The body sagged beneath the blows, and became bloody and discolored, but no movement no conscious movement did it make. "That will do, Panek," His Highness finally commanded. "That does no good. This I cannot understand, but I do know there is ... uh ... something most peculiar here. It is almost as though ...", he paused and frowned again. "But that is ridiculous!"
One eye was swelling rapidly, and he had a nick in his arm that he could feel was soaking his jacket sleeve. Seeing he couldn't make the fellow listen, Hanlon threw him with a super-judo trick, then sat on him. "Shut up and listen to me, Panek!" he hissed urgently, using all his fighting technique meanwhile to keep the other's threshing form immobile.
"I'll see if I can locate him for you, sir," and she moved away. Some minutes later, while he was still pretending to sip his drink, Hanlon felt a hearty clap on the shoulder. "Well, well, it's my pal from the ship. Welcome to Sime, Pal, welcome to Sime." "Hi, Panek! Hope you meant that about looking you up, 'cause here I am." Hanlon flipped a credit note on the bar and followed Panek.
The Queen flew swiftly towards that ventilator, her swarm following closely at her command. Into and through the vent she flew, and almost before the four men inside were aware of the strange buzzing, she was directing her swarm towards them. "Bees!" Panek yelled in terror, and the four started fighting the hundreds that swarmed all over each of them.
Hanlon felt sure it was the same man he had guarded that day. Oh, oh, was that "failure" he had also read in Panek's mind that unsuccessful attempt he, Hanlon, had thwarted? Was Panek and through him this as-yet-unmet leader behind that attempt on Abrams' life? These were questions he could not answer yet not enough data. But he would have to find the answers sometime.
The two men grunted a mysterious laugh, but Panek merely indicated the way to the aircar. Again Hanlon was blindfolded, but now he didn't care he knew the location of this crater field. There was silence during most of the trip. Hanlon babbled away at first, but when no one answered him he gradually slowed his words and finally shut up entirely.
He was led toward a back corner, but there, instead of going into one of the booths, Panek pushed through an almost hidden alcove. He knocked peculiarly on a door, and a peephole was opened. When the guardian saw who it was, the door was opened enough so the two could slide through. Hanlon, in a quick, comprehensive glance, saw that it was a fairly large office, at present occupied by four men.
He realized with dismay that in his excitement over this latest development he had entirely forgotten that angle. He had better get back on the ball, but fast! He got up, splashed cold water on his face, dried it, ran a comb through his hair, and went back to the lounge. The man Panek was not in the Observation lounge, so Hanlon went seeking him.
His other hand eluded Hanlon's grasp, and with it Panek struck and jabbed heavy blows to Hanlon's face and body. Hanlon parried the blows as best he could, at the same time trying to make his low-voiced words penetrate. "Cut it out, you fool! I'm trying to help you, not hinder you! Stop it, blast you, and listen!" But he might as well have been talking to the metal walls.
Then, if or when he did, he would walk more softly, travel inch by inch, and not make any attempts to jump into the big middle of things until he got a lot more information ... and more experience in the ways and means of gangsterism. But suddenly he felt that cold fear return. Those men were must be hard, trained killers all. This Panek was not even the boss was just a gunny.