"Good," said Cowalczk, "take the pressure up all the way, and we'll see what happens."
"Eight hundred pounds," Cade said, after a short wait.
"Good enough," Cowalczk said. "Tell that engineer to hold up a while, he can fix this thing as soon as he gets parts. Come on, Lehman, let's get out of here."
"Well, I'm glad that's over," said Cade. "You guys had me worried for a while."
"Think we weren't worried?" Lehman asked. "And it's not over."
"What?" Cade asked. "Oh, you mean the valve servo you two bashed up?"
"No," said Lehman, "I mean the two thousand gallons of water that we lost."
"Two thousand?" Cade asked. "We only had seven hundred gallons reserve. How come we can operate now?"
"We picked up twelve hundred from the town sewage plant. What with using the solar furnace as a radiator, we can make do."
"Oh, God, I suppose this means water rationing again."
"You're probably right, at least until the next rocket lands in a couple of weeks."
PROSPECTOR FEARED LOST ON MOON.
IPP Williamson Town, Moon, Sept. 21st. Scientific survey director McIlroy released a statement today that Howard Evans, a prospector is missing and presumed lost. Evans, who was apparently exploring the Moon in search of minerals was due two days ago, but it was presumed that he was merely temporarily delayed.
Evans began his exploration on August 25th, and was known to be carrying several days reserve of oxygen and supplies. Director McIlroy has expressed a hope that Evans will be found before his oxygen runs out.
Search parties have started from Williamson Town, but telescopic search from Palomar and the new satellite observatory are hindered by the fact that Evans is lost on the part of the Moon which is now dark. Little hope is held for radio contact with the missing man as it is believed he was carrying only short-range, intercommunications equipment. Nevertheless, receivers are ...
Captain Nickel Jones was also expressing a hope: "Anyway, Mac," he was saying to McIlroy, "a Welshman knows when his luck's run out. And never a word did he say."
"Like as not, you're right," McIlroy replied, "but if I know Evans, he'd never say a word about any forebodings."
"Well, happen I might have a bit of Welsh second sight about me, and it tells me that Evans will be found."
McIlroy chuckled for the first time in several days. "So that's the reason you didn't take off when you were scheduled," he said.
"Well, yes," Jones answered. "I thought that it might happen that a rocket would be needed in the search."
The light from Earth lighted the Moon as the Moon had never lighted Earth. The great blue globe of Earth, the only thing larger than the stars, wheeled silently in the sky. As it turned, the shadow of sunset crept across the face that could be seen from the Moon. From full Earth, as you might say, it moved toward last quarter.
The rising sun shone into Director McIlroy's office. The hot light formed a circle on the wall opposite the window, and the light became more intense as the sun slowly pulled over the horizon. Mrs. Garth walked into the director's office, and saw the director sleeping with his head cradled in his arms on the desk. She walked softly to the window and adjusted the shade to darken the office. She stood looking at McIlroy for a moment, and when he moved slightly in his sleep, she walked softly out of the office.
A few minutes later she was back with a cup of coffee. She placed it in front of the director, and shook his shoulder gently.
"Wake up, Mr. McIlroy," she said, "you told me to wake you at sunrise, and there it is, and here's Mr. Phelps."
McIlroy woke up slowly. He leaned back in his chair and stretched. His neck was stiff from sleeping in such an awkward position.
"'Morning, Mr. Phelps," he said.
"Good morning," Phelps answered, dropping tiredly into a chair.
"Have some coffee, Mr. Phelps," said Mrs. Garth, handing him a cup.
"Any news?" asked McIlroy.
"About Evans?" Phelps shook his head slowly. "Palomar called in a few minutes back. Nothing to report and the sun was rising there. Australia will be in position pretty soon. Several observatories there. Then Capetown. There are lots of observatories in Europe, but most of them are clouded over. Anyway the satellite observatory will be in position by the time Europe is."
McIlroy was fully awake. He glanced at Phelps and wondered how long it had been since he had slept last. More than that, McIlroy wondered why this banker, who had never met Evans, was losing so much sleep about finding him. It began to dawn on McIlroy that nearly the whole population of Williamson Town was involved, one way or another, in the search.
The director turned to ask Phelps about this fact, but the banker was slumped in his chair, fast asleep with his coffee untouched.
It was three hours later that McIlroy woke Phelps.
"They've found the tractor," McIlroy said.
"Good," Phelps mumbled, and then as comprehension came; "That's fine! That's just line! Is Evans--?"
"Can't tell yet. They spotted the tractor from the satellite observatory. Captain Jones took off a few minutes ago, and he'll report back as soon as he lands. Hadn't you better get some sleep?"
Evans was carrying a block of ice into the tractor when he saw the rocket coming in for a landing. He dropped the block and stood waiting. When the dust settled from around the tail of the rocket, he started to run forward. The air lock opened, and Evans recognized the vacuum suited figure of Nickel Jones.
"Evans, man!" said Jones' voice in the intercom. "Alive you are!"
"A Welshman takes a lot of killing," Evans answered.
Later, in Evans' tractor, he was telling his story: "... And I don't know how long I sat there after I found the water." He looked at the Goldburgian device he had made out of wire and tubing. "Finally I built this thing. These caves were made of lava. They must have been formed by steam some time, because there's a floor of ice in all of 'em.
"The idea didn't come all at once, it took a long time for me to remember that water is made out of oxygen and hydrogen. When I remembered that, of course, I remembered that it can be separated with electricity. So I built this thing.
"It runs an electric current through water, lets the oxygen loose in the room, and pipes the hydrogen outside. It doesn't work automatically, of course, so I run it about an hour a day. My oxygen level gauge shows how long."
"You're a genius, man!" Jones exclaimed.
"No," Evans answered, "a Welshman, nothing more."
"Well, then," said Jones, "are you ready to start back?"
"Well, it was to rescue you that I came."
"I don't need rescuing, man," Evans said.
Jones stared at him blankly.
"You might let me have some food," Evans continued. "I'm getting short of that. And you might have someone send out a mechanic with parts to fix my tractor. Then maybe you'll let me use your radio to file my claim."
"Sure, man, I've thousands of tons of water here. It's the richest mine on the Moon!"
JOIN OUR GANG?.
By STERLING E. LANIER
They didn't exactly hold a gun at anybody's head; all they offered was help. Of course, they did sort of encourage people to ask for help....
Commander William Powers, subleader of Survey Group Sirian Combine--1027798 and hence first officer of its ship, the Benefactor, stared coldly out of his cabin port. The Benefactor was resting on the bedrock of Island Twenty-seven of the world called Mureess by its natives. Like all the other such names, it meant "the world," just as the natives' name for themselves, Falsethsa, meant "the people," or "us," or "the only race." To Commander Powers, fifty years old, with eleven of them in Survey work, the world was Planet Two of a star called something unpronounceable in the nebula of something else equally pointless. He had not bothered to learn the native name of Island Twenty-seven, because his ship had mapped one thousand three hundred and eighty-six islands, all small, and either rocky or swampy or both. Island Twenty-seven, to him, had only one importance, and that was its being the site of the largest city on the planet.
Around the island's seven square miles, a maze of docks, buildings, sheds, breakwaters, and artificial inlets made a maze stretching a mile out to sea in every direction. The gray sea, now covered with fog patches, rolled on the horizon under low-lying cloud. Numerous craft, some small, some large, moved busily about on the water, which in its components was identical with that of Terra, far distant in the Sirius Sector. Crude but workable atomic motors powered most of them, and there was a high proportion of submarines. Powers thought of Earth's oceans for a moment, but then dismissed the thought. Biological technical data were no specialty he needed. Terra might be suitable for the action formulating in his mind, but a thousand suns of Sirian Combine might prove more useful. The biologists of Grand Base would determine, assisted by data his ship provided, in their monster computers, what was called for. Powers had been trained for different purposes.
He was, as every survey commander was, a battle-hardened warrior. He had fought in two major fleet actions in his day, and had once, as a very junior ensign of the Sirian Grand Fleet, participated in the ultimate horror, the destruction by obliteration of an inhabited planet. For planetary destruction a unanimous vote of the Sirian Grand Council, representing over four thousand worlds, was necessary. It had been given only four times in the long history of the Confederacy. Every intelligent being in the great Union shuddered at the thought of its ever becoming necessary again. Powers stared moodily over the rocky ground toward a group of figures in the distance which were moving in his direction. The final delegation of the Mureess government, a world government, was coming for its last meeting before the Benefactor departed into the far reaches of space.
Powers braced himself mentally for a grand effort. He held equivalent rank to that of a Galactic admiral, and it was held for one reason only, because of his real work and its importance. He was a super-psychologist, a trend-analyzer, a salesman, a promoter, a viewer, an expert on alien symbology and the spearhead of the most ruthless intelligence service in the known universe. Long ago, he had transferred from the battle fleet to the inner school at Sirius Prime for the most intensive training ever devised. Now it would be put to the ultimate test.
He heard the air lock open and turned away from the window. He had a long way to walk to the neutral council chamber, for the Benefactor was a big ship, despite the fact that only twenty beings comprised the total complement. Down the echoing corridors he paced, brow furrowed in thought. Mazechazz would have his own ideas, he knew, but if they made no impression, he would have to put his oar in. Each being on board, whether he breathed halogen or oxygen, ate uranium or protein, had to be independent in thought and action under certain circumstances. The circumstances were here, here and now in his judgment.
He arrived at the door of the Council chamber, and entered, an impressive sight in flaming orange and blue uniform.
Four members of the Supreme Council of the Mureess rose solemnly and inclined their heads in his direction. They were tall bipeds of vaguely reptilian ancestry, most of their height being body. They stood on short powerful legs, terminating in flippered feet, and their long arms were flanged to the second elbow with a rubbery fin. Only four opposed fingers flexed the hands, but the dome-shaped heads and golden eyes screamed intelligence as loudly as the bodies shouted adaption to an aquatic environment. Around the brown torsos, light but efficient harness supported a variety of instruments in noncorrosive metal sheaths. All of the instruments had been discreetly examined by scanning beams and pronounced harmless before any contact had been allowed.
Across the central table, Sakh Mazechazz, of Lyra 8, leader and captain of the Survey stared red-eyed at his executive officer. Mazechazz resembled the delegation far more than he did his own officer, for he, too, had remotely reptilian forbears. Indeed he still sported a flexible tail and, save for his own orange and blue uniform, ablaze with precious stones, resembled nothing so much as a giant Terrestrial chameleon. The uniforms were no accident. Surveymen wore anything or nothing as the case called for it, and the Falsethsa admired bright colors, having few of their own and a good color sense. The gleaming jewels on Mazechazz's uniform stressed his superiority in rank to Powers, as they were meant to.
Of the twenty Surveymen on board the Benefactor, Mazechazz and Powers were the only two who most resembled, in that order, the oxygen-breathing natives of Mureess. That automatically made them captain and executive officer of the Benefactor. The native population saw only the captain and executive officer of the ship, and only the council chamber. On a world of ammonia breathers, Mazechazz and Powers would have been invisible in their own part of the ship providing advice only to the Skorak of Marga 10, Lambdem, and perhaps Nyur of Antares-bi-12. If a suspicious native saw an entity with whom he could feel a remote relationship giving orders to a weird-looking, far more, alien creature, a feeling of confidence might appear.
Since Mazechazz came from a planet of super-heated desert and scrub resembling the Karoo of South Africa, the resemblance could have been bettered, but it was well within the allowable limits set forth in the Inner Mandate. And in Galactic Psychology, every trick counted. For persuasion was the chief weapon of the Sirian Combine. Outright force was absolutely forbidden, save by the aforesaid vote of the council. Every weapon in the book of persuasion was used to bring intelligent races into the Combine, and persuasion is a thing of infinite variety.
As these thoughts flashed through Powers' mind, he seated himself in a plain chair and adjusted the Universal Speaker to his mouth. Beside him, on a more elaborate chair, tailored to fit his tail, Mazechazz did the same, while the four Falsethsa seated themselves on low stools and took similar instruments from the oblong table which separated them from the two Surveymen. Deep in the bowels of the ship, a giant translator switched on, to simultaneously translate and record the mutually alien tongues as they were spoken. Adjustable extensions on the speakers brought the sound to the bone of the skull. For different life forms, different instruments would have been necessary and were provided for.
Mazechazz, as "captain," opened the proceedings.
"Since this is our last session with you, we hope some fresh proposals have occurred to your honorable council during your absence," hummed the speaker through Powers' skull.
He who was designated First among the council of the Mureess answered.
"We have no new proposals, nor indeed had we ever any. Trade would be welcome, but we vitally need nothing you or your Combine have described, captain. We have all the minerals we need and the Great Mother--he meant the sea--provides food. We will soon go into space ourselves and meet as equals with you. We cannot tolerate what you call an 'observer,' who seems to us a spy, and not subject to our laws by your own definition. That is all we have to say."
That does it, thought Powers glumly. The cold--and entirely accurate--description of a Planetary representative of the Sirian Combine was the final clincher. The intensely proud and chauvinistic Falsethsa would tolerate no interference.
Mazechazz gave no indication that he had heard. He tried again.
"In addition to trade and education, general advancement of the populace," murmured the mike, "have you considered defense?" He paused. "Not all races who travel in space are friendly. A few are starkly inimical, hating all other forms of life. Could you defend yourselves, Honorable Sirs, against such?"
It was obvious from the speed of the answer that the Council of Mureess had considered, if not anticipated this question. The second member spoke, an obvious pre-assignment.
"In all our long history, you are our first contact with star travelers. Yet we are not defenseless. The Great Mother contains not only food, fish and plants which we harvest, but many strong and terrible beasts. Very few are left to disturb us. In addition, the implications of your ship have not escaped us, and our scientists are even now adapting some of our atomic devices used in mining to other ends." The voice contained a faint hint of pride as it ended. We got guns, too, buddy, it said, and we ain't pushovers.
The First of the Council spoke again. "Let me be plain, Respected Star-farers. It seems obvious to us that you have learned most of what we represent as a council, if not all. We are the heads of the Great Clans and we will not change. It hardly seems likely that you represent a society based on heredity if you include the diverse and nameless breeds of creature you have shown us on your screens. We do not want such an amalgam on our world causing unrest and disturbances of public order. Still less do we desire authoritarian interference with the ordered life we have developed. Your requests are one and severally refused. There will be no 'observer.' Trade, regulated by us, will be welcome. Otherwise, should you choose not to be bound by our laws, we must respectfully and finally bid you farewell. When at some future date, we develop ships such as yours, we may reconsider." The speaker paused, looked at his three confreres, who nodded silently. The First stared arrogantly at Mazechazz, and continued.
"Finally, we have decided to place a ban on further landings by aliens unless you are now prepared to negotiate a trade agreement on our terms!"
Powers thought frantically, his face motionless. This was defeat, stark and unequivocal. The parable he had in mind seemed indicated now or never. He turned to Sakh Mazechazz, and spoke.
"May I have your permission to address the Honored Council, Noble Captain?" he asked.
"Speak, First Officer," said the Lyran, his gular pouches throbbing. His ruby eyes, to his associate, looked pained, as well they might.
"Let me pose a question, Honored Sirs," said Powers. "Suppose that in your early history of creating your orderly realm you had discovered on one of your islands a race of Falsethsa as advanced and regulated as yourselves who wished nothing to do with you?" He could feel the alerted tension of the four as the golden eyes glowed at him.
"The implications of your question are obvious," the First of the Council spoke, as coldly as ever. "Do you threaten us with force from your Combine devoted to peace?" The flat voice of the translator hummed with acquired and impossible violence which Powers knew to be subjective.
The First continued. "We would resist to the ultimate, down to the least of our young and the most helpless female weed cultivator! Do your worst!"
Powers sat back. He had done his best. The hereditary dictatorship of a united world had spoken. No democratic minority had ever raised its head here. The society of Mureess was stratified in a way ancient India never thought of being, down to refuse collectors of a thousand generations of dishonorable standing. Ancient Japan had been as rigidly exclusionist but there had been a progressive element there. Here there was nothing. Nothing that is, except a united world of coldly calculating and very advanced entities about to erupt into space with Heaven knew what weapons and a murderous arrogance and race pride to bolster them.
He thought of the dead orb called Sebelia, rolling around its worthless sun, an object of nausea to all life. And he had helped. Well, the boys in Biology had the ball now. He forced himself to listen to the First of Council as he bade Mazechazz a courteous farewell.
"Depart in harmony and peace, Honorable Star-farers. May your Great Mother be benign, when you return to give your high council our message on the far-distant worlds you have shown us in the sky."
The Council departed, leaving Powers and Mazechazz staring at each other in the council chamber, their gaudy uniforms looking a little dull and drab.
"Well, Sakh," said Powers, his ruddy face a little flushed, "we can't be perfect. They don't know about spacewarps and instantaneous communicators. Plan II has nothing to do with us."
"Beyond our recommendation, you mean," said the Lyran flatly. "We have failed, William. This means death for thousands of innocent beings, perhaps more. Their world population is about eighty million, you know."