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The Lani People   By: (1916-1986)

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By J. F. Bone


The boxed ad in the opportunities section of the Kardon Journal of Allied Medical Sciences stood out like a cut diamond in a handful of gravel. "Wanted," it read, "Veterinarian for residency in active livestock operation. Single recent graduate preferred. Quarters and service furnished. Well equipped hospital. Five year contract, renewal option, starting salary 15,000 cr./annum with periodic increases. State age, school, marital status, and enclose recent tri di with application. Address Box V 9, this journal."

Jac Kennon read the box a second time. There must be a catch to it. Nothing that paid a salary that large could possibly be on the level. Fifteen thousand a year was top pay even on Beta, and an offer like this for a new graduate was unheard of unless Kardon was in the middle of an inflation. But Kardon wasn't. The planet's financial status was A 1. He knew. He'd checked that immediately after landing. Whatever might be wrong with Kardon, it wasn't her currency. The rate of exchange was 1.2 1 Betan.

A five year contract hmm that would be seventy five thousand. Figure three thousand a year for living expenses, that would leave sixty plenty of capital to start a clinic. The banks couldn't turn him down if he had that much cash collateral.

Kennon chuckled wryly. He'd better get the job before he started spending the money he didn't have. He had 231 credits plus a few halves, tenths, and hundredths, a diploma in veterinary medicine, some textbooks, a few instruments, and a first class spaceman's ticket. By watching his expenses he had enough money to live here for a month and if nothing came of his efforts to find a job on this planet, there was always his spaceman's ticket and another world.

Another world! There were over six thousand planets in the Brotherhood of Man. At two months per planet, not figuring transit time, it would take more than a thousand Galactic Standard years to visit them all, and a man could look forward to scarcely more than five hundred at best. The habitat of Man had become too large. There wasn't time to explore every possibility.

But a man could have certain standards, and look until he found a position that fitted. The trouble was if the standards were too high the jobs were too scarce. Despite the chronic shortage of veterinarians throughout the Brotherhood, there was a peculiar reluctance on the part of established practitioners to welcome recent graduates. Most of the ads in the professional journals read "State salary desired," which was nothing more than economic blackmail a bald faced attempt to get as much for as little as possible. Kennon grimaced wryly. He'd be damned if he'd sell his training for six thousand a year. Slave labor, that's what it was. There were a dozen ads like that in the Journal. Well, he'd give them a trial, but he'd ask eight thousand and full GEA benefits. Eight years of school and two more as an intern were worth at least that.

He pulled the portable voicewrite to a comfortable position in front of the view wall and began composing another of the series of letters that had begun months ago in time and parsecs away in space. His voice was a fluid counterpoint to the soft hum of the machine.

And as he dictated, his eyes took in the vista through the view wall. Albertsville was a nice town, too young for slums, too new for overpopulation. The white buildings were the color of winter butter in the warm yellow sunlight as the city drowsed in the noonday heat. It nestled snugly in the center of a bowl shaped valley whose surrounding forest clad hills gave mute confirmation to the fact that Kardon was still primitive, an unsettled world that had not yet reached the explosive stage of population growth that presaged maturity. But that was no disadvantage. In fact, Kennon liked it. Living could be fun on a planet like this.

It was abysmally crude compared to Beta, but the Brotherhood had opened Kardon less than five hundred years ago, and in such a short time one couldn't expect all the comforts of civilization... Continue reading book >>

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