The Passing of Ku Sui
Chapter 8: White's Brain--Yellow's Head

Public Domain

To Friday it was a bad mistake to reveal the location of the laboratory to Dr. Ku Sui. From him above all men had that location up to now been kept. Just a few days before, Hawk Carse had risked his life to preserve the secret. And yet now, deliberately, he was showing it to the Eurasian!

Nervously, Friday watched him, and he saw that his eyes were alive with interest as they scanned the visi-screen. It was too much for the Negro.

“Captain Carse,” he whispered, coming close to the adventurer, “look, suh--he’s seein’ it all! Shouldn’t I blindfold him?”

Carse shook his head, but turned to Dr. Ku, where he sat bound in the chair scrutinizing the visi-screen.

“Yes, Doctor,” he said, “there it is--what you have searched for so long--the refuge and the laboratory of Eliot Leithgow.”

“There, Captain?” murmured the Eurasian. “I see nothing!”

And true, the visi-screen showed nothing but a hill, a lake, a swamp, and the distant, surrounding jungle.

That spot on Satellite III had been most carefully chosen by the Master Scientist and Carse as best suiting their needs. It lay at least a thousand miles--a thousand miles of ugly, primeval jungle--from the nearest unfriendly isuan ranch, and was diametrically opposite Port o’ Porno. Thus it allowed Leithgow and Carse to come and go with but faint chance of being observed, and the steady watch kept through the laboratory’s telescopic instruments lessened even that. And even if their movements to and from the laboratory had been observed, a spy could have discovered little, so ingeniously was the camouflage contrived to use to best advantage the natural features of the landscape.

At this spot on Satellite III there was a small lake, long rather than wide. At its shallow end, the lake lost itself in marshy, thick-grown swamps; at its deep end it washed against the slopes of a low, rounded hill. Topping the hill was a rude ranch-house, which to the casual eye would appear the unimportant habitation of some poor jungle-squatter, with beds of various vegetables and fruits growing around it, and guarded against the jungle’s animals by what looked like a makeshift fence. The ground inside the fence had been cleared save for a few thick, dead stumps of oxi trees, gnarled and weather-beaten, which made the whole outlay look crude and desolate.

So desolate, so poor, so humble, as not to deserve a second glance from the lowest of scavenger or pirate ships. So misleading!

Carse had brought the invisible asteroid to a halt perhaps a half mile above the hill. The minutes were slipping by, bringing the two-hour deadline ever closer, but he did not skimp his customary caution on approaching the laboratory. From the control room, he swept the electelscope over the surrounding terrain, and soon sighted the band of isuanacs Eliot Leithgow had mentioned.

Through the ‘scope’s magnifying mirrors they seemed but yards away, though they were wandering knee-deep in the marshes at the far end of the lake. All their repulsive details stood out clearly.

More beasts than men, were such isuanacs (pronounced ee-swan-acs), so called from the drug that had betrayed them step by step to a pit in which there was no intelligence, no light, no hope--nothing but their mind-shattering craving. In many and unpredictable ways did the drug ravish their bodies. They were outcasts from the port of outcasts, driven out of Porno into the wilderness, where they tracked out their miry ways searching ever for the isuan weed until some animal ended their enslavement, or the drug itself finally killed them in convulsions. They were the legion of the damned.

This band of half a dozen was typical, grubbing through the slime of the swamp, snarling at each other, now and again fighting over a leaf, then squatting down in the mud where they were, to chew on it, their torture of mind and body momentarily forgotten. Rags, mud-caked and foul, partly covered their emaciated bodies: their hair was matted, their eyes blood-shot...

Carse noted their position and looked up at Friday.

“Get the Master Scientist for me, please,” he requested. The radio connection took only seconds: and then he said into the microphone:

“Eliot? We’re directly above you, as you probably have seen. All well?”

“Yes, Carse. The laboratory’s in readiness. But those isuanacs--they’re still outside.”

“I’ve seen them, and I’m going to drive them away. Then I’ll be down to you. Have the upper entrance ready.”

The Hawk turned back to the controls. Taking the space-stick out of neutral, he moved it very slightly down and to one side. Ban and Friday, not understanding his intention, watched the visi-screen.

The whole mass of rock that was the asteroid changed position at a gentle speed. The band of isuanacs came nearer and nearer, and then were to the right. Completely oblivious of the great bulk hovering above them, they continued their grubbing through the swamp; and then the asteroid was over the jungle beyond them, and lowering its craggy under-side.

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