The Currents of Space (Page 49)

Genro said softly, "Do you know why I tell you all this?"

Terens did not answer.

"First," said Genro, "I rather enjoy seeing you suffer. I don’t like murderers and I particularly don’t like natives who kill Sarkites. I’ve been ordered to deliver you alive but nothing in my orders says I have to make the trip pleasant for you. Secondly, it is necessary for you to be fully aware of the situation since, after we land on Sark, the next steps will be up to you."

Terens looked up. "What!"

"Depsec knows you’re coming in. The Floriian regional office sent the word as soon as this craft cleared Florina’s atmosphere.

You can be sure of that. But I said it was quite necessary for me to convince Depsec that I could handle this alone and the fact that I have makes all the difference."

"I don’t understand you," said Terens desperately.

With cornposui’e, Genro answered, "I said ‘they’ wanted you on S ark, ‘they’ wanted you in working order. By ‘they’ I don’t mean Depsec, I mean Trantorl"

14. The Renegade

SELIM JUNZ had never been the phlegmatic type. A year of frustration had done nothing to improve that. He could not sip wine carefully while his mental orientation sat upon suddenly trembling foundations. In short, he was not Ludigan Abel.

And when Junz had done with his angry shouting that on no account was Sark to be allowed freedom to kidnap and imprison a member of the I.S.B. regardless of the condition of Trantor’s espionage network, Abel merely said, "I think you had better spend the night here, Doctor."

Junz said freezingly, "I have better things to do."

Abel said, "No doubt, man, no doubt. Just the same, if my men are being blasted to death, Sark must be bold indeed. There is a great possibility that some accident may happen to you before the night is over. Let us wait a night then and see what comes of a new day."

Junz’s protests against inaction came to nothing. Abel, without ever losing his cooi, almost negligent air of indifference, was suddenly hard of hearing. Junz was escorted with firm courtesy to a chamber.

In bed, he stared at the faintly luminous, frescoed ceiling (on which glowed a moderately skillful copy of Lenhaden’s "Battle of the Arcturian Moons") and knew he would not sleep. Then he caught one whiff, a faint one, of the gas, somnin, and was asleep before he could catch another. Five minutes later, when a forced draft swept the room clean of the anesthetic, enough had been administered to assure a healthful eight hours.

He was awakened in the cold half-light of dawn. He blinked up at Abel.

"What time is it?" he asked.


"Great Space." He looked about and thrust his bony legs out from under the sheet. "You’re up early."

"I haven’t slept."


"I feel the lack, believe me. I don’t respond to antisomnin as I did when I was younger."

Junz murmured, "If you will allow me a moment."

This once his morning preparations for the day took scarcely more than that. He re-entered the room, drawing the belt about his tunic and adjusting the magneto-seam.

"Well?" he asked. "Surely you don’t wake through the night and rouse me at six unless you have something to tell me."

"You’re right. You’re right." Abel sat down on the bed vacated by Junz and threw his head back in a laugh. It was high-pitched and rather subdued. His teeth showed, their strong, faintly yellow plastic incongruous against his shrunken gums.

"I beg your pardon, Junz," he said. "I am not quite myself. This drugged wakefulness has me a little lightheaded. I almost think I will advise Trantor to replace me with a younger man."

Junz said, with a flavor of sarcasm not entirely unmixed with sudden hope, "You find they haven’t got the Spatio-analyst after all?"

"No, they do. I’m sorry but they do. I’m afraid that my amusement is due entirely to the fact that our nets are intact."

Junz would have liked to say, "Damn your nets," but refrained. Abel went on, "There is no doubt they knew Khorov was one of our agents. They may know of others on Florina. Those are small fry. The Sarkites knew that and never felt it worth while to do more than hold them under observation."

"They killed one," Junz pointed out.

"They did not," retorted Abel. "It was one of the Spatioanalyst’s own companions in a patroller disguise who used the blaster."

Junz stared. "I don’t understand."

"It’s a rather complicated story. Won’t you join me at breakfast? I need food badly."

Over the coffee, Abel told the story of the last thirty-six hours. Junz was stunned. He put down his own coffee cup, half full, and returned to it no more. "Even allowing them to have stowed away on that ship of all ships, the fact still remains they might not have been detected. If you send men to meet that ship as it lands-"

"Bah. You know better than that. No modem ship could fail to detect the presence of excess body heat."

"It might have been overlooked. Instruments may be infallible but men are not."

"Wishful thinking. Look here. At the very time that the ship with the Spatio-analyst aboard is approaching Sark, there are reports of excellent reliability that the Squire of Fife is in conference with the other Great Squires. These intercontinental conferences are spaced as widely as the stars of the Galaxy. Coincidence?"

"An intercontinental conference over a Spatio-analyst?"

"An unimportant subject in itself, yes. But we have made it important. The I.S.B. has been searching for him for nearly a year with remarkable pertinacity."