The Beast Master


Hosteen Storm had decided to muster out on the planet of Arzor. A desert world that most closely resembled the lost plains of America where he grew up. He and his team, an African Black Eagle, a pair of Meercats and a 'Dune Cat' that appears to be mainly puma but with bits of others in her line, are eager to get away from the confines of the Central Barracks. It's also the home world of Brad Quade who, all unknowingly, has unfinished business with Storm.

When he reaches Arzor, he finds employment easily enough as a rider for a horse importer. As they take the horses across the planet from the star port to their new homes, he is introduced to the native Norbies, a people not too dissimilar to his plains dwelling ancestors in out-look, so he has little difficulty in fitting in with their traditions. Unfortunately he finds that he does not bond so well with other members of the drove team. And one member in particular gets on his case, inciting others in the team against Storm.

Along the way, there are many incidents where Storm gets to meet the inhabitants of Arzor, both intelligent and animal as friend and foe

Eventually, the horses reach the market and they're all paid off with their promised horses and Storm looks to his future - twenty square miles of land as a Terran Veteran and others offer him jobs as well.

But first, he goes up into the mountains with his Norbie friend to act as trail guides to an off-world archaeological team. What they actually find amazes even the rather phlegmatic Storm - a Xik cruiser and it's crew who were dressed as Norbies! Storm and his friend were disturbed by those in the ship and barely escape with their life ahead of the blasting fire.

They also rescue Brad Quade's son.

Needing a place to rest up, they hide in a cave where they can watch the Xik searching for them and hunting down other members of the expedition. When an experimental Xik weapon is used Storm, Gorgol and young Quade are blocked into their cave and have to find a way out through the tunnels at the rear.

It is soon clear that there was intelligence in the making of these tunnels and they soon find themselves in a definitely artificial cave system holding habitats from many planets including one from Lost Terra!

When they make their escape, they find that the settlers have been goaded into attacking Norbie camps by raids on their horses.

Storm's nemesis from the trail is one of the posse and talks the leader into taking Storm prisoner.

Quade's men rescue him and Storm realises that Bissor is not quite what he seems...

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