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to the lock click into place behind him.
Nolan Brice was seated on the edge of the bed staring at the wall, but
Lors did not believe that he was in a state of shock. He had the knotted
jaws of a man who is firmly determined to betray nothing to his captors.
He sat there with his fingers laced together, hanging between his knees,
his clothing rumpled and hanging loose from his broad frame.
Brice swung his eyes to the Firstspacer, the muscles of his jaws
working. "I'll kill you," he said, with a horrible softness in his
"Nolan. Listen, I'm here to help you."
"You've done a lot of helping, spaceman. I know what you want. Earth."
"Don't be silly. I want to help you and Danson to get back home..."
"I don't need you!"
"Shut up and listen. I'm risking my neck coming in here to help you, so
you damned well better follow orders. In a minute I'm going to call that
guard in here, and we're going to borrow his uniform. Then we'll head
for a scout ship and get you to hell back to Terra. Will that suit
"This is some kind of trick..."
"Do you want to go, or stay here," Lors demanded coldly. "I don't have
time to lecture you. I'll leave that up to your friend, Danson."
"Play it your way, spaceman," Brice said tightly.
"Okay." Lors stood up and spoke through the door to the guard, pulling
his auto-pistol from the holster. "Come in here, spacer!"
The guard shoved the door open and came in. "What is it, Firstspacer?"
The guard swung to look at Brice and, as his head turned, Lors brought
the butt of the pistol down hard. The guard grunted and dropped heavily
to the floor, his auto-rifle falling with a loud thud. By now, if
everything was working out right, Danson should be on his way to the
scout ship hangar. Lors looked at Brice.
"Come on, Nolan. Get into these clothes!"
Between the two of them, the stripping of the guard was fast. In a few
minutes, Brice was wearing the spacer's blue uniform and was buckling
the black cartridge belt about his waist. He gripped the auto-rifle in
his hands eagerly and looked at Lors.
"Hand me his helmet," he said.
Lors picked it up and straightened to hand it to the Terran. Lors saw
the punch coming, but surprise prevented him from making any move in his
defense. Nolan Brice's fist smashed into the side of his face with
stunning shock and he flew backwards onto the bed.
"Thanks," he heard Brice snarl.
Lors rolled off the bed and onto the floor, the force of the punch
making his head reel. He heard the door to the room close and the sound
of Brice's running feet outside as he staggered to his feet. You damned
fool, he thought. You can't get off this ship alone!
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