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Chapter 2
They were flung off their feet again, this time backward along the boat. As they picked
themselves up, Seldar Glav was shaking his head, sadly. "That was the ship going up," he
said; "the blast must have caught us dead astern."
"All right." Kalvar Dard rubbed a bruised forehead. "Set course for Tareesh, then cut out
the jets till we're ready to land. And get the screens on, somebody; I want to see what's
The screens glowed; then full vision came on. The planet on which they would land
loomed huge before them, its north pole toward them, and its single satellite on the port
side. There was no sign of any rocket-boat in either side screen, and the rear-view screen
was a blur of yellow flame from the jets.
"Cut the jets, Glav," Dard repeated. "Didn't you hear me?"
"But I did, sir!" Seldar Glav indicated the firing-panel. Then he glanced at the rear-view
screen. "The gods help us! It's yellow flame; the jets are burning out!"
Kalvar Dard had not boasted idly when he had said that his people would not panic. All
the girls went white, and one or two gave low cries of consternation, but that was all.
"What happens next?" Analea wanted to know. "Do we blow, too?"
"Yes, as soon as the fuel-line burns up to the tanks."
"Can you land on Tareesh before then?" Dard asked.
"I can try. How about the satellite? It's closer."
"It's also airless. Look at it and see for yourself," Kalvar Dard advised. "Not enough mass
to hold an atmosphere."
Glav looked at the army officer with new respect. He had always been inclined to think
of the Frontier Guards as a gang of scientifically illiterate dirk-and-pistol bravos. He
fiddled for a while with instruments on the panel; an automatic computer figured the
distance to the planet, the boat's velocity, and the time needed for a landing.
"We have a chance, sir," he said. "I think I can set down in about thirty minutes; that
should give us about ten minutes to get clear of the boat, before she blows up."
"All right; get busy, girls," Kalvar Dard said. "Grab everything we'll need. Arms and
ammunition first; all of them you can find. After that, warm clothing, bedding, tools and