By John Brunner

While abruptly the entire fissionable fabric on the earth was once exploded, Earthmen had their first observe of the aliens' arrival. And by the point the panic, dying and chaos have been looked after out, stories have been coming in approximately mysterious towns scattered around the face of the planet - large components of flickering gentle and notable unfastened power, disorienting to human senses and impregnable to assault. The query was once: have been they alien bases...or anything else?

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Wind flapped the edges of his blue cloak, flung a few dead leaves in past him, whistled and chilled along the room. Folk turned to see who had come, drew a sharp breath, and those who had been seated now scrambled to stand. It was the Wanderer. Tallest he stood among them, holding his spear more like a staff than a weapon, as if he had noneed of iron. A broad-brimmed hat shaded his face, but not the wolf-gray hair and beard, nor the gleam of his gaze. Few of them here had ever seen him before, most had never happened to be nigh when he made his seldom showings; but none failed to know the forefather of the Teuring headmen.

I'm anxious for him to get into a trading career. " Baalram smiled and stroked his beard. "That's different. " Adiyaton (who, a quarter century hence, would have no precautionary need not to call himself Pummairam) looked gleeful. Inwardly, he shivered, for he gazed upon a man who must soon die. From where the Patrol squadron waited, high in heaven, the storm was a blue-black mountain range crouched on the northern horizon. Elsewhere the sea reached argent and sapphire across the curve of the planet, save where islands broke the sheen and, eastward, the Syrian coast made a darkling line.

Its motor throbbed, holding it in place against the waves that crashed over it, the wind that tore and hooted and chilled. His legs clenched tight on the frame. Okay, let's get some altitude! It was sheer chance, but not the less satisfying, that he, Manse Everard, turned out to be the Patrol agent who clapped hands on Merau Varagan. The squadron sought a quiet place, to makeassessment before it went uptime. Its choice was an uninhabited Aegean islet. White cliffs rose out of cerulean waters, whose calm was stirred only by glitter of sunlight and foam.

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