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Weird Tales

APRIL, 1939

Armies from the Past

By EDMOND HAMILTON

A weird-scientific tale of adventure, and the clash of armed men—an exciting story of time-travel and a world enslaved—a narrative of our planet two million years hence 

ETHAN DREW stood in the lamp-lit living-room of his penthouse apartment staring up at the sword. There was a yearning longing in his brown, aquiline face and brooding gray eyes as he gazed at the weapon. Slowly he reached up and took it clown from above the stone fireplace.

It was a long, gleaming saber, its hilt and the back of its blade nicked and scarred. Lovingly he ran his finger along those scars that spoke with mute eloquence of desperate battle. And the brooding loneliness in his dark face deepened.

"Swain, and Pedro Lopez, and all the rest," he whispered. "And Chiri—if I could only see them all again——"

Then sick hopelessness came over his features. His tall, broad-shouldered figure sagged.

"No," he muttered dully, "That was all a million years away."

A million years!

Holding the sword tightly, Ethan Drew no longer saw the luxurious, lamplit room about him. He was looking into memory now—into memory of the future.

He saw himself as he had been two years before, Private Ethan Drew of the French Foreign Legion, ambushed with a patrol of his comrades by Arab raiders in the deep Sahara, his companions all dead, and he, the last survivor, about to be killed, when suddenly the miracle had happened.

There had been a blaze of light and force about him, and he had known nothing more. And when he had awakened, it had been in a strange place and a strange time—a time a million years in the future.

He had been drawn across those ages of time by Kim Idim, old scientist of that far day, and Chiri, his slim, lovely daughter. And five other men had been drawn out of past ages by the old scientist, too—five fighting-men of different times, snatched across the abyss of the ages by the old scientist's potent time-ray.

Hank Martin, Rocky Mountain trapper of Kit Carson's day; John Crewe, Puritan soldier of the army of Oliver Cromwell; Pedro Lopez, Spanish conquistador of the troops of Cortez; Swain Njallson, huge Viking sea-raider of the Tenth Century; and Ptah, soldier of the armies of ancient Egypt; these were the five who had been drawn out of their own times into the future, the same as Ethan Drew.

Ethan had found them staunch and loyal comrades, those five warriors from the past. Together, he and they had dared the perils of that far future time.

Together, they had helped the girl Chiri save her father, Kim Idim, from those who meant to use the old scientist's time-ray for evil purposes.

And at the last, when the very land was sinking under them all into the sea, old Kim Idim had saved the six comrades from death by sending them back, each to his own time. Ethan Drew had awakened once more in the Sahara, in the very year and day from which he had been drawn.

What had happened to Kim Idim and Chiri? That question had been a throbbing wonder in Ethan's mind ever since. Had the old scientist and his daughter escaped into some still further time in Earth's future, as they had planned? Or had they been engulfed by the catastrophe of the sinking continent, and met their deaths?

He did not know. He would never know, and that realization was a cold ache in his heart. He would never again fight shoulder to shoulder with those five loyal comrades from the past. He would never again see Chiri, that lovely girl of the far future whom he had learned to love.

Ethan turned slowly. Still holding the sword, he stepped wearily through the open French doors onto the terrace of his penthouse. He stood there against the parapet, gazing with hopeless longing into the night.

New York slept, a vast pattern of twinkling lights, stretched under dark, low-hanging banks of cloud. Westward, against the cloud-curtain, glided the red and green lights of the late Miami plane.

"Chiri!" whispered Ethan, his lips hardly pronouncing the name.

Suddenly he stiffened. He sensed a change in the atmosphere, a strange, swiftly gathering hush and tension, a murmur as of unfamiliar forces.

He did not understand. But his gray eyes were suddenly brilliant with dawning excitement, with incredulous hope.

"Chiri?" he repeated tensely.

Then it happened. A blaze of light, a crash of thunder, all about him. And he was hurled into darkness.

THE clash of swords and hoarse shouts of fighting men broke on Ethan's ears as he came back to consciousness. Bewilderedly he opened his eyes. He lay in a small metal room whose high window's admitted a flood of dusky, deep red sunlight quite unlike the sunlight of his own time.

He was lying beside a squat machine of singularly grotesque appearance, crowned by a world-map globe. With a wild leap of gladness, Ethan recognized the mechanism. It was such a time-ray projector as once before had been used to draw him out of his own age into the future.

Then two heads bent frantically over him. It was an old man and a girl, both dressed in short white robes. He recognized the gray hair, thin, lined face and faded blue eyes of the man instantly. And his eyes swung to the girl's face, soft and lovely under a cloud of midnight hair, her red lips parted and dark eyes wide with anxiety.

"Chiri!" he cried, stumbling to his feet. "And Kim Idim! You've drawn me across time again, then? For two long years I've hoped and prayed that you would!"

The girl Chiri flew into his arms.

"Ethan, we are in danger!" she gasped. "This is a time two million years in the future from your age. My father and I fled into this time after the destruction of Tzar—and now' the Masters who rule Earth in this age are seeking with their slaves to capture us!"

"That is why I drew you and your comrades out of the past again!" Kim Idim cried. "Only from time could I summon help, when the Masters attacked us here!"

Ethan Drew turned, appalled. Through the open door of the little metal house he saw a strange scene.

Outside lay a weird and unearthly forest of huge green toadstools, towering in the dusky light of the westering red sun. And out of this grotesque toadstool forest, white-skinned men in armor and helmets were surging with uplifted swords toward the little house.

Behind them, urging them on, were a few leaders of totally different appearance. They were tall, red-skinned men with spindly arms and legs, huge chests and high, hairless skulls from whose cadaverous faces looked hollow white eyes. These Masters did not look entirely human!

Fighting with the white slaves of the Masters, holding them back from the house, stood five men: a tall figure in buckskin and coon cap, wielding a clubbed rifle; a Spanish trooper in helmet and cuirass, swearing as he struck with his sword; a big Puritan in felt hat and homespun uniform swinging an enormous broadsword; a huge Viking whirling a gleaming ax; and a small, wiry Egyptian in bronze, stabbing viciously.

"It's Swain, and Hank Martin, and all the rest!" cried Ethan joyfully, starting toward the door.

"Yes, I drew them like you out of time when the Masters first attacked our dwelling!" Kim Idim exclaimed.

"You and Chiri wait here," Ethan ordered. And clutching the sword which he had unconsciously brought across time with him, he ran out and plunged into the fight.

Two of the white warriors were dressing the buckskin-clad frontiersman hard. Ethan fell upon the two from one side before they realized his presence.

Two terrific stabbing strokes—and the two warriors reeled back with their throats gaping and spurting red. Hank Martin, the tall trapper, spun around, and his leathery brown face lighted up as he recognized Ethan Drew.

"It's young Drew, pardners!" he called to the others. "Kim Idim's yanked him across time again, too!"

"Greetings, comrade!" yelled Pedro Lopez as he fought. The Spanish conquistador swore violently as his sword flashed. "Name of God, now we're all here we'll gut these cursed scum!"

"Cease your godless profanity, Lopez!" boomed the stern voice of John Crewe, the big Puritan, through the clashing conflict. "It is no time, when our lives are in peril, to take the Lord's name in vain."

"Osiris, will the dogs never quit attacking?" panted Ptah, the little Egyptian, stabbing furiously with his bronze shortsword.

But Swain Njallson, his blond hair flowing wildly from beneath his horned helmet, his icy blue eyes gleaming, uttered a deep, rumbling laugh as he smote with his great ax.

"Ho, comrade, this is living again!" he cried to Ethan.

All Ethan Drew's swordsmanship came swiftly back into his brain and muscles as he stabbed and hacked. There were still a half-dozen of the white warriors facing them, attacking fiercely at the urging of the red Masters behind them.

Pedro Lopez slipped on bloody grass and went down. Two warriors leaped in like cats to strike at the fallen Spaniard. But Hank Martin's rifle-butt crashed down on the helmet of one, and Lopez, on his knees, stabbed up in a ripping stroke that disemboweled the other.

"Haw! Haw!" guffawed the buckskin trapper. "Can't ye stand up and fight like a man, Pedro?"

"Let me at them!" roared the Spaniard, rushing forward like a maddened bull. "Sangre de Cristo, I'll——"

"They're giving way!" boomed John Crewe's triumphant shout, his massive face flaming with battle-light.

The few remaining warriors were retreating, for the urging shouts of the red Masters had stopped—the unhuman red-skinned leaders had melted back into the forest and vanished.

But as Ethan and his comrades fiercely pressed these last opponents, a scream came from the house.

"Ethan!" shrilled Chiri's silver voice.

Ethan Drew spun around. He shouted hoarsely at what he saw. The four red Masters had penetrated the little metal house from the rear, were dragging Chiri and Kim Idim out of the back.

Yel...

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