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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/60

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58
WEIRD TALES

ing wind screamed. She made a quick movement with her hand, threw something out of the ship. Light flared. It was a light-tube, hurtling downward, lighting the dead blackness of the Night Side.

Kenworth adjusted the parachute Thona handed him, saw the tumbled surface of land far below. He heard Arn shouting, and a gas-pellet burst against the wall. But the greenish vapor was instantly dissipated by the rushing blast. Kenworth seized Thona's hand and they leaped together out into space.


A warning tingling sent fear darting through Kenworth. Away from the protecting insulation of the ship, the paralyzing rays were bathing them. Realizing that this would happen, Kenworth had determined not to open the parachutes until they had fallen beneath the range of the rays. But would the fall be swift enough to save them? Would they become paralyzed—unable to open the parachutes?

The tingling ceased; in the white flare the ground rushed up at them. With a word to Thona Kenworth touched the stud that opened his parachute. The two 'chutes blossomed together.

Above them the ships whirled and spun and dived in mad conflict. Abruptly the Raider's ship flashed away, came darting down at them. Kenworth could guess what was in the Raider's mind. His hostages were invaluable—he dared not lose them. But to land and recapture the two meant laying himself open to the Patrol ship's attack.

The Raider fled, was lost in the darkness. The other ship slanted down. Kenworth could guess, too, what lay in the mind of the Patrol ship's commander. Like the Raider, he wished to land, to pick up the two refugees. But he would realize that the moment his ship touched the soil of Venus, his defenses down, the Raider would come swooping out of the shadows, his rays working deadly havoc before the other ship could be lifted from the ground.

The landscape swayed, rocking as they drifted down. Now the light-tube was dying. Even the tempered metal of the tube had been unable to withstand the impact. But the light had served its purpose. It had revealed the landing-place.

Rock. Great plains of rock, fantastically colored, with here and there small patches of the dull gray soil of Venus. Over all lay a silvery sheen, the brilliant sparkle of frost. An icy chill struck through Kenworth. The Night Side, turned perpetually from the sun, would naturally be cold—but the wonder was that it was not colder than this. Then he realized the solution—the dense atmosphere that blanketed the Night Side from the utter chill of airless space.

They touched the ground, rolled over. Kenworth helped Thona up, brushing white frost from her garments. He hesitated, glancing around.

Thona, completely invisible as the last traces of the light died, groped closer.

"Dal!" she said, a curious note of fear in her voice. "Dal! Do you feel—something strange?"


4. Spawn of Darkness


Kenworth knew what she meant. Yet the sensation was utterly unreal, fantastic. It was like a queer sensation of movement within his brain—provoking some half-forgotten memory—now evading him, now swimming into view——

He had it! Once, in N'yok, he had attended a council of telepathists, that small group of scientists who had devoted their lives to experimenting with telepathy. And it was there that Kenworth had ex-