For Every Man A Reason, p.1Patrick Wilkins
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This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction November 1954.Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyrighton this publication was renewed.
_Illustrated by Paul Orban_
BY PATRICK WILKINS
FOR EVERY MAN A REASON
_To love your wife is good; to love your State is good, too. But if it comes to a question of survival, you have to love one better than the other. Also, better than yourself. It was simple for the enemy; they knew which one Aron was dedicated to...._
The thunder of the jets died away, the sound drifting wistfully off intothe hills. The leaves that swirled in the air returned to the groundslowly, reluctantly.
The rocket had gone.
Aron Myers realized that he was looking at nothing. He noticed that hisface was frozen into a meaningless smile. He let the smile slowlydissolve as he turned to look at his wife.
She was a small woman, and he realized for the first time how fragileshe was. Her piquant face, framed by long brown, flowing hair, was anattractive jewel when set on the plush cushion of civilization. Now herface, set in god-forsaken wilderness, metamorphosed into the frightenedmask of a small animal.
They were alone.
Two human beings alone on this wild, lonely planet. Aron's mind suddenlysnapped from that frame of reference--his subjective view of theirposition--to the scale of galaxies. It was a big planet to them, but itwas a marble in the galaxy that man had discovered and claimed, and wasnow fighting with himself to retain. This aggregate of millions ofpebbles was wracked with the violence of war, where marbles were moreexpendable than the microbes that dwelt on them.
The two walked hand in hand away from the meadow where the ship hadbeen. The feeble wind snuffled at the scraps of paper and trash, therelics of man's passing.
They walked up the hill to their station, the reason for their being onthis wayside planet.
Aron thought about the scenery around them. The compact, utilitarianbuilding that was the station did not seem out of place against thebleak landscape. The landscape did not clash or conform to itslocation--it just didn't give a damn whether there was a building thereor not.
Aron and Martha, his wife, took their time. They had an abundance ofthat elusive quantity known as time at this lonely outpost. The trail upto the station was rough, with rocks and weeds tearing at them. Aronresolved that that would be one of his first projects, to put in a goodpath to the meadow where the rocket would come for them--five years fromnow.
The sunset did nothing to enhance the countryside. There was not enoughdust in the air to create any striking colors. As the shadows began tolap at the hill, they hurried the last few steps to the building.
* * * * *
That evening they were both nervous, justifiably so, for not only werethey starting on the questionable adventure of sequestered watchdogs onthe planet, they were starting the adventure of marriage.
Aron had met Martha on Tyros, a planetary trade center of someimportance. She was a waitress.
Since he was marking time on Tyros, waiting for his assignment, he had achance to cultivate her acquaintance. On their dates, what he had totell her about his life was brief, impersonal.
Aron was in the Maintenance division of the Territorial Administrationand his duties were to hold posts on various planets and act as anobserver of that planet's caprices.
The rush of mankind from Earth, like a maddened swarm of bees from ahive, had carried it through the galaxy in a short time. On all thediscovered planets that had to be reserved for future inhabitants, theTerritorial Administration had set up observation stations. The menposted there were merely to record such fascinating information asmeteorological and geographical conditions.
When the time came to expand, the frail little creatures with the largebrains and larger egos would know the best havens for migration.
Another reason for these stations was the war. When man had flunghimself madly at the galaxy, he had diffused himself thinly over amacroscopic area. Some almost isolated colonies had developed theinevitable thirst for independence.
From local but violent wars between colonies, some semblance of orderhad been wrought. Now there were two sprawling interstellar empires, theUnited Empire--Aron and Martha were citizens--and the People's Republic.
Since Aron's realm relied on industrial technology and agriculture andthe People's Republic based its economy on mining and trade, thereseemed to be plenty of room for consolidation.
Unfortunately this consolidation, or even peaceful trading, was notpossible, due to the fact that the two dominions had entirely differentforms of government and religion. The result was, as always, war.
These were the general facts that both Aron and Martha knew. What Arondiscussed with his fiance were the effects of this macropoliticalsituation upon their personal lives. The previous posts that Aron hadheld in the TA were planets in the interior of the United Empire.
During his stay on Tyros, he received the assignment he expected. It wasa post on the fringe of the empire, a planet called Kligor. Thesestations of the fringe served dual purposes, not only their usualfunction of planetary observation but as military outposts to warn andhalt any attempted invasion.
When he heard this assignment, Aron proposed, holding up to Martha theprospect of comfortable living in civilization once the five year hitchon Kligor was over.
She consented--not really knowing if she loved him or not.
They had been married the day they left. The space ship was so crowdedthere was no chance for privacy, so the two had no honeymoon till theyreached the station.
* * * * *
Aron and his bride arrived on Kligor in what was autumn on the planet,for the seasons were consistent in all hemispheres.
Aron planned to spend a week at the station with his wife and then begina planetary check of the various automatic observation stations thatcompiled the meteorological and other data and relayed it by radio tothe main station. This check had to be completed before snow came to theplanet.
In that week they learned about each other. Neither of them was youngand both were mature and prosaic enough to develop the daily routine ofa long-married couple. There were many free hours which they would spendtalking about themselves.
To Martha, marriage was not new. She had experienced matrimony before.Her husband, a gambler, had killed himself after a bad loss, leaving herwith an impossible burden of debt and a disillusioned mind.
Since then she had worked, gradually paying off his debts. When Aron hadcome along, she liked the big man and thought that the years on Kligorwould give her respite from a demanding reality.
She did not picture herself as a tragic figure, but rather as merelycompetent and stable, not realizing that that attitude in itself is asure sign of instability. A smile seldom found her face. She wasslightly nervous with a tendency towards moodiness.
Aron's history was not so bitter. He was born in a large family and hadformed an aloof, reserved nature to achieve a sense of individuality inthe group. His life had been spent in government work and he had nevertasted the variable brew of the nuptial cup till he met Martha.
He was not a deep man in emotion. His nature was such that he had to beconstantly occupied with something--not the frenzied scurrying ofinsecure individuals--but a solid problem that he could work out. Aproject that he could carefully shape with a keen analytical mind orcapable hands.
They did not think of each other in terms of these thumbnail sketches,but merely watched and observed--and adjuste
The spell of the planet gradually lulled them into hypnotic acceptanceof their sequestered lives. Their daily duties became the only thingsworth thinking about.
* * * * *
Aron learned about the planet in the next two months on his tours ofinspection. He used a small atmosphere flier to cover the various postsscattered over its surface.
The small blockhouses were automatic and hermetically sealed to preservethe instruments, but something could go wrong and then it was his job tofix it.
As for the military defense system of Kligor, that was also automaticbut not Aron's responsibility. It was a series of artificial satelliteson the rim of the planetary system, with long-range detecting andtracting systems that would activate and co-ordinate firing mechanismsto blast any ship from the void.
It was Aron's duty to de-activate them with a control in his station ifhe was signalled by a pre-arranged code from a friendly United Republicship. That was all he had to, or could, do with
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