done. ‘How are we to reach it?’ I asked them helplessly. ‘You think of a way,’ said Fridjt, nodding his huge balding head at me. ‘You’re the one with the brains. I’ll give you thirty seconds – then I’m going to throw you at the chiton and if you don’t make it, well then, you fall.’ Chiton was the mudwalker’s name for a Soal patrol vehicle – they called it that because it was built with overlapping plates of metal and was roughly the same shape as that creature. ‘… fifteen, sixteen …’ ‘All right! All right! I’ll think of something,’ I snapped. ‘Just be quiet for a moment and let me concentrate.’ It took me more than the allowed time to find the answer but when I did it was a good one.
8 Soal … My eyes see no right or wrong … Endrod walked along the cold stone corridorswith the characteristic featherlight step of a Soal. Had he been human his brow would have been furrowed and a smouldering anger evident in his complexion. Being a Soal he expressed his inner rage by blowing hard through the vents behind his tiny mushroom ears and ruffling his coat. Endrod had just been refused a third request for licence to commit immediate genocide upon the remainder of what was once an intelligent, resourceful race. The Klees of Brytan and Hess had vetoed the act. Endrod came to the balcony and, contrary to normal safety observations, spread his bat-like wings and glided over the courtyard. Soal did not normally take risks by gliding over a hard surface from two storeys up, for the adult Soal had long since given up soaring for fun. It was indicative of the ill-humour of Endrod. He hit the grass on the far side of the courtyard rather harder than he intended and toppled awkwardly on to his back. He was finding his feet just as another Soal entered the courtyard. ‘Opanion,’ Endrod spoke before the other could express the obvious surprise she felt at seeing her superior rolling around on the grass. ‘What do you do here?’ Opanion was unruffled by the terse attitude of the Librarian. She was used to his bouts of bad temper. ‘I came to tell you that your wish has been granted, Chief Librarian Endrod,’ said the other. She was the Assistant Chief Librarian, and it was her wish that Endrod regain his former position as Head of the Military in order that she herself might be promoted to her Chief’s present position. She was ambitious, but only in her own field. Chief Librarianwould suit her fine. ‘Oh? What wish is that?’ the Chief Librarian asked, his anger less evident. The mudwalkers have done something which may help you regain your former rank. They have killed two Soal – one of the killers is believed to be your old antagonist’s son – the human Cave.’ Endrod was eager to hear the whole story and Opanion repeated what she had heard in the communications cell. The Hessian Soal had found the bodies of a Yarcave and Teel at one of the needle towers near the coast. Shortly before that a Soal craft was seen entering a transcontinental tube, heading towards one of the southern oceans. It was guessed that the human called Cave was piloting the craft, since he was the only human in the north that had lived amongst the Soal and would have the expertise. ‘Cave,’ breathed Endrod deeply. ‘I have him at last.’ Opanion offered nothing, for the Chief Librarian suddenly went into the Soal position of deep concentration with the head pulled deep down between the equivalent of the human clavicles. Opanion waited patiently for Endrod to come out. Finally the Chief Librarian surfaced again. He said, ‘Who is conducting the search for the fugitives?’ ‘Kaltan, head of the Ostraylean military,’ answered Opanion. ‘That’s good,’ continued Endrod. ‘He is a particular friend of mine being from the same string of eggs.’ The Soal females laid a string of capsule-shaped eggs once every three tours. These were left in a public room to be visited by various males