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Little asked the Vegan if it knew where they were being taken. You can live in the open under this sunlight; we need supplementary lighting, both visual and ultraviolet. They have told me nothing. I do not even know whether we will be allowed to communicate any further—though I hope so.

My companions and I have long wanted to have someone besides ourselves to talk to. The Vegan eyed him closely for a moment. We have never been able to understand their motivation or actions in the slightest degree. It may, of course, be that they think more after your fashion than ours—but that seems unlikely, when your minds and ours are sufficiently alike to agree even on matters of philosophy.

If anything constructive results from my ideas, I will tell, but otherwise I should prefer to wait until I am much more certain of my conclusions.

It had been gone many minutes, but the Vegan sign language is much slower than verbal speech, and the two allies had had time for only a Page 12 few sentences. They watched silently as five more men and their guards entered the car and disappeared.

There was little talk in the ensuing wait; most of the beings present were too fully occupied in thinking. One or two of the men exchanged low-voiced comments, but the majority kept their ideas to themselves. The Vegan, of course, was voiceless, and the guards stood about patiently, silent as ever, rock-still except for the slow, almost unceasing, wave of the black, blunt spines. They did not seem even to breathe. The silence continued while the elevator returned and departed twice more.

Its only interruption consisted of occasional faint metallic sounds of indeterminable origin, echoing and reechoing along the corridors of the vast pile. To Little, they were interesting for the evidence they provided of activity through the place, and therefore of the presence of a very considerable garrison. Nothing was seen to substantiate this surmise, however, although it was possible to view objects at a considerable distance along the well-lighted passage.

The elevator returned for the last time. Little, the few remaining men, and the Vegan entered, accompanied this time by only two of the pentapods, and the upward journey began. The car was lifted by an extremely quiet—or extremely distant—motor; the continuous silence of the place, indeed, was beginning to jar on human nerves. The elevator rose smoothly; there was no sense of motion during the five or six minutes of the journey. Little wondered whether the creatures had some ulterior motive, or were simply economizing on power—if the fort were only two hundred feet high, an elevator journey from ground to roof should take seconds, not minutes.

He never discovered the answer. The car door slid open to reveal another corridor, narrower than the one below. To the right it came to an end twenty yards away where a large circular window allowed the sunlight to enter.

Little decided that they must be above the level of the outer wall, since no openings had been visible in it. The wall at this level must be set back some distance, so as to be invisible from a point on the ground near the building. The party was herded in the opposite direction toward several doors which opened from the hallway. Through a number of these, light even brighter than the daylight was streaming; from others there emerged only the sound of human voices.

The party paused at one of the brightly lighted doorways, and the Vegan turned to Little. I would invite you to enter, but you should first find some means of protecting your skin against the ultraviolet radiators we have arranged.

Dark goggles, such as Earthmen usually wear on Vega Five, would also be advisable. I shall tell my friends about you; we will converse again whenever possible. If my ears do not deceive me, your people are quartered along this same corridor, so we can meet freely—as you guessed we might.

The creature's auditory organs had not lied; the human crew was found occupying a dozen of the less strongly illuminated rooms along the corridor. Magill, who as quartermaster was senior officer present, had taken charge and had already begun to organize the group when Little and his companions arrived.

One chamber had already been set aside as a storeroom and kitchen, and the food was already being placed therein. When the quartermaster caught sight of Little, he wasted no time in greetings. I wish you'd take a dozen men, try to make these creatures understand what you want, and bring up the rest of the food.

Also, Denham wants that stove—he promises a regular meal half an hour after you get it here. Can do? The group retraced their steps to the elevator. Page 13 Several of the pentapods were loitering at this end of the corridor. They made no objection as the doctor investigated the control beside the elevator door, and finally manipulated it; but two of them entered the car with Little and half of his crew, and accompanied them to the ground level.

Little obtained one more bit of information as they started down: the elevator controls were like those of an Earthly automatic car, simply a row of buttons. He indicated the lowest, and made a motion as though to push it, meanwhile looking at one of the guards.

This creature came over beside him, and with one of its tendrils touched a stud less than a third of the way down the panel. Little smiled. Evidently the fort was more underground than above, and must be a far larger structure than he had thought. It was nice to know. They waited at the lower level, while one of the men took the car back for the others; then, accompanied by several more of the guards, they went outside.

None of the men could discover how the doors of the entrance chamber were manipulated; none of the creatures accompanying them appeared to touch a control of any sort. The piles of supplies and equipment were still in front of the gate; nothing had been touched. Squads of the pentapods were hurrying this way and that around the great ship; some were visible, clinging to nets suspended far overhead against the hull, evidently repairing, cleaning, or inspecting.

A long line of the creatures was passing continually back and forth between one of the ports of the vessel and a small gate, which the men had not previously noticed, in the wall of the fort. They were bearing large crates, which might have contained anything, and various articles of machinery.

Little watched them for a moment, then turned his attention to their own supplies.

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The men loaded up and returned to the elevator, into which the food was piled. One man started up with the load and the others went back to the piles. This time Little turned his attention to the stove, which the cook had demanded. It had already been worked out of its pile and was awaiting transportation. The doctor first inspected it carefully, however. It was an extremely versatile piece of equipment.

It contained a tiny iron converter of its own, but was also designed to draw power from any normal standard, if desired. Being navy equipment, it also had to be able to work without electric power, if circumstances required precautions against detection; and a tube connection at the back permitted the attachment of a hydrogen or butane tank—there was even a clamp for the tank.

Little saw a rack of three gas tanks standing by a nearby pile, and was smitten with an idea. He detached one of them and fastened it into the stove clamp, which, fortunately, it fitted. Four men picked up the stove and carried it inside. The other tanks were removed from the rack and carried after it.

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They contained, it is needless to say, neither hydrogen nor butane. Little hoped that none of the watching guards had been present at the actual looting of theGomeisa, and knew where those tanks came from. He had tried to act normally while he had fitted the cylinder and given orders to bring the others.

The elevator had not yet returned when they reached its door. The men set their burden down. To Little's surprise, none of the guards had accompanied them—they had deduced, from the weight and clumsiness of the device the men were carrying, that watching them would be superfluous until the machine was set up.

Or, at least, so reasoned the doctor. He took advantage of the opportunity to tell the men to be very careful of the cylinders they were carrying. They asked no questions, though each man had a fairly good idea of the reason for the order.

They already knew that the atomic converter of the stove was in working order, and that heating gas was, therefore, superfluous. When the elevator finally arrived, Little ordered the man who had brought it to help the others bring the rest of the food from outside. There was still a good deal of it, and it might as well be brought in, though a Page 14 large supply had already accumulated in the storeroom. He finished his orders with: "You're free to try any smuggling you want, but be careful. They already know what an ion gun looks like, and we have been told that they're very good at guessing.

We don't know, of course, what articles besides weapons they don't want us to have; so be careful in taking anything you think they might object to.

I'm going to take this load up. The same group of guards were waiting at the top. They watched with interest as several men helped the doctor carry the stove to the room which was to serve as the kitchen. There was not too much space left, for food supplies filled all the corners. Little smiled as he saw them—it seemed as though Magill were anticipating a long stay. He was probably justified. Denham, the cook, grinned as he saw the stove.

He had cleared a narrow space for it and fussily superintended the placing. He looked at the gas tank attached to it, but before he could express any surprise, Little spoke.

He kept his voice and expression normal, for several pentapods had followed the stove into the room.

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I assure you that the gas won't heat anything. Good work. The doctor sought out Magill, who had just completed the task of assigning men to the rooms. Food in? Yes, we located the ventilators.

Ceiling and floor grilles. Too small to admit a pair of human shoulders, even if we got the bars out. Do you know if the same system handles the rest of the building? And whether those grilles keep blowing if we open the window in a room? Come along. All the chambers on this side of the corridor had transparent ports opening onto the roof; after some juggling, Magill got one open. Little, standing beneath the ceiling inlet, was gratified to feel the breeze die away.

He nodded slowly. It may get a trifle cool at night, but we can stand that. By the way, I forgot to have the men bring up those sleeping bags; I'll tell them the next time the elevator comes up.

Do you think our faithful shadows"—Little nodded toward the two pentapods standing in the doorway—"would object if we went out on the roof? They let us open the window, and we could go out that way, in a pinch. There must be some more regular exit. He led the way into the corridor, the two watchers moving aside for them, and after a moment's hesitation turned left, away from the elevator.

The guards fell in behind. The room they had been in was the last of those occupied by the Earthmen, and several lightless doorways were passed before the end of the passage was reached. They found it similar in arrangement to the other Page 15 end, containing a large, transparent panel through which was visible a broad expanse of roof. Magill, who had opened the window in the room, began to examine the edges of the panel. It proved openable, the control being so high above the floor as to be almost out of reach.

The pentapods could, without much effort, reach objects eight feet in the air. The quartermaster, with a little fumbling, finally released the catch and pushed the panel open.

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The guards made no objection as the men went out on the roof, merely following a few yards behind. This end of the hall opened to the southeast—calling the sunrise point east—away from the ship.

From a position a few yards outside the panel, it was evident that the prison quarters occupied a relatively small, rectangular pimple near the north corner of the half-mile-square roof. The men turned left again and passed along the side of the protuberance. Some of the crew saw them through the windows, which Magill beckoned them to open.

Denham had already opened his, and cooking odors were beginning to pour forth. Crossing the few yards to the five-foot parapet at the edge of the roof, the men found a series of steps which raised them sufficiently to lean over the two-foot-thick wall.

They were facing the forest to which Albee and the others who had escaped had made their dash. From this height they could see down the declivity at its edge, and perceive that a heavy growth of underbrush was present, which would probably seriously impede travel. No sign of the refugees caught the eye. The bow of the ship protruded from behind the near corner of the structure. Little and Magill moved to this wall and looked down. The line of pentapods was still carrying supplies to the vast ship, whose hull towered well above the level of the two watchers.

It hid everything that lay to the northwest. After a few minutes' gaze the officers turned back to the quarters. They were now at the "elevator" end of the superstructure, and found themselves facing the panel which had not yet been opened. Two of the men were visible, watching them from within; and Magill, walking over to the entrance, pointed out the catch which permitted it to open.

No outside control was visible. There doesn't seem to be anything out in the middle of this place, so if it's anywhere, it must be hiding in the shadow of the parapet.

Can you see any irregularities near the edges? But we're half a mile from two of the walls, and might easily miss such a thing at a much shorter distance. If it's here, one of the men will find it sooner or later. Why do you worry about it, if you want us to use outdoor air directly? I don't suppose there's enough to put the whole garrison out—but still, it would be nice to know their ventilating system. After we eat we'll find out what else, if anything, the boys succeeded in bringing up, and more or less take inventory.

Then perhaps we can arrange some plan for getting out of here. I wish we knew what has become of theGomeisa; I don't suppose we could manage the controls on that ship Page 16 outside. Remember the Vegans, who are far from stupid creatures, have been here for some time and have failed to get to first base to date. They can't live for long outside without supplementary ultraviolet sources, and they have to plan with that in mind. Furthermore, this gravity is nearly twice that of Vega Five, and they can't move at any rate better than a crawl.

He had developed a healthy respect for their captors, along with a slight comprehension of their motives. The trouble was, the Vegan's description of the way the pentapods seemed to guess the purpose of a device before it was completed did not tie in very well with his theory concerning those motives.

More thought was indicated. He indulged in it while Magill steered him back to the prison and dinner. The meal was good. There was no reason why it shouldn't be, of course, since the cook had all the usual supplies and equipment; but Little was slightly surprised to find himself enjoying dinner while in durance vile as much as if he were on his own ship.

It didn't seem natural. They ate in the hallway, squatted in a circle in front of the kitchen door. The Vegans, whose quarters were directly opposite, watched from their doorways. They also commented from time to time, but were very seldom answered, since both hands are required to speak Vegan.

They would probably have felt slighted if one of them—not the one who had acted as interpreter—had not understood some English.

He got about two words in every five, and succeeded in keeping his race in the conversation. The meal concluded, the meeting of the ways and means committee, which consisted of all human beings and Vegans in the neighborhood, was immediately called to order. The presence of nonmembers, though resented, was perforce permitted, and discussion began under the watchful eyes of eight or ten pentapods. Little, rather than Magill, presided.

The Vegans have been with them longer, and probably know more than we; but owing to the relative slowness of their speech, we will save their contribution until last. You who understand English may translate the substance of our discussion to your fellows if you wish, but we will hold a second meeting afterward and go over everything in your own language. First, then, will anyone who succeeded in smuggling any weapons or probable-contraband tools up here please report?

Keep your hands in your pockets and your eyes on me while you do so; there is a high order of probability that our friends are very good at interpreting gestures—even human gestures. The doctor nodded to him. I didn't try to cover it up and I concentrated on boxed articles of food afterward to make it look natural.

Little knew him fairly well. He had been born on Earth but showed plainly a background of several generations on the colony-planet Regulus Six—big bones, dark skin, quick reactions. What is in the kit? Leo, I suppose you have outdone your brother?

I'll start accepting offers tomorrow. Safety razors weren't built to cope with a ten-day growth, more or less. Never mind, we may find a use for it—it's a cutting tool, anyway. Evidently the total had been reached. Little spoke again. I wish them luck in analyzing the stuff—we never could.

But when I started to carry the case toward the gate—of course, that was some job, as Goldy found out—they all walked up and just took it away. They didn't get violent or anything like that. Is that right? I don't quite see how anyone could hide either that case or the bottles; I was just sort of hoping against hope. A gunner responded. The next thing I knew, one of the starfish was holding my arms, and another taking them out again. He handled them as though he knew what they were.

And that was enough for our admittedly astute friends. I admit it's usually a very good idea to obey regulations, but there are exceptions to every rule. I think the present circumstances constitute an exception to most of them. Any others? The doctor didn't care particularly; he believed he had enough data from that source, and an idea was rapidly growing.

Unfortunately, the primary principle of that idea required him to learn even more, though not about his captors. Possibly the Vegans could supply the information, but Little was not prepared to bet on it. Magill closed the discussion by mentioning the anesthetic which Little had made available, and requesting an early communication of all ideas.

The men withdrew into smaller groups, talking in low tones among themselves, and gradually drifted through the doors to their rooms, or out onto the roof. Magill followed Page 18 to take a small group down again for the sleeping bags. Little remained with the Vegans. He had a good deal to ask them, and material which could be covered in an hour of verbal conversation would probably take three or four hours of arm-waving. He sat just outside the fan of intense light from one of the doorways, and the creatures formed a semicircle just inside—the door was wide enough for the four of them, since it had been constructed to admit the pentapods.


The doctor opened the conversation. It was answered by the individual who had acted as interpreter. We are not sure just how long they are, but we believe they are about thirty of your hours. We have no idea of the length of time that elapsed between our capture and our arrival at this place, however. We were driving a small private ship on a sightseeing trip to a world which had recently been reported near the galactic center by one of our official exploring vessels, and were near its reported position when we were taken.

They simply engulfed us—moved up and dragged our ship into a cargo lock with magnets. We were on their ship a long time before they put us off here and left again, and we were not allowed to obtain any of our belongings except food and ultraviolet lamps until we arrived; so we don't know how long the trip lasted.

One of us"—the Vegan indicated the individual—"got up courage enough to venture onto the roof one night and saw what he thinks was the Galaxy; so we believe this world lies in the Cloud. You will be able to tell better for yourselves—you can stand the dark longer than we, and your eyes are better at locating faint details. We were heading toward the Cloud when we were taken," answered Little. Then there are a few rooms on the upper levels which are always sealed, and two or three which are open but whose thresholds we are not permitted to cross.

They have never used violence on us. They never need to; we are in no position to dispute their wishes. There is no comparison between them and us physically, and we are very much out of our natural environment. One of them contains several devices which look like ordinary television screens. Whether they are for long-range use or are merely part of a local system, of course we cannot tell.

Could you give me more details on just what happened? What were you doing, and at what stage were you interrupted? How did you expect to get away from the planet?

We just wanted to make them go, so we could take over the fort. When we disconnected their tube lights to put in our own, he"—indicating the creature beside Page 19 him—"managed to retain a sample of the tube. On its walls were absorbed layers of several gases, but neon was the chief component. We had smuggled in the neutrino converters and stabilizers from our ship"—and Keys said these fellows were helpless, thought Little—"and it occurred to us that we might set up a neon-oxygen reaction which would flood the place with ultraviolet.

We had already noticed that they could not stand it any better than you. The half life of the process would have been of the order of twelve hours, which should have driven them out for a period of time ample for our purpose.

A neutrino jet of very moderate power, correctly tuned, could easily have catalyzed such a reaction in every light tube in the place. We had built the projector, disguising it as another ultraviolet lamp, and were connecting the converter when about fifty of the guards dived in, took the whole thing away, and ran out before the lamps we already had going could hurt them. The Vegans wouldn't have appreciated the humor. Their teamwork is perfect, better than that of well-trained human fighters, but if my idea is correct their technical knowledge is inferior to ours.

I have already mentioned to my captain their apparent lack of conceit—that is also based on my guess as to their motives in capturing us. One thing, however, I do not understand at all. How do they communicate? I have always been reluctant to fall back on the 'explanation' of telepathy; there are reasons which make me doubt that it can ever be a satisfactory substitute for a language.

Great length. The recital was stretched out by Little's frequent questions, and once or twice delayed by his imperfect comprehension of the Vegan language. The sun was low in the west when the conversation ended, but the doctor had at last what he believed to be a complete mental picture of the habits, thoughts, and nature of the pentapods, and he had more than the glimmerings of a plan which might set the human and Vegan prisoners free once more.

He hoped. He left his nonhuman allies, and sought out Magill. He found him at the western corner of the roof, examining the landscape visible beyond the tail of the spaceship. A couple of pentapods were on hand, as usual. Leo Dennis was making himself useful, sketching the western skyline on a pad he carried, with the apparent intention of marking the sunset point. Magill had evidently decided that an assistant navigator should be able to get his own location on a planet's surface as well as in space.

Dennis was slightly handicapped by a total lack of instruments, but was doing his best. Little approached the quartermaster. One of them pointed out that the lack of superstructure suggested that the roof might be used as a landing place for atmosphere craft, and found some blast marks to back up the idea.

No one else has made any worth-while reports. If there are any aircraft, though, I'd like to know where they stow them. I suppose the boys have their eyes open for large, probably level-set trapdoors in the roof.

But what I wanted to find out was: with whom am I sharing a room? If there is anyone in particular you want—or don't want—to be with, you're at liberty to trade with someone.

I told the boys that. I want to spend some time with the Dennis boys, without making it too obvious. I suppose they're already together. By the way, seeing I'm still a medical officer, has anyone reported sick? The air is just a shade on the thin side, and we've been breathing it long enough for effects to show, if there are going to be any. He was wearing one of the few watches possessed by the party. He was perfectly willing to have his erstwhile roommate replaced by the doctor, especially when Little promised work to be done.

He agreed to speak to his brother and to Cauley, who had originally been assigned to their room. He didn't appear discouraged yet. Little wandered off across the roof, occasionally meeting and speaking to one of the men.

Morale seemed to be good, he noted with relief. He had always considered that to be part of the business of a medical officer, since it was, after all, directly reflected in the health of the men. A motion in the direction of the setting sun caught his eye. He turned to face it and saw a narrow, dazzling crescent low in the western sky, a crescent that rose and grew broader as he watched. The planet had a satellite, like Mars, so close that its period of revolution was less than one of its own days.

Little wondered if a body so close to the planet might not prove useful. He filed the thought away for future reference. The sun set as he watched, and he realized he had been right about the thinness of the air. Darkness shut down almost at once. The moon sprang into brilliance—brilliance that was deceptive, for details on the landscape were almost impossible to make out.

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Stars, scattered at random over the sky, began to appear; and as the last traces of daylight faded away, there became visible, at first hazily and then clear and definite, the ghostly shape of the Galaxy. Its sprawling spiral arms stretched across a quarter of the sky, the bulk of the system inclined some thirty degrees from the edge-on position—just enough to show off the tracing of the great lanes of dust that divided the arms.

The men began to drift toward the orange glow that shone through the entrance panels and windows of the "penthouse. It was eaten as the first had been, in the corridor with a silent audience of guards. The men had grown used to the creatures, and were no longer bothered by their presence. The conversation was desultory, except when Arthur Dennis offered to take the place of Denham's helper for the evening. It was the most plausible excuse for entering the kitchen-storeroom, where the packs had been stowed.

No one commented, though everybody guessed the reason. Windows and doors of all rooms were left open, the first because of Little's advice, the second because the pentapods had removed all means of closing the entrances—privacy was impossible, which did not in Page 21 the least surprise Little. At the conclusion of the meal, he accompanied Leo Dennis to the latter's room, which was near the end of the corridor farthest from the elevator, and waited for the arrival of Arthur.

A little investigation solved the secret of turning out the room's tube lights, which darkened the place somewhat, but the light from the corridor was sufficient to move around by.

Arthur entered after about fifteen minutes, carrying three packs under his arms. Two of these he tossed to his brother and the doctor, remarking, "Pillows in one suite, anyway! The three men rolled up the packs and placed them under the canvas at the heads of their sleeping bags, conscious meanwhile of the never-ending scrutiny from the door; then they leaned back against the wall and relaxed.

The twins had tobacco, and all three smoked as they talked. A remark of Leo's, which opened the conversation, eased Little's mind of one problem which had been bothering him. I suppose you found out a good deal from the Vegans, and I wouldn't be surprised to know you have a campaign all mapped out; but I don't want to know more than necessary. I have developed, from what the Vegans said and from what I've seen myself, a very healthy respect for the intuition, or guessing powers, or whatever it is, of our silent watchers.

It makes me uncomfortable. And the less I know the more natural I can let myself act. All right? In the first place I should, like Magill, like to know our location on this planet and the planet's location in space.

That, unquestionably, is your job, Leo.

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Then I want to get the information to the handiest Union base or ship. That's all. I don't believe we could break out of here, though probably Keys will try. I pin my hope on our broadcasting a message from inside and letting people already outside do the rest. Art, did you say you had a grating in that kit of yours?

I'll have to identify the local navigation beacon somehow, and its spectrum will be the most outstanding hallmark. Why don't Doc and I go outside now and do some star-gazing, while you curl up in your sleeping bag and see if the shadows don't follow us?

If they do, you can rummage in the kit without being seen, and come out in a few minutes with the grating and a couple of the lenses you mentioned. If they don't, we'll do what we can with the naked eye and come back. Be seeing you. Pentapods, scattered along the corridor, eyed them as they emerged, but made no move to intercept them. The door opening outside had been left ajar by the Earthmen in their policy of avoiding the use of the building's ventilation system, and the guards were evidently following a policy of noninterference with regard to everything but weapons.

The panel was still partly open. Little pushed it wide, and the two human beings went out onto the roof. To their surprise they were not followed; but both realized that there might already be guards on the roof. They moved out of the path of the light from the door and approached the nearest wall.

Page 22 The mountains to the northeast were silhouetted against the almost equally dark sky; the forest at their feet was indistinguishable. No glow or spark of light suggested the presence, anywhere in the scene, of the men who had escaped nine hours before, though Little and Dennis strained their eyes looking.

Not even a reflection from the river the doctor believed must be present broke the dark expanse. The sky offered more material for comment.

The Galaxy was lower in the west and the moon higher. Dennis, looking at the latter, did some rapid mental arithmetic. It had risen about an hour and a half ago, and would probably reach the zenith in a little more than another hour. Its sidereal period, then, must be about eight hours, and its distance, if this world had the same size and mass as Earth, a little over eight thousand miles from the surface.

It was now nearly at "first quarter," but its dark side was faintly visible, presumably illuminated by the reflected light of the planet. Somewhat less than four hours after sunset, the satellite should enter the planet's shadow and be eclipsed for about forty minutes, unless its orbit were more highly inclined to that of the planet than appeared to be the case. Little was looking at the stars, spread over the sky in unfamiliar constellations. I don't have the tables with me, of course, but the beacon for this neighborhood and the Galaxy, together, would give me a fairly good idea.

We use the brightest available stars for beacons, naturally—Rigel and Deneb in the Solar sector, for example. For navigation in the Larger Cloud we use a slightly different system, which employs two super-giant stars back in the Galaxy and the one local beacon which covers the whole Cloud—S Doradus.

It shouldn't be hard to find, even without instruments, since it's a first-magnitude star at a thousand parsecs; but we always like to check the spectrum, if possible. Most beacon stars, of course, are O, B, or A supergiants, but there are usually detectable individual differences which can be picked out by a good instrument.

We haven't a good instrument, but fortunately S Doradus has a very distinctive spectrum. Don't tell me how you reduce the observations to get your position; it would certainly go beyond my mathematical limit, and I don't like to be shown up.

If you know what a direction cosine is, you're all right. Matter of fact, that's how positions are indicated—three direction cosines from a given beacon, plus distance. I don't know how we'll get the distance—I can estimate brightness to a tenth of a magnitude, but that may answer to a small percentage of an awful distance.

We usually can triangulate, but not in the Cloud. If Art ever gets here with the lenses and grating I'll test them. I suppose he can't make it, since the dumb chums didn't follow us out here and give him a chance to burrow into the kit. Even Little was growing discouraged by the time Arthur finally arrived. They had been out nearly an Page 23 hour, Little amusing himself by strolling along the walls to see whether anything were visible below, and Leo observing the satellite as it approached the zenith.

He had already come to the conclusion, from the fact that the sun had set practically "straight down," that they were near the equator of the planet. It now seemed that the moon was in the equatorial plane, since it was rising to a point directly overhead.

It was well past first quarter now, but the unlighted crescent was still visible. Leo had just noticed this fact when Arthur's voice interrupted his pondering. I don't know what will happen when they find me gone. I brought the rod and lens clamps, too, but I'm afraid you'll have to get along without a tube. The doctor looked on silently.

Arthur had brought a light also, and held it on the step which served as a workbench. Leo, after a moment's thought, discarded one lens and used the other—the one of longer focal length. He clamped this at one end of the rod, with the plane side toward the center. The grating was smaller than the lens, and he clamped it against the plane face of the latter with the excess glass blocked off with paper. Another sheet of paper—a leaf torn from his sketch pad—was clamped to the rod at the focal distance of the lens, completing the crude spectroscope.

He set the instrument on the wall, propping it so that it was pointed toward the northern horizon and one of the stars he had mentioned. He leaned over it, to cut off the moonlight. The other two also leaned forward to see the results. A little streak of color, narrow as a pencil line, was just visible on the paper screen. Leo brought his eyes as close as he could, striving to perceive the tiny dark gaps that should have existed; but the resolution of the instrument was not sufficient.

After a moment's pause, he returned to the original idea, removing the paper and clamping the other lens in normal eyepiece position. This proved successful.

He could make out enough to identify both the stars he had counted on as unquestionably sun-type G stars, probably no more than a few parsecs distant, and definitely not the giant he sought. The navigator began to wear a worried expression. There were several thousand stars visible to the naked eye, and only a few of them were obviously not the object of his search.

After a few minutes, however, he began a methodical examination of all the brighter yellow and white stars, one after another. Arthur and the doctor saw that interruption would not be helpful, so they withdrew a few yards and conversed in low tones. Could you build one? Here and now, I don't know if the necessary equipment is available, and I'm reasonably sure we wouldn't be allowed to do it, anyway.

The stroboscope converts with a direct electron current and a variable oscillator and—I believe it could be done. But it wouldn't handle much power, and the range would be nothing to speak of. All I want to know is that you can build a vision transmitter with the material on hand—" "Wait a minute! Music Videos Watch.


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