One Step from Earth
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After years of research, man's dream of instantaneous transportation through the universe has been realized. Humanity begins to explore, settle and colonize throughout the universe, but in doing so finds itself changing. From the author of "Stainless Steel Rat".
begin live testing now," Nissim said into the microphone. Aldo watched the tape with these recorded words vanish into the screen and resisted a strong impulse to hurl himself after it. Wait. Soon now. He switched to receive. "I do not think I have ever been in one place for so long before in my entire life," Nissim said staring, like the others, at the screen. "Even in college in Iceland I went home to Israel every night." "We take the MT screens for granted," Aldo said. "All the time we were
into the air. Even as it was erecting itself a compact television camera moved jerkily into view on the end of a jointed arm. It hesitantly changed directions until it was above the circular plate and angled down toward it and the patch of ground below. Apparently satisfied it locked into this position. With a loud ping the circular plate changed color and character. It was now a deep black and it seemed to shift without moving. A moment later a transparent plastic container appeared, coming
beside the hospital bed. "I can't feel a thing. Nerve channels blocked until it grows tight to the stump." Dom put aside the book he had been reading and wondered what Toth was doing here. "I come around to see the wounded." the sergeant said, answering the unasked question. "Two more besides you. Captain told me to." "The Captain is as big a sadist as you are. Aren't we sick enough already?" "Good joke." His expression did not change. "I'll tell the Captain. He'll like it. You going to buy
invite violence upon? What member that you have borne a lifetime do you discard? "A finger ..." he suggested hesitantly. "Two fingers or none," Old Rurry told him, a natural merchant of destruction. "Here then." Jomfri dropped into the chair and spread his hands before him. "Two, the littlest." He clenched his fists with the little fingers on the table edge. They were too far apart. He crossed his wrists so that the two little fingers hooked over the wooden edge, side by side. "Both at once.
word has finally gotten out that we aren't doing terrible things to the citizens here, but are actually curing some of their ills." They had occupied a large warehouse near the main gate and a medical aid station had been set up. There had been few volunteers for their glittering and exotic instruments at first, but they had enough involuntary patients among the wounded survivors of the fighting. Most of these had already been given up for dead. The crude local knowledge of medicine did not