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COMBATMAN

By John Massie Davis

During colonizing operations a Combatman
was always in charge — in case of trouble. This
trip we really had some — a whole planet of it!

AS Computerman, I was the first to come out of deep freeze after we kicked clear of the Time-Warp. So I left the needles in my wrists—the tubes let me reach Brain One—and started punching data from the instruments while my fingers were still half stiff. Finally, stiff fingers or not, I had all the data racked into the primary feed and decided to check on the passengers. It amused me somewhat to note that even Brain One was strictly stalling for time when it came to figuring out where we were, and why. There was much buzzing and clicking but no tape feeding out, yet. Well, let the Brain figure it out. I had other things to do.

I strolled back to secondary freeze unit and checked Combatman. He was on top of the heap, of course—as stiff as a fresh steak, so I stuck the needles in his wrists and switched to defrost. Automatic lift pulled him out and beneath him was the male Homonorm and the two female Homonorms. They came out, too, as the lifts worked, and pretty soon the cabin looked like a morgue—or a cannibal's shop, if you prefer. Anyway, they were defrosting, so I left 'em to make a check on Brain One and see what brilliant, if mechanical conclusion it had reached. Should be at least an hour before Combatman thawed—even with the needles pumping.

Brain One was feeding out tape now, slow as a snail considering its cycling rate, so I figured we were a long way from home. Okay with me—I'd been around and knew that if we could get somewhere we could get back. But I wanted, and wanted bad, the data from Time-Warp gauges. So I watched the tape, decoding mentally as it fed out and feeling, for a Computerman, an emotion similar to impatience.

We were approaching—the Brain told me—a...

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