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"No, no, no, Mr. Danley! You are not crawling, Mr. Danley, you are climbing! Do you understand that? Climbing! You have to climb an asteroid, just as you would climb a cliff on Earth. You have to hold on every second of the time, or you will fall off!" St. Simon's voice sounded harsh in Danley's earphones, and he felt irritatingly helpless poised floatingly above the ground that way.

His instructors were well anchored by metal eyes set into the rocky surface for just that purpose. Although Pallas was mostly nickel-iron, this end of it was stony, which was why it had been selected as a training ground.

"Well?" snapped St. Simon. "What do you do now? If this were a small rock, you'd be drifting a long ways away by now. Think, Mr. Danley, think."

"Then shut up and let me think!" Danley snarled.

"If small things distract you from thinking about the vital necessity of saving your own life, Mr. Danley, you would not live long in the Belt."

Danley reached out an arm to see if he could touch the ground. When he had pushed himself upwards with a thrust of his knee, he hadn't given himself too hard a shove. He had reached the apex of his slow flight, and was drifting downward again. He grasped a jutting rock and pulled himself back to the surface.

"Very good, Mr. Danley--but that wouldn't work on a small rock. You took too long. What would you have done on a rock with a millionth of a gee of pull?"

Danley was silent.

"Well?" St. Simon barked. "What would you do?"

"I ... I don't know," Danley admitted.

"Ye gods and little fishhooks!" This was Kerry Brand's voice. It was supposed to be St. Simon's turn to give the verbal instructions, but Brand allowed himself an occasional remark when it was appropriate.

St. Simon's voice was bitingly sweet. "What do you think those safety lines are for, Mr. Danley? Do you think they are for decorative purposes?"

"Well ... I thought I was supposed to think of some other way. I mean, that's so obvious--"

"Mr. Danley," St. Simon said with sudden patience, "we are not here to give you riddles to solve. We're here to teach you how to stay alive in the Belt. And one of the first rules you must learn is that you will never leave your boat without a safety line. Never!

"An anchor man, Mr. Danley, is called that for more than one reason. You cannot anchor your boat to a rock unless there is an eye-bolt set in it. And if it already has an eye-bolt, you would have no purpose on that rock. In a way, you will be the anchor of your boat, since you will be tied to it by your safety line. If the boat drifts too far from your rock while you are working, it will pull you off the surface, since it has more mass than you do. That shouldn't be allowed to happen, but, if it does, you are still with your boat, rather than deserted on a rock for the rest of your life--which wouldn't be very long. When the power unit in your suit ran out of energy, it would stop breaking your exhaled carbon dioxide down into carbon and oxygen, and you would suffocate. Even with emergency tanks of oxygen, you would soon find yourself freezing to death. That sun up there isn't very warm, Mr. Danley."

Peter Danley was silent, but it was an effort to remain so. He wanted to remind St. Simon that he, Danley, had been a spaceman for nearly fifteen years. But he was also aware that he was learning things that weren't taught at Earthside schools. Most of his professional life had been spent aboard big, comfortable ships that made the short Earth-Luna hop. He could probably count the total hours he had spent in a spacesuit on the fingers of his two hands.

"All right, Mr. Danley; let's begin again. Climb along the surface. Use toeholds, handholds, and fingerholds. Feel your way along. Find those little crevices that will give you a grip. It doesn't take much. You're a lot better off than a mountain climber on Earth because you don't have to fight your weight. You have only your mass to worry about. That's it. Fine. Very good, Mr. Danley."

And, later: "Now, Mr. Danley," said Captain Brand, "you are at the end of your tether, so to speak."

The three men were in a space boat, several hundred miles from Pallas. Or, rather, two of them were in the boat, standing at the open door. Peter Danley was far out from it, at the end of his safety line.

"How far are you from us, Mr. Danley?" Brand asked.

"Three hundred meters, Captain Brand," Danley said promptly.

"Very good. How do you know?"

"I am at the end of my safety line, which is three hundred meters long when fully extended."

"Your memory is excellent, Mr. Danley. Now, how will you get back to the boat?"

"Pull myself hand over hand along the line."

"Think, Mr. Danley! Think!"

"Uh. Oh. Well, I wouldn't keep pulling. I'd just give myself a tug and then coast in, taking up the line slowly as I went."

"Excellent! What would happen if you, as you put it, pulled yourself in hand over hand, as if you were climbing a rope on Earth?"

"I would accelerate too much," Danley said. "I'd gain too much momentum and probably bash my brains out against the boat. And I'd have no way to stop myself."

"Bully for you, Mr. Danley! Now see if you can put into action that which you have so succinctly put into words. Come back to the boat. Gently the first time. We'll have plenty of practice, so that you can get the feel of the muscle pull that will give you a maximum of velocity with a minimum of impact at this end. Gently, now."

Still later: "Judgment, Mr. Danley!" St. Simon cautioned. "You have to use judgment! A space boat is not an automobile. There is no friction out here to slow it to a stop. Your accelerator is just exactly that--an accelerator. Taking your foot off it won't slow you down a bit; you've got to use your reverse."

Peter Danley was at the controls of the boat. There were tiny beads of perspiration on his forehead. Over a kilometer away was a good-sized hunk of rock; his instructors wouldn't let him get any closer. They wanted to be sure that they could take over before the boat struck the rock, just in case Danley should freeze to the accelerator a little too long.

He wasn't used to this sort of thing. He was used to a taped acceleration-deceleration program which lifted a big ship, aimed it, and went through the trip all automatically. All he had ever had to do was drop it the last few hundred feet to a landing field.

"Keep your eyes moving," St. Simon said. "Your radar can give you data that you need, just remember that it can't think for you."

Your right foot controls your forward acceleration.

Your left foot controls your reverse acceleration.

They can't be pushed down together; when one goes down, the other goes up. Balance one against the other.

Turning your wheel controls the roll of the boat.

Pulling your wheel toward you, or pushing it away, controls the pitch.

Shifting the wheel left, or right, controls the yaw.

The instructions had been pounded into his head until each one seemed to ring like a separate little bell. The problem was coordinating his body to act on those instructions.

One of the radar dials told him how far he was from the rock. Another told him his radial velocity relative to it. A third told him his angular velocity.

"Come to a dead stop exactly one thousand meters from the surface, Mr. Danley," St. Simon ordered.

Danley worked the controls until both his velocity meters read zero, and the distance meter read exactly one kilometer.

"Very good, Mr. Danley. Now assume that the surface of your rock is at nine hundred ninety-five meters. Bring your boat to a dead stop exactly fifty centimeters from that surface."

Danley worked the controls again. He grinned with satisfaction when the distance meter showed nine nine five point five on the nose.

Captain St. Simon sighed deeply. "Mr. Danley, do you feel a little shaken up? Banged around a little? Do you feel as though you'd just gotten a bone-rattling shock?"

"Uh ... no."

"You should. You slammed this boat a good two feet into the surface of that rock before you backed out again." His voice changed tone. "Dammit, Mr. Danley, when I say 'surface at nine nine five', I mean surface!"

Edway Tarnhorst had been dictating notes for his reports into his recorder, and was rather tired, so when he asked Peter Danley what he had learned, he was rather irritated when the blond man closed his blue eyes and repeated, parrotlike: "Due to the lack of a water-oxygen atmosphere, many minerals are found in the asteroids which are unknown on Earth. Among the more important of these are: Oldhamite (CaS); Daubreelite (FECr{2}S{4}); Schreibersite and Rhabdite (Fe{3}Ni{3}P); Lawrencite (FeCl{2}); and Taenite, an alloy of iron containing--"

"That's not precisely the sort of thing I meant," Tarnhorst interrupted testily.

Danley smiled. "I know. I'm sorry. That's my lesson for tomorrow."

"So I gathered. May I sit down?" There were only two chairs in the room. Danley was occupying one, and a pile of books was occupying the other.

Danley quickly got to his feet and began putting the books on his desk. "Certainly, Mr. Tarnhorst. Sit down."

Tarnhorst lowered himself into the newly emptied chair. "I apologize for interrupting your studies," he said. "I realize how important they are. But there are a few points I'd like to discuss with you."

"Certainly." Danley seated himself and looked at the older man expectantly. "The nullifiers are on," he said.

"Of course," Tarnhorst said absently. Then, changing his manner, he said abruptly: "Have you found anything yet?"

Danley shook his head. "No. It looks to me as though they've done everything possible to make sure that these men get the best equipment and the best training. The training instructors have been through the whole affair themselves--they know the ropes. The equipment, as far as I can tell, is top grade stuff. From what I have seen so far, the Company isn't stinting on the equipment or the training."

Tarnhorst nodded. "After nearly three months of investigation, I have come to the same conclusion myself. The records show that expenditures on equipment has been steadily increasing. The equipment they have now, I understand, is almost failure-proof?" He looked questioningly at Danley.

Danley nodded. "Apparently. Certainly no one is killed because of equipment failure. It's the finest stuff I've ever seen."

"And yet," Tarnhorst said, "their books show that they are constantly seeking to improve it."

"I don't suppose there is any chance of juggling the books on you, is there?"

Tarnhorst smiled a superior smile. "Hardly. In the first place, I know bookkeeping. In the second, it would be impossible to whip up a complete set of balancing books--covering a period of nearly eighty years--overnight.

"I agree," Danley said. "I don't think they set up a special training course just for me overnight, either. I've seen classes on Vesta, Juno, and Eros--and they're all the same. There aren't any fancy false fronts to fool us, Mr. Tarnhorst: I've looked very closely."

"Have you talked to the men?"

"Yes. They have no complaints."

Again Tarnhorst nodded. "I have found the same thing. They all insist that if a man gets killed in space, it's not the fault of anyone but himself. Or, as it may be, an act of God."

"One of my instructors ran into an act of God some years ago," Danley said. "You've met him. Brand--the one with the scarred face." He explained to Tarnhorst what had caused Brand's disfigurement. "But he survived," he finished, "because he kept his wits about him even after he was hit."

"Commendable; very commendable," Tarnhorst said. "If he'd been an excitable fool, he'd have died."

"True. But what I was trying to point out was that it wasn't equipment failure that caused the accident."

"No. You're quite right." Tarnhorst was silent for a moment, then he looked into Danley's eyes. "Do you think you could take on a job as anchor man now?"

"I don't know," said Danley evenly. "But I'm going to find out tomorrow."

Peter Danley took his final examination the following day. All by himself, he went through the procedure of positioning his ship, setting up a rocket drill, firing it, and setting in an anchor. It was only a small rock, nine meters through, but the job was almost the same as with the big ones. Not far away, Captain St. Simon watched the Earthman's procedure through a pair of high-powered field glasses. He breathed a deep sigh of relief when the job was done.

"Jules," he said softly, "I am sure glad that man didn't hurt himself any."

"Yes, suh! We'd of sho' been in trouble if he'd of killed hisself!"

"We will have to tell Captain Brand that our pupil has done pretty well for such a small amount of schooling."

"I think that would be proper, m'lud."

"And we will also have to tell Captain Brand that this boy wouldn't last a month. He wouldn't come back from his first trip."

There was no answer to that.

Three days later, amid a cloud of generally satisfied feelings, Edway Tarnhorst and Peter Danley took the ship back to Earth.

"I cannot, of course, give you a copy of my report," Tarnhorst had told Georges Alhamid. "That is for the eyes of the Committee only. However, I may say that I do not find the Belt Companies or the governments of the Belt Cities at fault. Do you want to know my personal opinion?"

"I would appreciate it, Mr. Tarnhorst," Georges had said.

"Carelessness. Just plain carelessness on the part of the workers. That is what has caused your rise in death rates. You people out here in the Belt have become too used to being in space. Familiarity breeds contempt, Mr. Alhamid.

"Steps must be taken to curb that carelessness. I suggest a publicity campaign of some kind. The people must be thoroughly indoctrinated in safety procedures and warned against carelessness. Just a few months of schooling isn't enough, Mr. Alhamid. You've got to start pounding it into their heads early.

"If you don't--" He shook his head. (He had grown used to doing so in low gravity by now.) "If the death rate isn't cut down, we shall have to raise the premium rates, and I don't know what will happen on the floor of the People's Congress. However, I think I can guarantee six months to a year before any steps are taken. That will give you time to launch your safety campaign. I'm certain that as soon as this carelessness is curbed, the claims will drop down to their former low point."

"We'll certainly try that," Alhamid had said heartily. "Thank you very much, Mr. Tarnhorst."

When they had finally gone, Alhamid spoke to the governor.

"That's that, Larry. You can bring it up at the next meeting of the Board of Governors. Get some kind of publicity campaign going. Plug safety. Tell 'em carelessness is bad. It can't hurt anything and actually might help, who knows?"

"What are you going to do at your end?"

"What we should have done long ago: finance the insurance ourselves. For the next couple of years, we'll only make death claims to Earth for a part of the total. We'll pay off the rest ourselves. Then we'll tell 'em we've brought the cost down so much that we can afford to do our own insurance financing.

"We let this insurance thing ride too long, and it has damn near got us in a jam. We needed the income from Earth. We still could use it, but we need our independence more."

"I second the motion," the governor said fervently. "Look, suppose you come over to my place tonight, and we'll work out the details of this report. O.K.? Say at nine?"

"Fine, Larry. I'll see you then."

Alhamid went back to his office. He was met at the door by his secretary, who handed him a sealed envelope. "The Earthman left this here for you. He said you'd know what to do with it."

Alhamid took the envelope and looked at the name on the outside. "Which Earthman?" he asked.

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