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The Mirans were experts at camouflage. Deenmor Station, realizing the menace, immediately rayed the "projector." They tore up a great deal of harmless rock with their huge UV rays. But the bomb device continued to throw one bomb each five seconds.

When Deenmor operated from Phobos' position, Mars Center was exposed to the deadly, constant drain. A day or two later, the bombs were coming one each second and a half, for more ships had joined in the work on Phobos.

Gresth Gkae saw the work was going nicely. He knew that now it was only a question of time before those magnetic shields would fail--and then the whole fort would be powerless. Maybe--it might be a good idea, when the forts were powerless to investigate instead of blowing them up. There might be many interesting and worthwhile pieces of apparatus--particularly the UV beam's apparatus.


Buck Kendall entered the Communications room rather furtively. He hated the place. Cole was there, and McLaurin. Mac was looking tired and drawn, Cole not so tired, but equally drawn. The signals were coming through fairly well, because most of the disturbance was rising where the signals rose, and all the disturbance, practically, was magnetic rather than electric.

"Deenmor is sending, Buck," McLaurin said as he entered. "They're down to the last fifty-five tons. They'll have more time now--a rest while Phobos sinks. Mars Center has another 250 tons, but--it's just a question of time. Have you any hope to offer?"

"No," said Kendall in a strained voice. "But, Mac, I don't think men like those are afraid to die. It's dying uselessly they fear. Tell 'em--tell 'em they've defended not alone Mars, but all the system, in holding up the Strangers on Mars. We here on Luna have been safer because of them. And tell--Mac, tell them that in the meantime, while they defended us, and gave us time to work, we have begun to see the trail that will lead to victory."

"You have!" gasped McLaurin.

"No--but they will never know!" Kendall left hastily. He went and stood moodily looking at the calculator machines--the calculator machines that refused to give the answers he sought. No matter how he might modify that original idea of his, no matter what different line of attack he might try in solving the problems of Space and Matter, while he used the system he knew was right--the answer came down to that deadly, hope-blasting expression that meant only "uncertain."

Even Buck was beginning to feel uncertain under that constant crushing of hope. Uncertainty--uncertainty was eating into him, and destroying-- From the Communications room came the hum and drive of the great sender flashing its message across seventy-two millions of miles of nothing. "B-u-c-k K-e-n-d-a-l-l s-a-y-s h-e h-a-s l-e-a-r-n-e-d s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g t-h-a-t w-i-l-l l-e-a-d t-o v-i-c-t-o-r-y w-h-i-l-e y-o-u h-e-l-d b-a-c-k t-h-e--"

Kendall switched on a noisy, humming fan viciously. The too-intelligible signals were drowned in its sound.

"And--tell them to--destroy the apparatus before the last of the power is gone," McLaurin ordered softly.

The men in Deenmor station did slightly better than that. Gradually they cut down their magnetic shield, and some of the magnetic bombs tore and twisted viciously at the heavy metal walls. The thin atmosphere of Mars leaked in. Grimly the men waited. Atomic bombs--or ships to investigate? It did not matter much to them personally-- Gresth Gkae smiled with his old vigor as he ordered one of the great interstellar ships to land beside the powerless station, approaching from such an angle that the still-active Mars Center station could not attack. One of the fleet of Phobos rose, and circled about the planet, and settled gracefully beside the station. For half an hour it lay there quietly, waiting and watching. Then a crew of two dozen Mirans started across the dry, crumbly powder of Mars' sands, toward the fort. Simultaneously almost, three things happened. A three-foot UV beam wiped out the advancing party. A pair of fifteen-foot beams cut a great gaping hole in the wall of the interstellar ship, as it darted up, like a startled quail, its weapons roaring defiance, only to fall back, severely wounded.

And the radio messages pounded out to Earth the first description of the Miran people. Methodically the men in Deenmor station used all but one ton of their power to completely and forever wreck and destroy the interstellar cripple that floundered for a few moments on the sands a bare mile away. Presently, before Deenmor was through with it, the atomic bombs stopped coming, and the atomic shells. The magnetic shield that had been re-established for the few minutes of this last, dying sting, fell.

Deenmor station vanished in a sudden, colossal tongue of blue-green light as the ton of atomically distorted mercury was exploded by a projector beam turned on the tank.

It was long gone, when the first atomic bombs and magnetic bombs dropped from Phobos reached the spot, and only hot rock and broken metal remained.

Mars Center failed in fact the next time Phobos rode high over it. The apparatus here had been carefully destroyed by technicians with a view of making it indecipherable, but the Mirans made it even more certain, for no ship settled here to investigate, but a stream of atomic bombs that lasted for over an hour, and churned the rock to dust, and the dust to molten lava, in which pools of fused tungsten-beryllium alloy bubbled slowly and sank.

"Ah, Jarth--they are a brave race, whatever we may say of their queer shape," sighed Gresth Gkae as the last of Mars Center sank in bubbling lava. "They stung as they died." For some minutes he was silent.

"We must move on," he said at length. "I have been thinking, and it seems best that a few ships land here, and establish a fort, while some twenty move on to the satellite of the third planet and destroy the fort there. We cannot operate against the planet while that hangs above us."

Seven ships settled to Mars, while the fleet came up from Jupiter to join with Gresth Gkae's flight of ships on its way to Luna.

An automatically controlled ship was sent ahead, and began the bombardment. It approached slowly, and was not destroyed by the UV beams till it had come to within 40,000 miles of the fort. At 60,000 Gresth Gkae stationed his fleet--and returned to 150,000 immediately as the titanic UV beams of the Lunar Fort stretched out to their maximum range. The focus made a difference. One ship started limping back to Jupiter, in tow of a second, while the rest began the slow, methodical work of wearing down the defenses of the Lunar Fort.

Kendall looked out at the magnificent display of clashing, warring energies, the great, whirling spheres and discs of opalescent flame, and turned away sadly. "The men at Deenmor must have watched that for days. And at Mars Center."

"How long can we hold out?" asked McLaurin.

"Three weeks or so, at the present rate. That's a long time, really. And we can escape if we want to. The UV beams here have a greater range than any weapon the Strangers have, and with Earth so near--oh, we could escape. Little good."

"What are you going to do?"

"I," said Buck Kendall, suddenly savage, "am going to consign all the math machines in the universe to eternal damnation--and go ahead and build a machine anyway. I know that thing ought to be right. The math's wrong."

"There is no other thing to try?"

"A billion others. I don't know how many others. We ought to get atomic energy somehow. But that thing infuriates me. A hundred things that math has predicted, that I have checked by experiment, simple little things. But--when I carry it through to the point where I can get something useful--it wriggles off into--uncertainty."

Kendall stalked off to the laboratory. Devin was there working over the calculus machines, and Kendall called him angrily. Then more apologetic, he explained it was anger at himself. "Devin, I'm going to make that thing, if it blows up and kills me. I'm going to make that thing if this whole fort blows up and kills me. That math has blown up in my face for four solid months, and half killed me, so I'm going to kill it. Come on, we'll make that damned junk."

Angrily, furiously, Kendall drove his helpers to the task. He had worked out the apparatus in plan a dozen times, and now he had the plans turned into patterns, the patterns into metal.

Saucily, the "S Doradus" made the trip to and from Earth with patterns, and with metal, with supplies and with apparatus. But she had to dodge and fight every inch of the way as the Miran ships swooped down angrily at her. A fighting craft could get through when the Miran fleet was withdrawn to some distance, but the Mirans were careful that no heavy-loaded freighter bearing power supply should get through.

And Gresth Gkae waited off Luna in his great ship, and watched the steady streams of magnetic bombs exploding on the magnetic shield of the Lunar Fort. Presently more ships came up, and added their power to the attack, for here, the photo-cell banks could gather tremendous energy, and Gresth Gkae knew he would need to overcome this, and drain the accumulated power.

Gresth Gkae felt certain if he could once crack this nut, break down Earth, he would have the system. This was the home planet. If this fell, then the two others would follow easily, despite the fact that the few forts on the innermost planet, Mercury, could gather energy from the sun at a rate greater than their ships could generate.

It took Kendall two weeks and three days to set up his preliminary apparatus. They had power for perhaps four days more, thanks to the fact that the long Lunar day had begun shortly after Gresth Gkae's impatient attack had started. Also, the "S Doradus" had brought in several hundred tons of charged mercury on each trip, though this was no great quantity individually, it had mounted up in the ten trips she had made. The "Cepheid," her sister ship, had gone along on seven of the trips, and added to the total.

But at length the apparatus was set up. It was peculiar looking, and it employed a great deal of power, nearly as much as a UV beam in fact. McLaurin looked at it sceptically toward the last, and asked Buck: "What do you expect it to do?"

"I am," said Kendall sourly, "uncertain. The result will be uncertainty itself."

Which, considering things, was a surprisingly accurate statement. Kendall gave the exact answer. He meant to give an ironic comment. For the mathematics had been perfectly correct, only Buck Kendall misinterpreted the answer.

"I've followed the math with mechanism all the way through," he explained, "and I'm putting power into it. That's all I know. Somewhere, by the laws of cause and effect, this power must show itself again--despite what the damn math says."

And in that, of course, Kendall was wrong. Because the laws of cause and effect didn't hold in what he was doing now.

"Do you want to watch?" he asked at length. "I'm all set to try it."

"I suppose I may as well." McLaurin smiled. "In our close-knit little community the fate of one is of interest to all. If it's going to blow up, I might as well be here, and if it isn't, I want to be."

Kendall smiled appreciatively and replied: "Let it be on thy own head. Here she goes."

He walked over to the power board, and took command. Devin, and a squad of other scientists were seated about the room with every conceivable type and combination of apparatus. Kendall wanted to see what this was doing. "Tubes," he called. "Circuits A and D. Tie-ins." He stopped, the preliminary switches in. "Main circuit coming." With a jerk he threw over the last contact. A heavy relay thudded solidly. The hum of a straining atostor. Then-- An electric motor, humming smoothly stopped with a jerk. "This," it remarked in a deep throaty voice, "is probably the last stand of humanity."

The galvanometer before which Devin was seated apparently agreed. In a rather high pitched voice it pointed out that: "If the Lunar Fort falls, the Earth--" It stopped abruptly, and an electroscope beside Douglass took up the thread in a high, shrill voice, rather slurred, "--will be directly attacked."

"This," resumed the motor in a hoarse voice, "will certainly mean the end of humanity." The motor gave up the discourse and hummed violently into action--in reverse!

"My God!" Kendall pulled the switch open with a sagging jaw and staring eyes.

The men in the room burst into sudden startled exclamations.

Kendall didn't give them time. His jaw snapped shut, and a blazing light of wondrous joy shone in his eyes. He instantly threw the switch in again. Again the humming atostor, the strain-- Slowly Devin lifted from his seat. With thrashing arms and startled, staring eyes, he drifted gently across the room. Abruptly he fell to the floor, unhurt by the light Lunar gravity.

"I advise," said the motor in its grumbling voice, "an immediate exodus." It stopped speaking, and practiced what it preached. It was a fifty-horse motor-generator, on a five-ton tungsten-beryllium base, but it rose abruptly, spun rapidly about an axis at right angles to the axis of its armature, and stopped as suddenly. In mid air it continued its interrupted lecture. "Mercury therefore is the destination I would advise. There power is sufficient for--all machines." Gently it inverted itself and settled to the middle of the floor. Kendall instantly cut the switch. The relay did not chunk open. It refused to obey. Settled in the middle of the floor now, torn loose from its power leads, the motor-generator began turning. It turned faster and faster. It was shrilling in a thin scream of terrific speed, a speed that should have torn its windings to fragments under the lash of centrifugal force. Contentedly it said throatily. "Settled."

The galvanometer spoke again in its peculiar harsh voice. "Therefore, move." Abruptly, without apparent reason, the stubborn relay clicked open. The shrilly screaming motor stopped dead instantly, as though it had had no real momentum, or had been inertialess.

Startled, white-faced men looked at Kendall. Buck's eyes were shining with an unholy glee.

"Uncertainty!" he shouted. "Uncertainty--uncertainty--uncertainty, you fools! Don't you see it? All the math--it said uncertainty--man, man--we've got just that--uncertainty!"

"You're crazy," gasped McLaurin. "I'm crazy, everything's gone crazy."

Kendall roared with sudden, joyous laughter. "Absolutely. Everything goes crazy--the laws of nature break down! Heisenberg's principle showed that the law of cause and effect weren't absolute. We've made them absolutely uncertain!"

"But--but motors talking, instruments giving lectures--"

"Certainly--or rather uncertainly--anything, absolutely anything. The destruction of the laws of gravity, freedom from inertia--why, merely picking up a radio lecture is nothing!"

Suddenly, abruptly, a thousand questions poured in on him. Jubilantly he answered what he could, told what he thought--and then brought order. "The battle's still on, men--we've still got to find out how to use this, now we've got it. I have an idea--that there's a lot more. I know what I'll get this time. Now help me remake this apparatus so we don't broadcast the thing."

At once, ten times the former pace, work was done. On the radio, news was sent out that Kendall was on the right track after all. In two hours the apparatus had been vastly altered, it was in the final stage, and an entirely different sort of field set up. Again they watched as Buck applied the power.

The atostor hummed--but no strange tricks of matter happened this time. The more concentrated, altered field was, as Buck was to find out later, "Uncertainty of the Second Degree." It was molecular uncertainty. In a field a foot and a half in diameter, Buck saw the thing created--and suddenly a brilliant green-blue flame shot up, and a great dark cloud of terrible, red-brown deadly vapor. Then an instant later, Kendall had opened the relay. Gasping, the men ran from the laboratory, shutting the deadly fumes in. "N{2}O{4}" gasped Morton, the chemist, as they reached safety. "It's exothermic--but it formed there!"

In that instant, Kendall grasped the meaning the choking fumes carried. "Molecular uncertainty!" he decided. "We're going back--we're getting there--"

He altered the apparatus again, added another atostor in series, reduced the size of his sphere of forces--of strange chaos of uncertainty. Within--little was certain. Without--the laws of nature applied as ever.

Again the apparatus was started, cautiously this time. Only a strange jumbled ionization appeared this time, then a slow, rising blue flame began to creep up, and burn hot and blue. Buck looked at it for a moment, then his face grew tense and thoughtful. "Devin--give me a half-dollar." Blankly, Devin reached in his pocket, and handed over the metal disc. Cautiously Buck Kendall tossed it toward the sphere of force. Instantly there was a flash of flame, soundless and soft-colored. Then the silver disc was outlined in light, and swiftly, inevitably crumbling into dust so fine only a blue haze appeared. In less than two seconds, the metal was gone. Only the dense blue fog remained. Then this began to go, and the leaping blue flame grew taller, and stronger.

"We're on the track--I'm going to stop here, and calculate. Bring the data--"

Kendall shut off the machine, and went to the calculation room. Swiftly he selected already prepared graphs, graphs of the math he had worked on. Devin came soon, and others. They assembled the data and with tables and arithmetical machines turned it into graphs.

Then all these graphs were fed into the machine. There were curves, and sine-curves, abrupt breaking lines--but the answer that came when all were compounded was a perfect diagram of a flight of four steps, descending in unequal treads to zero.

Kendall looked at it for long minutes. "That," he said at length, "is what I expected. There are four degrees of uncertainty, we generated 'Uncertainty of the First Degree,' 'Mass Uncertainty,' when we started. That, as here shown, takes little energy concentration. Then we increased the energy concentration and got 'Uncertainty of the Second Degree,' 'Molecular Uncertainty.' Then I added more power, and reduced the field, and got 'Uncertainty of the Third Degree'--'Atomic Uncertainty.' There is 'Uncertainty of the Fourth Degree.' It is barely attainable with our atostors. It is--utter uncertainty.

"In the First Degree, the laws of mass action fail, the great broad-reaching laws. In the Second Degree, the laws of the molecules, a finer organization, break down, and anything can happen in chemistry. In the Third Degree, the laws of atomic physics break down slowly. The atom is tough. It is very compact, and we just barely attained the concentration needed with that apparatus. But--in the Third Degree, when the Atomic Laws break down into utter uncertainty, the atoms break, and only hydrogen can exist. That was the blue flame.

"But the Fourth Degree--there is no law whatsoever, nothing in all the Universe can exist. It means--the utter destruction and release of the energy of matter!" Kendall paused for a moment. "We have won, with this. We need only make up this apparatus--and maybe make it into a weapon. You know, in the Fourth Degree, nothing in all the Universe could resist, deflect, or control it, if launched freely, and self-maintaining. I think that might be done. You see, no law affects it, for it breaks down the law. Magnetism cannot attract or repel it because magnetic fields cannot exist; there is no law of magnetic force, where this field is.

"And you know, Devin, how I have analyzed and duplicated their magnetic ball-fields. This should be capable of formation into a ball-field.

"We need only make it up now. We will install it in the 'S Doradus' and the 'Cepheid' as a weapon. We need only install it as an energy source here. Let us start."


Buck Kendall with a slow smile, looked out of the port in the thick metal wall. The magnetic shield of the Lunar Fort was washed constantly with the fires of exploding magnetic bombs. The smile spread broader. "My friends," he said softly, "you can pull from now till doomsday as far as I'm concerned, and you won't even disturb us now." He looked back over his shoulder into the power room. A hunched bulk, beautifully designed and carefully finished, the apparatus that created 'Uncertainty of the Fourth Degree' was destroying matter, and creating by its destruction terrific electric fields. These fields were feeding the magnetic shield now. Under the present drain, the machine was not noticeably working. In fact, Kendall was a bit annoyed. He had tested out the energy generating properties of this machine, trying to find a limit. He had found there was no limit. The great copper conductors, charged with the same atostor force that was used in the mercury fuel, were perfect conductors, they had not heated. But the eleven thousand tons of discharged mercury metal had been completely charged in just a bit better than eleven minutes. The pumps wouldn't force it through the charging apparatus any faster than that.

Two weeks more had passed, while the "S Doradus" and the "Cepheid" were fitted out with the new apparatus Buck had designed. They were almost ready to start now.

McLaurin came down the corridor, and stopped near Kendall. He too smiled at the Miran's attempts. "They've got a long way to go, Buck."

"They're going a long way. Clear back home--and we'll be right along. I don't think they can outdistance us."

"I still don't see why you couldn't use one of those Uncertainty conditions--the First Degree perhaps, and annihilate our inertia."

"You can't control Uncertainty. By its essential character it's beyond control."

"What's that Fourth Degree machine of yours--the material energy--if it isn't controlled and utilized Uncertainty?"

"It's utter and utterly uncontrolled Uncertainty. The matter within that field breaks down to absolutely nothing. Within, no law whatsoever applies, but fortunately, outside the old laws of physics apply--and we can gather and use the energy which is released outside, though nothing can be done inside. Why, think, man, if I could control that Uncertainty, I could do anything at all, absolutely anything. It would be a world as unreasonable as a bad dream. Think how unreasonable those manifestations we first got were!"

"But can't you get any control at all?"

"Very little. Anyway, if I could get inertialess conditions at will, I'd be afraid of them. They'd make chemical reactions impossible in all probability--and life is chemical. Two atoms must come into more or less violent contact before a union takes place, and cannot if they have neither momentum nor inertia.

"Anyway--why worry. I can't do it, because I can't control this thing. And we have the extra-space drive."

"How does that darned thing work? Can't you drop the math and tell me about it?"

Kendall smiled. "Not too readily. Remember first, as to the driving system, that it works on the fabric of space. Space is, in the physical sense, a fabric woven of the threads of lines of force from every body in the universe, made up of fields and forces. It is elastic, and can transmit strains. But anything that can transmit strains, can be strained against. With the tremendous field intensities available by the material engines, I can get such fields as will 'dig their toes' into space and push.

"That's the drive itself. It is accelerationless, because it enfolds us, and acts equally on every atom of us. By maintaining in addition a slight artificial gravity--thanks also to the intensity of those material engine fields--we can be comfortable, while we accelerate at tremendous rates.

"That is, I think, at least allied to the Stranger's system. For the high-speed drive, I do in fact use the Uncertainty. I can control it in a certain sense by determining its powers, and the limits of uncertainty, whether First, Second, Third or Fourth Degree. It advances in jumps--but on a finer plotting of the curve, you can see that each jump represents a vast series of smaller jumps. That is, there is Class A, B, C, D, and so forth Uncertainty of the First Degree. Now Class A First Degree Uncertainty involves only the deepest, broadest principles. Only they break down. One of these is the law of the speed of light.

"I'm sure that isn't the system the Strangers use, but I'm also sure there's no limit to the speed we can get."

"Doesn't that wreck your drive system?"

"No, because gravity and the fields I use in driving are First Degree Uncertainties of the higher classes.

"But at any rate, it will work. And--I suspect you came to say you were ready to go."

"I did." McLaurin nodded.

"Still stick to your original plan?"

McLaurin nodded. "I think it's best. You follow those fellows back to their system in the 'S Doradus' and I'll stay here in the 'Cepheid' to protect the system. They may need some time to get out of the place here. And remember, we ought to be as decent as they were. They didn't bother the transports leaving Jupiter when they came in, only attacked the warships. We're bound to do the same, but we'll have to keep a watch on them, nonetheless. So you go on ahead."

They started down the corridor, and came presently to the huge locks where the "S Doradus" and the "Cepheid" were berthed. The super-ships lay cold and gray now, men swarming in and out with last-minute supplies. Air, water, spare parts, bedding and personal equipment. Douglass, Cole, and most of the laboratory staff would go with Kendall when he followed the Strangers home. Devin and a few of the most advanced physicists would stay with McLaurin in case of need.

An hour later the "S Doradus" rose gently, soundlessly from her berth, and floated out of the open lock-door. The "Cepheid" followed her in five seconds. Still under the great screen of the fort, the lashing, coruscating colors of the magnetic bombs and the magnetic screen flashed and was iridescent. The "S Doradus" poked her great nose gently through the screen, and an instant later her titanically powerful, material-engine effortlessly discharged a great magnetic bomb, sent with the combined power of five atomic-powered interstellar ships. The two ships separated now, the "Cepheid" under McLaurin flashing ahead with sudden, terrific acceleration toward Mars, whispering through space at a speed that made it undetectable, faster than light. The "S Doradus" journeyed out leisurely toward the fleet of forty-seven Miran ships.

Gresth Gkae saw the "S Doradus" and as he watched the steady progress, felt sudden fear at his heart. The ship seemed so certain-- At a distance of thirty thousand miles, Kendall stopped. Magnetic bombs were washing his screen continuously now, seeking to exhaust the ship as all the great ships beyond poured their energy against it. A slow smile spread over Kendall's mouth as he heard the gentle hum of the barely working material-engine. Carefully he aligned the nose UV beam of the "S Doradus" on the nearest of the Miran ships. Then he depressed a switch.

There was no ion-release before the force-mirror now. Just a jet of gas whirling into a half-inch field of "Uncertainty of the Fourth Degree." The matter vanished instantly in released energy so stupendous that the greatest previous UV beams had been harmless things by comparison. Material energy maintained the mirror forces. Material energy gave the power that was released. And only material energy could have stood up before it. Thirty thousand miles away, a Miran ship flamed instantaneously into inconceivable incandescence, vanishing almost in blue-violet light of terrific intensity. The ship reeled away, a half-molten wreck.

The beam spotted two more ships before it winked out. Then Kendall began sending bombs. He moved up to within 2000 miles that his aim might be accurate. They were bombs of "Uncertainty of the Third Degree," the Uncertainty of atomic law in bomb form. One hit the nose of the nearest ship, and a sphere five feet in diameter glowed mistily blue for a moment. Then very easily, the matter that formed the wall of the cruiser began to run and change, and presently there was only a hole, and an expanding cloud of gas. Three more flowed toward it--and the hole enlarged, and another hole appeared in a bulkhead behind.

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