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Sex Life of the Gods, The

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<h2 title="Chapter Sixteen"><SPAN name="p135" id="p135"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>135<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>CHAPTER SIXTEEN</h2> <p>Lors left the wardroom and walked along the hollow, brightly lighted corridors toward the hospital where Detective Nolan Brice was being kept a prisoner. He would be the tough one of the two, because his mental roots were still very close to the witchcraft believing parents who had given him birth.</p> <p>Brice was a Pennsylvanian; he was fairly intelligent, but like all Pennsylvanians he had an unconscious closeness with tradition. He was of the type who would stoutly deny he was superstitious, yet would refuse to walk under a ladder. How would he react to Lors’ proposal? Would he, with typical Dutch stubbornness, tell him to go to hell, or would he co-operate? It was a difficult thing to predict.</p> <p>Lors shoved the door to the hospital open and grinned at the spacer behind the desk. “You’ve a Terran here?” He asked.</p> <p>The spacer nodded and laid down the sheets of paper he had been ruffling as Lors came in. “Yes sir, we have one. He’s in the care of Doctor Zuloe.”</p> <p>“What are they doing to him?”</p> <p>“I’m not sure, sir. I understand he was in a great state of shock when he arrived. I would imagine they’re giving him rehabilitative treatment.”</p> <p>Lors grinned again. Apparently the method by which they had snatched the detective had completely unnerved him. “I’d like to see him,” he told the spacer. “Where can I find Doctor Zuloe?”</p> <p>“I’m sorry, sir. Only authorized personnel will be allowed to interrogate him.”</p> <p><SPAN name="p136" id="p136"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>136<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>“I’m authorized, I believe. I captured him. I’m Lors.”</p> <p>The young spacer flushed. “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t know who you were.” He pointed to the door behind him. “You may go through there. Straight down the corridor until you reach the fourth ward.”</p> <p>“Doctor Zuloe will be there?”</p> <p>“I think so.”</p> <p>“Thank you.”</p> <p>Lors shoved the door open and walked down the long hall toward the fourth ward, not quite sure in his mind how he could spring the Terran from the hospital and get him down to where the scout ships were hangared. But it had to be done. If he failed, and they all ended up dead, or thrown into the penal colonies on Thista, the trade program with Terra would be set back at least fifty years. All the ground they had gained, all the knowledge and plans they had formulated, would be useless. They would have to start from scratch.</p> <p>The wrecked scout ship could be covered up, but the loss of Detective Lieutenant Brice and Nicholas Danson would not go unnoticed, especially when Beth Danson spilled her story about the strange events that had gone on at the cabin. Of course, Terra would never be able to corroborate what she had experienced - yet they were on the verge of space travel, and they were a war-like race. They could cause all sorts of unnecessary trouble in space.</p> <p>It had to work. He had to get both of them back to the planet, even if it meant stopping a slug from an auto-rifle to do it.</p> <p>He reached the door to the fourth ward and went in to look for Doctor Zuloe. The man wasn’t <SPAN name="p137" id="p137"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>137<span class="ns">] </span></span>hard to find; he was the only person in the small anteroom.</p> <p>“What can I do for you, Firstspacer?” He asked. “I’m Doctor Zuloe.”</p> <p>“I’m Lors.”</p> <p>For a moment, they stared at each other. The doctor was a middle-aged man with a weathered skin stretched over a rather aquiline set of features. His small, bird-like eyes were piercing in their study of Lors’ face. He smiled thinly and ran a hand through greying hair.</p> <p>“Lors, huh? You the one who went down there?”</p> <p>“I was in the accident. In a sense, I suppose I’m to blame for having brought Brice up here.”</p> <p>“You know him?” Doctor Zuloe’s eyes narrowed visibly.</p> <p>“Yes.<!-- TN: original has comma --> At least, I think I know him better than you people do.”</p> <p>“Then perhaps you can help us with him. When he arrived here, he was in a state of acute shock in which he was almost violent. He kept screaming about witchcraft and all sorts of Terran nonsense. We gave him as much treatment as we could, under the circumstances, and he stopped acting like a wildman.”</p> <p>“How is he now?”</p> <p>“Numb. He’s sitting on his bed, in a special room, and staring at the wall.”</p> <p>“He isn’t out of his mind, is he?”</p> <p>“I don’t think so, but he has had a tremendous strain and shock. It’ll take awhile. He isn’t of the same structure as the other one.”</p> <p>Lors sighed wearily. “I’ll see what I can do with him. Commander Zark has plans for him.”</p> <p>“Another switch?” The doctor made no attempt to cover his disgust over the idea.</p> <p><SPAN name="p138" id="p138"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>138<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>“An accident, I believe.”</p> <p>“From bad to worse, huh?”</p> <p>Lors didn’t answer him. He merely made a motion with his hand for the doctor to show him where the Terran was being kept. Doctor Zuloe nodded and pointed toward a door at the far end of the ward. A blue uniformed spacer stood guard before the door. He clicked his heels as Lors approached.</p> <p>“I want to see the Terran, spacer,” Lors said briskly.</p> <p>The spacer nodded and opened the door. Lors stepped inside and listened to the lock click into place behind him.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>“Nolan?”</p> <p>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 voice.</p> <p>“Nolan. Listen, I’m here to help you.”</p> <p>“You’ve done a lot of helping, spaceman. I know what you want. Earth.”</p> <p>“Don’t be silly. I want to help you and Danson to get back home...”</p> <p>“I don’t need you!”</p> <p>“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 <SPAN name="p139" id="p139"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>139<span class="ns">] </span></span>you to hell back to Terra. Will that suit you?”</p> <p>“This is some kind of trick...”</p> <p>“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.”</p> <p>“Play it your way, spaceman,” Brice said tightly.</p> <p>“Okay.” Lors stood up and spoke through the door to the guard, pulling his auto-pistol from the holster. “Come in here, spacer!”</p> <p>The guard shoved the door open and came in. “What is it, Firstspacer?”</p> <p>“Him.”</p> <p>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.</p> <p>“Come on, Nolan. Get into these clothes!”</p> <p>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.</p> <p>“Hand me his helmet,” he said.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>“Thanks,” he heard Brice snarl.</p> <p>Lors rolled off the bed and onto the floor, the <SPAN name="p140" id="p140"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>140<span class="ns">] </span></span>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!</p> <p>He started running after the Terran, drawing his pistol as he ran...</p> </div> <div class="chapter">
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