Dawn was beginning to color the sky, very slightly. That was good: in daylight he might be able to see the ships. He would fire the beam and see the ships die. That was good, though he hardly knew why: he knew only that it pleased him. He watched the dawn out of a corner of one eye.
"There are spots the steel's never covered," he said. "You can tunnel through if you're lucky." A pause. "I—"
"Shall we get on with it, then?" Dr. Haenlingen said.I say: "Do not our old masters have freedom?"And so they set out—on a walk long enough to serve as an aboriginal Odyssey for the planet. The night-beasts, soft glowing circles of eyes and mouths which none of their race had ever seen before: the giant flesh-eating plants: the herd of bovine monsters which, confused, stampeded at them, shaking the ground with their tread and making the feathery trees shake as if there were a hurricane: all this might have made an epic, had there been anyone to record it. But Cadnan expected no more and no less: the world was strange. Any piece of it was as strange as any other.
- Albin, ready to shriek with rage by now, felt a touch at his arm. One of the Alberts was standing near him, looking up. Its eye blinked: it spoke. "Why does the room move?" The voice was not actually unpleasant, but its single eye stared at Albin, making him uncomfortable. He told himself not to blow up. Calm. Calm.
- And so he had turned off the pain, and, with it, everything else.
- Marvor, however, didn't seem satisfied. "The masters always speak truth," he said. "Is this what you tell me?"
- "I'm glad." He was no more than polite. There was no more in him, no emotion at all. He had reached a blank wall: there was no escape for him or for the Alberts. He could see nothing but pain ahead.
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