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"Is it?"

"Very. That I should care what any woman thinks of me, particularly a captive girl--but I do. And I realize, Jane, that our marriage system is very different from yours. Repugnant to you, perhaps. Is it?"

"Yes," she murmured. His gaze held her; she tried to shake it off, but it held her.

"Then I will tell you this: I have always felt that the glittering luxury of a large harem is in truth a very empty measure of man's greatness. For Tako there will be more manly things. The power of leadership--the power to rule my world. When I got that idea, it occurred to me also that for a man like me there might be some one woman--to stand alone by my side and rule our world."

His hand touched her arm, and though she shuddered, she left it there. Tako added with a soft vibrant tenseness. "I am beginning to think that you are that woman."

There was a sound in the corridor outside the door--enough to cause Tako momentarily to swing his gaze. It broke the spell for Jane; with a shock she realized that like a snake he had been holding her fascinated. His gaze came back at once, but now she shook off his hand from her arm.

"Tolla told me you--you said something like that to her," Jane said with an ironic smile.

It angered him. The earnestness dropped from him like a mask. "Oh, did she? And you have been mocking me, you two girls?"

He stood up, his giant length bringing his head almost to the vaulted ceiling of the little compartment. "What degradation for Tako that women should discuss his heart."

His frowning face gazed down at Jane; there was on it now nothing to fascinate her; instead, his gaze inspired terror.

"We--we said nothing else," she stammered.

"Say what you like. What is it to me? I am a man, and the clatter of women's tongues is no concern of mine."

He strode to the door. From over his shoulder he said, "What I shall do with you I have not yet decided. If Tolla is interested, tell her that."

"Tako, let me--I mean you do not understand--"

But he was gone. Jane sat trembling. A sense of defeat was on her. Worse than that, she felt that she had done us all immeasurable harm. Tako's anger might react upon Don and me. As a matter of fact, if it did he concealed it, for we saw no change in his attitude.

Tolla rejoined Jane within a moment. If Tako spoke to her outside Jane did not know it. But she was at once aware that the other girl had been listening; Tolla's face was white and grim. She came in, busied herself silently about the room.

Jane turned from the window. "You heard us, Tolla?"

"Yes, I heard you! You with your crooked look staring at him--"

"Why, Tolla, I did not!"

"I saw you! Staring at him so that he would think you beautiful! Asking him, with a boldness beyond that of any woman I could ever imagine--asking him if he planned you for his harem!"

She stood over Jane, staring down with blazing eyes. "Oh, I heard you! And I heard him telling you how noble are his motives! One woman, just for him!"

"But, Tolla--"

"Do not lie to me! I heard him sneering at me--telling you of this one woman just for him! And you are that woman! Hah! He thinks that now, does he? He thinks he will make you love him as I love him. As I love him! And what does he know of that! What woman's love can mean!"

"Tolla! Don't be foolish. I didn't--I never had any desire to--"

"What do your desires concern me? He thinks he will win you with tales of his conquests! A great man, this Tako, because he will devastate New York!"

This was the fury of a woman scorned. She was wholly beside herself, her words tumbling, incoherent, beyond her will, beyond her realization of what she was saying.

"A great conquest to make you love him! With his giant projector he will subdue New York! Hah! What a triumph! But it is the weapon's power, not his! He and all his army--these great brave and warlike men--why I alone with that weapon could turn--"

She stopped abruptly. The red flush of frenzied anger drained from her cheeks.

Jane leaped to her feet. "What do you mean? With that giant projector--"

But Tolla was standing frozen, with all her anger gone and horror at what she had said flooding her.

"What do you mean, Tolla?" insisted Jane, seizing her. "What could you do with that giant projector?"

"Let me go!" Tolla tried to jerk away.

"I won't let you go! Tell me what you were going to say!"

"Let me go!" Tolla got one hand loose and struck Jane in the face. But Jane again seized the wrist. In the scuffle they overturned a chair.

"I won't let you go until you--"

And then Tako, Don and I, hearing the uproar, burst in upon them. Jane let go her hold, and Tolla broke into sobs, and sank to the floor.

And both of them were sullen and silent under our questioning.


Weird Battleground!

"We have it going very well," said Tako, chuckling. "Don't you think so? Sit here by me. We will stay here for a time now."

Tako had a small flat rock for a table. On it he had spread his paraphernalia for this battle--if battle it could be called. Weird contest! Opposing forces, each imponderable to the other so that no physical contact had yet been made. Tako sat at his rock; giving orders to his leaders who came hurrying up and were away at his command; or speaking orders into his sound apparatus; or consulting his charts and co-ordinates, questioning Don and me at times over the meaning of shadowy things we could see taking place about us.

A little field headquarters our post here might have been termed.[8]

[8] The detailed nature of the scientific devices Tako used in the handling of his army during the attack never has been disclosed. I saw him using one of the eye-telescopes. There was also a telephonic device and occasionally he would discharge a silent signal radiance--a curious intermittent green flare of light. His charts of the topography of New York City were to me incomprehensible hieroglyphics--mathematical formula, no doubt; the co-ordinates of altitudes and contours of our world-space in its relation to the mountainous terrain of his world which stood mingled here with the New York City buildings.

We were grouped now around Tako on a small level ledge of rock. It lay on a broken, steeply ascending ramp of a mountainside. The mountain terraces towered back and above us. In front, two hundred feet down, was a valley of pits and craters; and to the sides a tumbled region of alternating precipitous cliffs and valley depths.

Upon every point of vantage, for two or three miles around us, Tako's men were dispersed. To us, they were solid gray blobs in the luminous darkness. The carriers, all arrived now, stood about a mile from us, and save for their guards, the men had all left them. The weapons were being taken out and carried to various points over the mountains and in the valley depths. Small groups of men--some two hundred in a group--were gathered at many different points, assembling their weapons, and waiting for Tako's orders. Messengers toiled on foot between them, climbing, white figures. Signals flashed.

Fantastic, barbaric scene--it seemed hardly modern. Mountain defiles were swarming with white invaders, making ready, but not yet attacking.

We had had as yet no opportunity of talking alone with Jane since we left the carrier. The incident with Tolla was to us wholly inexplicable. But that it was significant of something, we knew--by Jane's tense white face and the furtive glances she gave us. Don and I were ready to seize the first opportunity to question her.

Tolla, by the command of Tako, stayed close by Jane, and the two girls were always within sight of us. They were here now, seated on the rocks twenty feet from us. And the two guards, whom Tako had appointed at the carrier, sat near us with alert weapons, watching Jane and us closely.[9]

[9] There was a thing which puzzled me before we arrived in the carrier, and surprised me when we left it; and though I did not, and still do not wholly understand it, I think I should mention it here. Traveling in the carrier we were suspended in a condition of matter which might be termed mid way between Tako's realm and our Earth-world. Both, in shadowy form, were visible to us; and to an observer on either world we also were visible.

Then, as the carrier landed, it receded from this sort of borderland as I have termed it, contacted with its own realm and landed. At once I saw that the shadowy outlines of New York were gone. And, to New York observers, the carriers as they landed, were invisible. The mountains--all this tumbled barren wilderness of Tako's world--were invisible to observers in New York.

But I knew now how very close were the two worlds--a very fraction of visible "distance," one from the other.

Then, with wires, disks and helmets--all the transition mechanism worn now by us and all of Tako's forces--we drew ourselves a very small fraction of the way toward the Earth-world state. Enough and no more than to bring it to most tenuous, most wraithlike visibility, so that we could see the shadows of it and know our location in relation to it, which was necessary to Tako's operations.

In this state, New York City was a wraith to us--and we were shadowy, dimly visible apparitions to New York observers. But in this slight transition, we did not wholly disconnect with the terrain of Tako's world. There was undoubtedly--if the term could be called scientific--a depth of field to the solidity of these mountains. By that I mean, their tangibility persisted for a certain distance toward other dimensions. Perhaps it was a greater "depth of field" than the solidity of our world possesses. As to that, I do not know.

But I do know, since I experienced it, that as we sat now encamped upon this ledge, the ground under us felt only a trifle different from when we had full contact with it. There was a lightness upon us--an abnormal feeling of weight-loss--a feeling of indefinable abnormality to the rocks. Yet, to observers in New York, we were faintly to be seen, and the rocks upon which we sat were not.

There was just once after we left the carrier, toiling over the rocks with Tako's little cortege to this vantage point on the ledge, that Jane found an opportunity of communicating secretly with us.

"Tolla told me something about the giant projector! Something about how it--"

She could say almost nothing but that. "The projector, Bob, if you can only learn how it--"

Tolla was upon us, calling to attract Tako's attention, and Jane moved away.

The giant projector! We had it with us now; a dozen men had laboriously carried it up here. Not yet assembled, it stood here on the ledge--a rectangular gray box about the size and shape of a coffin, encased now in the mesh of transition mechanism. Tako intended to materialize us and that box into the city when the time came, unpack and erect the projector, and with its long range dominate all the surrounding country.

Tolla had almost told Jane something about it! Jane was trying to learn that secret. Or she thought we might learn it from Tako. But of what use if we did? We were helpless, every moment under the eyes of guards whose little hand-beams could in a second annihilate us. When, leaving the carrier, Jane had appeared garbed like the rest of us and we had all been equipped with the transition mechanism which we knew well how to use now, the thought came to me of trying to escape. But it was futile. I could set the switches at my belt to materialize me into New York. But as I faded, the weapons of the guards would have been quick enough to catch me. How could Jane, Don and I simultaneously try a thing like that.

"Impossible!" Don whispered. "Don't do anything wrong. Some chance may come, later."

But with that slight transition over, Tako at once removed from our belts a vital part of the mechanism in order to make it impotent.

An hour passed, here on the ledge, with most of the activity of Tako's men incomprehensible to us.

"You shall see very soon," he chuckled grimly, "I can give the signal to attack--all at once. Look there! They grow very bold, these New York soldiers. They have come to inspect us."

It was night in New York City--about two A.M. of the night of May 19th and 20th. Our mountain ledge was within a store on the east side of Fifth Avenue at 36th Street. We seemed to be but one story above the pavement. The shadowy outlines of a large rectangular room with great lines of show-cases dividing it into wide aisles. I recognized it at once--a jewelry store, one of the best known in the world. A gigantic fortune in jewelry was here, some of it hastily packed in great steel safes nearby, and some of it abandoned in these show-cases when the panic swept the city a few days previously.

But the jewelry of our world was nothing to these White Invaders. Tako never even glanced at the cases, or knew or cared what sort of a store this was.

The shadowy street of Fifth Avenue showed just below us. It was empty now of vehicles and people, but along it a line of soldiers were gathered. Other stores and ghostly structures lay along Fifth Avenue. And five hundred feet away, diagonally across the avenue, the great Empire State Building, the tallest structure in the entire world, towered like a ghostly Titan into the void above us.

This ghostly city! We could see few details. The people had all deserted this mid-Manhattan now. The stores and hotels and office buildings were empty.

A group of soldiers came into the jewelry store and stood within a few feet of us, peering at us. Yet so great was the void between us that Tako barely glanced at them. He was giving orders constantly now. For miles around us his men on the mountains and in the valleys were feverishly active.

But doing what? Don and I could only wonder. A tenseness had gripped upon Tako. The time for his attack was nearing.

"Very presently now," he repeated. He gestured toward the great apparition of the Empire State Building so near us.

"I am sparing that. A good place for us to mount the projector--up there in that tall tower. You see where our mountain slope cuts through that building? We can materialize with the projector at that point."

The steep ramp of the mountainside upon which we were perched sloped up and cut midway through the Empire State Building. The building's upper portion was free of the mountain whose peaks towered to the west. We could climb from our ledge up the ramp to the small area where it intersected the Empire State at the building's sixtieth to seventieth stories.

The apparitions of New York's soldiers stood in the jewelry store with futile leveled weapons.

"They are wondering what we are doing!" Tako chuckled.

A dozen of Tako's men, unheeding the apparitions, were now busy within a few hundred feet of us down the rocky slope. We saw at close view, what Tako's army was busy doing everywhere. The men had little wedge-shaped objects of a gray material. The materialization bombs! They were placing them carefully at selected points on the rocks, and adjusting the firing mechanisms. This group near us, which Don and I watched with a fascinated horror, were down in the basement of the jewelry store, among its foundations. There for a moment; then moving out under Fifth Avenue, peering carefully at the spectral outlines of the cellars of other structures.

Then presently Tako called an order. He stood for a moment on the ledge with arms outstretched so that his men, and Don and I and Jane, and the wondering apparitions of the gathered soldiers and New York Police could see him. His moment of triumph! It marked his face with an expression which was utterly Satanic.

Then he dropped his arms for the signal to attack.


The Devastation of New York That night of May 19th and 20th in New York City will go down in history as the strangest, most terrible ever recorded. The panics caused by the gathering apparitions of the previous days were nearly over now. The city was under martial law, most of it deserted by civilians, save for the dead who still lay strewn on the streets.

Lower and mid-Manhattan were an empty shell of deserted structures, and silent, littered streets, which at night were dark, and through which criminals prowled, braving the unknown terror to fatten upon this opportunity.

Soldiers and police patrolled as best they could all of Manhattan, trying to clear the streets of the crushed and trampled bodies; seeking in the deserted buildings those who might still be there, trapped or ill, or hurt so that they could not escape; protecting property from the criminals who en masse had broken jail and were lurking here.

Warships lay in the harbor and the rivers. The forts on Staten Island and at Sandy Hook were ready with their artillery to attack anything tangible. Airplanes sped back and forth overhead. Troops were marching from outlying points--lines of them coming in over all the bridges.

By midnight of May 19th and 20th there were groups of ghosts visible everywhere about the city. They lurked in the buildings, permeating the solid walls, stalking through them, or down through the foundations; they wandered upon invisible slopes of their own world, climbing up to gather in groups and hanging in mid-air over the city rooftops. In the Hudson River off Grant's Tomb two or three hundred of the apparitions were seemingly encamped at a level below the river's surface. And others were in the air over the waters of the upper bay.

Toward midnight, from the open ocean beyond Sandy Hook spectral vehicles came winging for the city. Rapidly decreasing what had at first seemed a swift flight, they floated like ghostly dirigibles over the bay, heading for Manhattan. The forts fired upon them; airplanes darted at them, through them. But the wraiths came on unheeding. And then, gathering over Manhattan at about Washington Square, they faded and vanished.

Within thirty minutes, though the vehicles never reappeared, it was seen that the spectral invaders were now tremendously augmented in numbers. A line of shapes marched diagonally beneath the city streets. Patrolling soldiers in the now deserted subways saw them marching past. The group in the air over the harbor was augmented. In Harlem they were very near the street levels, a mass of a thousand or more strung over an area of forty blocks.

In mid-Manhattan soldiers saw that Tiffany's jewelry store housed the lurking shapes. Some were lower, others higher; in this section around Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street the apparitions were at tremendously diverse levels. There were some perched high in the air more than half way up the gigantic Empire State Building; and still others off to the west were in the air fifteen hundred feet or more above the Pennsylvania Station.

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