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Charles L. Fontenay.

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in such mental fields, a relic of the ancient science they're legended
to have had when their civilizations covered Mars.

"I worked with Martians very closely for long periods during the early
days of the rebellion - the Phoenix, as you say they call it now - and
they may very well have recorded my memory pattern through some means I
don't know anything about and for reasons I can't imagine."

"That sounds reasonable," conceded Dark. "But that still leaves
unanswered the questions: Who am I, and what's happened to my memories
of the past twenty-five years?"

"I'm afraid I can't answer that," replied Old Beard.

In the dimness ahead of them, they discerned a group of nude Toughs
approaching, swaggering down the path. They turned aside and found a
recess in the vegetation in which they could wait until the Toughs
passed and went on their way. The Toughs were aggressive, and
insensately brutal, and a meeting with them could only mean trouble.

"Happy's explained the situation here, as well as he could, but I'm
afraid it wasn't a very adequate explanation," said Dark as they huddled
in the shadowed recess. "Could you tell me more about it, and explain
how you happen to be here?"

"Happy is very intelligent, for a Jelly, but none of the Jellies are
exceptionally bright," answered Old Beard, with a touch of affection in
his voice. "I'll outline it to you as briefly as I can.

"As your memories - or transplanted memories - indicate, I was one of a
group of Martian colonists who joined forces to work at what, at first,
appeared to be a theoretical and fantastic project: the development of
the ability to live under natural Martian conditions, without dependence
on the regular importation of extremely expensive imports from Earth. As
you know, this project very shortly began to lose its fantastic
qualities and appear to be definitely within the realm of possible
realization.

"Because of the differing background and orientation of those of us who
attempted this project, two approaches were adopted. One, based on
advancing terrestrial research into the field of extrasensory
perception, was aimed at developing telepathic and telekinetic powers so
that food, oxygen, machinery and other essentials could be teleported
directly from Earth into the martian domes without dependence on the
spacelines. The other, based on more orthodox science, was aimed at
genetic development of a human type that could live _without_ these
importations, on native Martian food and in the Martian atmosphere.

"As you know, the government banned these experiments and we retreated
into the desert to carry them on despite the ban. From what you tell me
of the extent of your memories, what you do not know is the reason
behind the ban, which we discovered - or, at least, I did - only after we
had been betrayed and the government had raided and broken up our
experimental colony.

"The spacelines, as one might have guessed, were responsible. They saw
that the success of the experiments would destroy their lucrative
business. These spacelines, led by the Mars Corporation, which later
absorbed the others and gained a monopoly, brought political pressure to
bear and got the project banned.

"I had heard reports that a great many of my colleagues escaped and
formed a rebel organization that carried on the work secretly and
illegally, but I was never able to learn details of it until you came
and told me of the activities in which you have been engaged. You see, I
haven't been out of these caves in a quarter of a century."

Shadow appeared at the recess to report to them that the Toughs had
passed on. How he did it, Dark was unable to determine surely, for he
could hear no words spoken. Either Shadow communicated by subtle
gestures or by tones beyond Dark's powers of hearing, but both Old Beard
and Happy seemed to understand him readily.

"How do you happen to be here, Old Beard?" asked Dark as they left the
recess and resumed their progress down the walkways.

"I was captured when the government broke up the experimental groups,"
answered Old Beard. "I was the leader of the section of the experiments
dealing with extrasensory perception, and, instead of executing me at
once, they tried to persuade me to continue this work for the government
along specific lines and under supervision. I refused, because I knew
that anything I helped them develop would not be used for the benefit of
the Martian colonists, but for greater profits for the spacelines.

"At last I was able to escape into these underground caverns where they
grow food plants hydroponically and sell them to supplement the produce
of the dome farms and the gardens in the dome cities. These caverns are
extensive and, with the friendship and help of the Jellies, I've evaded
discovery for twenty-five years."

"Just who and what are the Jellies?" asked Dark. "I haven't been able to
get a very satisfactory answer to that question from Happy."

"They're human experimental animals," answered Old Beard. "The
terrestrial food plants grown hydroponically and sold in the dome cities
actually are a supplemental sideline to the real purpose of this place.
Marscorp is conducting its own experiments here, with a crew of expert
geneticists.

"What Marscorp is trying to do is to breed native Martian plants, that
will grow in the open lowlands without expensive oxygenation and
irrigation, that are not poisonous to humans and can be used for food.
At the same time, they're approaching the problem from the other side,
and the Jellies are men and women whose glandular structure has been
altered in an effort to make their physiology more receptive to native
Martian vegetation. If they succeed, of course, Marscorp has just as
complete a monopoly over such a food supply as it does over imports from
Earth, but at considerably less expense."

"And the Toughs?"

"They're human experimental animals, too, based on a different type of
glandular alteration. They're neither as docile nor as intelligent as
the Jellies, so they can't be used for slave labour as the Jellies can.
About the only way they're ever used is as occasional goon squads to
terrorize the Jellies and keep them in line."

"You've been here twenty-five years and have never been able to escape?"
asked Dark incredulously.

"This place isn't guarded," replied Old Beard, with a wry smile. "They
don't have to guard it. All they have to guard are the supply room where
the marsuits are kept and the motor pool of groundcars. This place is in
the middle of the Desert of Candor, and no one can live in the Martian
desert without oxygen."

They came now to one of the walls of the underground cavern, and Old
Beard led them suddenly into a fissure that was well concealed from the
walkways by a tangled screen of vegetation. They stumbled along a narrow
passageway for a few feet, and emerged into a rude shaft, around the
walls of which a roughly-chiseled and steep stairway led upward into
pitch darkness. Here Old Beard halted.

"When I told you there's no way of escape here, it was not that I
haven't tried many times," he said to Dark.

"This shaft leads up into the walls of the structure above - above,
although it is still underground - and I have been up there often at
night. It has long been my hope that I might be able to get a marsuit or
a groundcar and make my escape, but they are kept locked up and always
guarded, against the Jellies and the Toughs.

"I want to take you up and give you an idea of the place now, and later
perhaps you will have some ideas to contribute. Happy and Shadow will
stay down here until we get back."

Old Beard mounted the steep steps slowly, and Dark followed at his
heels. Although the bottom of the "well" was lighted with the same dim
light as that which spread throughout the entire underground area, there
was no light at all higher up, and they had to feel their way carefully
lest they fall off the narrow steps.

At the top, Old Beard stopped and Dark bumped sharply into him.

"I'm going to move down the space between the walls," Old Beard
whispered. "Hold onto my hand and follow me. But don't say anything or
make any more noise than you can help, because anyone beyond the wall
may be able to hear you."

They moved ahead. The way was very narrow, very dark and very difficult,
and frequently was choked with ventilator pipes or tangles of wiring.
They had gone some forty or fifty feet, when Old Beard stopped.

By Old Beard's movements, Dark knew he was working at something. Then a
section of ventilator pipe came away from a ventilator grill, and faint
light illuminated the space in which they crouched. In this dimness, Old
Beard gestured to Dark to look through the ventilator.

Peering out, Dark saw that they were near the ceiling of a large,
high-ceilinged room. In it, under glaring lights, a group of half a
dozen white-clad men were working with knives and other instruments on
the body of a man, either anaesthetized or dead, which lay on a surgical
table.

Old Beard put his face against the grill next to Dark's, and the two men
watched the scene below for a few moments. Then one of the men around
the table raised his head, revealing a thin face, with watery blue eyes
and a straggly goatee.

The two men inside the wall gasped as one man.

"_Father!_"

The single loud word was torn from Dark's throat without his volition,
without his actually realizing he had spoken.

The heads of the men in the room jerked up at the cry, and they looked
around and at each other, with puzzled expressions. Old Beard clapped a
firm hand over Dark's mouth and hissed in his ear:

"Fool! Let's get out of here!"

As quietly as possible, they made their way back. Through the ventilator
behind them came the murmur of querulous voices.

When they had climbed back down the stairs and, with Happy and Shadow,
made their way back through the fissure, Old Beard fixed penetrating
eyes on Dark and said:

"I told you to keep quiet up there! What was that exclamation all
about?"

"It's something very strange," murmured Dark, his face thoughtful and
bemused. "But you evidently recognized that man, too. Who is he?"

"Yes, I know him very well," answered Old Beard, with deep bitterness in
his tone. "That's Goat Hennessey. But that's the first time I've seen
him in twenty-five years. He must have just come here recently."

"Goat Hennessey? I heard of him when I was in Mars City."

"Goat Hennessey was one of my most trusted friends," said Old Beard. "If
you bear my earlier memories, I'm surprised you didn't recognize him as
Goat Hennessey, too."

"I recognized him as someone else," said Dark in a low voice.

"We worked together," went on Old Beard. "I was a leader in the effort
to solve our problem through extrasensory perception, and he was the
major scientist in the group attempting to solve it by genetic change.
We worked together and we went into the desert together with the others
when the government banned our experiments.

"But Goat was the man who sold out. He betrayed us to the
government - for what price I don't know. And when government agents
raided us and broke up our organization and captured me, Goat Hennessey
kidnapped my young and pregnant wife, and I never saw her again.

"I'm glad Goat Hennessey is here, because now I can get to him. And when
I can reach him, I'm going to kill him. I'd like to kill him as slowly
and painfully as he killed the heart inside of me!"

As Old Beard spoke these last words, his face was tense, his fists
clenched and a somber fire burned in his pale eyes. Then, slowly, the
fire died out and he turned his eyes, once more cool and rational, a
little quizzical, on Dark.

"Didn't you call him 'father'?" he asked.

"Yes," said Dark in a low voice. "But I'd rather not talk about it right
now."

He looked at Old Beard, and seemed to be ridding himself, with an
effort, of a deep introversion.

"There's one thing that I've remembered as a result of seeing Goat
Hennessey," said Dark in a firmer voice. "This place isn't too far from
a place in the Xanthe Desert where Goat conducted some significant
experiments. If he left any of his records there - and I'm thinking of
some in particular - they might go a long way toward solving the problem
we've all be working on for so long. So now I know what to do next: I'm
going to Ultra Vires."

Old Beard smiled sadly.

"Have you forgotten we can't get out of this place?" he reminded. "We
can't get at either the marsuits or the groundcars."

It was Dark's turn to smile.

"I believe you said there aren't any guards on the airlocks to stop one
from walking out at night?" he said.

"That's true, but - "

"There's something you don't know," continued Dark. "You were wondering
at the basis of the regenerative power that permitted me to revive here
after being shot in the stomach with a heatgun. I don't know what it is,
but whatever it is, it's something that also permits me to live without
oxygen.

"Happy can testify that I was fully alive and conscious underwater. I
discovered, before I was shot, that I can operate just as well outside,
in the Martian atmosphere, without a helmet. And that's why Goat's
records may solve our problem.

"So tonight I'll leave this place and go to Ultra Vires. If there are
any marsuits and groundcars left there, I'll come back here with them,
and you and Happy and Shadow can escape with me. If not, you may have to
wait a while longer.

"But I'll be back!"




13


Brute Hennessey plodded westward through the Xanthe Desert, naked,
wearing no marsuit, his head bare to the thin, oxygen-poor Martian air.
The two small moons shone in the star-spangled sky above the lone
figure, casting fantastic shadows on the sands.

But this was not the stupid, shambling Brute Hennessey of a few months
past. He walked surely and proudly, and the light of intelligence shone
in his eyes.

He called himself, now, Dark Kensington.

Dark's muscular body had not regained, quite, the firmness and tone it
had had before he was shot down at Solis Lacus, but he had recovered
greatly from the bloated flabbiness of a few days ago. Most of that had
been water in his tissues, and resumption of normal physical activity
had wrung it out in short order.

As he plodded through the Martian night toward Ultra Vires, Dark was
remembering, with something of awe, that emotional explosion within him
that had occurred on his first sight of Goat Hennessey at the Canfell
Hydroponic Farm. It was this sudden, overwhelming recognition that had
wrung from his lips the cry: "_Father!_"

In that moment, memory had returned with terrible impact and he had been
overwhelmed by the re-experience of those moments when he had stood
before the man he admired and loved as his father and had seen the
bitter realization of rejection by that man written with the point of a
knife.

Now he remembered it all. He remembered his childhood at Ultra Vires, he
remembered Adam and their experiences together, he remembered their
treks through the desert at Goat Hennessey's command, he remembered his
slaying of Adam and his acceptance of death at Goat's hands. He
remembered that he, Dark Kensington, was Brute Hennessey, somehow
brought to life once before in the Icaria Desert even as he had himself
regained life a second time in the vats of the Canfell Hydroponic Farm.

So Goat Hennessey was his father, apparently. And Old Beard, the real
Dark Kensington, vowed vengeance on Goat. Dark was able to view this
with equanimity. He no longer felt any admiration or affection for Goat,
whatever relationship might exist between them.

But, since he was Brute Hennessey and thus not old enough to be the real
Dark Kensington, how and why had he acquired the memories of Dark
Kensington? That question remained unanswered.

Phobos was setting for the first time that night when Dark reached the
great hulk of Ultra Vires, manipulated one of the airlocks and entered
its dark corridors. There was no light, and a test of the light switch
proved that the electrical system was no longer operating. But Dark knew
every inch of this place from early childhood. He felt his way through
the pitch darkness to Goat Hennessey's old bedroom.

Probing about in the darkness, he discovered that Goat's bed was still
supplied with mattress and crumpled blankets. This surprised him
somewhat, as any item of cloth on Mars had to be imported from Earth and
was far too valuable to abandon. But, apparently, these things had been
left temporarily in Goat's abandonment of Ultra Vires and would be
picked up by truck later.

Deriving a certain humorous satisfaction from taking over the master's
chamber, Dark curled up on Goat's bed and went to sleep.

He awoke the next morning with the glare of the desert sunlight
reflected into the room. He arose, stretched and yawned. The room was a
mess. Goat had left the bed clothing intact, but he had turned
everything else upside down in packing his personal effects to leave the
place.

There was still water in the reservoir, and Ultra Vires' plumbing system
was still in operation. Dark bathed. He felt ruefully at the thick
stubble of beard that had overgrown his face in the past few days, but
Goat had left no shaving equipment behind.

Dark made his way down to the big kitchen. There were supplies of canned
food there, and he found utensils and ate. He was hungry, but not
ravenous, and this surprised him a little, because he had had no food
since he started out afoot from the Canfell Hydroponic Farm, four nights
ago. But he was no hungrier than he would normally be after a night's
sleep.

As he ate, his eye fell on dishes stacked beside the sink. He was
startled to notice that water still sparkled on them.

He arose and checked them. Yes, they were still wet.

There were remnants of fresh food in the garbage can.

People, here? Camping out? Or, more likely, someone passing through the
desert who had taken shelter here for the night? But he thought he would
have heard the roar of a groundcar leaving.

Thoughtfully, Dark finished his breakfast. It occurred to him that
perhaps some members of the Phoenix had taken refuge here after fleeing
Mars City. But most of them did not even know of the existence of Ultra
Vires, much less its location.

At any rate, there was no reason to assume that anyone who happened to
be here would be unfriendly to him, in case they met by chance. He saw
no reason to worry about it.

Finishing breakfast, Dark went down to the storeroom and picked out
three marsuits, for Old Beard, Happy and Shadow. There was a large-sized
suit there that he thought might accommodate Happy's bulk, but he
wondered how Shadow, with his flat build, was going to manage one.

Nakedness felt quite natural to Dark, especially since he remembered his
identity as Brute, but it occurred to him that it would look peculiar
to anyone he might meet before leaving Ultra Vires - or, for that matter,
on his way back to the Canfell Hydroponic Farm. So he donned a marsuit
himself, leaving off the helmet.

Carrying the other three marsuits, he went down the corridor to the
motor pool.

Dark remembered that Goat had always kept four groundcars on hand. There
were three here now, all in advanced stages of dismantlement.

At one of them, a small figure in black tunic and loose trousers was
bending over, head and arms plunged into the bowels of the engine.

Dark hesitated. He had found his intruder, perhaps a traveler who had
run into engine trouble in the desert and had fortuitously been near
enough to take shelter here while making repairs. But, again, there was
no reason to anticipate unfriendliness.

Carrying his marsuits, Dark walked up to the groundcar, overhearing a
muffled bit of profanity as he approached. The unfortunate mechanic
evidently heard his footsteps, because he was greeted with:

"I wish to Phobos you'd stay down here and _try_ to help me, instead of
spending all your time snooping around this deserted shack!"

The voice was muffled, but it was definitely feminine and definitely
irritated. Dark grinned and replied drolly:

"I'm sorry, but this is the first time you've asked me to help you."

With an audible gasp, the woman disentangled herself, in dangerous
haste, from the groundcar engine and faced Dark.

They stared at each other, in mutual shocked recognition.

There was Dark Kensington, bearded, his arms full of marsuits, and there
was Maya Cara Nome, sleeves rolled up, her lovely face streaked with
grease.

Dark's jaw dropped. Maya's lips formed a round, astonished O.

Then, with a squeal, she hurled herself on him, throwing her arms around
his neck. Dark staggered back, overwhelmed by marsuits, an abundance of
wriggling femininity and a babble of happy and-completely unintelligible
words gushed against his bearded cheek.

He managed to disentangle himself by the dual process of dropping the
marsuits and holding Maya forcibly at arm's length. She gazed up into
his face, her own awed and radiant, and was able to reduce her own words
to connected sentences.

"You're not here," she said positively. "You can't be here. You're dead.
I saw you killed. You must be one of the ghosts of Ultra Vires."

She wriggled free and threw her arms around his neck again, announcing
happily, "But you're a solid, _comfortable_ ghost, and I love you!"

Again, Dark managed to get her at arm's length and looked down seriously
into her face.

"Did I hear you correctly?" he asked soberly. "Did you say you love me?"

"I did. And I mean it. Oh, Dark, how I mean it!"

He pulled her to him. He kissed her gravely. Then he held her close in
his arms, while she rested her head contentedly against his shoulder.

"What," he asked at last, "are you doing here, tinkering with a
groundcar?"

"Nuwell and I were on our way to Mars City by helicopter, when it failed
and crashed," she explained. "This was the only place near enough for us
to make it afoot, and the marsuit radios don't have the range to call
for help. We've been here more than two weeks now, trying to repair
these groundcars."

She looked at the machine she had been working on and shook her head
ruefully.

"I don't think any of them can be fixed," she said. "Nuwell, it turns
out, doesn't know a damn thing about machinery, but I was taught a good
deal about mechanics when I was trained as a terrestrial agent. Even
with three groundcars to supply parts, there are some things missing
that I don't think I can jury-rig substitutes for."

She turned back to Dark.

"But you're dead!" she exclaimed. "I know you are, because we carried
your body with us to the Canfell Hydroponic Farm. How in space can you
be here, alive and kissing, when you made such a beautiful corpse?"

Dark explained the circumstances to her; how he had awakened in the vat,
how he had been able to breathe underwater, how the sight of Goat
Hennessey had revived in him the memory of his identity as Brute, how he
had been able to walk across the desert without a marsuit.

"If you're Brute Hennessey, I know why you aren't dead," she said when
he had finished. "We fell in with a party of Martians on our way here,
and they told me about certain embryonic changes they made on you and
Adam before Goat kidnapped your mothers and brought them to Ultra Vires.
Qril - he's the Martian I talked to - said that these alterations not only
permit you to live in a free Martian environment, but give you
extraordinary regenerative powers."

"They must be extraordinary, if they permit me to come to life again
after being stabbed in the heart and having my belly burned out with a
heatgun," observed Dark.

"That's because your tissues aren't dependent on oxygen-carbon
combustion," explained Maya. "According to Qril, when oxygen is no
longer available to you, your cells utilize direct solar energy. That
would prevent your tissues from dying while the damaged area of your
body is under repair."

She looked at him in sudden awed realization.

"It would seem, darling, that you're virtually indestructible!" she
said.

Dark laughed.

"Perhaps so," he said. "But I don't hanker to experiment along those
lines any more than necessary. Dying is a very unpleasant experience,
even if I do come to life again."

"Oh, Dark," said Maya, remembering. "I'd like for Qril to see you, and
maybe he'll give us some more information. They came back here three
days ago and, for some reason, have just been hanging around outside,
under the walls. Let me get on a marsuit, and I'll take you to him."

"Here, put on one of these," suggested Dark, picking up the one he had


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