By John Rackham
First released as an Ace paperback in 1968.
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Throat-microphone, Dillard assumed, wondering about the reverse process. Then he saw, as the man moved the grille to press it against his jaw-bone and stare into nowhere. Bone-conduction speaker, he deduced, and wondered what it was about Venusian atmosphere that made such an inefficient device necessary. In a moment the guard put the instrument away. "Wait," he breathed again. " Dillard waited, speculating meanwhile about perpetual hot humidity and what it would do to electronics. And how else could you have a communication system that had to be totally sealed?
Maybe the old fool did fall in the water and drown," he muttered, and was angry enough to hope it was true. He came to a halt in front of a solid array of notebooks, labels stuck along their spines and inscribed in some kind of private symbology. He took one at random, more for something to keep his fingers busy rather than from any desire to find anything. That intention had long since faded. He riffled the pages idly, then turned to the flyleaf to check. There was a heading in angular script: Artifacts native to Hydro.
He became aware of the humidity, and a faintly pervasive, not unpleasant smell of something like pine, or what is popularly called ozone. She sat, and he shrugged back and out of his flared poncho before copying her, but it didn't relieve the humidity much. "Now, DenDillard," she said, running his name into one long sound, "I know that you are a sensor recorder, and I have heard of such, but I do not know what is involved. " He launched into a mechanical explanation of his apparatus, the while his inner attention was fixed on a host of new sensations.