'You're licked, Raff Orethon. The new Esar repulsion shield will protect me and my people, not the Titanian colony. I could kill you now, but to do so would be a waste of effort, since you are already as good as dead. Sometimes self-murder is justified, my friend. If you and that ridiculous Uranian mascot of yours resorted to suicide, I am certain that you would save yourselves much anguish of mind. That is all. Korse Bradlow, the Ringmaster, has other business. Goodbye, trouble shooter! Farewell!”
Raff Orethon, strapped in the wrecked cabin of his spaceboat, was dimly aware of the words that clicked faintly in the etherphones of his oxygen helmet. His faculties were still numb from the crash. In them there was room for scarcely more than one thought—he had failed. Foggily he saw Korse Bradlow creep over the rusty surface of the meteor against which the ruined spaceboat was telescoped. He saw him straighten up, holding the metal box which contained the pilfered Esar models tightly against the side of his vacuum armor. He saw Bradlow jump athletically clear of the great lump of cosmic refuse, catch the door-rail of his own gaudily gilded ship floating free in the ether, open the valve, and disappear into the interior. A moment later the rockets of the golden craft spat blasts of incandescent flame, and it hurtled away, clear of the immeasurably frosty glory of Saturn’s Rings. Its form dwindled swiftly among the brittle stars.
“What are we going to do now, Orethon?”
Publication date: 07.08.2011
Helplessly Marooned in Space
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