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When Barry Carver was shoot down in the Sahara, his urgent message undelivered, the dictator nations were about to crush the Allies. But that was before Barry found Shorraine, Land of the Mirage and the demon people of Phoryx, who schemed to enslave all Earthmen—and Sha-tahn, guiding power of all Dictators!



BARRY CARVER groaned. A great light pressed against his tortured eyelids. He opened them and winced. A torrent of sunlight stabbed into his eyes, blindingly. He rolled himself over, spitting sand from his mouth. He raised a hand to the tender lump on his head. How long had he been out? What had happened?

Memory stabbed into his mind, as the sunlight had stabbed into his eyes. The attack, by three enemy ships whose wings bore the black swastika! They had brought his lone ship down—

Carver raised his head and looked through the heat haze that lay over the mighty Sahara. The cloudless blue of sky was clear. They had left, satisfied that he could not have survived both the businesslike strafing of their machine-guns and the crash.

Barry Carver grinned. They were wrong. By a miracle he had come through unscathed. Not a bullet had touched him. He remembered nothing of the crash. Obviously his body had been thrown clear, onto the cushioning sand.

He looked around.

There his small ship lay, a twisted, shattered wreck that would never fly again. It had come down like a rock. The engine had buried itself out of sight. Rows of bullet-holes, neat and orderly, zigg-zagged across the crumpled wings. Gasoline soaked sand rapidly evaporated in the hot sun. By that he knew he had been unconscious only a few minutes. Why the plane hadn't burst into flame, toasted him to a corpse, was another miracle. Well, he must accept the little finger of fate.

He came to his knees, and suddenly found himself dizzy, almost nauseated. He fought off his weakness. No time now to be a weakling. He must carry on somehow, reach an Allied-held port, deliver his message. It was vital. More vital, perhaps, than any other phase of the Great War that had turned the entire world into an armed camp, in 1942. Scouting over western China, far from where the Japanese-American Front lay, he had spied a secret Japanese army marching southward. If they once smashed through to the coast of India, the Dictator Coalition would have driven its first wedge through the Allies' earth-girdling belt of continuity.

Barry Carver had decided this information must go directly to GHQ, in London. Radio was out of the question, because of the barrage of artificial static made by both sides in the attempt to hinder the other. So he would fiy, since he had a long-range scout ship fueled for 3,000 miles. He had had his choice—north or south route. North lay the enemy in full force; too risky. But south, via Arabia and the Sahara, then north to London—that was the safest route.

But of course, as chance would have it, the few of the enemy's devil-dogs patrolling northern Africa had seen him, given chase, shot him down....

VITAL information. Bravely, he set out on foot across the burning sands, equipped with one canteen of water, a pair of binoculars, an automatic and a compass. Young and strong, he refused to be pessimistic about his chances. He would soon find an oasis. Or run into a caravan. He plodded away from his wrecked plane, out into the ocean of sand that heaped endlessly to all horizons.

Three days later, Barry Carver was not so sure of himself. He sucked the last drop of carefully rationed water from his canteen and flung it away. Wearily, he raised the binoculars to his bloodshot eyes. Nothing but sand, sand in all directions. Bitter curses rasped from his parched throat. Vital information. Was he to die with it searing his brain?

That afternoon, under the pitiless sun, his mind began to wander. He fought against it, but hopelessly. He was going to die, out in this sandy hell! All else slipped from his mind, even the Great War that was blasting humanity. He moaned like a wild animal. His blistered feet, burning skin, aching throat were driving him mad, mad!

Then he saw it—the great, spired city ahead of him. He broke into a stumbling run, shouting hoarsely. Saved! The people of the city would give him water. How sweet it would taste! He stumbled on, but the distance was greater than it first seemed. To inspire his failing strength, he peered at it through the binoculars. How hazy it looked; it wavered! That must be his eyes. But there was water, great fountains of it cascading up in lush patches of greenery. There were even people on one of the balconies, staring at him. He waved, but they stared stonily. Why didn't they come out to help him?

He again took up his tottering lope, cursing at the loose sand that dragged at his feet.

Suddenly, through the fog of his mind, a terrible thought pierced. A mirage—it might be that! No, it couldn't be—mustn't be!

Yet what was such a great spired city doing out in these wastes? Doubts trooped through his agonized mind. It shimmered, that city. It wavered and floated over the sand. It wasn't real. It was a phenomenon of refraction, an image cast across miles of desert. A diabolical vision sent to torture him in his last hour of life.

Barry Carver's mind was paradoxically shocked to calm and sanity by the dread realization. His poor burned feet automatically propelled him toward the wonderful vision, his whole body straining forward. But his mind, clear and rational, told him he was chasing a chimera.

Another hour and it would be over. He would sink, drained of strength, to the hot sands. His information would die with him; the Great War go on without him. Perhaps some day a wandering desert tribe would find his bleached bones. His epitaph would be written in the drifting sands.

Stumbling on, refusing to lie down and wait for death, Barry Carver's eyes appraised the city of the mirage with almost philosophical detachment. How real it looked, and yet how unreal. Distorted by heat waves, it seemed like no city ever seen on Earth. Its towers and spires had a slim grace unknown to ordinary architecture. It stretched right and left and back interminably. Yet beyond it, through it, he could see plainly the hateful dunes and ridges of the vast desert.

Just a mirage. No, maybe it wasn't! Maybe it was real. He would find out—Lord! Madness stealing over him again. His right hand brought up his automatic. Sweaty fingers gripping the stock, aiming for his temple. Better the quick death by bullet than the tortures of nightmarish insanity.

He flung the gun away, suddenly.

MADNESS overwhelmed his seething mind. The great city's gates were opening, massive steel halves that swung silently apart on cleverly-devised gymbals. He could see now down into the wide avenues, row on row of buildings. The people were beckoning to him, urging him on! Water! A beautiful, splashing fountain of it. . . .

With voiceless shrieks from his burning throat. the half-dead creature whose name was Barry Carver lurched forward. He fell to his knees and began crawling forward inch by inch toward the mirage-city that seemed to dance tantalizingly just beyond his reach.

Now here was one side of the giant portals. He clutched at the pitted stone. but it was empty air. He pitched on his face and his groveling fingers found only sand, sand. . . . And in a last moment of calm before a black wave blotted out his mind, Barry Carver welcomed death.

It was strange, the awakening.

He was aware of physical lightness. and a queer sense of unreality. But then he opened his eyes and saw substantial things. He was in a bed, under soft, silken coverlets. The room around him was white-walled, curving to a domed ceiling. There were sylvan pictures of haunting beauty, long flowing drapes spectrum colored, carven furniture inlaid with gold, silver and ivory. Somehow, the motif of the room was Oriental—or ageless.

Soft sunlight, not the harsh desert glare, streamed in a window of crystal clear glass. Carver's eyes were arrested suddenly by what he saw over the foot of the bed. A woman, a girl at second glance, seated at a table, writing. Her bronze-gold hair glinted in the sunlight.

Carver essayed a call of attention that came out as a feeble croak. The girl came forward, instantly, smiling. She wore a rich silken blouse, rainbow hued, tucked in at the belt of baggy trousers gathered at the ankles. Oriental costume, Carver reflected, in keeping with the room's furnishings.

But she herself wasn't Oriental. Blue eyes, rose-white skin, oval cheeks—they were quite Caucasian features. Strongly Irish, in fact. The contrast with her clothing was startling. And her smile was friendly and open, not inscrutable and half-apologetic, as with Oriental women.

"Cairo?" guessed Carver, concerned first of all with where he was. "How was I rescued—caravan?"

"Cairo?" The girl looked puzzled.

Carver repeated his question in his indifferent French, hoping this would be understood.

The girl laughed. "No, I speak English," she said. "I was puzzled because you mentioned Cairo."

"Well, where am I then?" pursued Carver. "Khartoum? Or maybe"—he frowned—"north coast—Tripoli or Tunis, in the enemy's hands. But in that case, how would you, a white girl—" He stopped, wonderingly.

The girl's face had become grave. "I see you don't realize you're in Shorraine," she said slowly. "Well, neither did I, at first."

"Shorraine?" echoed Carver. "Never heard of it. What part of Africa?" The girl shook her head. "Not Africa, nor any other continent. Shorraine is the—City of the Mirage!"

Carver gasped. He stared at her silently for a moment. What reason would she have for lying. Or was she lying?" Do you mean that city I saw the mirage—the big gate—" He finished explosively; "I don't believe it!"

"You will see, soon," returned the girl calmly. "I'll see now," grunted Carver. He tried to struggle up on his elbow, ignoring the girl's plea to lie quiet.

"You're weak. You must rest."

But Carver didn't have to be told as a sudden wave of weakness turned his muscles to rubber. He slumped back and a tide of darkness again buried him.

WHEN next he awoke, hunger gnawed within Barry Carver. The girl was again there, and turned at his call. "I'm hungry," he told her without preamble. "Incidentally, I'm Barry Carver, of the United States air-force."

"I'm Helene Ward, also of the United States," she smiled. "But you still insist this is the City of the Mirage?" he said half mockingly. "Right out in the middle of the Sahara? A dream city that floats, ghostlike!"

She turned from a cupped wall instrument into which she had whispered a few words. "I won't try to explain now. After you've eaten, put on those clothes over the chair. I'll meet you outside and—show you."

The door opened and Carver gave a start that shook his whole bed. The figure that entered, hearing a silver tray loaded with steaming dishes, was squat and hulking shouldered, with thick bowed stumps of legs. His abbreviated costume of sleeveless shirt and kirtle revealed an apelike hairness. The features were brutal—thick, flaring nose, protruding lips, receding brow.

But docile-like, without a sound. he set the tray down on a taboret beside the bed and retreated, with a brief bow of his thick neck toward the girl.

"Good Lord!" breathed Carver. "I don't know much anthropology, but that was a Neanderthal Man! What—"

"I'll meet you outside," said the girl, slipping out. The tempting odors arising from the tray clipped short Carver's amazed conjectures. He sat up, finding himself considerably stronger than the other time, and satisfied his inner cravings.

The food was exotic, strangely spiced, but tasty. He recognized no single ingredient of it. But that it was nourishing he had no doubt. He could feel new strength pulsing through his veins. At last, he reflected, he was no wraith, if this was the City of the Mirage. But he hadn't made up his mind about that. It would require indubitable proof for belief. Yet, if it were some Oriental earth city, what was a perfectly natural white girl doing here? And that Neanderthal Man!

Barry Carver put the dishes aside hurriedly, eager to get the mystery over with. As he swung his feet out of the bed, he noticed they were cleanly healed of any sign of his terrible trek across the desert. Either he had been unconscious a long time, or had had expert medical care. Probably both. He tasted faintly a drug that might have kept him asleep.

The costume fitted his stalwart frame perfectly. An ornate sleeveless coat narrowed trimly at the hips. A broad leather belt held up baggy trousers similar to the girl's. For his feet there were sandals of some soft hide. He stepped before a full-length mirror, chuckling whimsically at the bizarre contrast to his blond, wavy hair, light grey eyes and typically occidental face. Yet he had the swarthy skin of an Oriental, burned almost mahogany by the three days of fierce Sahara sun.

On a small table he found his binoculars, automatic and compass. He picked up the gun and tucked it into his belt, somehow feeling better for it. He found a pocket for the compass. He carried the binoculars in his hand.

He strode to the window, but couldn't see much because of a high sill. He turned to the door. It opened magically at his approach and as he went past he detected the faint photoelectric eye at the side. In a short hall stood the girl, Helene. Smiling, she led him to another door that gave access to an open balcony hanging like a crow's nest from the tower. From this vantage, Carver saw the full sweep and extent of the incredible city.

SHEER depth greeted him that took his breath away. He was very high in some tower, nestled among a forest of similar spires. Far below lay lower, flatter buildings and moving figures in winding avenues. Dotting the expanse of metal and stone were numerous areas of green sward, parks whose meandering lanes were bordered with trees and flowers.

Barry Carver knew there had never been such a city on Earth, save in tales of the Arabian Nights. Was the girl right? Was this the City of the Mirage?

"But it's so solid. so real!" he objected aloud, as though they had argued. "The mirage I saw was shimmering, ghostlike—as unsubstantial as an air-castle!"

"Shorraine exists in a different dimension," explained the girl. "In this dimension, Shorraine is real and Earth is ghostly. Look!" She grasped his arm and turned him part way around. "Squint your eyes and stare straight out."

He did. Back of him, the surfs brilliant shafts speared through the city. And suddenly he saw a quivering, unreal scene of endless hills of sand hovering below and all around. It was like a superimposed view, the desert faintly occupying the space the city lay in. He opened his eyes wide and the illusion vanished. Shorraine reared solidly around him.

Carver felt shaken at the weird optical effect. An axiom of physics rose in his mind. "Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time," he stated flatly. "How do you explain that?"

"I can't," Helene admitted simply. "They tried to explain to me, but I understood very little of it."

"Who's 'they'?"

"The ones who rule this city." The girl shook her head at his open mouth, ready to issue further questions. "You'll meet them later. I'll tell what I can. The huge front gate to Shorraine encloses the 'spot' at which Earth and this world contact. When anything of Earth reaches the Spot, it passes on through to this dimension."

At his wry smile, she said sharply: "I'm trying to be as clear as I can. You approached the Spot, attracted by the vision of Shorraine. We saw you, dimly, as you saw us."

"Then there were people waving, beckoning to me!" interposed Carver, remembering.

"Yes. We opened the gates for you. You stumbled at the end, but fell within the influence of the Spot. You had entered our dimension. We picked you up, unconscious from your experiences," she explained.

The girl looked at him sympathetically. "You must have suffered a great deal. Your feet were masses of blisters. You were feverish. Your throat was so constricted we feared you would choke to death, lying senseless. But Shorraine has miraculous medicines. You were quickly treated and brought to this tower for rest."

"How long has it been since I arrived?"

"Two days. You were kept in a drugged sleep, to hasten your recovery."

"Two days!" echoed Carver. He looked down at his healed feet again, reflecting that the medicines of Shorraine must indeed be efficacious. And the vigor that flowed through his body, when so recently he had been a half-mad, racked creature more alive than dead! It had been a toss-up, probably, whether he would fall within the gates of Shorraine, or through death's doors.

HELENE Ward was watching him. "Do you believe now—about Shorraine?"

"What choice have I?" sighed Carver. "Though it's all like a fairy tale. A city in a mirage—another dimension—a Neanderthal Man—complete cures in two days!" He shook his head. Then he swung on the girl. "And you—you're a mystery. Tell me about yourself."

She blushed a little, at his stare. "There isn't much to tell. My father led an archeological expedition west from Khartoum, and never returned. That was a year ago." Her face was grave now, saddened. "I set out in search of him, in an airplane. It cracked up—bad air currents. The pilot was killed, in the crash. A miracle saved me. I was alone, then, and set out across the desert."

She shuddered. "It was terrible! Finally I saw the mirage—Shorraine. The gates opened for me, too. I've been here a year."

"A year?" Carver looked at her. "You like it here? You've never tried to leave?" Before the girl could answer, there was an interruption. A young, eager-faced man strode from the door of the tower. He nodded to Helene, and gripped Carver's hand warmly.

"Heard you were up and about. I'm Tom Tyson, of the good old U.S.A. air squadron. By the look of the togs you arrived in, I'd say you're an airman yourself?"

Carver's eyes lighted. He introduced himself and went on: "What Front were you on? Jap, European, or South American?"

"Hold on!" Tyson stared at him queerly. "There was only one main Front in my time—Flander's Field."

"You mean—" Carver choked on the words.

"World War," nodded Tyson. "Strangest thing, how I got down here. I was doing scout duty with a fast ship and plenty of gas. Fog came up at night; compass went wrong. l saw water below once or twice and figured it was the English Channel. Next thing I knew, at dawn, I was over the damned desert. I had crossed the Mediterranean!"

"You did a Douglas Corrigan," smiled Carver briefly.

"Exactly," agreed Tyson. "Anyway, I ran out of gas over the desert, with no idea where I was. Forced landing. Then the mirage, the gates opening, and here I am in Shorraine. Been here since 1918."

"But you're just a young man—about twenty!" blurted out Carver, as the astounding thought struck him.

Helene and Tyson glanced at one another. Tyson spoke. "I guess you've heard so many mysteries, one more won't hurt. People don't age in Shorraine!" He was about to say more, but compressed his lips instead.

Carver stared helplessly. Could this be some mad dream from which he would eventually awake?

"I was nineteen when I came to Shorraine," continued Tyson. "I'm still nineteen, physically. But I know what's been going on since then. I know about your war. What's the latest development?"

The thought of the war suddenly swept all other considerations out of Carver's confused mind. "The latest development," he muttered, "is a move on the enemy's part—a secret Jap army trying to cut through to the Indian Ocean. And I think I'm the only one knows about it. If they succeed, they'll sever our overland connection between the European and Japanese Fronts."

HE drew himself up. "I haven't time to waste. All these mysteries by the board, I have to leave Shorraine. Get back to—civilization. Warn headquarters of the Jap move. Do you suppose I can get some help here, to cross the desert?" Carver saw again a look exchanged between the two and wondered what it was this time. His heart sank in anticipation, even before Helene spoke.

"You can't leave Shorraine," she said softly. "Why not?" snapped Carver impatiently. "Nobody can stop me. If I came in the Spot, I can go out again."

The girl looked at him as though warning him to prepare for the greatest shock of all.

"Remember when you were staggering into the city gates?" she said. "You must have wondered why we didn't come out to help you. You saw us watching. We couldn't come out. The Spot only works one way!"

Tom Tyson nodded soberly. "You can come in from the Earth side easily enough, but going back is impossible. It doesn't work. Or else I'd have left here long ago."

"Good Lord!" groaned Carver. "You mean there's no way back? And I have priceless information for headquarters! It should he delivered soon. In another month, that Jap army—"

"There's no way back!" murmured Tyson.

Carver grasped at straws. "Is there any way of communicating with the outside world. Radio, for instance?" Tyson shook his head. "Radio also works just one way—into Shorraine. We know much of what goes on in the world by radio. But no radio waves can go the other way, to Earth."

Carver bit his lip. What a mad, impossible situation! Trapped in a mysterious "dimension" from which there was no return. A dismayed feeling clutched his heart, and not only at the thought of his untransmitted information. He must continue to live here in Shorraine, in a strange, almost alien environment. In a city of witchcraft, to judge by what he had heard and seen so far.

Barry Carver whirled suddenly. "Listen, there must be a way back to Earth," he protested. "Have you ever tried the Spot?"

"Well, no." admitted Tyson. "But they've told us—"

"They've told you! " Carver mocked. "Why not try it?" He had never taken anybodys word for anything, when the issue at stake was vital.

"All right," agreed Tyson. "We'll try it right now."

He led the way off the balcony into the short hallway, at the end of which was an elevator that took them down at a sickening pace. They traversed another hallway. passing other people. Carver stared at them curiously. Were all of them unaging, as Tyson was? How long could they be kept so? But he would find out such things later. At present, his only thought was departure from Shorraine.

They stepped out into the sunlight, on a broad flat roof. Tyson spoke low words with an attendant and then jumped aboard a flat-decked craft built like a half eggshell. Carver followed and helped Helene aboard.

Tyson stood before a pedestal whose top surface held dials and levers. As he manipulated them, a soft hum arose from below deck and the craft glided into the air smoothly. Carver hung on the rail around the deck, thunderstruck by the fact that there was no propeller whirring. He flushed as he caught Tyson's half-amused glance.

"Little different from the kind of things we piloted, eh?" grinned Tyson. "Works on an anti-gravity principle. Apparatus below produces a field of force that neutralizes gravity. Power comes from a central broadcast station."

CARVER swallowed his amazement with difficulty. It was becoming apparent to him that Shorraine was a city of more than common science. Neutralizing gravity was no small feat and so far ahead of Earth science that they laughed at it as an optimist's dream. Broadcasting power through the ether, though long sought, still evaded engineering efforts on Earth. Both of these had been achieved here and combined in a craft that soared magically.

Sailing high above the spires, Carver had a panoramic view of the city's expanse. A circular stone wall, a hundred feet high. completely surrounded it. Beyond was wild-looking land, apparently uncultivated. "Where is food grown?" queried Carver, mystified. "It isn't grown," informed Helene. "It's made—here in the city, by scientific processes." She smiled. "But don't ask me how. The wall around Shorraine is to keep out—beasts."

Tyson slanted the ship down toward the ponderous gates and landed it on the wall next to a small housing. The gatekeeper, a hawk-nosed fellow, stared at them quizzically. "Open the gates," commanded Tyson.

"But why?" asked the gate-keeper, turning to peer with squinted eyes beyond the city. "There is no one approaching from the Earth-dimension."

"No, but we wish to try going through the Spot, back toward Earth, just for our own satisfaction," spoke up Carver. "There's no harm trying, is there?"

The gatekeeper grinned at him in recognition. "You're the man who arrived recently? There is no return to Earth. Others have tried it—countless others."

"I want to try for myself," insisted Carver stubbornly. The gatekeeper scowled. "All right," he said grumblingly, after a moment. "Go down below. But do not go too far outside the gate. I saw one of the big beasts roaming around before."

Tyson led the way down winding stairs to the base of the wall. Carver was in a fever of impatience to attempt the return, despite the repeated pessimism against its success. Finally the massive halves of the metal gate swung outward, without a whisper of sound.

The three waiting stepped forward, out toward the dark wild wastes. Squinting his eyes, with the sun in back of him, Barry Carver could see the "mirage" of Earth before him, the vast ocean of the Sahara. It hung over the other scene like a dancing image. Was there no return to it?

They trudged forward. Out of curiosity, Carver took out his compass and glanced at it. The needle, pointing away from the city as north, suddenly spun wildly as he walked along. A few feet further on it was pointing into the city, in a queer reversal that was like an ill omen.

Altogether, they walked forward a hundred yards, but the Earth-mirage did not become real.

"You see?" said Tom Tyson, but with disappointment himself.

"I had been hoping—a little," murmured Helene.

Carver looked back baffled. He could see the outline of the Spot, like a round bluish tunnel in the air, filling the space between the gate posts. They had walked right through it. It offered no return to Earth. He was convinced of it now. He shrugged and turned to go back.


IT was a gasp from Helene. Her fingers dug into his arm. He looked in the direction she indicated and gasped himself. Out of the dark land was charging a monster of scales and spines, rearing twenty feet from the ground. Rooted in surprise, Carver recognized it. A Tyrannosaurus, from the Reptilian Age of the dim past! It thundered down on them, a juggernaut of bone and muscle.

"Run!" shouted Tyson. They fled for the gateway, but Carver felt futile despair. They would never make it before the monstrous killer caught up with them. He jerked out his automatic and emptied it at the creature, though he realized it would have as little effect as tossing pebbles.

Fifty yards to go! Carver pushed the girl before him and glanced over his shoulder. Giant jaws, edged with rows of horrible teeth, were almost within striking distance. Death at his very back!

And then—from the top of the wall stabbed a crimson beam, hissing through the air. It caught the beast squarely and burned smokingly through armored scales. Screaming shrilly, it spun about and raced back the way it had come, with a thunder of its ponderous feet.

Safe within the gates, trembling and panting, the three watched the great portals swing together.

"A dinosaur!" growled Carver. "What else have you got in this crazy world?" He was more angry than astonished, for his sense of surprise had become dulled with repeated revelations.

When they had climbed to the top of the wall, the gatekeeper was shoving a wheeled weapon back to its niche in the guardhouse. Carver could see an intricate group of tubes, coils and wiring behind a mesh-screen, connecting to a shiny convex mirror. It was powered, probably, from the ether broadcast lines and shot out raw heat energy as a beam. Again an example of advanced science.

"Thanks, Proxides," said Tyson warmly. "We owe our lives to your sharp eyes and quick action."

The gatekeeper grunted. "These eyes that are trained to watch for the demon-people's slinking shapes cannot fail to see a mountain of flesh before the nose. And in the old days"—his eyes flashed slightly— "one had to learn quickness in the hand-to-hand battles with the Persians. Ah, in those times—"

The buzzing of a wall instrument intervened.

Carver turned to see a square panel glow with prismatic colors that suddenly flew together to form a face. Television—and far clearer than the images cast by the latest 1942 models on earth!

A bearded, sharp-nosed visage peered out of the visi-screen.

"Proxides," he barked, "for whom or what reason did you open the gates?"

"For the new man, sire, who did not believe there was no return to Earth."

"I see." The eyes shifted to meet those of Carver and he felt as though he were looking into pools of endless depths. "I will explain to him sometime, when I am not so busy." The image faded.

"Who's he?" asked Carver. "Chief scientist of Shorraine," said Tyson. "If you want a scientific explanation for everything, Val Marmax is the man to give it."

"Then let's see him right away!" demanded Carver.

"Can't, while he's busy. But I'll arrange for you to see him as soon as possible."

"AND right now," spoke up Helene Ward. "you're going back to your room. and bed. You're still a convalescent. Too much excitement at one time."

"I feel fine," Carver protested.

"Doctor's orders." said the girl firmly. "You're not as well as you think, yet."

"You're taking pretty good care of me," smiled Carver. The girl's face tinted and she lowered her eyes without answering. By the time they had flown back to his room, Carver realized she was right. A strange weakness had stolen over him, an aftereffect of the drugs, he surmised. In bed, he fell instantly asleep. too tired to conjecture over the amazing riddle of Shorraine.

For the next three days. while his full strength rapidly returned, Barry Carver lived a strange dream. Helen and Tyson, who spent most of his waking hours with him. had obviously entered a conspiracy to explain little or nothing. Tyson assured him that soon he would be told all things, by one more qualified to make it clear, Val Marmax, the scientist.

In fact, in the many hours they spent on the balcony conversing, Helene and Tyson asked the most questions. They were pitifully eager, almost, to hear of events in their former life. They drank in his words, the picture of rapt attention.

"We hear much of what goes on in the world, by radio," informed Tyson. "But it's dry, secondhand. And we can't ask the announcer questions. Since the war's been on, we've heard less, because, I suppose, of stiff censorship. We hardly know what is going on right now."

Carver's eyes went bleak. "It's the greatest conflict in human history," he murmured. "With science let loose as a ravening brute. It all began with the assassination of Hitler, over a year ago. It was a mistake. He became a martyr, in the eyes of his worldwide followers. Two months later they rose in attack, inflamed by the other leaders. Every nation became involved, on one side or the other. If the enemy wins—dictatorship all over Earth!"

He jumped up and began pacing, hands clenched. "I keep thinking of that Jap army. It must be stopped! Why did I have to fall, or crawl, into this damned trap?"

"You wouldn't be alive if you hadn't." reminded Helene gently.

"Well, you're right," admitted Carver. His shoulders sagged helplessly. "I'll have to make the best of it."

He saw an exchange of looks between the other two, as though they too at one time had come to such a conclusion.

Tyson took them flying at times, over the city. He taught Carver the technique of handling the controls, and it was with some pleasure that Carver maneuvered the ship at breathtaking spurts and spins. It was far superior in manipulation to clumsy propellored ships. He thought vaguely of such craft in the war on Earth, and what a tremendous advantage they would be in any aerial battles.

The second day, high over the city, Carver noticed a break in the horizons beyond, which elsewhere was an unbroken expanse of dark wilderness. Faintly, he seemed to see the spires and serrate outlines of another city.

"Is it a city?" he asked. Tyson nodded, his lips tightening a little.


"It's a city of—other people," vouched Tyson reluctantly.

CARVER stared at their averted eyes.

"You two are keeping a lot from me," he accused.

Helene touched his arm. "You've only been here a few days, Barry," she said softly. "You can't learn of everything at once. Val Marmax will explain better than we can."

Carver let it rest at that, though his impatience and wonder grew hourly. His two guides took him through the various industries of Shorraine. Robot machinery, almost unattended, made the necessities of life, including food. All raw material came from simple rock molecules, by processes of transmutation. Power to run all machines, as with the aircraft, came wirelessly from a central power-station. This gigantic plant was crammed to the roof with busily humming cyclotrons. Carver vaguely understood it as the generation of atomic energy.

And here was all this science in full-bloom, cooped up in some isolated "dimension!" It was the science of Earth's future. But how wonderful to have it now, if only Earth could have it. The people of the city interested Barry Carver the most, however. Though dressed uniformly in the colorful costumes of their style, they were of all races, including a sprinkling of Chinese and Negroes. The predominant white, in turn, was of all different types, from almost black Asiatic Indians to pink-white Nordics. The main bulk, however, seemed to be an Olive-skinned, sharp-nosed people.

Ethnologically, the citizens of Shorraine were a mixed group. And Carver sensed too that they were divergent in a subtler way that he couldn't define. Snatches of conversation that he overheard mystified him. There were references to the past that puzzled him. But most amazing of all, when he stopped to think of it, was the widespread use of dozens of different languages. And particularly when he noticed a swarthy Indian talking German, a Chinese using French, a blonde Nordic rolling off the difficulties of Greek!

It was always with a queer shock that Carver came upon the silent, unobtrusive Neanderthal Men. They served as well-treated menials, apparently. Their little, dull eyes reflected the muddled mind of a creature halfway between man and ape. Earth anthropologists would mortgage their souls for one of them.

On the third morning of his awakening, Helene informed him, in a rather subdued voice, that he was to be received by the "Queen."

"Your ruler?" asked Carver.

"No. She was a Queen, in her former life, and out of courtesy the title remains. She makes it a practice to welcome all newcomers to Shorraine." Helene turned away with a strange hunch of her shoulders. She turned back suddenly. "If you wished, you could pass it by."

"No, I'll see the Queen," said Carver, interested. He quoted: "A royal invitation is a command."

Tyson joined them and together they soared to a tower of elaborate design, frescoed and studded with blocks of sparkling stone. At the landing terrace, a bowing hawk-nosed attendant ushered them into a room hung with gorgeous tapestries. Statuettes gleamed in wall niches. Perfume lingered in the air. On a couch of silks reclined a woman in a clinging robe of white.

"Her Majesty, Queen Elsha!" announced the attendant solemnly, withdrawing.

CARVER stared almost rudely. He had never seen a woman quite like her before. Raven-black hair ran smoothly over the ears to outline an olive-tinted face of dark, heavy-lidded eyes, thin aristocratic nose and lips crimsoned artificially. One hand, with gold-tinted nails, toyed with the ears of a woolly dog curled beside her. The langorous lines of her figure were a study of artistic perfection. She was staring at him, a faint smile on her lips.

"You are Barry Carver, most recent pilgrim to Shorraine," Her voice was low, husky, melodious. "You will tell me about the outside world that I have not seen for—a while?"

"Anything you want to know, Queen Elsha," assured Carver, flushing a little at her direct gaze. He felt himself being appraised, weighed, almost analyzed, and seemed to see a gleam of approval in those slumbrous eyes.

She glanced at the others. "May I not be alone with my guest?"

Carver saw Helene dart a veiled glance at the woman, and then turn away with that same little hunch of her shoulders. Tyson managed to whisper a word in Carver's ear before he left, with a cynical grin: "Dynamite!"

Alone with the creature who seemed the essence of Oriental womanhood, Carver felt at a loss. He could feel his ears burn.

"Sit down beside me, Barry Carver," she invited. Her English was fluent, natural. "Tell me about yourself."

He did, briefly. Then he asked: "What were you queen of, before you came to Shorraine?" He reflected it must be some comic-opera principality, perhaps in Asia Minor.

Her eyes lighted. "Of a great land. But that is no more." A fiercer expression shone from her dark eyes, then. "I should still be a rightful queen. But they have taken my power away, in Shorraine." She peered up at him. "Will you help me regain what I have lost, Barry Carver? You are a leader. I know that at first glance. You could do much—for me."

Carver stammered a negative, startled at the sudden appeal.


Her arms were suddenly around his neck, drawing his lips to hers. The exotic perfume of her hair hypnotized his senses. But a word flashed through his mind: "Dynamite!"

"I have to go," he said firmly, pulling himself away. He left without a backward glance, and soared away in his ship. Helene was waiting, at his tower.

"Well?" she said, with a trace of coldness.

"Well, what?" he countered.

"You were there a half hour," said the girl pointedly. "When the Queen welcomed me, it only took five minutes." She turned with that queer hunch of her shoulder.

Carver laughed, and drew her to him. "I love you, Helene," he said simply. "From the first moment."

She resisted him. "You've only known me three days. How can you know—"

"Three days, three minutes, three years— what's the difference? Helene—"

Carver was determined, sure of himself. He hadn't been sure of it before. The episode with Queen Elsha had served to crystallize his own attitude to the sweet, attractive girl who had been nurse and companion for three days.

SHE held herself stiffly as he slipped his arms around her, but suddenly relaxed in surrender, sought his lips eagerly. "Oh, Barry, take me away from this place—back to Earth! " she half sobbed, after a moment.

"I'll certainly try," he promised.

"Tomorrow," she whispered. "Tomorrow Val Marmax will see you. You'll hear the full story." She shuddered. "Then you'll know!"

In the morning. Tyson was on hand. "Val Marmax is waiting for us. Barry. He says he will explain many things."

"Good," nodded Carver. "So far I've seen things that need plenty of tall explaining." He set his lips grimly. "If I'm to be stuck in Shorraine, I want to know the why of everything. Coming along, Helene?"

She slipped her hand in his. "I think I want to hear what Val Marmax has to say, too. I've been here a year, Earth-time, and it's all a mystery to me."

"Why do you say 'Earth-time'?" asked Carver, having heard the expression several times. "Is there a different time-system in Shorraine?"

"Let Val Marmax explain," said Tyson, shortly. Their flat-decked ship arose, smoothly, and darted in the direction of the city's gates. A short distance before them lay a long, low building in the shadows of sky-piercing towers. Landing on the roof, the way led down winding stairs. Finally, before a door of burnished metal, Tyson pressed a button. Soft lights flashed in their eyes— Carver guessed it to be a vision scanner—and then the door opened.

Not unfamiliar with laboratories, Carver recognized the room beyond immediately as such. But little of the paraphernalia strewn about on benches and shelves was that of Earth-science. The aspect of the place was foreign, strange and somehow, age-old. Carver's heart beat faster, for some indefinable reason.

Val Marmax was seated at a desk before an instrument whose rotating metal scroll made some kind of record. But the scientist was neither speaking nor writing. He was just staring at a small humming globe over the machine. In a flash of insight, Carver knew he was recording his thoughts directly on the scroll.

The three stood silently, waiting.

Finally the scientist's thin, sensitive hand flipped a switch at the side and the machine's hum ceased. He looked up. Carver met his eyes. Far more than the vision screen had showed, that other time, they were orbs of dynamic intensity. They seemed filled with the wisdom of ages. shining forth like a steady beacon. Yet behind this, Carver sensed a deep weariness. For the rest, he was an average man, about forty, somewhat portly, with a lofty brow, pointed beard and full lips.

At a querulous glance from the scientist, Tyson gave Carver's name.

"The things of Shorraine mystify you, Barry Carver?" spoke the scientist in a deep, grave voice. "I will answer your questions. I am Val Marmax, chief scientist of Shorraine."

"From where are you?" queried Carver first of all, unable to place the man's precise accent.

"From Atlantis."

"Atlantis?" Carver looked blank. Then he gasped "Atlantis!" again, sharply. It took him a few seconds to regain his lost voice. "But you can't mean the mythical island of prehistory—" He stopped, looking at his two companions, but they showed no surprise.

Val Marmax nodded with a faint smile. "That same ill-fated land of twelve thousand years ago, Earth-time!"

CARVER tried to rationalize. He could accept offhand the one-time existence of Atlantis, though in Earth history it had always been a fable. But must he accept Val Marmax's statement at face-value? An impulsive laugh that he couldn't control shook him.

"You're not twelve thousand years old," he objected. "You mean you're a descendent of that race."

"No. I am an original Atlantide," asserted the scientist. "Proxides, at the gate, is a Greek from the time of Alexander, 330 B.C. There are people in Shorraine from all times and periods, from the days of Atlantis to the present."

"Remember, Barry," came Tyson's voice, "I told you people do not age in Shorraine!"

Tyson, of course, was an example himself, Carver reflected, though he hadn't followed through the reasoning before. He had simply taken it for granted that some miraculous scientific process, like a Fountain of Youth, kept him young and would do so for a limited time. But this survival of Val Marmax, through centuries, was a. different matter. It was immortality!

Carver forced himself to be calm. "Is there no such thing as death here?" he asked quietly.

"Only by violence, and occasionally by disease. Never by what is known on Earth as old-age." The scientist went on. "Our science has conquered most disease, which is really a death by violence, through the attack of germs. Actual violent death, however, we cannot control. If that Tyrannosaurus outside the gates had caught you, one snap of his jaws would have ended your life as certainly as on Earth."

"But old-age!" remonstrated Carver. "How do you escape that?"

"We are in a different time-world than that of Earth," responded the Atlantide. "It is hard to explain, in terms of your orthodox modern science. In a sense, time does not pass here in Shorraine's world. Or, rather, call it biological time. Old-age is a wearing down of the body-machine, measured by biological time. And biological time stands still here. There is no simpler explanation."

Carver's eyes rested on Helene. "What of your children? Good Lord, if death is so rare, how have you kept the population from choking itself by sheer pressure of numbers?"

Helene looked back at him queerly, sadly, Carver noticed and he suspected the answer. The stunning thought occurred to him that he hadn't seen a single child, in three days!

"There are no children in Shorraine!" Val Marmax was looking at the floor now. "There can be none. Birth and growth are processes dependent on biological time, again. We have no senile old dotards, ready for the grave. But neither have we children to grow up at our sides. That has been the price of immortality in Shorraine!"

Carver broke a strained, depressed silence. He sensed that Val Marmax, and perhaps all the others of Shorraine, would willingly exchange this immortality for normal life.

"The pathway back to Earth is closed, as I know," he said. "But have you tried, with your science, to open the way?"

Infinite weariness suddenly came over the Atlantide's face. "I have tried, and many others, for these thousands of years. It seemed impossible. The Spot can be simply negotiated, from Earth to Shorraine. But the return is barred as though Earth were in the remotest galaxy. And therein lies the whole story of Shorraine."

HE settled himself back. His eyes faded as though he were plumbing the depths of time with his vision.

"The world of Shorr—which in our tongue means 'mirage'—lies in a different universe than that of Earth. There are different stars and different dimensions. The two do not conflict, though they lie wrapped in one another. They are in different time-sectors. And as your Einstein has shown, partly, two things can exist in the same space, at separate times."

He waved a hand of dismissal. "Having studied the problem for so long, l could show you the formulae. But they are too involved for ordinary discussion."

Carver nodded. "Skip it," he said. He realized that the riddle of Shorraine was something Earth sciences rigid dogmatism hadn't made allowance for.

The Atlantide resumed.

"Shorr, however, does have contact with Earth, at the Spot. To give an analogy, it is something like a two-dimensional flat world touching a three-dimensional globe. They would contact at one point. Thus, since time began, there has been this path from Earth to this world—one-way.

"As a result, creatures of Earth blundered through the Spot, into this dimension. All other conditions, save time, being strangely alike, they lived. In the dim past, millions of years ago, the great reptiles came through, during their era of predominance. The Sahara, in those remote times, was not a desert, but a rich, prolific hotbed of life, and by the laws of numbers alone, though the Spot is so small, nanny dinosaurs entered. In my idler moments I have soared over the dark lands and catalogued Triceratops, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Trachodon, etc. They, too, were unable to die of age, but their numbers have been depleted by their mutual depredations. The Tyrannosaurus you saw is the only one I've known of in fifty years. He may well be the last of his species in Shorr."

Carver heaved a sigh. The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. And in a less crazy pattern than had at first seemed possible.

"Eventually," continued Val Marmax, "man came on the scene. Perhaps, through a period of fifty thousand years, all the subspecies of near-man wandered in. Before the dawn of true man, the Neanderthalers particularly entered the Spot. Terrified, bewildered by the new world, they did not venture far from the Spot, and established a cave community exactly on the site of later Shorraine. They managed to eke out a living by hunting.

"We found them here when we came—we of Atlantis." The scientist's voice became tense, vibrant. "Fifteen thousand years ago Atlantis and Mu achieved a cultured, scientific civilization that lasted for three thousand years. Then came catastrophe, as your fables relate. The seas rose, the lands split, and the fires of the underneath erupted. Atlantis and Mu were doomed—"

Something of the terror and agony of that long ago disaster shone from the speaker's eyes. Carver felt sympathy.

"Some of the scientists of Atlantis knew of the Spot, knew that it led to a livable world, as they could faintly see in 'mirages.' While there was yet time, we gathered as many of our people as we could, led them into Shorr. Better a chance for survival in an unknown world than certain death on torn, twisted Earth. Some few of Mu, from half way around the world, were also saved. Queen Elsha—was queen of that great land in the Pacific."

CARVER started a little, thinking of his visit with Queen Elsha and her strange conversation.

Val Marmax sighed.

"Thus we began life anew. With our science, we founded the city of Shorraine—Mirage City—on the site of the Neanderthal cave-home. The few surviving Neanderthalers we trained as our servants. Life was not unpleasant in Shorr, but we soon longed to return. Particularly when we knew at the immortality that denied us children. Then we found—that we could not return!"

The furrows in the scientist's brow—sharpened by twelve thousand years of life and thought—grew deep.

"Though we prided ourselves as being the masters of nature and all its mysteries, we could not solve the problem of the Spot. Life went on. In the past twelve thousand years, others have wandered into the Spot, from later times than ours. When the Egyptian empire flowered, thousands of them came to Shorraine. Later, men from all lands—Sumerians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs, and the European adventurers. Not in great numbers, of course. Only by chance, sometimes only one a year. Since the days of Egypt, when the Sahara became a death-trap, only doomed men whose half-maddened minds saw the mirage of Shorraine as possible rescue, have stumbled in, as with yourself."

"Are all the mirages of the Sahara," asked Carver curiously, "caused by Shorraine?"

Val Marmax nodded. "All mirages, so-called, are reflections of our city, from different angles. Or views of the rest of Shorr. Earth eyes have dressed them with many fanciful details, but they would have noticed, by comparison, that it was one and the same general scene each time."

"And that," mused Carver, "explains one of the oldest of historical phenomena."

He looked at the Atlantide's studied face. It was hard to believe that this man had lived three hundred lifetimes. That the city was filled with other people whose lives had gone past the Biblical threescore and ten.

Carver was suddenly appalled. "How have you filled the time?" he whispered. "All those centuries and centuries—"

"We have managed to occupy ourselves." smiled Val Marmax. His smile was mirthless. "The repairs and running of our machinery, beautifying our city. and the pursuit of hobbies. Earth history has particularly absorbed us, collectively. Each new visitant to Shorraine, when he had become settled in the new life, was set to work writing down all he knew of his times. We have written records that would be priceless to Earth—detailed accounts of early history lost to your times. Another popular avocation has been to learn different languages. Almost every person in Shorraine can speak fluently in dozens of languages. It takes time—but Ishtu knows, we have enough of that."

Carver saw now, though he had taken it for granted before, why everyone in Shorraine seemed to know English thoroughly. They had studied it over the the radio, as they had studied all other modern languages. They had probably spoken it longer than Carver himself! Like that Greek. Proxides, who had been born a thousand 'years before the rudiments of the modern English language had been set down! Everything in Shorraine was topsy-turvy. It was all queer, queer!

"I suppose it's been interesting in a way," remarked Carver. "Living on and on. learning many more things than normal humans ever have a chance to. But which would you rather have—this life or life on Earth?"

THE visage of Val Marmax suddenly unmasked itself as an incredibly old, senile, wearied face behind its ageless lines.

"Earth!" he said instantly, his eyes glowing. "We would welcome release from this deathless prison. I have lived twelve thousand years in Shorraine. I would exchange it for 12 years of Earth life. Life is a meaningless Purgatory here. Immortality is ashes. Twelve years back on Earth would be fuller, richer, grander—" He stopped, helpless to express himself. "You will find out, Barry Carver, when you have watched the slow years parade by endlessly. endlessly—"

"I don't intend to find out," said Carver rebelliously. "There must be a way out of the Spot."

Val Marmax's sigh came from his soul.

"I have chanted those same words for twelve thousand years," he said. He became suddenly fierce, scornful. "For twelve thousand years I've tried—and my science has failed. And you say childishly it can be achieved, as though it were a tent-flap one could toss aside!"

Carver took the rebuke in silence. Beside him, Tom Tyson stirred. "If there only were a way!" he murmured. "I've only been here twenty-four years. But I'd take a day on Earth for another twenty-four. Even an hour, in a dogfight against enemy planes, knowing I couldn't escape them!"

The war! Carver had almost forgotten about it. He jumped up and began pacing. "It's all so ironic!" he complained in a mutter. "You people would gladly go back to Earth, and Earth could use your great science. Your atomic-energy process, wireless power transmission. chemical food, robot machinery. And your marvellous anti-gravity ships and beam-weapon. in the war! If we had your help, we would win!"

Val Marmax nodded. "I have thought of that myself. I have followed your war, by radio reports. What puny guns and methods you have! I could rout an army with ten of my ships!"

Carver whirled.

"Suppose the Spot were open!" he demanded. "And you could go out. You would have to choose a side. Which side?" He almost held his breath, waiting for an answer. "That would be up to the Council," returned the Atlantide non-commitally. "Five of my fellow Atlantides rule Shorraine, but they would call a Council for a decision. The Council would consist of one member from each kind of race, time and nation. The Five have ruled wisely that way, through the voice of the people."

"Democracy!" cried Carver happily. "You have it here yourself. They would vote to help the Allied Democracies!"

"Perhaps so." Val Marmax's eyes were dull. "But foolish talk. It will never come to pass. Are you still thinking of conquering the Spot, Barry Carver, when I have failed in twelve thousand years?"

Carver felt the crushing force of that statement. His eager thought of Shorraine's help in the war evaporated, leaving bitterness. He felt Helene's eyes on him and looked at her. She had hope! She seemed to be telling him she believed in him, believed he could do something, against all reason.

Carver's pulses stirred. He faced the Atlantide. "Just what is the Spot?" he asked. "Why is it so impregnable?"

VAL MARMAX spoke dejectedly. "It's a time-warp, in brief. Passing through from the Earth side, all electrons within the countless atoms reverse their spin, which throws them into the new time dimension. But to force the electrons back to their original motion. seems impossible. It involves attaining a high potential. I have tried the titanic powers of atomic-energy, without avail. It is an irreversible equation, apparently, of time—"

"Magnetism!" interjected Carver, thoughtfully.

"What?" asked the Atlantide.

"It must be a magnetic phenomena," Carver related his experiment with the compass, when passing through the Spot.

"Magnetism—compass? What are those?" Val Marmax looked puzzled. Carver stared. his thoughts whirling. Could it be possible that this master scientist knew nothing of magnetism?

"How do you generate electricity?" he demanded.

"By conversion of disrupted atoms into pure energy."

"You don't use a generator—an armature, copper wire, magnetic field?"

The Atlantide shook his head, still puzzled.

"Good God!" exploded Carver. A blinding light seared his mind. "Too much science, that's your trouble!" he hissed. "You've been playing around with your anti-gravity, atomic-energy and what-not, without realizing there are such simple things as magnetic fields, rotating coils, and plain ordinary two-plus-two! I'll bet the key to the Spot is so simple, you'll cry like a baby when you find it!"

Val Marmax rose in red-faced anger, glaring at the younger man. For a moment he stood thus, haughty, proud, wrathful, in a pose that might have been a picture of a long-distant past. when he and his fellows were lords of civilization. But suddenly he relaxed.

"This magnetism," he asked. "What is it?" Barry Carver launched into an explanation, and halting though it was, he knew he had put the idea across. An utterly dumbfounded look had frozen on the Atlantide's face.

"Ishtu!" he gasped. "That's it! The vital clue. At my fingertips all the time. If the polarity is reversed, the electrons must spin the other way—"

Radiant with hope, the four looked at one another. Then suddenly, Carver felt a queer sensation. Something dark and shadowy seemed to be in the room. It hovered over him and darted down suddenly. He felt strangely light-headed, and something was prodding in his mind, like a mental gimlet. It burned, agonizingly, as though his brain were on fire.

Instinctively, he brushed at the shadowy thing around his head, trying to knock it away. His hand felt nothing save a tingling—and the burning, torturing, probing feeling continued.

The other three had been staring at him, frightened.

"Don't think!" barked Val Marmax. "Make your mind a blank. Carver, you're in danger—think of nothing, nothing—"

While he spoke, he ran toward the wall where a row of gleaming switches lay. Carver, bewildered and half-panicky, tried to obey, tried to make his mind a blank. He pictured sheep jumping over a fence. One sheep—two sheep—three sheep— He noticed the burning in his brain lessening.

And then suddenly it vanished altogether. He was free. Val Marmax had thrown a switch, followed by a deep humming sound that seemed to fill the room with an intangible force. The black shadow rose to the roof, and vanished, with a soundless scream.

HELENE was in Carver's arms, then, clinging to him wordlessly. He looked down in her face and saw horror. There was something else in Shorraine, or Shorr, than these other mysteries. He disengaged her gently.

"What was it?" he asked, frowning at the dull ache that remained in his head.

"The demon-people!" Helene murmured. The demon-people—the city beyond Shorraine—vague snatches of things he had heard failed to dovetail in Carver's mind. He looked quizzically at the scientist.

"I haven't told you the full story of Shorr," confessed Val Marmax. "Shorr, of course, is a separate world from Earth. It has its own—creatures. We of Shorraine are outlanders, invaders, in that sense. The higher life-forms have achieved civilization—of a sort. Their largest city is just fifty miles away."

"What are they like?" Carver queried.

He saw the quick looks of loathing in their faces. "They aren't—human in form," answered the Atlantide. He seemed reluctant to continue the topic.

"You mean this shadow-thing was one of them?"

"No. They have definite form. But they have a strange science, tangent to ours. They are able to project astral forms. One of them, the shadow-thing, was sent here to probe your mind—to read it!"

"For what?" Carver was astonished. Val Marmax shook his head. "I don't know. But I suspect it was to find out what you knew of magnetism. You see, they too have a Spot, connecting with Earth! I didn't mention it before, but Shorr and Earth impinge at two points, according to their axis of rotation. We built Shorraine around the one. Bu. t the demon-people kept control of the other."

Carver whistled. "I'll say you didn't tell me the whole story. In fact, only half. This complicates matters considerably. What of the Earth-people who have wandered into their spot?"

"Poor devils!" It was Tyson who spoke, somberly. "Having to live, on and on, as slaves of the demon-people. Suicide is probably the way out for many of them."

"The demon-people, I take it, are bitter enemies of mankind?" Carver suggested.

"They are different in all ways," informed Val Marmax. "Their forms, minds, aims, science—everything. If they once had the chance to invade Earth, through their Spot, they would trample down civilization ruthlessly. We must be careful, in our work on Spot-penetration, that they don't steal the secret. I have this laboratory protected from their astral-spying, however, and we can safely go on."

Carver wanted to ask more questions, still quite hazy about the enemy, but Val Marmax waved an impatient hand. "I will tell you more some other time. Right now"—his eyes were charged with exultant hope—"you must show me how to build a simple magnetic circuit. From that I'll learn about this unbelievable phenomenon —one that has somehow escaped all the science of Atlantis!"

Carver was already rolling up his sleeves. "Where's some copper wire?" He smiled whimsically at the thought that he was going to show a twelve thousand year old scientist, who could blow mountains to atoms, how to make a magnetic needle twist like a live thing.

The following week in his new, strange world, was a busy one for Barry Carver. He spent long hours with Val Marmax, imparting to the scientist all he knew about magnetism. The Atlantide caught on quickly. His trained mind leaped the gaps of understanding at an accelerated pace. In a week, Val Marmax had learned as much about magnetism as it had taken Earth science a century to uncover. Carver was already out of his depth, but continued to help, as laboratory assistant.

CARVER had less time than he wished to spend with Helene and Tyson. The girl particularly. In his eyes, she grew more lovely every day. And for that reason, Carver was almost rude to Queen Elsha, who dropped in the laboratory at almost any odd hour. Carver, alert, began to wonder what game she was playing. She was not the sort to do things aimlessly.

On the third day, she ran across the annoyance of Val Marmax, intent and nervous as he was in his work.

"Elsha, may I ask you to leave!"

She drew herself up haughtily, heavy-lidded eyes insulted. "You forget I am a Queen, Val Marmax!" she purred dangerously.

"Were a queen," reminded the Atlantide tactlessly. "And never mine anyway."

Carver saw her quick, humiliated flush, and had an inkling of her feelings. He almost pitied her. Once proud queen of a great people, in a glorious era, and now a common member of a democratic society, surrounded by an indulgent pretense of her former royal authority. It must hurt—especially through twelve thousand years of memory.

Perhaps she saw the sympathy in his face. She turned to him. "I'll leave. But will you dine with me, tonight. Barry Carver? Sometimes I am so—alone."

At the point of refusing, Carver fell under the hypnosis of her eyes. They were pleading. He was surprised to hear himself say "yes."

She swept her cloak about her glorious figure and left.

Val Marmax shook his head. "She's a queer case," he confided. "She saw much of the destruction of her land, Mu. She almost lost her mind. For a year, in Shorraine, she brooded and even tried suicide. But she came out of it, and since then has created a new empire—of lovers. She has had the pick of men, from the lowest to the high."

Carver glimpsed a dreamy look in the scientist's eye, but said nothing, smiling to himself. The things of Shorraine, if ever the world heard about them, would fill many libraries.

Ushered into the queen's presence that evening, Carver's heart beat faster. She was a dream of brunette beauty, clothed in sheer robes, with soft, strategically placed lights to bring out her loveliest charms. Almost, he retreated. But again a subtle magnetism gripped him. Perfume mounted headily to his intoxicated mind.

She told him of Mu as they ate, a heavenly land in a golden era. It was a spell of enchantment, with her low. husky voice lulling his senses. A rich, synthetic wine more delectable than any he had ever tasted in Earth, did more to confuse him till he had forgotten all but her witching presence. Dimly, in the back of his mind. he thought of her past, her real age, but it was a lost voice.

The food cleared away, she sat close beside him on the couch.

"Kiss me!" she commanded softly.

Carver gripped himself. "You're a queen," he tried to say casually.

"Not tonight," she whispered. "Tonight I'm a woman—a lonely one. I—"

Carver, leaning toward the alluring lips, caught something in the corner of his eye. A black something. His confused mind tried to snap alert. That black thing was—danger!

With a cry, he leaped erect and pulled from his belt the hand-projector that would spray high-frequency waves through the room. Val Marmax had given it to him, as a protection against astral visitants. The black, formless shadow, about to envelop his head, quivered and puffed soundlessly into the ceiling, passing through matter as though it didn't exist.

CARVER snapped off the instrument. The shadow-things, of all the queer things in Shorr, decidedly appealed to him the least.

Queen Elsha did not seem too disturbed. "It is nothing new," she said. "Sit down, Barry."

"No." The spell had been broken, and Carver realized how close he had been drawn to something unworthy. "I won't be next on your list, Queen Elsha."

She flushed angrily. "You think you love that Helene child!" she blazed.

"I'm going to marry her," said Carver.

"You prefer her to me. wretch?" It was the Queen of Mu talking, imperiously. "She has washed out eyes, skinny limbs, a simpering smile. What can you see in her, fool?"

"Youth," said Carver, brutally frank, turning to leave. He had one glimpse of her face before he left—a blaze of fury. What was that expression about a woman scorned? Carver laughed, and forgot about the Queen of ancient Mu.

The following day, Tom Tyson brought the news that Carver was to be given an official welcome to Shorraine by its "rulers."

Carver smiled. "After I've been here ten days, picked its number one beauty as my future wife, and started collaboration with its chief scientist!"

"What is time in Shorraine?" murmured Tyson, with a reflective air that betrayed the middle-aged maturity behind his boyish face. "Once, through an error, an Italian of Columbus' time lived in Shorraine for a century before the Five heard of him. His entrance-date, corresponding to 'birth' in Shorraine, was never fully settled in the records."

The headquarters of the Five were contained in the central and highest towers of the city, a combination of palace and business office. Here were hundreds of clerks and administrators, conducting the daily affairs of Shorraine. and its million inhabitants. It was a smooth-running organization, long since brought to perfection, as nearly as man could achieve.

The receiving room of the Five was bare, simple, a symbol of their own cognizance that they did not "rule" Shorraine autocratically. Dressed no different than the rest, the five Atlantides were old, patriarchal in appearance.

Their eyes shone, as Val Marmax's had, with calm, cool wisdom. They looked at Carver as though weighing him on the spot, as they doubtless had so many others in their long past.

One of them stepped forward.

"Welcome to Shorraine!" he said. in the perfect English Carver had come to expect. But he started a little as the Atlantide thrust out his hand in a gesture that likely had never been known in Atlantis. Carver gripped it warmly. Tyson grinned.

"I taught them that." he whispered in an aside.

"Since there is no return from Shorraine." spoke the Atlantide, "you. Barry Carver, were a citizen of our city the moment you arrived. As such, you will respect and obey the laws of Shorraine, and the common good. We are not your rulers. We are a living Constitution, never ourselves deciding the application of fundamental articles laid down ten thousand years ago, when this government was founded. You understand?"

REALIZING there was no stilted formality in this. Carver nodded and then asked. "What of the first two thousand years?"

"Evolution of government." smiled the Atlantide, nodding as though commending the question. "During the building of the city, everyone worked with a will, to found a lasting home. Then came the thought of government. In two thousand years, many forms were tried. At times"—his eyes grew a little sad—"there was even struggle, revolution. Also, for a century, a despot ruled and there was near chaos. He was assassinated, finally. Anarchy, too. prevailed for a while. But the light shone through, and at last we found the happy combination of personal liberty and communal cooperation that prevails today. It has lasted ten thousand years."

"Democracy!" stated Carver.

"It is nearest to that in your time." agreed the Atlantide. "But—superior."

Carver couldn't doubt that, of a form of government that had been matured four thousand years before the Egyptians on Earth had broken away from tribal rule. He realized that if the Spot were conquered, one of Shorraine's most magnificent contributions to Earth civilization would be a perfected model of government, tried by the fire and sword of time. And without dictatorship!

"And now," the Atlantide resumed, "we have been informed of your work with Val Marrnax." His grave eyes shone eagerly. "We hope you succeed in penetrating the Spot. In that event, perhaps many of our citizens will prefer to go back to Earth. But some will remain. and there will be intercourse between Shorraine and Earth. We have long awaited the day."

Carver looked at their five faces.

"I think we will succeed. Val Marmax is hopeful." He paused. "There is a great war out there, today, as you must know. Would Shorraine help the side of the Allied Democracies, against the threat of dictatorship?"

"The People's Council would decide." The Atlantide's voice was noncommittal, but Carver read much in their glances at one another. "When the Spot is definitely penetrated. a Council will instantly be called. If our intervention in the war is voted upon, the details of ships and armament will immediately be settled."

"Good enough," said Carver.

On the way to Val Marmax's laboratory, in their ship, Carver thought again of the Japanese force he had spied striking into vulnerable Allied territory. "How soon could Shorraine," he asked. "send out an aerial force?"

"Quicker than you think," Tyson spoke excitedly. "I've been thinking it over a lot, since you and Val got together. There are at least ten thousand light, fast ships. Mounted with the beam-gun, they'd be a match for ten times their number of Earth ships—at least the World War kind. Top-speed, 500 miles an hour. Can turn on a dime, with gravity-brakes. Beam's range—a mile. Power-source, one cabbage-sized atomic-motor. Fuel, one hatful of sand, lasting 48 hours. How does that stack up with your modern ships?"

"Okay," asserted Carver. "But I'd need more. You can't stop an army with that. You need bombs to blow up and cut off all ground lines of communication and reinforcement."

"All right. How about one thousand ships, big ones, used around here for hauling building material. They could carry all the bombs you could load on the deck. Atomic-bombs—one would make a mountain fold up!"

CARVER grunted in approval. "But how long to turn out all that? The Iap army I want to stop, if possible, will smash through in three weeks."

"Robot machinery," reminded Tyson. "Overnight, practically." His eyes glistened. "Boy, the chance to bring a few more Boches down! You have more than Boches in this war, but the enemy's the enemy. I'll finish up where I left off in the last war."

"If we get through the Spot." Carver was suddenly pessimistic. Perhaps the Spot was impenetrable, and all his hopes built on sand. Was it possible for his simple suggestion of magnetism to unlock the door to Earth, when Shorraine's super-science had battered against it in vain for twelve thousand years? It almost seemed too much to hope for.

It was just a week after Carver's first visit with Val Marmax that the scientist set up his experimental apparatus within the Spot. The giant gates of Shorraine were open. Tyson and Helene were there, and Proxides was on guard against beasts, but no others. The general populace had not been informed. Some few watched, idly, from the nearer avenues and windows, unaware of the importance of what they saw.

Carver had helped set up the tripod, upholding the apparatus. A small, powerful electromagnet, keynote of the instrument, hummed as Val Marmax sent power hissing through it from a nearby atomic-generator. The scientist indicated the slow twist of a magnetic needle.

"When it points straight out toward Earth, the way should be open." He washed his hands in the air nervously. "Anything thrust through the magnetic field should reverse the spin of its electrons—enter the normal Earth dimension. Ishtu be kind!"

Finally the needle pointed quiveringly straight through the Spot, like the finger of Fate. The machine sang as its energies battled the strange time-stric-tune. The space through the field-coils of the magnet turned from blue to soft yellow. The glare of the Sahara? Carver crossed his fingers in hope.

Val Marmax, drawing a breath, tossed a ring of metal through the magnet, out toward the mirage of Earth. They ran to the other side. The ring was not there! The Atlantide lighted a peculiar handflash in whose circle of strange rays the sands of Earth stood out clearly. He played the ultra-light around till suddenly the metal ring leaped into sight. It had gone through the Spot safely. It rested now in the time-dimension of Earth.

Val Marmax stood motionlessly, then, staring as though he couldn't believe. Carver wondered what his thoughts must be, he who had striven ceaselessly for twelve millennia to accomplish this miracle. The scientist turned suddenly, to look at Shorraine. It was the glance of a man who sees release from an age-long prison.

Tyson broke the silence.

"If that space was big enough, I'd crawl through right now!" he threatened.

Carver swept Helene Ward into his arms. "You're going to get your church wedding, darling!" he declared. "Any church you want—on Earth!"

"On Earth!" echoed the girl happily. "I suppose I should wish you two every happiness?"

THEY turned, startled. It was Queen Elsha. They hadn't seen her come up, from the shadow of the wall. She gazed at them a qneer mockery in her eyes as though they were children who amused her. Apparently, Carver thought, she bore him no animosity for their last meeting.

"Thanks, Queen Elsha," Carver acknowledged, but realized that she had not actually given the wish. Her dark eyes turned interestedly on Val Marmax's Spot-penetration apparatus. "The way is open—to earth!" she murmured. "At last!"

And this sentiment came in a rising murmur that wafted from the towering city at their backs. Up on the wall, Proxides had yelled into his televisor. With the swiftness of light, the news went around the city. Faces began to peer from all windows, roofs, from ships that darted gracefully near. A city of immortals raised its voice in thanks, to a hundred different gods, that the adamant walls of the prison of time had fallen.

Val Marmax gripped Carver's hand.

"You showed me the way," he said with frank honesty. "It is done. The time-warp can be simply negotiated back to Earth."

"I want ships to go through the warp," said Carver, practically. "Armed ships, to help my side in the war—our side. Can you build some kind of large magnet for that purpose?"

"No, there is a better way," returned the scientist thoughtfully. "I'll have individual units made, spraying out the magnetic force, to be mounted at each ship's prow. They will sail right through the Spot, then, into the Earth dimension."

"Good!" Carver was jubilant. "But work fast. A fleet of ships must leave within two weeks. Every minute counts!"

The scientist smiled. "I have lived for twelve thousand years. Now. suddenly, every minute counts! It is as though Fate's threads had all suddenly gnarled. Strange! But I'll work out the indivdual units tonight," he promised. He went on a bit pridefully. "Your science gave me the key I needed, but I will in one night work out what any of your scientists would take a year to devise."

"Can I help?" offered Carver. "No, but I think Helene can. She knows shorthand. She has helped me before. I'll dictate all data, specifications, and plans for their manufacture to her. Tomorrow, the factories will begin turning them out."

Carver suddenly whirled. jerking out his high-frequency pistol. He sprayed its forces over the Spot apparatus. A black shadow that had been slinking around its contours swirled off into the sky.

"An astral spy!" exclaimed Val Marmax. "The demon-people are trying to steal the secret. We must be on guard. My laboratory is protected from them. But tomorrow, when we begin manufacture of the units, we will have to guard the factories." His face was pale. "Better that we never had found the way than that the demon-people should invade Earth!"

Barry Carver spent a busy evening. First he went to the Five, informed them of the experiments success, and asked for the Council on war. They readily agreed to call it the following day. Then, with Tyson, he had written down tentative plans for a war fleet, to be presented to the Council. When Tyson left, Carver called the laboratory. Helene's sweet face ghosted into the visi-screen.

"Busy, darling?"

"Yes, but happy!"

"I keep worrying about those damned black shadow-things," Carver muttered. "Are you sure you're safe there?"

"Perfectly!" assured the girl, half chidingly. "Val Marmax has taken the added precaution of having his whole laboratory surrounded by guards armed with beam-guns, in case the demon-people tried to spy around in person. Now don't worry, and get some sleep. You've been driving yourself too much all week."

CARVER hung up with a restless feeling. Now that events were coming to a climax, his mind seethed with vague fears. He stepped out on the balcony, looking over the city of mystery. It lay like a tinsel fairyland, in its own towerlights, incredibly beautiful, age-old, weird. He looked up. There was no moon in Shorr's skies, only a firmament of strange, fiery stars. Perhaps the native people of this world had charted them into constellations of their own. His hand unconsciously gripped the butt of his wave-gun as he thought of the demon-people, and their eerie astral wanderings.

He heard the buzzing of his visi-phone and went to answer it. The face of Elsha, Queen of Mu, greeted him. "Barry Carver," she pleaded, "I want to see you. It's important. Please come over right away."

"No!" snapped Carver.

She argued, and all the while her eyes were on his. He tried to fight their influence but again a subtle hypnotism cast its spell. Agreeing finally, he reflected vaguely, as he went to the ship terrace, that mere man could not fight the magnetic allure that the woman had built up in twelve thousand years of practice. But he promised himself savagely that he would tell her once and for all to give up the chase. Pointed insults would repulse even her.

He stepped into the witchery of her presence, and the straight-laced words he had thought up came out haltingly. She smiled through it all, though he sensed the suppressed fury behind her lidded eyes.

"All right, Barry Carver, I understand," she said calmly. "I drink to your happiness—with the woman you choose."

Carver did not think of her odd use of tense in the words till he had drunk half his glass, in relieved courtesy to the toast. He set the glass down.

"What do you mean—choose? I have chosen already."

He glared at her, but suddenly his eyes swam. His brain reeled. He staggered to the couch, almost falling. Elsha was close now, peering into his eyes—waiting. The thought hammered in Carver's mind that the drink had been drugged.

"The woman you—chose!" repeated the Queen of Mu. "And you choose me. You love me, Barry!"

And suddenly it was all clear to Barry Carver. He loved her, the Queen of Mu. Of course! She was a glorious, desirable woman. How had he ever thought Helene Ward was the one? His head sank to her shoulder. Babbling words of devotion came from his lips. His voice seemed to come from somewhere outside of him, from a vast roaring distance.

Then hers, though in his confusion he could scarcely understand what she said. "I will be queen again! A queen needs a king beside her on the throne. You will be my king, Barry, beloved. More than any other man, in twelve thousand years. you are my choice. We will rule Shorraine, you and I, even after the Spot is opened. They have promised me that."

Carver's head came up, dizzily. "King? Rule?" he mumbled. "I don't —understand." Dim instincts of warning worked within him. He staggered to his feet.

"Yes, go now, Barry," she said. "Go back to your room and sleep. Tomorrow, it will be clearer to you. You will come to me in the morning."

MUTTERING, Carver stumbled to his ship. Elsha's servant quietly piloted him back to his quarters. In bed, Carver's thoughts were a dizzying turmoil. He was sure of only one thing—that he loved Elsha, Queen of Mu!

He awoke with a hand shaking his shoulder frantically. It was still night, with dawn about to break. Tom Tyson's boyish face, aged now by some urgency, peered down at him.

"Get up, Barry!" His voice was hoarse. "Something's happened. I just got the call from Proxides, and came over to take you along."

"What happened?" demanded Carver, fully awake. Tyson's lips worked. "Val Marmax is gone! Taken by force! By—"


"The demon-people!" Tyson's young face looked haggard.

Carver dressed hurriedly, and in a short while their ship descended to the great gate's parapet. Proxides came forward, nursing an arm whose bicep was 21 torn, bloody mass that he had hastily bandaged.

"Just touched me as they went by," he growled. "Jove curse them—" Carver stopped his flow of Greek invective. "The whole story, from the beginning!"

"I saw the ship slant down to Val Marmax's laboratory. I seldom sleep at night; time enough in the day. It landed on the roof. A few minutes later I saw a fiash of a guard's beam-gun, on the roof. The ship swung up, and some blasting force from it laid the guards out like sticks. As it slanted past me, I took a potshot at it, and got this." He touched his arm. "It was the demon-people. I saw their devilish eyes."

"But why didn't you sound the alarm when you first saw the ship?" groaned Carver. "And the guards—they let them get into the laboratory!"

"It was Queen Elsha's ship!" returned Proxides. Carver gasped, looking at Tyson. "That's the only reason they succeeded," said Tyson. "Queen Elsha is allowed to go anywhere she pleases, at any time, without question. She has always done so. She must have helped them!"

Confusion rose in Carver's mind. Could she have done such a traitorous thing, leagued herself with the demon-people? And last night—had she drugged him, perhaps to make sure he wouldn't interfere with the abduction? It was a horrible indictment against the woman. He was unwilling to believe it.

"There's one other thing, Barry." Tyson spoke slowly. "Helene—was taken too!"

Carver shook. For a moment he stood stiffly, conquering a wild rage. Then he motioned to the laboratory. They descended to it. On the roof lay the bodies of the slain guards, bloodily torn as though by some internal bomb. Tyson explained, from what he had heard, that the demon people's weapon was a telekinetic disrupting force.

Down below, they found a group of bewildered guards conversing. The laboratory was a ruin, obviously blasted by the force-weapon. Not one scrap of Val Marmax's scientific labors on the Spot-penetration was left. The guards' story was the same as that of Proxides. No one had bothered to watch who or what came out of Queen Elsha's ship, in the darkness of the roof. Suddenly they had heard noises, screams. By the time they had arrived, from their various posts, the ship was gone, the damage done.

"IT'S all plain," muttered Tyson. "Queen Elsha led them below. They worked fast, secretly. And now the demon-people have Val Marmax in their hands. They'll force the Spot secret from him—invade Earth!"

"Come on!" cried Carver. "We're going to see Queen Elsha about this."

"If she's there," said Tyson. "She may have gone along with them—" But they found her in her apartment. weeping loudly. Even her tear-strained face was incredibly beautiful. On the floor lay her servant, in a pool of blood from his own shattered skull.

"I know something terrible has happened!" she sobbed. "An hour ago the demon-people came here and took my ship. They killed my servant, tied me." She pointed to strips of silk on the floor. "I just worked free. What did they do with my ship?" She stared at them with innocent apprehension.

The two men looked at one another. If it was acting, it was magnificent. Tyson's lips writhed.

"Pretty thin alibi, Queen Elsha," he snapped. "You know very well that Val Marmax and Helene Ward were abducted, guards killed. You were there!"

The woman gasped, as though the news stunned her. Then she rose with outraged dignity. "Dog! How dare you!" she spat at Tyson. "Did you see me there? Did anyone see me there? How can you make such unfounded accusations!"

Tyson growled. "Yes, some of the guards saw you!"

Carver waited to see the effect of the bluff, for any guards that might have seen her were dead. For himself, he was in a quandary. He had seen no sign as yet of guilt in her words or attitude. She might be the picture of innocence she presented. Queen Elsha tilted her face haughtily, ignoring Tyson. She turned the full power of her glorious eyes on Carver. "Barry, this boy is insulting rne. But you aren't suspicious of me, are you?" She held out her arms. "You haven't forgotten last night—kiss me, Barry!"

Carver made no move, except to shake his head. "Last night—what a fool I was!" he murmured.

For the first time, the woman's eyes showed perturbation.

"But you love me!" she declared.

"No," denied Carver. "I don't know what kind of drug you gave me last night, but I know that the effects have worn off. I—"

He was interrupted by a sharp cry from Queen Elsha. Her hand went to her mouth and she fell back a step. Some violent emotion worked within her—disappointment, frustration, then hysterical rage.

"They tricked me!" she raved. "They told me it would last for years—forever!" She was sobbing again—genuinely, Carver sensed—and rapidly going to pieces.

Carver leaped forward, his own face working. He grasped her by the shoulders and shook her. "Who's they— the demon-people? Out with it, woman, or I'll—" He raised his hand threateningly, determined to get the truth out of her.

She didn't wince at the gesture. Something else forced her to speak, within herself. "Yes, the demon-people! Oh, what have I done?" Her tones were almost a shriek.

Carver forced her back on the couch and slapped her face lightly. "No hysterics," he ground out. "Why did you do it?"

Composing herself with an effort, she looked up at him. "For you!" she murmured unhappily. "And for my—kingdom! I wanted you from the first, Barry. No man, in twelve thousand years, has ever stirred me more. And your resistance, your scorn, drove me—mad!"

SHE swallowed and went on, in a dry defeated voice. "They came to me in astral forms. I made a bargain with them—for a love-philtre! The demon-people have a strange science, almost a sorcery. The philtre would give me your love. And in return I would help them abduct Val Marmax. Also, I was to help them conquer—Shorraine! Among the men who man Shorraine's defenses, I have many devoted—friends. They would do my bidding, let the demon-people's ship past, to attack the city. In return for that, after the conquest, I would be made Queen of Shorraine. Even later, of part of Earth!"

Carver listened with incredulous amazement. Monstrous bargain! Yet dimly he could understand. It had rankled in her mind for twelve thousand years that she had once been a queen. And she had never before been balked in love, most likely. In a mad moment, she had seen the chance to attain both her desires, bargained with the enemy, sold out her people with cold-blooded indifference.

"Good God, woman!" groaned Carver. "Do you realize what a horrible thing you've done? I don't know much about the demon-people, but you've given them the chance to invade Earth. If they worm the Spot secret out of Val Marmax and then kill him, we won't even have a chance to warn the outside world!"

The proud Queen of ancient Mu hung her head. "It was madness!" she moaned. "If I could only undo it!"

"Too late now," growled Tyson. His eyes reviled her. He turned to Carver. "Something has to be done."

Carver was pacing the thick rug, frowning in thought. "There's only one thing I can see. Attack the demon-people—now! Stop them from going on. Destroy them completely if possible!" Tyson shook his head. "Afraid it wouldn't be so easy, Barry. They're well armed, the city fortified. Shorraine has had battles with them before, trying to rescue the poor souls they've enslaved, arriving through their Spot."

"But surely the science of Shorraine is superior to theirs?" "They have their own weapon and ours!" returned Tyson gloomily. "Through the centuries, they've managed to steal scientific secrets, with their damned astral spying. They even have robot machinery, modeled after ours. In a drawn-out war, they'd have the superiority of numbers, too. We might win, though, even against those odds." He shrugged fatalistically. "I suppose it's the only course left."

"Wait!" Carver whirled on the Queen of Mu. "When are they supposed to attack Shorraine?"

The woman looked up spiritlessly. "Tomorrow."

"And they don't know—" Carver suddenly jerked out his high-frequency pistol. A black, shapeless shadow had slithered into the room. It puffed away with its peculiar telepathic scream as the wave-gun hissed.

"They must be suspicious," resumed Carver. "But they don't know that Queen Elsha has told her story. Shorraine will meet them tomorrow with full force. Let them wear down their forces a little, attacking. Then Shorraine can attack." He went on rapidly. "In the meantime, you and l will go to the demon-people's city!"

TYSON stared. "We'll be killed or captured. What—"

"Queen Elsha will take us." Carver said tersely. "As converts, friends to their cause, or something. Anything, just so we get into their city safely. We have to try rescuing Val Marmux, and Helene!"

It was a wild scheme, Carver knew, but every moment that Val Marmax was in their hands counted against Shorraine—and Earth. And Helene—he wouldn't have a moment's peace till he saw her again, stood at her side, no matter under what circumstances.

"I'm game," Tyson said simply. "Will you do it, Queen Elsha?" queried Carver. "Get us into their city on some pretext?"

She started as though coming out of a worried dream. "Anything you say, Barry," she agreed tonelessly. "Anything to—atone!"

Before the Five, a short time later, Carver gave the full details in brief phrases. The alarm had rung through the city, over the abduction, but none had known the full story. The Five looked with terrible scorn at Queen Elsha and she shrank visibly.

"Elsha," said the spokesman, "you have done an incalculable harm. Five hundred years ago you fomented a minor revolution among your—friends. You gave a promise afterward never to again raise trouble, which you've broken now. Your punishment—"

"Never mind that!" snapped Carver. "Now that it's done, the important thing is stopping the enemy. She has to take us into their city. We'll do what we can to rescue Val Marmax. In the meantime, protect Shorraine from their attack tomorrow. And then attack them—whether we come back or not!"

The Atlantide nodded. "We will have the Council place us on an immediate wartime footing." He glanced at Carver. "You are a brave man, Barry Carver. We wish you luck, for your own sake as well as for the good of Shorraine—and Earth!"

A few minutes later the craft bearing the three soared up and darted over the spires of Shorraine. Wild looking land, unearthlike in aspect, flew beneath them. Strange slinking monsters crept in the shadows of mushrooming vegetation. Far in the distance, once, they saw the hulking shape of some earthly dinosaur. Carver shuddered. Shorr was a forbidding, depressing world. Small wonder that the immortals of Shorraine would eagerly leave it, at the price of death.

Phoryx, the city of the demon-people, climbed over the horizon like a black, cubistic monster. Copied partly from Shorraine's slim grace, it was a twisted parody, as though insane minds had been the architects. The building material was all of blacks and hideous blues and purples. The demon-people likely saw lighter colors only as greys.

When they had approached within a mile, Tyson brought the ship to a halt, hovering on its anti-gravity plane.

"We're liable to get shot down if we go any closer without being expected," he explained.

Carver saw a black astral shape materialize over their heads. Queen Elsha shook her head as he was about to draw his wave-gun. She was more composed now, and waited calmly as the mysterious thing settled about her head, like an intangible vampire.

She seemed to listen for a moment and then spoke aloud. "I wish to see Sha-tahn. It is important." Again a pause. "They are friends of mine—and of Phoryx. I have a plan, relating to them, for Sha-tahn to hear."

THE astral body hovered for another moment and then darted up from her head. It floated to the prow of the ship and moved forward, as though guiding the way.

"Follow it," the Queen of Mu said to Tyson. "It is well so far. We will have an audience with Sha-tahn, ruler of all the demon-people. I'll contrive to find out from him where Val Marmax is kept prisoner."

"And Helene," added Carver. He looked at her grimly. "We're taking a big chance with you, Queen Elsha. If you try to betray us—" He patted the heat-gun in his belt suggestively.

Tyson took a breath and moved his levers to follow the astral guide. It led them slanting down to an immense building facing a great gate of dull metal. The other Spot! Through it, if they had the chance, the denizens of Shorr would swarm, toward Earth.

They landed on the roof. Carver noticed with a wry grin that the building's several towers all leaned. Poor structural engineers. Their ghostly guide led them into the gloomy interior. The halls were so dimly lit that they could barely see their way. The demon-people hated light, Carver conjectured. He saw several dark forms, solid ones, but couldn't make out their shape. He hadn't as yet seen one of the enemy and wondered what they'd be like.

They finally brought up against a corrosion-stained metal door. The astral being went through but the visitors had to wait till it opened. The chamber beyond was more lighted and Carver strode in, with the feeling of walking into a lion's den.

He stopped short after a few steps, his lower jaw dropping. He stared at the creatures gathered in a little semicircle. They were satyrs! The satyrs of mythology, with furred bestial bodies, hind hooves, arched tails. From the waist up they were faintly human. with human-like arms, hands and shoulders. The faces were satanic—pointed ears, flaring noses, protruding jaws and lips, and tiny horns at the temples. Repulsive, alien. inimical.

Carver would have been less surprised to see creatures with five legs or two heads. But satyrs, out of the pages of mythology—coincidence or not? He felt himself at the verge of a blinding revelation.

He tore his eyes away from their gargoyle countenances, to look around. His heart leaped as he saw Helene, at the side, held firmly by the arms. She called his name, but he had to ignore her, playing his part. He tried to tell her with his eyes that he was supposed to be a renegade helper of Queen Mu in the plot against Shorraine.

Queen Elsha, playing her part, spoke: "These are two men who have grievances and will help fight against Shorraine."

One of the black-skinned satyrs, set off from his fellows by a mitre-like hat, leaned forward in a carven seat, rolling his redly gleaming eyes over them. He smiled slowly. It was evil incarnate.

"You lie!" he stated, in hissing English. "I read your mind, before, with my astral projection. We are masters in such things. The big man is Barry Carver, here in the attempt to rescue Val Marmax!"

SO suddenly and completely exposed, Carver's instinctive reaction was to jerk out his heat-gun. But two of the demon-beings had already leaped like deer and wrested it out of his hand. Then they held his arms in vise-like grips. Tyson was similarly disarmed, beside him.

Queen Elsha stood in mute dismay. Carver saw that now, clearly, she understood how she had been duped and led on by the enemy, to her own undoing.

The leader of the satyrs thrust his brutal face forward.

"I am Sha-tahn," he announced, "ruler of Phoryx. These are my lieutenants"—he pointed down the line-"Zoroaster, Belial, Beelzebub, Python, Asmodeus, Merizim, Apollyon, Asto-Roth, Mammon. You have heard the names before, Earthman?"

Carver gasped. Those were the names of all the evil "gods" in man's religious history. And Sha-tahn—was that Satan! What mad riddle was this, more baffling than anything else in Shorr?

The satyr ruler answered, in part. "We have been able to project our astral images into Earth—by a psychic science you would not understand—and in some manner sway the lives of men, in the past. But soon we will sway them completely. You, Barry Carver, have made it possible, with the secret of magnetism. Look!"

He swept an arm and some of the satyrs stepped back. Beyond them, as Carver peered closely in the dim lighting, he saw Val Marmax for the first time. He reclined on a couch, eyes closed, breathing slow. Around his head, almost obscuring it, was an astral-shadow, pulsating like a mental leech feeding. And it was! Nearby, scribbling busily on thick slates, a dozen satyrs recorded the telepathic messages from the astral prober.

Carver lurched forward angrily. but the satyrs held him back. He realized what they were extracting from Val Marmax's mind—tile secret of Spot-penetration!

Suddenly the satyrs stopped writing. The astral shadow vanished as one of them punched a switch on a panel. Val Marmax sat up, dazed. Agony leaped into his eyes, mental agony. He spied Carver, started, and then shook his head.

"They have the secret, Barry!" he groaned. "I tried to resist—" He began sobbing brokenly.

"Yes, and from the girl we have already extracted another secret," spoke Sha-tahn, "relating to the Earth war— that a Japanese army marches to the Indian sea!"

Carver jerked. Did these devils—literal devils!—plan to help the Dictatorship Coalition?

Partly reading his thoughts again, Sha-tahn nodded.

"When we have penetrated the Spot, we will smash all opposition to that army. We will bring victory to their side, helping in other campaigns. It will be an easier way to gain dominance of Earth—our long-awaited aim. We will bargain with the Dictators and become Earth's new—religion!"

He was leaving much unsaid, Carver sensed. Something unspeakably horrible lay behind his matter-of-fact plans. Rage shook Carver. "You have no right to meddle in Earth's affairs!" he shouted. "You don't belong in Earth!"

Sha-tahn grinned evilly. "We have had more to do with Earth's affairs than you know. Have you ever heard of a man possessed of the devil? Possessed of our astral projection! Many of your conquerors of past history were guided by us, in that way. But they always fail, at the last. This time, they won't!"

He waved his arm to another dark corner of the chamber. Carver saw a line of men, humans, standing stiffly. Their eyes were wide, unblinking, lips straight, features emotionless. A word flashed in Carver's mind—zombies! Mindless, dominated creatures—possessed of the devil! Poor unfortunates who had staggered through the Spot from Earth into evil Phoryx.

CARVER'S eyes filched down the line and then stopped on one figure. Angular face, lick of hair over the forehead. small mustache—Hitler! No, he must be wrong, mad to think so! He looked again and knew he could not be mistaken. Carver staggered in the realization. The demigod whose assassination had precipitated the great conflict on Earth—alive here in Phoryx! Madness!

Then Carver remembered the peculiar circumstances surrounding the former dictator's assassination. His plane, flying over the Sahara on a visit to newly gained African colonies, had been attacked, shot down, in a deep-laid assassination plot. But when the wreck of his plane had been located the next day, all bodies were accounted for except his! Obviously, he had survived the crash, staggered away and reached Shorr, exactly as Carver had.

"You see?" said Sha-tahn. "I have military Earth minds for leadership in the campaign, to bring about a smashing victory for Dictatorship. Beside the man you know stands Genghis Kahn, from the past, who, unknown to your history, was exiled to the desert and reached Shorr. And those others—generals and conquerors all. They will rule Earth, and we of Phoryx will be its—religion!"

Carver's mind rebelled. It was all such a frightful maze, involving Earth's past, present and future. Phoryx, a literal hell, whose spawn of evil would soon burst out over Earth like a poisonous tide!

And, in the final analysis, Carver himself was to blame.

"But enough!" barked Sha-tahn. "Take the prisoners away. We will check the Spot-penetration data. If it works, they will he killed. We will have no more need for them. They are dangerous alive." He turned. "As for you, Queen Elsha—"

"You deceived me!" she shrilled. "You told me the love philtre would give me his devotion till the end of time. Its effects were over the next morning. That is why I betrayed you!"

Carver had to admire her sudden defiance, in the face of a probable death sentence.

"Rash creature!" said Sha-tahn calmly. "I wanted to test you. I can make the philtre to last longer—weeks, years. I will give you another chance, Queen Elsha. Go back to Shorraine and reduce its defenses. It must still be destroyed."

The queen's manner changed instantly, from fear to wild hope. "And Barry Carver will then be left alive—for me?" she demanded.

The being known as Sha-tahn hesitated and then nodded, but with a hidden mockery in his eyes that Carver saw. He thought of warning the queen against trusting a—devil. But he shrugged. He knew the queen's treacherous nature wouldn't listen to reason. Besides, it wouldn't make any difference to him, in any case.

The Queen of Mu looked at Carver, with a rapt, eager gaze. Then she whirled, on her way back to further betrayal of Shorraine.

"Witch of hell!" hissed Carver.

Queen Elsha stopped, glanced at him once, then went on, leaving the room.

Carver looked around. Was it hopeless to think of escape from these fiends? He caught Tyson's eyes, saw the question in them and the spirit or daring. They had come in the attempt to rescue Val Marmax, against odds. Why not try it now? Carver winked slightly.

AS their captors pulled at their arms, to conduct them away, Carver braced his feet and jerked free. Tyson did the same and the two launched themselves at the guards holding Helene and Val Marmax. Carver jabbed at the nearest satyr's ugly face, evading his clutching hands, and was grimly satisfied to see him rock on his heels. Then he swung from the floor and knocked him cleanly off his feet—or hooves.

"Take that, you black—" The crack of Tyson's hard fist on an unprotected chin supplied the rest. Tyson continued to revile them, punctuating his words with lightning jabs.

The satyrs fought back clumsily, crowding around. They were inordinately light, despite their bull-like build, and knew nothing of the art of fist-fighting. Squealing and shouting, they milled about, exposing themselves to stiff-arm punches that made their necks snap back.

Carver felt a grim pleasure as his powerful blows found their marks. Human brawn was decidedly superior to the demon-people's futile efforts. With their sudden, unexpected onslaught, the two Earthmen were able to clear the space around Val Marmax and Helene.

"Come on!" panted Carver. "To that side door—" He grabbed the girl's arm and leaped in that direction.

"Look out—guns!" screamed Helene. Some of the satyrs had drawn wicked looking tubular weapons and were aiming them. Then Sha-tahn's bull-voice roared out:

"No! Take them alive!"

Carver had not stopped running. Just as he had figured, they would be safe from weapons. Sha-tahn would not kill them before he was sure the Spot-penetration had been solved.

The four Earth-people reached the wide, open doorway and dashed through into the corridor beyond. Carver had no idea where it led to, but they must keep their freedom and hope for a break. When they were half way down the hall, figures came at them from ahead. But human figures!

Dull-eyed, moving stiffly, they blocked the passage. And from behind came the sound of hooves beating against the hard floor, in pursuit. Caught!

Carver peered narrowly at the men blocking the way. Slaves of the demon-people, they were. But they were humans behind it all. "You men!" he barked at them. "Help us!" They did not answer, hardly seemed to hear. They had the look of hypnotized automatons. They made no move to clear the way. In fact, they crouched forward menacingly.

"Surely you'd help us rather than your masters!" raged Carver, but they stared stupidly, uncomprehendingly.

"No use!" cried Val Marmax. "Their minds are enslaved!"

"Then here we go through them—" Carver lowered his head and charged, Tyson following promptly. There were six of them but they offered little competition to the two berserk fighters. By the time the satyrs had come up from the rear, their party was through.

"Poor devils!" panted Tyson. "Hated to hit them. Like striking dumb animals."

They ran fleetly down the dim hall, with the satyrs close on their heels. A large circular chamber opened before them, with several cross corridors leading out again.

A satyr stood at the wall, speaking into one of a series of small horns set among numerous studs and switches. From the several corridors, at the same time, came more of the mind-dominated human slaves. Carver's mind, sharpened by the danger they were in, clicked with lightning inspiration. He leaped at the lone satyr, who turned with a snarl, and rammed his fist against his chin with all the power of his shoulders. The satyr slumped against the wall and sagged like a stuffed dummy, his head lolling from a broken neck.

THEN Carver thrust his face before the same horn into which the satyr had been speaking. "Stop!" he yelled. "Do not harm the Earth-people!" Exultantly, he saw, out of the comer of his eye, that the men rushing at them had obediently stopped. They were under his control, through an amazing instrument that somehow ruled their minds!

Thus, when the satyrs came up, they were met by their own slaves, in battle, as Carver rapidly gave orders through the horn. Tyson yelped in pure joy. "That's holding the fort, Barry! Now, if we can find a way—"

He stopped and choked. Carver whirled and saw something black and tenuous around his head. One of the astral shadows! Then three more darted down from the roof. Carver reached for a wave-gun that wasn't there in his belt, and then tried to beat off the shadow that crouched down on his head. His hands passed through the astral shape, unhindered.

And then he felt his brain on fire as something dug into it with mental fingers. Helene and Val Marmax stared at him in hopelessness. They could not fight off that which had no physical being, nor could they shake their minds free. Carver tried, with all the will at his command, till the sweat started out on his brow. But the weird psychic force threw a suffocating cloud over his mind. He relaxed, numbly.

Sha-tahn's voice came to them, through the astral contact, with the sheer clarity of telepathy. "You have amused me in your efforts to escape. I've used the astral force as a last resort. You will not escape Phoryx. Go now. to your prison."

Under the dominance of the astral force, which firmly gripped their centers of will and locomotion, the four captives stepped into one of the corridors. Like robots they marched along, with the black shadows perched over their heads like incubi. Carver felt the bitterness of defeat. He tried to step close to Helene, touch her hand comfortingly, but even that was denied him. Phoryx, he realized, was truly a—hell.

Imprisoned together the four humans looked at one another in despair. Val Marmax sat with his head bowed. Tyson strode up and down, cursing under his breath. Helene shuddered in Carver's arms. He mechanically patted her back, but his mind was elsewhere. It seethed tortuously with the incredible revelations of Phoryx, city of hell.

"I can't believe it!" he muttered. "Have these demons been behind all the devil-worship and malpractice in human affairs since history began?"

Val Marmax nodded.

"Their science has delved deeply into mental phenomena—telepathy, telekinesis, astral projection, clairvoyance. They were able to reach men's minds, even through the Spot, and play havoc at times. The Babylonian devil-cults, pagan religions, Medieval supernaturalism, your own Salem witchcraft debacle—all were manifestations of their intrusion into Earth's affairs by their psychic science. The alchemists, astrologers and other pseudo-scientists often worked under their domination. The love-philtre, with which they bribed Queen Elsha, is a strange formula of theirs somehow able to upset human emotions. Evil by nature, they can only think of creating evil on Earth."

"It's a sort of scientific explanation," mused Carver, "for all the unexplainable things in human history." He thought of something. "They're perfect satyrs of Greek mythology. What's the connection there?"

"They once invaded Earth directly," the Atlantide admitted. "Some unknown genius of theirs penetrated the Spot, about three thousand years ago. Some hundreds of them went through. We of Shorraine attacked, blew up the machine and its inventor with it. Those in Earth tried to build up a great pagan religion, but it died when they died, and survived only as mythology.

"But no bones of their have ever been found," objected Carver.

"Their bones don't ossify," returned the scientist simply. He went on. "All other tales of vampires, ghosts, gnomes, specters, demons, genii, and various supernatural monsters are a result of their astral projections roaming earth, in strange shapes and forms."

"But what has been their purpose?" puzzled Carver, trying to rationalize. "It seems rather—pointless."

"Pointless?" echoed Val Marmax. His eyes went bleak. "Shorr is a poor world. Earth is rich. They have been trying, all that time, to find some way of making the astral projections gain substance and live on Earth. Earth alchemists and so-called necromancers were unwittingly helping them all the time. It follows closely some of the actual Earth literature about demons in another dimension. Incantations and exercising were an attempt to gain the Earth dimension through strange psychic-laws our science doesn't reveal. Luckily, it was not so easy to give their astral projections actual Earth life. The closest they came to it was from absorbing freshly split human blood. Hence their instigation of wars—and the institution of human sacrifice in pagan religions!"

Carver felt stunned, nauseated.

The Atlantide resumed. "But the few astral projections who did gain substance died quickly, or were killed. Here in Shorr, their method of reproduction is of that type—totally nonsexual. They send out astral forms. These wander over Shorr, absorbing the blood of newly slain animals. Years later they are 'matured'—have substance. But on Earth, they have always failed, since their astral projections through the Snot were weakened. Yet they want Earth. They would even accept its death-cycle, because they could increase their numbers limitlessly—at the expense of human lives."

"So our penetration of the Spot by magnetic means falls right in line with their plans," muttered Carver. "They will invade Earth—in person. They'll multiply, murder off humans—" He stopped, appalled at the stark picture.

He shook his head. "Good God! I brought all this about! Why didn't I die out there on the desert—"

"Barry!" Helene's cool, soothing voice cut off his half fevered recriminations. "Certainly you can't be blamed. If it's anyone's fault, blame Queen Elsha!" She shuddered. "I'll never forget her blazing eyes, there at the laboratory, with the demon-people at her back. She said rather than kill me on the spot, for stealing your love from her, she'd let me be a slave in Phoryx!"

Val Marmax ground his teeth, coming out of his apathetic stupor. "She's more evil," he pronounced, "than Sha-Rahn himself, for betraying a whole world!"

"And now she's gone back to Shorraine," Tyson hissed. "In one way or another she'll weaken its defenses. The demon-forces will attack. With Shorraine out of the way, they'll be free to conquer Earth. Then, with their puppet dictators in power, they'll gradually wipe out the human race! And all because of a woman!"

CARVER said nothing. What could one say of a beauteous creature who dared all for love? Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Madame DuBarry, all faded into insignificance beside her. History repeating itself, in the rise and fall of empires. Only this time it might be the final chapter in human history. She had destroyed the most.

But Carver couldn't forget her final glance at him, there before the satyrs. Nor could he interpret it. It had been a strange mixture of yearning, promise, even remorse.

They felt themselves close to madness in their dark prison. It was a dank, stonewalled room, lighted dimly by what seemed to be cold phosphorescence in a ceiling globe. In its feeble rays Carver could see that there was no opening save the door—a solid block of metal. He pushed against it futilely. Barred outside.

"We might as well be at the bottom of a mountain," shrugged Tyson hopelessly. Hours passed, as they waited for death. As soon as the demon-people had made a successful Spot-penetration, they would come to kill them. Carver too, despite Sha-tahn's mocking promise to Queen Elsha. Carver laughed hollowly at the thought. What a joke on her!

A sound came from the other side of the metal door. They were here now, to kill them! But strangely, the sound was a dull hiss, like the bite of a heat-beam. A spot in the metal door glowed cherry red and finally broke through. Lock mechanisms jangled apart.

Carver sprang forward and shoved at the ponderous door. It swung open and in it was framed—Queen Elsha! Back of her, in the corridor, lay two satyrs, guards whose gaping wounds still smoked.

With the opening of the door, a rush of sound had filled the sealed room. Sounds from outside and above—dull boomings and the crackle of unleashed forces.

"Battle!" shouted Tyson. "Above the city-"

"Yes, battle!" cried the Queen of Mu, above the bedlam. "Shorraine has attacked. You can escape, in the excitement. Follow me—to my ship!"

Quickly, she handed them each a beam-pistol. Carver stared at her a moment, wonderingly, then took the lead. A black figure appeared at the end of the corridor. Carver fired. Though he had tried the pistols before, in practice, he was amazed at the powerful charge of infra-heat that blasted into the satyr, charring half his body.

Obviously, excitement reigned in Phoryx. Black figures darted down the corridors, not even noticing them. Those that did, and turned, met the harsh blast of heat from Carver's ready gun.

"Up these stairs!" shrilled Queen Elsha. At the head, Carver felt the sinister hum of telekinetic forces past his ear. He rayed a demoniac black face, but another appeared, aiming straight at him with his tubular weapon. A soft hiss from Helene's gun, at his side, charred the black hand that threatened Carver. Tyson's gun spoke from the rear, as a satyr charged up from that direction.

They had gained the roof, then. Three satyrs, peering in the sky, had no chance as five beam-guns belched at once. Queen Elsha's ship lay close by and they ran for it.

LOOKING up, Carver wondered how they would get free of the elemental furies being hurled about there. A hundred flat-decked ships of Shorraine, widely separated, were pouring down a hell of withering rays whose touch turned metal to water. Atomic-bombs, plummeted down, blasting buildings and filling the crooked streets with jagged debris.

Up from the city, in turn, stabbed equally powerful heat-beams and the humming, invisible telekinetic forces. The surprise of the attack was over. Ship after ship blossomed into flame, or ripped apart and dropped like a stone. It was vicious aerial warfare such as Carver had never seen on Earth.

"Hurry!" screeched Queen Elsha. She grabbed Helene's hand and pulled her to the deck. Carver lifted Val Marmax bodily as the portly scientist stumbled.

Tyson was already at the controls. As the ship rose, three satyrs rushed from below, firing. A section of the deck-rail next to Carver splintered and whirled off. Carver, aiming deliberately, picked off two. The third crumpled as the gun in Queen Elsha's hand spoke.

Tyson yelled a warning to hang on and the ship rocketed up in a wide, weaving arc. Guns roared below them. How many times a heat-beam or telekinetic blast slashed near them they did not know. But at last they were high out of range. Below, the few remaining Shorraine ships kept up their grim attack. Black, round ships now arose from another part of the city, to give chase, but Tyson grinned in derision as he set a straight, swift course for Shorraine. They had enough of a head start to be safe.

"Saved!" breathed Helene. Phoryx, city of demons, dwindled rapidly. They had all crowded together behind the windbreaker at the prow.

"I guess that's the word," agreed Carver, looking at Queen Elsha. "And I think we have you to thank, Elsha!"

The Queen of Mu seemed suddenly drained of strength. She leaned weakly against the bulwark, her face pale and wan behind its rich olive tint. Carver put an arm around her shoulders, steadying her. He could feel her tremble at the touch.

"I have in part—atoned!" she said. Her dark, lidded eyes reflected a calm joy. "I fooled Sha-tahn. Back there in his chamber, when he offered me another chance, I took it. But only as a chance to save you, Barry, and Val Marmax!"

Carver knew now what her final glance to him had said—"Trust me!" He felt shame inside of him, for having doubted her.

The Queen of Mu went on. "Back in Shorraine, I went immediately to the Five, told them the story. They thought it another trick at first, but I convinced them. A fleet of a hundred armed ships, Shorraine's standing force, was sent to the attack. But I went first, ahead of them.

"My plan worked. I landed and gave Sha-tahn the 'warning' that Shorraine was attacking, still playing the part of his ally. He did not think to use an astral-prober, in the excitement. Thus, as they set about hurriedly tn prepare defenses against the surprise attack, they did not watch me. When the battle started, I made my way to your prison—the rest you know."

SHE drew her breath in a half sob. betraying the strain she had been under when any false move would have meant failure, and death.

"Suicide squad!" murmured Carver, thinking of the brave men going to certain doom. He looked searchingly at the queen. "And you, Elsha—regardless of what you did before, you risked your life to save ours—"

"It wasn't just your lives!" she cried. a little angrily. "I was thinking of Earth. With Val Marmax in their hands, the demon-people had the secret of Spot-penetration for themselves. They could invade Earth, with Shorraine helpless to interfere. That was the issue at stake, burning in my mind—" Then suddenly her voice changed. "Oh, Barry, I did it just for you—to save you!"

She looked up into his face, standing close. "Kiss me, Barry!" she demanded.

Carver stared, startled. Was she still playing a game, sewing her own desires? Hoping to win him by what she had done? Confused, he glanced at Helene and was more perplexed to see her nodding slowly, almost commandingly. He had not seen the glances between the women, nor would he, a man, have understood the signal exchanged.

He bent to kiss the Queen of Mu. Her lips touched his burningly. For a moment they stood together, the man and woman of ages twelve thousand years apart. Then she broke away. "Our first kiss," she murmured, "and last!"

She moved back. Carver did not realize what she was up to till she stood at the edge of the deck where the railing was torn out. Her raven hair blowing in the head wind, she looked at them all, smiling quietly. Then she leaned backward.

Carver sprang forward with a hoarse cry, but it was too late. Her white-robed body tumbled from the ship, turning over and over as it plunged to the ground, three thousand feet below. Carver turned away, sickened.

A gasp of horror had come from the others. "It was the only thing she could do," said Val Marmax then. "Death with honor. Her sentence later, for her original crime of betrayal, would have been death anyway."

Tyson grunted. "She had nerve, if nothing else."

Helene was weeping softly. "Barry," she whispered, "let's think kindly of her. She loved—and lost!"

Carver nodded slowly. His memory of her would be kind. She seemed purified by her last act. For one hour she had been noble, sincere, self-sacrificing, so that he could forget what she had been for twelve thousand years. They were all silent for the rest of the journey, thinking of the Queen of ancient Mu.

The slim graceful spires of Shorraine brought a surge of joy to Carver's pulses after the oppressive sojourn in dark, evil Phoryx. A hum of activity rose from the great city, as it prepared for the coming struggle with its age-old enemy. On factory roof-tops, men swarmed about rows of ships, outfitting them for wartime pursuits. Along the city wall's broad lip, giant anti-aircraft guns were being wheeled into position, against the event of attack.

Carver went directly to the Five, with his party. They were in a large room outfitted with hundreds of flashing television screens, directing the city-wide preparations. But they came forward with eager smiles of greeting. "You have succeeded in bringing back Val Marmax," said the spokesman. "Barry Carver, you have done Shorraine—and Earth—a great service!"

"But only with the help of Queen Elsha," Carver went on to give the details, briefly.

THE Atlantides bowed their heads silently for a moment, at news of her death. "It is not for us to judge her." murmured one. He looked up. "But now, other problems confront us."

"Yes," said Carver grimly. "If the demon-people have the right Spot-penetration data, they'll apply it as quickly as they can. Earth is menaced. How soon can we attack in full force?"

"Our facilities have been geared to full capacity," responded the Atlantide. "Turning out guns and mounting them on all ships available. All of Shorraine works on the project, with a will. One-third of our forces will be ready tomorrow, one-third the next, and the next."

"Then we'll attack tomorrow," declared Carver. He hesitated. "Who will lead Shorraine's forces?"

"You, of course," said the Atlantide matter-of-factly. "We had already decided that, if you returned, after we had looked over your plans for a fleet to enter the Earth warfare. You and Tyson are most versed in aerial battle. Tyson will be your second-in-command. Do you accept?"

The two young men looked at each other. "We do!" Tyson tried to say casually, but it was close to a shout.

Carver turned to Val Marmax. "In the meantime, you will work out the Spot-penetrator units and have the factories turn them out, as we originally planned." Despite the coming war within Shorraine, Carver still thought of the outside war, and the Jap army he hoped yet to stop. The Earth war was larger in scope. more slow. The war in Shorraine promised to be swift, and deadly.

"I'll have some of the units ready in a few days, and will equip all the ships within two weeks," promised Val Marmax.

"One other thing," said Carver. "Have a ship sent out to pick up Queen Elsha's body. She ought to be given a. decent burial."

The Atlantide nodded. "It will be done. Her people of Mu will give her burial in their ancient ceremonial manner."

The next morning, as dawn cast a crimson glow over the dark lands of Shorr, the first fleet of Shorraine hummed into the sky. bound on its grim mission.

The flagship rode at the van of 4,000 ships, in rows of ten. Carver looked back at the mighty armada. Concentrated destruction was at his command. more than any other leader in history had ever had. He thrilled at the thought. But the enemy was strong. How strong he had yet to find out.

But how queer to think of the men in back of him—men from all times and lands united in this venture. There were Egyptians who had fought wild barbarians before Europe was civilized; Indians and Chinese whose dynasties had once been supreme; Persians who had quailed before Alexander's conquest; Romans who had stood in their solid phalanxes; knights who had once jousted and shivered lances; mercenaries who had marched in Napoleons Grande Armee. All alive here, by the queer timelessness of Shorr, to fight together now with the superweapons of Atlantean science.

Did he have a unified fighting force, so important in warfare? Carver was sure he had. He had addressed them all before the departure. They had cheered lustily. Regardless of origins and times, the demon-people were a common enemy. Satan, and all his dark astral forces, had plagued mankind from the beginning. And now. when they might soon ravage out into the world, they must be stopped. Carver knew this burning thought was in every man's breast. They would light as they had never fought before.

"FROM what I've heard." said Tyson, also sweeping his eyes over the fleet enthusiastically, "this war to the finish, with Phoryx, has been building up for all the twelve thousand years of Shorraine's existence. It just needed an event like the Spot-penetration to light the spark. Barry, this is history!"

Carver's lips tightened as the dark outline of Phoryx climbed the horizon. The enemy did not send out a fleet. though they must know of the attack, through scouts. Strategy, perhaps—letting the city's defenses protect itself and saving the fleet for later, when Shorraine's forces were weakened. All right, thought Carver, it would work both ways. The sooner the city was destroyed, the better.

Two miles in the air, just as the edge of the sprawling mass, Carver barked into his microphone. Radio carried his commands to all the ships. The fleet spread out in a long, curving formation, ten deep, and dived for the city. The anti—aircraft guns below suddenly awoke. Flame belched into the sky. One ship's prow sagged and then the metal burned like paper. Another ship split in half as the ravening telekinetic force blew a hole through it.

The battle was on!

Carver's fleet, at his orders, blasted out with their heat-beams at the bottom of a sweeping trajectory, raking over the nearest line of towers. The hellish force of atomic-energy toppled three of them. Molten metal dripped to the streets. The last line of ships, bombers, dropped their deadly loads. With terrific roars that seemed to shake the whole universe, the atomic-bombs converted their targets to twisted, smoking ruins. Titanic destruction!

Yet at the top of their swooping climb, when the fleet reorganized its formation. Carver looked below and saw that the damage was tiny compared to the city's extent. And he had lost six ships. It would be a long, costly job. . . .

The fleet of Shorraine dived, again—and again. Hours passed while holocaustic energies were hurled between the belligerents. At times, tired of just watching. Carver took the place of one of his ship's gunners. He took satisfaction in running a heat-beam down the face of a building and splitting it open like a pod. Now and then he saw tiny satyr figures running about madly, though most of the buildings had probably been evacuated.

When night fell, Carver called a halt. He looked below. A charred wedge had been added to the darksome city, but how much remained to be done! And he had lost 500 ships.

"They won't surrender, of course," Tyson said. "We'll just have to batter the whole city down—if we last!"

"Yes, I'm wondering myself," Carver muttered. "But it's all we can do. This is a war of extermination!"

On the second and third days, Barry Carver led out successively greater fleets. He smashed at Phoryx from five different points, working inward. The black cancer of their annihilation crept steadily forward.

"They haven't sent one ship up against us," Carver mused thoughtfully at the end of the third day. "That means they are confident of Spot-penetration and don't care about the city. They are saving their ships for—Earth! I don't think we can destroy the city fast enough to stop them. We've got to get control of their Spot!"

"And that's just where they'll have their main forces concentrated," Tyson returned dubiously.

"We'll have to try," Carver ground out.

HE sought out Val Marmax. The scientist, with a staff of helpers, was busily adjusting a battery of robot machinery. "How soon will you have the first units ready?" Carver demanded.

"In two days."

"No sooner?" grunted Carver. "We must gain control of their Spot, on both sides. When our first ships go out, we can send them to the Earth-side of their Spot—bottle them up. In the meantime, we'll try blocking them on this side."

The attack the next day, concentrated at Phoryx's city-gates, ran into full resistance from the enemy, true to Tyson's prediction. Anti-aircraft guns sent up a terrific barrage that downed Shorraine's ships like falling leaves. And for the first time, the demon-people's black, circular ships rose to battle.

Obviously, the enemy was determined to hold its Spot. Just as determinedly, Carver hurled his forces at them relentlessly, hoping to smash through. He didn't. And late in the day, when the aerial battle had been carried high, he saw a line of ships sail low and straight for the Spot.

"They're going through!" gasped Tyson.

The first ship had faded suddenly, entering the area of the Spot enclosed by the great gates. It became a dim shadow and then winked out entirely, as though it had been swallowed up in thin air. One after another, the rest followed. Carver counted more than a hundred.

Tyson looked around soberly. "They beat us to it, Barry. They had a day's start on Val Marmax, since he had to start all over devising the unit, on paper, when he got back to Shorraine. They have the same robot machinery. They beat us to it!"

Carver groaned. "And tomorrow—"

When they sent out their first test ship through the Spot, the next day, it came back hurriedly, with half its prow shattered. The enemy waited out there.

"They have us bottled up!" muttered Tyson. "We can send out only one ship at a time. Suicide!"

"The battle has to be finished here in Shorr!" Val Marmax stated solemnly. He went on creakingly. "And they will outlast us. They are stronger numerically. They can draw recruits from outlying settlements of theirs. We of Shorraine—are limited!"

Gloom settled over them at this inescapable fact. Carver's mind strove for a way out. It was the old axiom of warfare, in a dragged out struggle-manpower was the deciding factor. Lacking that, what could Shorraine do to swing the tide? They had already lost two thousand ships and twenty thousand men. In another week, their drained manpower would leave Shorraine easy prey to attack. The shadow of doom lay over them like a blight.

Carver turned to Tyson and suddenly asked a queer question. "Have you still got your old flying togs?"

"Yes," Tyson said, surprised. "I put them away carefully when I came to Shorraine. Sentimental, I guess. Why?"

"YOU'RE going to wear them," stated Carver, eyes narrowed. "And I am going to wear mine. Tonight a ship is going to secretly land us outside Phoryx's gates. Tomorrow morning, we'll enter Phoryx—as wanderers from Earth!"

"I see!" gasped Tyson. at the daring plan. "But what can we do—"

"What any other spy or sabotage agent does in the enemy's camp." said Carver grimly. "Work for their downfall." He whirled on Val Marmax. "That apparatus with the speaking tubes, that we saw—do you think it might control all the enslaved Earth-people in Phoryx?"

"It likely does!" cried the scientist, a flash of understanding in his eyes. "It would correspond to a telepathic central switchboard. There are about 20,000 human souls in Phoryx, under that domination. If they were freed—"

"Barry!" Helene threw her arms around Carver's neck. "You can't go back there. I can't let you. I can't!" She clung to him tightly.

Carver spoke gently. "This may hurt, dear, but suppose your father were one of them. He was lost in the desert, too. I have a chance to free these people and help Shorraine at the same time, don't you see?"

The girl fell back, her face wild. Then she gripped herself and nodded. "Go, Barry!" she breathed.

Shivering in the cold night breeze, Carver and Tyson watched as a crimson dawn splashed over the wild terrain of Shorr. They crouched beneath Phoryx's great gates, where they had been landed an hour previously by a silent, dark ship. In their Earthly uniforms of airmen, they looked the part of men who had just wandered into the Spot from the Sahara Desert. Their faces had been disguised, by skilled touches of cosmetics.

"We'll have to wait at least two hours," whispered Carver. "We're supposed to have seen Phoryx as a mirage, and mirages don't appear too early in the morning."

Tyson nodded, his teeth chattering. though not from fright. Both of them were calm. It was a desperate game they were playing, but it offered one chance of bursting the prison bars of doom around themselves and all Shorraine.

They heard the busy hum of the city, this evil, powerful city which would soon be master of two worlds if fate so willed. Along the curve of the wall, they could see pacing sentries. black satyrs whose hooves clattered loudly on stone. At times they saw scurrying human figures, carrying burdens, doing the bidding of their cruel masters. Carver dug his nails into his own palm. Such would be the lot of all humans if the demon-people won.

High overhead a black ship circled, watching for attack from Shorraine. It would come soon. Carver had arranged for the attack at about that time. The subsequent excitement in Phoryx would increase the two men's chances of accomplishing something without being too closely watched.

But before Shorraine's forces arrived, the huge gates suddenly swung wide. Carver could peer in at an angle. A line of ships darted from the large building which was Sha-tahn's central headquarters. Carver gasped. Standing stiffly at the deck of the first ship was that familiar figure, with the lick of black hair over his forehead, and the small mustache. Beside him stood the short, squat yellow man, cheek scarred, lips cruel. Hitler and Genghis Kahn. two of history's most ruthless conquerers, and under the domination of a yet more evil nature—Sha-tahn!

THE ship winked out before their eyes, as it entered the area of the Spot. It continued as a ghostly shadow, on into the Earth dimension. One by one, the others followed.

"Another hundred!" hissed Tyson. "And evidently these are being sent out into the world already. Sha-tahn is confident of victory here in Shorr!"

"Let's go!" said Carver.

They straightened up, hugged the wall till they came to the Spot area. and then boldly walked through it, into Phoryx. They simulated attitudes of astonishment and fearful wonder, twisting their heads around.

A satyr came running up. "You are from the Sahara Desert?" he asked in perfect English. Carver and Tyson nodded wordlessly, as though too astounded to speak. They tried to show as much of stark fear as they could, Putting themselves in the place of men who saw all this for the first time.

"You are in Phoryx, city of Shorr, which is another world," explained the satyr briefly. "You cannot escape. You will not be harmed if you do as we say; Come with me!"

The two Earthmen stepped forward. as though too mentally numbed to remonstrate. The satyr walked at their side, watchfully, with a hand on the butt of his gun. It was evidently the usual method of introducing newcomers to Phoryx, terse and abrupt, without giving them time to think or object. Carver was grimly satisfied to note that they were heading for the great, towered building just opposite the gate, which he knew from the last time to be Sha-tahn's headquarters.

The satyr motioned toward a door and herded them down the dim-lit corridors. What were they being led tori Carver tried to orient himself in the building. Vaguely, he knew that the telepathy-control room was off the ground level and toward the rear. Somehow or other they must get there.

Finally they were taken into a large room. Against one wall stood a large apparatus of indefinable purpose. Two other satyrs looked up, spoke a few words with their captor, and then turned to the machine. Moving levers brought it to humming life. The first satyr motioned to a fiat wide bench that lay under a frosty globe.

"One of you will lie down there," he commanded.

"What do you mean to do?" asked Carver, in false terror, playing his part. At the same time he did want to know what the machine was for. "What is this all about? What—" He stopped, swallowing.

The satyr leered evilly, obviously taking their bewildered discomfiture as real. and enjoying it.

"You will be in Phoryx a long time," he promised, licking his lips as though he relished telling this. "But as slaves! You cannot escape it. Be warned that this gun I have"—he drew it—"can blast you to instant death, if you resist. Under the machine, an astral-force will penetrate your brain and lodge in the cortex, center of will, suppressing it. After that you will obey all commands, by word or telepathy, without the slightest power to resist. Now you, the big one, get on that bench. Or if you choose to die, attack me. We are not so much in need of slaves anymore, as soon we will have all Earth to pick from. Well?"

Carver glanced at Tyson. Once under the apparatus, they were lost. They would be mindless, bereft of will, flesh and blood robots. But on the other hand, they were menaced by a gun whose telekinetic "forces they knew only too well as a blasting death.

Carver tensed. It was do or die. The satyr brought up his gun sharply.

SUDDENLY a loud bell clanged in the corridor, and echoed from several other directions. Carver knew it must be the general alarm, that Shorraine's forces were attacking. At the sound of the bell, the satyrs had involuntarily looked around. And at that moment, the two Earthmen leaped.

Carver caught the satyr with the gun in a flying tackle that knocked him off his feet and sent his weapon clattering against the wall. The Satyr struggled wildly, kicking with his hard hooves and curling his prehensile tail around Carver's waist. Carver wasted as little time as possible. He grasped the creature's neck and banged his head against the floor with all the force of his earthly muscles. The satyr went limp, his skull crushed.

Carver sprang up, whirling. Tyson, cursing, was battering away with his fists at one satyr. The other was leaping tor the door. Carver grabbed up the weapon in the corner and stabbed at the side button. The gun gave a little kick. The satyr, with a choked scream, went down. The telekinetic charge had torn his throat out. Tyson knocked his adversary with a final uppercut.

Carver stepped to the door and looked cautiously down the hall. Although several satyrs passed in various cross passages, none seemed to notice what had occurred in the room.

"The attack came just in time, for us," panted Tyson.

"Cow's our chance, in all this hubbub," said Carver rapidly. "If we can find that telepathy room. Let's go. We can walk along the halls as though we were human slaves of theirs, on some errand." He stuck the gun in his belt.

It seemed hours that they wandered through the huge building, though they knew it was only minutes. Minutes that were tense, nerve-wracking. At any moment they might be challenged, apprehended. But luckily because of the bustle of the attack, the satyrs who passed barely glanced at them. The two Earthmen shuffled along with heads half bowed, like the mind-slaves of Phoryx.

They ascended steps and worked their way upward. Somewhere up here must be their destination. Tyson grunted suddenly. "This looks familiar. Yes, this is the hall leading to Sha-tahn's chamber! The next cross corridor must lead to where we were trapped last time—"

"You're right!" Carver headed down the hall, knowing the way now.

Soon they came within sight of the central room with its many branching corridors. From here, evidently, groups of human slaves were assigned to various duties, guided by telepathic commands. Standing against the wall, Carver could see five satyrs in the room, giving their commands into the row of horns.

"Five—and all armed!" said Carver grimly, moving forward with his gun in hand.

"Wait!" hissed Tyson. "Satyr coming down the hall."

He hurried up, glancing at them, but without suspicion. As he went by, Carver deliberately aimed his weapon. The humming charge cracked the side of his head open. Almost before the body had fallen, Carver jerked his gun from its holster and handed it to Tyson.

Then, tight-lipped, they crept to the central room. One of the satyrs, turning, looked them full in the face as they reached the doorway. He shouted hoarsely, pulling out his gun. He fell, his chest torn, as Carver's gun spat viciously. The other four whirled, jerking at their weapons. Two more went down, as the Earthmen fired together. Carver ducked, as a gun swung at him, but felt his left arm go limp as the charge ripped into his shoulder. His return shot was more accurate, and the one remaining satyr died with a strangled gasp as Tyson fired.

THEY had done it! Carver told himself that with a surge of triumph. Now if only the rest would work out as he hoped, and wanted. His lips twisted with the pain of his shattered shoulder, but that could wait.

"Quick!" he barked to Tyson. "Close the doors. Lock them if you can. Then keep watch. Keep them out for the next five minutes, come heaven or hell, while I—"

He stepped before the wall apparatus, looking it over with keen, searching eyes. Under each horn was a series of studs, some pressed down. That must be the "on" position. Rapidly he went down the row, shoving all the studs down. A deep, rising hum came from behind the panel. Telepathic forces of some sort, broadcast through all the city! Attuned in some intricate way to the will-less minds of Phoryx's human slaves! Wild conjecture? No, he must be right—he must!

Carver stepped back, drawing a breath. Then he yelled out:

"Slaves, attention! You are free. Arise against your hated masters. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, arise—and kill your masters!"

Carver stopped. "Tom," he said fervently, in lower tones, "if you ever prayed before, pray now, that this works!"

Carver repeated the message. Was his voice, translated to telepathic impulses by the machine, impinging in every human slave-brain in Phory-x? Were they straightened up, released from a previous command—free and seething with vengeance? Some of the people must have been here thousands of years. How strong must be their hatred against the satyrs!

Carver forced himself to think more rationally. How much could they do before the satyrs finally destroyed them all? If just enough pandemonium and chaos could be created to let the attacking forces of Shorraine get a foothold, a vantage—

Carver barked out again, stentorianly:

"Slaves of Phoryx! Arise and kill your masters. Take all weapons you can. Those of you near anti-aircraft guns, take them over. Do not shoot the ships of Shorraine. Blast those of Phorox. Those of you near the Spot area converge on the defenses at that point. Take over all guns and positions you can. Shoot down the ships of Phorox. Fight, slaves, fight—for freedom. And for Earth!"

"Here they come!" cried Tyson. The doors which he had closed and locked by a bolt mechanism rang with repeated blows. Blasts of telekinetic force ripped out gaping holes.

Carver aimed his gun at the telepathy-machine's panel and swept its charge down the line, blasting out the studs one by one. His last command to the mind-slaves would be the last they would hear for a time to come. Back of the panel, the throbbing ceased as connections broke.

Then Carver turned, waiting calmly for the demon-people to blast their way in. There was no chance of escape this time. He only wished he could know, before he went, whether success had rewarded his efforts.

Suddenly a wall screen spangled into a television view. Sha-tahn's dark, evil face peered out at the two besieged Earthmen. He leered satanically, as Earth mythology represented his astral alter ego.

"As I thought," he spoke, peering sharply. "Barry Carver, despite the disguise. You will die for what you have done—horribly. Not by gun, no." He gave a command at the side, then turned back. "No. You shall suffer slowly, for weeks, perhaps months. A little astral being will perch in your brain and keep screaming, screaming, till you go mad. But then it will keep on!"

THE noises outside the door ceased. And down from the ceiling darted a black shadow. Carver knew there was no use running. The shadow enveloped his head, probed with its psychic forces, and a faint scream sounded within Carver's brain. It kept on steadily. Carver knew it would drive him mad, but before them he would—

He gasped. He tried to raise his gun to his own temple, but some force prevented him. He could not will his own death!

"You see?" snarled Sha-tahn. "You will suffer, and—"

At that moment, shouts sounded. Strange wild shouts that seemed to come from all directions. Human shouts! Sha-tahn's face vanished from the screen. with a startled look upon it. At the same time, the astral tormenter over Carver's head disappeared.

Tyson had sprung to the door, looking out of a gaping rent. "The slaves!" he shouted. joyfully. "They're out in the hall, fighting the satyrs. Barry, it worked—"

Carver leaped for the door, opened it. The satyrs were backed against the wall, shooting it out with a party of men swarming down the corridor. It was over in a moment and with bloodcurdling screams of triumph the Earth-people surged toward Sha-tahn's room.

"Let's get in on that!" cried Carver. He was only partially aware of the blood dripping down his sleeve, from his torn shoulder. He and Tyson were \with the party when it swarmed into Sha-tahn's presence. A withering barrage of gunfire met them. But the rest crowded forward eagerly, madly, screaming revenge. Carver realized that very few of them were sane. He had loosed a pack of demented monsters among the demon-people, who had made them so. Somehow, it was divine justice.

Sha-tahn's party retreated. Then piercing cries from the back of them and they were trapped between two fires. In desperation, they made a break for it, past Carver's party. Somehow, Sha-tahn was there across sights. He pressed, and watched the ruler of Phoryx fall, a corpse.

Carver was in a daze. His shoulder pained agonizingly. Was it possible that he had just killed the monster who for thousands of years had worked his way into Earth history as—Satan? Was this all a mad dream? He was so confused, and so weak. It couldn't be true. It was all a terrible. impossible dream. And then a tidal wave of darkness swept him off his feet. . . .

BARRY CARVER stood at the prow of the sleek ship as it rose gracefully over Shorraine. He had one arm around Helene. The other was in a sling. His shoulder wound had nearly healed.

They had told him later of the full destruction of Phoryx, after his delirium and fever were gone. How the uprising Earth slaves, obeying his telepathic commands to the letter, had demoralized Phoryx's fighting forces. They had stormed every position, wrested away guns, shot down the demon-people's ships. Shorraine's aerial forces had been able to land within the city and take over more guns. Before the end of that day, the enemy was isolated in various sections, besieged. Most of their great fleet was destroyed.

In three more days, the city had been practically leveled. Those of the satyrs still alive had raced to the dark lands. Their power was broken.

CARVER'S ship, piloted by Tom Tyson, maneuvered into the Spot. At its nose, a magnetic machine thrummed powerfully. They felt a slight wrench, no more. The bluish light around them gradually faded into a soft yellow glare. It brightened to tropical harshness as the sands of the Sahara spread to all directions.

Earth! Carver took a deep, satisfied breath.

He looked back. One after one, ships followed. The line began to stretch out like a string of beads, over the hot desert. Five thousands ships were his to command. Armed ships, superior to any fighting force of Earth. Carver thought of the Jap army and grinned slowly, in anticipation.

He looked further back, at the dancing, shimmering image of a ghostly city suspended over the rolling sands. Shorraine—City of the Mirage! It had been the scene of incredible adventure, fantastic from start to finish. He would never forget a minute of it. Nor would time mist his memory of the enigmatic, lovely creature who, unwittingly, had assured the destruction of Phoryx.

The ship sailed on, into the wide skies of Earth. On its prow was the legend: "Elsha—Queen of Mu."