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The legion of lazarus, p.2
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       The Legion of Lazarus, p.2

           Edmond Hamilton
 
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  CHAPTER II

  Mars roared and glittered tonight. And how was a man to stand the facesand lights and sounds, when he had come back from the silence ofeternity?

  Hyrst walked through the flaring streets of Syrtis City with slow anddragging steps. It was like being back on Earth. For this city was notreally part of the old dead planet, of the dark barrens that rolled awaybeneath the night. This was the place of the rocket-men, the miners, theschemers, the workers, who had come from another, younger world. Theirbars and entertainment houses flung a sun-like brilliance. Their ships,lifting majestically skyward from the distant spaceport, wrote theirflaming sign on the sky. Only here and there moved one of the hooded,robed humanoids who had once owned this world.

  _The next corner_, said the whisper in Hyrst's mind. _Turn there. No,not toward the spaceport. The other way._

  Hyrst thought suddenly, "Shearing."

  _Yes?_

  "I am being followed."

  His physical ears heard nothing but the voices and music. His physicaleyes saw only the street crowd. Yet he knew. He knew it by a picturethat kept coming into his mind, of a blurred shape moving always behindhim.

  _Of course you're being followed_, came Shearing's thought. _I told youthey've been waiting for you. This is the corner. Turn._

  Hyrst turned. It was a darker street, running away from the lightsthrough black warehouses and on the labyrinthine monolithic houses ofthe humanoids.

  _Now look back_, Shearing commanded. _No, not with your eyes! With yourmind. Learn to use your talents._

  Hyrst tried. The blurred image in his mind came clearer, and clearerstill, and it was a young man with a vicious mouth and flat uncaringeyes. Hyrst shivered. "Who is he?"

  _He works for the men who have been waiting for you, Hyrst. Bring himthis way._

  "This--way?"

  _Look ahead. With your mind. Can't you learn?_

  Stung to sudden anger, Hyrst flung out a mental probe with a power hehadn't known he possessed. In a place of total darkness between twowarehouses ahead, he saw a tall man lounging at his ease. Shearinglaughed.

  _Yes, it's me. Just walk past me. Don't hurry._

  Hyrst glanced backward, mentally at the man following him through theshadows. He was closer now, and quite silent. His face was tight andsecret. Hyrst thought, How do I know this Shearing isn't in it with him,taking me into a place where they can both get at me--

  He went past the two warehouses and he did not turn his head but hismind saw Shearing waiting in the darkness. Then there was a soft,shapeless sound, and he turned and saw Shearing bending over a huddledform.

  "That was unkind of you," said Shearing, speaking aloud but not loudly.

  Hyrst, still shaking, said, "But not exactly strange. I've never seenyou before. And I still don't know what this is all about."

  Shearing smiled, as he knelt beside the prone, unmoving body. Even herein the shadows, Hyrst could see him with these new eyes of the mind.Shearing was a big man. His hair was grizzled along the sides of hishead, and his eyes were dark and very keen. He reached out one hand andturned the head of the prone young man, and they looked at the lax,loose face.

  "He's not dead?" said Hyrst.

  "Of course not. But it will be a while before he wakes."

  "But who is he?"

  Shearing stood up. "I never saw him before. But I know who he's workingfor."

  * * * * *

  Hyrst flung a sudden question at Shearing, and almost without thinkinghe followed it to surprise the answer in Shearing's mind. The questionwas, _Who are you working for_? And the answer was a woman, a tall andhandsome woman with angry eyes, standing against a drift of stars. Therewas a ship, all lonely on a dark plain, and she was pointing to it, andsomehow Hyrst knew that it was vitally important to her, and toShearing, and perhaps even to himself. But before he could do more thanregister this fleeting vision on his own consciousness, Shearing's mindslammed shut with exactly the same violent effect as a door slammed inhis face. He reeled back, throwing up his arms in a futile butinstinctive gesture, and Shearing said angrily,

  "You're getting too good. I'll give you a social hint--it's customary toknock before you enter."

  Hyrst said, still holding the pieces of his head together, "Allright--sorry. So who is she?"

  "She's one of us. She wants what we want."

  "I want only to find out who murdered MacDonald!"

  "You want more than that, Hyrst, though you don't know it yet. ButMacDonald's murderer is part of what we're after."

  He took Hyrst's arm. "We don't have long. Thanks to my guidance, youslipped them all except this one. But they'll be hounding after ourtrail very quickly."

  They went on along the shadowed street. The glare of the lights diedback behind them, and they moved in darkness with only the keen stars towatch them, and the cold, gritty wind blowing in from the barrens, andthe dark door-ways of the mastaba-like monolithic houses of thehumanoids staring at them like sightless eyes. Hyrst looked up at thebright, tiny moon that crept amid the stars, and a deep shaking took himas he thought of men lying up there in the deathly sleep, of himselflying there year after year....

  "In here," said Shearing. It was one of the frigid, musty tombs that thehumanoids called home. It was dark and there was nothing in it at all."We can't risk a light. We don't need it, anyway."

  They sat down. Hyrst said desperately, "Listen, I want to know somethings. Exactly what are we doing here?"

  Shearing answered deliberately, "We are hiding from those who want you,and we are waiting for a chance to go to our friends."

  "Our friends? Your friends, maybe. That woman--I don't know her, and--"

  "Now _you_ listen, Hyrst. I'll tell you this much about us now. We'reLazarites, like you, with the same powers as you. But all Lazarites arenot on _our_ side."

  Hyrst thought about that. "Then those others who are hunting us--"

  "There are Lazarites among them, too. Not many, but a few. You don'tknow us, you don't know them. Do you want to leave me and go back outand let them have you?"

  Hyrst remembered the adder-like face of the young man who had come afterhim through the shadows. After a long moment he said, "Well. But whatare _you_ after?"

  "The thing that MacDonald was killed for, fifty years ago."

  Hyrst said, "The Titanite? They said it hadn't ever been found. But howit could have remained hidden so long--"

  "I want you," Shearing said, "to tell me all about how MacDonald died.Everything you can remember."

  Hyrst asked eagerly, "You think we can find out who killed him? Afterall this time? God, if we could--my son--"

  "Quiet, Hyrst. Go ahead and tell me. Not in words. Just remember whathappened, and I'll get it."

  Yet, by sheer lifetime habit, Hyrst could not remember without firstputting it into words in his own mind, as they two sat in the cold,whispering darkness.

  "There were four of us out there on Titan, you must already know that.And only four--"

  * * * * *

  Four men. And one was named MacDonald, an engineer, a secretive, selfishand enormously greedy man. MacDonald was the man who found a fortune,and kept it secret, and died.

  Landers was one. A lean, brown, lively man, an excellent physicist witha friendly manner and no obvious ambitions.

  Saul was one, and he was big and blond and quiet, a good drinkingcompanion, a good geologist, a lover of good music. If he had any darkerpassions, he kept them hidden.

  Hyrst was the fourth man, and the only one of the four still living....

  He remembered now. He saw the black and bitter crags of Titan starkagainst the glory of the Rings, and he saw two figures moving across aplain of methane snow, their helmets gleaming in the Saturn-light.Behind them in the plain were the flat, half-buried concrete structuresof the little refinery, and all around them were the spidery roads wherethe big half-tracs dragged their loads of uranium ore from theenchaining mountains.<
br />
  The two men were quarrelling.

  "You're angry," MacDonald was saying, "because it was _I_ who found it."

  "Listen," Hyrst said. "We're sick, all three of us, of hearing you bragabout it."

  "I'll bet you are," said MacDonald smugly. "The first find of a Titanitepocket for years. The rarest, costliest stuff in the System. If you knowthe way they've been bidding to buy it from me--"

  "I do know," Hyrst said. "You've done nothing for weeks but give forthmysterious hints--"

  "And you don't like that," MacDonald said. "Of course you don't! It's nopart of our refinery deal, it's mine, I've got it and it's hidden wherenobody can find it till I sell it. Naturally, you don't like that."

  "All _right_," said Hyrst. "So the Titanite find is all yours. You'restill a partner in the refinery, remember. And you've still got anobligation to the rest of us, so you can damn well get in and do yourjob."

  "Don't worry. I've always done my job."

  "More or less," said Hyrst. "For your information, I've seen betterengineers in grade-school. There's Number Three hoist. It's been bustedfor a week. Now let's get in there and fix it."

  The two figures in Hyrst's memory toiled on, out of the area of roads tothe edge of the landing field, where the ships come to take away therefined uranium. Number Three hoist rose in a stiff, ugly column fromthe ground. It was supposed to fetch the uranium up from theunderground storage bins and load it into a specially-built hot-tankship in position at the dock. But Number Three had balked and refused toperform its task. In this completely automated plant, men were onlyimportant when something went wrong. Now something was wrong, and it wasup to MacDonald, the mechanical engineer, and Hyrst, the electronicsman, to set it right.

  Hyrst opened the hatch, and they climbed the metal stairs to the upperchamber. Number Three's brain was here, its scanners, its tabulating andrecording apparatus, its signal system. A red light pulsated on a panel,alone in a string of white ones.

  "Trouble's in the hoist-mechanism," said Hyrst. "That's yourdepartment." He smiled and sat down on a metal bench in the center ofthe room, with his back to the stair. "D Level."

  MacDonald grumbled, and went to a skeletal cage built over a roundsegment of the floor. Various tools were clipped to the ribs of thecage. MacDonald pulled an extra rayproof protectall over his vac-suitand stepped inside the cage, pressing a button. The cage dropped, into acircular shaft that paralleled the hoist right down to the feedermechanism.

  Hyrst waited. Inside his helmet he could hear MacDonald breathing andgrumbling as he worked away, repairing a break in the belt. He did nothear anything else. Then something happened, so swiftly that he hadnever had any memory of it, and some time later he came to and lookedfor MacDonald. The cage was way down at the bottom of the shaft andMacDonald was in it, with a very massive pedestal-block on top of him.The block had been unbolted from the floor and dragged to the edge ofthe shaft, and it could not possibly have been an accident that ittumbled in, between the wide-apart ribs of the cage.

  And that's how MacDonald died, Hyrst thought--and so _I_ died. They saidI forced the secret of his Titanite find out of him, and then killedhim.

  Shearing asked swiftly, "MacDonald never gave you any hint of where he'dhidden the Titanite?"

  "No," said Hyrst. He paused, and then said, "It's the Titanite you'reafter?"

  Shearing answered carefully. "In a way, yes. But _we_ didn't killMacDonald for it. Those who did kill him are the men who are after younow. They're afraid you might lead us to the stuff."

  Hyrst swore, shaking with sudden anger. "Damn it, I won't be treatedlike a child. Not by you, by anyone. I want--"

  "You want the men who killed MacDonald," said Shearing. "I know. Iremember what was in your mind when you met your son."

  A weakness took Hyrst and he leaned his forehead against the cold stonewall.

  "I'm sorry," said Shearing. "But we want what you want--and more. Somuch more that you can't dream it. You must trust us."

  "Us? That woman?"

  * * * * *

  Once again in Shearing's mind Hyrst saw the woman with her head againstthe stars, and the ship looming darkly. He saw the woman much moreclearly, and she was like a fire, burning with anger, burning with asingle-minded, dedicated purpose. She was beautiful, and frightening.

  "She, and others," said Shearing. "Listen. We must go soon. We're to bepicked up, secretly. Will you trust us--or would you rather trustyourself to those who are hunting you?"

  Hyrst was silent. Shearing said, "Well?"

  "I'll go with you," said Hyrst.

  They went out into the cold darkness, and Hyrst heard Shearing say inhis mind, "I wouldn't try to run--"

  _But it wasn't Shearing speaking in his mind now, it was a third man._

  "I wouldn't try to run--"

  Frantically startled, Hyrst threw out his mental vision and saw the menwho stood around them in the darkness, four men, three of themholding the wicked little weapons called bee-guns in their hands. Thefourth man came closer, a dark slender man with a face like a fox,high-boned, narrow-eyed, smiling. It came to Hyrst that the three withweapons were only ordinary men, and that it was this fourth man whosemind had spoken.

  He was speaking aloud now. "I want you alive, believe me--but there areendless gradations between alive and dead. My men are very accurate."

  Shearing's face was suddenly drawn and exhausted. "Don't try anything,"he warned Hyrst wearily. "He means it."

  The dark man shook his head at Shearing. "This wasn't nice of you. Youknew we had a particular interest in Mr. Hyrst." He turned to Hyrst andsmiled. His teeth were small and very neat and white. "Did you know thatShearing has been keeping a shield over your mind as well as his? Alittle too large a task for him. When you jarred his mind open for aninstant, it was all we needed to lead us here."

  He went on. "Mr. Hyrst, my name is Vernon. We'd like you to come withus."

  Vernon nodded to the three accurate men, and the whole little groupbegan to walk in the direction of the spaceport. Shearing seemed almostasleep on his feet now. It was as though he had expended all his energyon a task, and failed at it, and was now quiescent, like an empty wellwaiting to fill again.

  "Where are we going?" Hyrst asked, and Vernon answered:

  "To see a gentleman you've never heard of, in a place you've neverbeen." He added, with easy friendliness, "Don't worry, Mr. Hyrst, wehave nothing against _you_. You're new to this--ah--state of life. Youshouldn't be asked to make decisions or agreements until you know bothsides of the question. Mr. Shearing was taking an unfair advantage."

  Remembering the dark hard purpose Shearing had let him see in his mind,Hyrst could not readily dispute that. But he put out an exploring probein the direction of Vernon's mind.

  It was shut tight.

  They walked on, toward the spaceport gates.

 
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