The Mercutians were returning. The people of New York suspected nothing. No troops were rushed to the scene to repel invasion; no guns were trained on the space ship. It was just another friendly visit, and hurried preparations were commenced for a rousing welcome on their landing.
No one offered to stop me, although when I moved I saw my guard make a swift movement with his hand to his belt. My heart leaped to my throat, but nothing happened to me, and I made a hasty examination of Mercer. Quite evidently he was dead. Meanwhile the Mercutians were examining their fallen comrade. He also was dead, I judged from their actions.
"Can't those lenses be duplicated, and turned as weapons against the Mercutians?" "No. They are made of a peculiar vitreous material native to Mercury." "And no one has found out the principle on which they work?" "Well, there have been theories. We haven't many scientists left, you know.
When we reached the ground we turned back toward the garage, and with slow, plodding steps the leader of the Mercutians preceded me to its entrance, his companions following close behind me. They had evidently been here before, I could tell from their actions. I realized that probably they had all been inside the garage when Mercer and I first approached the house.
"Let's get away in the flier," he said. "Can't," Grim said. "Those lenses you see on the instrument board are the controls. No one knows how to operate them except the Mercutians. Our people managed to capture a few, but couldn't do a thing with them." Hilary stared at the motionless flier with interest. "What are those round glass disks stretched along the hull in a double row?" he asked.
He had great hopes of furnishing equable weather to all the Earth. It was just completed, when...." She trailed off. Grim frowned. "Very interesting, but what is so terribly important about it now?" "You fool," Hilary exploded, "it's as important as hell. Don't you see? What are the Mercutians' weapons? Sun-tubes, sun-rays from their fliers, tremendous burning disks that are their space-ships.
The physical desire for sleep was, I learned, much stronger with the Mercutians than with us; and only by the drinking of a certain medicinal beverage could they ward it off. It was after the evening meal, at a time which might have corresponded to an hour or so before midnight, that the selected eighteen girls began to arrive.
Until the Mercutians finally trace our hideout and ray us out of existence?" "We must take that chance," Hilary told him quietly. "Let it but rain, and we move at once." "It never will," someone averred with profound conviction. It began to seem so as the days passed, and the sun blazed pitilessly as ever. The brief night showers had ceased completely.
Yet as the front of the attack washed up before him, he did not hesitate. He sprang to his feet, swung the nicely hefted long-handled ax he had picked up, uttered a war whoop that went back to remote ancestors, and flung himself headlong into the boiling mass of Mercutians.
He had almost thought that this supine listless race of his was not worth rescuing. He reached the terminal in Great New York without untoward incident. No one challenged this meek, shabby-looking Earthman. The Mercutians gave him barely a glance; the Earthmen disregarded him when they whispered together. Hilary was content; he was not seeking undue notice.