Some were encased in space-suits, and it was to these that the rescuers turned first space-hardened veterans though the men of the Chicago were, they did not care even to look at the others. Strangely enough, however, not one of the floating figures spoke or moved, and space-line men were hurriedly sent out to investigate. "All dead." Quickly the dread report came back. "Been dead a long time.
And to him the explosion of the atostor reservoirs was a terrible and mystifying calamity. To the men in the five tiny scout-ships, it was also a surprise, and a painful one. Even space-hardened humans were burned by the terrifically hard ultra-violet from the explosion. But they got some hint of what it had meant to the Mirans from the confusion that resulted in the fleet.
"And this time I'm going to hold her or burn out all our generators trying," Cleveland declared, grimly. "Are you fellows down there able to handle yourselves yet? Fine! Start throwing out your cans!" Space-hardened veterans all, the other Terrestrial officers had fought off the horrible nausea of inertialessness, just as Rodebush and Cleveland had done.
"If I know you, Lou Connel, you'll be up all night working out standard operational procedures for the space projectiles." He turned to Strong. "He's so sure this will work that he's already writing a preliminary handbook for the enlisted personnel." Strong turned and looked at the major, amazed. Every day he learned more and more about the space-hardened veteran. Connel turned to Strong.
Captain Bradley, the men on watch, and several other officers in their quarters or in the wardrooms space-hardened veterans all had obeyed instantly and without question the amplifiers' gasped command to "get tight."
Let them plan upon any other such idle schemes, which were certain to be foreseen and guarded against by the space-hardened veterans who undoubtedly moaned that all-powerful and vengeful football of scarred gray metal. Space-fighters were they, and as space-fighters would they die; taking with them to their own inevitable death a full quota of the enemy.
Three more of the frightful space-bombs had to be exploded in it it had to be reduced to junk before its terrible rays went out; Not a man in that great fleet had even an inkling of the truth; that those great vessels, those terrible engines of destruction, did not contain a single living creature: that they were manned and fought by automatons; robots controlled by keen-eyed, space-hardened veterans inside the planetoid so distant by means of tight, interference-proof communicator beams!