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MERA! YOU SPACE gypsy! You've betrayed us, here in the Dante's Ridges of Ur-anus—the last outpost of man—"

I'll not forget her soon, standing there in the green rays of the twin moons, while above us, the blue ships of the jovians, like giant malignant crystals, edged over the jagged escarpments and began descending.

"They're looking for me," she had said simply. "I was to meet them here."

She didn't look like a traitress, For that matter, She didn't seem to "belong" in the hidden chem-laboratories, though that was where her cunning little mind had wrought seeming miracles. Her face was oval, sweet and enchanting like that of a sprite, with large blue eyes that melted my heart away every time she so much as looked at me. Even in the rugged garb of a fighting scout, her slender figure possessed an allure that was astonishing. For those same garments, on others, looked worn and ugly. A short kilt, a high breast vestment, with red celluline space boots.

I said, "Mera, you're crazy. Your brain's got the whirling orbits. You're coming away with me, whether you like it or not." I seized her bodily then, but she struggled, and her 'blue eyes looked into mine, and her tiny ruby lips brushed my own. "My darling," I breathed, but she protested. My muscles went to water—but I kissed her. Yes, there with the Jovians wheeling down like ravenous buzzards searching for carrion, I thrilled to the embrace of those soft, small arms.

"Not now, Jan. The Jovians are coming. Later perhaps, when that blue demon they call their Napoleon of space has ceased to plague the universe with his existence."

I looked away, following her gaze. She was staring at the towering heights far away, capped with eternal snows of frozen air. There were the last remnants of our people. Survivors of Earth! Last warriors of the human race, who had been driven here by the blue hordes of Jove. Their armada of fighting-crystals had swept down across the solar system in a seemingly endless array. Jnu Latha, their giant blue leader, had become a terrible legend among Earthmen. It was said that, having the strength born of a mightier planet, he had once met ten Earth-men barehanded, and had slain them. Jjnu Latha, it was said, was immortal. And it was the fearful, hating Earthmen who had dubbed him the "Napoleon of Space."

"He's driven us from planet to planet, Jan," said Meta. "We're lost if we keep on fighting, the way we have done. And besides, I'm not betraying you. Just disobeying orders, remember—"

And there, with the crystal-raiders of Jove hurtling down like tangible thunder-bolts, I did remember. Three days before she had come from the makeshift cave laboratories with an impossible scheme.

"Even a Napoleon cannot win forever," she'd explained. "We might take a lesson from Terrestrial history."

"We're outnumbered, yes," I had retorted through gritting teeth, "but Jnu Latha can be killed. I know he can."

"It was indicated," continued Mera, "at the autopsy of Napoleon Bonaparte, or so the ancient histories go, that his later battles were lost because of a failing pituitary gland. As its functioning lessened, lethargy and fatheadedness resulted."

"Then lets hope Jnu Latha's blue neck begins to shrivel!" I had exploded contemptuously. "Then three more wishes, cross your fingers in a magical symbol, and spit over your left—"

"But you can do the same thing with rays," she had protested. "I've done it in the lab, and I can do it again with a tiny portable lamp that can be hidden in my clothing. Its invisible waves will spray out and destroy the vital glands slowly—"

"And you propose to enter the camp of the enemy, train your rays on his glands, and wait until he becomes too lethargic to command his troops! Absurd. Before you do that I will have sliced his head from his shoulders with my sword. Don't even talk of such a thing."

She hadn't, but her little lips had set tightly, and now on the next scouting expedition she told me how she had communicated with the Jovians on an ionic-beam, promising to meet them and betray the Earthrnen's whereabouts.

I whipped a dagger from a sheath, a wavering sliver of gleaming metal.

"You win!" I exclaimed dubiously. "But take care of yourself, Mera. Keep this for your own protection. You can keep it hidden. When you pin this blade in your garment the jeweled haft looks like an ornament."

She shrugged helplessly as I slid the blade into her harness vestment, leaving only the hilt visible, a scintillating crescent of precious stones. As a lethal weapon for protection it was now perfectly hidden. None would guess that it was anything but jewelry.

Then I turned and ran up a tortuous channel between high buttes. I might have remained, might have died fighting in vain. As the ogreish figures leaped in, I might have taken many blue savages of a distant planet to the hell-limbo they call Kzhu, but I would most certainly have been slain in the end. I am not afraid of death, but somehow I couldn't think of it as long as Mera Thraddock was alive, a virtual prisoner among the myrmidons of Jove.

TWO KECALDES. The retrograde Ariel had circled the planet three times in its satellite orbit. That was the Jovian means of measurement for the passing time. Long tormenting weeks, as measured by Terrestrial clocks. The Jovians were encamped in the fertile floor of a huge extinct crater, while we of Earth were entrenched in mountainous grottoes, living on glue-bugs and those creeping monstrosities we managed to trap in the caves. Skirmishes were frequent during that time, but indecisive. The Earth Commandant gave the order to attack under the third saffron moon's wan rays during the late hours of night.

It was a slim chance, but we were becoming desperate. That night ten thousand rugged Terrestrial ghosts rose over the edge of the crater's maw and leaped silently downward. Fate smiled. The Jovian tribes had been overconfident; only the dominance of Jnu Latha had served to hold conflicting creeds together. There were but few sentinels, and these were so unwary that we overcame them with little noise. Then we were down among the fibre shelter-spreads, raygats snarling forth paeans of death."

We were like demons risen from the grave of the past. Madness surged within our breasts; we fought like supermen. History marks that day. No use to repeat an accounting of that. The blue Jovians, leaderless and unorganized, were slain like the cattle they are as they fled in cowardly panic. But they did not escape our avenging beams. I led a detachment up an escarpment that teemed with blue warriors, and with those Earthly hellions at my back, we left a shambles along the terrace below the rich Jovian tent-furnishings of the warlord.

In the inner chamber I found Mera. She stood before a curtained hanging, and lookingipast, I could see Jnu Latha, the Napoleon of space, who seemed to be sleeping.

"Mera Thraddock!" I exclaimed jubilantly. "You glorious little space-minx. Blazing Universes! That wild plot paid off at a thousand to one. You're all right, Mera?" She nodded.

"Even as Napoleon," she said, drawing the gossamer curtain aside.

"History repeats itself," I acclaimed. "It was indicated that a great Terrestrial general lost his leadership qualities because a gland £ailed—and now—and now—" It was hard to think of Jnu Latha, who had been so dynamic and ruthless, as a sluggard, a mold of human flesh, or subhuman as it were, held captive by internal secretions. But Mera was shaking her head.

I frowned, strode into the farther chamber.

The Jovian was not' sleeping. His repose was more fixed than that. Upon his naked blue breast glistened a curious little ornament, a crescent of glittering jewels, nestled like a stinging bee.

A drop of green blood formed, dimming the sparkling hilt as it fell down. upon the bare knees of the Napoleon of Space, whose darkening blue flesh was becoming cold as clay.