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Space Prison

Space Prison

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Published by Alan Smithee

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Published by: Alan Smithee on Nov 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/26/2012

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 Transcriber's note:Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the United States copyright on thispublication was renewed.front coverPYRAMIDBOOKSF-77440c
One of the truly
unusual 
novels of science-fiction
 — 
a vivid portrayal of the deadliestplanet ever discovered!
 (original title: THE SURVIVORS)
Tom Godwin
p. 1
AFTER TWO CENTURIES....
The sound came swiftly nearer, rising in pitch and swelling in volume. Then it brokethrough the clouds, tall and black and beautifully deadly
 — 
the Gern battle cruiser,come to seek them out and destroy them.
 
Humbolt dropped inside the stockade, exulting. For two hundred years his peoplehad been waiting for the chance to fight the mighty Gern Empire ...
 
... with bows and arrows against blasters and bombs!
 p. 2p. 3
 
 
Space Prison
(original title: The Survivors)
a science-fiction adventure by
TOM GODWIN
pyramid books new york
 p. 4ToJOE AND BLANCHE KOLARIK,whose friendship and encouragement in the years gone by will never be forgotten.SPACE PRISON(original title:
The Survivors
)A Pyramid Book published by arrangement with Gnome Press, Inc.printing historyGnome Press edition published 1958Pyramid edition published February 1960Second printing: September 1962This book is fiction. No resemblance is intended between any character herein and anyperson, living or dead; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.Printed in the United States of AmericaPyramid Books
are published by Pyramid Publications, Inc. 444 Madison Avenue, NewYork 22, New York, U.S.A.
 p. 5
PART 1
For seven weeks the
Constellation
had been plunging through hyperspace with her eightthousand colonists; fleeing like a hunted thing with her communicators silenced and herdrives moaning and thundering. Up in the control room, Irene had been told, the needlesof the dials danced against the red danger lines day and night.She lay in bed and listened to the muffled, ceaseless roar of the drives and felt the singingvibration of the hull.
We should be almost safe by now
, she thought.
 Athena is only fortydays away.
 Thinking of the new life awaiting them all made her too restless to lie still any longer.She got up, to sit on the edge of the bed and switch on the light. Dale was gone
 — 
he hadbeen summoned to adjust one of the machines in the ship's X-ray room
 — 
and Billy wasasleep, nothing showing of him above the covers but a crop of brown hair and the furrynose of his ragged teddy bear.She reached out to straighten the covers, gently, so as not to awaken him. It happenedthen, the thing they had all feared.From the stern of the ship came a jarring, deafening explosion. The ship lurchedviolently, girders screamed, and the light flicked out.
 
 In the darkness she heard a rapid-fire
thunk-thunk-thunk 
as the automatic guard systemslid inter-compartment p. 6 doors shut against sections of the ship suddenly airless. Thedoors were still thudding shut when another explosion came, from toward the bow. Thenthere was silence; a feeling of utter quiet and motionlessness.The fingers of fear enclosed her and her mind said to her, like the cold, unpassionatevoice of a stranger:
The Gerns have found us.
 The light came on again, a feeble glow, and there was the soft, muffled sound of questioning voices in the other compartments. She dressed, her fingers shaking andclumsy, wishing that Dale would come to reassure her; to tell her that nothing reallyserious had happened, that it had not been the Gerns.It was very still in the little compartment
 — 
strangely so. She had finished dressing whenshe realized the reason: the air circulation system had stopped working.That meant the power failure was so great that the air regenerators, themselves, weredead. And there were eight thousand people on the
Constellation
who would have to haveair to live....The
 Attention
buzzer sounded shrilly from the public address system speakers that werescattered down the ship's corridors. A voice she recognized as that of LieutenantCommander Lake spoke:"War was declared upon Earth by the Gern Empire ten days ago. Two Gern cruisers haveattacked us and their blasters have destroyed the stern and bow of the ship. We arewithout a drive and without power but for a few emergency batteries. I am the
Constellation
's only surviving officer and the Gern commander is boarding us to give methe surrender terms."None of you will leave your compartments until ordered to do so. Wherever you may be,remain there. This is necessary to avoid confusion and to have as many as possible inknown locations for future instructions. I repeat: you will not leave your compartments."The speaker cut off. She stood without moving and heard again the words:
 I am the
 Constellation's
only surviving officer....
 The Gerns had killed her father.He had been second-in-command of the Dunbar expedition p. 7 that had discovered theworld of Athena and his knowledge of Athena was valuable to the colonization plans. Hehad been quartered among the ship's officers
 — 
and the Gern blast had destroyed thatsection of the ship.She sat down on the edge of the bed again and tried to reorient herself; to accept the factthat her life and the lives of all the others had abruptly, irrevocably, been changed.The Athena Colonization Plan was ended. They had known such a thing might happen
 — 
that was why the
Constellation
had been made ready for the voyage in secret and hadwaited for months for the chance to slip through the ring of Gern spy ships; that was whyshe had raced at full speed, with her communicators silenced so there would be noradiations for the Gerns to find her by. Only forty days more would have brought them tothe green and virgin world of Athena, four hundred light-years beyond the outermostboundary of the Gern Empire. There they should have been safe from Gern detection formany years to come; for long enough to build planetary defenses against attack. Andthere they would have used Athena's rich resources to make ships and weapons to defendmineral-depleted Earth against the inexorably increasing inclosure of the mighty, coldlycalculating colossus that was the Gern Empire.

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