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Charles L. Fontenay.

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selected for Old Beard.

Maya wriggled into it. The Martians, she said, were on the other side of
Ultra Vires, so they left the motor pool and walked down one of the long
corridors together, Maya clinging to Dark's arm with one hand and
carrying her marshelmet under her other arm.

They were halfway across the big building when Nuwell Eli appeared
around a corner about thirty feet ahead of them. He stopped, staring, at
the sight of Maya's companion.

"Maya," he began, as they neared him. "Who ...?"

Then he recognized Dark.

With a terrified yelp, Nuwell turned and raced back down the side
corridor at top speed. They heard the clack-clack of his heels on the
stone floor, fading in the distance.

Dark and Maya stopped and looked at each other.

"It must have been quite a shock to him, too, to see you risen from the
dead," she said. "I don't believe he's as happy to see you as I was,
Dark."

"No, his joy seemed considerably mitigated," replied Dark gravely. "But,
Maya, this raises a rather serious question which hadn't occurred to me
before, in the happiness of our reunion."

"What's that, darling?"

"You're a terrestrial agent and, as such, you put me under arrest. It's
true, you tried to free me later. But didn't you tell me that night that
you were engaged to marry this man, Nuwell Eli?"

"Yes," she admitted in a small voice. "But - "

"I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the gentleman before," continued
Dark, still in the same grave tone. "But you and he were going back to
Mars City together, and, for some reason, it occurs to me that you and
he planned to be married as soon as you could get there."

Maya was somewhat stunned at this evidence of mind reading.

"That's true," she said in a very small voice.

"Now," said Dark, "you tell me that you love me. You must admit that
the question raised by this is rather serious. Does this declaration of
love - which, I assure you, is reciprocated completely - imply a radical
change in your past course of action? Or, since you're still a
terrestrial agent, can I expect to be arrested again as a preliminary to
your joining Mr. Eli in the holy state of matrimony?"

Maya looked up into his face, and burst out laughing.

"I may have put it jokingly," protested Dark, a little taken aback, "but
I'm serious, Maya."

"I know you are!" she giggled. "That's what makes it so funny. Answering
you in the same vein, Mr. Kensington, I don't intend to put you in
double jeopardy!"

Dark raised his eyebrows quizzically.

"I arrested you and you were killed resisting arrest," she explained
mischievously. "I've discharged that duty as a terrestrial agent, so I
don't think I'm either required or entitled to arrest you again. And as
for the other, well, I am a little sorry for Nuwell, but I do love you,
and I won't marry Nuwell, since you're alive. But I can't marry you,
Dark."

Dark was stunned at this.

"Why not, Maya? You mean, because you're a terrestrial agent?"

"No, it isn't that. I'm planning to resign as an agent, as soon as I get
back to Mars City, and that wouldn't stop me, anyway. The reason I can't
marry you is simply that you haven't asked me."

Dark laughed, a rollicking, relieved laugh, and swept her into his arms.

"Maya, darling, I ask you now!" he exclaimed. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes, Dark," she answered demurely.

She leaned back in the circle of his arms and looked up into his face,
seriously.

"Whither thou goest, I will go," she said, very quietly. "If you're a
rebel, Dark, I'll be a rebel, too. I want to be with you, and help you
in whatever you do."




14


Dark and Maya sat with their backs against the wall of Ultra Vires, and
Qril squatted before them, towering huge above them. A little distance
away the other three Martians were grouped, playing some sort of game,
doing some sort of work or participating in some sort of joint
demonstration. Dark could not be sure which.

Qril boomed out a long, rolling sentence and Maya broke into laughter.
She turned to Dark and translated:

"He said he didn't understand why I'm wearing a helmet, when you aren't.
I explained that I have to wear a helmet to breathe, and he said that,
since you and I are alike, it appears that we'd dress alike. So you see,
darling, even the Martians recognize that we're made for each other."

Dark shook his head in wonderment.

"No human has ever been able to figure out Martian thinking processes,
and I doubt that one ever will," he remarked. "This is the Martian who
explained to you the physiological structure that permits me to live
without oxygen, and yet he asks a question like that!"

"There's one thing that puzzles me," said Maya curiously. "Without a
helmet, you can't use your marsuit heater, and you said you walked here
naked. But the temperature out here right now is well below freezing.
Aren't you cold?"

"No," answered Dark. "I get cold in temperatures that are uncomfortable
to anyone else when I'm in a dome or a building and breathing. But out
here, when I'm not breathing, I'm aware of temperature changes but they
don't cause me any discomfort. It must be that switching to direct
utilization of solar power alters my reactions to temperature."

"Well," said Maya, "I can understand that utilization of solar power
when you're in the sunshine. But how can you keep operating when you're
in shadow, or at night, and not breathing?"

"I don't know. Maybe Qril does."

Maya asked the Martian, and relayed his answer to Dark:

"Qril says that you store excess energy in the tissues, very much as the
Martians store oxygen. In a sense, direct sunlight's your generator, and
it charges your batteries for power when it isn't operating. Now, Dark,
why don't you ask him anything you want to know about your origin, and
I'll act as translator."

"All right," agreed Dark. "But first, it was among Martians that I awoke
when I returned to life the first time in the Icaria Desert. That's
pretty far away, but I understand Martians have a weird sort of
sympathetic communication among themselves. Does he know anything about
how I got there?"

Maya talked with Qril and translated:

"Qril is one of the Martians I saw come by here and pick up your body
the morning after Goat killed you and threw your body out in the desert.
Qril says they recognized you from your genetic pattern - and don't ask
me how they did this! - as being the one they had completed embryonic
alteration on years before, so they picked you up and took you with them
to give you a chance to regenerate and revive."

"But how and why did I turn up after my revival with Dark Kensington's
memories?"

"He says they gave you a memory pattern by a deep telepathic process,"
answered Maya after talking with Qril, "because your memory pattern as
Brute was of no value to you in meeting a new environment. It seems that
there was some blockage in the operation of your brain as Brute, because
of a slight fault in the embryonic alteration, and they corrected that
before you revived."

"But why Dark Kensington's memory pattern?" asked Dark. "It turned out
to be a valuable one for me, but I've met the real Dark Kensington since
then, and he's a much older man. Why did they choose his memory
pattern?"

Maya talked with Qril.

"He says names mean very little to them," she said then. "That's
something I learned as a child: that Martians often interchange their
names, and the names evidently refer to a state of experience and being
rather than to a specific individual. But he says that the memory
pattern they chose to give you was that of your father!"

Dark stared at her, stunned.

"Then," he said slowly, "Old Beard is my father. I should have known! I
think I felt it."

"I'm not surprised if you did," said Maya. "From what Qril tells me,
Dark, this prenatal alteration they performed on you gave you even more
extensive powers than we realized. He says that you have extraordinary
extrasensory ability, if you would only make an effort to use it."

"Oh, I do, do I?" murmured Dark thoughtfully.

He looked over at the other Martians, seated in a circle in the morning
sunshine. They were taking turns tossing some small polygons, and
evidently the objective of whatever they were doing lay in the way the
polygons fell.

Dark felt a sudden surge of power in his brain. He concentrated it, he
focused it, and one of the polygons rose slowly from the ground and
drifted into the air above the Martians' heads.

Dark could feel the strength that went out and raised the polygon, like
an invisible extension of himself. Then he felt another force seize the
polygon, and it was drawn back firmly and without hesitation to its
former place.

Dark turned his head back to look into Qril's huge eyes, and at once he
was in mental contact with the Martian.

Qril was laughing at him. There was no change of expression on Qril's
face, but in his mind was the atmosphere of high humor. Qril's thoughts
came to him without words, in no language, silently but clearly:

_You have not practised your power. Experience will be necessary before
you can compete with the simplest effort of one of our race._

Dark turned to Maya.

"He's right," said Dark. "I do have extrasensory powers, but they'll
need some development."

"I know," said Maya. "The telepathic voltage in the atmosphere must be
very high right now, because even I sensed your effort in lifting that
object, and I understood Qril's communication to you."

Maya and Dark took their leave of Qril, and went back into Ultra Vires.
As they did so, Qril and the other Martians arose and began to drift
away into the desert, as though they had had a mission in staying here,
which was now accomplished.

"I hope you know something about mechanics," said Maya as they walked
down the corridor together. "Because if you don't, it looks like we're
stuck here for a while. At least I am, unless you can run one of these
groundcars with psychokinetic power."

"No, apparently I'm not that good at it yet," said Dark. "Maybe I could
teleport in any parts you need. No wait! I just remembered something!
Come with me."

They turned off into a side corridor, found stairs and climbed to the
top floor of the building. There they followed another corridor until
Dark stopped and opened a door.

It was the door to a small airlock. Dark led Maya through it into a huge
room.

A helicopter stood in its center.

"Goat _did_ leave it here!" exclaimed Dark joyfully. "I'd forgotten that
he had this. He must have just packed the most necessary things when he
left the place, planning to send trucks and a crew back and clean it out
later at his leisure. Now, if this copter's only in good flying shape,
we're set."

He checked the machine over. Everything was in order.

"How do we get it out of here?" asked Maya curiously, looking around the
room. "That little airlock's too small for a copter to go through it."

"The roof rolls back," said Dark. "Put on your helmet, and I'll show
you."

Maya donned her marshelmet. Dark went to the wall and pulled a switch.
Nothing happened.

"I forgot," he said. "The electricity's off. Well, let's try something."

Dark concentrated his mind intensely on the movable ceiling. For a
moment, there was resistance, then, very slowly, it began to open. A
crack appeared in its center, and the air of the room hissed out with
the swish of a minor tempest. After that, it was easier. The crack
widened swiftly, and the roof rolled back to the walls, leaving the room
open to the heavens.

"All we have to do now is to climb into it and go," said Dark with
satisfaction. "You fill the fuel tanks, and I'll run down to the motor
pool and pick up those other two marsuits. One of them is for my friend
Happy, who is very fat, and he couldn't wear either of the emergency
suits in the copter."

Maya uncoiled the hose from one of the fuel drums in the room and poked
it into the copter's tank. Dark left the room, walked down the corridor
and descended the stairs.

He made his way to the motor pool. Maya was wearing one of the three
marsuits he had brought down, but the other two were still lying on the
floor. He picked them up and started back.

He was walking down the first floor corridor, carrying the marsuits,
when there crashed in on his mind a terrifying, silent scream:

_Help!_

Dark stopped, appalled. It took him a moment to realize that he was
still standing in the corridor. It took him a moment to realize that he
actually had heard nothing.

The corridor stretched away ahead of him, dim and dusty. There was no
movement in it, no sound. It was utterly silent. He stood there, in a
dim, dusty corridor, in waiting silence, holding two marsuits under his
arms.

_Help!_

It was a cry that shrieked in his mind, reverberated in his mind,
touching nothing around him, touching not the silent corridor.

_Maya!_

Dark's mind went out to her, rode up on swift wings to the room above
where she had waited for his return.

He was there, in that room, and there was the helicopter. There was no
Maya there.

But there were figures in the copter, moving.

He was in the copter, and there was Maya, struggling and writhing, as
Nuwell Eli, in a furious concentration of savage energy, bound her into
one of its seats with a length of rope.

Dark touched her mind, and her mind grasped his, desperately.

_Dark, he followed us up here, and hid until you left. He crept up
behind me and seized me. Hurry, Dark, he's taking me away!_

Hurry? Down those corridors, up those steps, when Nuwell already was
sliding into the pilot's seat of the copter?

Frantically, Dark grasped at his only chance of reaching her in time.
Teleportation.

He clamped down with his mind on himself. With a frenzied burst of
strength, he sought to lift himself bodily, to be there in the copter
with them. He put every ounce of energy he possessed into the effort.

And he failed.

He was standing in the dim, dusty corridor, two marsuits under his arm,
straining futilely toward a place he could not reach. And now he
actually heard, with his ears, the muted vibration above him as the
copter's engines roared to life.

Dark started running.

He dropped the marsuits, and ran down the corridor. He leaped up the
stairs, two and three at a time. Breathless, his heart pounding, he
staggered down the upper corridor and impatiently went through the
seemingly interminable process of negotiating the airlock.

He emerged into the big room.

It was empty.

The ceiling was open to the Martian sky. The sunlight poured into the
roofless room.

In the sky, a small, teetering object rose and moved away from Ultra
Vires, its blades whirring a sparkling circle in the thin air.

Dark reached out to it with his mind, and again he was in the copter.
Nuwell sat tensely at the controls, guiding it. Maya was in the other
seat, her arms bound down by her sides, her expression agonized.

Nuwell was unaware of Dark's mental presence. Maya sensed it and her
mind turned toward him.

_Dark, Dark, what can we do? I should have been watching for him. I
should have known, after he saw us together, that he would do
something._

Dark: _It was my fault, Maya. I shouldn't have left you alone. I just
didn't consider him a factor to be reckoned with, and I should have
known better._

Maya: _What can we do?_

Nuwell turned to Maya, and his face was bitter and sullen. His brown
eyes were flat with anger.

"You treacherous witch, I should have known better than to trust you
after that trick of trying to help Kensington escape. I wanted to give
you a chance, because I thought that, with him dead, you might have
recovered from your madness," he said.

A change came over his face: a mixture of fear, disbelief and utter lack
of comprehension.

"He _was_ dead," said Nuwell, a hysterical note underlying his tone. "I
saw him. You saw him dead, too, didn't you, Maya? How could he be back
there with you?"

Maya's only answer was a defiant smile.

"There's some explanation for this," said Nuwell, more positively. "I
don't know what it is, but I'll find it. That man back there isn't Dark
Kensington, because Kensington's dead. Maya, I promise you, I'm going to
find out what the answer is, but first I'm going to make sure that you
don't cause me any more trouble."

Dark touched Maya's mind.

_Maya, I'm going to try something here._

He moved back. He was outside the copter, near it, keeping pace with it
as it flew. It was tilted slightly forward, falling forward through the
sky at the pull of its blades.

Dark seized the copter with his mind. He tried to drag it back.

It hesitated. It quivered. Then it jerked forward and went on. He felt
his mental grasp slipping from it.

Suddenly he was completely in the big room in Ultra Vires, the room with
its roof open to the sky. He could no longer touch the copter. He could
no longer be in it. He could no longer touch Maya's mind.

He tried. He reached out again. But he failed. He was where he was.

He realized he was almost exhausted. The tremendous drain of his efforts
on his energy told on him at last. He no longer had the strength to try
any more, and Nuwell and Maya were gone away from him into the Martian
sky.

Wearily, he turned back and went through the airlock, down the corridor
and down the stairs.

There was nothing more he could do now. Nuwell undoubtedly would take
Maya to Mars City. And then?

Maya would refuse to marry Nuwell now, and Dark doubted that Nuwell
could force her. What Nuwell would do with her, he did not know.
Probably some sort of confinement, eventually perhaps a trial. But
Nuwell had no ground or reason to do her any real harm.

He would have to try to get to Maya as soon as he could, and that meant
intensification of his efforts. But there was only one course he could
hope to follow successfully, and that was the course he had planned when
he started out for Ultra Vires.

Only now he _could_ speed it up.

He had to have some rest. Then he would pick up three marsuits and walk
back across the desert to the Canfell Hydroponic Farm.





15


Dark walked across the desert toward the Canfell Hydroponic Farm.

He had discarded the marsuit he had been wearing, and substituted for it
a light loincloth torn from one of Goat Hennessey's sheets. This
reverse reaction, in a temperature that would be uncomfortably chilly
for a fully clothed man and descended far below zero at night, resulted
from his recognition that he gained a tremendously greater direct influx
of energy from the total exposure of his skin to the sunlight. He could
feel the energy penetrating his flesh, building up in him. And, with
this energy, the low temperature did not bother him.

Behind him, by a rope, he dragged a little two-wheeled cart he had
constructed from groundcar parts. It rolled and bumped over the sandy
terrain, containing all the marsuits and all the seven heatguns that he
had been able to find at Ultra Vires.

It also contained a supply of water, in cans. Dark had found that, while
he was operating directly on solar energy, he did not need food at all
and he did not need as much water as he did under ordinary
circumstances. He probably could have survived two weeks without any
water at all. But some water did make him much more efficient. His
independence of food and oxygen did not prevent the slow dessication if
his tissues in the dry Martian air.

As he walked, only part of his mind was devoted to the routine task of
moving across the desert. The remainder of it was free of the limitation
of distance, touching and interacting with the minds of three other men.

These men were members of the Phoenix. At the Childress Barber College,
they had been among the instructors, struggling to develop the ESP
potentialities of their students so that a psychic community of purpose
and action might be developed toward the goal of teleporting materials
from Earth to Mars.

These were the men whose ability at telepathy and psychokinesis had been
most fully developed, to the point of practical demonstration. Now,
newly aware of the extent of his own inner powers, Dark had conceived a
bold plan of action to which these men's comparable abilities was a
necessary contribution.

There were three of them: Mantar Falusaine at Hesperidum, Pietro
Corrallani at Mars City and Cheng I K'an at Ophir. Among them, by a vast
intangible network of communication, they discussed strategy and the
situation on which it was based.

Mantar: _We knew of the existence of the Canfell Hydroponic Farm. It was
on our charts as a Marscorp industry, supported by the government. But
we thought it was only an industry, producing food. We did not know it
was an experimental center._

Cheng: _We did not know Marscorp was conducting genetic experiments at
all, except those of Goat Hennessey. We kept a casual observation on
Goat's work. Our intention was that, if he ever succeeded completely in
what he was trying to do, we would make a fast raid with a task force
and appropriate his work to our own purposes._

Dark chuckled.

Dark: _That would have dismayed Marscorp! But it appears that, as things
have developed, this sort of raid must be directed now at the Canfell
Hydroponic Farm, to free my father and the Marscorp slaves there. Old
Beard is, after all, the real leader of the Phoenix. If we succeed in
kidnapping Goat, we can put him to work for us, but that is not the
primary objective._

Pietro: _Do you plan to take over the Canfell Hydroponic Farm, and make
it our base of operation?_

Dark: _No. When we attack the Farm, they will radio Mars City for help
and we don't possess the force to fight off an all-out government
counterattack. I have been in communication with a Martian friend, Qril,
and I am informed that the domes in the Icaria Desert, which were used
by the original rebels a quarter of a century ago, are still usable,
although they will have to be supplied with oxygen, food and water. I
intend for the Phoenix to congregate there and utilize the help of the
Martians in carrying out the embryonic changes which will make your
children and mine as I am. A new race, capable of living in the natural
Martian environment._

Pietro: _Will these characteristics of which you speak be inherited, or
must the embryonic changes be made in each generation?_

Dark: _They will be inherited, because they are changes of the genetic
structure. The changes will have to be made on each individual embryo of
your children, but their children will be born with these qualities
naturally._

Cheng: _What are your instructions?_

Dark: _How many Phoenix are at each of your places?_

Cheng: _Twelve at Ophir._

Mantar: _I would have to count. About twice that many at Hesperidum._

Pietro: _About seventy-five here, as well as the wives of most of the
Phoenix who are married_.

Dark: _Seventy-five! That's more than we had in school!_

Pietro: _Don't forget that the school was there for a long time before
you came, and it had many graduates. The government captured between a
third and a half of us who were in the school at that time, but there
are still probably three to four hundred Phoenix scattered about Mars._

Dark: _Where are the other three instructors, whom I was unable to
contact with this telepathic call?_

Pietro: _They are at Charax, Nuba and Ismenius. Their telepathic powers
are not as well developed as ours, and they would not hear you unless
they were expecting the call._

Dark: _Cheng, I thought your group was to go to Regina._

Cheng: _It was, but the Regina airlocks were more effectively blockaded
to us than at the other cities. Those who went to the other cities,
except those who were caught, had identification establishing them as
legitimate residents of those cities. Regina has a peculiar social
structure which makes this virtually impossible, except for the Phoenix
who are already there and have been for a long time. We thought of
stopping at Zur, but there were no arrangements to care for us there. We
went to a dome farm operated by a friend of the Phoenix in Pandorae
Fretum, and stayed there until we could trickle gradually into Ophir._

Dark: _You had quite an odyssey. Cheng, I want you to bring your twelve
in groundcars, with what weapons you can get, and attack the Canfell
Hydroponic Farm. I'll try to break it open from inside._

Pietro: _Shall I bring my group from Mars City as reinforcements?_

Dark: _No, twelve will be enough, and the conquest of the farm will
depend on speed. Before you can get there with your group by groundcar,


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