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The Anglers of Arz   By: (1914-2004)

The Anglers of Arz by Roger D. Aycock

First Page:

The Anglers of Arz

By Roger Dee

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction January 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: In order to make Izaak Walton's sport complete, there must be an angler, a fish, and some bait. All three existed on Arz but there was a question as to which was which. ]

[Illustration: There were two pinkish, bipedal fishermen on the tiny islet. ]

The third night of the Marco Four's landfall on the moonless Altarian planet was a repetition of the two before it, a nine hour intermission of drowsy, pastoral peace. Navigator Arthur Farrell it was his turn to stand watch was sitting at an open side port with a magnoscanner ready; but in spite of his vigilance he had not exposed a film when the inevitable pre dawn rainbow began to shimmer over the eastern ocean.

Sunrise brought him alert with a jerk, frowning at sight of two pinkish, bipedal Arzian fishermen posted on the tiny coral islet a quarter mile offshore, their blank triangular faces turned stolidly toward the beach.

"They're at it again," Farrell called, and dropped to the mossy turf outside. "Roll out on the double! I'm going to magnofilm this!"

Stryker and Gibson came out of their sleeping cubicles reluctantly, belting on the loose shorts which all three wore in the balmy Arzian climate. Stryker blinked and yawned as he let himself through the port, his fringe of white hair tousled and his naked paunch sweating. He looked, Farrell thought for the thousandth time, more like a retired cook than like the veteran commander of a Terran Colonies expedition.

Gibson followed, stretching his powerfully muscled body like a wrestler to throw off the effects of sleep. Gibson was linguist ethnologist of the crew, a blocky man in his early thirties with thick black hair and heavy brows that shaded a square, humorless face.

"Any sign of the squids yet?" he asked.

"They won't show up until the dragons come," Farrell said. He adjusted the light filter of the magnoscanner and scowled at Stryker. "Lee, I wish you'd let me break up the show this time with a dis beam. This butchery gets on my nerves."

Stryker shielded his eyes with his hands against the glare of sun on water. "You know I can't do that, Arthur. These Arzians may turn out to be Fifth Order beings or higher, and under Terran Regulations our tampering with what may be a basic culture pattern would amount to armed invasion. We'll have to crack that cackle and grunt language of theirs and learn something of their mores before we can interfere."

Farrell turned an irritable stare on the incurious group of Arzians gathering, nets and fishing spears in hand, at the edge of the sheltering bramble forest.

"What stumps me is their motivation," he said. "Why do the fools go out to that islet every night, when they must know damned well what will happen next morning?"

Gibson answered him with an older problem, his square face puzzled. "For that matter, what became of the city I saw when we came in through the stratosphere? It must be a tremendous thing, yet we've searched the entire globe in the scouter and found nothing but water and a scattering of little islands like this one, all covered with bramble. It wasn't a city these pink fishers could have built, either. The architecture was beyond them by a million years."

Stryker and Farrell traded baffled looks. The city had become something of a fixation with Gibson, and his dogged insistence coupled with an irritating habit of being right had worn their patience thin.

"There never was a city here, Gib," Stryker said. "You dozed off while we were making planetfall, that's all."

Gibson stiffened resentfully, but Farrell's voice cut his protest short... Continue reading book >>




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