terrestrial was nibbling on his ear.

Bleary-eyed, Alan sat up and blinked. "Oh--it's you. I thought you were
on a silence strike."

"There wasn't anything I wanted to say, so I kept quiet. But I want to
say some things now, before your new friend wakes up."

The Bellatrician had been silent all the past evening, tagging along
behind Alan and Hawkes like a faithful pet, but keeping his mouth
closed. "Go ahead and say them, then," Alan told him.

"I don't like this fellow Hawkes. I think you're in for trouble if you
stick with him."

"He's going to take me to the Atlas to get Steve."

"You can get to the Atlas yourself. He's given you all the help you'll

Alan shook his head. "I'm no baby. I can take care of myself, without
_your_ help."

The little alien creature shrugged. "Suit yourself. But I'll tell you
one thing, Alan: I'm going back to the _Valhalla_, whether you are or
not. I don't like Earth, or Hawkes either. Remember that."

"Who said I was staying here? Didn't you hear me bet Max that I'd go

"I heard you. I say you're going to lose that bet. I say this Hawkes is
going to fast-talk you into staying here--and if I had any need for
money I'd put down a side-bet on Hawkes' side."

Alan laughed. "You think you know me better than I know myself. I never
for a minute thought of jumping ship."

"Has my advice ever steered you wrong? I'm older than you are, Alan, and
ten or twenty times smarter. I can see where you're heading. And----"

Alan grew suddenly angry. "Nag, nag, nag! You're worse than an old
woman! Why don't you keep quiet the way you did last night, and leave me
alone? I know what I'm doing, and when I want your advice I'll ask for

"Have it your own way," Rat said. His tone was mildly reproachful. Alan
felt abashed at having scolded the little alien that way, but he did not
know how to make proper amends; besides, he _was_ annoyed at Rat's
preachiness. He and Rat had been together too long. The Bellatrician
probably thought he was still only ten years old and in need of constant

He rolled over and went back to sleep. About an hour later, he was
awakened again, this time by Hawkes. He dressed and they ate--good real
food, no synthetics, served by Hawkes' autochef--and then set out for
the Atlas Games Parlor, 68th Avenue and 423rd Street, in Upper York
City. The time was 1327 when they emerged on the street. Hawkes assured
him that Steve would already be at "work"; most unsuccessful gamblers
started making the rounds of the parlors in early afternoon.

They took the Undertube back to the heart of the city and kept going,
into the suburb of Upper York. Getting out at the 423rd Street terminal,
they walked briskly through the narrow crowded streets toward 68th

When they were a block away Alan spotted the sign, blinking on and off
in watery red letters: ATLAS GAMES PARLOR. A smaller sign proclaimed the
parlor's Class C status, which allowed any mediocre player to make use
of its facilities.

As they drew near Alan felt a tingle of excitement. This was what he had
come to the Earther city for in the first place--to find Steve. For
weeks he had been picturing the circumstances of this meeting; now it
was about to take place.

The Atlas was similar to the other games parlor where Alan had had the
set-to with the robohuckster; it was dark-windowed and a shining blue
robot stood outside, urging passersby to step inside and try their luck.
Alan moistened his dry lips; he felt cold and numb inside. He won't be
there, he thought; he won't be there.

Hawkes took a wad of bills from his wallet. "Here's two hundred credits
for you to use at the tables while you're looking around. I'll have to
wait outside. There'd be a royal uproar if a Class A man ever set foot
inside a place like the Atlas."

Alan smiled nervously. He was pleased that Hawkes was unable to come
with him; he wanted to handle the problem by himself, for a change. And
he was not anxious for the gambler to witness the scene between him and

_If_ Steve were inside, that is.

He nodded tightly and walked toward the door. The robohuckster outside
chattered at him, "Come right on, sir, step inside. Five credits can get
you a hundred here. Right this way."

"I'm going," Alan said. He passed through the photobeam and into the
games parlor. Another robot came sliding up to him and scanned his

"This is a Class C establishment, sir. If your card is any higher than
Class C you cannot compete here. Would you mind showing me your card,

"I don't have any. I'm an unrated beginner." That was what Hawkes had
told him to say. "I'd like a single table, please."

He was shown to a table to the left of the croupier's booth. The Atlas
was a good bit dingier than the Class A parlor he had been in the night
before; its electroluminescent light-panels fizzed and sputtered,
casting uncertain shadows here and there. A round was in progress;
figures were bent busily over their boards, altering their computations
and changing their light-patterns.

Alan slid a five-credit piece into the slot and, while waiting for the
round to finish and the next to begin, looked around at his fellow
patrons. In the semi-dark that prevailed it was difficult to make out
faces. He would have trouble recognizing Steve.

A musky odor hung low over the hall, sweet, pungent, yet somehow
unpleasant. He realized he had experienced that odor before, and tried
to remember--yes. Last night in the other games parlor he had smelled a
wisp of the fragrance, and Hawkes had told him it was a narcotic
cigarette. It lay heavy in the stale air of the Class C parlor.

Patrons stared with fanatic intensity at the racing pattern of lights
before them. Alan glanced from one to the next. A baldhead whose dome
glinted bright gold in the dusk knotted his hands together in an anguish
of indecision. A slim, dreamy-eyed young man gripped the sides of the
table frenziedly as the numbers spiralled upward. A fat woman in her
late forties, hopelessly dazed by the intricate game, slumped wearily in
her seat.

Beyond that he could not see. There were other patrons on the far side
of the rostrum; perhaps Steve was over there. But it was forbidden for
anyone to wander through the rows of tables searching for a particular

The gong rang, ending the round. "Number 322 wins a hundred credits,"
barked the croupier.

The man at Table 322 shambled forward for his money. He walked with a
twisted shuffle; his body shook palsiedly. Hawkes had warned him of
these, too--the dreamdust addicts, who in the late stages of their
addiction became hollow shells of men, barely able to walk. He took his
hundred credits and returned to his table without smiling. Alan
shuddered and looked away. Earth was not a pretty world. Life was good
if you had the stream running with you, as Hawkes did--but for each
successful one like Hawkes, how many fought unsuccessfully against the
current and were swept away into dreamdust or worse?

Steve. He looked down the row for Steve.

And then the board lit up again, and for the first time he was playing.

He set up a tentative pattern; golden streaks flitted across the board,
mingling with red and blue blinkers. Then the first number came. Alan
integrated it hastily and realized he had constructed a totally
worthless pattern; he wiped his board clean and set up new figures,
based on the one number he had. Already, he knew, he was hopelessly far
behind the others.

But he kept with it as the minutes crawled past. Sweat dribbled down his
face and neck. He had none of Hawkes' easy confidence with the board's
controls; this game was hard work for a beginner. Later, perhaps, some
of the steps would become automatic, but now----

"Seventy-eight sub twelve over thirteen," came the droning instructions,
and Alan pulled levers and twisted ratchets to keep his pattern true. He
saw the attraction the game held for the people of Earth: it required
such deep concentration, such careful attention, that one had no time to
ponder other problems. It was impossible to think and compete at the
same time. The game offered perfect escape from the harsh realities of
Earther existence.

"Six hundred twelve sigma five."

Again Alan recompensated. His nerves tingled; he felt he must be close
to victory. All thought of what he had come here for slipped away; Steve
was forgotten. Only the flashing board counted, only the game.

Five more numbers went by. Suddenly the gong rang, indicating that
someone had achieved a winning pattern, and it was like the fall of a
headsman's axe to Alan. He had lost. That was all he could think of. He
had lost.

The winner was the dreamy-eyed youth at Table 166, who accepted his
winnings without a word and took his seat. As Alan drew out another
five-credit piece for the next round, he realized what he was doing.

He was being caught up in the nerve-stretching excitement of the game.
He was forgetting Steve, forgetting the waiting Hawkes outside.

He stretched back in his seat and peered as far down the row as he could
see. No sign of Steve there; he had to be on the other side of the
croupier. Alan decided to do his best to win; that way he could advance
to the rostrum and scan the other half of the hall.

But the game fled by too quickly; he made a false computation on the
eleventh number and watched in dismay as his pattern drew further and
further away from the numbers being called off. He drove himself
furiously, trying to make amends, but it was impossible. The winner was
the man at Table 217, on the other side. He was a lantern-jawed giant
with the powerful frame of a longshoreman, and he laughed in pleasure as
he collected his money.

Three more rounds went by; Alan picked up increasing skill at the game,
but failed to win. He saw his shortcoming, but could not do anything to
help it: he was unable to extrapolate ahead. Hawkes was gifted with the
knack of being able to extend probable patterns two or three moves into
the future; Alan could only work with the given, and so he never made
the swift series of guesses which led to victory. He had spent nearly an
hour in the parlor now, fruitlessly.

The next round came and went. "Table 111 takes us for a hundred fifty
credits," came the croupier's cry. Alan relaxed, waiting for the lucky
winner to collect and for the next round to begin.

The winner reached the centrally located rostrum. Alan looked at him. He
was tall, fairly young--in his thirties, perhaps--with stooped shoulders
and a dull glazedness about his eyes. He looked familiar.


Feeling no excitement now that the quest had reached success, Alan
slipped from his seat and made his way around the croupier's rostrum and
down the far aisle. Steve had already taken his seat at Table 111. Alan
came up behind him, just as the gong sounded to signal the new round.

Steve was hunched over the board, calculating with almost desperate
fury. Alan touched his shoulder.


Without looking up Steve snapped, "Get out of here, whoever you are!
Can't you see I'm busy?"

"Steve, I----"

A robot sidled up to Alan and grasped him firmly by the arm. "It is
forbidden to disturb the players while they are engaged in the game. We
will have to eject you from this parlor."

Angrily Alan broke loose from the robot's grasp and leaned over Steve.
He shook him by the shoulder, roughly, trying to shake loose his mind
from the flickering games board.

"Steve, look up! It's me--Alan--your brother!"

Steve slapped at Alan's hand as he would at a fly. Alan saw other robots
converging on him from various points in the room. In a minute they'd
hurl him out into the street.

Recklessly he grabbed Steve by the shoulders and spun him around in his
seat. A curse tumbled from Steve's lips; then he fell strangely silent.

"You remember me, Steve? Your brother Alan. Your _twin_ brother, once."

Steve had changed, certainly. His hair was no longer thick and curly; it
seemed to have straightened out, and darkened a little. Wrinkles seamed
his forehead; his eyes were deep-set and surrounded by lines. He was
slightly overweight, and it showed. He looked terribly tired. Looking
at him was like looking at a comic mirror that distorted and altered
your features. But there was nothing comic about Steve's appearance.

In a hoarse whisper he said, "Alan?"


Alan felt robot arms grasping him firmly. He struggled to break loose,
and saw Steve trying to say something, only no words were coming. Steve
was very pale.

"Let go of him!" Steve said finally, "He--he wasn't disturbing me."

"He must be ejected. It is the rule."

Conflict traced deep lines on Steve's face. "All right, then. We'll both

The robots released Alan, who rubbed his arms ruefully. Together they
walked up the aisle and out into the street.

Hawkes stood waiting there.

"I see you've found him. It took long enough."

"M-Max, this is my brother, Steven Donnell." Alan's voice was shaky with
tension. "Steve, this is a friend of mine. Max Hawkes."

"You don't need to tell me who he is," Steve said. His voice was deeper
and harsher than Alan remembered it. "Every gamesman knows Hawkes. He's
the best there is." In the warm daylight, Steve looked even older than
the twenty-six years that was his chronological age. To Alan's eyes he
seemed to be a man who had been kicked around by life, a man who had not
yet given up but who knew he didn't stand much of a chance for the

And he looked ashamed. The old sparkle was gone from his brother's eyes.
Quietly Steve said, "Okay, Alan. You tracked me down. Call me whatever
names you want to call me and let me get about my business. I don't do
quite as well as your friend Hawkes, and I happen to be in need of a lot
of cash in a hurry."

"I didn't come to call you names. Let's go someplace where we can talk,"
Alan said. "There's a lot for us to talk about."

_Chapter Eleven_

They adjourned to a small tavern three doors down 68th Avenue from the
games parlor, an old-fashioned tavern with manually operated doors and
stuffed moose heads over the bar. Alan and Hawkes took seats next to
each other in a booth in back; Steve sat facing them.

The barkeep came scuttling out--no robot in here, just a tired-faced old
man--and took their orders. Hawkes called for beer, Steve for whiskey;
Alan did not order.

He sat staring at his brother's oddly changed face. Steve was
twenty-six. From Alan's seventeen-year-old vantage-point, that seemed
tremendously old, well past the prime of life.

He said, "The _Valhalla_ landed on Earth a few days ago. We're bound out
for Procyon in a few days."


"The Captain would like to see you again, Steve."

Steve stared moodily at his drink without speaking, for a long moment.
Alan studied him. Less than two months had passed for Alan since Steve
had jumped ship; he still remembered how his twin had looked. There had
been something smouldering in Steve's eyes then, a kind of rebellious
fire, a smoky passion. That was gone now. It had burned out long ago. In
its place Alan saw only tiny red veins--the bloodshot eyes of a man who
had been through a lot, little of it very pleasant.

"Is that the truth?" Steve asked. "_Would_ he like to see me? Or
wouldn't he just prefer to think I never was born at all?"


"I know the Captain--Dad--pretty well. Even though I haven't seen him in
nine years. He'd never forgive me for jumping ship. I don't want to pay
any visits to the _Valhalla_, Alan."

"Who said anything about visiting?"

"Then what _were_ you talking about?"

"I was talking about going back into the Crew," Alan said quietly.

The words seemed to strike Steve like physical blows. He shuddered a
little and gulped down the drink he held clutched in tobacco-stained
fingers. He looked up at Alan, finally.

"I can't. It's impossible. Flatly impossible."


Alan felt Hawkes' foot kick him sharply under the table. He caught the
hint, and changed the subject. There was time to return to it later.

"Okay, let's skip it for now. Why don't you tell me about your life on
Earth these last nine years?"

Steve smiled sardonically. "There's not much to tell, and what there is
is a pretty dull story. I came across the bridge from the Enclave last
time the _Valhalla_ was in town, and came over into York City all set
to conquer the world, become rich and famous, and live happily ever
after. Five minutes after I set foot on the Earther side of the river I
was beaten up and robbed by a gang of roving kids. It was a real fine

He signalled the waiter for another drink. "I guess I must have drifted
around the city for two weeks or more before the police found me and
picked me up for vagrancy. By that time the _Valhalla_ had long since
hoisted for Alpha C--and didn't I wish I was on it! Every night I used
to dream I had gone back on the ship. But when I woke up I always found
out I hadn't.

"The police gave me an education in the ways of Earther life, complete
with rubber hoses and stingrays, and when they were through with me I
knew all about the system of work cards and free status. I didn't have a
credit to my name. So I drifted some more. Then I got sick of drifting
and tried to find a job, but of course I couldn't buy my way in to any
of the hereditary guilds. Earth has enough people of her own; she's not
interested in finding jobs for kid spacemen who jump ship.

"So I starved a little. Then I got tired of starving. So about a year
after I first jumped ship I borrowed a thousand credits from somebody
foolish enough to lend them, and set myself up as a professional gambler
on Free Status. It was the only trade I could find that didn't have any
entrance requirements."

"Did you do well?"

"Yeah. Very well. At the end of my first six months I was fifteen
hundred credits in debt. Then my luck changed; I won three thousand
credits in a single month and got shifted up to Class B." Steve laughed
bitterly. "That was beautiful, up there. Inside of two more months I'd
not only lost my three thousand, I was two thousand more in hock. And
that's the way it's been going ever since. I borrow here, win a little
to pay him back, or lose a little and borrow from someone else, win a
little, lose a little--round and round and round. A swell life, Alan.
And I still dream about the _Valhalla_ once or twice a week."

Steve's voice was leaden, dreary. Alan felt a surge of pity. The
swashbuckling, energetic Steve he had known might still be there, inside
this man somewhere, but surrounding him were the scars of nine bitter
years on Earth.

Nine years. It was a tremendous gulf.

Alan caught his breath a moment. "If you had the chance to go back into
the Crew, no strings attached, no recriminations--would you take it?"

For an instant the old brightness returned to Steve's eyes. "Of course I
would! But----"

"But what?"

"I owe seven thousand credits," Steve said. "And it keeps getting worse.
That pot I won today, just before you came over to me, that was the
first take I'd had in three days. Nine years and I'm still a Class C
gambler. We can't all be as good as Hawkes here. I'm lousy--but what
other profession could I go into, on an overcrowded and hostile world
like this one?"

Seven thousand credits, Alan thought. It was a week's earnings for
Hawkes--but Steve would probably be in debt the rest of his life.

"Who do you owe this money to?" Hawkes asked suddenly.

Steve looked at him. "The Bryson syndicate, mostly. And Lorne Hollis.
The Bryson people keep a good eye on me, too. There's a Bryson man
three booths up who follows me around. If they ever saw me going near
the spacefield they'd be pretty sure to cut me off and ask for their
money. You can't welsh on Bryson."

"Suppose it was arranged that your debts be cancelled," Hawkes said

Steve shook his head. "No. I don't want charity. I know you're a Class A
and seven thousand credits comes easy to you, but I couldn't take it.
Skip it. I'm stuck here on Earth for keeps, and I'm resigned to it. I
made my choice, and this is what I got."

"Listen to reason," Alan urged. "Hawkes will take care of the money you
owe. And Dad will be so happy to see you come back to the ship

"Like Mars he'll be happy! See me come back, beaten up and ragged, a
washed-out old man at twenty-six? No, sir. The Captain blotted me out of
his mind a long time ago, and he and I don't have any further business

"You're wrong, Steve. He sent me into the Earther city deliberately to
find you. He said to me, 'Find Steve and urge him to come back to the
ship.' He's forgiven you completely," Alan lied. "Everyone's anxious to
have you come back on board."

For a moment Steve sat silent, indecisive, frowning deeply. Then he made
up his mind. He shook his head. "No--both of you. Thanks, but I don't
want any. Keep your seven thousand, Hawkes. And you, Alan--go back to
the ship and forget all about me. I don't even deserve a second chance."

"You're wrong!" Alan started to protest, but a second time Hawkes kicked
him hard, and he shut up. He stared curiously at the gambler.

"I guess that about settles it," Hawkes observed. "If the man wants to
stay, we can't force him."

Steve nodded. "I have to stay on Earth. And now I'd better get back to
the games parlor--I can't waste any time, you know. Not with a seven
thousand credit backlog to make up."

"Naturally. But there's time for one more drink, isn't there? On me.
Maybe you don't want my money, but let me buy you a drink."

Steve grinned. "Fair enough."

He started to wave to the bartender, but Hawkes shot out an arm quickly
and blocked off the gesture. "He's an old man and he's tired. I'll go to
the bar and order." And before Steve could protest, Hawkes had slipped
smoothly out of the booth and was on his way forward to the bar.

Alan sat facing his brother. He felt pity. Steve had been through a lot;
the freedom he had longed for aboard ship had had a heavy price. And was
it freedom, to sit in a crowded games parlor on a dirty little planet
and struggle to get out of debt?

There was nothing further he could say to Steve. He had tried, and he
had failed, and Steve would remain on Earth. But it seemed wrong. Steve
_did_ deserve a second chance. He had jumped ship and it had been a
mistake, but there was no reason why he could not return to his old
life, wiser for the experience. Still, if he refused----

Hawkes came back bearing two drinks--another beer for himself and a
whiskey for Steve. He set them out on the table and said, "Well, drink
up. Here's hoping you make Class A and stay there."

"Thanks," Steve said, and drained his drink in a single loud gulp. His
eyes widened; he started to say something, but never got the words out.
He slumped down in his seat and his chin thumped ringingly against the

Alan looked at Hawkes in alarm. "What happened to him? Why'd he pass

Hawkes smiled knowingly. "An ancient Earth beverage known as the Mickey
Finn. Two drops of a synthetic enzyme in his drink; tasteless, but
extremely effective. He'll be asleep for ten hours or more."

"How'd you arrange it?"

"I told the bartender it was in a good cause, and he believed me. You
wait here, now. I want to talk to that Bryson man about your brother's
debts, and then we'll spirit him out to the spaceport and dump him
aboard the _Valhalla_ before he wakes up."

Alan grinned. He was going to have to do some explaining to Steve later,
but by that time it would be too late; the starship would be well on its
way to Procyon. It was a dirty trick to play, he thought, but it was
justifiable. In Hawkes' words, it was in a good cause.

Alan put his arms around his brother's shoulders and gently lifted him
out of the chair; Steve was surprisingly light, for all his lack of
condition. Evidently muscle weighed more than fat, and Steve had gone to
fat. Supporting his brother's bulk without much trouble, Alan made his
way toward the entrance to the bar. As he went past the bartender, the
old man smiled at him. Alan wondered what Hawkes had said to him.

Right now Hawkes was three booths up, leaning over and taking part in an
urgent whispered conference with a thin dark-faced man in a sharply
tailored suit. They reached some sort of agreement; there was a
handshake. Then Hawkes left the booth and slung one of Steve's dangling
arms around his own shoulder, easing the weight.

"There's an Undertube that takes us as far as Carhill Boulevard and the
bridge," Hawkes said. "We can get a ground vehicle there that'll go on
through the Enclave and out to the spacefield."

The trip took nearly an hour. Steve sat propped up between Alan and
Hawkes, and every now and then his head would loll to one side or
another, and he would seem to be stirring; but he never woke. The sight
of two men dragging a third along between them attracted not the
slightest attention as they left the Undertube and climbed aboard the
spacefield bus. Apparently in York City no one cared much about what
went on; it made no difference to the busy Earthers whether Steve were
unconscious or dead.

The ground bus took them over the majestic arch of the bridge, rapidly
through the sleepy Enclave--Alan saw nobody he recognized in the
streets--and through the restricted area that led to the spacefield.

The spaceport was a jungle of ships, each standing on its tail waiting
to blast off. Most of them were small two-man cargo vessels, used in
travel between Earth and the colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Pluto, but
here and there a giant starship loomed high above the others. Alan stood
on tiptoes to search for the golden hull of the _Valhalla_, but he was
unable to see it. Since the starship would be blasting off at the end of
the week, he knew the crew was probably already at work on it, shaping
it up for the trip. He belonged on it too.

He saw a dark green starship standing nearby; the _Encounter_, Kevin
Quantrell's ship. Men were moving about busily near the big ship, and
Alan remembered that it had become obsolete during its last long voyage,
and was being rebuilt.

A robot came sliding up to the three of them as they stood there at the
edge of the landing field.

"Can I help you, please?"

"I'm from the starship _Valhalla_," Alan said. "I'm returning to the
ship. Would you take me to the ship, please?"

"Of course."

Alan turned to Hawkes. The moment had come, much too suddenly. Alan felt
Rat twitching at his cuff, as if reminding him of something.

Grinning awkwardly, Alan said, "I guess this is the end of the line,
Max. You'd better not go out on the spacefield with us. I--I sort of
want to thank you for all the help you've given me. I never would have
found Steve without you. And about the bet we made--well, it looks like
I'm going back on my ship after all, so I've won a thousand credits from
you. But I can't ask for it, of course. Not after what you did for

He extended his hand. Hawkes took it, but he was smiling strangely.

"If I owed you the money, I'd pay it to you," the gambler said. "That's
the way I work. The seven thousand I paid for Steve is extra and above
everything else. But you haven't won that bet yet. You haven't won it
until the _Valhalla's_ in space with you aboard it."

The robot made signs of impatience. Hawkes said, "You'd better convoy
your brother across the field and dump him on his ship. Save the
goodbyes for later. I'll wait right here for you. Right here."

Alan shook his head. "Sorry, Max, but you're wasting your time by
waiting. The _Valhalla_ has to be readied for blastoff, and once I check
in aboard ship I can't come back to visit. So this is goodbye, right

"We'll see about that," Hawkes said. "Ten to one odds."

"Ten to one," Alan said. "And you've lost your bet." But his voice did
not sound very convincing, and as he started off across the field with
Steve dragging along beside him he frowned, and did some very intense
thinking indeed in the few minutes' time it took him to arrive at the
shining _Valhalla_. He was beginning to suspect that Hawkes might be
going to win the bet after all.

_Chapter Twelve_

He felt a little emotional pang, something like nostalgia, as the
_Valhalla_ came into sight, standing by itself tall and proud at the far
end of the field. A cluster of trucks buzzed around it, transferring
fuel, bringing cargo. He spotted the wiry figure of Dan Kelleher, the
cargo chief, supervising and shouting salty instructions to the
perspiring men.

Alan tightened his grip on Steve's arm and moved forward. Kelleher
shouted, "You men back there, tighten up on that winch and give 'er a
hoist! Tighten up, I say! Put some muscle into----" He broke off.
"Alan," he said, in a quiet voice.

"Hello, Dan. Is my father around?"

Kelleher was staring with frank curiosity at the slumped figure of Steve
Donnell. "The Captain's off watch now. Art Kandin's in charge."

"Thanks," Alan said. "I'd better go see him."

"Sure. And----"

Alan nodded. "Yes. That's Steve."

He passed between the cargo hoists and clambered onto the escalator
rampway that led to the main body of the ship. It rose, conveying him
seventy feet upward and through the open passenger hatch to the inner
section of the towering starship.

He was weary from having carried Steve so long. He put the sleeping form
down against a window-seat facing one of the viewscreens, and said to
Rat, "You stay here and keep watch. If anyone wants to know who he is,
tell them the truth."

"Right enough."

Alan found Art Kandin where he expected to find him--in the Central
Control Room, posting work assignments for the blastoff tomorrow. The
lanky, pudgy-faced First Officer hardly noticed as Alan stepped up
beside him.


Kandin turned--and went pale. "Oh--Alan. Where in blazes have you been
the last two days?"

"Out in the Earther city. Did my father make much of a fuss?"

The First Officer shook his head. "He kept saying you just went out to
see the sights, that you hadn't really jumped ship. But he kept saying
it over and over again, as if he didn't really believe it, as if he
wanted to convince himself you were coming back."

"Where is he now?"

"In his cabin. He's off-watch for the next hour or two. I'll ring him up
and have him come down here, I guess."

Alan shook his head. "No--don't do that. Tell him to meet me on B Deck."
He gave the location of the picture-viewscreen where he had parked
Steve, and Kandin shrugged and agreed.

Alan made his way back to the viewscreen. Rat looked up at him; he was
sitting perched on Steve's shoulder.

"Anyone bother you?" Alan asked.

"No one's come by this way since you left," Rat said.

"Alan?" a quiet voice said.

Alan turned. "Hello, Dad."

The Captain's lean, tough face had some new lines on it; his eyes were
darkly shadowed, and he looked as if he hadn't slept much the night
before. But he took Alan's hand and squeezed it warmly--in a fatherly
way, not a Captainly one. Then he glanced at the sleeping form behind

"I--went into the city, Dad. And found Steve."

Something that looked like pain came into Captain Donnell's eyes, but
only for an instant. He smiled. "It's strange, seeing the two of you
like this. So you brought back Steve, eh? We'll have to put him back on
the roster. Why is he asleep? He looks like he's out cold."

"He is. It's a long story, Dad."

"You'll have to explain it to me later, then--after blastoff."

Alan shook his head. "No, Dad. Steve can explain it when he wakes up,
tonight. Steve can tell you lots of things. I'm going back to the city."


It was easy to say, now--the decision that had been taking vague form
for several hours, and which had crystallized as he trudged across the
spacefield toward the _Valhalla_. "I brought you back Steve, Dad. You
still have one son aboard ship. I want off. I'm resigning. I want to
stay behind on Earth. By our charter you can't deny such a request."

Captain Donnell moistened his lips slowly. "Agreed, I can't deny. But
why, Alan?"

"I think I can do more good Earthside. I want to look for Cavour's old
notebooks; I think he developed the hyperdrive, and if I stay behind on
Earth maybe I can find it. Or else I can build my own. So long, Dad. And
tell Steve that I wish him luck--and that he'd better do the same for
me." He glanced at Rat. "Rat, I'm deeding you to Steve. Maybe if he had
had you instead of me, he never would have jumped ship in the first

He looked around, at his father, at Steve, at Rat. There was not much
else he could say. And he knew that if he prolonged the farewell scene
too long, he'd only be burdening his father and himself with the weight
of sentimental memory.

"We won't be back from Procyon for almost twenty years, Alan. You'll be
thirty-seven before we return to Earth again."

Alan grinned. "I have a hunch I'll be seeing you all before then, Dad. I
hope. Give everyone my best. So long, Dad."

"So long, Alan."

He turned away and rapidly descended the ramp. Avoiding Kelleher and the
cargo crew, for goodbyes would take too long, he trotted smoothly over
the spacefield, feeling curiously lighthearted now. Part of the quest
was over; Steve was back on board the _Valhalla_. But Alan knew the real
work was just beginning. He would search for the hyperdrive; perhaps
Hawkes would help him. Maybe he would succeed in his quest this time,
too. He had some further plans, in that event, but it was not time to
think of them now.

Hawkes was still standing at the edge of the field, and there was a
thoughtful smile on his face as Alan came running up to him.

"I guess you won your bet," Alan said, when he had his breath back.

"I almost always do. You owe me a hundred credits--but I'll defer

They made the trip back to York City in virtual silence. Either Hawkes
was being too tactful to ask the reasons for Alan's decision or
else--this seemed more likely, Alan decided--the gambler had already
made some shrewd surmises, and was waiting for time to bear him out.
Hawkes had known long before Alan himself realized it that he would not
leave with the _Valhalla_.

The Cavour Hyperdrive, that was the rainbow's end Alan would chase now.
He would accept Hawkes' offer, become the gambler's protege, learn a few
thing about life. The experience would not hurt him. And always in the
front of his mind he would keep the ultimate goal, of finding a
spacedrive that would propel a ship faster than the speed of light.

At the apartment in Hasbrouck, Hawkes offered him a drink. "To celebrate
our partnership," he explained.

Alan accepted the drink and tossed it down. It stung, momentarily; he
saw sadly he was never going to make much of a drinking man. He drew
something from his pocket, and Hawkes frowned.

"What's that?"

"My Tally. Every spaceman has one. It's the only way we can keep track
of our chronological ages when we're on board ship." He showed it to
Hawkes; it read _Year 17 Day 3_. "Every twenty-four hours of subjective
time that goes by, we click off another day. Every three hundred
sixty-five days another year is ticked off. But I guess I won't be
needing this any more."

He tossed it in the disposal unit. "I'm an Earther now. Every day that
goes by is just one day; objective time and subjective time are equal."

Hawkes grinned cheerfully. "A little plastic doodad to tell you how old
you are, eh? Well, that's all behind you now." He pointed to a button in
the wall. "There's the operating control for your bed; I'll sleep in
back, where I did last night. First thing tomorrow we'll get you a
decent set of clothes, so you can walk down the street without having
people yell '_Spacer!_' at you. Then I want you to meet a few
people--friends of mine. And then we start breaking you in at the Class
C tables."

       *       *       *       *       *

The first few days of life with Hawkes were exciting ones. The gambler
bought Alan new clothing, modern stuff with self-sealing zippers and
pressure buttons, made of filmy clinging materials that were incredibly
more comfortable than the rough cloth of his _Valhalla_ uniform. York
City seemed less strange to him with each passing hour; he studied
Undertube routes and Overshoot maps until he knew his way around the
city fairly well.

Each night about 1800 they would eat, and then it was time to go to
work. Hawkes' routine brought him to three different Class A gambling
parlors, twice each week; on the seventh day he always rested. For the
first week Alan followed Hawkes around, standing behind him and
observing his technique. When the second week began, Alan was on his
own, and he began to frequent Class C places near the A parlors Hawkes

But when he asked Hawkes whether he should take out a Free Status
registration, the gambler replied with a quick, snappish, "Not yet."

"But why? I'm a professional gambler, since last week. Why shouldn't I

"Because you don't need to. It's not required."

"But I want to. Gosh, Max, I--well, I sort of want to put my name down
on something. Just to show I belong here on Earth. I want to register."

Hawkes looked at him strangely, and it seemed to Alan there was menace
in the calm blue eyes. In suddenly ominous tones he said, "I don't want
you signing your name to anything, Alan. Or registering for Free Status.
Got that?"

"Yes, but----"

"No buts! Got it?"

Repressing his anger, Alan nodded. He was used to taking orders from his
shipboard superiors and obeying them. Hawkes probably knew best. In any
case, he was dependent on the older man right now, and did not want to
anger him unnecessarily. Hawkes was wealthy; it might take money to
build a hyperdrive ship, when the time came. Alan was flatly
cold-blooded about it, and the concept surprised and amused him when he
realized just how single-minded he had become since resigning from the

He turned the single-mindedness to good use at the gaming tables first.
During his initial ten days as a professional, he succeeded in losing
seven hundred credits of Hawkes' money, even though he did manage to win
a three-hundred-credit stake one evening.

But Hawkes was not worried. "You'll make the grade, Alan. A few more
weeks, days maybe, while you learn the combinations, limber up your
fingers, pick up the knack of thinking fast--you'll get there."

"I'm glad _you're_ so optimistic." Alan felt downcast. He had dropped
three hundred credits that evening, and it seemed to him that his
fumbling fingers would never learn to set up the combinations fast
enough. He was just like Steve, a born loser, without the knack the game
required. "Oh, well, it's your money."

"And I expect you to double it for me some day. I've got a five-to-one
bet out now that you'll make Class B before fall."

Alan snorted doubtfully. In order to make Class B, he would have to make
average winnings of two hundred credits a night for ten days running, or
else win three thousand credits within a month. It seemed a hopeless

But, as usual, Hawkes won the bet. Alan's luck improved as May passed
and June dwindled; at the beginning of July he hit a hot streak when he
seemed to be marching up to the winner's rostrum every other round, and
the other Class C patrons began to grumble. The night he came home with
six hundred newly-won credits, Hawkes opened a drawer and took out a
slim, sleek neutrino gun.

"You'd better carry this with you from now on," the gambler said.

"What for?"

"They're starting to notice you now. I hear people talking. They know
you're carrying cash out of the game parlors every night."

Alan held the cool gray weapon, whose muzzle could spit a deadly stream
of energized neutrinos, undetectable, massless, and fatal. "If I'm held
up I'm supposed to use this?"

"Just the first time," Hawkes said. "If you do the job right, you won't
need to use it any more. There won't be any second time."

As it turned out, Alan had no need for the gun, but he carried it within
easy reach whenever he left the apartment. His skill at the game
continued to increase; it was, he saw, just like astrogation, and with
growing confidence he learned to project his moves three and sometimes
four numbers ahead.

On a warm night in mid-July the proprietor of the games hall Alan
frequented most regularly stopped him as he entered.

"You're Donnell, aren't you?"

"That's right. Anything wrong?"

"Nothing much, except that I've been tallying up your take the past two
weeks. Comes to close to three thousand credits, altogether. Which means
you're not welcome around this parlor any more. Nothing personal, son.
You'd better carry this with you next time out."

Alan took the little card the proprietor offered him. It was made of
gray plastic, and imprinted on it in yellow were the letters, CLASS B.
He had been promoted.

_Chapter Thirteen_

Things were not quite so easy in the Class B games parlors. Competition
was rough. Some of the players were, like Alan, sharp newcomers just up
from the bottom of the heap; others were former Class A men who were
sliding down again, but still did well enough to hang on in Class B.
Every day, some of the familiar faces were gone, as one man after
another failed to meet the continuing qualifications for the
intermediary class.

Alan won fairly steadily--and Hawkes, of course, was a consistent winner
on the Class A level. Alan turned his winnings over to the older man,
who then allowed him to draw any cash he might need without question.

The summer rolled on through August--hot and sticky, despite the best
efforts of the local weather-adjustment bureau. The cloud-seeders
provided a cooling rain-shower at about 0100 every night to wash away
the day's grime. Alan was usually coming home at that time, and he would
stand in the empty streets letting the rain pelt down on him, and
enjoying it. Rain was a novelty for him; he had spent so much of his
life aboard the starship that he had had little experience with it. He
was looking forward to the coming of winter, and with it snow.

He hardly ever thought of the _Valhalla_. He disciplined himself to keep
thoughts of the starship out of his mind, for he knew that once he began
regretting his decision there would be no stopping. Life on Earth was
endlessly fascinating; and he was confident that someday soon he would
get a chance to begin tracking down the Cavour hyperdrive.

Hawkes taught him many things--how to wrestle, how to cheat at cards,
how to throw knives. None of the things Alan learned from Hawkes were
proper parts of the education of a virtuous young man--but on Earth,
virtue was a negative accomplishment. You were either quick or dead. And
until he had an opportunity to start work on the hyperdrive, Alan knew
he had better learn how to survive on Earth. Hawkes was a master of
survival techniques; Alan was a good student.

He had his first test on a muggy night early in September. He had spent
his evening at the Lido, a flossy games parlor in the suburb of
Ridgewood, and had come away with better than seven hundred credits--the
second best single night he had ever had. He felt good about things.
Hawkes was working at a parlor far across the city, and so they did not
arrange to meet when the evening was over; instead, they planned to come
home separately. Usually they talked for an hour or two each night
before turning in, Alan reviewing his evening's work and having Hawkes
pick out the weak points in his technique and show him the mistakes he
had made.

Alan reached Hasbrouck about 0030 that evening. There was no moon; and
in Hasbrouck the street-lighting was not as efficient as it was in more
respectable areas of York City. The streets were dark. Alan was
perspiring heavily from the humidity. But the faint hum of the
cloud-seeders' helicopters could be heard; the evening rain was on the
way. He decided to wait outside a while.

The first drops splashed down at 0045. Alan grinned gleefully as the
cool rain washed away the sweat that clung to him; while pedestrians
scurried for cover, he gloried in the downpour.

Darkness lay all around. Alan heard sudden footsteps; a moment later he
felt sharp pressure in the small of his back and a hand gripping his

A quiet voice said, "Hand over your cash and you won't get hurt."

Alan froze just an instant. Then the months of Hawkes' training came
into play. He wiggled his back tentatively to see whether the knife was
penetrating his clothing. Good; it wasn't.

In one quick motion he whirled and spun away, dancing off to the left
and clubbing down sharply on his opponent's knife-hand. A grunted
exclamation of pain rewarded him. He stepped back two steps; as his
attacker advanced, Alan drove a fist into his stomach and leaped lithely
away again. This time his hand emerged holding the neutrino gun.

"Stand where you are or I'll burn you," he said quietly. The
shadow-shrouded attacker made no move. Cautiously Alan kicked the fallen
knife out of his reach without lowering his gun.

"Okay," Alan said. "Come on over here in the light where I can see who
you are. I want to remember you."

But to his astonishment he felt strong arms slipping around his and
pinioning him; a quick twist and his neutrino gun dropped from his
numbed hands. The arms locked behind his back in an unbreakable full

Alan writhed, but it was no use. The hidden accomplice held him tightly.
And now the other man came forward and efficiently went through his
pockets. Alan felt more angry than afraid, but he wished Hawkes or
someone else would come along before this thing went too far.

Suddenly Alan felt the pressure behind his neck easing up. His captor
was releasing him. He poised, debating whether or not to whirl and
attack, when a familiar voice said, "Rule Number One: never leave your
back unguarded for more than half a second when you're being held up.
You see what happens."

Alan was too stunned to reply for several moments. In a whisper he said
finally, "Max?"

"Of course. And lucky for you I'm who I am, too. John, step out here in
the light where he can see you. Alan, meet John Byng. Free Status, Class

The man who had originally attacked him came forward now, into the light
of the street-glow. He was shorter than Alan, with a lean, almost
fleshless face and a scraggly reddish-brown beard. He looked cadaverous.
His eyeballs were stained a peculiar yellowish tinge.

Alan recognized him--a Class B man he had seen several times at various
parlors. It was not a face one forgot easily.

Byng handed over the thick stack of bills he had taken from Alan. As he
pocketed them, Alan said in some annoyance, "A very funny prank, Max.
But suppose I had burned your friend's belly, or he had stabbed me?"

Hawkes chuckled. "One of the risks of the game, I guess. But I know you
too well to think that you'd burn down an unarmed man, and John didn't
intend to stab you. Besides, I was right here."

"And what was the point of this little demonstration?"

"Part of your education, m'boy. I was hoping you'd be held up by one of
the local gangs, but they didn't oblige, so I had to do it myself. With
John's help, of course. Next time remember that there may be an
accomplice hiding in the shadows, and that you're not safe just because
you've caught one man."

Alan grinned. "Good point. And I guess this is the best way to learn

The three of them went upstairs. Byng excused himself and vanished into
the extra room almost immediately; Hawkes whispered to Alan, "Johnny's a
dreamduster--a narcosephrine addict. In the early stages; you can spot
it by the yellowing of the eyeballs. Later on it'll cripple him, but he
doesn't worry about later on."

Alan studied the small, lean man when he returned. Byng was smiling--a
strange unworldly smile. He held a small plastic capsule in his right

"Here's another facet of your education," he said. He looked at Hawkes.
"Is it okay?"

Hawkes nodded.

Byng said, "Take a squint at this capsule, boy. It's
dreamdust--narcosephrine. That's my kick."

He tossed the capsule nonchalantly to Alan, who caught it and held it at
arm's distance as if it were a live viper. It contained a yellow powder.

"You twist the cap and sniff a little," Hawkes said. "But don't try it
unless you hate yourself real bad. Johnny can testify to that."

Alan frowned. "What does the stuff do?"

"It's a stimulant--a nerve-stimulant. Enhances perception. It's made
from a weed that grows only in dry, arid places--comes from Epsilon
Eridani IV originally, but the galaxy's biggest plantation is in the
Sahara. It's habit-forming--and expensive."

"How much of it do you have to take to--to get the habit?"

Byng's thin lips curled in a cynical scowl. "One sniff. And the drug
takes all your worries away. You're nine feet tall and the world's your
plaything, when you're up on dream dust. Everything you look at has six
different colors." Bitterly Byng said, "Just one catch--after about a
year you stop feeling the effect. But not the craving. That stays with
you forever. Every night, one good sniff--at a hundred credits a sniff.
And there's no cure."

Alan shuddered. He had seen dreamdust addicts in the advanced
state--withered palsied old men of forty, unable to eat, crippled,
drying up and nearing death. All that for a year's pleasure!

"Johnny used to be a starman," Hawkes said suddenly. "That's why I
picked him for our little stunt tonight. I thought it was about time I
introduced you two."

Alan's eyes widened. "What ship?"

"_Galactic Queen._ A dreamdust peddler came wandering through the
Enclave one night and let me have a free sniff. Generous of him."

"And you--became an addict?"

"Five minutes later. So my ship left without me. That was eleven years
ago, Earthtime. Figure it out--a hundred credits a night for eleven

Alan felt cold inside. It could have happened to him, he thought--that
free sniff. Byng's thin shoulders were quivering. The advanced stage of
addiction was starting to set in.

Byng was only the first of Hawkes' many friends that Alan met in the
next two weeks. Hawkes was the center of a large group of men in Free
Status, not all of whom knew each other but who all knew Hawkes. Alan
felt a sort of pride in being the protege of such an important and
widely-known man as Max Hawkes, until he started discovering what sort
of people Hawkes' friends were.

There was Lorne Hollis, the loansman--one of the men Steve had borrowed
from. Hollis was a chubby, almost greasy individual with flat milky gray
eyes and a cold, chilling smile. Alan shook hands with him, and then
felt like wiping off his hand. Hollis came to see them often.

Another frequent visitor was Mike Kovak of the Bryson Syndicate--a
sharp-looking businessman type in ultra-modern suits, who spoke clearly
and well and whose specialty was forgery. There was Al Webber, an
amiable, soft-spoken little man who owned a fleet of small ion-drive
cargo ships that plied the spacelines between Earth and Mars, and who
also exported dreamdust to the colony on Pluto, where the weed could not
be grown.

Seven or eight others showed up occasionally at Hawkes' apartment. Alan
was introduced to them all, and then generally dropped out of the
conversation, which usually consisted of reminiscences and gossip about
people he did not know.

But as the days passed, one thing became evident: Hawkes might not be a
criminal himself, but certainly most of his friends operated on the far
side of the law. Hawkes had seen to it that they stayed away from the
apartment during the first few months of Alan's Earther education; but
now that the ex-starman was an accomplished gambler and fairly well
skilled in self-defense, all of Hawkes' old friends were returning once

Day by day Alan increasingly realized how innocent and childlike a
starman's life was. The _Valhalla_ was a placid little world of 176
people, bound together by so many ties that there was rarely any
conflict. Here on Earth, though, life was tough and hard.

He was lucky. He had stumbled into Hawkes early in his wanderings. With
a little less luck he might have had the same sort of life Steve had
had ... or John Byng. It was not fun to think about that.

Usually when Hawkes had friends visiting him late at night, Alan would
sit up for a while listening, and then excuse himself and get some
sleep. As he lay in bed he could hear low whispering, and once he woke
toward morning and heard the conversation still going on. He strained
his ears, but did not pick up anything.

One night early in October he had come home from the games parlor and,
finding nobody home, had gone immediately to sleep. Some time later he
heard Hawkes and his friends come in, but he was too tired to get out of
bed and greet them. He rolled over and went back to sleep.

But later that night he felt hands touching him, and he opened an eye to
see Hawkes bending over him.

"It's me--Max. Are you awake?"

"No," Alan muttered indistinctly.

Hawkes shook him several times. "Come on--get up and put some clothes
on. Some people here who want to talk to you."

Only half comprehending, Alan clambered unwillingly from bed, dressed,
and splashed cold water in his face. He followed Hawkes back inside.

The living room was crowded. Seven or eight men were there--the ones
Alan thought of as the inner circle of Hawkes' cronies. Johnny Byng,
Mike Kovak, Al Webber, Lorne Hollis, and some others. Sleepily Alan
nodded at them and took a seat, wondering why Hawkes had dragged him out
of bed for this.

Hawkes looked at him sharply. "Alan, you know all these people, don't

Alan nodded. He was still irritated at Hawkes; he had been sound asleep.

"You're now facing ninety per cent of what we've come to call the Hawkes
Syndicate," Hawkes went on. "These eight gentlemen and myself have
formed the organization recently for a certain specific purpose. More of
that in a few minutes. What I got you out here to tell you was that
there's room in our organization for one more man, and that you fit the
necessary qualifications."


Hawkes smiled. "You. We've all been watching you since you came to live
with me, testing you, studying you. You're adaptable, strong,
intelligent. You learn fast. We had a little vote tonight, and decided
to invite you in."

Alan wondered if he were still asleep or not. What was all this talk of
syndicates? He looked round the circle, and realized that this bunch
could be up to no good.

Hawkes said, "Tell him about it, Johnny."

Byng leaned forward and blinked his drug-stained eyes. In a quiet voice,
almost a purr, he said, "It's really very simple. We're going to stage a
good old-fashioned hold-up. It's a proposition that'll net us each about
a million credits, even with the ten-way split. It ought to go off
pretty easy but we need you in on it. As a matter of fact, I'd say you
were indispensable to the project, Alan."

_Chapter Fourteen_

Hawkes took over, explaining the proposition to a now very much awake

"There's going to be a currency transfer at the World Reserve Bank
downtown next Friday. At least ten million credits are going to be
picked up by an armored truck and taken to branch banks for

"Hollis, here, happens to have found out the wave-patterns of the
roboguards who'll be protecting the currency shipment. And Al Webber has
some equipment that can paralyze roboguards if we know their operational
wavelength. So it's a simple matter to leave the car unprotected; we
wait till it's loaded, then blank out the robots, seize the human
guards, and drive away with the truck."

Alan frowned thoughtfully. "Why am _I_ so indispensable to this
business?" He had no desire to rob banks or anything else.

"Because you're the only one of us who isn't registered on the central
directory. You don't have any televector number. You can't be traced."

Suddenly Alan understood. "So _that's_ why you didn't let me register!
You've been grooming me for this all along!"

Hawkes nodded. "As far as Earth is concerned, you don't exist. If any of
us drove off with that truck, all they need to do is plot the truck's
coordinates and follow the televector patterns of the man who's driving
it. Capture is inevitable that way. But if _you're_ aboard the truck,
there's no possible way of tracing your route. Get it?"

"I get it," Alan said slowly. _But I don't like it_, he added silently.
"I want to think about the deal a little longer, though. Let me sleep on
it. I'll tell you tomorrow whether I'll go through with it."

Puzzled expressions appeared on the faces of Hawkes' eight guests, and
Webber started to say something, but Hawkes hastily cut him off. "The
boy's a little sleepy, that's all. He needs time to get used to the idea
of being a millionaire. I'll call each of you in the morning, okay?"

The eight were shepherded out of the apartment rapidly, and when they
were gone Hawkes turned to face Alan. Gone now was the bland
friendliness, gone the warm-hearted brotherliness of the older man. His
lean face was cold and businesslike now, and his voice was harsh as he
said, "What's this talk of thinking it over? Who said you had any choice
about this thing?"

"Don't I have any say in my own life?" Alan asked hotly. "Suppose I
don't want to be a bank robber? You didn't tell me----"

"I didn't need to. Listen, boy--I didn't bring you in here for my
health. I brought you in because I saw you had the potential for this
job. I've coddled you along for more than three months, now. Given you a
valuable education in how to get along on this planet. Now I'm asking
you to pay me back, a little. Byng told the truth: you're indispensable
to this project. Your personal feelings are irrelevant just now."

"Who says?"

"I do."

Alan stared coldly at Hawkes' transformed face. "Max, I didn't bargain
for a share in your bank-robbing syndicate. I don't want any part of it.
Let's call it quits right now. I've turned over quite a few thousand
credits of my winnings to you. Give me five hundred and keep the rest.
It's your pay for my room and board and instruction the last three
months. You go your way, I'll go mine."

Hawkes laughed sharply. "Just as simple as that? I pocket your winnings
and you walk out of here? How dumb do you think I am? You know the names
of the syndicate, you know the plans, you know everything. A lot of
people would pay big money for an advance tip on this bit." He shook his
head. "I'll go my way and you'll go it too, Alan. Or else. You know what
that _or else_ means."

Angrily Alan said, "You'd kill me, too, if I backed down now. Friendship
doesn't mean a thing to you. 'Help us rob this bank, or else.'"

Hawkes' expression changed again; he smiled warmly, and when he spoke
his voice was almost wheedling. "Listen, Alan, we've been planning this
thing for months. I put down seven thousand to clear your brother, just
so I'd be sure of getting your cooperation. I tell you there's no
danger. I didn't mean to threaten you--but try to see my side of it. You
_have_ to help out!"

Alan looked at him curiously. "How come you're so hot to rob the bank,
Max? You earn a fortune every night. You don't need a million more

"No. I don't. But some of them do. Johnny Byng does; and Kovak, too--he
owes Bryson thirty thousand. But I organized the scheme." Hawkes was
pleading now. "Alan, I'm bored. Deadly bored. Gambling isn't gambling
for me; I'm too good. I never lose except when I want to. So I need to
get my kicks someplace else. This is it. But it won't come off without

They were silent for a moment. Alan realized that Hawkes and his group
were desperate men; they would never let him live if he refused to
cooperate. He had no choice at all. It was disillusioning to discover
that Hawkes had taken him in mostly because he would be useful in a

He tried to tell himself that this was a jungle world where morality
didn't matter, and that the million credits he'd gain would help finance
hyperdrive research. But those were thin arguments that held no
conviction. There was no justification for what he was going to do. None

But Hawkes held him in a cleft stick. There was no way out. He had
fallen among thieves--and, willy-nilly, he would be forced to become one

"All right," he said bitterly. "I'll drive the getaway truck for you.
But after it's over, I'll take my share and get out. I won't want to see
you again."

Hawkes seemed to look hurt, but he masked the emotion quickly enough.
"That's up to you, Alan. But I'm glad you gave in. It would have been
rough on both of us otherwise. Suppose we get some sleep."

Alan slept poorly during what was left of the night. He kept mulling the
same thoughts round and round endlessly in his head, until he wished he
could unhinge the front of his skull and let the thoughts somehow

It irritated him to know that Hawkes had taken him in primarily because
he fit the qualifications for a plan concocted long before, and not for
his own sake. All the intensive training the gambler had given him had
been directed not merely toward toughening Alan but toward preparing him
for the role he would play in the projected robbery.

He felt unhappy about the robbery too. The fact that he was being
coerced into taking part made him no less a criminal, and that went
against all his long-ingrained codes of ethics. He would be just as
guilty as Hawkes or Webber, and there was no way out.

There was no sense brooding over it, he decided finally. When it was all
over he would have enough money to begin aiming for his real goal,
development of a workable hyperspace drive. He would break completely
with Hawkes, move to some other city perhaps. If his quest were
successful, it would in some measure be an atonement for the crime he
was going to commit. Only in some measure, though.

The week passed slowly, and Alan did poorly at his nightly work. His
mind was anywhere but on the flashing games board, and the permutations
and combinations eluded him. He lost, though not heavily.

Each night the ten members of the Syndicate met at Hawkes' apartment and
planned each step of the crime in great detail, drilling and re-drilling
until it was second nature for each man to recite his particular part in
the robbery. Alan's was at once the simplest and most difficult; he
would have nothing to do until the others had finished their parts, but
then he would have to board the armored car and outrace any pursuers. He
was to drive the car far outside city limits, where he would be met and
relieved of the cash by Byng and Hollis; then he was to lose the truck
somewhere and return to the city by public transit.

The day of the robbery dawned cold and clear; an autumn chill was in the
air. Alan felt some anticipatory nervousness, but he was calmer than he
expected to be--almost fatalistically calm. By nightfall, he would be a
wanted criminal. He wondered whether it would be worth it, even for the
million credits. Perhaps it would be best to defy Hawkes and make some
sort of escape try.

But Hawkes, as always a shrewd judge of human character, seemed
obviously aware that Alan was wavering. He kept a close watch over him,
never allowing him to stray. Hawkes was taking no chances. He was
compelling Alan to take part in the robbery.

The currency transfer was scheduled to take place at 1240, according to
the inside information that Hollis had somehow obtained. Shortly after
noon, Hawkes and Alan left the apartment and boarded the Undertube,
their destination the downtown section of York City where the World
Reserve Bank was located.

They reached the bank about 1230. The armored truck was parked outside,
looking sleek and impregnable, and four massive roboguards stood watch,
one by each wheel. There were three human policemen too, but they were
strictly for effect; in case of any trouble, the roboguards were
expected to handle the rough work.

The bank was a mighty edifice indeed--over a hundred stories high,
rising in sweeping setbacks to a point where its tapering top was lost
in the shimmering noonday sky. It was, Alan knew, the center of global

Armed guards were bringing packages of currency from within the bank and
were placing them on the truck. Alan's heart raced. The streets were
crowded with office workers out for lunch; could he get away with it?

It was all precisely synchronized. As Hawkes and Alan strolled toward
the bank, Alan caught sight of Kovak lounging across the street, reading
a telefax sheet. None of the others were visible.

Webber, Alan knew, was at this moment sitting in an office overlooking
the bank entrance, staring out the window at the scene below. At
precisely 1240, Webber was to throw the switch on the wave-damper that
would paralyze the four roboguards.

The instant the roboguards froze, the other conspirators would go into
action. Jensen, McGuire, Freeman, and Smith, donning masks, would leap
for the three human guards of the truck and pin them to the ground. Byng
and Hawkes, who would enter the bank a moment before, would stage an
impromptu fist-fight with each other just inside the main entrance,
thereby creating confusion and making it difficult for reinforcement
guards to get past them and into the street.

Just outside the door, Hollis and Kovak would lurk. As the quartet
pounced on the truck's guards, they would sprint across and yank the
driver out of the cab. Then Alan would enter quickly from the other side
and drive off, while the remaining nine would vanish into the crowd in
as many different directions as possible. Byng and Hollis, if they got
away, would head for the rendezvous to meet Alan and take the cash from

If it went off properly the whole thing should take less than fifteen
seconds, from the time Webber threw the switch to the time Alan drove
away with the truck. If it went off properly.

The seconds crawled by. The time was 1235, now. At 1237 Hawkes and Byng
sauntered into the bank from opposite directions. Three minutes to go.
Alan's false calm deserted him; he pictured all sorts of possible

1238. Everyone's watch was synchronized to the second.

1239. 1239:30.

Thirty seconds to go. Alan took his position in a crowd of bystanders,
as prearranged. Fifteen seconds to go. Ten. Five.

1240. The roboguards were in the act of directing the locking of the
truck; the loading had been carried out precisely on schedule. The truck
was shut and sealed.

The roboguards froze.

Webber had been right on time. Alan tensed, caught up in the excitement
of the moment and thinking now only of the part he was to play.

The three policemen glanced at each other in some confusion. Jensen and
McGuire came leaping out at them----

And the roboguards returned to life.

The sound of blaster shots was heard within the bank; Alan whirled,
startled. Four guards came racing out of the building, blasters drawn.
What had happened to Hawkes and Byng--why weren't they obstructing the
entrance, as it had been arranged?

The street was a scene of wild confusion now; people milled everywhere.
Alan saw Jensen writhing in the steel grip of a roboguard. Had Webber's
device failed? Evidently so.

Alan was unable to move. He saw Freeman and McGuire streaking wildly
down the street with police in keen pursuit. Hollis stood staring dumbly
inside the bank door. Alan saw Kovak come running toward him.

"Everything's gone wrong!" Kovak whispered harshly. "The cops were
waiting for us! Byng and Hawkes are dead. Come on--run, if you want to
save yourself!"

_Chapter Fifteen_

Alan sat very quietly in the empty apartment that had once belonged to
Max Hawkes, and stared at nothing in particular. It was five hours since
the abortive robbery. He was alone.

The news had been blared out over every form of communication there was;
he knew the story by heart. A daring robbery had been attempted, but
police detection methods had yielded advance warning, and the robbers
had been frustrated. The roboguards had been specially equipped ones
which could shift to an alternate wavelength in case of emergency; they
had blanked out only momentarily. And special guards had been posted
within the bank, ready to charge out. Byng and Hawkes had tried to block
the doorway and they had been shot down. Hawkes was killed instantly;
Byng died an hour later in the hospital.

At least two other members of the gang had been apprehended--Jensen and
Smith, both trapped by the roboguards. It was known that at least two
other men and possibly more had participated in the attempt, and these
were being traced now.

Alan was not worried. He had not been within a hundred feet of the
crime, and it had been easy for him to slip away unnoticed. The others
had had little difficulty either--Webber, Hollis, Kovak, McGuire, and
Freeman. There was a chance that Hollis or Kovak had been recognized; in
that case, they could be tracked down by televector. But Alan was not
registered on the televector screens--and there was no other way of
linking him with the crime.

He glanced around the apartment at Hawkes' bar and his audio system and
all the dead man's other things. Yesterday, Alan thought, Hawkes had
been here, alive, eyes sparkling as he outlined the plans for the
robbery a final time. Now he was dead. It was hard to believe that such
a many-sided person could have been snuffed out so soon, so quickly.

A thought occurred. The police would be investigating the disposition of
Hawkes' property; they would want to know the relationship between
Hawkes and Alan, and perhaps there would be questions asked about the
robbery. Alan decided to forestall that.

He reached for the phone. He would call Security, tell them he had been
living with Hawkes and had heard of the gambler's sudden violent death,
and in all innocence ask for details. He would----

The door-announcer chimed.

Alan whirled and put down the receiver. Reaching out, he flicked on the
doorscreen and was shown a view of a distinguished-looking middle-aged
man in the silver-gray uniform of the police. _So soon?_ Alan thought.
_I didn't even get a chance to call----_

"Who is it?" he asked, in a surprisingly even voice.

"Inspector Gainer of Global Security."

Alan opened the door. Inspector Gainer smiled warmly, walked in, took
the seat Alan offered him. Alan felt tense and jumpy, and hoped not too
much of it showed.

The Security man said, "Your name is Alan Donnell, isn't it? And you're
a Free Status man, unregistered, employed as a professional gamesman
Class B?"

Alan nodded. "That's right, sir."

Gainer checked a notation on a pad he carried. "I suppose you've heard
that the man who lived here--Max Hawkes--was killed in an attempted
robbery this morning."

"Y-yes, sir. I heard it a little while ago, on the newscasts. I'm still
a little shaken up. W-would you care for a drink, Inspector?"

"Not on duty, thanks," Gainer said cheerfully. "Tell me, Alan--how long
did you know Max Hawkes?"

"Since last May. I'm an ex-starman. I--jumped ship. Max found me
wandering around the city and took me in. But I never knew anything
about any robberies, Inspector. Max kept his mouth pretty well sealed
most of the time. When he left here this morning, he said he was going
to the bank to make a deposit. I never thought----"

He stopped, wondering whether he sounded convincing. At that moment a
long jail sentence or worse seemed inevitable. And the worst part of it
was that he had not wanted to take part in the robbery, indeed _had_ not
taken part--but in the eyes of the law he was undoubtedly as guilty as
any of the others.

Gainer raised one hand. "Don't misunderstand, son. I'm not here as a
criminal investigator. We don't suspect you had any part in the

"Then why----"

He drew an envelope from his breast pocket and unfolded the papers it
contained. "I knew Max pretty well," he said. "About a week ago he came
to see me and gave me a sealed envelope which was to be opened only in
the event of his death on this particular day, and to be destroyed
unopened otherwise. I opened it a few hours ago. I think you ought to
read it."

With trembling fingers Alan took the sheaf of papers and scanned them.
They were neatly typed; Alan recognized the blocky purple characters of
the voicewrite Hawkes kept in his room.

He started to read.

The document explained that Hawkes was planning a bank robbery to take
place on Friday, October 3, 3876. He named none of his accomplices. He
went on to state that one Alan Donnell, an unregistered ex-starman, was
living with him, and that this Alan Donnell had no knowledge whatsoever
of the intended bank robbery.

_Furthermore_, Hawkes added, _in the event of my death in the intended
robbery, Alan Donnell is to be sole heir and assign of my worldly goods.
This supersedes and replaces any and all wills and testaments I may have
made at any past time._

Appended was a schedule of the properties Hawkes was leaving behind.
Accounts in various savings banks totalled some three quarters of a
million credits; besides that, there were scattered investments, real
estate holdings, bonds. The total estate, Hawkes estimated, was worth
slightly over one million credits.

When Alan finished, he looked up startled and white-faced at the older
man. "All of this is mine?"

"You're a pretty rich young man," Gainer agreed. "Of course, there are
formalities--the will has to be probated and contested, and you can
expect it to be contested by somebody. If you still have the full estate
when the courts get through with you, you'll be all right."

Alan shook his head uncomprehendingly. "The way he wrote this--it's as
if he _knew_."

"Max Hawkes always knew," Gainer said gently. "He was the best hunch-man
I've ever seen. It was almost as if he could look a couple of days into
the future all the time. Sure, he knew. And he also knew it was safe to
leave this document with me--that he could trust me not to open it.
Imagine, announcing a week ahead of time that you're going to rob a bank
and then turning the announcement over sealed to a police officer!"

Alan started. The police had known about the robbery in advance--that
was how Max and the dreamduster Byng had been killed. Had Gainer been
the one who had betrayed them? Had he opened the sealed envelope ahead
of time, and sent Max to his death?

No. It was inconceivable that this soft-spoken man would have done such
a thing. Alan banished the thought.

"Max knew he was going to be killed," he said. "And yet he went ahead
with it. Why?"

"Maybe he wanted to die," Gainer suggested. "Maybe he was bored with
life, bored with always winning, bored with things as they were. The man
was never born who could figure out Max Hawkes, anyway. You must have
found that out yourself."

Gainer rose. "I'll have to be moving along, now. But let me give you
some suggestions, first."


"Go downtown and get yourself registered in Free Status. Have them give
you a televector number. You're going to be an important person when you
get all that money. And be very careful about who your friends are. Max
could take care of himself; you may not be so lucky, son."

"Is there going to be an investigation of the robbery?" Alan asked.

"It's under way already. You may be called down for questioning, but
don't let it worry you. I turned a copy of Max's will over to them
today, and that exonerates you completely."

It was strangely empty in the apartment that night; Alan wished Gainer
had stayed longer. He walked through the dark rooms, half expecting Max
to come home. But Max wasn't coming home.

Alan realized he had been tremendously fond of Hawkes. He had never
really shown it; he had never demonstrated much warmth toward the
gambler, especially in the final days when they both lived under the
pressure of the planned robbery. But Alan knew he owed much to Hawkes,
rogue and rascal though he was. Hawkes had been basically a good man,
gifted--_too_ gifted, perhaps--whose drives and passions led him beyond
the bounds of society. And at thirty-five he was dead, having known in
advance that his last day was at hand.

The next few days were busy ones. Alan was called to Security
headquarters for questioning, but he insisted he knew nothing about the
robbery or Hawkes' friends, and the document Hawkes had left seemed to
bear him out. He was cleared of all complicity in the robbery.

He next went to the Central Directory Matrix and registered in Free
Status. He was given a televector transmitter--it was surgically
embedded in the fleshy part of his thigh--and he accepted a drink from
fat old Hines MacIntosh in remembrance of Hawkes.

He spoke briefly with MacIntosh about the process of collecting on
Hawkes' estate, and learned it was a complex process, but nothing to be
frightened of. The will was being sent through channels now.

He met Hollis in the street several days later. The bloated loansman
looked pale and harried; he had lost weight, and his skin hung flabbily
over his bones now. Little as Alan liked the loansman, he insisted on
taking him to a local restaurant for lunch.

"How come you're still hanging around York City?" Alan asked. "I thought
the heat was on for any of Max's old buddies."

"It is," Hollis said, wiping sweat from his white shiny forehead. "But
so far I'm in the clear. There won't be much of an investigation; they
killed two and caught two, and that'll keep them happy. After all, the
robbery was a failure."

"Any notion why it failed?"

Hollis nodded. "Sure I have a notion! It was Kovak who tipped them off."

"Mike?--but he looked okay to me."

"And to everybody. But he owed Bryson a lot, and Bryson was anxious to
dispose of Max. So Kovak turned the plans of the robbery over to
Bryson's boys in exchange for a quitclaim on the money he owed, and
Bryson just forwarded it all on to the police. They were waiting for us
when we showed up."

That cleared Gainer, Alan thought in some relief. "How did you find all
this out?"

"Bryson himself told me."


"I guess he didn't know exactly who besides Max was in on the deal.
Anyway, he certainly didn't know I was part of the group," Hollis said.
"Old man Bryson was laying off some bets with me and he let something
slip about how he tipped the police to Max. Then he told me the whole

"And Kovak?"

"Dead," Hollis said bluntly. "Bryson must have figured that if he'd sell
Max out he'd sell anybody out, so Kovak got taken care of. He was found
yesterday. Heart failure, the report said. Bryson has some good drugs.
Say, kid--any word yet on what's going to happen to all Max's dough?"

Alan thought a moment before replying. "I haven't heard a thing. I guess
the government inherits it."

"That would be too bad," Hollis said speculatively. "Max was well
loaded. I'd like to get my hands into some of that dough myself. So
would Bryson and his bunch, I'll bet."

Alan said nothing. When he was through eating, he paid the check and
they left, Hollis heading north, Alan south. In three days, Hawkes' will
would go through the courts. Alan wondered if Bryson, who seemed to be
York City's major criminal syndic man, would try to angle some share of
Max's money.

A Bryson man did show up at the hearing--a slick-looking operator named
Berwin. His claim was that Hawkes had been affiliated with Bryson a
number of years ago, and that Hawkes' money should revert to Bryson by
virtue of an obscure law of the last century involving the estates of
professional gamblers killed in criminal actions.

The robocomputer who was in charge of the hearing pondered the request a
few moments; then relays clicked and the left-hand panel on the computer
face lit up with a bright red APPLICATION DENIED signal.

Berwin spoke for three minutes, ending up with a request that the
robocomputer disqualify itself from the hearing and allow itself to be
replaced by a human judge.

The computer's decision was even quicker this time. APPLICATION DENIED.

Berwin tossed Alan's side of the courtroom a black look and yielded
ground. Alan had engaged a lawyer recommended once by Hawkes, a man
named Jesperson. Briefly and concisely Jesperson cited Alan's claim to
the money, read the terms of the will, and stepped back.

The computer considered Jesperson's plea a few moments, reviewing the
brief which the lawyer had taped and fed to the computer earlier. Time
passed. Then the green panel lit, and the words, APPLICATION GRANTED.

Alan smiled. Bryson had been defeated; Max's money was his. Money that
could be turned toward intensified research on the hyperdrive.

"Well, son?" Jesperson asked. "How does it feel to be a millionaire?"

_Chapter Sixteen_

At the time, he had been much too excited and flustered to answer
anything. But, as the next twelve months went by, he learned that being
a millionaire was quite pleasant indeed.

There were headaches, of course. There was the initial headache of
signing his name several hundred times in the course of the transfer of
Hawkes' wealth to him. There were also the frequent visits from the
tax-collectors, and the payment to them of a sum that staggered Alan to
think about, in the name of Rotation Tax.

But even after taxes, legal fees, and other expenses, Alan found he
owned better than nine hundred thousand credits, and the estate grew by
investment every day. The court appointed a legal guardian for him, the
lawyer Jesperson, who was to administer Alan's money until Alan reached
the biological age of twenty-one. The decision was an involved one,
since Alan had undeniably been born three hundred years earlier, in
3576--but the robojudge that presided over that particular hearing
cited a precedent seven hundred years old which stated that for legal
purposes a starman's biological and not his chronological age was to be

The guardianship posed no problems for Alan, though. When he met with
Jesperson to discuss future plans, the lawyer told him, "You can handle
yourself, Alan. I'll give you free rein with the estate--with the
proviso that I have veto power over any of your expenditures until your
twenty-first birthday."

That sounded fair enough. Alan had reason to trust the lawyer; hadn't
Hawkes recommended him? "I'll agree to that," Alan said. "Suppose we
start right now. I'd like to take a year and travel around the world. As
my legal guardian you'll be stuck with the job of managing my estate and
handling investments for me."

Jesperson chuckled. "You'll be twice as wealthy when you get back!
Nothing makes money so fast as money."

Alan left the first week in December, having spent three weeks doing
virtually nothing but sketching out his itinerary. There were plenty of
places he intended to visit.

There was London, where James Hudson Cavour had lived and where his
hyperdrive research had been carried out. There was the Lexman Institute
of Space Travel in Zurich, where an extensive library of space
literature had been accumulated; it was possible that hidden away in
their files was some stray notebook of Cavour's, some clue that would
give Alan a lead. He wanted to visit the area in Siberia that Cavour had
used as his testing-ground, and from which the last bulletin had come
from the scientist before his unexplained disappearance.

But it was not only a business trip. Alan had lived nearly half a year
in the squalor of Hasbrouck--and because of his Free Status he would
never be able to move into a better district, despite his wealth. But he
wanted to see the rest of Earth. He wanted to travel just for the sake
of travel.

Before he left, he visited a rare book dealer in York City, and for an
exorbitant fifty credits purchased a fifth-edition copy of _An
Investigation into the Possibility of Faster-than-Light Space Travel_,
by James H. Cavour. He had left his copy of the work aboard the
_Valhalla_, along with the few personal possessions he had managed to
accumulate during his life as a starman.

The book dealer had frowned when Alan asked for the volume under the
title he knew. "_The Cavour Theory_? I don't think--ah, wait." He
vanished for perhaps five minutes and returned with an old, fragile,
almost impossibly delicate-looking book. Alan took it and scanned the
opening page. There were the words he had read so many times: "The
present system of interstellar travel is so grossly inefficient as to be
virtually inoperable on an absolute level."

"Yes, that's the book. I'll take it."

His first stop on his round-the-globe jaunt was London, where Cavour had
been born and educated more than thirteen centuries before. The
stratoliner made the trip across the Atlantic in a little less than
three hours; it took half an hour more by Overshoot from the airport to
the heart of London.

Somehow, from Cavour's few autobiographical notes, Alan had pictured
London as a musty old town, picturesque, reeking of medieval history. He
couldn't have been more wrong. Sleek towers of plastic and concrete
greeted him. Overshoots roared by the tops of the buildings. A busy
network of bridges connected them.

He went in search of Cavour's old home in Bayswater, with the nebulous
idea of finding some important document wedged in the woodwork. But a
local security officer shook his head as Alan asked for directions.

"Sorry, lad. I've never heard of that street. Why don't you try the
information robot up there?"

The information robot was a blocky green-skinned synthetic planted in a
kiosk in the middle of a broad well-paved street. Alan approached and
gave the robot Cavour's thirteen-century-old address.

"There is no record of any such address in the current files," the
steely voice informed him.

"No. It's an old address. It dates back to at least 2570. A man named
Cavour lived there."

The robot digested the new data; relays hummed softly within it as it
scanned its memory banks. Finally it grunted, "Data on the address you
seek has been reached."

"Fine! Where's the house?"

"The entire district was demolished during the general rebuilding of
London in 2982-2997. Nothing remains."

"Oh," Alan said.

The London trail trickled out right then and there. He pursued it a
little further, managed to find Cavour's name inscribed on the honor
role of the impressive London Technological Institute for the year 2529,
and discovered a copy of Cavour's book in the Institute Library. There
was nothing else to be found. After a month in London, Alan moved on
eastward across Europe.

Most of it was little like the descriptions he had read in the
_Valhalla's_ library. The trouble was that the starship's visits to
Earth were always at least a decade behind, usually more. Most of the
library books had come aboard when the ship had first been commissioned,
far back in the year 2731. The face of Europe had almost totally
altered since then.

Now, shiny new buildings replaced the ancient houses which had endured
for as much as a thousand years. A gleaming bridge linked Dover and
Calais; elsewhere, the rivers of Europe were bridged frequently,
providing easy access between the many states of the Federation of
Europe. Here, there, monuments of the past remained--the Eiffel Tower,
absurdly dwarfed by the vast buildings around it, still reared its
spidery self in Paris, and Notre Dame still remained as well. But the
rest of Paris, the ancient city Alan had read so much of--that had long
since been swept under by the advancing centuries. Buildings did not
endure forever.

In Zurich he visited the Lexman Institute for Space Travel, a
magnificent group of buildings erected on the royalties from the Lexman
Spacedrive. A radiant statue sixty feet high was the monument to
Alexander Lexman, who in 2337 had first put the stars within the reach
of man.

Alan succeeded in getting an interview with the current head of the
Institute, but it was anything but a satisfactory meeting. It was held
in an office ringed with mementoes of the epoch-making test flight of

"I'm interested in the work of James H. Cavour," Alan said almost
immediately--and from the bleak expression that appeared on the
scientist's face, he knew he had made a grave mistake.

"Cavour is as far from Lexman as possible, my friend. Cavour was a
dreamer; Lexman, a doer."

"Lexman succeeded--but how do you know Cavour didn't succeed as well?"

"Because, my young friend, faster-than-light travel is flatly
impossible. A dream. A delusion."

"You mean that there's no faster-than-light research being carried on

"The terms of our charter, set down by Alexander Lexman himself, specify
that we are to work toward improvements in the technique of space travel.
It said nothing about fantasies and daydreams. No--ah--hyperdrive
research is taking place at this institute, and none will take place so
long as we remain true to the spirit of Alexander Lexman."

Alan felt like crying out that Lexman was a bold and daring pioneer,
never afraid to take a chance, never worried about expense or public
reaction. It was obvious, though, that the people of the Institute had
long since fossilized in their patterns. It was a waste of breath to
argue with them.

Discouraged, he moved on, pausing in Vienna to hear the opera--Max had
always intended to spend a vacation with him in Vienna, listening to
Mozart, and Alan felt he owed it to Hawkes to pay his respects. The
operas he saw were ancient, medieval in fact, better than two thousand
years old; he enjoyed the tinkly melodies but found some of the plots
hard to understand.

He saw a circus in Ankara, a football game in Budapest, a nullgrav
wrestling match in Moscow. He journeyed to the far reaches of Siberia,
where Cavour had spent his final years, and found that what had been a
bleak wasteland suitable for spaceship experiments in 2570 was now a
thriving modern city of five million people. The site of Cavour's camp
had long since been swallowed up.

Alan's faith in the enduring nature of human endeavor was restored
somewhat by his visit to Egypt--for there he saw the pyramids, nearly
seven thousand years old; they looked as permanent as the stars.

The first anniversary of his leaving the _Valhalla_ found him in South
Africa; from there he travelled eastward through China and Japan, across
the highly industrialized islands of the Far Pacific, and from the
Philippines he returned to the American mainland by jet express.

He spent the next four months travelling widely through the United
States, gaping at the Grand Canyon and the other scenic preserves of the
west. East of the Mississippi, life was different; there was barely a
stretch of open territory between York City and Chicago.

It was late in November when he returned to York City. Jesperson greeted
him at the airfield, and they rode home together. Alan had been gone a
year; he was past eighteen, now, a little heavier, a little stronger.
Very little of the wide-eyed boy who had stepped off the _Valhalla_ the
year before remained intact. He had changed inwardly.

But one part of him had not changed, except in the direction of greater
determination. That was the part that hoped to unlock the secret of
faster-than-light travel.

He was discouraged. His journey had revealed the harsh fact that nowhere
on Earth was research into hyperdrive travel being carried on; either
they had tried and abandoned it as hopeless, or, like the Zurich people,
they had condemned the concept from the start.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" Jesperson asked.

Alan slowly shook his head. "Not a hint. And I really covered ground."
He stared at the lawyer a moment. "How much am I worth, now?"

"Well, offhand--" Jesperson thought for a moment. "Say, a million three
hundred. I've made some good investments this past year."

Alan nodded. "Good. Keep the money piling up. I may decide to open a
research lab of my own, and we'll need every credit we've got."

But the next day an item arrived in the morning mail which very much
altered the character of Alan's plans for the future. It was a small but
thick package, neatly wrapped, which bore as return address the name
_Dwight Bentley_, with a London number.

Alan frowned for a moment, trying to place the name. Then it came back
to him--Bentley was the vice-provost of the London Institute of
Technology, Cavour's old school. Alan had had a long talk with Bentley
one afternoon in January, about Cavour, about space travel, and about
Alan's hopes for developing a hyperspace drive.

The parcel was the right size and thickness to contain a book. Alan slit
the fastenings, and folded back the outer wrapper. A note from Bentley
lay on top.

                                                      3rd November 3877_

    _My dear Mr. Donnell:_

    _Perhaps you may remember the very enjoyable chat you and I had one
    day at this Institute last winter, on the occasion of your visit to
    London. You were, I recall, deeply interested in the life and work
    of James H. Cavour, and anxious to carry on the developments he had
    achieved in the field of space travel._

    _Several days ago, in the course of an extensive resurveying of the
    Institute's archives, the enclosed volume was discovered very
    thoroughly hidden in the dusty recesses of our library. Evidently
    Mr. Cavour had forwarded the book to us from his laboratory in
    Asia, and it had somehow become misfiled._

    _I am taking the liberty of forwarding the book on to you, in the
    hopes that it will aid you in your work and perhaps ultimately bring
    you success. Would you be kind enough to return the book to me c/o
    this Institute when you are finished with it?_

                                                  Dwight Bentley_

Alan let the note slip to the floor as he reached for the enclosed book.
It was leather-bound and even more fragile than the copy of _The Cavour
Theory_ he had purchased; it looked ready to crumble at a hostile

With mounting excitement he lifted the ancient cover and turned it over.
The first page of the book was blank; so were the second and third. On
the fourth page, Alan saw a few lines of writing, in an austere, rigid
hand. He peered close, and with awe and astonishment read the words
written there:

    _The Journal of James Hudson Cavour. Volume 16--Jan. 8 to October
    11, 2570._

_Chapter Seventeen_

The old man's diary was a curious and fascinating document. Alan never
tired of poring over it, trying to conjure up a mental image of the
queer, plucky fanatic who had labored so desperately to bring the stars
close to Earth.

Like many embittered recluses, Cavour had been an enthusiastic diarist.
Everything that took place in his daily life was carefully noted
down--his digestion, the weather, any stray thoughts that came to him,
tart observations on humanity in general. But Alan was chiefly
interested in the notations that dealt with his researches on the
problem of a faster-than-the-speed-of-light spacedrive.

Cavour had worked for years in London, harried by reporters and mocked
by scientists. But late in 2569 he had sensed he was on the threshold of
success. In his diary for January 8, 2570, he wrote:

"The Siberian site is almost perfect. It has cost me nearly what remains
of my savings to build it, but out here I will have the solitude I need
so much. I estimate six months more will see completion of my pilot
model. It is a source of deep bitterness in me that I am forced to work
on my ship like a common laborer, when my part should have ceased three
years ago with the development of my theory and the designing of my
ship. But this is the way the world wants it, and so shall it be."

On May 8 of that year:

"Today there was a visitor--a journalist, no doubt. I drove him away
before he could disturb me, but I fear he and others will be back. Even
in the bleak Siberian steppes I shall have no privacy. Work is moving
along smoothly, though somewhat behind schedule; I shall be lucky to
complete my ship before the end of the year."

On August 17:

"Planes continue to circle my laboratory here. I suspect I am being
spied on. The ship is nearing completion. It will be ready for standard
Lexman-drive flights any day now, but installation of my spacewarp
generator will take several more months."

On September 20:

"Interference has become intolerable. For the fifth day an American
journalist has attempted to interview me. My 'secret' Siberian
laboratory has apparently become a world tourist attraction. The final
circuitry on the spacewarp generator is giving me extreme difficulties;
there are so many things to perfect. I cannot work under these
circumstances. I have virtually ceased all machine-work this week."

And on October 11, 2570:

"There is only one recourse for me. I will have to leave Earth to
complete the installation of my generator. The prying fools and mockers
will not leave me alone, and nowhere on Earth can I have the needed
solitude. I shall go to Venus--uninhabited, uninhabitable. Perhaps they
will leave me alone for the month or two more I need to make my vessel
suitable for interstellar drive. Then I can return to Earth, show them
what I have done, offer to make a demonstration flight--to Rigel and
back in days, perhaps----

"Why is it that Earth so tortures its few of original mind? Why has my
life been one unending persecution, ever since I declared there was a
way to shortcut through space? There are no answers. The answers lie
deep within the dark recesses of the human collective soul, and no man
may understand what takes place there. I am content to know that I shall
have succeeded despite it all. Some day a future age may remember me,
like Copernicus, like Galileo, as one who fought upstream successfully."

The diary ended there. But in the final few pages were computations--a
trial orbit to Venus, several columns of blastoff figures, statistics on
geographical distribution of the Venusian landmasses.

Cavour had certainly been a peculiar bird, Alan thought. Probably half
the "persecutions" he complained of had existed solely inside his own
fevered brain. But that hardly mattered. He had gone to Venus; the diary
that had found its way back to the London Institute of Technology
testified to that. And there was only one logical next step for Alan.

Go to Venus. Follow the orbit Cavour had scribbled at the back of his

Perhaps he might find the Cavour ship itself; perhaps, the site of his
laboratory, some notes, anything at all. He could not allow the trail to
trickle out here.

He told Jesperson, "I want to buy a small spaceship. I'm going to

He looked at the lawyer expectantly and got ready to put up a stiff
argument when Jesperson started to raise objections. But the big man
only smiled.

"Okay," he said. "When are you leaving?"

"You aren't going to complain? The kind of ship I have in mind costs at
least two hundred thousand credits."

"I know that. But I've had a look at Cavour's diary, too. It was only a
matter of time before you decided to follow the old duck to Venus, and
I'm too smart to think that there's any point in putting up a battle.
Let me know when you've got your ship picked out and I'll sit down and
write the check."

But it was not as simple as all that. Alan shopped for a ship--he wanted
a new one, as long as he could afford it--and after several months of
comparative shopping and getting advice from spaceport men, he picked
the one he wanted. It was a sleek glossy eighty-foot job, a Spacemaster
3878 model, equipped with Lexman converters and conventional ion-jets
for atmosphere flying. Smooth, streamlined, it was a lovely sight as it
stood at the spacefield in the shadow of the great starships.

Alan looked at it with pride--a slender dark-green needle yearning to
pierce the void. He wandered around the spaceport and heard the fuelers
and oilers discussing it in reverent tones.

"That's a mighty fine piece of ship, that green one out there. Some
lucky fellow's got it."

Alan wanted to go over to them and tell them, "That's my ship. Me. Alan
Donnell." But he knew they would only laugh. Tall boys not quite
nineteen did not own late-model Spacemasters with price-tags of cr.

He itched to get off-planet with it, but there were more delays. He
needed a flight ticket, first, and even though he had had the necessary
grounding in astrogation technique and spacepiloting as an automatic
part of his education aboard the _Valhalla_, he was rusty, and needed a
refresher course that took six weary months.

After that came the physical exams and the mental checkup and everything
else. Alan fumed at the delay, but he knew it was necessary. A
spaceship, even a small private one, was a dangerous weapon in unskilled
hands. An out-of-control spaceship that came crashing to Earth at high
velocity could kill millions; the shock wave might flatten fifty square
miles. So no one was allowed up in a spaceship of any kind without a
flight ticket--and you had to work to win your ticket.

It came through, finally, in June of 3879, a month after Alan's
twentieth birthday. By that time he had computed and recomputed his
orbit to Venus a hundred different times.

Three years had gone by since he last had been aboard a spaceship, and
that had been the _Valhalla_. His childhood and adolescence now seemed
like a hazy dream to him, far in the back of his mind. The _Valhalla_,
with his father and Steve and all the friends of his youth aboard, was
three years out from Earth--with seven years yet to go before it reached
Procyon, its destination.

Of course, the Crew had experienced only about four weeks, thanks to the
Fitzgerald Contraction. To the _Valhalla_ people only a month had passed
since Alan had left them, while he had gone through three years.

He had grown up, in those three years. He knew where he was heading,
now, and nothing frightened him. He understood people. And he had one
great goal which was coming closer and closer with each passing month.

Blastoff day was the fifth of September, 3879. The orbit Alan finally
settled on was a six-day trip at low acceleration across the
40,000,000-odd miles that separated Earth from Venus.

At the spaceport he handed in his flight ticket for approval, placed a
copy of his intended orbit on file with Central Routing Registration,
and got his field clearance.

The ground crew had already been notified that Alan's ship was blasting
off that day, and they were busy now putting her in final departure
condition. There were some expressions of shock as Alan displayed his
credentials to the ground chief and climbed upward into the control
chamber of the ship he had named the _James Hudson Cavour_, but no one
dared question him.

His eyes caressed the gleaming furnishings of the control panel. He
checked with the central tower, was told how long till his blastoff
clearance, and rapidly surveyed the fuel meters, the steering-jet
response valves, the automatic pilot. He worked out a tape with his
orbit on it. Now he inserted it into the receiving tray of the autopilot
and tripped a lever. The tape slid into the computer, clicking softly
and emitting a pleasant hum.

"Eight minutes to blastoff," came the warning.

Never had eight minutes passed so slowly. Alan snapped on his viewscreen
and looked down at the field; the ground crew men were busily clearing
the area as blastoff time approached.

"One minute to blastoff, Pilot Donnell." Then the count-down began,
second by second.

At the ten-seconds-to-go announcement, Alan activated the autopilot and
nudged the button that transformed his seat into a protective
acceleration cradle. His seat dropped down, and Alan found himself
stretched out, swinging gently back and forth in the protecting hammock.
The voice from the control tower droned out the remaining seconds.
Tensely Alan waited for the sharp blow of acceleration.

Then the roaring came, and the ship jolted from side to side, struggled
with gravity for a moment, and then sprang up free from the Earth.

Some time later came the sudden thunderous silence as the jets cut out;
there was the dizzying moment of free fall, followed by the sound of the
lateral jets imparting longitudinal spin to the small ship. Artificial
gravity took over. It had been a perfect takeoff. Now there was nothing
to do but wait for Venus to draw near.

The days trickled past. Alan experienced alternating moods of gloom and
exultation. In the gloomy moods he told himself that this trip to Venus
was a fool's errand, that it would be just another dead end, that Cavour
had been a paranoid madman and the hyperspace drive was an idiot's

But in the moments of joy he pictured the finding of Cavour's ship, the
building of a fleet of hyperdrive vessels. The distant stars within
almost instantaneous reach! He would tour the galaxies as he had two
years ago toured Earth. Canopus and Deneb, Rigel and Procyon, he would
visit them all. From star to bright star, from one end of the universe
to the other.

The shining oval of Venus grew brighter and brighter. The cloud layer
that enveloped Earth's sister planet swirled and twisted.

Venus was virtually an unknown world. Earth colonies had been
established on Mars and on Pluto, but Venus, with her harsh
formaldehyde atmosphere, had been ignored. Uninhabited, uninhabitable,
the planet was unsuitable for colonization.

The ship swung down into the cloud layer; floating wisps of gray vapor
streamed past the orbiting _Cavour_. Finally Alan broke through,
navigating now on manual, following as best he could Cavour's old
computations. He guided the craft into a wide-ranging spiral orbit three
thousand feet above the surface of Venus, and adjusted his viewscreens
for fine pickup.

He was orbiting over a vast dust-blown plain. The sky was a fantastic
color, mottled blues and greens and an all-pervading pink, and the air
was dull gray. No sun at all penetrated the heavy shroud of vapor that
hung round the planet.

For five hours he scouted the plain, hoping to find some sign of
Cavour's habitation. It was hopeless, he told himself; in thirteen
hundred years the bitter winds of Venus would have destroyed any hint of
Cavour's site, assuming the old man had reached Venus successfully.

But grimly Alan continued to circle the area. Maybe Cavour had been
forced to land elsewhere, he thought. Maybe he never got here. There
were a million maybes.

He computed his orbit and locked the ship in. Eyes pressed to the
viewscreen, he peered downward, hoping against hope.

This trip to Venus had been a wild gamble from the start. He wondered if
Max Hawkes would have covered a bet on the success of his trip. Max had
been infallible when it came to hunches.

_Well_, Alan thought, _now I've got a hunch. Help me one more time, Max,
wherever you are! Lend me some of your luck. I need it, Max._

He circled once more. The Venusian day would last for three weeks more;
there was no fear of darkness. But would he find anything?

_What's that?_

He leaped to the controls, switched off the autopilot, and broke out of
orbit, going back for a return look. Had there been just the faintest
metallic glint below, as of a spaceship jutting up from the sand?


There was a ship down there, and a cave of some sort. Alan felt
strangely calm. With confident fingers he punched out a landing orbit,
and brought his ship down in the middle of the barren Venusian desert.

_Chapter Eighteen_

Alan brought the _Cavour_ down less than a mile away from the scene of
the wreckage--it was the best he could do, computing the landing by
guesswork--and climbed into his spacesuit. He passed through the airlock
and out into the windswept desert.

He felt just a little lightheaded; the gravity was only 0.8 of
Earth-norm, and besides that the air in his spacesuit, being perpetually
renewed by the Bennerman re-breathing generator strapped to his back,
was just a shade too rich in oxygen.

In the back of his mind he realized he ought to adjust his oxygen flow,
but before he brought himself to make the adjustment the surplus took
its effect. He began to hum, then to dance awkwardly over the sand. A
moment later he was singing a wild space ballad that he thought he had
forgotten years before. After ten feet he tripped and went sprawling
down in the sand. He lay there, trickling the violet sands through the
gloves of his spacesuit, feeling very lightheaded and very foolish all
at the same time.

But he was still sober enough to realize he was in danger. It was an
effort to reach over his shoulder and move the oxygen gauge back a
notch. After a moment the flow levelled out and he felt his head
beginning to clear.

He was marching through a fantastic baroque desert. Venus was a riot of
colors, all in a minor key: muted greens and reds, an overbearing gray,
a strange, ghostly blue. The sky, or rather the cloud layer, dominated
the atmosphere with its weird pinkness. It was a silent world--a dead

In the distance he saw the wreckage of the ship; beyond it the land
began to rise, sloping imperceptibly up into a gentle hill with bizarre
sculptured rock outcroppings here and there. He walked quickly.

Fifteen minutes later he reached the ship. It stood upright--or rather,
its skeleton did. The ship had not crashed. It had simply rotted away,
the metal of its hide eaten by the sand-laden winds over the course of
centuries. Nothing remained but a bare framework.

He circled the ship, then entered the cave a hundred feet away. He
snapped on his lightbeam. In the darkness, he saw----

A huddled skeleton, far to the rear of the cave. A pile of corroded
equipment; atmosphere generators, other tools now shapeless.

Cavour had reached Venus safely. But he had never departed.

To his astonishment Alan found a sturdy volume lying under the pile of
bones--a book, wrapped in metal plates. Somehow it had withstood the
passage of centuries, here in this quiet cave.

Gently he unwrapped the book. The cover dropped off at his touch; he
turned back the first three pages, which were blank. On the fourth,
written in the now-familiar crabbed hand, were the words: _The Journal
of James Hudson Cavour. Volume 17--October 20, 2570----_

       *       *       *       *       *

He had plenty of time, during the six-day return journey, to read and
re-read Cavour's final words and to make photographic copies of the
withered old pages.

The trip to Venus had been easy for old Cavour; he had landed precisely
on schedule, and established housekeeping for himself in the cave. But,
as his diary detailed it, he felt strength ebbing away with each passing

He was past eighty, no age for a man to come alone to a strange planet.
There remained just minor finishing to be done on his pioneering
ship--but he did not have the strength to do the work. Climbing the
catwalk of the ship, soldering, testing--now, with his opportunity
before him, he could not attain his goal.

He made several feeble attempts to finish the job, and on the last of
them fell from his crude rigging and fractured his hip. He had managed
to crawl back inside the cave, but, alone, with no one to tend him, he
knew he had nothing to hope for.

It was impossible for him to complete his ship. All his dreams were
ended. His equations and his blueprints would die with him.

In his last day he came to a new realization: nowhere had he left a
complete record of the mechanics of his spacewarp generator, the key
mechanism without which hyperspace drive was unattainable. So, racing
against encroaching death, James Hudson Cavour turned to a new page in
his diary, headed it, in firm, forceful letters, _For Those Who Follow
After_, and inked in a clear and concise explanation of his work.

It was all there, Alan thought exultantly: the diagrams, the
specifications, the equations. It would be possible to build the ship
from Cavour's notes.

The final page of the diary had evidently been Cavour's dying thoughts.
In a handwriting increasingly ragged and untidy, Cavour had indited a
paragraph forgiving the world for its scorn, hoping that some day
mankind would indeed have easy access to the stars. The paragraph ended
in midsentence. It was, thought Alan, a moving testament from a great
human being.

The days went by, and the green disk of Earth appeared in the
viewscreen. Late on the sixth day the _Cavour_ sliced into Earth's
atmosphere, and Alan threw it into the landing orbit he had computed
that afternoon. The ship swung in great spirals around Earth, drawing
ever closer, and finally began to home in on the spaceport.

Alan busied himself over the radio transmitter, getting landing
clearance. He brought the ship down easily, checked out, and hurried to
the nearest phone.

He dialed Jesperson's number. The lawyer answered.

"When did you get back?"

"Just now," Alan said. "Just this minute."

"Well? Did you----"

"Yes! I found it! I found it!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Oddly enough, he was in no hurry to leave Earth now. He was in
possession of Cavour's notes, but he wanted to do a perfect job of
reproducing them, of converting the scribbled notations into a ship.

To his great despair he discovered, when he first examined the Cavour
notebook in detail, that much of the math was beyond his depth. That was
only a temporary obstacle, though. He hired mathematicians. He hired
physicists. He hired engineers.

Through it all, he remained calm; impatient, perhaps, but not overly so.
The time had not yet come for him to leave Earth. All his striving would
be dashed if he left too soon.

The proud building rose a hundred miles from York City: _The Hawkes
Memorial Laboratory_. There, the team of scientists Alan had gathered
worked long and painstakingly, trying to reconstruct what old Cavour had
written, experimenting, testing.

Early in 3881 the first experimental Cavour Generator was completed in
the lab. Alan had been vacationing in Africa, but he was called back
hurriedly by his lab director to supervise the testing.

The generator was housed in a sturdy windowless building far from the
main labs; the forces being channelled were potent ones, and no chances
were being taken. Alan himself threw the switch that first turned the
spacewarp generator on, and the entire research team gathered by the
closed-circuit video pickup to watch.

The generator seemed to blur, to waver, to lose substance and become
unreal. It vanished.

It remained gone fifteen seconds, while a hundred researchers held their
breaths. Then it returned. It shorted half the power lines in the

But Alan was grinning as the auxiliary feeders turned the lights in the
lab on again. "Okay," he yelled. "It's a start, isn't it? We got the
generator to vanish, and that's the toughest part of the battle. Let's
get going on Model Number Two."

By the end of the year, Model Number Two was complete, and the tests
this time were held under more carefully controlled circumstances. Again
success was only partial, but again Alan was not disappointed. He had
worked out his time-table well. Premature success might only make
matters more difficult for him.

3882 went by, and 3883. He was in his early twenties, now, a tall,
powerful figure, widely known all over Earth. With Jesperson's shrewd
aid he had pyramided Max's original million credits into an imposing
fortune--and much of it was being diverted to hyperspace research. But
Alan Donnell was not the figure of scorn James Hudson Cavour had been;
no one laughed at him when he said that by 3885 hyperspace travel would
be reality.

3884 slipped past. Now the time was drawing near. Alan spent virtually
all his hours at the research center, aiding in the successive tests.

On March 11, 3885, the final test was accomplished satisfactorily.
Alan's ship, the _Cavour_, had been completely remodeled to accommodate
the new drive; every test but one had been completed.

The final test was that of actual performance. And here, despite the
advice of his friends, Alan insisted that he would have to be the man
who took the _Cavour_ on her first journey to the stars.

Nine years had passed, almost to the week, since a brash youngster named
Alan Donnell had crossed the bridge from the Spacer's Enclave and
hesitantly entered the bewildering complexity of York City. Nine years.

He was twenty-six now, no boy any more. He was the same age Steve had
been, when he had been dragged unconscious to the _Valhalla_ and taken

And the _Valhalla_ was still bound on its long journey to Procyon. Nine
years had passed, but yet another remained before the giant starship
would touch down on a planet of Procyon's. But the Fitzgerald
Contraction had telescoped those nine years into just a few months, for
the people of the _Valhalla_.

Steve Donnell was still twenty-six.

And now Alan had caught him. The Contraction had evened out. They were
twins again.

And the _Cavour_ was ready to make its leap into hyperspace.

_Chapter Nineteen_

It was not difficult for Alan to get the route of the _Valhalla_, which
had been recorded at Central Routing Registration. Every starship was
required by law to register a detailed route-chart before leaving, and
these charts were filed at the central bureau. The reason was simple: a
starship with a crippled drive was a deadly object. In case a starship's
drive conked out, it would keep drifting along toward its destination,
utterly helpless to turn, maneuver, or control its motion. And if any
planets or suns happened to lie in its direct path----

The only way a ship could alter its trajectory was to cut speed
completely, and with the drive dead there would be no way of picking it
up again. The ship would continue to drift slowly out to the stars,
while its crew died of old age.

So the routes were registered, and in the event of drive trouble it was
thus possible for a rescue ship to locate the imperilled starship. Space
is immense, and only with a carefully registered route could a ship be

Starship routes were restricted information. But Alan had influence; he
was easily able to persuade the Routing Registration people that his
intentions were honorable, that he planned to overtake the _Valhalla_ if
they would only let him have the coordinates. A bit of minor legal
jugglery was all that was needed to give him access to the data.

It seemed there was an ancient regulation that said any member of a
starship's crew was entitled by law to examine his ship's registered
route, if he wanted to. The rule was intended to apply to starmen who
distrusted their captains and were fearful of being shipped off to some
impossibly distant point; it said nothing at all about starmen who had
been left behind and were planning to overtake their ships. But nothing
prohibited Alan from getting the coordinates, and so they gave them to

The _Cavour_ was ready for the departure. Alan elbowed his way through
the crowd of curious onlookers and clambered into the redesigned control

He paused a moment, running his fingers over the shiny instrument panel
with its new dials, strange levers, unfamiliar instruments. Overdrive
Compensator. Fuel Transmuter. Distortion Guide. Bender Index. Strange
new names, but Alan realized they would be part of the vocabulary of all
future spacemen.

He began to work with the new controls, plotting his coordinates with
extreme care and checking them through six or seven times. At last he
was satisfied; he had computed a hyperdrive course that would loop him
through space and bring him out in only a few days' time in the general
vicinity of the _Valhalla_, which was buzzing serenely along at near the
speed of light.

That was practically a snail's pace, compared with hyperdrive.

The time for the test had come. He spoke briefly with his friends and
assistants in the control tower; then he checked his figures through one
last time and requested blastoff clearance.

A moment later the count-down began, and he began setting up for

A tremor of anticipation shot through him as he prepared to blast off on
the first hyperdrive voyage ever made. He was stepping out into the
unknown, making the first use ever of a strange, perhaps dangerous means
of travel. The drive would loop him out of the space-time continuum,
into--_where?_--and back again.

He hoped.

He punched down the keys, and sat back to wait for the automatic pilot
to carry him out from Earth.

Somewhere past the orbit of the moon, a gong told him that the Cavour
drive was about to come into play. He held his breath. He felt a
twisting sensation. He stared at the viewscreen.

The stars had vanished. Earth, with all its memories of the last nine
years, was gone, taking with it Hawkes, Jesperson, York City, the

He floated in a featureless dull gray void, without stars, without
worlds. _So this is hyperspace_, he thought. He felt tired, and he felt
tense. He had reached hyperspace; that was half the struggle. It
remained to see whether he would come out where he expected to come out,
or whether he would come out at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

Four days of boredom. Four days of wishing that the time would come to
leave hyperspace. And then the automatic pilot came to life; the Cavour
generator thrummed and signalled that it had done its work and was
shutting down. Alan held his breath.

He felt the twisting sensation. The _Cavour_ was leaving hyperdrive.

Stars burst suddenly against the blackness of space; the viewscreen
brightened. Alan shut his eyes a moment as he readjusted from the sight
of the gray void to that of the starry reaches of normal space. He had

And, below him, making its leisurely journey to Procyon, was the great
golden-hulled bulk of the _Valhalla_, gleaming faintly in the black
night of space.

He reached for the controls of his ship radio. Minutes later, he heard a
familiar voice--that of Chip Collier, the _Valhalla's_ Chief Signal

"Starship _Valhalla_ picking up. We read you. Who is calling, please?"

Alan smiled. "This is Alan Donnell, Chip. How goes everything?"

For a moment nothing came through the phones but astonished sputtering.
Finally Collier said thickly, "_Alan?_ What sort of gag is this? Where
are you?"

"Believe it or not, I'm hovering right above you in a small ship.
Suppose you get my father on the wire, and we can discuss how I'll go
about boarding you."

Fifteen minutes later the _Cavour_ was grappled securely to the skin of
the _Valhalla_ like a flea riding an elephant, and Alan was climbing in
through the main airlock. It felt good to be aboard the big ship once
again, after all these years.

He shucked his spacesuit and stepped into the corridor. His father was
standing there waiting for him.

"Hello, Dad."

Captain Donnell shook his head uncomprehendingly. "Alan--how did you--I
mean--and you're so much older, too! I----"

"The Cavour Drive, Dad. I've had plenty of time to develop it. Nine good
long years, back on Earth. And for you it's only a couple of months
since you blasted off!"

Another figure appeared in the corridor. Steve. He looked good; the last
few months aboard the _Valhalla_ had done their work. The unhealthy fat
he had been carrying was gone; his eyes were bright and clear, his
shoulders square. It was like looking into a mirror to see him, Alan
thought. It hadn't been this way for a long time.

"Alan? How did you----"

Quickly Alan explained. "So I couldn't reverse time," he finished. "I
couldn't make you as young as I was--so I took the opposite tack and
made myself as old as you were." He looked at his father. "The universe
is going to change, now. Earth won't be so overcrowded. And it means the
end of the Enclave system, and the Fitzgerald Contraction."

"We'll have to convert the _Valhalla_ to the new drive," Captain Donnell
said. He looked still stunned by Alan's sudden appearance. "Otherwise
we'll never be able to meet the competition of the new ships. There will
be new ships, won't there?"

"As soon as I return to Earth and tell them I've been successful. My men
are ready to go into immediate production of hyperspace vessels. The
universe is going to be full of them even before your ship reaches
Procyon!" He sensed now the full importance of what he had done. "Now
that there's practical transportation between stars, the Galaxy will
grow close together--as close as the Solar System is now!"

Captain Donnell nodded. "And what are you planning to do, now that
you've dug up the Cavour drive?"

"Me?" Alan took a deep breath. "I've got my own ship, Dad. And out there
are Rigel and Deneb and Fomalhaut and a lot of other places I want to
see." He was speaking quietly, calmly, but with an undercurrent of inner
excitement. He had dreamed of this day for nine years.

"I'm going to take a grand tour of the universe, Dad. Everywhere. The
hyperdrive can take me. But there's just one thing----"

"What's that?" Steve and the Captain said virtually in the same moment.

"I've been practically alone for the last nine years. I don't want to
make this trip by myself. I'm looking for a companion. A fellow

He stared squarely at Steve.

A slow grin spread over his brother's face. "You devil," Steve said.
"You've planned this too well. How could I possibly turn you down?"

"Do you want to?" Alan asked.

Steve chuckled. "Do you think I do?"

Alan felt something twitching at his cuff. He looked down and saw a
bluish-purple ball of fur sitting next to his shoe, studying him with a
wry expression.


"Of course. Is there room for a third passenger on this jaunt of yours?"

"Application accepted," Alan said. Warmth spread over him. The long
quest was over. He was back among the people he loved, and the galaxy
was opening wide before him. A sky full of bright stars, growing
brighter and closer by the moment, was beckoning to him.

He saw the Crewmen coming from their posts now; the rumor had flitted
rapidly around the ship, it seemed. They were all there, Art Kandin and
Dan Kelleher and a gaping Judy Collier and Roger Bond and all the rest
of them.

"You won't be leaving right away, will you?" the Captain asked. "You can
stay with us a while, just to see if you remember the place?"

"Of course I will, Dad. There's no hurry now. But I'll have to go back
to Earth first and let them know I've succeeded, so they can start
production. And then----"

"Deneb first," Steve said. "From there out to Spica, and Altair----"

Grinning, Alan said, "More worlds are waiting than we can see in ten
lifetimes, Steve. But we'll give it a good try. We'll get out there."

A multitude of stars thronged the sky. He and Steve and Rat, together at
last--plunging from star to star, going everywhere, seeing everything.
The little craft grappled to the _Valhalla_ would be the magic wand that
put the universe in their hands.

In this moment of happiness he frowned an instant, thinking of a lean,
pleasantly ugly man who had befriended him and who had died nine years
ago. This had been Max Hawkes' ambition, to see the stars. But Max had
never had the chance.

_We'll do it for you, Max. Steve and I._

He looked at Steve. He and his brother had so much to talk about. They
would have to get to know each other all over again, after the years
that had gone by.

"You know," Steve said, "When I woke up aboard the _Valhalla_ and found
out you'd shanghaied me, I was madder than a hornet. I wanted to break
you apart. But you were too far away."

"You've got your chance now," Alan said.

"Yeah. But now I don't want to," Steve laughed.

Alan punched him goodnaturedly. He felt good about life. He had found
Steve again, and he had given the universe the faster-than-light drive.
It didn't take much more than that to make a man happy.

And now a new and longer quest was beginning for Alan and his brother. A
quest that could have no end, a quest that would send them searching
from world to world, out among the bright infinity of suns that lay
waiting for them.


By Robert Silverberg

The Lexman Spacedrive gave man the stars--but at a fantastic price.

Interstellar exploration, colonization, and trade became things of
reality. The benefits to Earth were enormous. But because of the
Fitzgerald Contraction, a man who shipped out to space could never live
a normal life on Earth again.

Travelling at speeds close to that of light, spacemen lived at an
accelerated pace. A nine-year trip to Alpha Centauri and back seemed to
take only six weeks to men on a spaceship. When they returned, their
friends and relatives had aged enormously in comparison, old customs had
changed, even the language was different.

So they did the only thing they could do. They formed a guild of
Spacers, and lived their entire lives on the starships, raised their
families there, and never set foot outside their own Enclave during
their landings on Earth. They grew to despise Earthers, and the Earthers
grew to despise them in turn. There was no logical reason for it, except
that they were--different. That was enough.

But not all Starmen liked being different. Alan Donnell loved space, and
the ship, and life aboard it. His father, Captain of the VALHALLA, lived
for nothing but the traditions of the Spacers. But his twin brother,
Steve, couldn't stand it, and so he jumped ship.

It had happened only a few weeks before, as Alan experienced it. For
Steve, though, he knew it would have been nine years in the past. Now,
while Alan was still only 17 years old, Steve would be 26!

Thinking about it got under Alan's skin, finally. The bond between twins
is a strong one, and Alan couldn't stand to see it broken so abruptly
and permanently. There were other things, too. If Alan remained on the
VALHALLA, he'd have to marry one of the girls of the ship, and the
choice of those his own age was pitifully small. And above all else, he
was convinced that the secret of the Cavour Hyperdrive was hidden
somewhere on Earth--the Cavour Hyperdrive, that would enable man to leap
interstellar distances almost instantaneously, and bring an end to the
sharp differences between Earthers and Spacers.

These forces worked quietly within him--and suddenly, without really
meaning to, Alan in turn jumped ship and remained on Earth!

There were many times when he regretted it. He found Earth a bewildering
and utterly hostile place. To stay alive, he had to play a ruthless
game--and he couldn't even find anyone to tell him the rules. Within the
first few hours, he came dangerously close to being murdered and then to
being thrown in jail. He had no clues to the whereabouts of Steve, and
couldn't even be sure his nine-years-older twin brother was still alive.
And the Cavour Hyperdrive was the merest will-o'-the-wisp, dancing
wildly before him in his dreams.

Somehow, he survived. It wasn't easy, and he didn't do it without
serious sacrifices. He became a professional gambler, and almost became
a drug addict. He became involved in a monstrous criminal syndicate,
knowing that no criminal could possibly escape punishment. He betrayed
the few friends he had, and fought furiously against everyone and
everything he encountered.

He thought longingly, often, of the VALHALLA, and his lost life aboard
her. But he never completely lost hope.

STARMAN'S QUEST is Alan Donnell's story--a story that will keep you on
the edge of your chair until the very last page. It's the most exciting
book yet from one of the most exciting new writers ever to hit the
science-fiction field.

 P.O. Box 161, Hicksville, N. Y.

       Cover by Stan Mack



 Anderson, P. & Dickson, G.         _Earthman's Burden_            $3.00
 Asimov, Isaac                      _Foundation_                   $2.75
 Asimov, Isaac                      _Foundation & Empire_          $2.75
 Asimov, Isaac                      _Second Foundation_            $2.75
 Barnes, Arthur K.                  _Interplanetary Hunter_        $3.00
 Blish, James                       _The Seedling Stars_           $3.00
 Clarke, Arthur C.                  _Against the Fall of Night_    $2.75
 de Camp, L. Sprague                _Lost Continents_              $5.00
 Elliott, H. Chandler               _Reprieve from Paradise_       $3.00
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _Men Against the Stars_        $2.95
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _Journey to Infinity_          $3.50
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _Travelers of Space_           $3.95
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _The Robot & The Man_          $2.95
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _All About the Future_         $3.50
 Greenberg, Martin, Editor          _Coming Attractions_           $3.50
 Gunn, James E.                     _This Fortress World_          $3.00
 Gunn, J. & Williamson, J.          _Star Bridge_                  $3.00
 Howard, Robert E.                  _The Coming of Conan_          $3.00
 Howard, Robert E.                  _Conan the Barbarian_          $3.00
 Howard, Robert E.                  _The Sword of Conan_           $2.75
 Howard, Robert E.                  _King Conan_                   $3.00
 Howard, Robert E.                  _Conan the Conqueror_          $2.75
 Howard, R. E. & de Camp, L. S.     _Tales of Conan_               $3.00
 de Camp, L. S. & Nyberg, B.        _The Return of Conan_          $3.00
 Leiber, Fritz                      _Two Sought Adventure_         $3.00
 Leinster, Murray                   _The Forgotten Planet_         $2.50
 Leinster, Murray                   _Colonial Survey_              $3.00
 Merril, Judith, Editor             _SF: The Years Greatest_       $3.95
 Merril, Judith, Editor             _SF: '57 The Years Greatest_   $3.95
 North, Andrew                      _Sargasso of Space_            $2.50
 North, Andrew                      _Plague Ship_                  $2.75
 Pohl, F. & Williamson, J.          _Undersea Fleet_               $2.75
 Shiras, Wilmar H.                  _Children of the Atom_         $2.75
 Smith, George O.                   _Highways in Hiding_           $3.00
 Wallace, F. L.                     _Address: Centauri_            $3.00

                     _AT YOUR FAVORITE BOOK STORE_

                  Free Illustrated Catalog on Request

                         The Gnome Press Inc.,
                    P. O. Box 161, Hicksville, N. Y.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Starman's Quest" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.