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Charles L. Fontenay.

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the government will have a well-armed force there by jet. I want you to
load trucks with supplies, gather all the wives and go straight to the
Icaria Desert to establish our colony. I'll direct you telepathically
when you reach Icaria, if we aren't already there. Cut across the
deserts and lowlands, and stay away from the roads and cities._

Pietro: _Very well. But we'll have to leave the city vehicle by vehicle,
and rendezvous somewhere in the lowland. It will take some time._

Dark: _Whatever is necessary. Do you know where the Chief is?_

Pietro: _He's here in jail in Mars City. His trial is due in twenty
days, and we had planned to rescue him sometime during the trial._

Dark: _Leave a few good men there to rescue him as soon as you've
cleared Mars City and are on the way to Icaria. Has Nuwell Eli gotten
back to Mars City yet?_

Pietro: _I don't know. We can find out._

Dark: _He has Maya Cara Nome with him. She's the girl who was the
secretary at the barber college when it was raided, and she's one of the
Phoenix now. I want her rescued, at the same time, if possible. If not,
I'll go to Mars City and do it myself later, but I want to get all of
you cleared of the city first._

Mantar: _What do you want me to do?_

Dark: _The most difficult thing of all. I want you to stay in
Hesperidum, and send out all the Phoenix you have with you to contact
those in other Martian cities. They are to rendezvous at Hesperidum, and
then you will gather supplies and form another caravan to join the rest
of us in Icaria._

Cheng: _When shall I move out?_

Dark: _As soon as you can gather your men and material together. But
stay out of sight of the farm and don't attack until you hear from me. I
should be there within the next forty-eight hours._

The instructions given, the telepathic conference faded out, and Dark
was a solitary man plodding across the desert, pulling a loaded cart
behind him.

He came in sight of the Canfell Hydroponic Farm in just about the time
that he had predicted to Cheng, but waited until nightfall to approach
it. Phobos was abroad in the east at sunset, so Dark waited a little
longer, until the nearer moon plunged beneath the eastern horizon.
Deimos was not in the sky this night, and Phobos' disappearance left it
near pitch-dark.

Dark moved across the starlit desert, pulling his cart, to the walls of
the farm. The farm was not a massive, sprawling fortress like Ultra
Vires, because most of it was underground. The upper floor, in which
Happy's "Masters" lived and worked, was just below the ground level and
the underground vats were below it, extending considerably beyond it in
all directions. The only parts of the farm that projected above ground
were its four entrances, small buildings of white stone, each with its
own airlock.

Dark went through the airlock of the nearest one. These entrance
buildings were the barracks of the Toughs, in which they slept at night,
secure from the possibility of escape because no marsuits were available
to them. Dark had moved quietly through a barracks of sleeping Toughs
the night he had left the farm for Ultra Vires, but this time he had his
cart with him.

There was no alternative but a bold course. Spearing the light of an
electric torch before him, he walked down the aisle toward the barred
gate leading into the regions below, pulling the metal-wheeled cart
across the stone floor behind him.

Its clatter brought the whole barracks awake. On all sides of him arose
an angry growling and shouting, an upsurge from many throats of the
animal noises that were the Toughs' nearest approach to human language.
Dark moved forward steadily, keeping a telepathic "radar" out to warn
him of any impending attack.

The very boldness of his action paid off. Its openness apparently
convinced the Toughs that this was merely another, unusually noisy case
of one of the Masters returning to the farm at night - as Dark sensed had
occurred often before. Dark was not molested.

The barred gate had no controls on this side. Dark operated it
psychokinetically. It raised slowly, he pulled his cart through, and he
lowered it behind him and went on down the ramp into the underground
cavern.

He went straight to Old Beard's hiding place, and awoke him. Old Beard
greeted him joyously.

"I was afraid something had happened to you, you were gone so long,"
said Old Beard.

"I had to walk back," said Dark. "None of the groundcars at Ultra Vires
was in operating condition."

"Then there's no chance of the rest of us escaping," said Old Beard
disappointedly. "We can't get at the groundcars here, and the marsuits
you brought won't help. The oxygen supply of a marsuit isn't adequate to
take us from here to the nearest civilization."

"I think we can get to the groundcars," answered Dark confidently. "I
brought heatguns, as well as marsuits. Besides, I have a larger plan now
than merely escape."

He related to Old Beard all the things that had happened, including the
fact that Old Beard was his father.

"I am very happy," said Old Beard simply, tears in his pale eyes. "I
liked you very much from the first, Dark, and I'm glad that you can bear
the name of Dark Kensington rightfully."

When Dark told him of the plan for the conquest of the farm, Old Beard
stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"I'm afraid that the attack from within will depend largely on you and
me, although Shadow probably will be able to help effectively," said Old
Beard. "The Jellies aren't very aggressive and, even with a few
heatguns, I'm afraid they won't be of much use."

"How about the Toughs?"

"The Toughs would be fine, if you want to wipe out all the Masters and
all the Jellies, and possibly us, too. They're vicious and
unintelligent, and they can't be disciplined or depended upon."

"With the attack from the outside timed right, I think the three of us
can handle it," said Dark. "How many of the Masters are there?"

"Only ten," answered Old Beard. "And they aren't soldiers, but
scientists. But they do have weapons, and they know how to handle them.
They have to, in order to keep the Toughs from getting out of line."

"Perhaps we can whip the Jellies up to the point of causing a good deal
of initial trouble and confusion, and then the three of us move in at
the proper moment after the attack from outside is under way," said
Dark. "We might even turn the Toughs loose on them, without weapons."

Old Beard gave him a steady gaze from beneath bushy eyebrows.

"I don't think we want to use the Toughs," he said slowly. "I said there
are ten Masters, and that is correct. But they have a visitor who
arrived by copter several days ago. A visitor and a prisoner."

"A prisoner?"

"Yes, a prisoner who wasn't sent down to the vats, but is kept on the
upper floor. This prisoner is a black-haired, black-eyed woman."

"Maya!"

"Yes, I think the visitor is Nuwell Eli and the prisoner is your friend,
Maya."




16


Nuwell Eli sat with Placer Viceroy, director of the Canfell Hydroponic
Farm, in its large underground dining room, eating lunch. This meal was
not the tasteless, gelatin-like food that was fed to the Jellies and
Toughs and sold on the Martian market. It was a meal of thick, juicy
steaks from the dome farms around Hesperidum and vegetables from the
gardens inside the Mars City dome.

"We've been here better than a week, and she's still stubborn," Nuwell
said morosely. "Surely she has the intelligence to realize how
ridiculous and impractical is her sudden conversion to a lost rebel
cause. I'm half convinced that this Kensington fellow put her under some
sort of a hypnotic spell."

"You've been very gentle in your methods of conversion," said Placer.
"It isn't like you, Nuwell. If you want quick results, we could turn her
over to the Toughs for a while."

"No, I don't want her hurt. I love the woman and intend to marry her.
The whippings and humiliations are as far as I'm willing to go."

"A peculiar sort of love, if you don't mind my saying so," remarked
Placer.

Nuwell stared at him coldly.

"I do mind your saying so," he said. "My personal emotions are not
subject to your interpretation. But Martian wives are expected to obey
their husbands with deference and, by Saturn, I'm going to break her of
that liberal terrestrial training!"

"You'd have the legal right to take the steps necessary for that, if she
were married to you," Placer pointed out.

"But the little fool refuses to marry me now!" exclaimed Nuwell in
exasperation. "If she hadn't refused, do you think I'd have brought her
here? But I couldn't take her to one of the cities, except as a prisoner
to be tried for sedition and treason, as long as she expresses this
violent and open support of the rebel cause. Whether you consider it
love or not, I want the woman for myself. I don't want her imprisoned or
executed."

"Perhaps if she were presented with that alternative, she'd be more
reasonable about it," murmured Placer.

"Don't you think I've threatened her with it? She just says that she'd
rather die or go to prison than go back on her convictions and knuckle
under to me. If she could only forget that she'd ever met that man
Kensington!"

"Well, as for that, it might not be so hard to arrange," suggested
Placer quietly.

Nuwell stared at him.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"You're not familiar with the details of our work here, are you,
Nuwell?"

"I thought I was, pretty well. But what you just said doesn't strike a
chord."

"As you know, the Toughs and Jellies are originally criminals and
vagabonds you have smuggled to us for experimental purposes. One major
effect of our initial glandular experiments with them, which makes them
into Toughs and Jellies, is that they lose all memory of their past."

"I don't want a flabby woman, like a Jelly!" exclaimed Nuwell with a
shudder.

"I think we could eliminate the memory, permanently, without any
physical changes at all," said Placer. "There are some pretty good
scientists here. I expect the operation would cut down her thinking
ability pretty heavily, though. I think it would still be slightly
higher than that of the Jellies, but you couldn't ever expect her again
to get above the intellectual level of a child of six or eight
terrestrial years."

"I don't care anything about an intelligent woman," answered Nuwell
ruthlessly. "If she weren't so proud of her intelligence now, I wouldn't
have so much trouble with her. I want her as a beautiful woman, which is
all a woman has a right to expect from a man, and if she were less
intelligent and more tractable I might be able to train her to become
the sort of wife a man of my profession and position requires."

Placer speared a bite of steak, casually, with his fork.

"Any time you say the word," he said carelessly.

"I'll give her the rest of today," said Nuwell with decision. "I'll work
her over again with the whip this afternoon, and if she doesn't break
I'll tell her what she can expect. Then, if that doesn't do the trick,
I'll turn her over to you the first thing tomorrow."

"Tonight would be better," suggested Placer. "The initial surgery takes
only about thirty minutes, and she'd do better to rest a night after
that. It alone will remove a great deal of her volitional power. The
entire series of operations will require about three days."

"Tonight it is, then," said Nuwell, "if she doesn't break this
afternoon."

Maya sat in her locked room, her tunic and trousers covering the red
welts on her back and legs. The tasteless gelatin which had been her
only food since their arrival almost gagged her with every spoonful, but
she had eaten all her lunch. She needed all the strength she could get
to maintain her defiance.

She was in the grip of dull, unrelenting pain, physically and
emotionally. Her flesh ached from yesterday's beating, and she was sick
at heart at the revelation of Nuwell's essential brutality and
callousness. She had thought him a sensitive and intelligent man, and
she had admired him for this even after some of his exhibitions of
childish temper had disillusioned her as to the glowing nobility which
she had at first attributed to him.

She had felt a warm attraction to him and, when she thought Dark was
dead, she had been willing to marry him on the basis, not of the
passionate love she now felt for Dark, but of a mellow tenderness which
she conceived a sound basis for an understanding life together.

But now! She shuddered at the thought that she might have married him,
and perhaps lived all her life with him, thinking him to be gentle and
kind. Whatever happened to her, she felt fortunate that this crisis had
brought to her view the hidden side of him, that heretofore had been
seen only by his partners in political manipulation and by the
unfortunate victims of his prosecution.

Her shoulders drooped wearily. She stared across the room. It was as
bare as a prison cell, which intrinsically it was.

There was a glass on the washbasin. It was made of heavy metal, with no
sharp edges. Did Nuwell think she would commit suicide? Not as long as
she knew Dark was alive!

Her mind touched the glass. It quivered. It tilted and fell to the floor
with a clang.

She looked at it with mild curiosity as it rolled into a corner. She
hadn't done that for a long time, not since she suppressed it because of
Nuwell's hatred of witchcraft.

It was telekinesis. She had had the power since she was a child. It
seemed that she remembered using it often, and in rather startling ways,
when she was a small child with the Martians. But when she went to
Earth, she gradually stopped playing with it, except in small ways when
she was alone, because it seemed to make her elders very uncomfortable.

Telekinesis was ESP. It did not mean that she had any other ESP powers.
But there was her experience in the copter....

Her mind reached out. At once, like a shock, she was in contact with
Dark. His mind turned to hers at once.

Dark: _Maya! Where are you?_

Maya: _Come into my room, darling. I'm at the Canfell Hydroponic Farm.
Are you still at Ultra Vires?_

Dark: _No, I'm in the vats below you. I knew you were here, but I didn't
know where. I can see your room now, though, and its place in the
building._

Maya: _Can you free me?_

Dark: _Not now. There are four Toughs outside your door, guarding it. I
can't attack them without arousing the Masters. Soon, though._

Maya: _I don't know how I'm doing this. I didn't know I had telepathic
powers._

Dark: _A good many people have them, potentially. They don't have to
have been "changed," as I was. But they usually require development._

Maya: _I'm just glad I can, to know that you're here._

Dark: _Maya, why are you in pain?_

Maya: _Nuwell has been whipping me, to try to get me to recant on my
expressions of support for the rebel cause._

There was a white-hot explosion in her brain that almost literally
seared her mind. Staggered at its impact, she recognized it as the
explosion of Dark's sudden anger. Then she was no longer in contact with
him.

A hundred feet away, in another room, Nuwell pulled on a pair of black
gloves and picked up a short, thick-lashed whip. Coiling the whip, he
stepped out into the corridor, and turned toward Maya's room.

He met Placer, walking in the opposite direction.

"You're going to make your last try, now?" asked Placer.

"Yes," replied Nuwell. "I hope it works. Actually, her spirit and quick
wit are among the reasons I like the girl. But I don't intend to be
defied in this."

He proceeded on down the hall.

As he started past the barred gate to one of the ramps leading down into
the vats below, the buzzer beside it sounded. A Jelly was standing
behind the gate, fat, pathetic face pressed against the bars.

Nuwell stopped. No one else was in sight in the corridor.

"What do you want?" he asked the Jelly.

"Master, I seek entry in answer to the summons," replied the Jelly in a
voice that quavered with fright.

"What summons?"

"It was ordered that one of us come above and do a task for the
Masters," replied the Jelly. "I am one of those who must work today, and
I have come in answer to the summons."

Nuwell looked up and down the corridor. He saw no one.

"What sort of task?" he asked, reluctant to accept the responsibility of
admitting the Jelly.

"I don't know, Master."

"Look," said Nuwell, "I'm not a Master. I don't know anything about the
summons. Someone else will have to let you in."

"If I'm late, they'll let the Toughs whip me!" wailed the Jelly
pathetically. "Please let me in, Master!"

Nuwell, the whip coiled in his hand, impatient to get to Maya's room,
was moved to pity at the creature's plight. Besides, the Jellies were
harmless, and this one certainly wouldn't be seeking admittance without
having been called.

"All right, then," said Nuwell, and flipped the switch.

The bars grated open and the Jelly came into the corridor. But as Nuwell
reached out to activate the switch and close the gate, the Jelly, with
surprising agility, slipped between him and the switch.

"What in space?" growled Nuwell. "Get out of the way!"

The Jelly did not move.

"I said get out of the way!" snapped Nuwell, shaking out the whip.

The Jelly cringed and its eyes were terrified, but it still stood
against the switch, its huge, translucent body barring Nuwell.

"No, Master," it whimpered. "Don't shut the gate!"

Viciously, Nuwell slashed the whip across its naked shoulders, and the
Jelly squealed with pain. Nuwell raised the whip again.

But then through the open gate there poured a solid mass of translucent
flesh, a horde of naked Jellies. Silently, they tumbled into the
corridor, filling it from wall to wall, and others behind them pushed to
enter as they paused.

Wide-eyed, Nuwell stared at them for the briefest of moments. Then he
dropped the whip and fled back up the hall, shouting at the top of his
voice.

The door at the end of the corridor opened as Nuwell neared it, and
Placer appeared in it. He held up a restraining hand.

"Don't make so much noise!" he snapped. "There's a conference going on
in there. What's the - "

Voiceless now, Nuwell grasped Placer's arm and pointed, trembling, back
down the corridor.

"What in space?" demanded Placer irritably, peering at the mass of
Jellies pouring out of the gate and beginning to move hesitantly along
the corridor in both directions.

"Jellies!" croaked Nuwell. "The Jellies are loose! They're attacking
us!"

"Soft hunks of blubber!" said Placer contemptously. "They can't hurt
anybody. I wonder what idiot left that gate open?"

"I did," admitted Nuwell. "I mean, one of them wanted in and I let him
in, and then he backed up against the switch so I couldn't close it,
until the others came in."

"I don't know what sort of harebrained idea has gotten into their feeble
minds," said Placer. "But I can take care of it in short order."

He stepped back into the room, and Nuwell heard him apologizing to the
others for the disturbance. Then Placer reappeared, two whips in his
hand, and closed the door behind him. He handed one of the whips to
Nuwell.

"They're a lot more tractable than that woman of yours," said Placer.
"Let's go."

Placer moved down the corridor toward the slowly advancing Jellies, and
Nuwell followed reluctantly, at a respectable distance.

"Get back below!" shouted Placer at the Jellies as he neared them. "You
know better than to come up here without permission!"

They stopped and milled as he approached them relentlessly, those in
front trying to hold back and those behind them pushing them on. Placer
moved straight up to them and began slashing right and left with his
whip.

There was a sudden surge forward of the Jellies and Placer was engulfed.
He vanished in a mass of seething, translucent flesh. Nuwell stopped,
appalled, and began to edge backward.

There was a flurry of movement in the forefront of the Jellies, and
Placer burst out of the group, his hair awry, his clothing torn, his
whip gone. He staggered toward Nuwell at a half run.

"Get back to the room!" cried Placer. "I don't know what's stirred them
up, but they can't be frightened back with whips!"

The two men ran back down the corridor and burst through the door,
startling a conference group of five of the other Masters.

"Heatguns!" snapped Placer. "Something's stirred the Jellies up, and
they're up here causing trouble! I'll turn the Toughs loose on them."

While two of the others hurried out another door for weapons and a third
bolted the door through which the two men had just come, Placer picked
up a microphone and switched on the amplifier system that covered every
area of all levels of the Canfell Hydroponic Farm.

Into the microphone, he gave an animal call, a cry that started out on a
low crooning note and rose in volume and intensity until it hurt the
ears. He repeated this three times. Then he set the microphone down and
turned back to his colleagues, an expression of satisfaction on his
face.

"That releases the Toughs," he said. "Every Tough in the place is free
to maim or kill any Jelly he sees, without fear of restraint or
punishment. That should bring them to heel pretty quickly!"




17


Behind the locked door of the conference room, one of the Masters passed
out heatguns to Nuwell, Placer and the other four.

"If we use these on them at half intensity, I think we can calm them
down without killing any of them," said Placer. "We'll probably have
more trouble beating down the Toughs and keeping them from killing all
the Jellies than we will subduing the Jellies in the first place."

"I hope we warned the three at the other end of the hall in time," said
one of the others. "There hasn't been any word from them."

Placer flicked a switch on the intercom system.

"Touchstone, are you men safe?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," replied a voice on the other end. "We locked ourselves in,
because there aren't any heatguns we can get to from here. The Jellies
haven't gotten this far down yet. They seem to be cowed by the Toughs at
the door to Miss Cara Nome's room, and the Toughs are strutting around
getting themselves in the mood for an attack. We've been watching them
through the window."

"Good," said Placer. "Between the Toughs at that end and our heatguns at
this end, we ought to be able to force them back below without much
trouble. Are we ready to move out?"

A different voice came in over the intercom, the voice of the tenth
Master, who was on duty in the farm's control room.

"Placer, the screens show three groundcars moving up from the south," he
said. "I've tried to contact them by radio, but they don't answer."

"We haven't been notified to expect any government visitors," said
Placer. "It may be a convoy of travelers off-course in the desert, or it
could be a wandering party of escaped rebels. Warn them away."

"Yes, sir."

Touchstone's voice came in from the other end of the hall.

"The Toughs are attacking, Placer. Space, it's awful! Those poor Jellies
can't stand up to the Toughs."

Suddenly his voice changed, and became shrill with excitement.

"Placer! One of those Jellies has a heatgun! Two of the Toughs were just
burned down, and the others are falling back down the hall. The Jellies
are coming on, and I can see the gun in the hand of one of them."

"Great space!" muttered Placer. "All right, Touchstone. Hold tight and
keep that door locked. We'll get to you."

He turned to the others.

"We've got to move out now," he said. "Use full intensity and shoot to
kill. We'll have to burn our way through those Jellies and get to the
other end of the hall."

Leaving one of the Masters at the intercom in the control room, the
other six went out into the corridor, heatguns ready. The foremost
Jellies had advanced almost to the door, and now that they had spread
out along the corridor, they were not packed so closely together.

The six men advanced steadily, leveling their guns. They fired, intense,
almost invisible beams stabbing into the group of Jellies.

Jellies shrieked in pain, several of them collapsing to the floor with
smoking flesh. The others turned in panic and began to crowd back down
the corridor, the beams stabbing at them and picking them off one by
one.

Then, from amid the Jellies, a beam struck forth, and one of the Masters
went down, his face burned away. Placer burned down the Jelly holding
the heatgun, and the five survivors moved grimly on.

On the ramp ahead, Dark and Old Beard approached the open gate to the
corridor, Happy and Shadow following them.


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