At the first splash of water in his face Teutoberg groaned and rolled over.
"Get up, you," Winford ordered harshly.
Teutoberg sat up groggily. The sight of the pistol and Winford's eyes brought him out with a sudden shock.
"Get over to that air-lock phone and say just what I tell you to," ordered Winford grimly. "One false word, and I'll ray you plenty."
Teutoberg staggered to his feet obediently and took the phone, for he had read death in Winford's hard eyes.
"Hello, Jarvis?" he asked, his body rigid under the prod of Winford's pistol. "This is Teutoberg.... Yes, I talked a minute ago. I've changed my plans, Jarvis. We've got to get the iridium out of the hold and into the liner as soon as possible, or we'll be sighted by some other craft. Take all the men but ten and go back to the liner. Make ready there for the cargo.... You'll have to clear some cabins; there is more than I thought. There isn't much food aboard here, anyway, and it is better to let the men go to mess right away and start transferring the cargo immediately afterward."
Teutoberg hung up the phone.
"Is that satisfactory?" he asked sullenly.
"It will do," was Winford's terse reply. "Now when the men have gone back to the liner, order two of the remainder to bring up Jarl from the hold to the control room here."
Jarl was as impassive as usual when he entered the control room and beheld Winford in charge there, although his two captors stared in amazement at Teutoberg, bloody and battered, seated against the side of the room with his hands upraised. Jarl calmly disarmed his two captors and closed the door.
"Only eight of Teutoberg's men besides these remain on the Golden Fleece," Winford explained to Jarl. "Take care of them first, then release the rest of our men from the hold. Tell Agar to take charge of the machinery as soon as possible, and have the gunners stand by for further orders."
"Awah," replied Jarl stoically, and left the control room.
He took care of the eight invaders in his very efficient Martian fashion, for he pistoled them with neatness and dispatch where they stood before the air-lock with the young commander and his remaining two marines, waiting to thrust them out into space. Winford had not instructed Jarl just how to take care of the situation, and the Martian attended to it in his own way. Commander 6666-A, with his arms bound behind his back, stared in amazement as Jarl calmly stepped over the dead bodies and went on his way to release his fellow pirates from the hold.
Up in the control room the radio loud-speaker hummed to life.
"Teutoberg, Teutoberg, are you there?" cried an anxious voice. "Three Interplanetary battle spheres are approaching from the direction of the Earth! They are still two thousand miles away, but they are coming on fast! We're going to cut loose and run for it. If you're not back here in five minutes, you'll have to stay where you are!"
Winford cut in then for Teutoberg, who gulped painfully before speaking.
"Go right ahead," he said in a strained voice. "I'm staying here on the Golden Fleece. I'll--I'll see you later."
"Why didn't you say you'd meet them in the Hereafter?" suggested Winford coldly, as he cut out the microphone. "That's where you are going as soon as Jarl returns. He'll be glad to help you on your way, for he hasn't forgotten the aid you gave his brother-in-law in robbing him and sending him to Mercury."
Teutoberg made no answer.
Things were happening swiftly. Already the liner was lurching forward frantically with every propulsion ray flaming as she started her flight through space away from the avenging battle spheres. Red lights twinkled on the control board of the Golden Fleece. Agar, at the generators now, threw in the power. The big freighter leaped ahead like a grayhound, soon reaching a speed that even the swift battle spheres could not equal, thanks to the engineering genius of the half-insane Agar.
Winford glanced around. Teutoberg was already gone. Jarl had taken him down to the air-lock. Winford tried to forget him. There were other things to think of. There were the details of taking the Golden Fleece out to Pluto near the frontiers of the Sun's domain--Pluto, that stronghold of the space pirates where a man could sell an entire planet or any part of it, no questions asked, if he could produce it for the buccaneer kings to bid on. The freighter and its cargo were as good as sold already, and the money they would bring would be more than enough to buy pardons and freedom for everyone in the crew.
There were many details to consider carefully, but instead Winford found himself thinking of Teutoberg down by the air-lock, stripped of his clothing, ready for his last adventure with life. As much as Winford hated the man, he was forced into an unwilling admiration for his dogged fight in the control room. A mere word in that telephone would save him. Winford shook his head irritably. The man deserved death. Yet again he saw the set features, the final walk into the air-lock. Suddenly Winford found himself at the phone and heard himself giving the order that would save Teutoberg's life. He sat down again, surprised at his own weakness. He was still musing when Jarl entered.
"You couldn't go through with it," observed the big Martian impassively. "I was afraid you couldn't. It is as I have always said of you Earthlings. You think you want revenge, good old ancient vengeance; but when the moment comes and you sit in the high place and can have it, you weaken. Well, you won't have to execute Teutoberg now."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Winford.
"After I received your order and told Teutoberg he wasn't to go out through the lock after all, he grinned. It was an insult, that grin, just as though he knew all along you wouldn't have the nerve to kill him. And while I stood there asking myself if I should not go ahead and shove him out anyway, one of his men--one of the two we captured up here in this room--caught sight of that grin. He screamed something about treachery and Teutoberg betraying him to the pirates, and before I could interfere he drew a knife and stabbed Teutoberg to death right there before all of us. After that there was nothing to do but to heave his body into the air-lock and let it go on out into space."
Far back across the Void in a tiny space sphere which Winford had given him and his two marines to return to the distant battle sphere, Lieutenant Commander 6666-A saw through his telescope the white speck of Teutoberg's body leave the side of the Golden Fleece and wondered what it was.
By George H. Smith
He clutched at the lever with more force than he'd intended. It was set for further in the future....
"They're crazy! They're insane! That mob outside is made up of madmen," Jacob Clark told his young assistant, Bill Towney.
"They'll be battering at the door any minute now, sir," Towney said nervously.
"But why? Why are they doing it? My inventions have advanced the world a hundred years. I've always been a benefactor of man, not a destroyer."
"It's the robots. People are in a rage because they say the robots cause unemployment by replacing workers."
"It's utter nonsense, you know," Clark said impatiently. "Why can't they see that my intelligent, self-controlled robots are the greatest boon the human race has ever received from one man?"
"I don't know, sir, but they don't." Towney paused as the shouting and pounding outside became more intense. "They demanded that you take the robots out of the labor market and order your factories to stop making them. This is the result of your refusal."
"DOWN WITH CLARK! DOWN WITH THE TIN MEN! DEATH TO THE ROBOT LOVERS!" The furious mob was battering at the door now.
"Really, sir," Towney said, "you should leave here. They'll kill you if you don't!"
"Leave here? I should say not. I'll defy the fools. I'll tell them what I've done for them and make them understand." He glanced nervously at the door. "Besides there's only one door. I couldn't get away now."
"There's the time machine, sir."
"But isn't there some other way? Perhaps if you went out and talked to them...."
"You know there's no other way. Those people believe you've brought disaster to the human race and they mean to kill you. And if you don't hurry they will," Towney said urgently. "The time machine is set for twenty years in the future. Please hurry, sir!"
The door was beginning to give. Clark looked around unhappily and then walked to the time machine. "All right, I'll go. In the future I know the results of my work will be appreciated. I'll be a hero and benefactor of mankind."
Towney heard the door crash and roughly pushed his employer into the time machine as the mob burst through. "Push the starting button, push the starting button. Quick!" he screamed as the first of the mob reached him.
Clark's hand leaped to the control lever just as a brick crashed into his head. His hand completed its motion with more force than he had intended as he sank unconscious to the floor and the machine was set for a thousand years in the future instead of twenty.
The year three thousand had been a brilliant one for the robots, in fact, the most brilliant since the last human being had died some five hundred years before. They had reached Venus and Mars and were now planning a trip to Jupiter. And this very day, a huge statue of Jacob Clark, the creator and benefactor, was to be dedicated on the site of what once had been his laboratory. It seemed a shame that most of the records concerning him and his time had been lost in one of the great wars that had helped to extinguish the humans. The statue though was good for surely he looked like a robot. One of the few human books still in existence said that the Creator had created in his own image.
It was right at the foot of his own statue that the Guardians of the Shrine found Jacob Clark. They picked up his unconscious, bleeding body and laid it tenderly on a nearby bench. They bent over him with all the gentleness and solicitude that had been installed in his very first models and had been handed down from generation to generation of robots. They wanted to help him but they were very puzzled.
"Perhaps it came from a far part of the earth," one of them said.
"Or maybe a mistake was made at one of the birth factories," said another. "See, it is losing oil at a great rate."
"Perhaps," mused the elder, "it is a new model. At any rate it is a robot and has been damaged. As our great creator taught us, he must be aided. We will take it to the central repair factory in the city."
"But," the first robot protested, "it's awfully bulky to be carried so far."
Being creatures of logic, they thought about it for a moment and then the elder came to a decision that was both effective and reasonable.
"Since he is so bulky, we will disassemble him for transportation purposes," he said as he leaned over and gently twisted off Clark's right arm.
"Rather primitive and messy construction, I'd say," said the second robot as he tenderly unscrewed Jacob Clark's head from his body.
THE MARTIAN CABAL.
By R. F. Starzl
Strange Intruder Sime Hemingway did not sleep well his first night on Mars. There was no tangible reason why he shouldn't. His bed was soft. He had dined sumptuously, for this hotel's cuisine offered not only Martian delicacies, but drew on Earth and Venus as well.
Yet Sime did not sleep well. He tossed restlessly in the caressing softness of his bed. He turned a knob in the head panel of his bed, tried to yield to the soothing music that seemed to come from nowhere. He turned another knob, watched the marching, playing, whirling of somnolent colors on the domed ceiling of his room.
At last he gave it up. Some sixth sense had him all jumpy. It was not usual for Sime Hemingway to be jumpy. He was one of the coolest heads in the I. F. P., the Interplanetary Flying Police who patrolled the lonely reaches of space and brought man's law to the outermost orbit of the far-flung solar system.
Now he jumped out of bed and examined the fastening of his door, the door to the hotel corridor. There was only one, and it was secure. Windows there were none, and investigation showed that the small ports were all covered with their pivoted safety plates. He extinguished the light, swung aside one of the plates, and peered out into the Martian night. It was moonlight--both Deimos and Phobos were racing across the blue-black sky. The waters of Crystal Canal stretched out before him, seemingly illimitable. Sime knew that the distance to the other side was twenty miles or more. Clear-cut through the thin atmosphere of Mars, he could see the jeweled lights of South Tarog, on the other side.
The hotel grounds, too, were well lighted. Long, luminous tubes, part of the architecture of the buildings, aided the moons, shedding their serene glow on the gentle slope of the red lawns and terraces, the geometrically trimmed shrubs and trees. They were reflected warmly in the dancing waves of the canal, though Sime knew that even in this, the height of the summer season, the outside temperature was very near freezing.
Now a hotel guard came along. He carried at his belt a neuro-pistol, a deadly weapon whose beam would destroy the nervous structure of any living creature. He went past the port with measured stride, and Sime slid back the safety plate with a puzzled frown.
Why was he so nervous? This wasn't the first dangerous mission on which he had embarked in the course of his official duty. And danger was the element that gave zest to his life.
He began a methodical examination of his room, peering under the bed, into closets, a wardrobe. Yet there was no sign of danger. Carefully he inspected his bed for signs of the deadly black mold from Venus that would, once it found lodgment in the pores of a man's skin, inexorably invade his body and in the space of a few hours reduce him to a black, repulsive parody of humanity. But the sheets were unsullied.
Then his gaze fell on the mist-bath. Travelers who have visited Mars are, of course, familiar with this simple device, used to overcome to some extent the exceeding dryness of the red planet's atmosphere. Resembling the steam bath of the ancients, there was just enough room in the cylindrical case for a man to sit inside while his skin was sprayed with vivifying moisture. But his head would project, and there was no head visible.
Nevertheless, so strong was Sime's intuition, he leveled his neuro-pistol at the cabinet and approached. With a sweep of his muscular arm he swung it open--and gasped!
The sight that greeted him was enough to make any man gasp, even one less young and impressionable than Sime. In all of his twenty-five years he had not seen a woman so lovely. Her complexion was the delicate coral pink of the Martian colonials--descendants of the original human settlers who had struggled with, and at last bent to their will, this harsh and inhospitable planet. She was little over five feet tall, although the average Martian is perhaps slightly bigger than his terrestrial cousin. Her hair was dark, like that of most Martians, drawn back from her forehead and fastened at the nape of her neck, from there to fall in an abundant, rippling cascade down her slim, straight back. Her figure was like those delicate and ancient creations of Dresden china to be seen in museums, but elastic, and full of strength. She was dressed in the two-piece garment universally worn by both sexes on Mars--a garment, so historians say, that was called "pyjamas" by our forebears.
And she was defiant. In her hand was a stiletto with long, slim blade. Sime made a darting grasp for her wrist and wrung the weapon from her. It fell to the metal floor with a tinkling clatter.
"And now tell me, young lady, what's the meaning of this?"
Suddenly she smiled.
"I came to warn you, Sime Hemingway." She spoke softly and sweetly, and with effortless dignity.
"You came to warn me?"
"You are in grave danger. Your mission here is known, and powerful enemies are preparing to destroy you."
"You talk like you knew something, kid," Sime admitted. "What is my mission here?"
"You have been sent to Mars by the I. F. P. in the guise of a mining engineer. You are to discover what you can about a suspected plot of interplanetary financiers to plunge the Earth and Mars into a war."
"How so?" Sime asked enigmatically, concealing his dismay at the girl's ready reply. Here was inside information with a vengeance!
"Several shiploads of gray industrial diamonds from Venus have been seized by war vessels carrying the insignia of the Martian atmospheric guard."
Sime nodded. "Go on!"
"Curiously enough, these raids were so timed that they were witnessed by the news telecasters. All of the people on Earth were thus eye-witnesses, and feeling ran high. Am I right?"
"And of course you know about the raids on the Martian borium mines by pirates armed with modern weapons. In the fights, some of the pirates' weapons were captured. They bore the ordnance marks of the terrestrial government."
"I'm way ahead of you, girlie!" Sime conceded. "Certain financial interests would like to see a war. They're cookin' up these overt acts to get the people all steamed up till they're ready to fight. I'll go further, since you seem to know all about it anyway, and admit that I'm here to find out just who's back of all this. And how does all that tie up with you hiding in my mist-bath with a long and mean lookin' knife?"