We heard nothing more from Bish Ware that evening. Joe and Tom Kivelson an_scar Fujisawa slept at the Times Building, and after breakfast Dad called th_paceport hospital about Murell. He had passed a good night and seemed to hav_hrown off all the poison he had absorbed through his skin. Dad talked to him, and advised him not to leave until somebody came for him. Tom and I took _ar—and a pistol apiece and a submachine gun—and went to get him. Remembering, at the last moment, what I had done to his trousers, I unpacked his luggag_nd got another suit for him.
He was grateful for that, and he didn't lift an eyebrow when he saw th_rtillery we had with us. He knew, already, what the score was, and the rules, or absence thereof, of the game, and accepted us as members of his team. W_ropped to the Bottom Level and went, avoiding traffic, to where the wax wa_tored. There were close to a dozen guards there now, all heavily armed.
We got out of the car, I carrying the chopper, and one of the gang ther_roduced a probe rod and microscope and a testing kit and a microray scanner.
Murell took his time going over the wax, jabbing the probe rod in and pullin_amples out of the big plastic-skinned sausages at random, making chemica_ests, examining them under the microscope, and scanning other cylinders t_ake sure there was no foreign matter in them. He might not know what _iterary agent was, but he knew tallow-wax.
I found out from the guards that there hadn't been any really serious troubl_fter we left Hunter's Hall. The city police had beaten a few men up, natch, and run out all the anti-Ravick hunters, and then Ravick had reconvened th_eeting and acceptance of the thirty-five centisol price had been vote_nanimously. The police were still looking for the Kivelsons. Ravick seemed t_ave gotten the idea that Joe Kivelson was the mastermind of the hunters'
cabal against him. I know if I'd found that Joe Kivelson and Oscar Fujisaw_ere in any kind of a conspiracy together, I wouldn't pick Joe for th_astermind. It was just possible, I thought, that Oscar had been fosterin_his himself, in case anything went wrong. After all, self-preservation is th_irst law, and Oscar is a self-preserving type.
After Murell had finished his inspection and we'd gotten back in the car an_ere lifting, I asked him what he was going to offer, just as though I wer_he skipper of the biggest ship out of Port Sandor. Well, it meant as much t_s as it did to the hunters. The more wax sold for, the more advertising we'_ell to the merchants, and the more people would rent teleprinters from us.
"Eighty centisols a pound," he said. Nice and definite; quite a differenc_rom the way he stumbled around over listing his previous publications.
"Seventy-five's the Kapstaad price, regardless of what you people here hav_een getting from that crook of a Belsher. We'll have to go far enough beyon_hat to make him have to run like blazes to catch up. You can put it in th_imes that the day of monopolistic marketing on Fenris is over."
When we got back to the Times, I asked Dad if he'd heard anything more fro_ish.
"Yes," he said unhappily. "He didn't call in, this morning, so I called hi_partment and didn't get an answer. Then I called Harry Wong's. Harry sai_ish had been in there till after midnight, with some other people." He name_hree disreputables, two female and one male. "They were drinking quite a lot.
Harry said Bish was plastered to the ears. They finally went out, around 0130.
He said the police were in and out checking the crowd, but they didn't mak_ny trouble."
I nodded, feeling very badly. Four and a half hours had been his limit. Well, sometimes a ninety per cent failure is really a triumph; after all, it's a te_er cent success. Bish had gone four and a half hours without taking a drink.
Maybe the percentage would be a little better the next time. I was surely ol_nough to stop expecting miracles.
The mate of the Pequod called in, around noon, and said it was safe for Osca_o come back to the ship. The mate of the Javelin, Ramón Llewellyn, called i_ith the same report, that along the waterfront, at least, the heat was off.
However, he had started an ambitious-looking overhaul operation, which looke_s though it was good for a hundred hours but which could be dropped on _inute's notice, and under cover of this he had been taking on supplies an_mmunition.
We made a long audiovisual of Murell announcing his price of eighty centisol_ pound for wax on behalf of Argentine Exotic Organics, Ltd. As soon as tha_as finished, we loaded the boat-clothes we'd picked up for him and his trave_it and mine into a car, with Julio Kubanoff to bring it back to the Times, and went to the waterfront. When we arrived, Ramón Llewellyn had gotten thing_leared up, and the Javelin was ready to move as soon as we came aboard.
On the Main City Level, the waterfront is a hundred feet above the ship pools; the ships load from and discharge onto the First Level Down. The city roo_urves down all along the south side of the city into the water and abou_ifty feet below it. That way, even in the post-sunset and post-dawn storms, ships can come in submerged around the outer breakwater and under the roof, and we don't get any wind or heavy seas along the docks.
Murell was interested in everything he saw, in the brief time while we wer_oing down along the docks to where the Javelin was berthed. I knew he'd neve_ctually seen it before, but he must have been studying pictures of it, because from some of the remarks he made, I could tell that he was familia_ith it.
Most of the ships had lifted out of the water and were resting on the wid_oncrete docks, but the Javelin was afloat in the pool, her contragravity o_t specific-gravity weight reduction. She was a typical hunter-ship, a hundre_eet long by thirty abeam, with a squat conning tower amidships, and turret_or 50-mm guns and launchers for harpoon rockets fore and aft. The only thin_pen about her was the air-and-water lock under the conning tower. Julio, wh_as piloting the car, set it down on the top of the aft gun turret. A coupl_f the crewmen who were on deck grabbed our bags and hurried them inside. W_ollowed, and as soon as Julio lifted away, the lock was sealed.
Immediately, as the contragravity field dropped below the specific gravity o_he ship, she began submerging. I got up into the conning tower in time to se_he water of the boat pool come up over the armor-glass windows and th_utside lights come on. For a few minutes, the Javelin swung slowly and move_orward, feeling her way with fingers of radar out of the pool and down th_hannel behind the breakwater and under the overhang of the city roof. The_he water line went slowly down across the windows as she surfaced. A momen_ater she was on full contragravity, and the ship which had been a submarin_as now an aircraft.
Murell, who was accustomed to the relatively drab sunsets of Terra, simpl_ouldn't take his eyes from the spectacle that covered the whole western hal_f the sky—high clouds streaming away from the daylight zone to the west an_ighted from below by the sun. There were more clouds coming in at a lowe_evel from the east. By the time the Javelin returned to Port Sandor, it woul_e full dark and rain, which would soon turn to snow, would be falling. The_e'd be in for it again for another thousand hours.
Ramón Llewellyn was saying to Joe Kivelson: "We're one man short; Devis, Abdullah's helper. Hospital."
"Get hurt in the fight, last night? He was right with us till we got out t_he elevators, and then I missed him."
"No. He made it back to the ship about the same time we did, and he was al_ight then. Didn't even have a scratch. Strained his back at work, thi_orning, trying to lift a power-unit cartridge by hand."
I could believe that. Those things weighed a couple of hundred pounds. Jo_ivelson swore.
"What's he think this is, the First Century Pre-Atomic? Aren't there an_ifters on the ship?"
Llewellyn shrugged. "Probably didn't want to bother taking a couple of step_o get one. The doctor told him to take treatment and observation for a day o_o."
"That's Al Devis?" I asked. "What hospital?" Al Devis's strained back would b_ood for a two-line item; he'd feel hurt if we didn't mention it.
That was all right. They always sent in their patient lists to the Times. To_as griping because he'd have to do Devis's work and his own.
"You know anything about engines, Walt?" he asked me.
"I know they generate a magnetic current and convert rotary magnetic curren_nto one-directional repulsion fields, and violate the daylights out of al_he old Newtonian laws of motion and attraction," I said. "I read that in _ook. That was as far as I got. The math got a little complicated after that, and I started reading another book."
"You'd be a big help. Think you could hit anything with a 50-mm?" Tom asked.
"I know you're pretty sharp with a pistol or a chopper, but a cannon'_ifferent."
"I could try. If you want to heave over an empty packing case or something, _ould waste a few rounds seeing if I could come anywhere close to it."
"We'll do that," he said. "Ordinarily, I handle the after gun when we sight _onster, but somebody'll have to help Abdullah with the engines."
He spoke to his father about it. Joe Kivelson nodded.
"Walt's made some awful lucky shots with that target pistol of his, I kno_hat," he said, "and I saw him make hamburger out of a slasher, once, with _hopper. Have somebody blow a couple of wax skins full of air for targets, an_hen we get a little farther southeast, we'll go down to the surface and hav_ome shooting."
I convinced Murell that the sunset would still be there in a couple of hours, and we took our luggage down and found the cubbyhole he and I would share wit_om for sleeping quarters. A hunter-ship looks big on the outside, but there'_ery little room for the crew. The engines are much bigger than would b_eeded on an ordinary contragravity craft, because a hunter-ship operate_nder water as well as in the air. Then, there's a lot of cargo space for th_ax, and the boat berth aft for the scout boat, so they're not exactly buil_or comfort. They don't really need to be; a ship's rarely out more than _undred and fifty hours on any cruise.
Murell had done a lot of reading about every phase of the wax business, and h_anted to learn everything he could by actual observation. He said tha_rgentine Exotic Organics was going to keep him here on Fenris as a residen_uyer and his job was going to be to deal with the hunters, eithe_ndividually or through their co-operative organization, if they could get ri_f Ravick and set up something he could do business with, and he wanted to b_ble to talk the hunters' language and understand their problems.
So I took him around over the boat, showing him everything and conscriptin_ny crew members I came across to explain what I couldn't. I showed him th_cout boat in its berth, and we climbed into it and looked around. I showe_im the machine that packed the wax into skins, and the cargo holds, and th_lectrolytic gills that extracted oxygen from sea water while we wer_ubmerged, and the ship's armament. Finally, we got to the engine room, forward. He whistled when he saw the engines.
"Why, those things are big enough for a five-thousand-ton freighter," he said.
"They have to be," I said. "Running submerged isn't the same as running i_tmosphere. You ever done any swimming?"
He shook his head. "I was born in Antarctica, on Terra. The water's a littl_oo cold to do much swimming there. And I've spent most of my time since the_n central Argentine, in the pampas country. The sports there are horsebac_iding and polo and things like that."
Well, whattaya know! Here was a man who had not only seen a horse, bu_ctually ridden one. That in itself was worth a story in the Times.
Tom and Abdullah, who were fussing around the engines, heard that. The_nocked off what they were doing and began asking him questions—I suppose h_hought they were awfully silly, but he answered all of them patiently—abou_orses and riding. I was looking at a couple of spare power-unit cartridges, like the one Al Devis had strained his back on, clamped to the deck out of th_ay.
They were only as big as a one-liter jar, rounded at one end and flat at th_ther where the power cable was connected, but they weighed close to tw_undred pounds apiece. Most of the weight was on the outside; a dazzlingl_right plating of collapsium—collapsed matter, the electron shell collapse_nto the nucleus and the atoms in actual physical contact—and absolutel_othing but nothing could get through it. Inside was about a kilogram o_trontium-90; it would keep on emitting electrons for twenty-five years, normally, but there was a miniature plutonium reactor, itself shielded wit_ollapsium, which, among other things, speeded that process up considerably. _artridge was good for about five years; two of them kept the engines i_peration.
The engines themselves converted the electric current from the powe_artridges into magnetic current, and lifted the ship and propelled it.
Abdullah was explaining that to Murell and Murell seemed to be getting i_atisfactorily.
Finally, we left them; Murell wanted to see the sunset some more and went u_o the conning tower where Joe and Ramón were, and I decided to take a na_hile I had a chance.