When the Inter-Planetary Corporation’s crack liner Arcturus took off on a routine flight to Mars, it turned out to be the beginning of a most unexpected and long voyage. Attacked by a mysterious spaceship, the liner crash-landed on Ganymede. The survivors first had to master that world’s primeval terrors, then construct a new spacecraft, and finally, find a way to deal with the warring intelligences of the Jovian system. Spacehounds can do all these things, given time, resources, and freedom from attack. But…
A narrow football of steel, the Interplanetary Vessel Arcturus stood upright in her berth in the dock like an egg in its cup. A hundred feet across and a hundred and seventy feet deep was that gigantic bowl, its walls supported by the structural steel and concrete of the dock and lined with hard–packed bumper–layers of hemp and fibre. High into the air extended the upper half of the ship of space—a sullen gray expanse of fifty–inch hardened steel armor, curving smoothly upward to a needle prow. Countless hundred of fine vertical scratches marred every inch of her surface, and here and there the stubborn metal was grooved and scored to a depth of inches—each scratch and score the record of an attempt of some wandering cosmic body to argue the right–of–way with the stupendous mass of that man–made cruiser of the void.
A burly young man made his way through the throng about the entrance, nodded unconcernedly to the gatekeeper, and joined the stream of passengers flowing through the triple doors of the double air–lock and down a corridor to the center of the vessel. However, instead of entering one of the elevators which were whisking the passengers up to their staterooms in the upper half of the enormous football, he in some way caused an opening to appear in an apparently blank steel wall and stepped through it into the control room.
“Hi, Breck!” the burly one called, as he strode up to the instrument–desk of the chief pilot and tossed his bag carelessly into a corner. “Behold your computer in the flesh! What’s all this howl and fuss about poor computation?”
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