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Very shortly they were in the entrance hall facing the wreckage of the crawler and doors through which a ragged gap had been burned. Ali viewed the scene with his usual detachment. "Nice job," he commended Dane's enterprise. "They'll have a moving " "Get going!" A heavy hand between his shoulder blades urged him on. The Engineer-apprentice whirled, his eyes blazing. "Keep your hands to yourself!

But when the groan broke through the hum of Ali's mysterious machine, all of them knew that the Engineer-apprentice had found the answer to their problem, that Hovan was waking. The Medic was bleary-eyed and inclined to stagger when they freed him. And for several minutes he seemed unable to grasp either his surroundings or the train of events which had brought him there.

The Engineer-apprentice was bulky in a space suit, and two more of the unwieldy body coverings waited beside him for Rip and Dane. With fingers which were inclined to act like thumbs they were sealed into what would provide some protection against any blaster or sleep ray. Then with Hovan, conspicuously wearing no such armor, they climbed into one of the ship's crawlers.

For a moment the Engineer-apprentice caught at his arm for support and then with a visible effort straightened up. So he wasn't the only one He looked for Rip and Weeks and saw that they, too, were ill. But for a moment all that mattered was the stretch of trampled earth and the two men facing each other.

He was deep in the intricacy of a deal so complicated that he was lost after the first two moves, when he opened his eyes to see Ali at the door panel. The Engineer-apprentice made an emphatic beckoning wave and Dane slipped off the ear buttons. "What is it?" His question lacked a cordial note. "I've got to have help." Ali was terse. "Kosti's blacked out!" "What!"

Dane caught the warning gesture from Ali they were under unseen observation and they must have a listening audience too located somewhere in the maze of offices. "They can't make up their minds," the Engineer-apprentice settled his shoulders against the wall. "Either we're desperate criminals, or we're heroes. They're going to let time decide."

Swiftly Dane outlined their suspicions that the seat of the trouble lay in the hydro and that they should clean out that section, drawing upon emergency materials at the I-S E-Stat. "Sounds all right. But you know what they do to pirates?" inquired the Engineer-apprentice. Space law came into Dane's field, he needed no prompting.

"I didn't check," Dane confessed. "He was giving out and I had to get him to his bunk." "It might be well to know." The Engineer-apprentice got up, his movements lacking much of the elastic spring which was normally his. When he climbed to control both the others followed him.