"Now this here planet," he said cautiously, "is whacky in a lot of ways. First of all they call it Mert. Just plain Mert. And they live in houses strictly from Dickens, all carriages, no sewers, narrow streets, stuff like that." But that wasn't all.... Travis, in reaching Diomed III before any others, found himself waging a one-man fight against more than this; he was bucking the strangest way of life you have ever heard of!
y in their own astrology they've gotten used to the idea that a man is what his horoscope says he is."
"But us? What are we? They haven't the vaguest idea, and it scares hell out of them. The only thing they can do is check with one of the branches, what they call Horary Astrology, and make a horoscope of the day we landed. Even if that tells them nothing about us in particular at least it tells them, or so they believe, all about our mission to Mert. Because the moment our ship touched the ground was the birth date of our business here."
He paused and regarded Travis with woeful sympathy.
"With us, luckily, it was all right. The Mapping Command just happened to hit here on a good day. But you? Trav, old buddy, for once you came just too damn fast--"
"Oh my God," Travis breathed. "We landed on a bad day."
"Bad?" Horton sighed. "Man, it's terrible."
* * * * *
"You see," Horton said as they drove into the town, "not a soul on the streets. This is not onl
By interplanetary law, the first company to land on a newly-discovered planet with sentient life gets the chance to negotiate a contract for whatever they can get. Unfortunately, the people of the planet Mert made all their choices astrologically, and, while Travis landed first, he landed on a bad day. A very, very, bad day.
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