酷兔英语



A SLAVE IS A SLAVE

BY H. BEAM PIPER

+--------------------------------------------------------------+

| Transcriber's Note |

| |

| This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact--Science |

| Fiction April 1962. Extensive research did not uncover any |

| evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was |

| renewed. |

+--------------------------------------------------------------+

There has always been strong sympathy for the poor, meek,

downtrodden slave--the kindly little man, oppressed by cruel and

overbearing masters. Could it possibly have been misplaced...?

Jurgen, Prince Trevannion, accepted the coffee cup and lifted it to his

lips, then lowered it. These Navy robots always poured coffee too hot;

spacemen must have collapsium-lined throats. With the other hand, he

punched a button on the robot's keyboard and received a lighted

cigarette; turning, he placed the cup on the command-desk in front of

him and looked about. The tension was relaxing in Battle-Control, the

purposeful pandemonium of the last three hours dying rapidly. Officers

of both sexes, in red and blue and yellow and green coveralls, were

rising from seats, leaving their stations, gathering in groups.

Laughter, a trifle loud; he realized, suddenly, that they had been

worried, and wondered if he should not have been a little so himself.

No. There would have been nothing he could have done about anything, so

worry would not have been useful. He lifted the cup again and sipped

cautiously.

"That's everything we can do now," the man beside him said. "Now we just

sit and wait for the next move."

Like all the others, Line-Commodore Vann Shatrak wore shipboard

battle-dress; his coveralls were black, splashed on breast and between

shoulders with the gold insignia of his rank. His head was completely

bald, and almost spherical; a beaklike nose carried down the curve of

his brow, and the straight lines of mouth and chin chopped under it

enhanced rather than spoiled the effect. He was getting coffee; he

gulped it at once.

"It was very smart work, Commodore. I never saw a landing operation go

so smoothly."

"Too smooth," Shatrak said. "I don't trust it." He looked suspiciously

up at the row of viewscreens.

"It was absolutely unnecessary!"

That was young Obray, Count Erskyll, seated on the commodore's left. He

was a generation younger than Prince Trevannion, as Shatrak was a

generation older; they were both smooth-faced. It was odd, how beards

went in and out of fashion with alternate generations. He had been

worried, too, during the landing, but for a different reason from the

others. Now he was reacting with anger.

"I told you, from the first, that it was unnecessary. You see? They

weren't even able to defend themselves, let alone...."

His personal communication-screen buzzed; he set down the coffee and

flicked the switch. It was Lanze Degbrend. On the books, Lanze was

carried as Assistant to the Ministerial Secretary. In practice, Lanze

was his chess-opponent, conversational foil, right hand, third eye and

ear, and, sometimes, trigger-finger. Lanze was now wearing the combat

coveralls of an officer of Navy Landing-Troops; he had a steel helmet

with a transpex visor shoved up, and there was a carbine slung over his

shoulder. He grinned and executed an exaggeratedly military salute. He

chuckled.

"Well, look at you; aren't you the perfect picture of correct diplomatic

dress?"

"You know, sir, I'm afraid I am, for this planet," Degbrend said.

"Colonel Ravney insisted on it. He says the situation downstairs is

still fluid, which I take to mean that everybody is shooting at

everybody. He says he has the main telecast station, in the big building

the locals call the Citadel."

"Oh, good. Get our announcement out as quickly as you can. Number Five.

You and Colonel Ravney can decide what interpolations are needed to fit

the situation."

"Number Five; the really tough one," Degbrend considered. "I take it

that by interpolations you do not mean dilutions?"

"Oh, no; don't water the drink. Spike it."

Lanze Degbrend grinned at him. Then he snapped down the visor of his

helmet, unslung his carbine, and presented it. He was still standing at

present arms when Trevannion blanked the screen.

* * * * *

"That still doesn't excuse a wanton and unprovoked aggression!" Erskyll

was telling Shatrak, his thin face flushed and his voice quivering with

indignation. "We came here to help these people, not to murder them."

"We didn't come here to do either, Obray," he said, turning to face the

younger man. "We came here to annex their planet to the Galactic Empire,

whether they wish it annexed or not. Commodore Shatrak used the quickest

and most effective method of doing that. It would have done no good to

attempt to parley with them from off-planet. You heard those telecasts

of theirs."

"Authoritarian," Shatrak said, then mimicked pompously: "'Everybody is

commanded to remain calm; the Mastership is taking action. The

Convocation of the Lords-Master is in special session; they will decide

how to deal with the invaders. The administrators are directed to

reassure the supervisors; the overseers will keep the workers at their

tasks. Any person disobeying the orders of the Mastership will be dealt

with most severely.'"

"Static, too. No spaceships into this system for the last five hundred

years; the Convocation--equals Parliament, I assume--hasn't been in

special session for two hundred and fifty."

"Yes. I've taken over planets with that kind of government before,"

Shatrak said. "You can't argue with them. You just grab them by the

center of authority, quick and hard."

Count Erskyll said nothing for a moment. He was opposed to the use of

force. Force, he believed, was the last resort of incompetence; he had

said so frequently enough since this operation had begun. Of course, he

was absolutely right, though not in the way he meant. Only the

incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it

is usually too late to use anything, even prayer.

But, at the same time, he was opposed to authoritarianism, except, of

course, when necessary for the real good of the people. And he did not

like rulers who called themselves Lords-Master. Good democratic rulers

called themselves Servants of the People. So he relapsed into silence

and stared at the viewscreens.

One, from an outside pickup on the _Empress Eulalie_ herself, showed the

surface of the planet, a hundred miles down, the continent under them

curving away to a distant sun-reflecting sea; beyond the curved horizon,

the black sky was spangled with unwinking stars. Fifty miles down, the

sun glinted from the three thousand foot globes of the two

transport-cruisers, _Canopus_ and _Mizar_.

Another screen, from _Mizar_, gave a clearer if more circumscribed view

of the surface--green countryside, veined by rivers and wrinkled with

mountains; little towns that were mere dots; a scatter of white clouds.

Nothing that looked like roads. There had been no native sapient race on

this planet, and in the thirteen centuries since it had been colonized

the Terro-human population had never completely lost the use of

contragravity vehicles. In that screen, farther down, the four

destroyers, _Irma_, _Irene_, _Isobel_ and _Iris_, were tiny twinkles.

* * * * *

From _Irene_, they had a magnified view of the city. On the maps, none

later than eight hundred years old, it was called Zeggensburg; it had

been built at the time of the first colonization under the old Terran

Federation. Tall buildings, rising from wide interspaces of lawns and

parks and gardens, and, at the very center, widely separated from

anything else, the mass of the Citadel, a huge cylindrical tower rising

from a cluster of smaller cylinders, with a broad circularlanding stage

above, topped by the newly raised flag of the Galactic Empire.

There was a second city, a thick crescent, to the south and east. The

old maps placed the Zeggensburg spaceport there, but not a trace of that

remained. In its place was what was evidently an industrial district,

located where the prevailing winds would carry away the dust and smoke.

There was quite a bit of both, but the surprising thing was the streets,

long curved ones, and shorter ones crossing at regular intervals to form

blocks. He had never seen a city with streets before, and he doubted if

anybody else on the Empire ships had. Long boulevards to give

unobstructed passage to low-level air-traffic, of course, and short

winding walkways, but not things like these. Pictures, of course, of

native cities on planets colonized at the time of the Federation, and

even very ancient ones of cities on pre-Atomic Terra. But these people

had contragravity; the towering, wide-spaced city beside this

cross-gridded anachronism proved that.

They knew so little about this planet which they had come to bring under

Imperial rule. It had been colonized thirteen centuries ago, during the

last burst of expansion before the System States War and the

disintegration of the Terran Federation, and it had been named Aditya,

in the fashion of the times, for some forgotten deity of some obscure

and ancient polytheism. A century or so later, it had seceded from or

been abandoned by the Federation, then breaking up. That much they had

gleaned from old Federation records still existing on Baldur. After

that, darkness, lighted only by a brief flicker when more records had

turned up on Morglay.

Morglay was one of the Sword-Worlds, settled by refugee rebels from the

System States planets. Mostly they had been soldiers and spacemen; there

had been many women with them, and many were skilled technicians,

engineers, scientists. They had managed to carry off considerable

equipment with them, and for three centuries they had lived in

isolation, spreading over a dozen hitherto undiscovered planets.

Excalibur, Tizona, Gram, Morglay, Durendal, Flamberge, Curtana,

Quernbiter; the names were a roll-call of fabulous blades of Old Terran

legend.

Then they had erupted, suddenly and calamitously, into what was left of

the Terran Federation as the Space Vikings, carrying pillage and

destruction, until the newborn Empire rose to vanquish them. In the

sixth Century Pre-Empire, one of their fleets had come from Morglay to

Aditya.

The Adityans of that time had been near-barbarians; the descendants of

the original settlers had been serfs of other barbarians who had come as

mercenaries in the service of one or another of the local chieftains and

had remained to loot and rule. Subjugating them had been easy; the Space

Vikings had taken Aditya and made it their home. For several centuries,

there had been communication between them and their home planet. Then

Morglay had become involved in one of the interplanetary dynastic wars

that had begun the decadence of the Space Vikings, and again Aditya

dropped out of history.

Until this morning, when history returned in the black ships of the

Galactic Empire.

* * * * *

He stubbed out the cigarette and summoned the robot to give him another.

Shatrak was speaking:

"You see, Count Erskyll, we really had to do it this way, for their own

good." He wouldn't have credited the commodore with such guile; anything

was justified, according to Obray of Erskyll, if done for somebody

else's good. "What we did, we just landed suddenly, knocked out their

army, seized the center of government, before anybody could do anything.

If we'd landed the way you'd wanted us to, somebody would have resisted,

and the next thing, we'd have had to kill about five or six thousand of

them and blow down a couple of towns, and we'd have lost a lot of our

own people doing it. You might say, we had to do it to save them from

themselves."

Obray of Erskyll seemed to have doubts, but before he could articulate

them, Shatrak's communication-screen was calling attention to itself.

The commodore flicked the switch, and his executive officer, Captain

Patrique Morvill, appeared in it.

"We've just gotten reports, sir, that some of Ravney's people have

captured a half-dozen missile-launching sites around the city. His

air-reconn tells him that that's the lot of them. I have an officer of

one of the parties that participated. You ought to hear what he has to

say, sir."

"Well, good!" Vann Shatrak whooshed out his breath. "I don't mind

admitting, I was a little on edge about that."

"Wait till you hear what Lieutenant Carmath has to say." Morvill seemed

to be strangling a laugh. "Ready for him, Commodore?"

Shatrak nodded; Morvill made a hand-signal and vanished in a flicker of

rainbow colors; when the screen cleared, a young Landing-Troop

lieutenant in battle-dress was looking out of it. He saluted and gave

his name, rank and unit.

"This missile-launching site I'm occupying, sir; it's twenty miles

north-west of the city. We took it thirty minutes ago; no resistance

whatever. There are four hundred or so people here. Of them, twelve, one

dozen, are soldiers. The rest are civilians. Ten enlisted men, a non-com

of some sort, and something that appears to be an officer. The officer

had a pistol, fully loaded. The non-com had a submachine gun, empty,

with two loaded clips on his belt. The privates had rifles, empty, and

no ammunition. The officer did not know where the rifle ammunition was

stored."

Shatrak swore. The second lieutenant nodded. "Exactly my comment when he

told me, sir. But this place is beautifully kept up. Lawns all mowed,

trees neatly pruned, everything policed up like inspection morning. And

there is a headquarters office building here adequate for an army

division...."

"How about the armament, Lieutenant?" Shatrak asked with forced

patience.

"Ah, yes; the armament, sir. There are eight big launching cradles for

panplanetary or off-planet missiles. They are all polished up like the

Crown Jewels. But none, repeat none, of them is operative. And there is

not a single missile on the installation."

Shatrak's facial control didn't slip. It merely intensified, which

amounted to the same thing.

"Lieutenant Carmath, I am morally certain I heard you correctly, but

let's just check. You said...."

He repeated the lieutenant back, almost word for word. Carmath nodded.

"That was it, sir. The missile-crypts are stacked full of

old photoprints and recording and microfilm spools. The

sighting-and-guidance systems for all the launchers are completely

missing. The letoff mechanisms all lack major parts. There is an

elaborate set of detection equipment, which will detect absolutely

nothing. I saw a few pairs of binoculars about; I suspect that that is

what we were first observed with."

"This office, now; I suppose all the paperwork is up to the minute in

quintulplicate, and initialed by everybody within sight or hearing?"

"I haven't checked on that yet, sir. If you're thinking of betting on

it, please don't expect me to cover you, though."

"Well, thank you, Lieutenant Carmath. Stick around; I'm sending down a

tech-intelligence crew to look at what's left of the place. While

you're waiting, you might sort out whoever seems to be in charge and


生词表:
  • extensive [ik´stensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广阔的;大量的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • sympathy [´simpəθi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同情,怜悯   (初中英语单词)
  • prince [´prins] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.王子;亲王;君主   (初中英语单词)
  • button [´bʌtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钮扣 vt.扣上(扣子)   (初中英语单词)
  • trifle [´traifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.琐事,小事;少量   (初中英语单词)
  • absolutely [´æbsəlu:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.绝对地;确实   (初中英语单词)
  • generation [,dʒenə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发生;世代;同龄人   (初中英语单词)
  • assistant [ə´sistənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.助手;助理;助教   (初中英语单词)
  • salute [sə´lu:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.招呼;行礼;敬礼   (初中英语单词)
  • downstairs [,daun´steəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在楼下 a.楼下的   (初中英语单词)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • planet [´plænit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.行星   (初中英语单词)
  • effective [i´fektiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有效的;有力的   (初中英语单词)
  • system [´sistəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.系统,体系,制度   (初中英语单词)
  • parliament [´pɑ:ləmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.议(国)会   (初中英语单词)
  • resort [ri´zɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.求助;乞灵;诉诸   (初中英语单词)
  • continent [´kɔntinənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大陆,陆地   (初中英语单词)
  • cluster [´klʌstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一串 v.群集;丛生   (初中英语单词)
  • circular [´sə:kjulə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.圆形的 n.通知   (初中英语单词)
  • evidently [´evidəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明显地   (初中英语单词)
  • industrial [in´dʌstriəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工业的,产业的   (初中英语单词)
  • surprising [sə´praiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的;意外的   (初中英语单词)
  • mostly [´məustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.主要地;多半;通常   (初中英语单词)
  • communication [kə,mju:ni´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.通信;通讯联系   (初中英语单词)
  • executive [ig´zekjutiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.行政的 n.行政官   (初中英语单词)
  • breath [breθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸;气息   (初中英语单词)
  • lieutenant [lef´tenənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.陆军中尉;代理;副手   (初中英语单词)
  • pistol [´pistl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.手枪 vt.用手枪射击   (初中英语单词)
  • comment [´kɔment] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.评论;评注;注意   (初中英语单词)
  • headquarters [´hed,kwɔ:təz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总部(署),司令部   (初中英语单词)
  • adequate [´ædikwit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.足够的;适当的   (初中英语单词)
  • equipment [i´kwipmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.装备,设备   (初中英语单词)
  • suspect [´sʌspekt, sə´spekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.怀疑;觉得 n.嫌疑犯   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • charge [tʃɑ:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.收费;冲锋 n.费用   (初中英语单词)
  • fiction [´fikʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.小说;虚构;谎言   (高中英语单词)
  • uncover [ʌn´kʌvə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭开(盖子);揭露   (高中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • alternate [ɔ:l´tə:nit, ´ɔ:ltə:neit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.交替的 v.轮流   (高中英语单词)
  • switch [switʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开关 v.转换   (高中英语单词)
  • announcement [ə´naunsmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.通告;宣布;言谈   (高中英语单词)
  • colonel [´kə:nəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海(陆)军上校   (高中英语单词)
  • session [´seʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.会议;会期;(开庭)期   (高中英语单词)
  • extremity [ik´stremiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.末端;危机   (高中英语单词)
  • federation [,fedə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.联邦,联盟,同盟   (高中英语单词)
  • expansion [ik´spænʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.扩大;膨胀;发展   (高中英语单词)
  • flicker [´flikə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.闪烁;忽隐忽现   (高中英语单词)
  • skilled [skild] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有技能的,熟练的   (高中英语单词)
  • hitherto [,hiðə´tu:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.至今,迄今   (高中英语单词)
  • inspection [in´spekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.检查;视察;参观   (高中英语单词)
  • correctly [kə´rektli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.正确地;恰当地   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • detect [di´tekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.发觉;侦察   (高中英语单词)
  • whoever [hu:´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.任何人,无论谁   (高中英语单词)
  • copyright [´kɔpirait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版权;著作权   (英语四级单词)
  • tension [´tenʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.紧张;压力;拉力   (英语四级单词)
  • gathering [´gæðəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会,聚集   (英语四级单词)
  • wanton [´wɔntən, ´wɑ:n-] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.顽皮的 n.&vi.荡妇   (英语四级单词)
  • countryside [´kʌntrisaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.乡下,农村   (英语四级单词)
  • crescent [´kresənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.月牙 a.新月形的   (英语四级单词)
  • towering [´tauəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.高耸的;强烈的   (英语四级单词)
  • vanquish [´væŋkwiʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.征服,克服;击败   (英语四级单词)
  • gotten [´gɔtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  get的过去分词   (英语四级单词)
  • ammunition [,æmju´niʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.军火,弹药   (英语四级单词)
  • beautifully [´bju:tifəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.美丽地;优美地   (英语四级单词)
  • armament [´ɑ:məmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.军备;重武器   (英语四级单词)
  • commodore [´kɔmədɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海军准将   (英语六级单词)
  • landing [´lændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.登陆;降落;楼梯平台   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • colonization [,kɔlənai´zeiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.殖民;殖民地化   (英语六级单词)
  • citadel [´sitədl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.城堡;堡垒;避难所   (英语六级单词)
  • prevailing [pri´veiliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.占优势的;主要的   (英语六级单词)
  • abandoned [ə´bændənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.被抛弃的;无约束的   (英语六级单词)
  • refugee [,refju´dʒi:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.避难者;逃亡者   (英语六级单词)
  • fabulous [´fæbjuləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难以置信的;惊人的   (英语六级单词)
  • calling [´kɔ:liŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.点名;职业;欲望   (英语六级单词)
  • facial [´feiʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.面部的,脸部的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:59:52
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