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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE LANI PEOPLE *** Produced by An Anonymous Volunteer, and David Widger


By J. F. Bone























The boxed ad in the opportunities section of the Kardon Journal of Allied Medical Sciences stood out like a cut diamond in a handful of gravel. โ€œWanted,โ€ it read, โ€œVeterinarianโ€”for residency in active livestock operation. Single recent graduate preferred. Quarters and service furnished. Well-equipped hospital. Five-year contract, renewal option, starting salary 15,000 cr./annum with periodic increases. State age, school, marital status, and enclose recent tri-di with application. Address Box V-9, this journal.โ€

Jac Kennon read the box a second time. There must be a catch to it. Nothing that paid a salary that large could possibly be on the level. Fifteen thousand a year was top pay even on Beta, and an offer like this for a new graduate was unheard ofโ€”unless Kardon was in the middle of an inflation. But Kardon wasnโ€™t. The planetโ€™s financial status was A-1. He knew. Heโ€™d checked that immediately after landing. Whatever might be wrong with Kardon, it wasnโ€™t her currency. The rate of exchange was 1.2-1 Betan.

A five-year contractโ€”hmmโ€”that would be seventy-five thousand. Figure three thousand a year for living expenses, that would leave sixty-plenty of capital to start a clinic. The banks couldnโ€™t turn him down if he had that much cash collateral.

Kennon chuckled wryly. Heโ€™d better get the job before he started spending the money he didnโ€™t have. He had 231 credits plus a few halves, tenths, and hundredths, a diploma in veterinary medicine, some textbooks, a few instruments, and a first-class spacemanโ€™s ticket. By watching his expenses he had enough money to live here for a month and if nothing came of his efforts to find a job on this planet, there was always his spacemanโ€™s ticket and another world.

Another world! There were over six thousand planets in the Brotherhood of Man. At two months per planet, not figuring transit time, it would take more than a thousand Galactic Standard years to visit them all, and a man could look forward to scarcely more than five hundred at best. The habitat of Man had become too large. There wasnโ€™t time to explore every possibility.

But a man could have certain standards, and look until he found a position that fitted. The trouble wasโ€”if the standards were too high the jobs were too scarce. Despite the chronic shortage of veterinarians throughout the Brotherhood, there was a peculiar reluctance on the part of established practitioners to welcome recent graduates. Most of the ads in the professional journals read โ€œState salary desired,โ€ which was nothing more than economic blackmailโ€”a bald-faced attempt to get as much for as little as possible. Kennon grimaced wryly. Heโ€™d be damned if heโ€™d sell his training for six thousand a year. Slave labor, thatโ€™s what it was. There were a dozen ads like that in the Journal. Well, heโ€™d give them a trial, but heโ€™d ask eight thousand and full GEA benefits. Eight years of school and two more as an intern were worth at least that.

He pulled the portable voicewrite to a comfortable position in front of the view wall and began composing another of the series of letters that had begun months ago in time and parsecs away in space. His voice was a fluid counterpoint to the soft hum of the machine.

And as he dictated, his eyes took in the vista through the view wall. Albertsville was a nice town, too young for slums, too new for overpopulation. The white buildings were the color of winter butter in the warm yellow sunlight as the city drowsed in the noonday heat. It nestled snugly in the center of a bowl-shaped valley whose surrounding forest clad hills gave mute confirmation to the fact that Kardon was still primitive, an unsettled world that had not yet reached the explosive stage of population growth that presaged maturity. But that was no disadvantage. In fact, Kennon liked it. Living could be fun on a planet like this.

It was abysmally crude compared to Beta, but the Brotherhood had opened Kardon less than five hundred years ago, and in such a short time one couldnโ€™t expect all the comforts of civilization.

It required a high population density to supply them, and while Kardon was integrated its population was scarcely more than two hundred million. It would be some time yet before this world would achieve a Class I status. However, a Class II planet had some advantages. What it lacked in conveniences it made up in opportunities and elbow room.

A normal Betan would have despised this world, but Kennon wasnโ€™t normal, although to the casual eye he was a typical representative of the Medico-Technological Civilization, long legged, fair haired, and short bodied with the typical Betan squint that left his eyes mere slits behind thick lashes and heavy brows. The difference was internal rather than external.

Possibly it was due to the fact that

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