By Piers Anthony
Choice of sci-fi tales.
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Phog arrived. The stench of it blasted out ahead, sickeningly. It swirled around the stone pillars and smirched the bait, burying it in thick scum. It reached across the gap toward them. "Not yet," Mat said tightly. Phog advanced almost to their station. The three stood, fascinated by it as always, but no longer panicked. They knew the power dammed in the relays, as the tribesmen did not; this time they stayed to conquer, not to run. The menacing bladders distended the filthy surface, no less loathsome for all their insubstantiality.
External light and gravity registered only as an indication on a meter. Internally, the laws of physics applied as always; Meg II required power for illumination, temperature control, the operation of its instruments and the rapid rotation that provided artificial gravity. But physical communication with Earth-and any electronic or laser-based signal had to be regarded as such-was impossible, because the ship no longer occupied the same specific universe as Earth. There was complex circuitry embedded in the table beneath Somnanda's tapering fingers.
The man, his schedule informed him, was about to go off duty and would not return until the eighteenth hour. That was convenient for another reason… and it was also important not to upset the sleeping schedule. Lack of sleep was one of the surest routes to emotional imbalance. D. Beeton-Cartographer, apprentice. The pencil stalled once more. Apprentice. That meant he had never had an assignment in FTL before. Shetland had not even met him. Young, inexperienced and in a position to comprehend both mission and danger.