By Theodore Cogswell

500 years after the Galactic Empire's cave in, the 427th gentle upkeep Battalion of the Imperial house Marines stubbornly carry onto their project, education to fix starships that by no means come. Their gear steadily wears out and to all outward visual appeal, they appear to be primitive savages, residing by means of looking and farming.

When a coup eliminates Colonel Marcus Harris, commander of the upkeep battalion, in want of his govt officer, the colonel and a devoted moment lieutenant, Kurt Dixon, are jailed. while Dixon escapes, he hides in a conflict go well with to prevent detection. He by chance prompts it and is propelled into outer house. There, he's rescued by means of a scout of the hot Galactic Protectorate…a ramshackle, barely-functioning association whose leaders are scuffling with among themselves. The Galactic Protectorate, regardless of its identify, has misplaced many of the technical services to do even regimen upkeep all alone equipment.

Both facets have anything the opposite wishes. yet can they very likely interact? And in the event that they do, will or not it's struggle -- or the beginning of a brand new Galactic Empire?

Theodore Cogswell's vintage technology fiction novella comes in booklet shape for the 1st time in additional than a decade!

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Can’t you get it via your thick head that I don’t are looking to get away? while you’ve held command so long as i've got, you’ll welcome an opportunity for a bit peace and quiet. i do know Bannerman within out, and I’m now not frightened approximately him. but when you’ve obtained your middle set on escaping, i assume there’s no specific the reason is, you shouldn’t. Do it the simple means, even though. Like this. ” He stood and moved to the bars that fronted the mobile, bellowing, “Sergeant Wetzel! Sergeant Wetzel! ” “Coming, sir! ” known as a voice from down the hall. there has been a shuffle of operating ft and a grey scalp-locked and very portly sergeant puffed into view. “What will it's, sir? ” he requested. “Colonel Bannerman or any of the workers round? ” “No, sir,” stated the sergeant. “They’re all upstairs celebrating. ” “Good! ” stated Harris. “Unlock the door, will you? ” “Anything you are saying, colonel,” stated the outdated guy agreeably. He produced a wide key from his pouch and outfitted it into the lock. there has been a moderate creaking and the door swung open. “Young Dixon right here desires to escape,” stated the colonel. “It’s o.k. by means of me,” responded the sergeant, “though it’s going to be awkward while Colonel Bannerman asks what occurred to him. ” “The lieutenant has a plan,” confided the colonel. “He’s going to overpower you. ” “There’s extra to it than simply that! ” acknowledged Kurt. “I’m figuring on swapping uniforms with you. That means i will be able to stroll correct out in the course of the entrance gate with out anyone being the wiser. ” “That,” stated the sergeant, slowly having a look down at his personal huge, immense waist, “will take a few doing. You’re welcome to attempt, although. ” “Let’s get on with it, then,” acknowledged Kurt, completing a roundhouse swing. “If it’s all of the comparable with you, lieutenant,” acknowledged the outdated sergeant, eyeing Kurt’s rocklike fist nervously, “I’d fairly have the colonel do any overpowering that’s obtained to be performed. ” Colonel Harris grinned and walked over to Wetzel. “Ready? ” “Ready! ” Harris’s fist travelled a naked 5 inches and tapped Wetzel evenly at the chin. “Oof! ” grunted the sergeant cooperatively as he staggered again to some extent the place he may possibly cave in at the softest of the 2 cots. The alternate of garments used to be quick effected. aside from the pants (which continued in shedding all the way down to Kurt’s ankles) and the battle bonnet (which stored sliding down over his ears), Kurt used to be able to move. The pants challenge he solved simply through stuffing a pillow inside of them. This, Kurt fondly believed, made him glance extra just like the rotund sergeant than ever. The garrison bonnet offered a tougher challenge, yet he eventually accomplished a partial resolution. through retaining it up along with his left hand and retaining his palm tightly pressed opposed to his brow, it's going to seem to the informal observer that he was once strolling engrossed in deep proposal. the 1st 200 yards have been effortless. The hall lay abandoned and he plodded with a bit of luck alongside, the nice battle bonnet wobbling sedately on his head regardless of his most sensible efforts to maintain it regular. whilst he ultimately reached the go out gate, he knocked firmly and referred to as to the obligation sergeant.

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