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Murray Leinster by The Black Galaxy

Murray Leinster by The Black Galaxy

Author:The Black Galaxy [Galaxy, The Black]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-09-04T20:31:33+00:00


CHAPTER NINE

War Basis

F

IVE minutes later Rod grimly cut off the tractors which had held an atmosphere in mid-space and an enemy spaceship with it. He found sardonic amusement in picturing the effect of that gesture upon the pyramid-folk.

The Stellaris still had a beam locked on the planet of the dead cities. Its power was low, but she would not be too many millions of miles away if she went back to normal space now. And the air she'd brought into the dark universe would return to normal space immediately it expanded beyond the force-fields.

There would be a sudden, violent, astounding irruption of vapor in emptiness, somewhere in sight of the planet And a comet's tail can contain no more than a mere few cubic inches of gas, which yet is expanded and ionized and visible as a trail of hundreds of thousands of miles.

A half-mile sphere of air, expanded suddenly, should make such a sight as the stick-men had never seen before. It should fill them with enormous apprehension, simply because of its strangeness and because it followed closely on the destruction of at least three of their ships.

If they investigated and found the gutted pyramid-ship, which should go back to a star-filled cosmos somewhere near the air-cloud, they should be more uneasy still. Because they'd find their ship looted only of sample objects rather than of all its contents, and they'd realized that it had been flung contemptuously away as worthless.

But there was that loot to examine. It was more than ever unfortunate that the Stellaris had no gravity. The booty floated about irritatingly and those who tried to explore its possibilities floated too.

The primitive-seeming condenser remained inscrutable, though its power-leads had surely carried an enormous load. The sample light, however, glowed brightly when connected to the Stellstris' power-lines. But Rod was scornful.

"Mercury-vapor," he said contemptuously, "with a phosphor in the tube around itl We stopped using that sort of thing fifty years ago!"

The drive was again irritating. To all intents and purposes it was a rocket with a jet-speed astronomically high because a pressure-beam was used on it The light-guns could have been made on Earth. The radar set had elements of novelty but Joe and Rod agreed that men made better ones. The vision-screen was not nearly as good as the ones in the dead city. Rod pushed himself away from all of them.

"They had a drive and a push-pull beam, both of which were quite within our reach," he said sourly. "Their power-supply is over my head and undoubtedly they had some trick for faster-than-light travel. But that's all! In two months we could wipe them out, given this stuff back on Earth! Since we can't get back to Earth we've got to do what we can right here!"

The other things taken from the ship, being non-technical, seemed less important But there were bales of soft lustrous fabric, which the girls of the air-plant oh'd and ah'd over. There were chests of prismatically glistening ware of unfamiliar shape — household luxuries of some sort and possibly tableware.



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