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The legion of lazarus, p.6
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       The Legion of Lazarus, p.6

           Edmond Hamilton
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  "_The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins, And next the Crab the Lion Shine. The Virgin and the Scales--_"

  The old zodiacal rhyme was running through Hyrst's mind, and that wasthe only thing that was in his mind.

  The Virgin and the Scales.

  Yes. And she's very beautiful, too, thought Hyrst. But she shouldn't be_holding_ the Scales. That's all wrong. The Scales come next, and thenthe Scorpion--Scorpio--and the Archer--Sagittarius--

  And anyway they aren't scales, they're a pair of big golden stars, andshe's putting them down, and they're melting together. There's only oneof them, and it's not a star at all, really. It's a polished metal jug,reflecting the light, and--

  The Virgin smiled. "The doctor said you were coming around. I broughtyou something to drink."

  Reality returned to Hyrst with a rush. "You're Christina," he said, andtried to sit up. He was dizzy, and she helped him, and he said, "I guessit did fall short."


  "The grenade. The last thing I remember is Shearing--Wait. Where isShearing?"

  "Sitting up in the lounge, nursing his bruises. Yes, it fell short, butI don't think telekinetics had much to do with that. We've never beenable to control matter convincingly. There. All right?"

  "Fine. How did you get us out?"

  "Of course the grenade had made the entrance impassible--we had to cutour way in through the outer wall. We had a clear field. Bellaver's menhad all gone back to their ships. They thought you were dead, and totell you the truth we thought you must be, too. But you didn't quite'feel' dead, so we dug you out."

  "Thanks," said Hyrst. "I suppose they know different now."

  He was in a ship's sick-bay. From the erratic crash and shudder of thelateral jets, they were beating their way through the Belt, and at ahigh rate of speed. Hyrst sent a glance back into space. The tugs andBellaver's yacht were following, but this time only the yacht had achance. The tugs were dropping hopelessly behind.

  "Yes, they soon found out once we got you out, but with any luck we'lllose them," said Christina. She sat down beside the bunk, where shecould see his face. "Shearing told you about the ship."

  "The starship. Yes." He looked at her. Suddenly he laughed. "You're nota goddess at all."

  "Who said I was?"

  "Shearing. Or anyway, his mind. Ten feet tall, and crowned with stars--Iwas afraid of you." He leaned closer. "Your eyes, though. They areangry."

  "So will yours be," she said, "when you've fought the Bellavers as longas we have."

  "There are still things I don't understand. Why you built the ship, whyyou've kept it secret from everyone, not just Bellaver, what you plan todo with it--how _you_ came to be one of the Brotherhood."

  She smiled. "The Seitz method was originated to save wreck-victimsfrozen in deep space. Remember? Quite a few of us never went through thedoor at all, innocent or guilty. But that makes no difference, onceyou've come back from out there." She put her hand on his. "You'velearned fast, but you're only on the threshold. There's no need forwords with us. Open your mind--"

  * * * * *

  He did so. At first it was no different from the contact he had had withShearing's mind, or with Christina's before on the _Happy Dream_.Thoughts came to him clearly phrased--_You want to know why we built theship, what we plan to do with it_--and it was only after some time thathe realized the words had stopped and he was receiving Christina'semotions, her memories and opinions, her disappointments and her dreams,as simply and directly as though they were his own.

  You haven't had time yet, they told him without words, to realize howalone you are. You haven't tried, as most of us do at first, to be humanagain, to fit yourself into life as though the gap of time was notthere, as though nothing had changed. You haven't watched people gettingold around you while you have hardly added a gray hair. You haven't hadto move from one place to another, one job, one group of friends toanother, because sooner or later they sense something wrong about you.You haven't had to hide your new powers as you would hide a diseasebecause people would fear and hate you, perhaps even kill you, if theyknew. That's why there is a brotherhood. And that's why we built theship.

  Symbol of flight. Symbol of freedom. A universe wide beyond imagining,thronging with many colored guns, with new worlds where men in a humansociety could build a society of their own. _No boundaries beyond whichthe mind cannot dare to go. All space, all time, all knowledge--free!_

  Once more he saw those wide dark seas between the suns. His mind racedwith hers through the cold-flaming nebulae, wheeled blinded and stunnedpast the hiving stars of Hercules, looked in eager fascination at thesplendid spiral of Andromeda--no longer, perhaps, beyond reach, for whatare time and space to the intangible forces of the mind?

  Then that wild flight ceased, and instead there was a smaller vision,misty and only half realized, of houses and streets, a place where theycould live and be what they were, openly and without fear.

  _Can you understand now_, she asked him, _what they would think if theyknew about the ship? Can you understand that they would be afraid tohave us colonizing out there, afraid of what we might do?_

  He understood. At the very least, if the truth were known, the Lazariteswould never be free again. They would be taken and tested and examinedand lectured about, legislated over, restricted, governed, and used.They might be fairly paid for their ship and whatever other advancementsthey might develop, but they would never be permitted to use them.

  With sudden savage eagerness Hyrst said, "But first of all I must knowwho killed MacDonald. Shearing explained about the latent impressions.I'm ready."

  She stood up, regarding him with grave eyes. "There's no guarantee itwill work. Sometimes it does. Sometimes not."

  Hyrst thought about the tired, gray-haired man who had stood at the footof his bed. "It'll work. It's got to."

  He added, "If it doesn't, I'll tear the truth out of Bellaver with myhands."

  "It may come to that," she said grimly. "But we'll hope. Lie quiet. I'llmake the arrangements."

  An hour later Hyrst lay on the padded table in the middle of thesick-bay. The ship spun and whirled and leaped in a sort of insanedance, and Hyrst was strapped to the table to prevent his being thrownoff. He had known that the ship was maneuvering in the thickest swarmarea of the Belt with four pilots mind-linked and flying esper, tryingto out-dare Bellaver. Two others were keeping Vernon blanked, and theyhoped that either Bellaver himself or his radar-deflector system wouldgive up. Hyrst had known this, but now he was no longer interested. Hewas barely conscious of the lurching of the ship. They had given himsome sort of a drug, and he lay relaxed and pliant in a pleasantsuspension of all worries, looking vaguely up at the faces that werebent over him. Finally he closed his eyes, and even they were gone.

  * * * * *

  He was crossing the plain of methane snow with MacDonald, under theglowing Rings. At first it was all a little blurred, but gradually thememory cleared until he was aware of each tiny detail far more clearlythan he had been at the time--the texture of the material from whichMacDonald's suit was made, the infinitesimal shadow underscoring everyroughness of the snow, the exact sensation of walking in his leadedboots, the whisper and whistle of his oxygen system. He quarreled againwith MacDonald, not missing a word. He climbed with him into the towerof Number Three hoist and examined the signal lights, and sat down onthe bench, smiling, to wait.

  He sweated inside his suit. He would take a shower when he got back toquarters. He wished for a smoke. MacDonald's steady grumbling andcursing filled his helmet. He listened, enjoying it. Hope you bangyourself with your own clumsy hammer. And I wish you joy of yourfortune. If you have as many friends rich as you had poor you won't haveany. There was an itch under his left arm. He pressed the suit in withhis right and wriggled his body against it. It didn't do any good. Damnsuits. Damn Titan. Lucky Elena, back on Earth with the kids. Making goodmoney, thoug
h. Won't be long before I can go back and live like a humanbeing. Now his nose itched, and MacDonald was still grumbling. There wasthe faintest ghost of a sound and then _crack_, then nothing, dark,cold, sinking, very weak, gone. Nothing, nothing. I come to in the coldsilence and look down the shaft at MacDonald and he is dead.

  _Go back a bit. Slow. That's right. Easy. Back to Elena and the kids._

  Lucky Elena, in the sun and the warm sweet air. Lucky kids. But I'mlucky too. I can go back to them soon. My nose itches. Why does yournose always itch when you've got a helmet on, or your hands all overgrease? Listen to MacDonald, damning the belt, damning the tools,damning everything in sight. Is that a footstep? The air is thin andpoisonous, but it carries sound. Somebody coming behind me? Splitsecond, no time to look or think. _Crack._ Cold. Dark. Nothing.

  _Let's go back again. Don't hurry. We've all the time in the world. Goback to the footsteps you heard behind you._

  Almost heard. And then I black and cold. Heavy. Flat. Face heavy againsthelmet, cold. Lying down. Must get up, must get up, danger. Far away.Can't. MacDonald is screaming. Let the lift alone, what are you doing,Hyrst? Hyrst! Shut up, you greedy little man, and listen. You're notHyrst--who are you? That doesn't matter. I know, you're from Bellaver.Bellaver sent you to steal the Titanite. Well, you won't get it. It'swhere nobody will ever get it unless I show them how. Good. That's good,MacDonald. That's what I wanted to know. You see, _we_ don't need theTitanite.

  MacDonald screams again and the lift goes down with a roar and a rattleof severed chain.

  Heavy footsteps, shaking the floor by my head. Someone turns me over,speaks to me, bending close. Light is gray and strange. I try to rouse.I can't. The man is satisfied. He drops me and goes away, but I haveseen his face inside his helmet. I hear him working on some metal thingwith a tool. He is whistling a little under his breath. MacDonald is notscreaming now. From time to time he whimpers. But I have seen thekiller's face.

  I have seen his face.

  I have seen--

  _Take it easy, Hyrst. Take your time._

  Elena is dead, and this is Christina bending over me.

  I have seen the killer's face.

  It is the face of Vernon.

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