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HOME > Classical Novels > A Case of Sunburn > CHAPTER 9
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 Jonner, Stein and Aron lay around in the Marscorp brig on Phobos for more than a month. To be precise, they floated around, for Phobos had little more surface gravity than a spaceship in orbit. When there was no indication they were going to be transferred from Phobos, Jonner set up a howl that at last was heard in the little moon's officialdom. Jonner was taken before the adjutant of the Phobos base to air his complaint.
"Look," said Jonner, placing both hands belligerently on the official's desk, "the terms of the terrestrial Space Compact apply to Mars, too. No prisoners of war shall be confined beyond a planetary atmosphere, except for so long as it is impracticable for them to be transferred to a surface prison."
"That provision was written into the compact to permit inspection by neutral powers and because, ordinarily, a prisoner has some hope that a surface prison will be overrun by troops of his own side and he will be released," answered the adjutant mildly, peering at Jonner over old-fashioned rimless spectacles. "In your case, that's not likely to happen and I can't see why you're raising such a fuss. The last we heard up here, our troops were about to overrun your last base."
"What do you mean, the last you heard?" demanded Jonner. "I heard that two days before we were brought to Phobos."
"Radio communication with Mars has been out completely," explained the adjutant good-naturedly. "Static's always bad during the Earth-sun conjunctions, as you ought to know, being a spaceman. This time we haven't been able to get anything through at all."
"Well, maybe it's true that we've lost and the war's about over," said Jonner. "But the three of us still want to be transferred to the surface. Free fall can drive you nuts when you're in an eight-by-eight cell."
"As a matter of fact," said the adjutant, "there hasn't been any G-boat traffic to and from the surface since the radio went out. It's a dangerous business, trying to land at a spaceport without any radio guide. But we have to send a G-boat down for supplies in a couple of days, and if you fellows are insistent about it, we'll send you down to Marsport on it."
It was not two days, but more than a week later that the three of them were allowed to get into spacesuits and were escorted out to a G-boat anchored to the surface of Phobos.
Above them, the orange disc of Mars filled the sky. Phobos was swinging across the inhabited hemisphere now, and the dark green areas of Syrtis and Hadriacum were plainly visible.
Jonner strained his eyes upward at the red spot that was the Isidis Desert. Somewhere in the heart of that red spot, Sir Stanrich O'Kellin was directing the last-gasp stand of the Charax Rebels. They would be manni............
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