The Passing of Ku Sui
Chapter 7: To the Laboratory

Public Domain

When the Negro returned, panting, with Ban Wilson, it was to discover Carse in the control room of the asteroid. He was studying the multifarious devices and instruments: and they, seeing his face so set in concentration, did not disturb him, but went over to where Dr. Ku Sui sat in a chair, and posted themselves behind it.

The apparatus in the control room resembled that of any modern space-ship of its time, except that there were extra pieces of unguessed function. Directly in front of Carse was the directional space-stick above its complicated mechanism: above his eyes was the wide six-part visi-screen, which in space would record the whole “sphere” of the heavens: while to his right was the chief control board, a smooth black surface studded with squads of vari-colored buttons and lights, These were the essentials, familiar to any ship navigator; but they were here awesome, for they controlled not the one or two hundred feet of an ordinary craft, but twenty miles of this space-ship of rock.

“Yes ... yes...” Carse murmured presently out of his study, then turned and for the first time appeared to notice Friday and Ban. He gave orders.

“Eclipse, you see the radio over there? Get Master Leithgow on it for me--protected beam. Ban, you bind Dr. Ku Sui in that chair, please.”

Wilson was surprised.

“Bind him? Isn’t he going to run this thing?”

“No.”

“You’re going to, Carse?”

“Yes. I don’t quite trust Dr. Ku. The asteroid’s controlled on the same principles as a space-ship: I’ll manage. Please hurry, Ban.”

“Cap’n., suh! Already got the Master Scientist!” called Friday from the radio panel. The Hawk strode swiftly to it and clamped the individual receivers over his ears.

“M. S.?” he asked into the microphone. “You’re there?”

“Yes. Carse? What’s happened?”

“All’s well, but I’m in a tremendous hurry: I’ve only got time, now, to tell you we’re on the asteroid with Dr. Ku prisoner, and that I’m undertaking to transplant the coordinated brains into living human bodies ... What? Yes transplant them! Please, M. S.--not now: questions later. I’m calling primarily to learn whether you have any V-27 on hand?”

Eliot Leithgow, in his distant laboratory, paused before replying. When his voice sounded in the receivers again, it was excited.

“I think I see, Carse! Good! Yes, I have a little--”

“We’ll need a lot,” the Hawk cut in tersely. “Will you instruct your assistants to begin preparing as much as they can in the next hour? Yes. And your laboratory--clear it for the operations, and improvise five operating tables. Powerful lights, too, M. S. Yes--yes--right--all accessories. Have someone stand by your radio; I’ll radio further details while we’re on our way.”

“Right, Carse. All understood.”

The Hawk remembered something else. “Oh, yes, Eliot--is everything safe in your vicinity?”

“There’s a small band of isuanacs foraging around somewhere in the neighborhood, but otherwise nothing. They’re harmless--”

“But possibly observant,” finished Carse. “All right--I’ll clear them away before descending to the lab. Until later, Eliot.”


Carse switched off the microphone and turned to catch Friday’s shocked expression. Carse looked inquiringly at his dark satellite.

“What’s wrong?”

“Lordy, suh,” the Negro whispered, “Dr. Ku could hear all you said! He’ll know where Master Leithgow’s laboratory is!”

The Hawk smiled briefly. “No matter, Eclipse. I’m quite sure the information will avail him nothing. For this ride to the laboratory will be his last ride but one.” He turned. “We’re starting at once. Ban, you’ve bound him well?”

“If he can get out of those knots,” grinned Wilson, “I’ll kiss him on the mouth!”

The Eurasian’s nostrils distended. “Then,” he said. “I most certainly will not try. But Captain Carse, may I have a cigarro before we start on this journey?”

Carse had gone over so the space-stick and his eyes were on the visi-screen, but he now turned them to his old foe for a moment. “Not just now, Dr. Ku,” he said levelly. “For it might be that all but two puffs of it would be wasted. Yes--later--if we survive these next few minutes.”

The remark did nothing to ease the tension of their leaving. Ban Wilson could not restrain a question.

“Carse, are you going to risk atmospheric friction all the way to the laboratory?”

“No. Haven’t time for that. Up and down--up into space, then down to the lab--high acceleration and deceleration.”

He grasped the space-stick, then in neutral, holding the asteroid motionless in the valley. He glanced at the visi-screen again, checked over the main controls and tightened his hand on the stick.

“Ready everyone,” he said, and gently moved the stick up and forward.


There was, to the men in the control room, little consciousness of power unleashed: only the visi-screen and the bank of positional instruments told what had happened with that first, delicate movement of the space-stick. It was an experiment, a feeler. The indicators of the positionals quivered a little and altered, and in the visi-screen the hills of the valley, that a moment before had been quite close and large, had diminished to purple-green mounds below.

 
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