Address: Centauri

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ADDRESS: CENTAURI

by
F. L. WALLACE

Published by
GALAXY PUBLISHING CORP.
New York 14, New York

A Galaxy Science Fiction Novel
by special arrangement with Gnome Press

Based on “Accidental Flight,” copyright
1952 by Galaxy Publishing Corp.

Published in book form by Gnome
Press, copyright 1955 by F. L. Wallace.

[Transcriber’s Note: Extensive research did not uncover any
evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

Galaxy Science Fiction Novels are sturdy, inexpensive editions
of choice works in this field, both original and reprint,
selected by the editors of
Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine.

Cover by Wallace A. Wood

Printed in the U.S.A. by
The Guinn Company
New York 14, N. Y.


Contents


Earth was too perfect for these extraordinary exiles—to belong to it, they had to flee it!


1

Light flickered. It was uncomfortably bright.

Doctor Cameron gazed intently at the top of the desk. It wasn’t easy to be diplomatic. “The request was turned over to the Medicouncil,” he said. “I assure you it was studied thoroughly before it was reported back to the Solar Committee.”

Docchi edged forward, his face alight with anticipation.

The doctor kept his eyes averted. The man was damnably disconcerting—had no right to be alive. In the depths of the sea there were certain creatures like him and on a warm summer evening there was still another parallel, but never any human with such an infirmity. “I’m afraid you know what the answer is. A flat no for the present.”

Docchi sagged and his arms hung limp. “That’s the answer?”

“It’s not as hopeless as you think. Decisions can be changed. It won’t be the first time.”

“Sure,” said Docchi. “We’ll wait and wait until it’s finally changed. We’ve got centuries, haven’t we?” His face was blazing. It had slipped out of control though he wasn’t aware of it. Beneath the skin certain cells had been modified, there were substances in his body that the ordinary individual didn’t have. And when there was an extreme flow of nervous energy the response was—light. His metabolism was akin to that of a firefly.

Cameron meddled with buttons. It was impossible to keep the lighting at a decent level. Docchi was a nuisance.

“Why?” questioned Docchi. “We’re capable, you know that. How could they refuse?”

That was something he didn’t want asked because there was no answer both of them would accept. Sometimes a blunt reply was the best evasion. “Do you think they’d take you? Or Nona, Jordan, or Anti?”

Docchi winced, his arms quivering uselessly. “Maybe not. But we told you we’re willing to let experts decide. There’s nearly a thousand of us. They should be able to get one qualified crew.”

“Perhaps. I’m not going to say.” Cameron abandoned the light as beyond his control. “Most of you are biocompensators. I concede it’s a factor in your favor. But you must realize there are many things against you.” He squinted at the desk top. Below the solid surface there was a drawer and in the drawer there was—that was what he was trying to see or determine. The more he looked the less clear anything seemed to be. He tried to make his voice crisp and professional. “You’re wasting time discussing this with me. I’ve merely passed the decision on. I’m not responsible for it and I can’t do anything for you.”

Docchi stood up, his face colorless and bright. But the inner illumination was no indication of hope.

Doctor Cameron looked at him directly for the first time. It wasn’t as bad as he expected. “I suggest you calm down. Be patient and wait. You’ll be surprised how often you get what you want.”

“You’d be surprised how we get what we want,” said Docchi. He turned away, lurching toward the door which opened automatically and closed behind him.

Again Cameron concentrated on the desk, trying to look through it. He wrote down the sequence he expected to find, lingering over it to make sure he didn’t force the pictures that came into his mind. He opened the drawer and compared the Rhine cards with what he’d written, frowning in disappointment. No matter how he tried he never got better than average results. Perhaps there was something to telepathy but he’d never found it. Anyway it was clear he wasn’t one of the gifted few.

He shut the drawer. It was a private game, a method to keep from becoming involved in Docchi’s problems, to avoid emotional entanglement with people he had nothing in common with. He didn’t enjoy depriving weak and helpless men and women of what little hope they had. It was their lack of strength that made them so difficult to handle.

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