Some time later, Arcot spoke. “I have just received a message from Zezdon Fentes that he has an important communication to make, so I will go down to New York instead of to Chicago, if you gentlemen do not mind. Morey will take you to Chicago in the tender, and I can find Zezdon Fentes.”

Zezdon Fentes’ message was brief. He had discovered from the minds of several who had been killed by the magnetic field Arcot had used, and not destroyed, that they had a base in this universe. Thett’s base was somewhere near the center of the galaxy, on a system of unusually large planets, circling a rather small star. But what star their minds had not revealed.

“It’s up to us then to locate said star,” said Arcot, after listening to Zezdon Fentes’ account: “I think the easiest way will be to follow them home. We can go to your world, Zezdon Fentes, and see what they are doing there, and drive them off. Then to yours, Stel Felso. I place your world second as it is far better able to defend itself than is Ortol. It is agreeable?”

It was, and the ship which had been hanging in the atmosphere over New York, where Zezdon Afthen, Fentes and Inthel had come to it in a taxi-ship, signaled for the crowd to clear away above. The enormous bulk of the shining machine, the savior of Earth, had attracted a very great amount of attention, naturally, and thousands on thousands of hardy souls had braved the cold of the fifteen mile height with altitude suits or in small ships. Now they cleared away, and as the ship slowly rose, the tremendous concentrated mental well-wishing of the thousands reached the men within the ship. “That,” observed Morley, “is one thing cosmium won’t stop. In some ways I wish it would⁠—because the mental power that could be wielded by any great number of those highly advanced Thessians, if they know its possibilities, is not a thing to neglect.”

“I can answer that, terrestrian,” thought Zezdon Afthen. “Our instruments show great mental powers, and great ability to concentrate the will in mental processes, but they indicate a very slight development of these abilities. Our race, despite the fact that our mental powers are much less than those of such men as Arcot and yourself, have done, and can do many things your greater minds cannot, for we have learned the direction of the will. We need not fear the will of the Thessians. I feel confident of that!”

The ship was in space now, and as Arcot directed it toward Ortol, far far across the Island, he threw on, for the moment, the combined power of space distortion and time fields. Instantly the sun vanished, and when, less than a second later, he cut off the space field, and left only the time, the constellations were instantly recognizable. They were within a dozen light years of Ortol.

“Morey, may I ask what you call this machine?” asked Torlos.

“You may, but I can’t answer,” laughed Morey. “We were so anxious to get it going that we didn’t name it. Any suggestions?”

For a moment none of them made any suggestions, then slowly came Arcot’s thoughts, clear and sharp, the thoughts of carefully weighed decision.

“The swiftest thing that ever was Thought! The most irresistible thing, thought, for nothing can stop its progress. The most destructive thing, thought. Thought, the greatest constructor, the greatest destroyer, the product of mind, and producer of powers, the greatest of powers. Thought is controlled by the mind. Let us call it Thought!”

“Excellent, Arcot, excellent. The Thought, the controller of the powers of the cosmos!” cried Morey.

“But the Thought has not been christened, save in battle, and then it had no name. Let us emblazen its name on it now,” suggested Wade.

Stopping their motion through space, but maintaining a time field that permitted them to work without consuming precious time, Arcot formed some more cosmium, but now he subjected it to a special type of converted field, and into the cosmium, he forced some light photons, half bound, half free. The fixture he formed into the letters, and welded forever on the gigantic prow of the ship, and on its huge sides. Thought, it stood in letters ten feet high, made of clear transparent cosmium, and the golden light photons, imprisoned in it, the slowly disintegrating lux metal, would cause those letters to shine for countless aeons with the steady golden light they now had.

The Thought continued on now, and as they slowed their progress for Ortol, they saw that messengers of Thett had barely arrived. The fort here too had been razed to the ground, and now they were concentrating over the largest city of Ortol. Their rays were beating down on the great ray screen that terrestrial engineers had set up, protecting the city, as Earth had been protected. But the fleet that stood guard was small, and was rapidly being destroyed. A fort broke free, and plunged at last for the ray screen. Its relux walls glowed a thousand colors as the tremendous energy of the ray-screen struck them⁠—but it was through!

A molecular ray reached down for the city⁠—and stopped halfway in a tremendous coruscating burst of light and energy. Yet there was none of the sheen of the ray screen. Merely light.

The fort was still driving downward. Then suddenly it stopped, and the side dented in like the side of a can someone has stepped on, and it came to sudden rest against an invisible, impenetrable barrier. A molecular reached down from somewhere in space, hit the ray screen of Ortol, which the Thessians had attacked for hours, and the screen flashed into sudden brilliance, and disappeared. The ray struck the Thessian fort, and the fort burst into tremendous opalescence, while the invisible barrier the ray had struck was suddenly a great sheet of flaming light. In less than half a second the opalescence was gone, the fort shuddered, and shrieked out of the planet’s atmosphere, a mass of lux now, and susceptible to the moleculars. And everything that lived within that fort had died instantly and painlessly.

The fleet which had been preparing to follow the leading fort was suddenly stopped; it halted indecisively.

Then the Thought became visible as its great golden letters showed suddenly, streaking up from distant space. Every ship turned cosmic and moleculars on it. The cosmic rebounded from the cosmium walls, and from the artificial matter that protected the eyes. The moleculars did not affect either, but the invisible protective sheet that the Thought was maintaining in the Ortolian atmosphere became misty as it fought the slight molecular rebounds.

The Thought went into action. The fort which remained was the point of attack. The fort had turned its destructive ray on the cosmium ship with the result that, as before, the cosmium slowly disintegrated into puffs of cosmic rays. The vapor seemed to boil out, puff suddenly, then was gone. Arcot put up a wall of artificial matter to test the effect. The ray went right through the matter, without so much as affecting it. He tried a sheet of pure energy, an electromagnetic energy stream of tremendous power. The ray bent sharply to one side. But in a moment the Thessians had realigned it.

“It’s a photonic stream, but of some type that doesn’t affect ordinary matter, but only artificial matter such as lux, relux, or cosmium. If the artificial matter would only fight it, I’d be all right.” The thought running through Arcot’s mind reached the others.

A tremendous burst of light energy to the rear announced the fact that a Thessian had crashed against the artificial matter wall that surrounded the ship. Arcot was throwing the Thessian destructive beam from side to side now, and twice succeeded in misdirecting it so that it hit the enemy machines.

The Thought sent out its terrific beam of magnetic energy. The ray was suddenly killed, and the fort cruised helplessly on. Its driving apparatus was dead. The diffused cosmic reached out, and as the magnetic field, the relux and the cosmics interacted, the great fort was suddenly blue-white⁠—then instantly a dust that scattered before an enormous blast of air.

From the Thought a great shell of artificial matter went, a visible, misty wall, that curled forward, and wrapped itself around the Thessian ships with a motion of tremendous speed, yet deceptive, for it seemed to billow and flow.

A Thessian warship decided to brush it away⁠—and plowed into inconceivable strength. The ship crumpled to a mass of broken relux.

The greater part of the Thessian fleet had already fled, but there remained half a hundred great battleships. And now, within half a million miles of the planet, there began a battle so weird that astronomers who watched could not believe it.

From behind the Thought, where it hung motionless beyond the misty wall, a Thing came.

The Thessian ships had realized now that the misty sphere that walled them in was impenetrable, and their rays were off, for none they now had would penetrate it. The forts were gone.

But the Thing that came behind the Thought was a ship, a little ship of the same misty white, and it flowed into, and through the wall, and was within their prison. The Thessian ships turned their rays toward it, and waited. What was this thing?

The ovaloid ship which drifted so slowly toward them suddenly seemed to jerk, and from it reached pseudopods! An amoeba on a titanic scale! It writhed its way purposefully toward the nearest ship, and while that ship waited, a pseudopod reached out, and suddenly drove through the four foot relux armor! A second pseudopod followed with lightning rapidity, and in an instant the ship had been split from end to end!

Now a hundred rays were leaping toward the thing, and the rays burst into fire and gouts of light, blackened, burned pseudopods seemed to fall from the thing and hastily it retreated from the enclosure, flowing once more through the wall that stopped their rays.

But another Thing came. It was enormous, a mile long, a great, shining scaly thing, a dragon, and on its mighty neck was mounted an enormous, distorted head, with great flat nose and huge flapping nostrils. It was a Thessian head! The mouth, fifty feet across, wrinkled into an horrific grin, and broken, stained teeth of iron showed in the mouth. Great talons upraised, it rent the misty wall that bound them, and writhed its awful length in. The swish of its scales seemed to come to the watchers, as it chased after a great battleship whose pilot fled in terror. Faster than the mighty spaceship the awful Thing caught it in mighty talons that ripped through solid relux. Scratching, fluttering enormous, blood-red wings, the silvery claws tore away great masses of relux, sending them flying into space.

Again rays struck at it. Cosmic and moleculars with blinding pencils of light. For now in the close space of the Wall was an atmosphere, the air of two great warships, and though the space was great, the air in the ships was dense.

The rays struck its awful face. The face burst into light, and black, greasy smoke steamed up, as the thing writhed and twisted horribly, awful screams ringing out. Then it was free, and half the face was burned away, and a grinning, bleeding, half-cooked face writhed and screamed in anger at them. It darted at the nearest ship, and ripped out that ray that burned it⁠—and quivered into death. It quivered, then quickly faded into mist, a haze, and was gone!

A last awful thing⁠—a thing they had not noticed as all eyes watched that Thing⁠—was standing by the rent in the Sphere now, the gigantic Thessian, with leering, bestial jaws, enormous, squat limbs, the webbed fingers and toes, and the heavy torso of his race, grinning at them. In one hand was a thing⁠—and his jaws munched. Thett’s men stared in horror as they recognized that thing in his hand⁠—a Thessian body! He grinned happily and reached for a battleship⁠—a ray burned him. He howled, and leaped into their midst.

Then the Thessians went mad. All fought, and they fought each other, rays of all sorts, their moleculars and their cosmics, while in their midst the Giant howled his glee, and laughed and laughed⁠—

Eventually it was over, and the last limping Thessian ship drove itself crazily against the wreck of its last enemy. And only wreckage was left.

“Lord, Arcot! Why in the Universe did you do that⁠—and how did you conceive those horrors?” asked Morey, more than a little amazed at the tactics Arcot had displayed.

Arcot shook himself, and disconnected his controls. “Why⁠—why I don’t know. I don’t know what made me do that, I’m sure. I never imagined anything like that dragon thing⁠—how did⁠—”

His keen eyes fixed themselves suddenly on Zezdon Fentes, and their tremendous hypnotic power beat down the resistance of the Ortolian’s trained mind. Arcot’s mind opened for the others the thoughts of Zezdon Fentes.

He had acted as a medium between the minds of the Thessians, and Arcot. Taking the horror-ideas of the Thessians, he had imprinted them on Arcot’s mind while Arcot was at work with the controls. In Arcot’s mind, they had acted exactly as had the ideas that night on Earth, only here the demonstration had been carried to the limit, and the horror ideas were compounded to the utmost. The Thessians, highly developed minds though they were, were not resistant and they had broken. The Allies, with their different horror-ideas, had been but slightly affected.

“We will leave you on Ortol, Zezdon Fentes. We know you have done much, and perhaps your own mind has given a bit. We hope you recover. I think you agree with me, Zezdon Afthen and Inthel?” thought Arcot.

“We do, heartily, and are heartily sorry that one of our race has acted in this way. Let us proceed to Talso, as soon as possible. You might send Fentes down in a shell of artificial matter,” suggested Zezdon Afthen.

“Which,” said Arcot, after this had been done, and they were on their way to Talso, “shows the danger of a mad Thought!”