The Death Traps of FX-31
Publication date: June 2011
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
Commander John Hanson recalls his harrowing expedition among the giant spiders of FX-31. Excerpt I do not wish to appear prejudiced against scientists. I am not prejudiced, but I have observed the scientific mind in action, on a great many occasions, and I find it rather incomprehensible. It is true that there are men with a scientific turn of mind who, at the same time, you can feel safe to stand with shoulder to shoulder, in an emergency. Young Hendricks, who was my junior officer on the Ertak, back in those early days of the Special Patrol Service, about which I have written so much, was one of these. Nor, now that I come to think of the matter in the cool and impartial manner which is typical of me, was young Hendricks the only one. There was a chap--let's see, now. I remember his face very well; he was one of those dark, wiry, alert men, a native of Earth, and his name was--Inverness! Carlos Inverness. Old John Hanson's memory isn't quite as tricky as some of these smart young officers of the Service, so newly commissioned that the silver braid is not yet fitted to the curve of their sleeves, would lead one to believe. I met Inverness in the ante-room of the Chief of Command. The Chief was tied up in one of the long-winded meetings which the Silver-sleeves devoted largely to the making of new rules and regulations for the confusion of both men and officers of the Service, but he came out long enough to give me the Ertak's orders in person. "Glad to see you here at Base again, Commander," he said, in his crisp, business-like way. "Hear some good reports of your work; keep it up!" "Thank you, sir," I said, wondering what was in the air. Any time the Chief was complimentary, it was well to look out for squalls--which is an old Earth term for unexpected trouble. "Not at all, Commander, not at all. And now, let me present Carlos Inverness, the scientist, of whom you have undoubtedly heard." I bowed and said nothing, but we shook hands after the fashion of Earth, and Inverness smiled quite humanly. "I imagine the good captain has been too busy to follow the activities of such as myself," he said, sensibly enough. "A commander"--and I laid enough emphasis on the title to point out to him his error in terminology--"in the Special Patrol Service usually finds plenty to occupy his mind," I commented, wondering more than ever what was up.