"The Kraylens are a dying tribe, a scrap of old Venus, but Campbell is determined to help those that had helped him!
"Roy Campbell woke painfully. His body made a blind, instinctive lunge for the control panel, and it was only when his hands struck the smooth, hard mud of the wall that he realized he wasn't in his ship any longer, and that the Guard wasn't chasing him, their guns hammering death.
He leaned against the wall, the perspiration thick on his heavy chest, his eyes wide and remembering. He could feel again, as though the running fight were still happening, the bucking of his sleek ship beneath the calm control of his hands. He could remember the pencil rays lashing through the night, searching for him, seeking his life. He could recall the tiny prayer that lingered in his memory, as he fought so skillfully, so dangerously, to evade the relentless pursuer.
Then there was a hazy period, when a blasting cannon had twisted his ship like a wind-tossed leaf, and his head had smashed cruelly against the control panel. And then the slinking minutes when he had raced for safety—and then the sodden hours when sleep was the only thing in the Universe that he craved.
He sank back on the hide-frame cot with something between a laugh and a curse. He was sweating, and his wiry body twitched. He found a cigarette, lit it on the second try, and sat still, listening to his heartbeats slow down.
He began to wonder, then, what had wakened him.
It was night, the deep indigo night of Venus. Beyond the open hut door, Campbell could see the liha-trees swaying a little in the hot, slow breeze. It seemed as though the whole night swayed, like a dark blue veil.
For a long time he didn't hear anything but the far-off screaming of some swamp beast on the kill. Then, sharp and cruel against the blue silence, a drum began to beat.
It made Campbell's heart jerk. The sound wasn't loud, but it had a tight, hard quality of savagery, something as primal as the swamp and as alien, no matter how long a man lived with it.
The drumming stopped. The second, perhaps the third, ritual prelude. The first must have wakened him. Campbell stared with narrow dark eyes at the doorway.
He'd been with the Kraylens only two days this time, and he'd slept most of that. Now he realized that in spite of his exhaustion, he had sensed something wrong in the village."
Bracket's Venus is an artificial world built as a hot house laboratory eons ago by the Elder Things. All of the signs are there from mutant prehistoric life forms, to artificially adapted people, etc. I kept waiting for the shoggoths to show up at any minute. Roy Campbell is the type of folk hero the solar system needs & wants. These are the Venusians adapted to live in the swamps of Venus, a proud people with +2 to charisma, constitution, & able to breath underwater. They have many of the qualities of the peoples of Atlantis without the taint of the Deep Ones. But this is an era of their backs up against the wall of the Terra Venusian Coalition government who are going to force these peoples into pure extinction. These are the ancient enemies of the Nahai.
The real star of this novella is Romany an artificial station in orbit around Venus, this is the venue of lost, desperate, and trodden upon by so called progress of Brackett's & C.L. Moore's solar system. This is also the perfect venue to use the Mentalist rules of Warriors of the Red Planet. Where is an older Northwest Smith making stops and running cargo? Romany is probably one of those venues. And is the villain here really the Terra Venusian Coalition government? Or are they the victim of far more sinister & deadly threats from beyond the solar system ridge? Here's the problem with melting pot venues like 'Old Venus' in the colonial era, its the perfect place for agents of far more powerful alien god things to move through. Romany on the other hand is the breeding ground for space pirates, adventurers, and outlaws. Desperate people do desperate things & thieves guilds are mobile.
What does this mean? Well, essentially the ideas and concepts discussed in Adventurer, Conqueror, King can be applied to other venues as well as stationary adventure & setting locations. We see this throughout the 'The Citadel of Lost Ships'. This is also something we see in the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg system.
But what the hell has the Terra Venusian Coalition government so scared? We'll get into that tomorrow. There's a very interesting take on social class & character venue throughout the Citadel of Lost Ships. This is something similar that we see with adventurers in Dark Albion where the social status allows both movement and restriction with certain social circles. This wasn't done by accident by Leigh Brackett. She was a genius when it came to presenting her character's within the confines and movements of their setting something we'd see a lot of in her later screen writing and television script work.
Romany is just the sort of a station made from old space craft that you'd see near Hyperborea and other lands beyond the Boreas Winds. The kind of weird dungeons that wizards dream of.
This location offers a possible idea for a latter day space dungeon for PC's.
The Citadel of Lost Ships is one of my all time favorites.
You can download and read The Citadel of Lost Ships Right Over Here
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