and a core of intolerable brilliance began to shine within it. It throbbed and rocked with ecstasy! It shuddered with infinite pleasure!
And Kenworth remembered—the elysia!
A year's supply of the drug, gathered from hundreds of farms, had been in the tube-belt about the Raider's waist. A drop of the substance would last a man for months. What had the Raider called it? "Pure emotion . . . days of almost unendurable ecstasy."
And the belt had held a year's yield of elysia!
Throbbing, the mound rocked, blazing radiance poured from it. The core of light in the pillar was incandescent, flaming with cold fire. It streamed out blindingly.
And the light snapped out and vanished!
Utter darkness filled the crater. Flashing light images still played on Kenworth's eyes, but these faded swiftly. He blinked experimentally.
The paralysis was leaving him. The ray-tube must have been almost exhausted. Life flooded back into his veins. He fumbled in a pocket, found the light-tube he had thrust there just before the engulfing blackness had blotted out his senses. He heard Thona stirring.
"Dal!" Her voice was frightened. He clicked on the light, saw her on her feet. His eyes widened as he stared past her.
For there lay the blue mound—no longer blue, no longer—living! Pale and translucent it lay in a shapeless pile, and within it Kenworth saw the filaments—black threads now.
Thona said, unbelievingly, "It's—dead!"
Kenworth echoed her. "Dead. The elysia did it—the Raider saved us, Thona, though he didn't know it. The creature lived on sensation—but there's a limit to everything. A dozen drops of elysia will kill a man; and that tremendous dose of the drug simply burned out the thing's life! It was like sending a billion volts of electric current through a copper wire—it burned out the nerve-tissues. It's dead, Thona!"
Her eyes were very bright as she looked up at him. He drew her close, flung out an arm toward the crater's rim where a pale glow shone in the sky.
"And there's the light-tube the Raider dropped. It'll guide us to the ship."
For a brief space they stood silent, two tiny figures lost in an immensity of blackness that pressed in from all sides—like the race of Man, on three little worlds lost in the vastness of infinity, staring out into the unknown. Then, together, they began to walk forward—symbol of man—unafraid—conquering!