Bond's right hand hit something that gave before it. There was a stream of ice-cold air. His other hand hit, then his head. There was a tinny noise. Bond felt the lower edge of an asbestos baffle scrape down his back. He was through. He heard the baffle bang shut. His hands came up against solid wall. They quested to left and right. It was a right-angled bend. His body followed blindly round the corner. The cool air felt like daggers in his lungs. Gingerly he laid his fingers down on the metal. It was cold! With a groan Bond fell on his face and lay still.
Across the centre of the groin. If he missed both, it would be bad. Bond had no illusions about being able to beat this terrific man in unarmed combat.
'Vesper,' he said, holding her cold hands in his, 'we can't go on like this. We must finish with it. We are torturing each other and there is only one way of stopping it. Either you must tell me what all this is about or we must leave. At once.'
But those were not Bond's only thoughts. The beautiful strapping body of the girl beside him, incredibly erotic in the tight emphasis of the clinging brassiere and pants, came between him and his concern about the Moonraker. And anyway there was nothing he could do about the Moonraker for another hour. It was not yet five o'clock and the fuelling would not be finished until after six. It would only be then that he could get hold of Drax and make certain that for the next two nights the guards were strengthened on the cliff and that they had the right weapons. For he had seen for himself that there was plenty of water, even at low tide, for a submarine.
"About two hours. Around five. But there are two of them and only one of you! They'll do a sort of what they call 'pincers movement.' "
For several decades the world remained divided between the Empire and the Federation. More than once in this period the Empire made ready to crush the Federation; but, as zero hour approached, unrest within the Empire itself strangely increased to such a pitch that at the critical moment serious rebellions, generally in Britain or America or China itself, made attack impossible. Throughout these decades the government of the Federation concentrated on defence and social development. For defence it relied partly on its mountains, but mainly on a great air force, built at heavy cost of luxury and comfort. Economic resources were meagre. A modest supply of oil was still produced in the western territory of the Federation. Water-power was developed to the utmost. Gold was assiduously sifted from the river-beds and mined in the mountains for the purchase of urgently needed foreign goods. Agriculture and pasture were the main occupations throughout the territory, apart from the manufacture of munitions and planes. The manner of life of the Free Peoples had perforce to be very simple, but it was adequate to health and fullness of mentality, and the standard was the same for all.
Lacking that insight and that will, the states of the world in the age of balanced light and darkness bore very heavily on their citizens and on one another. For national safety men’s actions were increasingly controlled by the state, their minds increasingly moulded to the formal pattern that the state required of them. All men were disciplined and standardized. Everyone had an official place and task in the huge common work of defence and attack. Anyone who protested or was lukewarm must be destroyed. The state was always in danger, and every nerve was constantly at strain. And because each state carefully sowed treason among the citizens of other states, no man could trust his neighbour. Husbands and wives suspected one another. Children proudly informed against their parents. Under the strain even of peace-time life, all minds were damaged. Lunacy spread like a plague. The most sane, though in their own view their judgment was unwarped, were in fact fear-tortured neurotics. And so the race, as a whole, teased by its obscure vision of the spirit, its frail loyalty to love and reason, surrendered itself in the main to its baser nature.