The Pirates of Ersatz
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The Pirates of Ersatz is a science fiction novel by Murray Leinster originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1959. It was nominated for the 1960 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
nine!" "All right," said Hoddan. He lay down his head again and thrust it into his pillow. Then he was suddenly very wide awake indeed. He sat up with a start. Nine spaceships? That wasn't possible! That would be a space fleet! And there were no space fleets! Walden would certainly have never sent more than one ship to demand his surrender to its police. The Space Patrol never needed more than one ship anywhere. Commerce wouldn't cause ships to travel in company. Piracy— There couldn't be a
for them not to be observed, said Thal, because they had great reputations as fighting men. Whoever defeated them would become prominent at once. So somebody might try to pick a quarrel under one of the finer points of etiquette when it would be disgrace to use anything but standard Darthian implements for massacre. Hoddan admitted that he did not feel quarrelsome. They rode on after a time, and in late afternoon the towers and battlements of the castle they sought appeared. The ground here was
His followers were not happy. They moped. They sat in corners and submerged themselves in misery. Large, massive men with drooping blond mustaches—ideal characters for the roles of pirates—tended to squeeze tears out of their eyes at odd moments. When the ship was twelve hours on its way, the atmosphere inside it was funereal. The spearmen did not even gorge themselves on the food with which the yacht was stocked. And when a Darthian gentleman lost his appetite, something had to be wrong. He
"Boys!" he gurgled. "He don't know what we got for him!" One man looked up. Two. They beamed. They got to their feet, dripping jewelry. Thal went ponderously to one of the two owners' staterooms the yacht contained. At the door he turned, expansively. "She came to the port," he said exuberantly, "and said we were wearin' clothes like they wore on Darth. Did we come from there? I said we did. Then she said did we know somebody named Bron Hoddan on Darth? And I said we did and if she'd step
explained the matter of his Darthian crew. Don Loris might affect to consider them disgraced because they hadn't cut his throat. Hoddan had to take care of the matter. And there was Nedda.... Fani came into the story somehow, too. Hoddan's grandfather grunted, at the end. "We'll go down and talk to this Don Loris," he said pugnaciously. "I've dealt with his kind before. While we're down, your Cousin Oliver'll take a look at this new grid-field job. We'll put it on my ship. Hm-m-m—how about the