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Title: Captive of the Centaurianess
Author: Anderson, Poul
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Captive of the Centaurianess" ***

                     Captive of the Centaurianess

                 _A Novel of Primitive Future Worlds_

                           By POUL ANDERSON

               _The entire System was after Ballantyne.
             Earth wanted him. The Jovian war-fleet jetted
            on his trail. But mainly Ballantyne feared his
             big-bosomed, sword-swinging space-mate--Dyann
                the Amazon from man-starved Alpha C3._

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Planet Stories March 1952.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

    The hero is the child of his times, in that his milieu furnishes
    him with motives and means, and yet the hero seizes the time and
    shapes it as he will. And he remains an enigma to his contemporaries
    and to the future._

    Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the strange story of the
    three whose discoveries and achievements determined the whole course
    of history. The driving idealism and bold military genius of Dyann
    Korlas; the mighty wisdom, profound and benign, of Urushkidan; above
    all, perhaps, the transcendent clarity of mind and inspired
    leadership of Ballantyne--these molded our century and all centuries
    to come, and yet we will never understand them, they are too far
    beyond us and their essential selves must be forever a mystery

    --Vallabbhai Rasmussen, History
    of the Twenty-third Century, v. 1

       *       *       *       *       *


The tender loomed above the crowd of passengers and leave-takers, a
great shining bullet caught in floodlights against the dark, and Ray
Ballantyne quickened his steps. By Heaven, he'd made it! The flight
from San Francisco to Quito, the nail-biting dawdle as he waited for
the airbus, then the flight out to Ecuador Spaceport, the last walk
through the vast echoing hollowness of the terminal, out onto the
field--and there it was, there the little darling lay, waiting to carry
him from Earth up to the _Jovian Queen_ and safety.

He kissed his fingers at the tender and shoved rudely through the swarm
of people and Martians. He'd already missed the first trip up to the
liner, and the thought of waiting for the third was beyond endurance.

"Hey, chum."

As the heavy hand fell on his arm, Ballantyne whirled, his heart
slamming against his teeth and his spine dropping out. The thick-set
man compared his thin sharp features with the photograph in the other
paw, nodded, and said, "All right, Ballantyne, come along."

"_Se llama Garcia!_" gibbered the engineer. "_No hablo Inglés._"

"I said come along," said the detective wearily. "I thought you'd try
to leave Earth. This way."

Ballantyne's free hand reached up and crammed the fellow's hat down
over his eyes. Wrenching loose, he turned and ran for the gangway,
upsetting a corpulent Latin woman en route and pursued by a volley of
imprecations. He shoved aside the passenger before him and ran into the
solid wall of an impassive Jovian ship's officer.

The Jovian, a tall muscular blond in a dazzling crispness of white
uniform, looked at him with the thinly veiled contempt of a proper
Confed for the lesser breeds of humanity. "Ticket and passport,
please," he said stonily.

Ballantyne shoved them at him, glancing shakily back to the detective
who had become entangled with the indignant woman and was being slapped
with a handbag and volubly cursed. With maddening deliberation the
Jovian scanned the engineer's papers, compared them with a list in his
hand, and waved him on.

The detective caromed against the same immovable barrier. "Let me by!"
he gasped.

"Your ticket and passport, please," said the Jovian.

"That man is under arrest. Let me by."

"Your ticket and passport, please."

"I tell you I'm an officer of the law and I have a warrant for that
man. Let me by."

"Proper authorization may be obtained at the main office," said the
Jovian coldly.

The detective tried to rush, encountered a bit of expert judo,
and tumbled back into the crowd. Every able-bodied Jovian was a
well-trained military reservist.

"Proper authorization may be obtained at the main office," repeated the
immovable barrier. To the next man, "Your ticket and passport, please."

Ray Ballantyne dashed the sweat off his brow and permitted himself a
nasty chuckle. By the time the hapless detective had gone through all
that red tape, the tender would be well on its way.

Before one of his country's secret police the Jovian would have quailed
and said nothing. But this was Earth, and the Confeds loved to bait
Terrestrials, and there was no better way than by demanding the endless
papers which their file-clerk mentalities had devised.

The engineer went on into the tender, found a seat, and strapped
himself in. He was clear. Before Heaven, he was away!

Even the long Vanbrugh arm did not reach to Jupiter. Ballantyne's
alleged crimes weren't enough for the Earth government to ask his
extradition. He could stay on Ganymede till the whole business had
blown over, and then--well--

He sighed, relaxing--a medium-sized young man, slender and wiry,
with close-cropped yellow hair and features a little too sharp to be
handsome. His thin deft fingers rearranged his overly colorful tie and
straightened his sports jacket. Always wanted to see the Jovian System,
anyway, he rationalized.

The tender's airlock sighed shut and a stewardess went down the
aisle handing out anti-acceleration pills. She had the full-bodied,
pure-blooded good looks of the ideal Jovian together with their faintly
repellent air of hard, purposeful efficiency. The rockets began to
throb, warming up, and a siren hooted.

Ballantyne turned to the man beside him, obsessed with the idiotic
desire for conversation found in all recent escapees from the law or
the dentist. "Going home, I see," he remarked.

The man was a tall specimen in the gray Jovian army uniform, with
colonel's planets on his shoulders and a chestful of ribbons and
medals--about forty, closely shaven head, iron jaw, ramrod spine. He
fixed the Earthling with a chill pale eye and said, "And you, I see,
are leaving home. Two scintillating deductions."

"Ummm--uh--well." Ballantyne looked away, his ears ablaze. The Jovian
clutched his heavy portfolio tighter to his side.

The tender shook itself, howled, and jumped into the sky. Ballantyne
leaned back in the cushioned seat, staring out the port at the
fire-starred unfolding of space. The Jovian colonel sat rigid as
before, not deigning to yield to the pressure.

They came up to the _Jovian Queen_, where the great liner held her
orbit about Earth, and Ballantyne glimpsed her long metal shape,
blinding in the raw sunlight, as the tender swung in for contact. When
the airlocks joined there was a steady one-gravity as the spaceship
rotated on her axis. Whatever you could say against the Jovians--and
that was quite a bit--they did maintain the best transport in the Solar
System. Earth's heavy passenger and freight haulers were in tight
financial straits competing with the state-subsidized lines of Jupiter.

An expressionless uniformed steward took charge of the passengers as
they entered the ship, herding them to their respective destinations.
Ballantyne lugged his valise toward third-class section. He'd have to
share his cabin with two others--how had the mighty fallen! Thinking
over the decline and fall of the Ballantyne pocketbook, he sighed, and
the suitcase seemed to drag at him. He'd hit Ganymede pretty broke,

He opened his assigned door.


Ballantyne dropped his suitcase and his jaw. Within the narrow cabin a
Martian was struggling in the clutch of a six-foot armored woman.

"Put--me--down!" he spluttered. He coiled his limbs snakelike
around the woman's brawny arms, and a Martian's four thick, rubbery
walking-tentacles have formidable strength. She didn't seem to notice.
She laughed and shook him a bit.

"I--beg your pardon--" gasped Ballantyne, backing away.

"You are forgiven," said the woman. Her voice was a husky contralto,
burdened with a rippling, slurring accent he couldn't place. She shot
out one Martian-encumbered arm, grabbed him by the coat, and hauled him
inside. "You be the yudge, my friend. Is it not yustice that I have the
lower berth?"

"It is noting of te sort!" screamed the Martian, fixing Ballantyne with
round, bulging, and indignant yellow eyes. "My position, my eminence,
clearly entitle me to ebery consideration, and ten tis hulking

The Earthling let his gaze travel up and down the woman's
smooth-muscled form and said in an awed whisper, "I think you'd better
accept the lady's generous offer. But--uh--I seem to have the wrong

"Are you Ray Ballantyne of Earth?" asked the woman.

He pleaded guilty.

"Then you belon vith us. I have looked at the passenyer lists. You may
have the cot."

"Th-thanks," shivered Ballantyne, sitting down on it.

The Martian seemed to give the fight up as a bad job and allowed
himself to be placed on the upper bunk. "To tink of it," he squeaked.
"Tat I, te great Urushkidan of Ummunashektaru, should be man-handled by
a sabage who does not know a logaritm from an exponent!"

Urushkidan. Ballantyne knew the name of the Martian mathematician, the
latter-day Gauss or Einstein, and stared as if this were the first
Martian he had seen in his life. Urushkidan looked like any other of
his race, at least to the inexperienced eye. A great gray-skinned
cupola of a body balanced four feet high on the walking-tentacles, with
the two slim, three-fingered arm-tentacles writhing from either side
of a wide lipless mouth set beneath that torse. Big unwinking eyes
behind horn-rimmed spectacles, flat nose, elephantine ears--"Not _the_
Urushkidan?" he gasped.

"Tere is only _one_ Urushkidan," said the Martian.

       *       *       *       *       *

The amazon sat down on her own bunk and laughed, a Homeric shout of
laughter ringing between the metal walls and shivering the furniture.
"Velcome, little Earthman," she cried. "You are cute, I think I vill
like you. I am Dyann Korlas of Kathantuma." She grabbed his hand in a
bone-cracking grip.

"One of the Centaurians," said Ballantyne feebly.

"Yes, so you call us." She opened her trunk and began unpacking.
Ballantyne watched her with appreciation and some curiosity. He'd only
seen the Alpha Centaurian visitors on television before now.

She looked human enough externally, aside from a somewhat different
convolution of the ears. Internally there were plenty of peculiarities,
among them a skeletal and tissue structure considerably harder and
denser than that of Homo Solis. Alpha Centauri III--or Varann, as its
more advanced nation had decided to call it after learning from the
terrestrial explorers that it was a planet--was Earth-like enough in a
cool and bracing way, but it had half again the surface gravity.

Sexual differentiation also varied a bit from the Solar norm. The
Centaurian men were somewhat smaller and weaker than the women. They
stayed at home and did the housework while their wives conducted the
business. In the warlike culture of Kathantuma and its neighbor states
that meant going out, cutting the other army into hamburger, and
stealing everything which wasn't bolted down.

This--Dyann Korlas--was something to write home about as far as looks
went. Her size and the broadsword at her waist were intimidating, but
her build was magnificent in a statuesque, tiger-lithe way. She looked
young, her skin smooth, and faintly golden, a heavy mass of shining
bronze hair coiled about the haughtily lifted head. Her face was close
to the ideal of an ancient Hellenic sculptor, clean straight lines,
firm jaw, brilliant gray eyes under heavy brows. She wore a light
cuirass over her tunic, sandals, a bat-winged helmet on her head.

"It--ah--it's strange they'd put you in the same cabin with me," said
Ballantyne hesitantly.

"Oh, you are safe enough," she grinned.

He flushed, reflecting that the ladies from Centauri were in little
danger from any Solar man. Very likely it was the other way around.
Then he recalled that their native titles translated into things
like warrior, district-ruler, chief, and so on. With their arrogant
indifference to mere exploration and ethnology, the Jovians had
probably assumed that Dyann Korlas was male. Well, he wasn't going to
enlighten them.

He looked up to Urushkidan, who was morosely stuffing a big-bowled
pipe. "Ah, I know of your work, of course," he said hesitantly. "I
am--was--a nuclear engineer, so maybe I even have some appreciation of
what it's about."

The Martian preened. "Doubtless you have grasped it bery well," he said
generously. "As well as any Eartman could, which is, of course, saying
bery little."

"But, if I may ask, sir, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, I have an inbitation from te Jobian Academy of Science to lecture.
Tey are commendably interested and seem to realise my fundamental
importance. I will be glad to get off Eart. Te air pressure, te
gravity, pfui!"

"But a man, uh, Martian of your distinction--traveling third class--"

"Oh, they sent me a first-class ticket, of course. But I turned
it in, bought a tird class, and banked te difference." He scowled
darkly at Dyann Korlas. "Tough if I must be treated so--Well." He
shrugged. A Martian shrugging is quite a sight. "It is of no matter.
We of Uttu--Mars as you insist on calling it--are so incomparably far
advanced in te philosophic virtues of serenity, generosity, and modesty
tat I can accept wit equanimity."

"Oh," said Ballantyne. To the Centaurian, "And may I ask why you are
going to Jupiter--ah--Miss Korlas?"

"You may call me Dyann," she said sweetly, "and I vill call you
Ray, so? I vish only to see Yupiter, though I doubt it vill be as
glamorous as Earth." Her eyes glowed. "You live in a fable. The flyin
and travelin machines, auto--automatic kitchens, television, clocks an
vatches, exotic dress. Aah, it vas vorth ten years travelin yust to see

       *       *       *       *       *

Ballantyne reflected on what he knew of Alpha Centauri. Even the
fantastically fast new exploratory ships took ten years to cross the
interstellar gulf to its wild planets, and there had only been three
expeditions so far. The third had brought back a group of curious
natives who were to report to their queen what the strangers' homeland
was like.

He imagined that the spacemen had had quite a time, with that score of
turbulent barbarians crammed into a narrow hull though of course they'd
passed almost the whole voyage in suspended animation. The visitors
had spent about a year now on Earth and Luna, staring, asking endless
questions, wondering what their hosts did with themselves now that the
U. N. had brought the nations together and ended war. There hadn't
been much trouble. Occasionally one of them would get mad and break
somebody's jaw, and then there'd been the one who was invited to speak
at a women's club.... He chuckled to himself.

"Are these Yovians humans like you?" asked Dyann.

"Uh-huh," he nodded. "The moons were colonized from Earth about a
hundred and twenty-five years ago. They declared their independence
about sixty years past, and nobody thought it was worth the trouble to
fight about it. Though maybe we should have."

"Vy that?"

"Oh well, the colonists were misfits originally, remnants of the
old Eurasian militarisms. They did do heroic work in settling and
developing the Jovian System, but they live under a dictatorship
and make no bones about despising Earth and considering themselves
the destined rulers of all the planets. Last year they grabbed the
Saturnian colonies on the thinnest of pretexts, and Earth was too
chicken-livered to do more than give them a reproachful look. Not that
the U. N. has much of a navy these days, compared to theirs."

Dyann shrugged and went on unpacking. She hung an extra sword on the
wall, unshipped her armor and put it up, and slipped into a loose
fur-trimmed robe. Urushkidan slithered to the floor and opened his
own trunk, pulling out a score of fat books which he placed on the
shelf over his bunk and expropriated the little table for his papers,
pencils, and humidor.

"You know--ah--Dr. Urushkidan--" said Ballantyne uneasily, "I wish you
weren't going to Jupiter."

"And why not?" asked the Martian belligerently.

"Well, doesn't your reformulation of general relativity indicate a way
to build a ship which can go faster than light?"

"Among oter tings, yes." Urushkidan blew a malodorous cloud of smoke.

"Well, I don't think the Jovians are interested in science for its own
sake. I think they want to get you and your knowledge so they can build
such ships themselves which would be the last thing they need to take
over the Solar System."

"A Martian," said Urushkidan condescendingly, "is not concerned wit te
squabblings of te lower animals. Noting personal, of course."

Dyann pulled an idol from her trunk and put it on her shelf. It was a
small wooden image, gaudily painted and fiercely tusked, each of its
six arms holding some weapon. One, Ballantyne noticed, was a carved
Terrestrial tommy-gun. "Qviet, please," she said, raising one arm. "I
am about to pray to Ormun the Terrible."

"Barbarian," guffawed Urushkidan.

Dyann took a pillow and stuffed it in his mouth. "Qviet, please, I
said." She smiled gently and prostrated herself before the god.

After a while she got up. Urushkidan was still speechless with rage.
She turned to Ballantyne and asked, "Do the ships here carry live
animals? I vould like to make a small sacrifice too."


The bulletin board said that in the present orbital positions of the
planets, the _Jovian Queen_ would make her voyage at one Earth-gravity
acceleration in six days, forty-three minutes, and twelve seconds, plus
or minus ten seconds. That might be pure braggadocio, though Ballantyne
wouldn't have been surprised to learn that it was sober truth. He hoped
the time was overestimated. His cabin mates were a little wearing on
the nerves. Urushkidan filling the room with smoke, sitting up till all
hours covering paper with mathematical symbols and screaming at any
interruption. Dyann was nice-looking but rather overwhelming. In some
ways she was reminiscent of Catherine Vanbrugh. The Engineer shuddered.

He slouched moodily into the bar and ordered a martini he could ill
afford. The place was quiet, discreetly lit, not very full. His eyes
fell on the stiff-laced Jovian colonel, still clutching his portfolio
like grim death, but talking with unusual animation to a stunning
Terrestrial redhead. It was clear that ideas about the purity of the
Jovian stock--"hardened in the fire and ice of outer space, tempered
and beaten into the new and dominant mankind"--had been temporarily

If I had some money, thought Ballantyne gloomily, I could detach her
from him and enjoy this trip.

The bartender informed him, with some awe, that the man was Colonel
Ivan Hosea Domenico Roshevsky-Feldkamp, late military attaché of
Jupiter's Terrestrial embassy and an officer who had served with
distinction in suppressing the Ionian revolt and in asserting Jupiter's
rightful claims to Saturn. Ray was more interested in the girl's name
and antecedents. Just as he'd thought, an heiress on a pleasure trip.

A couple of genial Earthmen moved up and began talking to him. Before
long they suggested a friendly game of poker.

Oh-ho! thought Ray, who knew that sort. "Sure," he said.

They played most of the time for a couple of days. Luck went back
and forth but in general Ray won, and toward the end he was a couple
of thousand U. N. credits to the good. He let his eyes glitter with
febrile cupidity, and the sharks--there were three of them all
told--almost licked their lips.

"Excuse me a minute," said Ray, pocketing his winnings. "I'll be back,
and then we'll play for real stakes."

"You bet," said the sharks. They sat back, lit anticipatory cigars, and

And waited.

And waited.

Ray found the redhead remarkably easy to pry from the colonel.

The girl thought it would be just too much fun to go slumming and have
the captain's dinner with him in the third-class saloon. He led her
down the thrumming corridor, thinking wistfully that before he knew it
he'd be in Ganymede City and as broke as he'd been to start with.

Urushkidan crawled slowly by, waving an idle tentacle at him. The
Martian walking system was awkward under Earth gravity and, their table
manners being worse than atrocious, they ate in a separate section. It
was Dyann who really started the trouble. She strode up behind Ray and
clapped a heavy hand on his shoulder.

"Vere have you been?" she asked reproachfully. "You have not been in
our cabin for two days and nights now."

The redhead blushed.

"Oh hullo, Dyann," said Ray, annoyed. "I'll see you later."

"Of course you vill." She smiled. "Ah, you dashin' glamorous Earthmen,
you make me feel so small and veak." She topped him by a good two

They came into the doorway of the saloon and three familiar figures
barred Ray's passage.

"What the hell became of you, Ballantyne?" demanded one. His geniality
was quite gone. "You was going to play some more with us."

"I forgot," said Ray huskily. The three men looked bigger than they
had, somehow.

"It's not sporting to quit when you're so far ahead," said another.

"Yeah," said a third. "You ought at least to give us our money back."

"I haven't got it," said Ray.

"Look, pal, things happen to people that ain't good sports. They ain't
very pop-u-lar, and things happen to them. Where's that money?"

They crowded in, hemming him against the wall. Beyond them, he could
see Colonel Roshevsky-Feldkamp staring coldly at the tableau. Ray
wondered if he hadn't put the players up to this. They wouldn't have
dared start trouble without some kind of _sub rosa_ official hint.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Come on back to our cabin and we'll talk this over, pal."

The redhead squeaked and shrank aside. A meaty hand closed on Ray's arm
and dragged him half off his feet. Dyann bristled, one hand clapped to
her sword. "Are these men annoyin' you, Ray?" she asked.

"No, we just want a quiet little private talk with our friend," said
one of them. "Just come along easy, Ballantyne."

"Dyann, I think they are annoying me," said the engineer, the words
rattling in a suddenly dry and tightened throat.

"Oh, vell, in that case--" She smiled, reached out, and grabbed a

There was a minor explosion. The man catapulted into the air, hit the
ceiling, caromed off a wall, and bounced on the floor. Sheer reflex
sent knives flying into the hands of the other two.

"Ormun is good!" shouted Dyann joyously. She gave the nearest gambler a
fistful of knuckles, tossed him into the air, clutched his ankles as he
came down, and whirled him against the wall.

The third was stabbing at her back. Blindly, Ray grabbed his arm and
pulled him away. He snarled and lunged at the engineer, who tumbled
backward clutching after the nearest weapon. It happened to be Colonel
Roshevsky-Feldkamp's massive briefcase. He grabbed it free and brought
it down on the gambler's head. It hit with a dull _thwack_ and the
fellow lurched. Ray hit him again. The briefcase burst open and papers
snowed through the air. Then Dyann got the enemy from behind and
proceeded to tie him in knots.

The redhead had already departed, screaming. Ray sank to one shaky knee
and looked up into the colonel's livid face.

"I'm terribly sorry, sir," he gasped. "Here, let me help--"

He began stuffing papers back into the briefcase. A polished boot
hit him where it would do the most good and he skidded through the
disorderly mass. "You unutterable fool!" raged the voice above him.

"You vould kick my friend, huh?" asked Dyann indignantly.

A revolver clanked from the colonel's belt. "That will do," he snapped.
"Consider yourself under arrest."

Dyann's broad smooth shoulders sagged a little. "I am so sorry," she
said meekly. "Let me help yust a litle." She stooped and picked up one
of the unconscious men.

"March!" rapped the colonel.

"Yes, sir," whispered Dyann abjectly. Then, being almost next to him,
she rammed her burden into his belly. He sat down with a thunderous
_oof_ and Dyann kicked him behind the ear.

"That vas fun," she grinned, picking up the revolver and sticking it
into her belt. "Vat shall ve do now?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"You," said Urushkidan acidly, "are a typical human."

Ray looked despairingly out of the brig at him. "What else could I do?"
he asked wildly. "I couldn't fight a shipful of Jovians. It was all I
could do to talk Dyann into surrendering."

"I mean in fighting in te first place," said Urushkidan. "I hear it
started over a female. Why don't you lower animals habe a regular
rutting season as we do on Uttu? Ten you could spend time tinking of
someting else too, someting constructive."

"Well--" Ray couldn't suppress a wry smile, "those are constructive
thoughts, of a sort. But what happened to Dyann?"

"Oh, tey questioned her, found she couldn't read, and let her go. But
tey won't let her see you."

"I suppose Earth would raise more of a stink over her being arrested
than it's worth to the Jovians. But what's her literacy got to do with

"Te colonel's papers, you idiot. Tey are bery secret. Doubtless tey
are information about Eart's defenses, obtained by his spies and to be
brought home by him in person."

"But I didn't read them either!"

"You saw tem. Tey are implanted in your subconscious memories and
a hypnotreatment could extract tem. An illiterate like Dyann lacks
te word-gestalts, she would not remember eben subconsciously, but
you--Well, tat is luck. Maybe Eart can sabe you."

"Oh, no!" Ray clutched his head. "They won't bother. They don't give a
damn. I'm wanted back there, and old Vanbrugh will be only too pleased
to see me get the works."

"Banbrugh--te Nort American Councillor?"

"Uh-huh." Ray leaned gloomily against the door. "I was just a plain
ordinary engineer till Uncle Hosmer left me a million credits. Damn
him, I hope he fries in hell."

"A man left you money and you don't like it?" Urushkidan's eyes bugged
so they seemed in some danger of falling out. "Shalmuannusar, what did
you do wit it?"

"I spent it. I spent damn near every millo in a year."

"On _what_?"

"Oh, wine, women, song--the usual."

Urushkidan clapped his tentacles to his eyes and groaned. "A million

"It got me into high society," went on Ray. "I made out as if I had
more than I did. I met Catherine Vanbrugh--that's the Councillor's
daughter--and she got ideas that I might make a good fifth husband,
or would it be the sixth? Well, she wasn't a bad-looking wench, and
I--uh--well--about the time my money gave out and I went into debt,
she was really after me. It was somewhat urgent. I skipped, of course.
Old Vanbrugh got the cops after me. I barely escaped. He's got enough
influence to--well, it boils down to the fact that the Jovians can do
anything to me their little hearts desire."

He strained against the bars. "Can't you do anything, sir? Your fame is
so illustrious. Can't you slip the word to somebody?"

The Martian puffed out his chest above his eyes and simpered. Then he
said with mild regret, "No, I cannot entangle myself in te empirical.
My domain is te beauty and purity of matematics alone. I adbise you to
accept your fate wit philosophy. Perhaps I can lend you Ekbannutil's
_Treatise on te Unimportance of Temporal Sorrows_. It has many
consoling toughts."

He waved affably and waddled off. Ray sank to the bunk.

Presently a squad of soldiers arrived to escort him to the tender
which would take him down to Ganymede. Colonel Roshevsky-Feldkamp was
there, as stiff as ever, though the bandage behind his ear set his cap
somewhat askew.

"Where am I going?" asked Ray.

"To Camp Muellenhoff, outside the city," said the Jovian with a hard
satisfaction. "It is where we keep spies until we get ready to question
and shoot them."


It took Dyann Korlas about two Earth-days to decide that she didn't
like Ganymede.

The Jovians had been very courteous, apologized in a stiff way for the
unfortunate misunderstanding aboard ship, and assigned her a brawny
young sergeant as guide. Their armament was much more in evidence and
much more interesting than Earth's but granting that spaceships and
atomic bombs and guided missiles were more effective than swords and
bows and mounted lancers, they took all the fun out of war and left
nothing to plunder. She missed the brawling mirth of the war-camps of
Varann among these bleak-faced and endlessly marching men in their drab

The civilians were almost as depressingly clad, and even more orderly
and obedient than those of Earth. Only the arrogant, bemedaled officer
caste had any touch of dash or glamor about it. The Terrestrial concept
of sexual equality had been interesting, even exciting in a way, but
these Jovians had inverted the natural order of things to a repulsive

She had seen the sights, and those were impressive enough--the grim
rocky face of Ganymede, with mighty Jupiter eternally high in the dusky
heavens; the bustling, crowded, machine-crammed underground cities,
level after level of apartments, farms, factories, shops, barracks--but
Earth could show more. Her guide promised to take her to the other
moons of the Jovian Confederacy but she felt as bored by the thought as
he seemed to be.

She got the impression that she was hurried along, from sight to sight
and speech to speech, without ever a chance to talk to anyone and find
out what really was dreamed and striven for on this land. To be sure,
the Jovians all talked endlessly about a superior way of life and their
right to return to the green vales of Earth whence their forefathers
had been cruelly made to flee. But if they were going to fight why
didn't they just hop in their ships and go there?

The dictator's face seemed to be framed wherever she turned, a small
and puffy-eyed man in an elaborate uniform. Martin Wilder the Great.
Her guide the sergeant, one Robert Hamand, said in an awed tone that
she might be introduced to the dictator. He looked hurt when she yawned.

And what had become of Ray? Hamand knew nothing and seemed to care
less. The secret police officer had said he would be held for a short
time as a lesson and then released but surely he'd look her up if he
were free. She contrasted the Earthling's liveliness with the quiet men
of Varann and thought that he would be an ornament to anyone's harem
even if there couldn't be issue between the two species.

On the third day, as she got up, she decided to ask counsel of Ormun.
She washed, singing a cheerful song of clattering swords and sundering
skulls, stowed away a breakfast that would have sufficed two humans,
and walked into the sitting room of the apartment assigned her.

Hamand was waiting, very straight and correct in his uniform. "Good
day," he said, bowing from the waist. "Today we will go topside again
and visit the Devil's Garden. Then at eleven forty-five proceed to
Robinsburg where we will lunch until thirteen hundred and then go on

"I must take an omen first," said Dyann.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You need not do so, you have done no wrong." Dyann prostrated herself
before the god. Then, struck with a sudden thought, gestured at Hamand.
"You too."

"What?" cried the sergeant.

"You too. She might be offended if you do not pray."

"Madam," said Hamand, stiff with indignation, "I am a Jovian of the
machine age, not a savage groveling before superstition."

       *       *       *       *       *

Dyann got up, knocked him to the floor, and rubbed his nose in the
carpet before Ormun. "You vill please to grovel," she said urbanely.
"It is good manners." She laid herself prone again, keeping one hand
on the sergeant's head, and repeated several magic formulas. Then she
rose to her knees, fished three Centaurian dice from her pocketed kilt,
and tossed them.

"Ah-hah," she said. "The omen says--hm, let me see now, I am not a
_marya_. I think they say go to Urushkidan." She bowed deeply before
Ormun. "Thank you, my lady. Now come, we go find Urushkidan."

"You can't!" gibbered Hamand. "He's doing important work. He's at the

Dyann strolled out and he trailed futilely in her wake, still
protesting. She inquired her way along the many tunnels and corridors
and ramps to the Academy of Science. There were no slideways. Everyone
walked. The Jovian leaders, with their concern over physical fitness,
insisted that there be as much assorted exercises as possible to
compensate for Ganymede's low gravity. To Dyann, weight was feathery.
She bounded twenty or thirty feet at a time when the crowd thinned

The Academy, a combined college and technical research institute, had a
good-sized sector to itself. There was a broad open space covered with
turf and the uniformed students and professors went from one to another
of the doors which opened on the grass. Dyann loomed over an undersized
academician who gibbered in answer to her that Dr. Urushkidan was in
_that_ sector and then scuttled away.

There was an armed sentry in front of the door. Seeing none elsewhere,
Dyann concluded shrewdly that he was posted because of the potential
military applications of Urushkidan's work. He slanted his rifle across
her path. "Halt!"

"I must see the Martian," said Dyann mildly. "Please to let me by."

"No one sees him without a pass," said the guard.

Dyann shoved him aside and opened the door. He yelled and grabbed her
arm. That was his big mistake.

"A man," said the Varannian reprovingly, "should have respect for
women." She yanked the rifle from him and hit him in the stomach with
the butt. He flew across the plaza, retching, rolled to one elbow,
and snatched at his sidearm. Dyann leaped, landing on his face with a
crunch of bone and a small explosion of blood and teeth.

She turned back, hefting the rifle appreciatively. The Earthlings on
Varann had been regrettably stingy about giving modern weapons to the
natives. Assorted people, including Hamand, fled in all directions as
she entered the doorway.

Down a long hall, peering into the rooms on either side, up a
staircase--another sentry before a frosted-glass door gaped at her.
She smiled reassuringly, moved close to him, and got her hands on his
throat. Shortly thereafter she had his rifle and revolver.

Loud voices drifted through the door and Dyann, who was not at all
stupid, listened with interest. One was--yes, that was Urushkidan
himself, bubbling like an indignant teakettle.

"I will not, sir, do you hear me? I will not. And I demand a return
passage from tis foul satellite at once!"

"Come now, Dr. Urushkidan, be reasonable." Was that the voice of
Roshevsky-Feldkamp? "After all, can you complain of your treatment?
You have Mars-conditioned quarters, servants, high pay, every

"I came here to lecture and complete my mathematical research. Now
I find you habe arranged no lectures for me and expect me to--to
superbise an--an _engineering_ project! As if--as if I were a

"But Dr. Urushkidan--after all, science advances by checking its
theory against the facts. If with your help we create the first
faster-than-light ship, it will be a triumphant confirmation of--"

"My teories need no confirmation. Tey are a debelopment of certain
relatibity postulates, a piece of pure matematics in all its elegance
and beauty. If tey agree or disagree wit te facts, tat is of no
interest to any proper natibe of Uttu. Te matematics is enough, and
I will habe noting to do wit applied physics. And furtermore--"
The squeaky voice rose even higher--"you want only te military
applications, you would habe me stoop to such bulgarity. You do not
appreciate me, and I am going back to Uttu!"

"I am afraid," said the man slowly, "that that is impossible."

Dyann entered. "Are they annoyin you?" she asked.

       *       *       *       *       *

Urushkidan whirled about. The room was thick with the fumes of his
pipe, and one of the two Jovians with him--a bald man in the black
uniform of the secret police--was holding a handkerchief to his nose.
The other one was Roshevsky-Feldkamp, who started to his feet with an
oath and grabbed for his revolver.

Dyann held her own stolen gun on his midriff. "No," she said.

"What are you doing here?" gasped the officer.

"Vere is Ray Ballantyne?"

"Get out! Guards--"

Dyann took one long leap across the office, seized Roshevsky-Feldkamp
by the neck and hammered his forehead against the desk. Her free hand
covered the secret policeman. "Vere is Ray Ballantyne?" she repeated.

"I am glad you came," said Urushkidan. "Shall we leabe tis uncibilised

Two armed soldiers appeared in the doorway. Dyann brought her gun
around. The silenced weapon hissed. One of the men tumbled with a hole
drilled in his forehead. She was rather proud of herself, she'd never
had much chance for target practice.

There wasn't much time for self-praise, though. The other man already
had his rifle up. Dyann dropped behind the desk, and the stream of
slugs ripped through the wood after her. She bunched her muscles and
threw the desk. There was a crash of splintering wood as it knocked
down the Jovian.

The secret police officer had his gun out and trained on her.
Urushkidan snaked forth a tentacle and pulled him off his feet. Dyann
stopped to slug Roshevsky-Feldkamp before she got her hands about the
policeman's throat.

"Vere is Ray Ballantyne?" she growled.

"Come on, come on, we habe to get out of here!" wailed the Martian.

"Vich is the vay out?"

"I'll show you--come along, quick--tis way."

Dyann frogmarched the Jovian cop toward a rear door. Booted feet were
thudding up the stairs toward the office. Urushkidan held a pistol in
each hand, gingerly as if he feared they would blow up. He led the way
into a hall and down a long, echoing ramp.

"Hurry, hurry," he gasped. "Shalmuannusar, we habe te whole Jobian
Confederacy after us!"

A voice bellowed atop the ramp and a slug whanged after them. Dyann
whirled and fired back, using the helplessly pinioned captive as a
shield. They retreated slowly, rounding a corner and going on down a
long slope to a heavy steel door.

Urushkidan opened it, slamming it frantically as they went through.
They were in a hangar where several small spaceships rested on their
rail-mouthed cradles. Mechanics stared at the trio.

"Quick!" snapped the Martian. "Te laboratory ships!"

The prisoner opened his mouth. Dyann laid a friendly hand on the back
of his neck and squeezed a little.

"Yes, yes, the laboratory ship--practice maneuvers--hurry!" the man

"Aye, sir! At once!" A life time's training in blind obedience spoke
there, behind the puzzled faces.

A teardrop-shaped rocket was trundled forth. Dyann looked nervously
back at the door. Pursuit was most likely playing it safe, posting men
outside while others went around to block all remaining exits. Once
that was done they'd close in.

"I'll warm up the engine for you, sir," said one of the mechanics.

"Ve'll take it now," said Dyann.

"But you can't! You'll carbon the tubes--be likely to crash--"

"I said now." Dyann propelled her captive ahead of her through the
airlock and Urushkidan crawled after. The valves clanged shut after

"I hope you can fly vun of these thins," said Dyann, lashing the secret
policeman to a recoil chair.

"I hope so too," said Urushkidan.

Dyann stood over her prisoner. "Vere is Ray Ballantyne?" she asked.
"The Earthman who vas arrested off the liner a few days ago."

"I don't know," he gasped.

Dyann drew her knife, smiling nastily.

"Camp Muellenhoff, you savage! Outside the city, to the north. You'll
never make it. You'll kill us all."

The cradle rumbled forward to the hangar airlock. Urushkidan took the
pilot chair and strapped himself in and relit his pipe with nervous
boneless fingers. Dyann whistled tunelessly between her teeth. It was
dark in the airlock chamber as the pumps evacuated it.

"Why bother wit tis Ballantyne?" asked the Martian. "What claim has he
on us? It will need all our luck and my genius for us to escape with
our own lives."

"We need his luck too, maybe," said Dyann shortly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The outer valve swung open and they trundled over the rails to the
surface of Ganymede. Behind them, the dome covering the city rose
against a background of saw-toothed mountains and dark, faintly
star-lit sky. A dwarfed sun lit the spaceport field with pale cold
luminance. There were not many vessels in sight, no liner or freighter
was in and the military ports were elsewhere. One lean black patrol
ship stood not far off.

"They vill be out after us soon," said Dyann. "Vat can you do about
that boat there, huh?"

"We will see," said Urushkidan. He touched studs, levers, and buttons.
The engines thuttered and the little vessel shook.

"Let's go!"

The rocket stood on her tail and climbed for the sky. Urushkidan
brought her around, the gyros screaming at his clumsy management, and
lowered her on her jets directly above the patrol ship. An atom-driven
ion-blast is not good for a patrol ship.

"Now," said Dyann as they took off again, "you, my policeman friend,
vill call this Camp Muellenhoff and tell them to release Ballantyne to
us. If you do that, ve vill set you down somevere. If not--vell--" She
tested the edge of her knife on his ear. "You may still be a police,
but you vill not be very alive."

"You can't escape," said the Jovian with a certain hollow lack of
conviction. "You'd better throw yourself on the Leader's mercy."

Dyann knocked a few teeth loose.

"You savage!" he gasped. "You cruel, murdering--"

"I tought you Jobians were always talking about te glories of war and
te rutless superman," snickered Urushkidan. "Also destiny and tings.
Better call te camp as she says."

A few minutes later the ship lowered into the walled enclosure of Camp
Muellenhoff. It was a dreary place, metal barracks lying harsh under
the guns of the watchtowers, spacesuited prisoners clumping to work
through the thin chill air of Ganymede. A detail hurried up and shoved
an unarmed, suited form into the airlock.

Their leader's voice rattled over his helmet radio of the ship's
telereceiver, "Major, sir, are you sure they want this man in the
city now? We just got an alert to look out for a couple of escaped

Dyann slammed the outer valve in his face by the remote-control lever
and the little ship stood on her tail again and flamed skyward.

A somewhat battered Ray Ballantyne crawled out of his suit and blinked
at them. It had been a rough two or three days, though they hadn't gone
very far with him. The truth drugs must have satisfied them that he was
not an intentional spy, and thereafter they had simply held him until
orders for his execution should come. He swayed into Dyann's arms.

"Oh, my poor Ray," she murmured. "My poor, poor little Earthlin."

"Hey, wait a minute," he began weakly.

"Just lie still, I will take care of you."

"Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of. Lemme go!"

They sat down again on a remote mountaintop, gave the policeman a
spacesuit, and kicked him out of the ship. He was still wailing about
barbarous and inhuman treatment. He said something too about wild

"And now," said Dyann, "let us get back to Earth before the Yovians
find us."

"This crate'll never make Earth," said Ray. "I've flown 'em--let me at
those controls, Urushkidan."

They heard it as well, the ominous sizzling and knocking from the
engine-room shields, and felt the ship tremble with it.

"Is tat te carboning te man was talking about?" asked the Martian

"I'm--afraid--so." Ray shook his head. "We'll have to land somewhere
before the rockets quit altogether. Then it'll take a week for the
radioactivity to get low enough so we can go back there and clean them

"And all the Yovian army, navy, police, and fire department out chasin
us by now," said Dyann. Her clear brow wrinkled. "I fear that Ormun is
offended because I left her amon the heathen back there. I am afraid
our luck is runnin' low."

"And," said Ray bleakly, "how!"


They used the last sputter of flame to sit down in the wildest and
remotest valley they could find. Looking out the port, Ray wondered if
they hadn't perhaps overdone it.

Beyond the little ship there was a stretch of seamed and gullied stone,
a rough craggy waste sloping up toward the fang-peaked razorback
ridge of the hills, weird flickering play of shadows between the
looming boulders as the thin wind blew a veil of snow across the deep
greenish-blue sky. Jupiter was an amber scimitar low on the northern
horizon. They were near the south pole with a sprawling panorama of
sharp stars around it fading out near the tiny sun. Snow lay heaped
in drifts beyond the wind-scoured rocks, and the far green blink of
glaciers reflected the pale heatless sunlight from the hills.

Snow--well, yes, thought Ray, it was snow of a sort. All the water
on Ganymede was of course solid ice. So were the carbon dioxide and
ammonia. But the temperature often dropped low enough to precipitate
methane or nitrogen. The moon's atmosphere what there was of it,
consisted mostly of argon, nitrogen, methane, and vapors of the frozen
substances--not especially breathable.

The colonists used the standard green-plant air-renewal system,
obtaining extra oxygen from its compounds and water from the
ice-strata, and heated their dwellings from the central atomic-energy
units. Ray hoped the ship's equipment was in working order.

There was native life out there, a few scrubby gray-leaved thickets,
a frightened leaper bounding kangaroo-like into the hills. The
biochemistry of Ganymede was a weird and wonderful thing which human
scientists were still a long way from understanding, but it involved
substances capable of absorbing heat energy directly and releasing it
as needed. The carnivores lacked the secretions, obtaining them from
their prey, and had given the colonists a lot of trouble because of
their fondness for the generous supply of heat a human necessarily
carried around with him.

"And now what do we do?" asked Ray.

Dyann's eyes lit with a hopeful gleam. "Hunt monsters?" she suggested.

"Bah!" Urushkidan snaked his way to the small desk bolted to the cabin
floor and extracted paper and pencil from the drawers. "I shall debelop
an interesting aspect of unified field teory. Do not disturb me."

Ray looked around the ship. Behind the forward cabin, which held bunks
and a little cooking outfit as well as the controls, there was a larger
space cluttered with assorted physical apparatus. Beyond that, he
supposed, were the gyros, airplant, and misbehaving engines. "Is this a
laboratory boat?" he inquired.

"Yes," said the Martian. "I chose it because tey are always kept ready
to go out for gibing field tests to new apparatus. Get me a table of
elliptic integrals, please."

"Look," said Ray, "we've got to do something. The Jovians will be
combing this damned moon for us, and it's not so big that we have much
chance of their not finding us before we can clean out those tubes.
We've got to prepare an escape."

"How?" Urushkidan fixed him with a bespectacled stare.

"Well--uh--well--maybe get ready to flee into the hills."

"How long would we last out tere?" The Martian turned back to his work
and blew a cloud of smoke. "No, I will debote myself to te beauties of
pure matematics."

"But if they catch us, they'll kill us!"

"Tey won't kill me," said Urushkidan smugly. "I am too baluable."

"Come on, Ray," said Dyann. "Let's go monster-huntin."

"Waaah!" The Earthman blew up, jumping with rage. In the low gravity,
his leap cracked his head against the ceiling.

"Oh, my poor Ray!" Dyann folded him in a bear's embrace.

"Let me go! Damn it, I want to live if you don't!"

"Be serene," advised Urushkidan. "Look at it from te aspect of
eternity. You are one of te lower animals and your life is of no

"You octopus! You conceited windbag! If I needed any proof that
Martians are inferior, you'd be it."

"Temper, temper!" Urushkidan wagged a flexible finger at Ray. "Be
objective, my friend, and if your philosophy is so deficient tat
it will not prove _a priori_ tat Martians are always right--by
definition--ten consider te facts. Martians are beautiful. Martians
habe an old and peaceful cibilisation. Eben physically, we are
superior--we can libe under Earth conditions but I dare you to go out
on Mars witout a spacesuit. I double-dog dare you."

"Martians," gritted Ray, "didn't come to Earth. Earthmen came to Mars."

"Certainly. We had no reason to bisit Earth, but you, of course, came
to Mars to admire our beauty and wisdom. Now please fetch me tat table
of integrals."

"There is nothin ve can do to help ourselves," said Dyann, "so ve might
as well go huntin. Afterward ve can make love."

"Oh, no!" Ray grunted. "If I had that damn interstellar drive I'd get
out of this hole so fast that--that--that--"

"Yes?" asked Dyann.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Gods of Pluto!" whispered the man. "That's it. _That's it!_"

"Get me tat table!" screamed Urushkidan.

"The drive--the faster-than-light drive--" Ray did a jig, bouncing from
floor to wall to ceiling. "We've got a shipful of equipment, we've got
the System's only authority on the subject, we'll build ourselves a
faster-than-light engine!"

Urushkidan grumbled his way back into the lab. "I'll get it myself,
ten," he muttered. "See if I care."

"The engine--the engine--Dyann, we can escape!" Ray grabbed her by the
arms and tried to shake her. "We can go home!"

Her eyes filled with tears. "You vant to leave me," she accused. "You
vant to get rid of me."

"No, no, no, I want to save all our lives. Come on, give me a hand,
we've got some heavy stuff to move around."

Dyann shook her head, pouting. "No," she said. "You don't love me. I
won't help you."

"Oh, Lord! Look, Dyann, I love you, I adore you, I worship at your
feet. But give me a hand."

Dyann brightened considerably, but said only, "Prove it."

Ray kissed her. She kissed back and he yelled as his ribs began to give

"Yowp! Some other time, honey. I want only to save your life, don't you

"Some other time," said Dyann firmly, "is not now. Come here, you."

"Stop tat noise!" yelled Urushkidan, and slammed the laboratory door.

"Ve will honeymoon on Varann," sighed Dyann happily. "You shall ride to
battle at my side."

Much later the aroma of coffee drew Urushkidan back into the forward
cabin. A disheveled and weary-looking Ray Ballantyne was puttering
around the hotplate while Dyann sat polishing her sword and humming to

"Now," said Ray, turning with what seemed like relief to the Martian,
"just how does this new drive of yours work?"

"It is not a dribe and it does not work--it is a structure of
pure matematics," said Urushkidan. "Anyway, te teory is beyond te
comprehension of anybody but myself. Gibe me some coffee."

"But you must have an idea how it would work in practice."

"Oh, no doubt if I wanted to take te time I could debise someting. But
I am engaged in debeloping a new teory of cosmic origins." Urushkidan
slurped coffee into himself.

"We've got to build it and escape."

"I told you you are of neiter beauty nor importance. Why should I take
time wit you?"

"But look, if the Jovians capture you they'll force you to build it
for them. They have ways. And then they'll overrun Mars along with all
the other planets. The only thing that's held them back so far is the
difficulty of interplanetary logistics. But when you have ships that
can cross the orbit of Pluto in a matter of hours or minutes that isn't
a problem any longer."

"Tat would be unfortunate, yes. But I am in te midst of a bery new and
important train of tought. It would be more unfortunate if tat were
lost tan if a few ephemeral Jobians conquered te System. Tey wouldn't
last a tousand years, but a genius like me is born once in a million."

Dyann hefted her sword. "Do as Ray says," she advised.

"You dare not hurt me," said Urushkidan with a smug expression, "or you
will neber get away."

He went over to the desk and began investigating the drawers again.
"Where do tey keep teir tobacco? I cannot work witout my pipe."

"Jovians," said Ray glumly, "don't smoke. They consider it a degenerate

"What?" The Martian's howl rattled the coffeepot on the hotplate. "No

"Only your own supply, back in Ganymede City, and I daresay the Jovians
have confiscated and destroyed it by now. That puts the nearest cigar
store somewhere in the Asteroid Belt."

"Oh, no! Te new cosmology ruined by tobacco shortage." Urushkidan stood
thinking a moment, then came to a sudden decision. "Tere is no help for
it. If te nearest tobacco is millions of miles away we must build te
faster-tan-light engine at once."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ray made no attempt to follow the Martian's long-winded equations
in detail. What he was interested in was making use of them, and he
proceeded with slashing approximations that brought screams of almost
physical agony from Urushkidan.

Essentially, though, he recognized that the scientist's achievement lay
in making what seemed to be a final correlation of relativity and wave
mechanics, something which even the Goldfarb-Olson formulas had not
fully reached.

Relativity deals with solid bodies moving at definite velocities which
cannot exceed that of light, but in wave mechanics the particle becomes
a weird and shadowy psi function and is only probably where it is. In
the latter theory, point-to-point transitions are not velocities but
shifts in the node of a complex wave. It turned out that the electronic
wave velocity--which, unlike the group velocity, is not limited by the
speed of light--could be imparted to matter under the right conditions,
so that the most probable position of the electron went from point
to point at a bewildering rate. The trick was to create the right

"A field of nuclear space-strain is set up by the circuit, and the
ship, reacting against the entire mass of the universe, moves without
need of rockets--right?" asked the Earthman.

"Wrong," said Urushkidan.

"Well, we'll build it anyway," said Ray. "Here, Dyann, bring that
generator over this way, will you?"

"I vant to go monster-huntin," she sulked.

"Bring--it--over, you lummox!"

Dyann glared, but stooped over the massive machine and, between
Ganymedean gravity and Varannian muscles, staggered across the floor
with it. Ray was checking circuits on the oscilloscope. Urushkidan sat
grumbling about heat and humidity and fanning himself with his ears.
The lab was a mess of tubes, condensers, rheostats, and tangled wire.

"I'm stuck," wailed Ray. "I need a resistor having so and so many ohms
along with such-and-such a capacitance. Find me one, quick."

"If you would specify your units more precisely--" began Urushkidan

Ray pawed through the litter on the floor, putting one object after
another into his testing circuit, glancing at the meters, and throwing
it across the room. "It's vital," he said.

"Vill this do, maybe?" asked Dyann innocently, holding out the ship's
one and only frying pan.

"Get out!" screamed Ray.

"I go monster-huntin," she pouted.

Absent-mindedly, Ray tested the frying pan. It was nearly right. By
Luna, if he sawed off the handle--

"Hey!" yelped Urushkidan.

"I don't like the thought of eating cold beans, cold canned meat, and
raw eggs any better than you," said Ray. "But damn it, we've got to
get out of here." He soldered the emasculated pan into his circuit.
"Starward the course of human empire," he muttered viciously.

"Martian empire," corrected Urushkidan.

"It'll be Jovian empire if we don't clear out of here. Okay, big brain,
what comes next?"

"How should I know? How can you expect me to tink in tis foul tick air,
and witout tobacco?" Urushkidan turned his back. Dyann clumped in,
spacesuited, sword in one hand and rifle in the other. "I saw monsters
out there," she said. "I'm goin out to kill them."

"Oh, yeah, sure," muttered Ray without looking up from his slide rule.
"Urushkidan, you've got to calculate the resonant psi function for me."

"Won't," said the Martian.

"By Heaven, you snake-legged bagpipe, I'm the captain here and you'll
do as I say."

"Up your rectifier." Urushkidan was emptying his ash tray in search of
tobacco shreds.

The airlock clanged behind Dyann. "I'll be damned," murmured Ray. "She
really is going out after them."

"It is a good idea," said Urushkidan, a trifle more amiably. "Tey habe
sensed te radiations of our ship and are probably coming to crack it

"Oh, well, if that's all--_Huh?_" Ray sprang to the nearest port and
looked out.

"Gannydragons," he groaned. "I thought they'd been exterminated."

"Tose two don't seem to know it," said Urushkidan uneasily. "All right,
I'll calculate your function for you."

       *       *       *       *       *

There were two of the monsters moving toward the boat. They looked
like thirty feet of long-legged alligator, but the claws and beaks had
ripped metal in earlier days of colonization. Dyann lifted her rifle
and fired.

A dragon screamed, thin and faint in the wispy atmosphere, and turned
his head and snapped. Dyann laughed and bounded closer. Another shot
and another....

Something hit her and the gun flew from her hand. The dragon's tail
smote again and Dyann soared skyward. As she hit the ground the two
monsters leaped for her.

"Ha, Ormun!" she yelled, shaking her ringing head till the ruddy hair
flew within the helmet. She crouched low and then sprang.

Up--over the fanged head--striking down with her sword as she went by.
The monster whirled after her, greenish blood streaming from the cut
and freezing.

Dyann backed against a looming rock, spread her feet and lifted the
sword. The first dragon struck at her, mouth agape. Dyann hewed out
again, the sword a leaping blaze of steel, the blow smashing home and
exploding its force back into her own muscles. The dragon's head sprang
from the neck. She rolled under the lashing claws and tail to get free.
The headless body struck the other dragon which promptly began to fight

Dyann circled warily about the struggle, breathing hard. The live
dragon trampled its opponent underfoot, looked around, and charged her.
The ground shuddered under its galloping mass. Dyann turned and fled.

The dragon roared hollowly as she went up the long slope of the
nearest hill. She saw a high crag and scrambled to its top, the dragon
rampaging below her.

"Nyaaah!" She thumbed her faceplate. "Come and get me."

The monster's dim brain finally decided that the ship was bigger and
easier prey. Turning, it lumbered down the hillside. Dyann launched
herself into the air and landed astride its neck.

The dragon hooted and snapped after her. She climbed higher, grabbed
its horn with one gauntleted hand, and hung on for her life. The steed
began to run.

Hoo, bang, away over the hills with the moonscape blurring in speed.
Wind shrieked thinly about Dyann's helmet. She bounced off her seat
and came down again, a landslide rumbled behind her. The dragon zoomed
up the ridge, leaped from a bluff, and started across the cratered
plain beyond. Dyann dragged at the horn, turning its head, fighting
the monster into a circular stampede. "Ha, Ormun!" she yelled. "Ha,

In an hour or so the dragon stopped and stood gasping. Dyann slid
stiffly to the ground, whirled her sword over her head, and
decapitated the monster. Then she skipped home, laughing.

"Dyann!" cried Ray as she came through the airlock. "Dyann, we thought
you were dead--"

"Oh, it vas fun," she grinned. "Fix me a sandvich." She sat down, got
up rather quickly, and opened her arms to Ray. He retreated nervously
toward the lab. Urushkidan snickered and slammed the door in his face.


The eighty-six hour day of Ganymede drew to a close. Jupiter was at the
half now, a banded amber giant in a sky of thronging wintry stars. Ray
wiped his grimy hands and sighed.

"Done," he said, looking fondly at the haywired mess filling half
the lab and reaching back toward the engines. "We've done it--we've
conquered the stars."

"My little Earthlin is so clever," simpered Dyann.

"I am horribly afraid," said Urushkidan, "tat tis minor achievement
of mine will eclipse my true accomplishments in te popular mind. Oh,
well." He shrugged. "I can always use te money."

"Umm, yeah, I never thought of that," said Ray. "I'm safe enough
from Vanbrugh now--you don't arrest the man who's given Earth the
Galaxy--but by gosh, there's a fortune in this little gadget too."

"For me, of course, when I have patented it," said Urushkidan.

"What?" yelped Ray. "You--"

"Certainly. I inbented it, didn't I? I shall patent it too. Tell me,
should I charge an exorbitant royalty or would tere be more money in
mass sales at small price?"

"Look here," snarled Ray, "I happen to know how this thing is put
together too."

"Do you?" grinned Urushkidan nastily.

"Uh--" Ray looked at the jungle of apparatus and gulped. He had only a
few fragmentary drawings. By Einstein, he had no idea how the damned
thing worked.

"But we helped you," he protested feebly.

"When you pay your mules and cows, I may consider gibing you a small
percentage," said Urushkidan loftily.

"You've already got more money than you know what to do with, you
bloated capitalist. I happen to know you invested your Nobel Prize in
mortgages and then foreclosed."

"And why not? When te royalties on tis engine start coming in, and I
get my second Nobel Prise, maybe ten I can afford an occasional cigar.
You Earthlings neber reward genius. All tese years I'be had to smoke
tat foul pipe--And tat reminds me, we habe to test tis machine. Where
is te nearest tobaco store?"

Ray sighed and gave up. Martians had replaced Scotchmen in the lexicon
of thrift, but Urushkidan set some kind of new record.

He sat down in the pilot chair and started the atomic generator on
high level conversion. "I hope it works," he muttered nervously. His
fingers moved over the improvised control panel for the star drive.
"Hang on, folks, here goes nothing."

"Nothin," said Dyann after a long silence, "is correct."

"Oh, lord! What's the matter now?" Ray went back to the new engine. Its
circuits were alive, tubes glowed and indicators blinked, but the boat
sat stolidly where it was.

"I told you not to use tose approximations," said Urushkidan.

Ray fiddled with the main-drive settings. "It's like any other gadget,"
he complained. "You sweat yourself dry designing it from theory, and
then you have to tinker till it works."

He began changing the positions of resistors and condensers, cutting
sections out of the circuit to work on them. Urushkidan shredded a
piece of paper, wetted it, and tried to smoke it.

"Ray!" Dyann's voice came sharp and urgent from the forward cabin. "I
saw a rocket flare."

"Oh, no!" He sprang back to her and peered into the night sky. A long
trail of flame arced across it. And another, and another--

"The Jovians," he groaned. "They've found us."

"They may not see us," said Dyann hopefully.

"They have metal detectors. We're done for."

"Vell, ve can only die vunce. Kiss me, sveetheart." Dyann folded Ray
in one arm while the other reached for her sword.

The patrol rockets went over the horizon, braking, and swam back.
Blast-flames spattered off the valley floor and frozen-gas vapors
boiled furiously up toward mighty Jupiter.

The boat telescreen blinked its indicator light. Numbly, Ray tuned it
in. The lean hard face of Colonel Roshevsky-Feldkamp sprang into its

"Ah, there you are," said the Jovian.

"If we surrender," said Ray, "will you give us safe conduct back to

"Certainly not. But you may be allowed to live."

Urushkidan spoke from the lab. "Ballantyne, I tink te trouble lies in
tis square-wave generator. If we doubled te boltage--"

       *       *       *       *       *

The first patrol ship sizzled to a landing. Roshevsky-Feldkamp leaned
forward till his face seemed to project from the screen and Ray had a
wild desire to punch its nose. "So you've been working on our project."
He said, "Well, so much the more labor spared us."

Dyann cut loose with a short-range blaster she had located somewhere on
the lab ship.

"Urushkidan will die before he surrenders to you," said Ray

"I will do noting of te sort," said the Martian. Experimentally, he cut
the square-wave generator back into the circuit and turned a dial.

The boat lifted off the ground.

"Hey, there," roared the colonel. "You can't do that!"

The Jovian soldiers who had been pouring from the grounded ship looked
stupidly upward.

"Shell them!" snapped the colonel.

Ray slammed the main star drive switch clear over.

There was no feeling of acceleration. They were suddenly floating
weightless and Jupiter whizzed past the forward port.

"Stop!" howled the Jovian.

The engine throbbed and sang, energy pulsing in great waves through
its shuddering substance. The stars crawled eerily across the ports.
"Aberration," gasped Ray. "We're approaching the speed of light."

Space swam and blazed with a million million suns. They bunched near
the forward port, thinning out toward the rear, as the ship added its
fantastic velocity vector to their light-rays. A distorted pale-green
globe grew rapidly before the vessel.

"Vat planet is that up ahead?" pointed Dyann.

"I think--" muttered Ray. He looked out the rearward port. "I think it
was Neptune."

"Triumph!" chortled Urushkidan, rubbing his tentacles together. "My
teory is confirmed. Not tat it needs confirmation, but now even an
Eartman can see tat I am always right. And oh, how tey'll habe to pay!"

The colors of the stars shifted toward blue in front and red behind.
Doppler effect, thought Ray wildly. He was probably seeing by radio
waves and gamma rays now. How fast were they going, anyway? He should
have thought to install some kind of speed gauge. Several times the
velocity of light at least.

"Ha, this is fun," laughed Dyann.

"Hmmm--we better stop while we can still see the Solar System," said
Ray, and cut the main drive.

The ship kept on going.

"Hey!" screamed the Earthling. "Stop! Whoa!"

"We can't stop," said Urushkidan coolly. "We're in a certain
pseudobelocity-state now. Te engine merely accelerates us."

"Well, how in hell do you brake?" groaned Ray.

"I don't know. We'll habe to figure tat out. I tought you knew tis
would happen."

"Now I do." Ray floated free of his chair, beating his forehead with
his fists. "I hope to heaven we can do it before the food runs out."

Dyann looked at Urushkidan speculatively. "If vorst comes to vorst,"
she murmured, "roast Martian--"

"Let's get busy," gasped Urushkidan.

       *       *       *       *       *

It took a week to improvise a braking system. By that time they were no
longer very sure where they were.

"This is all my fault," said Dyann contritely. "If I had brought Ormun
along she vould have looked after us."

"One thing that worries me," said Ray, "is the Jovians. They aren't
fools, and they won't be sitting on their hands waiting for us to come
back and give the star drive to Earth."

"First," said Urushkidan snappishly, "tere is te problem of finding our

Ray looked out the port. The ship was braked and, in the normal
space-time state of matter, was floating amidst a wilderness of
unfamiliar constellations. "It shouldn't be too hard," he said
thoughtfully. "Look, there are the Magellanic Clouds, I think, and we
should be able to locate Rigel or some other bright star. That way we
can get a fix and locate ourselves relative to Sol."

"Tere are no astronomical tables aboard ship," pointed out Urushkidan,
"and I certainly don't clutter my brain wit mere numerical data."

"Vich star is Rigel?" asked Dyann.

"Why--uh--well--that one--no, it might be that one over there--or
perhaps--how should I know?" growled Ray.

"We will simply habe to go back te way we came, as nearly as we can
judge it," said Urushkidan.

"Maybe ve can find somevun who knows," suggested Dyann.

Ray thought of landing on a planet and asking a winged, three-headed
monster, "Pardon me, do you know which way Sol is?" To which the
monster would doubtless reply, "Sorry, I'm a stranger here myself." He
chuckled wryly. They'd encountered a difficulty which all the brave
futuristic stories about exploring the Galaxy seemed to have overlooked.

They had headed out in the ecliptic plane, very nearly on a line
joining the momentary positions of Jupiter and Neptune. That didn't
help much, though, in a boat never meant for interplanetary flight and
thus carrying only the ephemerides of the Jovian System. Presumably
they had gone in a straight line, so that one of the zodiacal
constellations was at their back and should still be recognizable,
but the high-velocity distortions of the outside view had precluded
anyone's noticing which stars had been where.

Ray floated over to the port and looked out at the eerie magnificence
of unknown space. "If I'd been a Boy Scout," he lamented, "I might
know the constellations. The thing to do is to head back toward any
one which looks halfway familiar, since that must be the one which was
at our stern. But I only know Orion and the Big Dipper." He looked at
Urushkidan with accusing eyes. "You're the great astrophysicist. Can't
you tell one star from another?"

"Certainly not," said the Martian huffily. "No astrophysicist eber
looks at de stars if he can help it."

"Oh, you want a con--con--star-picture?" asked Dyann innocently.

Ray said, "I mean one we know, as we see the stars from Sol, or from
Centauri. You're nice to look at, honey, but right now I can't help
wishing you Varannians were a little more intellectual."

"Oh, I know the stars," said Dyann. "Every noble learns them.
Let me see--" She floated around the chamber, from port to port,
staring out and muttering to herself. "Oh, yes. There is Kunatha the
Hunter-threatened-by-woman-devourin-monster. Not changed much."

"Huh?" Ray and Urushkidan pushed themselves over beside her. "By gosh,"
said the Earthling, "it does look like Virgo, I think, or one of 'em.
Dyann, I love you to pieces."

"Let's get home qvick, then," she beamed. "I vant to be on a planet."
During the outward flight she had been somewhat discomforted by
discovering the erotic importance of gravity.

"_You_ steer us home?" screeched Urushkidan. "How in Nebukadashatbu do
you know te stars?"

"I had to learn them," she said. "Every noble on Varann has to
know--vat you call it?--astroloyee. How else could ve plan our battles

"Astrology?" screamed the Martian. "You are an--an--_astrologer_?"

"Vy, of course. I thought you vere too, but it seems like you Solarians
are more backvard than I supposed. Shall I cast your horoscope?"

"Astrology," groaned Urushkidan. He looked ill.

"Well," said Ray helplessly, "I guess it's up to you to pilot us back,

"Vy, sure." She jumped into the pilot seat. "Anchors aveigh."

"Brought home by an astrologer," groaned Urushkidan. "Te ignominy of it

       *       *       *       *       *

Ray started the new engine. They could accelerate all the way back and
use the brake to stop almost instantly--it shouldn't take long. "All
set," he called, and the rising note of power thrummed behind his words.

"Giddap!" yelled Dyann. She swung the ship around and slammed the main
drive switch home.

Ray looked out at the weirdly distorted heavens. "There should be some
way to compensate for that aberration," he murmured. "A viewplate
using photocells, with the electron beam control-fields hooked into
the drive circuit--sure. Simple." He floated back to the lab and
began assembling scattered apparatus. In a few hours he emerged
with a gadget as uncouth as the engine itself but there was a set
of three telescreens which gave clear views in three directions.
Dyann smiled and pointed to one of them. "See, now Avalla--the
taking shape," she said.

"That," said Ray, "is Ursa Major. You Varannians have a fantastic

A blue-white giant of a sun flamed ahead, prominences seething millions
of miles into space. Dyann's eyes sparkled and she applied a sideways
vector to the star drive. "Yippee!" she howled.

"Hey!" screamed the Earthman.

They whizzed past the star, playing tag with the reaching flames while
Dyann roared out a Centaurian battle chant. Ray's subconscious mind
spewed forth every prayer he had even known.

"Okay, ve are past it," said Dyann.

"Don't do such things!" he said weakly.

"Darlin," said the girl, "I think we should spend our honeymoon flyin'
through space like this."

The stars blurred past. The Galaxy's conquerors looked at the splendor
of open space and ate cold beans out of a can.

"I think," said Dyann thoughtfully, "ve should go first to Varann."

"Alpha Centauri?" asked Urushkidan. "Nonsense. We are going back at
once to Uttu and cibilised society."

"Ve may need help at Sol," said the girl. "Ve have been gone--how
long--about two veeks? Much could have happened in that time."

"But--but--it's not practical," objected Ray.

Dyann grinned cheerfully. "And how vill you stop me?"

"Varann--oh, well, I've always wanted to see it anyway."

The Centaurian began casting about, steering by the aspect of the sky.
Before many hours, she was slanting in toward a double star with a dim
red dwarf in the background. "This is it," she said. "This is it."

"Okay," answered Ray. "Now tell me how you find a planet."

"Hmmm--vell--" Dyann scratched her ruddy head.

Ray began to figure it aloud.

"The planets--let me see, now--yeah, they're in the plane of the two
stars. They'd have to be. So if you go out to a point in that plane
where Alpha A, your sun, seems of about the right size, and then swing
in a circle of that radius, you should come pretty close to Varann. It
has a good-sized moon, doesn't it, and its color is greenish-blue? Yes,
we should be able to spot it."

"You are so clever," sighed Dyann.

"Hah!" sneered Urushkidan.

At a mere fraction of the velocity of light--Ray thought of the
consequences of hitting a planet when going faster than light, and
wished he hadn't--the spaceboat moved around Alpha A. It seemed only
minutes before Dyann pointed and cried joyously, "There ve are. There
is home. After many years--home!"

"I would still like to know what we are going to do when we get there,"
said Urushkidan.

He was not answered. Dyann and Ray were too busy bringing the vessel
down into the atmosphere and across the wild surface.

"Kathantuma!" cried the girl. "There is my homeland. See, there is the
mountain, old Mother Hastan. There is the city Mayta. Hold on, ve're
goin down!"


Mayta was a huddle of thatch-roofed wooden buildings at the foot of a
fantastically spired gray castle, sitting amid the broad fields and
forests and rivers of Kathantuma with the mountains shining in the far
distance. Dyann set the ship down just outside the town, stood up, and
stretched her tigress body with an exultant laugh.

"Home!" she cried. "Gravity!"

"Uh--yeah." Ray tried to lift his feet. It went slowly, with some
strain--half again the pull of Earth. Urushkidan groaned and wheezed
his painful way to a chair and collapsed all over it.

"Let's go!" Dyann snatched up her sword, set the helmet rakishly on her
bronze curls, and opened the airlock. When Ray hesitated she reached
and yanked him out.

The air was cool and windy, pungent with a million scents of earth and
growing things, tall clouds sailing over a high blue heaven, and even
the engineer was grateful for it after the stuffiness of the boat. He
looked around him. Not far off was a charming rustic cottage. It was
like a scene from some forgotten idyll of Earth's old past.

"Looks good," he said.

A four-foot arrow hummed past his ear and rang like a gong on the
ship's hull.

"Yowp!" Ray dove for shelter. Another arrow zipped in front of him. He
whirled at a storm of contralto curses.

There were half a dozen women pouring from the charming rustic cottage,
a battle-scarred older one and five tall young daughters, waving swords
and axes and spears. A couple of men peered nervously from the door.

"Ha, Ormun!" yelled Dyann. She lifted her sword and dashed to meet the
onslaught. The oldest woman caught the amazon's blow on a raised shield
and her ax clanged off Dyann's helmet. Dyann staggered, shook her head,
and struck out afresh. The others closed in, yelling and jabbing.

Dyann's sword met the nearest ax halfway and broke across. She stooped,
picked the woman off her feet, and whirled her over her head. With
a shout, she threw the old she-warrior into two of her nearest
daughters, and the trio went down in a roar of metal.

Centaurian hospitality, thought Ray.

A backhanded blow sent him reeling. He looked up to see a yellow-haired
girl looming over him. Before he could do more than mutter she had
slugged him again and thrown him over one brawny shoulder.

Hoofs clattered down the narrow dirt road. A squad of armored women
riding animals reminiscent of Percherons, but horned and red of hide,
were charging from the town. They swept into the fight, wielding
clubbed lances with fine impartiality, and it broke up in a sullen
wave of red-splashed femininity. Nobody, Ray saw from his upside-down
position, had been killed, but there were plenty of slashes and the
intent had certainly been there.

The harsh barking language of Kathantuma rose on either side. Finally
an understanding seemed to be reached. One of the riders pointed a
mailed hand at Ray's captor and snapped an order. The girl protested,
was overruled, and tossed him pettishly to the ground. He recovered
consciousness in a minute or two.

Dyann picked him up, tenderly. "Poor Ray," she murmured. "Ve play too
rough for you here, huh?"

"What was it all about?" he mumbled.

"Oh, these people vere mad because ve landed in their field, but the
qveen's riders stopped the fight in time. It is only lawful to kill
people on the regular duellin grounds, inside the city limits. Ve must
have law and order, you know."

"I see," said Ray faintly.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a large and turbulent crowd which gathered at sunset to hear
Dyann speak. She and her companions were on a raised stand in the
market square, together with the scarred, arrogant queen and her troop
of pikewomen and cavalry. In the guttering red flare of torches,
Ray looked down on a surging lake of women, the soldier-peasants of
Kathantuma gathered from all the hinterland, brandishing their weapons
and beating clangorous shields in lieu of applause. Here and there
public entertainers circulated, thinly clad men with flowers twined
into their hair and beards, strumming harps and watching with great
liquid eyes.

Ray was still not quite sure what the girl's plan was, and by now
didn't much care. A combination of the dragging Varannian gravity and
the potent Varannian wine made him so sleepy that he could barely focus
on the milling crowd. Urushkidan slept the sleep of the just, snoring

Dyann ended her harangue and the racket of metal and voices shook the
surrounding walls. After that there were long-winded arguments which
sometimes degenerated into fist fights, until Ray himself dropped off
to sleep.

He was shaken awake by Dyann and looked blearily around him. Dawn was
streaking the horizon with cold colorless light, and the mob was slowly
and noisily dispersing. He groaned as he stretched his stiffened body
and tried to brush the dew off his clothes.

"The natural life--Hah!" he said miserably, and sneezed.

"It has been decided," cried the girl. She was still as fresh as the
morning, her cheeks were flushed and her eyes ablaze. "They agreed at
last, and now the var-vord goes over the land and envoys are bound for
Almarro and Kurin to get allies. How soon can ve leave, Ray?"

"Leave?" he asked stupidly. "Leave for where?"

"Vy, for Yupiter, of course!"


"You are tired, my little bird. Come vith me, and ve shall rest in the

Ray groaned again.

       *       *       *       *       *

How do you equip an army of barbarians still in the early Iron Age to
cross four and a third light-years of space?

A preliminary question, perhaps is, Do you want to?

Ray emphatically didn't, but he had very little choice in the matter.
He was soon given forcibly to understand that men kept their place and
did as they were commanded.

He went to Urushkidan and poured out his sorrows. The Martian, after an
abortive attempt to steal the spaceship and sneak home, had been given
a room in one of the castle towers and was covering large sheets of
local parchment with equations. This place, thought Ray, has octopuses
in the belfry.

"They want to go to Jupiter and fight the Jovians," he said.

"What of it?" asked Urushkidan, lighting his pipe. He had found that
dried bark could be smoked. "Tey may eben succeed. Primitibes habe
often obercome more adbanced and better armed hosts. Read te history of
Eart sometime."

"But they'll take us along."

"Oh. Oh-oh! Tat is different." The Martian riffled through his papers.
"Let me see, I tink Equations 549 trough 627 indicate--yes, here we
are. It is possible to project te same type of dribing beam as we
use in te faster-tan-light engine so as to impart a desired belocity
bector to external objects. Toward or away from you. Or--look here,
differentiation of tis equation shows it would be equally simple to
break intranuclear bonds by trowing only a certain type of particle
into te pseudo-condition. Te atom would ten feed on its own energy."

Ray looked at him in awe. "You," he whispered, "have just invented the
tractor beam, the pressor beam, the disintegrator, and the all-purpose,
all-fuel atomic motor."

"I habe? Is tere money in tem?"

Ray went to work.

The three expeditions from Sol had left a good deal of assorted
supplies and equipment behind for the use of later arrivals. Most of
this had been stored in a local temple, and sacrifices were made yearly
to the digital computer. It took an involved theological argument to
obtain the stuff--the point that Ormun had to be rescued was conceded
to be a good one, but it wasn't till the high priestess suddenly
disappeared that the material was forthcoming.

The Ballantyne-Urushkidan circuits were simple things, once you knew
how to make them. With the help of a few tolerably skilled smiths, Ray
hammered out enough of the new-type atomic generators to lift the fleet
off Varann and across to Sol. He built the drive-circuits carefully,
designing them to burn out after landing again on Varann. The prospect
of the amazon planet's people flitting whither they pleased in the
Galaxy was not one any sane man could cheerfully contemplate.

The spaceships were mere hulks of varnished and greased hardwood,
equipped with airlocks and slapped together by the carpenters of Mayta
in a few weeks. The crossing would be made so rapidly that heating
and air plants wouldn't be needed. Once the haywired star drives were
installed, a pilot sketchily trained for each vessel, and every hull
crammed with a couple of hundred yelling warriors, the fleet was ready
to go.

They poured in, ten times as many as the thirty ships could hold,
riding and hiking from the farthest of the continent's little kingdoms
to be in on the most glorious piracy of their dreams. Only Dyann cared
much about Ormun, who was after all merely her personal joss, and
only Ray gave a good damn about the menace of Jupiter. The rest came
to fight and steal and see new countries. They were especially eager
to kidnap husbands--the polyandrous system of Varann worked undue
hardships on many women, and Dyann shrewdly gave preference to the
unmarried in choosing her followers.

As to the practicability of the whole insane idea--Ray didn't dare
think about it.

Three hectic months after his arrival at Centauri, the barbarian fleet
left for Sol.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jupiter swam enormously in the forward ports, diademed with the bitter
glory of open space, growing and growing as the ship rushed closer. Ray
pushed his way through the restless crowd of armed women that jammed
the boat. "Dyann," he pleaded, "couldn't I at least call up Earth and
find out what's happened?"

"Vy, I suppose so," she said, not taking her eyes off the swelling
giant before them. "But be qvick, please."

The human fiddled with the telescreen. Three months ago the notion of
calling over nearly half a billion miles with that undersized thing
would have been merely ridiculous. But that was another byproduct of
Urushkidan's theory. You used an electron wave with unlimited velocity
as a carrier beam for your radio photons. It induced a similar effect
in the other transmitter. No distance diminution. No time lag. Anyway,
not within the limits of anything so small as the Solar System. Ray
got the standard wavelength of the U.N. public relations office, the
only one which he could call freely without going through a lot of red

A blurred face looked out at him. He hadn't refined his circuits to
the point of eliminating distortion, and the U.N. official resembled
something seen through ten feet of rippled water--at least, his image
did. But the voice was clear enough. "Who is this, please?"

"Ray Ballantyne, returning from Alpha Centauri on the first
faster-than-light spaceship. Calling from the vicinity of Jupiter."

"This is no time for joking. Who the devil are you and what do you
want? Please report."

"I want to give the U.N. Patrol the secret of faster-than-light travel.
Stand by to record."

"Hey!" screamed Urushkidan. "I neber said I'd gibe--"

       *       *       *       *       *

Dyann put her foot on his head and pushed him against the floor.

"Oh, well," he said. "Trough te incredible generosity of myself, ten,
te secret is made freely abailable--"

"Ready to record?" asked Ray tightly.

"I said your humor is in very bad taste," said the official, and
switched off with an ugly scowl.

Ray blinked weakly at the set for a while. Then he tuned in on Earth
broadcasts until he caught a news program. Jupiter had declared war a
month ago, defeated the U.N. navy in a running battle off Mars, seized
bases on Luna, and was threatening atomic bombardment of Earth unless
terms were met. "Oh, gosh," said Ray.

"Such an inbasion could only be launched, on a shoestring," said
Urushkidan. "Te U.N. still has bases closer to home, it can cut Jobian
supply lines--"

"And meanwhile poor old Earth is reduced to radioactive rubbish," said
Ray gloomily. "And those gruntbrains in charge won't believe I've got
the decisive weapon to save them."

"Would you beliebe such a claim?"

"No, but this is different, damn it."

"Ganymede dead ahead," shouted Dyann. "Stand by for action! Get ready
to make a landing."


The flagship-spaceboat slanted into the moon's atmosphere with a whoop
and a holler, blazed across the ragged surface, and lowered outside the
great dome of Ganymede City. The clumsy hulks behind her wallowed after
at a more leisurely pace.

Lacking spacesuits, the amazons were faced with a certain problem of
entry. Dyann hovered over the spaceport and opened her disintegrators
full blast. The port disappeared in a sudden tornado of boiling rock
and leaping blue fires. When she had sunk a fifty-foot pit, she went
down into it, hung before the side of it facing the city, and narrowed
the dis-beam to a drill. In moments she had cut a tunnel through to the
lower levels of the city.

Air began streaming out, ghost-white with freezing water vapor, but
it would take quite a few minutes for the pressure within to fall
dangerously low. Meanwhile Dyann sailed blithely through her tunnel,
disintegrated various walls and bulkheads to clear a landing space, and
set down amid the ruins of the city's factory level.

"All out!" she cried. "Hai, Kathantuma!"

Ray buckled on his helmet with shaking fingers, drew his sword, and
followed her out the airlock, more because of the press of bodies
behind than from any desire for glory. In fact, he admitted to himself,
he was scared witless. Only Urushkidan stayed behind--the lucky devil.

The rest of the barbarian fleet streamed in one by one, landing
clumsily and discharging their clamorous hordes. When the clear
area was filled, they landed on top of each other and the armored
warriors jumped down in a flash of edged metal. After they were all
in, Urushkidan projected a beam and melted the passageway shut against
the escape of air and heat. Also, thought Ray sickly, against a quick

"Hoo, hah!" Dyann's sword shrieked in the air above the helmeted heads
of her milling army. She started down the nearest corridor, running
and bounding and whooping. The amazons were hard on her heels, and the
racket of clashing armor and girlish voices was shattering.

Up a long staircase, five steps at a time, into the hall beyond that,
spilling out over a broad plaza--

A machine gun raved and Ray saw three Centaurians tumble to the floor.
As he dove for it himself, he looked across the square and into the
muzzle of the thing where it sat in one of the branch corridors.
There might be only a skeleton garrison left in the city but it had
reacted with terrifying swiftness. Ray tried to dig through the metal

The air was suddenly thick and whistling. A solid rain of spears and
arrows loosed. It didn't leave much of the machine gun crew. One of
the amazon officers--they had some notion of firearms--picked up
the .50-caliber under one arm. When a squad of Jovian soldiers appeared
down the hallway, she held it against her knee and used it tommy-gun
style. It worked.

Ray was carried along by the tide. In this weird struggle, modern
firearms weren't of decisive use. Boiling through the miles of
gloomy hallways and narrow apartments, the fight was almost entirely
hand-to-hand, and that was exactly what the Varannians loved.

Dyann vaulted over a row of bodies and hit a Jovian squad with all
her mass and momentum. She trampled two men underfoot while her sword
howled in a shearing arc around her. A Jovian grenadier hurled his
pineapple in her direction. She snatched it out of the air and tossed
it back. Wildly, he caught it and threw it again. Dyann laughed and
pitched it once more--very shortly before it went off. Turning, she
skewered one Jovian, kicked another in the belly, used her sword's
guard as a knuckle-duster against a third, and cut down a fourth in
almost the same motion. The squad broke up.

Ray saw an inviting door and scurried for it. There was a bed to
hide under. Two Jovian soldiers came in at that moment, fleeing the

Ray's helmet and cuirass were as good as a uniform, or he would have
shouted "Hail, Wilder!" As it was, the nearest man lunged at him with a
bayonet. Ray's sword clattered against the weapon, driving it briefly
aside. The Jovian snarled and probed inward, but a bayonet is clumsy
compared to a well-handled blade and Ray had done a little fencing. He
beat the assault back and thrust under the fellow's guard.

The other man had been circling, trying to get in on the fun. Now
he charged. Ray whirled to meet him and tripped on his scabbard. He
clanged to the floor and the rushing Jovian tripped on him. Ray got on
the man's back, pulled off his helmet, and beat his head against the

Rising, he checked the two rifles. Empty--the Jovians must have used
all their clips in an attempt to stem the Centaurian thrust, which
explained their choice of cold steel against him. But they had full
cartridge belts. Ray reloaded one of the guns and felt better.

Peering carefully out the door, he saw that the fight had moved
somewhere else. He started back toward the ships, the safest place he
could think of.

       *       *       *       *       *

As he rounded a corner a tommy-gun blast nearly took his head off. He
yelled, dropped to the floor just in time, and let the gun fall from
his hands.

A hard boot slammed against his ribs. "Get up!"

He lurched to his feet and stared into the faces of a Jovian
detachment, the black-clad elite guard of the dictator himself. Martin
Wilder the Great huddled in their midst. Colonel Roshevsky-Feldkamp was
at their head, in charge of Jupiter's home defense, Ray thought wildly,
and tried to stretch his arms higher.

"Ballantyne!" The Jovian officer glared at him for a long moment. "So
you are responsible."

"I had nothing to do with it, so help me I didn't," protested Ray
between the clattering of his teeth.

"You brought these savages in, you and your damned faster-than-light
engine. If it weren't for your hostage value, I'd shoot you now. As it
is, I'll wait till later. March!"

They went carefully down the glutted hall-street. The Centaurians had
been picking up souvenirs from every shop and apartment they passed.
"Don't think this will accomplish anything," said Wilder pompously.
"You may have driven us from our capital, but we have already called
for help from the other cities--from the whole Jovian System. The
fleet is on its way."

So the amazons had taken Ganymede City. And now they'd be too busy
looting to think about counterattacks from outside. Ray groaned.

"We have to get out of here, sir," said Roshevsky-Feldkamp. "We don't
want you to be caught in the fighting."

"No, no, that would never do," said Wilder quickly.

"There is a military airlock this way, with spacesuits. We can get out
on the surface."

"I will strike a new medal," chattered the dictator. "The Defense of
the Homeland Medal."

"And afterward we will take those ships." Roshevsky-Feldkamp's hard
face lit with a terrible glee. "And then the stars are ours."


The shout rang down the hallway. Ray saw a Centaurian band, staggering
under armloads of assorted plunder, emerge from a side passage. The
Jovians brought their rifles up.

Something like an atomic bomb hit the group from the rear. Dyann's
war-cry shrieked above the sudden din. She hadn't been altogether a

Ray was shoved back against the wall by the sudden whirlpool of
struggling bodies. He ducked as a Varannian sword whistled overhead.
Dyann was wading in among the Jovians, kicking, striking, hewing like a
maniac. She split one enemy apart, pitched another into a third, turned
around and chopped loose. Her warriors got to work at her side.

A panting Jovian backed up close to Ray, lifting his rifle anew to
shoot down the bronze-haired girl. The Earthmen thoughtfully removed
the soldier's pistol from its holster and shot him.

"My little hero!" cried Dyann happily. "I love you so much!" She beat
down another man's gun and broke his head.

The fight ended. Most of the Jovians had simply been knocked
galley-west and submitted in a stunned way to being bound and hoisted
to Varannian shoulders. Ray had a glimpse of Martin Wilder the Great
and Colonel Roshevsky-Feldkamp being dragged off by a squat and
muscular amazon with a silly smirk on her sword-scarred face. They
were destined for her harem, and he couldn't think of two people he'd
rather have it happen to.

Only there were those Jovian ships--

Ray had no way, just then, of knowing that Urushkidan had prudently
taken the spaceboat outside again and was using its long-range beams to
disintegrate the fleet as it came down. He hummed an old Martian work
song to himself as he did. There are times when even a philosopher must
take measures.

       *       *       *       *       *

Official banquets are notoriously dull affairs, and the present
celebration was no different. That the Luna-based invaders had
capitulated on hearing of the disaster at home, that a democratic
government with U.N. membership had been set up for a permanently
disarmed Jupiter, and that the stars were open to mankind, seemed to
call forth only bigger and better platitudes.

Ray Ballantyne, drowsy with food and cocktails, nearly snowblind with
white tablecloth, would have fallen asleep except for the fact that his
shoes pinched him. So he listened with some surprise to the president
of his alma mater telling what an outstanding student he had been. As a
matter of fact, he recalled, he'd damn near been expelled.

Urushkidan, crammed into a Martian-designed tuxedo, smoked a thoughtful
pipe at his right and made calculations on the tablecloth. Dyann
Korlas, her shining hair braided around a stolen Jovian tiara, looked
stunning in a low-cut evening gown on his left. The dagger at her waist
was to set a new fashion on Earth, but there had been some confusion
when she insisted on having Ormun the Terrible placed in front of her
and grace said to the idol. Oh, well.

"--and this dauntless genius of science, whom his university is pleased
to honor with a doctorate of law--"

She leaned over and whispered in his ear--it could only be heard for
three yards around--"Ray, vat vill you do now?"

"I dunno," he murmured back. "I want to get a patent on that damn
interstellar drive before Urushkidan does, but after that--well--"

"It vas a lot of fun vile it lasted, vasn't it?" Dyann's smile was
wistful. "But I have been thinking, Ray. I am goin' back to Varann and
carve me out a throne. You--vell, Ray, you are too fine and beautiful
for such rough vork. You belon here, in the glamor and bright lights,
not out vith a lot of coarse unruly vomen who might hurt you."

"You know," he said, "I think you've got something there."

"I vill alvays remember you," she said sentimentally. "Maybe some day
ven ve are old, ve can meet again and bore the youth vith talk of our
great days." She looked around. "If only ve could sneak out of here now
and have a farevell party of our own--I know a bar--"

"Hmmm." Ray stroked his chin. "This calls for tactics. If we could sort
of slump down in our chairs, as if we were tired--and Lord, I am!--and
gradually sink out of sight, we could crawl under the table and through
that door--"

As he crept from the hall, Ray heard Urushkidan, called on for a
speech, begin the detailed exposition of his latest theory.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Captive of the Centaurianess" ***

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