_Because they were so likable and intelligent
and adaptable--they were vastly dangerous!_
[Illustration: Illustrated by ASHMAN]
It's difficult, when you're on one of the asteroids, to keep from
tripping, because it's almost impossible to keep your eyes on the
ground. They never got around to putting portholes in spaceships, you
know--unnecessary when you're flying by GB, and psychologically
inadvisable, besides--so an asteroid is about the only place, apart from
Luna, where you can really see the stars.
There are so many stars in an asteroid sky that they look like clouds;
like massive, heaped-up silver clouds floating slowly around the inner
surface of the vast ebony sphere that surrounds you and your tiny
foothold. They are near enough to touch, and you want to touch them, but
they are so frighteningly far away ... and so beautiful: there's nothing
in creation half so beautiful as an asteroid sky.
You don't want to look down, naturally.
* * * * *
I had left the _Lucky Pierre_ to search for fossils (I'm David Koontz,
the _Lucky Pierre_'s paleontologist). Somewhere off in the darkness on
either side of me were Joe Hargraves, gadgeting for mineral deposits,
and Ed Reiss, hopefully on the lookout for anything alive. The _Lucky
Pierre_ was back of us, her body out of sight behind a low black ridge,
only her gleaming nose poking above like a porpoise coming up for air.
When I looked back, I could see, along the jagged rim of the ridge, the
busy reflected flickerings of the bubble-camp the techs were throwing
together. Otherwise all was black, except for our blue-white torch beams
that darted here and there over the gritty, rocky surface.