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Title: Wanted—7 Fearless Engineers!
Author: Tremaine, Frederick Orlin, 1899-1956
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wanted—7 Fearless Engineers!" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: This civilization was advanced far beyond any the Terrans
had ever seen.]

 7 Fearless Engineers!_


    _A great civilization's fate lay in Dick Barrow's hands as he led
    his courageous fellow engineers into a strange and unknown land.
    None of them knew what lay ahead--what dangers awaited them--or what
    rewards. But they did not hesitate because the first question asked
    them had been: "Are you a brave man?"_



From where Dick Barrow sat, hundreds of men were visible, occupying
benches in every manner of position. Some stretched at full length,
sleeping in the morning sun after a night in the park. Others sat with
heads hanging; thinking thoughts of their own.

Depression or recession, it meant the same to all of them. Some didn't
care, but others tried to find any kind of work that would fill their
stomachs with food.

For three days Dick hadn't eaten a good meal, and felt almost as low as
the derelicts whom he had for companions. He would have enjoyed a smoke,
but turned away as two men dove for a cigarette-butt; discarded by a

Anyone who could afford to buy a newspaper was an aristocrat, and Dick
watched until he saw one discarded. For three days he had been reading
them secondhand, but the only jobs were too far to walk and apply for.

His eyes stopped at one item in the column and a puzzled frown slowly
puckered his forehead.

    _Wanted: An Engineer. Young man with love for electrical and
    mechanical work, who is not afraid of isolation. Have some knowledge
    of engineering, but general experience more desirable than
    specialized training. Must be willing to leave country, never to
    return; for which he will be well remunerated. Have no close family
    ties, and willing to submit to certain amount of danger. Will be
    isolated with few members of own race, but will have great
    opportunity to develop mastery of huge machines. Come prepared to
    leave for post immediately, without preparation. Every want will be
    taken care of by employers. This position is for lifetime, without
    opportunity of turning back after having accepted responsibility.
    GREAT OPPORTUNITY! Room 36, 18 W. Morgan Ave., City._

       *       *       *       *       *

For a long time Dick Barrow gazed at the ad, mentally comparing his own
qualifications for the position--and they _seemed_ to fit! He was not a
graduate engineer, being forced to quit school after two years of study.
Three years later his father died, then Dick lost the job that had kept
them eating regularly. His love of mechanics remained insatiable, and he
constantly hoped for work which would allow him to use his knowledge and

He had no relations, and the _only_ girl had forgotten him, when he left
school. He heard that she married a classmate!

Dick was twenty-seven. Five years had slipped by since he quit school,
and he couldn't remember where they had gone. It was only six months
after his father died that he lost his last regular job. He tried
selling and was a failure. He had been carpenter's helper, plumber's
helper, porter, counter-man and busboy as the months passed, but nothing
steady. For the past two months he had been hunting for work, while his
few dollars dwindled to where he no longer had room rent. Then it was
the park.

His feet were sore and blistered from holes in his shoes, and he limped
with every step. It took so long to reach the address that there was
little chance of finding the job still open. It was not the first time
he had missed--for the same reason.

       *       *       *       *       *

He found that 18 Morgan Avenue was a dreary structure, appearing as if
it had been standing twenty years too long. The wooden stairs creaked as
he rested his weight on first one sore foot and then the other. Room 36
was at the top of the five-story building, and it seemed ages before he
reached the doorway. The only sign of furnishing in the room was a hard
bench, occupied by three men. Dick had to stand while his feet tortured
him, but it was hopeful to see men waiting--_the job wasn't filled_!

Suddenly a door at the opposite side of the room jerked open and a man
dashed through.

"Get out of here! The man's _insane_!"

Two of the men followed, but the man who remained on the bench glanced
at Dick, grinned, shrugged his shoulders and entered the door. A moment
later his booming voice could be heard through the thin partition,
although his words were not clear.

An hour passed while Dick waited. When the man came out, with a smile on
his face, he wished Dick luck and headed for the stairway.

Barrow felt a queer sensation as he stepped through the inner doorway. A
man faced him in a huge leather chair across the room. At least Dick
thought he was a man. Grotesque in every way, his body was small while
his head was twice as large as normal. He was light complexioned, with
almost white hair thinly covering the top of his enormous head. His
features were finely cut, with large aquiline nose. He was not
repulsive, and smiled in welcome as Dick hesitated at the threshold.
When he spoke his tone was soft and musical.

"Welcome, stranger. You have come in answer to my advertisement and I
will explain without wasting time. But first tell me about yourself."

Going over his complete life history, including the two years in
college, Dick came to the lean years when his father died. He hesitated
slightly not proud of this period.

"Go on, Mr. Barrow. It is not important to have been a success in
business, and I will not consider that in your applications. It isn't
what you _have_ done, but what you _want_ to do, that interests me."

He spoke with a strange accent, that Dick didn't recognize. But he was
pleasant and made it easy to talk.

When Barrow finished, by relating the finding of the newspaper and the
long walk to the office, the queer man was smiling.

"I like your frankness and will tell you about the position, although I
can't reveal the location of your work. It is not on any map, and you
will work among a race such as myself, with no opportunity of leaving
after reaching the destination.

"You will be given every comfort and advantage among my people, and be
required to work hard in return. There are several machines out of
commission which must be repaired and put to work again. After a few
months your work will be easier, although you must constantly watch all
machinery to see that it is in perfect condition, and does not stop work
for even a moment.

"My people use mechanics of greater size and development than anything
you have ever seen, and our lives depend on its perfect operation. In
order to accept this position you must be married. Your wife must come
with you, and be willing to accept the same living conditions which are
offered to you.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The man who left this office as you entered has a fiancee and has gone
to talk it over with her. In your instance _I must select your wife_!
You will be the leader of the workmen whom I take back. There will be
only a few people such as yourself, and you can never again see others
of your race.

"You will have power and wealth among my people, and every type of
entertainment that you desire. But remember that you leave your race
forever, with _no possibility_ of return! If you accept my offer you
must trust entirely in what I say about the future."

When the man finished speaking Dick was quiet for a long time.
Everything seemed so unreal, so different from what he had expected. He
must be willing to leave everything that he had always known--to enter
an existence which he didn't understand--without chance of return! Yet
he believed every word this man spoke, impossible as it seemed. But
_marriage_ ... with a girl he had never _seen_!

The man spoke again. "You hesitate about marrying; I can see it in your
eyes. But remember that _she_ must accept without knowing you, and is
taking just as great a chance. This I can say. She will be brilliant,
and I _could not_ trust you to pick out a brilliant woman for your wife.
Love would come first in your eyes. Other things would seem unimportant.
I know that you and the girl I select are apt to fall in love, as I
shall choose a girl suitable to your temperament."

Dick answered slowly, "I don't know what to say. I will have to live
with her all of my life, and if we are not happy anything you could
offer would mean nothing."

The smile spread over the strange man's face again. "I wouldn't worry
too much. I believe you could stand a greater chance of happiness if _I_
do the choosing than if you do it yourself as I can see more of the
future. If you are mutually likable and willing to understand each
other; if you are mentally on the same level, there is little chance of
_not_ falling in love. My race mates in this way, and it works out
better than your haphazard mating."

When he realized that Dick still hesitated, he was slightly upset. Then
reaching into a leather bag, hung from a strap around his neck, he
stretched forth a handful of bills.

"Go and get yourself a good meal. It is now morning. When two more
mornings have passed come again. Don't be afraid to use the money for
anything that you desire. This does not mean that I expect you to accept
the offer, but it will allow you to think it over carefully--without
thinking of your _stomach_. Buy clothes, a room to sleep in, anything
else that you want. Be comfortable and do not worry about what you
spend. If you refuse my terms, I will be disappointed, but will not
expect to be repaid."

       *       *       *       *       *

As Dick reached the street he shook his head. It all seemed so
fantastic. But the money in his hand was real money--and there was a lot
of it! Suddenly he realized that people were staring at the handful of
bills, and he hurriedly stuffed them in a pocket. When he was alone for
a moment he stepped into a vacant doorway to count it.

There were 14 twenties, 10 fifties, and three ten dollar bills in the
lot. Twenty-seven bills in all, representing eight hundred and ten
dollars. Folding the money carefully and placing it in a safe pocket, he
noticed a sign across the street. "SHOES," it said. He glanced at his
own, then limped slowly across when the traffic lights changed. For a
moment he looked in the window, then stepped inside.

While the shoe clerk was busy he carefully slipped a twenty from the
other bills. It would seem strange if he had too much money with his
feet in such shape.

The next stop was a restaurant. Then followed a trip to a clothing
store--and he left his old suit behind. With new clothes, shoes, and a
meal beneath his belt, he began to think the offer of the stranger was
far from fantastic. What if he did have to marry a strange girl? At
least they would both have comfort and companionship, wherever they

Barrow's first appointment was on Tuesday morning, and Friday found him
climbing the same stairs. He watched the papers but there had been no
repetition of the advertisement. Evidently the strange man had all the
applicants he wanted.

The outer office was empty, but when he opened the inner door, the queer
man was smiling just as Dick remembered him.

"Come in, Mr. Barrow. I'm glad to see you. I was surprised to hear of
your use of the money, but was pleased rather than disappointed. You did

For a moment Dick was taken back, then he smiled sheepishly. "I don't
know just what to say, Sir, I did so many things. But I didn't know I
was being watched."

"Every move you made was watched carefully, and reported to me. I know
where you spent every hour since you left here the other morning. I
wanted to know how you would act with money enough to do as you pleased
for a few days. You acted wisely, and I'm glad that you spent so much of
it on men who need it. You bought twenty-two pairs of shoes, thirty-six
shirts and forty-five suits of underwear. You also bought cheap suits
for nine men and several odd and end accessories as well.

"Out of the total sum you spent less than one hundred dollars for
yourself, and yet you have only forty-two dollars of the sum I handed
you. The remainder you used for meals and cheap lodging for the men you
have taken care of in the past three days. You have gone through a lot
of money since you were here."

Dick stammered as he spoke, "I'm sorry, sir, but I thought--"

"You thought _just right_! I _did_ give you the money to use as you
pleased and I'm proud of the way you spent it. But I want to know the
answer. You must have decided by this time. If the answer is yes, you
will bind yourself to a lifetime of work. If it is no, we will say

Dick's face lighted with a smile. "The answer is _yes_. I am proud to
leave my future in your hands--even to my marriage. I made up my mind to
do as you desire, and am prepared to leave any time you are ready. I
hope you have hired every one you need and that we will all enjoy our
new work."

"You're a brave man, Dick Barrow." There was admiration in the voice of
the stranger. "If you remained here I believe you would make your mark
in life, but you will have even greater opportunity where you are going.
I believe your decision will prove to be a happy one.

"You must stay at a good hotel. Reasonable if you want, although it is
not important. I will send the girl to you within a few days. You will
be married as soon as possible after you meet her.

"She will bring a letter and will do exactly as you say. I will allow
time for you to get acquainted before I have further orders. From that
time you will obey my orders explicitly and follow every instruction
without question. Every member of the party will take orders from you,
and _you must give them_!"

Once more Dick was handed a handful of bills as he prepared to leave,
and knew there was even more than the first time. But he would live in
constant dread of meeting the girl he was to marry. As he started to
open the door, the man spoke again.

"Use the money as you desire. It will be your last chance of spending
any and I want you to enjoy yourself as much as possible during the time
remaining. Do what you like for the men in the park or any others you
wish to help. If you need more money send a messenger to this room, but
don't come yourself. Don't contact me again until my orders require it.
Have a good time."

Dick felt that he was living a dream, but a very pleasant one. Just one
thought disturbed him. Who the girl would be--and what she would be


_Out to Sea_

The following morning an advertisement appeared in the papers, under the
heading of help wanted: woman. It was the same address on Morgan Avenue.
His heart sank! The man was _advertising_ for a wife! Now Barrow _knew_
he was in for a tough streak of luck. He read it carefully.

    _Opportunity for young lady. Must be of age, single, brilliant, with
    good family background. Higher education not necessary. Must be
    willing to travel long distance. Must not be averse to marriage with
    brilliant young man; give up all former associations, with no
    possibility of return; live life in small community of own race,
    with no possibility of communication with former home. Must be
    without close family ties, or relationship. Opportunity to live life
    of luxury and ease, with amiable group far from present home and
    civilization. Young lady who fits qualifications will not regret
    applying for position. Honor, love and security will be her reward.
    OPPORTUNITY! Room 36, 18 West Morgan Avenue, City._

       *       *       *       *       *

While Dick was eating dinner on Tuesday evening, a young lady fell
headlong in front of his table. A moment later she was seated in the
chair opposite his own. Ten minutes later he was ordering her dinner.

Afterward, as they walked toward a movie, Dick felt as if he was
committing a crime. He was supposed to meet his future wife--and instead
was entertaining this young lady who had fallen into his life. When he
learned that she was staying at the same hotel, they made a date for
breakfast the next morning.

Dolores Dunbar was good company, and seemed willing to spend most of her
time in Dick's company. He learned that she was as friendless as
himself, and wondered why they couldn't have met before he made the
strange bargain. But as the third day drew to a close she appeared

When she kept glancing around, as if expecting someone, Dick became
curious, and felt rather hurt to think she was looking for someone else.
Finally she spoke.

"I'm sorry, Dick, that I've made use of you the way I have, but I was
ordered to do it. You see, my employer told me to meet you and spend
every possible moment in your company. He also said that I would become
acquainted with someone through you, and that you would know who he was,
when I said I came from the large-headed man on Morgan Avenue--with a

For a moment Dick was stunned. Then he laughed, a sickly, half-hearted
laugh. When he found his voice it squeaked.

"I think we had better go to my room. We have some very private things
to say."

The queer man had succeeded in their being together for three days
before either knew _they_ were the central figures in the drama. Now
they felt farther apart than at any moment since they had met, but
nervously admitted they had fared better than they expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

They were married in the morning, to keep the agreement, but didn't
consider it part of the bargain to live as man and wife.

Dick found only one order in the letter, to be at the office at ten
o'clock on Tuesday morning. That left five days to enjoy themselves.

In spite of the stiffness between them Dick noticed how the light caught
in Dolores' dark hair, and how her brown eyes sparkled at each new
sight. Her head reached just above his shoulder, and he had never danced
with a better partner. She enjoyed his company, and admitted to herself
that he was a perfect gentleman.

During the five days they saw every good show, and visited every popular
night club. Things they had always wanted to do were packed into the
short time to themselves. Dick hired a car, and they drove for hours
through the country. When Tuesday morning came they were tired, and it
was hard to get up in time to keep the appointment.

When they opened the door, the big-headed man laughed at their yawns. "I
see that you've either _been_ enjoying yourselves, or have been _trying_
mighty hard. You can make up your sleep from now on, as it will be a
long time before we reach our destination. How do you like each other
for permanent companions?"

Their faces grew crimson. Finally Dick found his voice. "I'm perfectly
satisfied, Sir. I think Dolores is very pretty, and is _very_ good

He looked the other way to hide his embarrassment, as the girl spoke.

"I feel the same way. We have enjoyed being together, and perhaps when
we are better acquainted the stiffness will disappear. We both feel odd,
because we were required to marry!"

The strange man laughed out loud at this. "In other words you _might_
have fallen in love, if you had been allowed time to do it. But _having_
to marry creates an entirely different feeling. I believe it will work
out well, even though you feel cheated at the moment. But we haven't any
time to lose. Everyone is at the dock and we sail in two hours.

"Here are your instructions, Dick. From now on _you_ give the orders,
and I remain in the background. They will all feel more comfortable
under the command of one of their own race. Study everything carefully
on the way to the dock, then give them as your own orders."

Dick had little time for anything except to look through the sheaf of
papers. On one sheet was a list of seven couples, with stateroom numbers
beside each. His own was on the top, with number three room. This he
dropped in a side pocket where it would be easy to find. The remainder
was in connection with sailing.

Dick, Dolores and the big-headed man occupied one cab, while the baggage
followed in another. Dolores had obtained quite a wardrobe, much to the
amusement of her employer. But the man spoke only once during the trip.

"Everyone in the party must consider that they work for you, Dick. You
must hear all complaints and settle all differences. They must not
approach me for any reason. I am known as Morquil, of section one, which
you will understand when we reach our destination."

The crew was hurrying back and forth on the deck of the small ship,
taking care of last-minute details. A group of people were gathered
beside a huge stack of baggage, and Dick walked toward them without
waiting for the others.

Dolores went up the gangplank beside Morquil, helping him slightly. He
seemed to have difficulty in supporting his enormous head with the
slight body.

As Dick reached the group, he read the names from the list in his hand.
"Mr. and Mrs. John McCarthy. You are in stateroom number seven. Take
what baggage you can carry, the rest will be put on board." He called
each name and stateroom; they headed for the ship. John McCarthy he
found was the man he had met in the office, and he _still_ had his
perpetual grin. Evidently his fiancee had agreed to the pact for they
were now man and wife.

When Dick started toward the ship, after watching the baggage put on
board, he was stopped by a tap on the shoulder. The cab drivers were
still waiting for their money. Morquil had left everything in his hands,
even to paying for the motor trip to the dock.

It was a strange departure, with only a few people on the dock to say
goodbye. Even they were just neighbors of the passengers. Most of the
women on board were crying as the _Primrose_ nosed out through the
harbor toward the open sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dick was still at the rail when the captain approached. "I'm sorry to
bother you, Mr. Barrow, but I must know our destination so I can set the

The young leader's day dreaming was cut short, to jerk him back to his
duties. He felt that the lives and hopes of everyone on the ship had
been thrust into his hands.

Even the captain didn't know where they were going. The ship had been
chartered for a voyage of several months, to an unknown destination. He
and the crew were well paid, and didn't care where they went.

Dick drew a sealed envelope from his pocket, detached a slip of paper
and handed it to the captain. He read the note, then repeated it. "You
are to keep the destination to yourself. No one on the ship is to know
where we are going, and you will not mention it to me again. I hope that
we have good weather, Captain, and a fast trip."

Barrow felt like a fool. Repeating messages as if they were his
own--without the slightest knowledge of what they were about. _He_ was
supposedly charting the course--and didn't have the slightest idea where
they were going.

When Dick reached his stateroom (after answering questions from everyone
on board--and telling them nothing) he found Dolores sobbing. She had
kept her smile until the boat sailed. Now she was crying her eyes out.
It was not a new sight, as every woman on the ship seemed occupied in
the same way, with the men trying to comfort them.

As Dick sat down beside her, he could feel the throb of the diesel
motor. It seemed to carry the rhythm of adventure through the walls of
the cabin, giving the feeling of the unknown. For a long time there was
silence while Dolores held one of Dick's hands for protection.

"Dick! We only have _one_ cabin! I'm supposed to stay here with you--and
I _hardly know you_! Morquil told me that I must stay here, there are no
extra rooms."

"I'm sorry, Dolores. We will just have to put up with things as they
are. We've got into this and will have to see it through. After all, we
_are_ man and wife, and the people on board would think it strange if we
didn't occupy the same room. There are two bunks, so I won't have to
sleep on the floor. It will be a long trip, and we might as well enjoy
it as much as possible."

Days changed into weeks as the ship plowed steadily south. They stopped
at one port for a few hours to refuel, but there was little to see. The
ship was slow and it felt good to walk on land again. But no one spoke
enough English to answer questions.

It was the only time they sighted land until just before the end of the
trip, when small islands began to slide by. Some within a few hundred
feet, others just visible in the distance. Morquil hadn't appeared on
deck during the entire trip, but now he approached the rail.

His face lighted with an ethereal glow as he gazed across the blue
water. He looked like a man who was sighting his home after many years
of absence. Dick couldn't help but feel glad for him, while cold chills
of misgiving crept up and down his own spine. Their voyage was ending at
a far different place that he had pictured in his mind, and quite the
opposite of the description which Morquil had given of gigantic
mechanical development.

They were passing by small south-sea islands, where mechanical equipment
was out of the question. They hardly appeared _habitable_!

When the captain approached Dick, Morquil joined the conversation.
"_I'll_ give you the directions, Captain. Mr. Barrow is not feeling
well, and I can do it for him.

"In about an hour we will reach the island, and I will point out the
entrance to the harbor. It is well protected and there is no need to
worry about any storm while we unload."

       *       *       *       *       *

Every inch of space in the ship was packed with supplies. There were
crates of books as well as pieces of machinery. Considerable radio
equipment included assembled sets as well as parts. There were rifles
and even one small cannon. Several crates of chickens and turkeys joined
the other things on the beach. Then to the amazement of the party, a
crate of pigs appeared.

It required three days to empty the ship, and with each passing hour the
little party grew more apprehensive. It seemed as if they had been
transferred to an island to start a _new_ civilization, instead of a
place where mechanical development was far advanced. Because Dick was
the leader of the party, the others began to look at him with hatred;
Morquil was almost forgotten.

When the last piece of equipment was covered with heavy tarpaulins, they
constructed a shelter against one side of the pile. It was almost dark
when everything was finished, and the captain decided to wait until the
next day to sail. Everyone was invited on board the _Primrose_, for a
farewell party.

Dick was forced to call a meeting in the main cabin, to forestall danger
of the party deserting with the ship. Morquil had instructed him

"Friends, we are facing a great adventure. I'm in no different position
than you, except that as leader I am responsible for whatever happens. I
must take all blame for whatever comes, yet know that it will eventually
work out as we expected.

"You all know that it is forbidden to talk about this trip, or to
surmise our destination. I can assure you that it is done for your
benefit, and later you will appreciate the fact that you did _not_ know
the future. I can't say what the next few days will bring to all of us,
but be assured that everything you have been promised will be fulfilled.

"At the moment it seems impossible that things can turn out as we
expected, but they _will_! You must simply be patient, and do not lose
faith in this great adventure."

As Dick finished his speech, Morquil smiled, well satisfied. Dolores
even smiled faintly, although it required effort to overcome her feeling
of disaster.

The following morning everyone went ashore, and John McCarthy went
around trying to aid Barrow in cheering up the party. He lied like a
trooper, whispering to everyone that he had discovered something that
satisfied _him_ about the marvelous civilization they would reach before

Word of this reached Morquil, and he hurriedly called Dick and John out
of sound of the others. He appeared almost frightened, and the moment
they were alone, he spoke.

"What have you learned? I wanted you to know nothing, and it is better
if you are ignorant. Whatever you learned is too much, and may upset the

John started to laugh, then seeing the expression of agony on the face
of Morquil, he stopped short. "Don't worry. I haven't learned
_anything_! I simply tried to help Dick keep the people satisfied. They
were getting so restless they _needed_ something. In my home town I was
known as a famous liar, and thought my ability might come in handy."

Slowly the agony disappeared from Morquil's face. "Someday you will
understand how much you have done for me, John. You will never regret

The McCarthys remained jovial, and tried to keep up the spirits of the
others as the days of loneliness passed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Philip Jones and his wife were quiet, and waited patiently. Andrew and
Emma Smith had taken over the cooking, and served the meals. George and
Mary Martin were the youngest couple, and Dick doubted whether either of
them was past twenty-one. The others were all nearer thirty. They spent
their time side by side, gazing over the sea, perfectly happy in each
other's company.

Jerold Brown and Peter Yarbro were constantly fishing, from the
collapsible boat, while their wives played cards.

One night they were awakened by brilliant flashes of light. Running to
the beach, they watched in amazement.

They appeared like big guns firing just above the surface of the water,
a few miles away. While they watched they gradually faded out. It was
like a terrific electric storm, and the little party drew close together
for comfort.

When the lights faded out entirely, Morquil told them to get some sleep.
They would have to move equipment aboard a new ship the following day.

With the first streak of dawn Dick was back at the edge of the beach,
straining his eyes into the gloom, but it was almost an hour before any
object was visible.

After breakfast the ship was much plainer. They could see a rounded
hull, like the top of a huge submarine, above the water. One of the
women remarked that she would _stay_ on the island before she'd enter an
undersea ship. The trip on the _Primrose_ was bad enough, but it wasn't
_below_ the surface.

Morquil called them within the canvas shelter, as if to make a speech.
He held a small ball in one hand, and while they waited for instructions
it landed in their midst.

A cloud of yellow vapor burst from the object, and everyone in the party
slowly sank to the ground. Morquil joined the others in unconscious
stupor, a victim of his own gas.


_Strange Destination_

When Dick opened his eyes, there was a feeling of motion to the bed. The
strangeness of the ceiling overhead drew his attention. It was not
canvas, but shiny metal, almost purple in tint.

Suddenly he sat up. Dolores lay beside him. As his eyes cleared of the
lingering mist, objects in the room became plainer. They were in a
luxuriously equipped cabin.

Dolores slowly opened her eyes. A moment later she sat up beside him.
Glancing through the porthole, beyond the bed, she turned away with a

"We _are_ under water! And deep! I can't see a thing but strange blue

When Dick joined her, his forehead puckered in a frown. "No, Dolores. It
doesn't look like water, it looks more like--No! _It can't be!_"

For several minutes there was silence while he gazed through the
opening. Dolores had lost interest in the outside and was examining the
fittings of the cabin. It had everything that could be desired in a
first class hotel room, and many little toilet articles besides.

Suddenly Dick turned away. "_It's true!_ We're in the air--_or above
it_! Dolores, this ship is an _aircraft_!"

"Never mind, Dick, this room is _beautiful_! Whether we're flying or
swimming, this is the nicest room I ever had. It has _everything_, and
_look_ at the dressing table!"

Dick sat down in amazement, a smile slowly spreading over his face.
Dolores was happy--wherever they were. The room was all that mattered.
But he couldn't understand why Morquil had gassed them, and put them on
board unconscious. _He_ would have enjoyed seeing the new ship.

When a knock sounded at the door, Dolores was unpacking her clothes for
the first time since they left the _Primrose_. Turning the knob, Morquil
stepped in.

"I'm sorry, Dick, that I had to use gas, but I knew the people would be
afraid of boarding this ship. John McCarthy is down in the power room
already, examining the machines, but some of the others are upset about
the transfer from the island. I hope you don't feel resentful?"

"No, Morquil. We're satisfied. If you don't believe it--look at Dolores.
She decided to like this room the minute she saw it, and is unpacking

The worried expression disappeared from the strange man's face. "I had
the cabins equipped for women, as I know they are particular about such

"Would you like to see the ship? It will be your home for a long time,
and you might as well get acquainted. I'm sorry that no one but myself
understands English, but you will have ample time to learn our language
during the voyage. You must speak it fluently by the time we arrive."

As they started out, Dolores dropped the dress she was holding, to join
them. Curiosity overcame the desire to straighten out her clothes.

Entering a wide passage, they turned to the right. It ended abruptly in
a room with several comfortable chairs. Three tables occupied the center
in uneven positions, the underparts filled with metal-covered books.
Two men of Morquil's race looked up at their approach.

Dick returned their friendly smile. When Dolores smiled they appeared
embarrassed; but truly greatly pleased. Barrow noticed that one of them
was examining a book in English; the illustrations seemed to fascinate

A narrow passage, beyond the main cabin, led to the control room where
three men sat in swivel chairs. The instrument board was a marvel to
Dick, and he watched for several minutes. It would require months to
understand even a small portion of the gauges.

The ship was built with two decks, and a large hold beneath the lower
floor which contained the machinery. The strange men were quartered on
the lower level, with the exception of Morquil. His cabin was next to
the one occupied by the Barrows. The McCarthys were on the opposite side
of the passage, in a room slightly smaller than the one allotted to Dick
and his wife.

The quarters of the remainder of the party were smaller, but still quite
comfortable; all located farther back on the same passage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Morquil was proud of the ship, and displayed each section with pride. He
opened every cupboard door, and showed them through all of the cabins.
They were stopped for a while, when they met Mrs. Yarbro, trying to
dispel her fear of the strange craft. The others appeared to be taking
their new quarters for granted, and settling down for the trip.

The main cabin was toward the front of the ship, while the dining room
was at the rear; the staterooms on the passage between. One stairway led
to the lower level, from just back of the control room, another from the
dining saloon. A ramp beneath the rear stairway led to the hold of the
ship. When they started down, Dolores returned to her cabin. Her
interest ended on the upper decks.

Dick spotted John, bending over one of the machines, so engrossed that
he didn't hear their approach. One of the crew stood nearby, watching.

When McCarthy saw Barrow, he nearly burst with enthusiasm. "This is the
greatest thing I've ever seen! Why, it almost _talks_! Do you know, this
little machine actually picks up the orders from the control room, and
_adjusts every machine down here_! Darned if I don't think it's got a

When Morquil led the way toward the front of the hold, John was still
engrossed in the apparatus. "He will be a valuable man to you, Dick, and
can solve many problems that you would otherwise have to do yourself. He
will make an able assistant."

Passing by the heavy machinery, they approached an enclosed section,
which appeared to be of recent installation. Stepping through the
doorway, Morquil threw a switch which lighted every corner, then watched
expectantly as Dick examined the strange objects. It appeared to be a
colony of metal beehives, with covered passages between.

"It is our home, Dick. This room contains everything in miniature that
you will see when we arrive. Each of the smaller domes house thirty
thousand people, the large one three times that number. We are born,
live our lives, and die beneath these metal ceilings. It will be your
job to care for them.

"Everything beneath these domes is exactly as it is in our cities,
except that the machines are dummies. This model room was installed so
you could study our civilization during the trip. When you arrive you
will be ready to start work.

"You, and you only will have a key. You may bring any member of your
party here that you desire, but it is not necessary for them to
understand the entire civilization. There are only six cities, including
the large one, where you and John McCarthy will be located. The other
men will each have one dome under their control.

"It is easy to travel back and forth, and you may gather together at any
time, although each of you will have duties in different sections. While
you are overseeing the work in the smaller cities John can look after
the capital. Upon your arrival in Yorpun you will take complete charge
of all mechanical work. It will be your responsibility from then on."

As Dick slipped the key in his pocket, he felt the weight of a country
settle slowly on his shoulders. Two hundred and ten thousand
people--entirely dependent upon _his_ control of the machines.

Where could this settlement be? They had sailed darn near to the end of
the world in the _Primrose_, and now they were going even farther. From
the way the metal domes covered the cities, it might be at the south
pole, and still be habitable.

By the time they returned to the main cabin, it was dinner time. It was
past mid-day when he regained consciousness, and Dick was hungry.

Mrs. McCarthy was knitting a sweater for her husband, while three of the
strange men watched in amazement. Her knitting needles seemed to hold
them spellbound. The other members of Dick's party were sitting around
trying to decide what to do. But the sound of the dinner gong, made them
forget their worries.

Dick had to go down to the hold and call John, who was still watching
the master machine. If he hadn't been dragged away, he would have spent
the night examining the strange device.

The meal was simple, but they all enjoyed it. It seemed to dispel the
gloom from the party, and they appreciated McCarthy's jokes. There were
fifteen of Morquil's race in the crew, and all but the men at the
controls joined them.

Knives and forks stood at the places set for the passengers, brought
from the supplies on the _Primrose_, but the crew ate with long narrow
spoons. Table silver was evidently unknown to this race of people.

After dinner Morquil called them to the main cabin, and for the first
time told about the destination. All that had kept them from losing hope
long before, was his promise of greater comfort and luxury than they
could hope for in their native land.

"I know that some of you resent the fact that you were unconscious while
put aboard this ship. But I know you would hesitate to come of your own
accord. One woman said that she wouldn't go on an _undersea_ ship, and
she would be more afraid of this.

"You will be amazed to know that we are now leaving the atmosphere of
the earth that you have always known. _Our destination is on a different


_Morquil's Story_

For a long time there was silence, then Mrs. Jones fainted. McCarthy
took it without flinching, and his wife was satisfied if he was. Dick
had suspected something almost as strange, and did not seem surprised.
Dolores looked at him for guidance. He nodded reassuringly. The others
shut their lips tight, feeling that they had been taken prisoner without
hope of escape.

After a pause, Morquil continued. Mrs. Jones had recovered her composure
and was staring at him with undisguised dislike. "I'm sorry it had to
happen this way, but I would not have been able to take sufficient
people if you had known where we were going. Some of you might have
come, but I treated every one alike.

"I also was unconscious from the gas, but the crew revived me. I had to
look after the loading of the supplies, and have the cabins prepared for
you. It was much nicer that way than if you had resisted, and were put
on board by force.

"I shall start at the beginning of my story, and let you judge for
yourselves as to whether we have done wrong.

"The existence of my world depends on the perfect operation of machines.
Even our atmosphere is manufactured and kept at proper temperature
within sealed domes, to protect us from the natural gases of the planet.
We live on this planet through necessity--_not desire_!

"Our race landed there very long ago after escaping from a planet that
was falling into the sun. Their space ship ran short of fuel within the
gravity pull of our present habitation. It was difficult, but they
succeeded in constructing gas-proof shelters, and slowly improved
conditions for living.

"We never knew what happened to the other space ships from our original
planet, but they may be distributed throughout the universe. Your _own_
ancestors may be of the same origin as ours. The similarity of our forms
tends to prove it.

"Eventually metal domes were built, and the race prospered within. But
our lives depend on their being kept in perfect repair. Machines were
built which do practically all of the work in caring for our wants, and
from the first we have adjusted our own gravity; to live normally under
the gigantic pull of the new planet, which to you is Jupiter.

"Through the ages our lives became easier, and required less manual
work. Machinery did everything we desired. Most of them were
automatically repaired and serviced, while the permanent machines ran on
through the ages without care. As generation after generation lived and
died, under these conditions, we lost most of our former knowledge.

"When one of the atmospheric machines ceased to operate--we _could not
repair it_! Instead, one of the other machines had to be speeded up, and
the atmosphere pumped into the extra dome.

"At the height of our mechanical development this space ship was built.
Then the race lost interest and were content to live in ease, without
attempting to reach another planet. Three generations ago our people
discovered the danger. Even our bodies had deteriorated until we _could
not stand hard work_. The machines had begun to break down--we were
headed for extinction!

"When I was a young man they succeeded in finishing the equipment on
this ship. Three generations had been required to create enough fuel for
only _two voyages_!

"I was selected as the man to explore the strange world, which we had
been studying with the instruments of our ancestors. We had determined
your exact mechanical development, and knew that you were capable of
furnishing the engineers which meant life or death to our race.

"It is twenty years since I was left on the small island, and the ship
returned to Jupiter. At that time we decided the date for this trip, to
bring me back. In the meantime I traveled half way around the world in a
small metal boat, before being picked up by a tramp steamer, as I dared
not land near any civilized country. After I reached a settlement I had
to learn your customs and language, and many other things about a
completely alien people.

"I was furnished with an ample supply of gold, as we knew it was the
metal that you valued highest. This purchased many things that would
otherwise have been impossible to obtain, and also brought me a great
deal of trouble. I was robbed of most of the wealth before I had been in
civilization a year. The fact that a great deal was left on the small
island is all that made my venture possible.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I spent three years in an institution before they decided that I was a
normal human being, and could take care of myself. I dared not tell them
that I came from a different planet, or I would have failed in every
way. I learned many things about the people of your world, but mainly
that gold could buy almost anything.

"I lived for several years, by working at anything that I could obtain,
trying to find someone who would finance an expedition to the island. No
one would believe me when I said that I knew of a great fortune in gold.
I finally found a man who _did_ believe me, and he received one half of
the gold as reward. It was not until then that I could begin the work
that I started out to do, and nearly ten years had passed.

"I planned for several years before I dared try to obtain the people I
needed. I studied everything I could about your engineering, and found
that it was not of the same type as our own. For this reason I did not
want a graduate engineer, as he would have to learn everything all over
again in my cities.

"When I advertised for men, and told you of the wonderful mechanical
development, it was the truth. I did mislead you to a small extent, in
obtaining your promise to come with me, but the existence of my race
depended on your work. My people will give you anything you desire if
you will help them.

"When we left our cities, we didn't know whether we could even escape
from the planet in this ship. There was no opportunity of testing it,
until we started on the journey. Even the men at the controls had never
handled it. All of their knowledge was obtained by years of practice,
sitting in a stationary ship.

"When they left me on the island and returned to the planet, they
_hoped_ I could accomplish my purpose, but the chance of success was
pitifully small.

"I have never enjoyed the comforts of other members of my race, but have
spent my life in an alien universe, carrying around my big head; without
friends or companionship. The gravity within our enclosed cities is
lower than on your planet, making it easy for us to walk.

"After several years of study and planning, I knew there was only one
way of accomplishing what I went after. It is the way I have done it. No
one would have believed that I came from a strange planet; they would
have thought me out of my mind. If I _had_ persuaded them, I could have
found no recruits for the work, no matter what I offered. I _know_ how
anyone feels about leaving their own planet, where they were born and
brought up.

"You will find that the machines need work badly. Some of them are
running only because we use several times the normal power to turn them.
Our mining machines have not worked for more than a generation, and the
mines remain idle. The metal supply is running short.

"The equipment which overcomes gravity, also furnishes us with power.
When weights are lifted, with gravity almost eliminated, then allowed to
sink with the full pull of Jupiter, it creates enormous amounts of
energy for every use.

"It will be months before we reach our cities, and I hope that by that
time you will feel satisfied with your forced migration. To my race, it
was the only course which would avoid annihilation within a few

"At first it will seem terrible to be shut in beneath a metal cover. But
when you become accustomed to it, that feeling disappears. You depend
just as much on a ship at sea or a plane in the air, but never think of
it in the same way. We _must_ trust you, as we will not know whether you
are repairing or destroying our machines until we see the results.

"You will be given complete power and can draw upon my people for all of
the help you need. You will be even more powerful than the rulers of the
domes. My people decided that you deserved this position, long before we
attempted to reach the earth and bring you back.

"I came to your country because the mechanical development is greater
than in any other nation. You have greater love for engineering, and
more of you are employed that way.

"I have told you everything about my home and my people, and leave it up
to you as to the way you will act. We have only done what was necessary
for the survival of our race, and hope that you will forgive us for
stealing you from your own planet.

"You have complete freedom of the ship, to come and go as you please at
any time. You are now considered part of our own population, and we both
have the same interests. We hope you enjoy it."

       *       *       *       *       *

For a moment Morquil gazed into the faces of the small gathering of
people, then slowly walked from the room. There was complete silence,
broken occasionally by a sigh as some thought of home exerted itself. An
hour passed and they still had not moved. Each seemed to be waiting for
one of the others to break the silence.

Finally Dick got to his feet. His words came slow, as if carefully
weighed before using; the others listened intently.

"I know what each of you must be thinking; because I've been thinking
the same thoughts. We are all in the same boat, without chance of
leaving--headed for _Jupiter_! We have seen the last of the world where
we were born. Either we take up our lives in this new existence, or die
out here in space--destroying Morquil's race as well as ourselves.

"He says they can not survive without our aid. Our own world did not
need us, or give us much for our efforts. If it had we would not be on
this strange space ship. Morquil hired only people who were willing to
leave their homes and friends--and we _applied_ for the work. There
really is not much that we can complain about.

"For one, I intend to do all that I can to make our future home the
greatest civilization in the universe. Perhaps in the future years it
will be possible for us to pay a short visit to our former planet.
Perhaps our children will follow in our footsteps; enjoying greater
honor, comfort, and luxury than they could possibly have had in our own
world. I received little from my fellow men, and have _already_ received
more from Morquil than I ever had before."

As Dick sat down, John McCarthy's voice boomed out. "I'll follow Dick!
He's the boss of this party, and if he's satisfied, I am. _Boy!_ We sure
do go places when we get started!"

The general laugh broke the tension, and each one spoke after a little
hesitation. Each man slowly grasped the gigantic task that was facing
them, and felt honored as a result.

It was a new world, farther advanced than their former habitation--which
needed _them_ to care for it. It was a big bite to chew--but they would
do it!

Dick remained in his chair long after the others had gone to their
cabins. His mind dwelled on the complete happiness and satisfaction that
lighted Morquil's face, when informed of their decision. In that moment
he was repaid for a lifetime in a strange world, amongst alien people.
His return to Jupiter would be triumphal, with the earth people as his
friends; come to save his race from extinction!

Barrow's mind wandered on, to the gigantic task that faced them. His
would be the greatest responsibility, as head of all the domes. The
other men would have a single city to care for. The thought of McCarthy
as his assistant was comforting; he would be a great help.

The strange race of beings were putting every trust in the
earthmen--putting themselves at the mercy of the seven strangers--and
Dick knew the men would _earn_ that faith!

He jumped when a hand touched his shoulder.

"Dick, won't you take your wife to her room--she feels sleepy!"


_Voyaging to Another World_

During each waking period, Barrow spent many hours in the room with the
miniature domes. They were beautiful models, which could be opened or
moved as desired, by small levers on the foundation. Wires as fine as
hairs were strung from one spot to another, while metal the size of
thread represented heavy cables.

Slowly, an understanding of the strange civilization formed in Dick's
mind, and he drew sectional maps of the location of all mechanical
equipment. Other maps pictured the streets, so that it would be easy to
reach any desired destination. When this was done, Morquil sent one of
his men down to make as many copies as desired. Each engineer was to
have a complete set.

The earthmen had learned to keep track of the time according to the
system on the ship. Each "lix" included the time spent in sleep as well
as one waking period. It was twenty-seven hours in length, but they all
thought of it as a day.

Each lix was divided into thirty-six "migs." Each mig being just
forty-five minutes in length. They were able to keep track of each mig,
by their watches, although the time pieces were useless for any other

One lix, Dick returned the friendly smile of a member of the crew, and
to his amazement the man spoke. "Chickiboo." For a moment Barrow was
stumped, then realized that it must be a greeting.

When he was greeted the same way, by a second and then a third man, he
tried to imitate the words. The man from Jupiter was so pleased that he
almost danced, then spoke again. "Gootmording."

Dick's jaw almost dropped open; the man was trying to speak _English_!

Suddenly Barrow laughed. Morquil had been instructing his crew in the
strange language, as well as telling them to greet the earthmen in their
own tongue. He must speak about holding classes to learn the language.
They would have to understand it, and the sooner they started the easier
it would be.

The following lix, Dick stopped on the ramp to the machinery hold to
listen. McCarthy was humming the tune of a song that had been the rage
at home, but the words were "chicki-boo--chicki-boo--chicki-boo."

Barrow smiled as he approached, but the big Irishman didn't realize the
reason. He was almost bursting with news.

"I've got it, Dick! I've found the key! Don't laugh, but I've discovered
the working principle of this little machine, and it will lead to the
secret of all others. In a month I'll know how this crate runs."

"Don't worry, I'm not laughing, John. I think it's great that you've got
this far. I only wish the others would show as much interest. Not one of
them has been down here for more than a few minutes, and they know
little more than when we started."

"Aw! Don't take it that way, Dick. It isn't their fault. Didn't you ever
see their _wives_? Those women won't let the men out of their sight for
three minutes. Your wife and mine are different--they _trust_ us! If we
tell 'em the ship's okay, it's okay; but _them_--say, they can't tell
their wives anything. The women in their families do _all_ of the

Dick laughed, but knew that it was close to the truth. The other men in
the party _were_ tied to their wives' apron strings. Aside from Dolores
and Eileen McCarthy, none of the women trusted the space ship. They were
afraid it might fly to pieces at any moment, although they had overcome
their fear enough to find means of entertainment.

Small devices in the cabin showed miniature movies, with words in the
tongue of the dome cities. Discovering this created desire to understand
the language, and they eagerly attended the classes.

One lix Dick found Jerold Brown examining a piece of machinery. A few
lix later Andrew Smith had joined him. Soon every earthman was spending
his time in the machinery hold, with McCarthy acting as instructor. He
would accept no excuse for being late at his classes--and they all
arrived on time!

       *       *       *       *       *

Weeks slipped by as the ship drove on through space. The earthmen
learned to admire the men from Jupiter for their constant good-nature,
although they were slightly childish.

The crew of engineers were slowly learning the rudiments of Jupiter's
science. Barrow through his study of the domes, and McCarthy through
study of the machines, far surpassed the others. At times both men spent
hours in the model room, at others Dick examined the machines beside the
Irishman. They compared notes until each knew the other's findings.

Dick took all the men into the model room once every third lix, and
spent four hours instructing them in the civilization. Each man had his
own set of maps, and marked down facts about his future location. Dick
copied their notes on a large map, that covered all the cities. They
used numbers to signify different mechanisms, to make it easier to
describe equipment that was duplicated in more than one dome.

In a month they were able to carry on light conversation, and from then
on mastery of the language was faster. The women far surpassed the men,
due to desire for entertainment.

When he was able to question the crew, Dick received a terrible shock.
_They knew less about the ship's operation than his own men!_ They
didn't understand their own equipment!

The people of the domes were content to enjoy the mechanical wonders of
their ancestors--without bothering about how they ran. They used
equipment for every purpose, without the slightest interest in why it
worked. The earthmen suddenly realized what a gigantic task they faced.
_Seven men_--to rebuild a civilization!

The men at the controls knew what reaction would take place by movement
of a lever, but _didn't understand why_! Dick became slightly worried
about reaching their destination--it was beyond all reason. Earthmen
wouldn't have attempted to operate equipment they knew nothing about, by
movement of controls to obtain the proper action.

It was no wonder these people had found it necessary to find engineers
to run their machines!

Months slipped by as the ship moved steadily toward the giant planet.
Every piece of equipment seemed to be the answer to perfection. This
voyage had taught them more about mechanics than was covered in a
complete engineering course on earth. It was of a far different kind,
with gravity the basis of all operation. Even the space ship employed
some of the same power, drawn from the nearest heavy body, then
amplified until it reached enormous proportions.[1]

Peter Yarbro was a practical chemist, and spent many hours trying to
analyze the fuel. It was highly inflammable, yet could stand terrific
compression without effect. When it was allowed to expand again, it
reached the flash point immediately, creating enormous amounts of heavy
gas. He believed it might be duplicated from crude oil, properly

When Dick learned that there was a history of the space ship, in the
metal books, his curiosity was aroused. He could read the language of
the domes slightly, but not enough to study the intricate explanations.
It was through these books that the dome men had learned to control the
ship, and set the course for any desired planet.

Morquil's aid was enlisted, to translate the text, and he learned some
amazing facts. A description of the fuel was given, but the base for
manufacture was unknown, being of natural origin on Jupiter. As Morquil
read farther and explained sections that Dick couldn't understand, the
earthman felt uneasy.

The crew had abandoned all hope of returning to their home planet, the
first time they started from the earth. They didn't understand what it
meant to feel responsible for equipment. They manufactured enough fuel
for two trips, according to the rating of consumption in the books--but
Dick wondered?

The tanks were filled to capacity before the first trip, and hadn't been
tested since. The happy dome people didn't consider that their ancestors
might have been mistaken, or that actual operation might vary from the
original plan.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the first time in twenty years, the gauges were examined. Barrow and
McCarthy crawled through the dust-coated passage beneath the floor of
the machinery hold. They found a light switch, but the bulbs were so
dust-coated that only a faint glow shed on the surrounding metal. They
sneezed and coughed, as the dust-laden air filled their lungs.

"Darned if you don't get the craziest ideas, Dick. What good will it do
to know how much 'ship juice' there is, anyway? We can't _make_ it! This
hole wasn't built for self-respecting men to crawl through."

"I don't know, John, but this trip may not be as easy as it appears.
They've been driving at full force for months, when it seems to me that
less power might carry us when we're not within the pull of some planet.
I want to make _sure_ that there's plenty of fuel. According to the
books, the designers didn't expect the ship to be driven this hard."

John did a little cussing when they located the gauges, and found them
so thick with grime that they had to be cleaned. He headed back through
the dust for a cloth, with Dick's laugh following. "Alright, alright,
but don't rub it in. Just because you happened to be in front of me, and
there isn't room to pass, don't give you the right to laugh. Some day
you'll be eating your share of dust, and will _I_ laugh! I bet that the
domes are _all_ a mess."

Dick wrote down the reading of each gauge, as John cleaned the surfaces.
He couldn't understand the strange numerals, and had to go over them
with Morquil. Both men breathed a sigh of relief as they crawled back
through the floor of the hold, and dropped the trap door in place.

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later Dick began to worry. According to Morquil, the tanks were
_less than one-eighth full_. The big-headed man had gone over the
figures twice, and was showing signs of agitation as he checked them
again at Barrow's request. When he glanced up, Dick knew there was no

"The fuel _is_ low Dick. According to the other trip, the greatest use
of power is at the time we approach the planet, to fight the pull of
gravity. Our trip from earth is only half completed, with the greatest
need of fuel still ahead. You must think my race very stupid not to have
thought of it?"

It took Dick a long time to answer. His mind was searching frantically
for some solution. It was useless to ask help of the crew--they
couldn't even _think_ scientifically!

"No, Morquil. I don't think you're stupid, but I do consider your people
very foolish. From the appearance of things _we will never reach the

"Unless something drastic is accomplished, the ship will smash to pieces
on your planet. You don't know _anything_ about the ship's operation,
and we've only studied it for a short time."

They decided to inform the men immediately but say nothing to the women
for the present. Within an hour of the discovery, Morquil warned the men
at the controls to conserve the power as much as possible.

Every operation of the ship, was dependent on fuel. The generators for
heat, light and controls, were turned by discharge through the tubes. At
least _one_ blast must be fired at _all times_ to keep the controls
sensitized, and develop power for emergency equipment. The other tubes
were silenced.

During the rest migs Dick couldn't sleep, but spent every minute talking
to John McCarthy. There _must_ be some solution--_and they had to find


_An Engineer's Mettle_

In the morning the earthmen were called together. They came with smiling
faces, which slowly changed to apprehension.

There were many suggestions in as many minutes, but none that gave a
possibility of accomplishing the impossible. They had to stretch the
fuel--_without visible means of stretching it_!

The women believed the meeting was a routine course in mechanics, and
went on enjoying their entertainment. The men explained they were
bothered by a knotty question about the machinery to account for their
worried concentration. It would have been a terrible handicap if the
women discovered the truth.

Three lix passed with little change. The fuel had been cut down for a
while, but the ship didn't hold its course. Every tube had been fired to
hold the direct route for Jupiter. They were constantly cutting into the
meager supply that remained--_and had to overcome the deficiency_!

Due to the slight conservation of fuel the ship had been operating far
below efficiency, and the cold of space began to seep through the walls.
This affected the dome people more than the earthmen, and they suffered
torture. Any change in temperature was unknown to them, they were
chilled at a few degrees below normal heat.

Suddenly, during dinner on the third evening, Peter Yarbro jumped up
from the table. The other men fastened eager eyes on his face, while the
women watched in amazement.

He started to speak, then remembered the women, sat down quietly. "I--I
think I've found the answer--to our _problem_! If you will join me in
the hold, when we finish eating, I would like to talk it over with you."

Mrs. Yarbro was even more amazed. "Peter! I'm surprised at you. Jumping
up from the table so excited, just because you happened to think of the
answer to a _problem_! You ought to be ashamed."

In spite of his worries Dick lowered his head to hide the smile. If only
Peter's wife knew what that problem was, she might not think it so

Hardly a man touched his food, and as soon as they were out of earshot
of the women, he spoke what was in his mind. The crew heard him at the
table and many of them gathered to listen. For the first time in their
lives they were worried. Their lives depended on the earthmen before
they even _reached_ their planet.

Yarbro hesitated. "I'm not so sure now, that I _have_ found the answer.
When it came to me, I thought it was simple, but now it seems more like
a dream.

"Since knowing that the fuel was low I've racked my brain for something
that might be used--and it had to be on the ship. Every _other_ man was
looking for a mechanical answer, and my efforts would be of little use.
So I've searched for a chemical.

"_Water_ is the only liquid in any quantity. I discarded it so many
times that it left a headache, but my search always came back to the
same place. It's the only thing we've got.

"All other liquids are in too small amounts, even if they could be used,
and the ship is equipped only for chemical fuel--_in liquid form_!

"At dinner when I became so excited, I thought that water would do the
trick. Now I don't know. It has oxygen in large amounts, which is
vitally needed, but that's the only advantage.

"Even if we dared try, it might injure the tubes. Still I believe it's
the only chance of salvation. It's the one substance on board, in any
large quantity. What do you think?"

There wasn't a sound as the minutes passed. Each man searched
frantically for the slightest hope; searched for the _one_ chance in a

Dick finally broke the silence. "What is _your_ plan, Peter? You must
have thought of something?"

"No, that's just the trouble. I thought that water might mix with the
fuel, even fire with it. It was only a brain storm I'm afraid."

After a moment Dick spoke again. "It _can't_ be! Since there is no other
substance--_we must use water_! There has to be a way--and _we've got to
find it_! We might as well use up the water and die of thirst, as to
drift around in space until we starve to death, or die in the dive at

Twice Mrs. Martin came down the ramp to take her husband to bed, but
Dick sent her away. The men would stay there until they had found a
solution--_they had to_! The fuel was fast disappearing!

       *       *       *       *       *

Morquil still sat in the background. The other men from Jupiter had gone
to their quarters. He could offer no suggestion, but listened carefully
to every word they spoke. Finally he stood up.

"I hope that you can forgive me. In the last three lixs I have regretted
that I ever saw your earth. It were better that my people die, than for
us to carry people from a happy planet to die in space--because of our
stupidity. We are no better than children without cares or worries. The
men of the crew realized the risk, before they left the domes--but it is
not your fault!"

"Aw, sit down you big-headed numbskull!" McCarthy's voice boomed out.
"We don't blame _you_! We'll find some way to run this crate, and get
there in one piece. You just made us go to work before we expected. Why!
A problem like this is _simple_ on earth--they'd solve it in _no_ time!
You just go to bed and stop worrying. We'll have everything fixed by

Morquil's expression changed slightly, and he almost smiled. He started
for the ramp as if taking the words literally, but half way up he faced
the little gathering again. "Thank you, John. But I haven't forgotten
that you were a famous liar in your home town--and you haven't lost your
ability. Thank you anyway, you're very kind."

When McCarthy turned toward the others, he looked rather sheepish. But
the forced smiles he received made him feel a lot better.

Hours passed, while each man told everything he had known about water.
At last Dick stood up. "We've covered every possible reaction, and many
that are seemingly impossible, but have overlooked one very vital point
that will either help or hinder greatly.

"The fuel is subjected to terrific pressure. Naturally, any water that
was used would receive the same treatment. In the compression chamber
the pressure rises very fast, which must develop high temperature. The
result is that we would not have water--_we'd have steam_! It would be
almost _dry steam_!

"Water in the liquid form couldn't discharge oxygen fast enough to
affect the fuel, but as steam it might. There is a good chance that
steam may even _increase_ the explosive power to a point that we can't
even imagine. There's only one way to find out--_try it_!

"Every man here will admit that John has the most practical mechanical
brain. It will be his job to find a means of injecting the water in the
proper amounts. The rest of us can try to find any kinks in the system
that he suggests. He knows every piece of equipment on board, and can
pick whatever is best suited for the purpose."

As Dick sat down, John got to his feet. "This is one time that I'm ahead
of you. While you've been talking I've been planning a way to do just
that. There's an extra firing tube that can hold the pressure we want.

"Fuel for all the blasts is compressed in one chamber, then discharged
through any desired tube. If we put the water under the pressure, with
the hydraulic system, and let it seep into the chamber at a set
rate--_it might work_! Valves can control the steam perfectly, and
regulate the flow to whatever is desired.

"The tube will have to be shut off from the fuel tank every few hours,
to be filled. Preheating the water will develop steam pressure, and it
won't draw enough from the hydraulic system to affect the operation of
the blasts.

"What do you say, shall we try it? It means shutting off all but the
emergency tube for several hours, and it will be _cold_!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Within five minutes they were hauling the heavy tube from the storage
room. In an hour everything was ready to assemble, and each man knew
exactly what work he was to do. A pipe line was run from the water
tanks, to fill the steam chamber in position.

Dick was building an electric heating unit to encase the entire tube,
which could be regulated for any desired temperature.

Half of the rest period had passed when the chamber was finished and
they were ready to cut an opening in the compression unit. Perspiration
poured down the body of every man, but not from the exertion. Each
minute that passed ate deeper into the fuel. If water couldn't replace
the liquid, they were helpless.

They wanted to install the tube, while the women were asleep. The ship
would be too cold for comfort for a long time after the blasts could be
started again. When the heating units in the hull were shut off it would
become freezing inside.

Men raced through the ship, stopping at their staterooms on the way.
Dick dropped three extra covers over Dolores without disturbing her,
then slipped into the heaviest clothing that he owned.

Each man was occupied in his own room, in the same way. Heavy coats were
taken to the men at the controls while the remainder of the crew were
sent to a room with an emergency heating unit.

In fifteen minutes they were back at the compression chamber, and at the
touch of a button the blasts were silenced from the control room.

By the time an opening was cut in the heavy tanks, the cold had begun to
creep into the ship. The men worked desperately, and for a while
perspiration dampened their clothing. Then the chill crept deeper--and
they shivered. Their fingers grew numb, and they had to warm them over
a small electric unit, but the opening slowly enlarged beneath their

When the tube was fitted into the hole, and the metal began to flow
around the edges, even the torches seemed to throw little heat. Dick
knew his nose was frosted, and warned the others not to touch their nose
or ears. According to John's watch it required three hours to fit the
tube in place.

When they rang for the power to be turned on, they waited in vain. When
minutes passed without reaction, they glanced at each other in
consternation. Brown and Martin raced up the ramp while the others
waited. Within a few minutes the tubes began to fire and warmth slowly
drove back the numbing cold.

Water pipes had burst, and they hurried to stop the leaks. The main
tanks were uninjured, as the cold hadn't penetrated the big supplies in

Dick suddenly realized that Brown and Martin hadn't returned. When he
reached the upper deck all of the women were gathered near the room
where the crew had been left. The thermometer was only fifty degrees,
even then, and they shivered in heavy coats.

Every dome man was stretched out on the floor! As Dick stepped within,
his heart almost stopped beating--but they were only unconscious! His
breath escaped in a long sigh, after holding it for almost a minute.

Brown and Martin were trying to revive the prone forms. The control men
lay beside the others, brought there by the two earthmen. The eyes of
first one then another, slowly opened, and they looked around in
amazement. Cold affected them like an anaesthetic, causing complete

When the ship reached normal warmth, they felt as good as ever. It
hadn't been cold enough to freeze them, in their section, and not a man
was injured. When they understood what happened, the men hurried back to
the controls.

       *       *       *       *       *

The heavy coils were soon fastened around the tube, and it was filled
through a valve on the upper side. A gauge was set to register the
pressure of the vapor within. They decided to raise steam pressure
enough to equal the compression of the fuel.

It required fifteen minutes for the water to reach the boiling point,
while they nervously held their watches. They could keep track of
minutes and hours, although there was no longer day and night in their
lives. According to their figures, they now ate dinner at three o'clock
in the morning, and went to bed in the early afternoon.

They held their breath when the steam valve was opened. It moved slowly
under Dick's fingers, while a thousand questions raced through every

"Would it silence the blasts? Would it put them out of commission
permanently? Was that moment, and the turning of that valve, the end of
existence for them all?"

Dick glanced at the gauge on the tube, then jerked the valve shut. The
pressure was still far below that of the fuel. He turned the heating
unit on full, and watched the gauge climb higher. They didn't understand
the numerals of the domed cities, but knew the pressure was getting
terrifically high.

When he opened the valve again, the steam gauge _did not rise_! It held
almost steady. The hiss of escaping steam, sounded through the heavy
metal faintly.

The tubes began to fire spasmodically! Dick bit his lips, as he opened
the valve a little wider. John McCarthy wiped the sweat from his
forehead, as every face turned white as chalk.

_They fired evenly again!!!_ The steam was working through the
mixture--_discharging through the blasts_!

       *       *       *       *       *

They felt their bodies sway under the effects of acceleration and
exultance filled them. There was _some_ reaction, at least!

Morquil appeared on the ramp, his face lighted by a smile. "_What have
you done?_ The ship is traveling at _almost twice the speed that it was
before_! Is it all right?"

Dick sat down hard. Not a man in the crowd was able to answer. Success
had left them speechless. Barrow was the first to recover his voice.

"Are you _sure_?"

"Yes, Dick! We took three separate observations, and each showed the
same result--almost _double_ normal speed! Does it mean what you wanted?
_Can we reach the domes?_"

"I hope so, Morquil. If the steam has made _that_ much difference, we'll
get there without trouble. The water must be conserved as much as
possible--and hope that it lasts. Whether it increases the power of the
fuel, or simply creates an additional body to drive against, is not
important. _We're getting there!_"


_Jupiter and Trouble!_

The huge ship circled the planet twice, with the instruments adjusted to
detect the metal of the domes. They spread over many miles of the
surface, yet were like grains of sand on the enormous globe. When the
gauges quivered over a section, hidden beneath the mists, every one
breathed a sigh of relief.

It would be many hours before the ship was within the cities, but they
were _home_! Every earthman had the same feeling. Jupiter was almost as
much of a home to them as to the natives, even before they had seen it.
They eagerly looked forward to sight of the domes that would be under
their care.

John McCarthy entered the control room with a big tray of containers.
"Here! It's not liquor, but I'll bet you enjoy it more. There's enough
in each of these to _really_ quench your thirst. I for one, will enjoy
drinking all of the water I want, after five weeks on short rations."

It seemed impossible that the clouds outside could be deadly. They were
beautiful in the reflected light of the sun, yet those vapors contained
poison that no man could live in. The domes were the only place that
life could exist on the strange planet.

As they dropped through the heavy mists, it created a feeling of dense
fog. They could see nothing of the surroundings, trusting entirely on
the instruments. It was like groping in the dark, yet the earthmen knew
it had been done before, and the dome men showed no fear.

When a slight jar shook the ship, they breathed easier. _It had touched
the ground!_ They could feel some effect of the heavy gravity, even
within the insulated hull. The ship slanted down at a steep angle,
sliding forward with its own weight.

The earthmen didn't understand what was happening, but watched the
actions of the dome men. They were using a different control board now,
beneath the other panel. McCarthy was down in the hold, watching the
action of machines that had been idle until now.

When they stopped, the mists disappeared from around them. Lights above
outlined a huge metal passage. The ship started forward again and heavy
doors slid back at the approach with bright light appearing beyond.

They were looking across sun-lit country; the most perfect scene they
had ever witnessed. Strange trees, and growth of every description,
spread in every direction. When the ship slid into the open, they were
beneath one of the domes--enormous beyond their greatest imagination,
and exquisitely beautiful.

While they watched spellbound, people started across the fields to greet
the expedition. The women were well proportioned, and far different from
the men of the race. Not as tall as the women of earth, or quite as well
built, but their heads were much smaller than the men's.

All men were dressed in flowing robes, the women in much less clothing.
They wore tight-fitting garments, like bathing suits of metallic cloth.
They were happy and carefree, seemingly without a worry in their lives.
Children came romping across the fields beside their parents.

Minutes, slipped by, and the people from earth hadn't moved. Sight of
their new home was too wonderful to grasp at once. Instead of the gloomy
metal covering they had expected, the curved surface above was finished
in blue that resembled clear sky at home--as if they had reached the
land of their dreams.

       *       *       *       *       *

When their minds snapped back to reality, the dome men were being
welcomed by friends and relatives. The babble of voices came faintly to
the control room, from the power hull.

John McCarthy joined them. When the machines stopped, he came up to find
the reason. Now the others watched as he gazed at the beautiful scene
for the first time. Their own amazement was reflected in his eyes. When
he looked up at the curved dome, his wife slipped her arm around him.

They were disturbed by the crew, returning with their friends to welcome
the engineers. The dome people seemed completely happy. They were like
children greeting their parents, holding the hands of the earth people
and gazing into their faces with adoration. In their minds, the future
was secure, and they no longer had a care in the world. Eileen McCarthy
was so overwhelmed at the reception that she hugged two of the little

It was like a dream to walk across the heavy carpet of moss. There was
no grass, but the velvet coat of green was quite similar. The trees were
shaped like an inverted bowl, their branches conforming to the curve of
the dome above. They were smaller than the trees of earth, with very
large leaves.

The eyes of the earth people kept returning to the dome. It was hard to
believe that it was not blue sky, except for giant supports that reached
from the ground to the metal ceiling, hundreds of feet above.

When Peter Yarbro learned that he was in charge of this agricultural
dome, his pleasure knew no bounds. His wife couldn't wait to see the
home that had been prepared for them--and waiting almost twenty years.

A circle of buildings formed the foundation of the immense metal
ceiling, as well as housing thousands of inhabitants. The back walls of
the structures were always blank, toward the vapor beyond the miniature
civilization. Each city was a world of its own, with a curved horizon at
the top of the buildings.

In Yarbro's dome there were few means of travel, as every inch of soil
was cultivated. The dome dwellers were past masters at farming, and
loved this work more than any other type of labor. To them, it was a
pleasure that vied with amusement machines of other cities.

When Mrs. Yarbro entered her new apartment, thirty stories above the
ground, and stepped to one of the balconies, the view was superb. She
was not interested in the next dome, but wanted to settle her own domain
as soon as possible; completely happy.

The rest of the party entered an open car, mounted on a single track,
and started for the next city. Every object that moved was operated by
the control of gravity, and could develop enormous speed and power. It
rolled swiftly across the open ground, to enter a tunnel three hundred
feet wide, which carried all of the commerce between the cities. When it
emerged in the next dome, the imitation sky was the same, but only a
small portion of the ground surface was cultivated.

Small buildings dotted the level floor, which Morquil explained were the
entrances of the mines, unworked for many years. Jerold Brown and his
wife remained in this city, in an apartment as well situated as that of
the Yarbro's, in the first dome.

Hours passed as they moved from city to city. When they reached the
capitol, only the Barrows, McCarthys and Martins remained of the
original fourteen. The others were in their own domes, settling down to
the new existence.

Every occupation seemed to have been forgotten by the childish people,
to come and welcome the beings from another planet. They lined every
inch of the way, many deep.

The main dome was three times the size of the others. Supporting
pillars, one hundred feet in diameter, seemed vague where they touched
the ceiling above. Parks covered most of the ground, dotted here and
there by amusement buildings and theaters.

Cars whizzed back and forth, as people gathered to see the strangers.
For the first time in generations the amusement buildings were deserted.
Since their arrival, Dick had seen no sign of work, and finally
questioned Morquil.

"The people work one mig out of each lix, Dick. It is enough to carry on
cultivation of the crops, and keep the amusement buildings running
properly and efficiently."

Barrow was stunned. The working period would have to be increased to
three immediately, then four and five. They seemed to think that
bringing men from another world would do the work, and were apt to be
disappointed when he started issuing orders.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Dick and his wife were installed in their new home, and the
McCarthys settled in a nearby apartment, Morquil hesitated. The Martins
were anxious to see their own habitation, and looked at the dome man

He finally spoke with hesitation. "I have bad news for you. The Martins
will have to occupy an apartment in this city for a while. Their dome is
out of order. Trouble developed soon after the ship left here, on this
trip, and over a thousand people were killed. Every other city is
overcrowded with refugees.

"It started with a strange banging on top of the dome, which kept
increasing. No one knew what the trouble was or how to stop it, so they
waited to see what happened. It didn't sound as if the ceiling was going
to fall--but as if the banging came from _outside_! It was several migs
before they knew the cause.

"When a large section crashed to the ground, it was a complete surprise,
and caught the inhabitants unprepared. Soon the air was mixing with the
poison gases from outside. People tried to escape, and most of them did.
All except those that fell unconscious from the gas.

"Before the last of them reached the tunnel, green things dropped to the
ground, and started after those who remained. They had to close the
doors between the cities to keep the creatures from entering this dome.
It is the first time that anything has happened to my people, and we
don't know what it could be."

For a long time the earthmen remained silent. The troubles of this
civilization had been dumped into their laps already--in the form of a
terrible calamity. It sounded _almost_ as if some kind of life forms had
broken through the domes _from the outside_! Perhaps there was more
danger than could be imagined. One dome had been injured, if not
destroyed, and others might follow!

A meeting of the earthmen was called immediately, much to their
surprise. Dick dared not let conditions stay as they were, for fear of
future trouble. Action must be taken at once.

"We don't know what we're facing, but the fate of the race as well as
our own lives, seem to be in danger. The break in the dome might have
been accident, and the moving forms the imagination of fear. But we know
that over a thousand people were killed--whatever caused the trouble!"

The men went back to their domes to rest, and plan some means of
entering the deserted city, but were disturbed before they had time for

_The agricultural dome had been attacked!_ The pounding had begun within
a short time of their arrival.

One thing was certain, the injured dome had been _attacked_! It was not
accident that the metal ceiling fell. _There were living beings in the
gases outside their civilization!_

The first dome had been attacked just after the space ship left for the
earth, and this attack came just after its return to the domes. There
was little doubt that movement of the ship had disturbed the serenity of
existence. Perhaps the gas creatures hadn't known what was beneath the
metal hives until the ship appeared.

The banging on the agricultural dome, _had to be stopped_! A hole would
let in the gas! Rifles, that had been brought back on the ship as
curiosities, were given to each earthman. They loaded them carefully
while they searched for some means of reaching the trouble.

When the leader of the dome heard what they were planning, he showed
them sealed openings to a space between the sections of metal, which
hadn't been used since the city was built. The dome was constructed in
three layers, for insulation, and to give added protection. It was like
a maze, to work their way toward the pounding through the network of
struts. At times they had to crawl on their hands and knees, at others
there were clearly defined passages.

They were afraid, and not ashamed to show it. They were hunting
creatures which they knew nothing about--didn't even know whether
bullets would affect them! They might face thinking beings, or forms of
life that only wanted to search in the domes for food. It was not a
pleasant thought.

Every rifle was cocked as they neared the source of the pounding. Every
nerve drawn to the finest point.

Suddenly Dick stopped. He was ahead of the others and first to glimpse
what they faced. He motioned to use the oxygen masks, as he fastened his
own in place.

As they crept closer, light glinted on the giant pointed hammer,
operated from beyond the outer layer of metal. It rose and fell at even
intervals, through the rent in the upper surface. The ram had already
crushed through two thicknesses of metal, and was battering at the inner

The inside section was more like glass than metal and dim light passed
through, but the outer layers were opaque. When the huge ram disappeared
from the glow of light it left a gaping hole where it had been. It was
of material they had never seen and glistened with a brownish hue. It
appeared to shorten and expand in diameter, each time it struck the

For a moment they hesitated, trying to decide the best means of attack.
Whatever animated the ram was above their vision, and they had to be
close to the opening to see it.

Each time the shiny object descended, the dome vibrated beneath their
feet. As long as the vibration remained they were safe, but when it felt
like a thud--the metal would be cracking!

Thousands of helpless people were depending on the action of earthmen,
for their future existence. They seemed to think that it was only
necessary to _tell_ their troubles to these amazing strangers, to have
them solved. Stories about the use of water to drive the space ship, had
circulated throughout the cities, crediting the newcomers with
superhuman powers.

As the little party crept nearer, they separated, to approach the
opening from every direction. Dick was to fire first--if he saw anything
to shoot at! It might be a powerful machine, clamped to the outer
surface, instead of a being that could be injured. The glass globes of
the masks were clouding with moisture, and it was hard to see.

A thud came, that didn't vibrate quite as much, and the men could feel
the hair on their necks stiffen. It was now or never, and Dick fired
although he was still several feet from the opening. He fired at the
topmost section of the ram, hoping it might stop the hammering for a
moment even if it didn't injure the equipment. Two more shots rang out,
before the object could deliver another blow.

_It was alive!_ The heavy ram _jumped_ from the shock of the bullets,
curving convulsively to one side of the opening. Then it drew back out
of sight.


_Battle with a Monster_

Minutes passed, while the earthmen hardly dared breathe. Their ebbing
heartbeat seemed to almost echo in their breasts. Then the object
appeared at the opening, hesitated, and was thrust in!

_The hammer was a head!!!_ It swayed back and forth, like the head of a
huge caterpillar, and every gun fired in unison. Shot after shot pumped
into the head with rapid and unerring accuracy.

The giant head moved from one side to the other, while two gigantic eyes
peered around. It didn't know enough to draw back from the danger zone,
but muscular reaction finally moved it out of sight.

Dick crept forward, motioning for the others to wait until he
investigated. There was no need for all of them to enter the danger

He turned the flashlight on, that had been strapped to his waist, and
played it around the jagged opening, then climbed to the next level and
searched again.

When he crawled to the outer surface, the creature was writhing a few
feet away. He motioned, and the other men soon joined him, where they
could watch the creature.

They were standing almost on the direct center of the dome, where it was
almost flat. The flashlights penetrated the mists enough to mark out the
shape of the attacker, when they were all centered.

Suddenly they felt sick to their stomachs.

It _was_ a caterpillar! As loathsome a creature as they could have
imagined with its curled body, and the farthest possible thing from a
human being. A form of life that existed in the poison gases, where men
would die within minutes. The muscles of the creature had to be
terrifically strong, to move against the gravity of the huge globe.

Even at the center of the dome, they felt less effect of the neutralized
gravity of the interior. It required effort to stand on their feet. Some
effect of the neutralizers in the giant pillars, which eliminated most
of the weight of the dome, enabled them to handle their bodies.

The creature before them was accustomed to normal gravity of the heavy
planet, and even the metal of the dome was not beyond the pounding of
its hammer. What they had mistaken for a battering ram, was the brown
tip of the mammoth insect. From end to end it measured over sixty feet.
The men finally turned away in disgust, as it writhed in muscular

John McCarthy was climbing into the opening behind the other men, when
he happened to glance back. His flashlight dimly lighted the spot where
the monster had been, and _it was gone_!

He hesitated with one foot in the air, then realized what had happened.
The movement of the body had moved it farther and farther from the
center of the dome. It had reached a place where the curve was
sufficient to let it slide on the smooth metal. A moment later, a slight
jar was felt through the entire structure--it had slid from the man-made
mound, to crash on the ground below. Memory of that sight made a sober
return to the interior.

Before they dared rest, metal sheets were carried to the opening and
blocked in place. Then dome men welded them to the solid metal. They
didn't want to see any of those creatures in the cities!

Twelve hours had passed by the time the opening was sealed, and the
earthmen dragged their tired forms through the maze of supports for the
last time.

They were almost asleep before they could reach their own apartments,
and tumble onto comfortable beds. They had conquered the first problem.

Dick was awakened by an excited man, talking faster than he could
understand the new language. When he grasped what the other was saying,
he leaped from bed wide awake.

_Every dome had been attacked!!!_ The caterpillars were pounding many
spots on each one. They seemed to be trying to get at the creatures that
had destroyed one of their number.

       *       *       *       *       *

In that moment Dick felt like an old man. He thought of the space ship;
the only way of attacking from the outside, and gave that up. There
wasn't enough fuel to handle it, and the blasts might injure the metal
domes. His mind searched frantically for some way of fighting _all_ of
the creatures--and knew it couldn't be done.

He was racing across the open ground, while thousands of people gazed at
the banging overhead. Suddenly he stopped, then turned back toward his
apartment, running just as hard. There was a system of communication
between the domes--that _sometimes_ worked! It was not efficient, but if
he could get in touch with the others immediately, there was _one_

He tried frantically to get a connection, but it wasn't until one of the
natives helped with the intricate system of signals, that he heard the
voice of Andrew Smith. A few moments later Philip Jones answered, then
Jerold Brown and Peter Yarbro. Each man was given quick, yet explicit,

When Dick turned away from the phone, John McCarthy entered the room,
followed by George Martin. The noise in the city had finally aroused
them from their slumber.

John started to smile, but the expression on Barrow's face drove all
thought of greeting away.

"_What is it?_ I thought the people were doing a day's work--but
_you_----!!!" His face turned ashen as he ran to the balcony, George
Martin only a step behind. After gazing up for a moment, McCarthy turned
slowly to face Dick.

"The worms? It sounds like _hundreds of them_! We better work fast, or
they'll have the whole roof down around our ears."

"No, John. We can't fight them with guns. _They have attacked every dome
on the planet!_"

When full realization came to the big Irishman, he sank slowly into a
chair. "Then what? Have you got any plan--or are we helpless?"

"We've got work to do and plenty of it. There's a slight chance of
saving the cities. I've already instructed the others."

As the three men raced toward the power plant, Dick explained. John and
George were to do the work, while he traveled from dome to dome to make
sure the people were prepared, and see that the power plants were used
as he intended.

By the time they reached the entrance of the building, John nodded, and
Barrow turned back as the other men entered the door. The first dome
people that Dick saw were told to remove everyone from the buildings,
and gather them in the open spaces of the parks. _Leaving no one within
any structure!_

The expression on his face scared them even more than the pounding of
the worms, and they hurried to obey.

Dick jumped into the nearest ground car. He couldn't be bothered
traveling on the railroads. This happened to belong to the assistant
head of the dome, whom he dispossessed. It jerked crazily across streets
and parks, while he learned to handle the controls.

An hour later Dick was back at the powerhouse in the big dome. Every
city was ready. In several places the hammering heads had broken through
the outer layers, and were banging at the translucent inner ceiling. The
creatures _had learned how_ to break through.

The first worm that attacked, while the space ship was away, either took
its time or didn't realize what was beneath the heavy metal. These
creatures were working in earnest.

Heavy insulated cables ran from the powerhouse to the nearest metal
pillars, where McCarthy and Martin were working desperately to fasten
them in place. The booming voice of the Irishman had kept the natives
back, although they crowded as close as they dared. They were really
afraid, when the hammering grew plainer with each passing minute.

When the cables were fastened, John shouted to Dick, who was waiting in
the powerhouse. He pulled a heavy switch, at the end of the wires.

The city was suddenly in complete darkness, then it flashed bright again
as power flowed back into the thousands of coils in the ceiling
material. Twice more it darkened, when the giant switch was thrown, and
the lights came on again. This time it stayed bright.

Dick ran to the doorway, and gazed at the dome above. _It was silent!_
The people were frightened, and moved restlessly about. Twice more he
turned the power into the metal, and after one long darkened period, the
city remained bright. _No sound came from the dome!_ Either the worms
were dead--or frightened away!

Within a week the doors to the deserted city were opened, and the
earthmen passed through. When they glimpsed the interior, they stopped
in consternation, then started to laugh.

Huge worms covered the ground, and smaller editions of the same species,
crawled around them. _They were using the dome for a hatching place!_

They had only entered it to bring forth their young! It was not _brains_
that tempted them to attack the city, but the instinct to find a
protected place for their eggs. Since they had broken in, many of the
young had hatched, and were crawling around the ground.

Sight of the earthmen seemed to excite their feelings, and several of
the creatures started toward them. The men fired carefully, and the
forms squirmed on the ground. The ones that came behind stopped, and
some of the young tried to feed on the remains of their companions.

The sight was so sickening that the earthmen fired at every living thing
they could see. Several of the wounded creatures crawled up the huge
pillars, to disappear through the opening above, while the men shot at
their disappearing forms. When the last caterpillar lay dead, the entire
area appeared like a battlefield.

Three days later the gas had been expelled, and the hole in the dome
repaired. The population was returning to their homes, burying the
carcasses in the fields. The city was livable again, and they knew
electric current would stop any future attack of the strange creatures.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten years later, Dick Barrow sat on the balcony before his apartment.
His son John, eight years old, was playing with Dick McCarthy. While he
watched the boys, his mind swung back to the earth the little group had
left so many years before.

For three years they had talked of returning to their home planet, and
the evening before the conversation reached a climax. They were starting
in two months.

It no longer required years to manufacture fuel for one trip. All
machinery was working at top efficiency, and they could turn out enough
of the liquid in a month, to drive the ship back and forth several
times. Crews of workmen had been trained to care for all mechanical
equipment, and there was no longer need for the engineers from the

The day the little party (it now consisted of eighteen with the four
children), entered the space ship tears rolled down the cheeks of many
of the crowd. The dome people had learned to almost worship these
members of an alien race, and thought they would never leave. But when
they realized that their leaders were dissatisfied, and wanted to return
to their native planet, they aided in every way they knew how.

The ship was out of port for less than a week when the people became
restless. They hardly spoke, even at meal time, and for the first time
in ten years there were petty quarrels.

When Barrow called them to the main cabin, they came grudgingly, then
slowly the expressions changed. Smiles appeared on their faces, and
their heads moved with sheepish nods of assent.

"We're fools, and you all know it. We were happy in the domes, happier
than we ever were in our lives before. We didn't appreciate it and
longed to return to the earth. We wanted to leave, yet had everything
there to live for. We had comfort, every pleasure, and more friends than
we can possibly have on our own world. _I feel ashamed!_

"Right now we _wish_ that we were back in our own apartments, and might
as well admit it. The earth is not what we want, _we want the domes_!
They are _home_!!!

"The best thing for us to do, now that we are on the way to the earth,
is establish commerce.

"We can create friendship between the planets, but we are natives of
Jupiter! Our interests will always be with the dome people. We have
almost become part of that race, and they have given us everything in
return. They even gave us our freedom when we wanted it. _We belong

Ten years more passed, and John Barrow was beginning to help with his
father's work. Vacationing in Jupiter's domes had become so popular on
the earth that they were building another city to accommodate the
tourist trade. It was the third to be added to the original six.
Merchant ships were constantly discharging goods from the earth, and
carrying back rare metals.

Space ships from the earth, designed after the original Jupiter ship,
were searching the little known planets for minerals. Domes were being
built on three of the smaller globes, and pioneering humans migrated to
new worlds. There was danger, yes, but also fame and fortune for the
hardy people who would inhabit them.

The earth had changed a lot, since the visit of the space ship. They had
adopted the principle of controlling gravity, and tremendous structures
were the result. New buildings were several times as large as the
greatest structure of ten years before. Both planets had benefited from
the friendship, and both were happier as a result.

As Dick Barrow's mind ran over these facts, he smiled and spoke aloud to
himself. "And all of this in twenty years--it seems incredible!"

"What did you say, dear?" asked Dolores.

Dick smiled as he glanced at her. "It's nothing. I was just thinking.
Remember the night you fell in front of my table in the hotel? And I
thought it was _accidental_--you scheming gold-digger!"

The ruler of the domes ducked when his wife threw her book--but she
didn't throw it very hard.



[1] This gravity power was derived from huge weights swung on an axis
that could be faced toward any point in the universe, and the slightest
pull resulted in force that was exerted on the fuel. The explosive
mixture remained at constant pressure, creating a smooth driving medium.
Discharge of the fuel under high compression resulted in greater power
than could be obtained in any other way.

When the fuel shot through the tubes, it exerted force on the gas cloud
that was far above the actual speed of the explosion. The heat of
combustion was reduced, and the ship operated without effect from the
blasts. The tubes were small, yet the power expended was beyond anything
ever accomplished on earth.--Author.

Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Amazing Stories_ April 1956 and was
    first published in _Amazing Stories_ February 1939. Extensive
    research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on
    this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical
    errors have been corrected without note.

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