eighty degrees of arc. As the ship kept to its circle, he made a slow collecting sweep of any signals beamed at the city. They were halfway around before he got a new signal. It was there all right, narrow but strong. Just to be sure he let the ship complete nike air max 90 hyperfuse two more sweeps, and he noted the direction on the gyro-compass each time. They coincided. The third time around he called to Meta. "Get ready for a full right turn, or whatever you call it. I think I have our bearing. Get ready--now." It was a slow turn and Jason never lost the signal. A few times it wavered, but he brought it back on. When the compass settled down Meta pushed on more power. They set their course towards the native Pyrrans. An hour's flight at close to top atmospheric speed brought no change. Meta complained, but Jason kept her on course. The signal never varied and was slowly picking up strength. They crossed the chain of volcanoes that marked the continental limits, the ship bucking in the fierce thermals. Once the shore was behind and they were over water, Skop joined Meta in grumbling. He kept his turret spinning, but there was very little to shoot at this far from land. When the islands came over the horizon the signal began to dip. "Slow now," Jason called. "Those islands ahead look like our source!" A continent had been here once, floating on Pyrrus' liquid core. Pressures changed, land masses shifted, and nike air max 90 em the continent had sunk beneath the ocean. All that was left now of the teeming life of that land mass was confined to a chain of islands, once the mountain peaks of the highest range of mountains. These islands, whose sheer, sides rose straight from the water, held the last inhabitants of the lost continent. The weeded-out descendants, of the victors of uncountable violent contests. Here lived the oldest native Pyrrans. "Come in lower," Jason signaled. "Towards that large peak. The signals seem to originate there." They swooped low over the mountain, but nothing was visible other than the trees and sun-blasted rock. The pain almost took Jason's head off. A blast of hatred that drove through the amplifier and into his skull. He tore off the phones, and clutched his skull between his hands. Through watering eyes he saw the black cloud of flying beasts hurtle up from the trees below. He had a single glimpse of the hillside beyond, before Meta blasted power to the engines and the ship leaped away. "We've found them!" Her fierce exultation faded as she saw Jason through the communicator. "Are you all right? What happened?" "Feel ... burned out ... I've felt a psi blast before, but nothing like that! I had a glimpse of an opening, looked like a cave mouth, just before the blast hit. Seemed to come from there." "Lie down," Meta said. "I'll get you back as fast as I can. I'm calling ahead to Kerk, he has to know what happened." * * * * * A group of men were waiting in the landing station when they came down. They stormed out as soon as the ship touched, shielding their faces from the still-hot tubes. Kerk burst in as soon as the port was cracked, peering around until he spotted Jason stretched out on an acceleration couch. "Is it true?" he barked. "You've traced the alien criminals who started this war?" "Slow, man, slow," Jason said. "I've traced the source of the psi message that keeps your war going. I've found no nike air max 90 evidence as to who started this war, and certainly wouldn't go so far as to call them criminals--" "I'm tired of your word-play," Kerk broke in. "You've found these creatures and their location has been marked." "On the chart," Meta said, "I could fly there blindfolded." "Fine, fine," Kerk said, rubbing his hands together so hard they could hear the harsh rasp of the callouses. "It takes a real effort to grasp the idea that, after all these centuries, the war might be coming to an end. But it's possible now. Instead of simply killing off these self-renewing legions of the damned that attack us, we can get to the leaders. Search them out, carry the war to them for a change--and blast their stain from the face of this planet!" "Nothing of the sort!" Jason said, sitting up with an effort. "Nothing doing! Since I came to this planet I have been knocked around, and risked my life ten times over. Do you think I have done this just to satisfy your blood-thirsty ambitions? It's peace I'm after--not destruction. You promised to contact these creatures, attempt to negotiate with them. Aren't you a man of honor who keeps his word?" "I'll ignore the insult--though I'd have killed you for it at any other time," Kerk said. "You've been of great service to our people, we are not ashamed to acknowledge an honest debt. At the same time--do not accuse me of breaking promises that I never made. I recall my exact words. I promised to go along with any reasonable plan that would end this war. That is just what I intend to do. Your plan to negotiate a peace is not reasonable. Therefore we are going to destroy the enemy." "Think first," Jason called after Kerk, who had turned to leave. "What is wrong with trying negotiation or an armistice? Then, if that fails, you can try your way." The compartment was getting crowded as other Pyrrans pushed in. Kerk, almost to the door, turned back to face Jason. "I'll tell you what's wrong with armistice," he said. "It's a coward's way out, that's what it is. It's all right for you to suggest it, you're from off-world and don't know any better. But do you honestly think I could entertain such a defeatist notion for one instant? When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for all of us here. We don't mind fighting, and we know how to do it. We know that if this war was over we could build a better world here. At the same time, if we have the choice of continued war or a cowardly peace--we vote for war. This war will only be over when the enemy is utterly destroyed!" The listening Pyrrans shouted in agreement, and when Kerk pushed out through the crowd some of them patted his shoulder as he went by. Jason slumped back on the couch, worn out by his exertions and exhausted by the attempt to win the violent Pyrrans over to a peaceful point of view. When he looked up they were gone--all except Meta. She had the same look of blood-thirsty elation as the others, but it drained away when she glanced at him. "What about it, Meta?" he asked bitterly. "No doubts? Do you think that destruction is the only way to end this war?" "I don't know," she said. "I can't be sure. For the first time in my life I find myself with more than one answer to the same question." "Congratulations," he said. "It's a sign of growing Jason stood to one side and watched the deadly cargo being loaded into the hold of the ship. The Pyrrans were in good humor as they stowed away riot guns, grenades and gas bombs. When the back-pack atom bomb was put aboard one of them broke into a marching song, and the others picked it up. Maybe they were happy, but the approaching carnage only filled Jason with an intense gloom. He felt that somehow he was a traitor nike air max 1 to life. Perhaps the life form he had found needed destroying--and perhaps it didn't. Without making the slightest attempt at conciliation, destruction would be plain murder. Kerk came out of the operations building and the starter pumps could be heard whining inside the ship. They would leave within minutes. Jason forced himself into a foot-dragging rush and met Kerk halfway to the ship. "I'm coming with you, Kerk. You owe me at least that much for finding them." Kerk hesitated, not liking the idea. "This is an operational mission," he said. "No room for observers, and the extra weight-- And it's too late to stop us Jason, you know that." "You Pyrrans are the worst liars in the universe," Jason said. "We both know that ship can lift ten times the amount it's carrying today. Now ... do you let me come, or forbid me without reason at all?" "Get aboard," Kerk said. "But keep out of the way or you'll get trampled." This time, with a definite destination ahead, the flight was much faster. Meta took the ship into the stratosphere, in a high ballistic arc that ended at the islands. Kerk was in the co-pilot's seat, Jason sat behind them where he could watch the screens. The landing party, twenty-five volunteers, were in the hold below with the weapons. All the screens in the ship were switched to the forward viewer  
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