All-Powerful Gods

Again there was a period of intense labor, while the ship drifted through time, following Earth in its mad careening about the sun, and the sun as it rushed headlong through space. At the end of a thirty-day period, they had reached no definite position in their calculations, and the Talsonian reported, as a medium between the two parties of scientists, that the work of the Ortolian had not reached a level that would make a scientific understanding possible.

As the ship needed no replenishing, they determined to finish their present work before landing, and it was nearly forty thousand years after their first arrival that they again landed on Earth.

It was changed now; the ice caps had retreated visibly, the Nile delta was far longer, far more prominent, and cities showed on the Earth here and there.

Greece, they decided would be the next stop, and to Greece they went, landing on a mountain side. Below was a village, a small village, a small thing of huts and hovels. But the villagers attacked, swarming up the hillside furiously, shouting and shrieking warnings of their terrible prowess to these men who came from the “shining house,” ordering them to flee from them and turn over their possession to them.

“What’ll we do?” asked Morey. He and Arcot had come out alone this time.

“Take one of these fellows back with us, and question him. We had best get a more or less definite idea of what time-age we are in, hadn’t we? We don’t want to overshoot by a few centuries, you know!”

The villagers were swarming up the side of the hill, armed with weapons of bronze and wood. The bronze implements of murder were rare, and evidently costly, for those that had them were obviously leaders, and better dressed than the others.

“Hang it all, I have only a molecular pistol. Can’t use that, it would be a plain massacre!” exclaimed Arcot.

But suddenly several others, who had come up from one side, appeared from behind a rock. The scientists were wearing their power suits, and had them on at low power, leaving a weight of about fifty pounds. Morey, with his normal weight well over two hundred, jumped far to one side of a clumsy rush of a peasant, leaped back, and caught him from behind. Lifting the smaller man above his head, he hurled him at two others following. The three went down in a heap.

Most of the men were about five feet tall, and rather lightly built. The “Greek God” had not yet materialized among them. They were probably poorly fed, and heavily worked. Only the leaders appeared to be in good physical condition, and the men could not develop to large stature. Arcot and Morey were giants among them, and with their greater skill, tremendous jumping ability, and far greater strength, easily overcame the few who had come by the side. One of the leaders was picked up, and trussed quickly in a rope a fellow had carried.

“Look out,” called Wade from above. Suddenly he was standing beside them, having flown down on the power suit. “Caught your thoughts⁠—rather Zezdon Afthen did.” He handed Arcot a ray pistol. The rest of the Greeks were near now, crying in amazement, and running more slowly. They didn’t seem so anxious to attack. Arcot turned the ray pistol to one side.

“Wait!” called Morey. A face peered from around the rock toward which Arcot had aimed his pistol. It was that of a girl, about fifteen years old in appearance, but hard work had probably aged her face. Morey bent over, heaved on a small boulder, about two hundred pounds of rock, and rolled it free of the depression it rested in, then caught it on a molecular ray, hurled it up. Arcot turned his heat ray on it for an instant, and it was white hot. Then the molecular ray threw it over toward the great rock, and crushed it against it. Three children shrieked and ran out from the rock, scurrying down the hillside.

The soldiers had stopped. They looked at Morey. Then they looked at the great rock, three hundred yards from him. They looked at the rock fragments.

“They think you threw it,” grinned Arcot.

“What else⁠—they saw me pick it up, saw me roll it, and it flew. What else could they think?”

Arcot’s heat ray hissed out, and the rocks sputtered and cracked, then glowed white. There was a dull explosion, and chips of rock flew up. Water, imprisoned, had been turned into steam. In a moment the whistle and crackle of combined heat and molecular rays stabbing out from Arcot’s hands had built a barrier of fused rocks.

Leisurely Arcot and Morey carried their now revived prisoner back to the ship, while Wade flew ahead to open the locks.

Half an hour later the prisoner was discharged, much to his surprise, and the ship rose. They had been able to learn nothing from him. Even the Greek Gods, Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, all the later Greek gods, were unknown, or so greatly changed that Arcot could not recognize them.

“Well,” he said at length, “it seems all we know is that they came before any historical Greeks we know of. That puts them back quite a bit, but I don’t know how far. Shall we go see the Egyptians?”

They tried Egypt, a few moments across the Mediterranean, landing close to the mouth of the Nile. The people of a village near by immediately set out after them. Better prepared this time, Arcot flew out to meet them with Zezdon Afthen and Stel Felso Theu. Surely, he felt, the sight of the strange men would be no more terrifying than the ship or the men flying. And that did not seem to deter their attack. Apparently the proverb that “Discretion is the better part of valor,” had not been invented.

Arcot landed near the head of the column, and cut off two or three men from the rest with the aid of his ray pistol. Zezdon Afthen quickly searched his mind, and with Arcot’s aid they determined he did not know any of the Gods that Arcot suggested.

Finally they had to return to the ship, disappointed. They had had the slight satisfaction of finding that the Sun God was Ralz, the later Egyptian Ra might well have been an evolved form of that name.

They restocked the ship, fresh game and fruits again appearing on the menu, then once again they launched forth into space to wait for their own time.

“It seems to me that we must have produced some effect by our visit,” said Arcot, shaking his head solemnly.

“We did, Arcot,” replied Morey softly. “We left an impress in history, an impress that still is, and an impress that affected countless thousands.

“Meet the Egyptian Gods with their heads strange to terrestrians, the Gods who fly through the air without wings, come from a shining house that flies, whose look, whose pointed finger melts the desert sands, and the moist soil!” he continued softly, nodding toward the Ortolian and the Talsonian.

“Their ‘impossible’ Gods existed, and visited them. Indubitably some genius saw that here was a chance for fame and fortune and sold ‘charms’ against the ‘Gods.’ Result: we are carrying with us some of the oldest deities. Again, we did leave our imprint in history.”

“And,” cried Wade excitedly, “meet the great Hercules, who threw men about. I always knew that Morey was a brainless brute, but I never realized the marvelous divining powers of those Greeks so perfectly⁠—now, the Incarnation of Dumb Power!” Dramatically Wade pointed to Morey, unable even now to refrain from some unnecessary comments.

“All right, Mercury, the messenger of the Gods speaks. The little flaps on Wade’s flying shoes must indeed have looked like the winged shoes of legend. Wade was Mercury, too brainless for anything but carrying the words of wisdom uttered by others.

“And Arcot,” continued Morey, releasing Wade from his condescending stare, “is Jove, hurling the rockfusing, destroying thunderbolts!”

“The Gods that my friends have been talking of,” explained Arcot to the curious Ortolians, “are legendary deities of Earth. I can see now that we did leave an imprint on history in the only way we could⁠—as Gods, for surely no other explanation could have occurred to those men.”

The days passed swiftly in the ship, as their work approached completion. Finally, when the last of the equation of Time, artificial matter, and the most awful of their weapons, the unlimited Cosmic Power, had been calculated, they fell to the last stage of the work. The actual appliances were designed. Then the completed apparatus that the Ortolian and the Talsonian had been working on, was carefully investigated by the terrestrial physicists, and its mechanism studied. Arcot had great plans for this, and now it was incorporated in their control apparatus.

The one remaining problem was their exact location in time. Already their progress had brought them well up to the nineteenth century, but, as Morey sadly remarked, they couldn’t tell what date, for they were sadly lacking in history. Had they known the real date, for instance, of the famous battle of Bull Run, they could have watched it in the telectroscope, and so determined their time. As it was, they knew only that it was one of the periods of the first half of the decade of 1860.

“As historians, we’re a bunch of first-class kitchen mechanics. Looks like we’re due for another landing to locate the exact date,” agreed Arcot.

“Why land now? Let’s wait until we are nearer the time to which we belong, so we won’t have to watch so carefully and so long,” suggested Wade.

They argued this question for about two hundred years as a matter of fact. After that, it was academic anyway.