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.Closer and closer the two formations came to Tellus.The engagement started.The Cone of Battle stopped as a unit, complete and ready.The count of'Two, One, Zero!' - and there blazed out from the Cone of Battle a composite beam of energy milesin diameter toward the Black Fleet.A column of energy so outrageously violent and raw as to bestarkly incomprehensible.The concentrated inferno of incredible violence hurled itself upon theBlack Fleet, causing those ships in its path to flare into nothingness.Only the heaviest of shipscould mount generators capable of producing screens that could handle that load, and then for onlya very limited time.Yet the beam was not effective.An instant after it was generated, the beam was cut and the Coneof Battle broken up.The Galactic Patrol's irresistible weapon could not be used against aformation that didn't exist.The moment of the Cone of Battle's stopping had acted as a signal tothe Black Fleet.The arrow formation instantly scattered.The cargo scows broke up into thousandsof robot-guided missiles with Bergenholm drives, polycyclic drills and atomic warheads.They brokeapart and flooded out of the field of action of the Patrol's furious beam.In an instant that region of space seemed filled with slashing, fighting, madly warring spaceshipsand missiles.The battle spread toward Tellus as light cruisers and scouts of the Galactic Patroldarted Earthward, trying to head off the weapons on their way past Luna to the Hill.At the same time on Tellus another fleet of small blacks appeared out of the Gulf of Californiaand headed toward The Hill from the south.CHAPTER SEVENTEENTHE GALACTIC PATROL VS.THE BLACK FLEETHarv and the moon creeper spiraled up over the west rim following the cable with the spy ray asfile:///G|/Program%20Files/eMule/Incoming/E.iam%20B.%20%20Ellern%20-%20New%20Lensman.txt (75 of 80) [10/15/2004 2:31:41 PM] file:///G|/Program%20Files/eMule/Incoming/E.%20E.%20Doc%20Smith%20-%20William%20B.%20%20Ellern%20-%20New%20Lensman.txtfar as he could into the dense mass of concrete and steel he found there.Pete followed a fewminutes later in the Mooncar.Apparently a large portion of the west peak had been hollowed outfor the moon base.Harv found the entrance.It was a hole three hundred feet high and fifty feetwide in an east-west cliff face.It was oriented to look like a huge shadow, a wrinkle in thewall.The area leading up to the entrance was crushed rock, so no tracks were left.The crushedrock formed a long slow ramp in the opposite direction toward the main Mayer crater.The mooncreeper and the Mooncar entered the cliff face entrance and turned on their lights.At one side ofthe cavern two spaceships stood.The walls and ceiling looked as if the cavern had originallyoccurred naturally in the crater face.The vehicles proceeded down the cavern and around a cornerwhere there was an air lock able to take a complete vehicle, if necessary.It stood open.Aroundit were parked three other Mooncars, and a dozen tracked vehicles.Harv and Pete pulled in next tothem.'Leave the creeper to defend the entrance with the fighting unit,' Pete said.'We'll see what'sinside.''OK, while they're getting positioned, help me unload my tender,' Harv replied.'I was expectingto explore this place.'The tender contained six 'pack mules,' eight-wheeled, articulated vehicles designed to be able totravel through narrow corridors or caves, and loaded with gear which Harv had accumulated inanticipation of exploring this place.There was no air inside the base.When it was abandoned, all the air had been pumped back intostorage tanks, which in the hundreds of intervening years had leaked their contents to the vacuumoutside, and the power had been turned off.Harv started his examination of the blackness aheadwith a portable Spy ray.The first thing they did was follow a long passageway using their vacuumsuit lights.After they had reached the door at the other end Harv explained, 'When the systempower is on, this passageway is a neat little deathtrap.They didn't like uninvited guests.'When they were outside of the passageway, Pete opened a light fixture and connected in a smallgenerator to the wires, while Harv again explored with his spy ray.The lights came on.'Find thelight switch and turn it on so the rest of the lighting system will have power,' Pete said.'The power plant must be on one of the lower levels.There's an elevator about a thousand feetahead,' Harv said.A few minutes later they were at the elevator.'The power plant is down about three-quarters of amile,' Harv reported.'I doubt if the atomic pile will operate.The fuel probably needs re-refining by this time.We'll take the elevator down.'They cut into the wall of the elevator shaft to the power cables and installed another smallgenerator.The elevator took them to the Combat Control Center.The power room was next door.Inthe power room they connected one of the mule pack burdens, an allotropic iron generator, and thenwent back to the room containing the Combat Control Center.'Turn on the screens and let's see if.yeah.We've got visitors already.Too bad they didn'tland in Mayer A,' Pete said.'The blasters would have given them a little surprise !''I wonder if the weapons here still work.They've unloaded four fighting units so far, and somehowI don't think that our one will be enough,' Harv said.He flipped on a couple of WEAPON READYswitches.The lights dimmed.He turned them off and the lights brightened again.'Pete, go next door and connect in the other power supply,' Harv said.'It looks like we're goingto need it to charge the accumulators in these weapons.''Sure it isn't just a short circuit?''No, I don't think a short could last long enough to draw the kind of power our generator iscapable of putting out,' Harv answered.A minute later two spaceships landed in Mayer A.There was a long pause as the captains aboardlooked around for signs of danger.Neither noticed that the mining blaster mounted on the crevassebridge no longer pointed down into the hole it had cut to release Harv, but was now aimed in theirgeneral direction.Harv had informed the moon creeper, who was connected to the Combat ControlCenter via spy-ray relay, of the new development.The creeper moved the blaster as Harv directed.By now Harv was seated at one of the consoles, waiting.A hatch opened.The blaster turned withmicroscopic slowness toward the spacecraft.'With these new transparent polycyclic screens you can't visually tell when the screens are down.Wait until they're commited by putting down the unloading ramp.OK, here it comes! Hold it.Hold it.Hold.FIRE!!' Harv commanded of the creeper.The mining blaster, which had been designed to punch a hole through one hundred feet of solid rockin ten seconds, lashed out with its incandescent beam at point-blank range.It cut through thepropulsion section of the spacecraft with a fantastic display of pyrotechnics as molten metal,blown by hot gases, sprayed forth in a shower.In less than a second the spaceship had beenfile:///G|/Program%20Files/eMule/Incoming/E.iam%20B.%20%20Ellern%20-%20New%20Lensman.txt (76 of 80) [10/15/2004 2:31:41 PM] file:///G|/Program%20Files/eMule/Incoming/E.%20E.%20Doc%20Smith%20-%20William%20B.%20%20Ellern%20-%20New%20Lensman [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]