by ROBERT MOORE WILLIAMS
A Division of A. A. Wyn, Inc.
23 West 47th Street, New York 36, N. Y.
Copyright 1957, by A. A. Wyn, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Printed in U. S. A.
[Transcriber's Note: Extensive research did not uncover any evidence
that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
SPLIT-SECOND RACE WITH WORLD'S END!
In the midst of the war—that terrible conflict that threatened humanity's total destruction—the "new people" suddenly appeared. Quietly performing incredible deeds, vanishing at will, they were an enigma to both sides. Kurt Zen was an American intelligence officer among the many sent to root them out.
He found them. Taken captive in their hidden lair, he waited as the enemy prepared to launch the super missile, the bomb to end all bombs—and all life.
If only he could find the source of the new people's power, Kurt alone might be able to prevent obliteration of the Earth....
CAST OF CHARACTERS
His loyalty was greater than his love.
She might be a "new" person—but she had old emotions.
He pitted Oriental cunning against Western ingenuity.
He wouldn't use his strange powers to help his friends or hurt his enemies.
He was either a legend or a lunatic.
His rescue was a miracle—though they called it a myth.
The legends clustering around the new people began before the war, while the man who started the group, old Jal Jonnor, was alive, but they received their greatest circulation during the conflict.
If the war is long and the fighting is bitter, with neither side able to achieve victory or even a substantial advantage, soldiers eventually begin to tell strange stories of sights seen when death is near, of miraculous deliveries from destruction, of impossible ships seen above the Earth, and even of non-human allies fighting on their side. Psychologists, given to believing only what they can see, feel, hear, or measure, generally have credited these stories to hallucinations resulting from long-sustained stress, or, in the case of the non-human allies, to plain, wishful thinking rising out of a deep feeling of insecurity. What psychologist was ever willing to believe that an angel suddenly took over the controls of a falling fighting plane, righting the ship and bringing it down to Earth in a crash landing that enabled the wounded pilot to crawl away, then curing the wound the pilot had sustained?
Red-Dog Jimmie Thurman swore this happened to him. He had tangled with an Asian fighter group escorting a hot, high level bomber over the north pole. This was in the early days of the war when such bombers still slipped through the defenses occasionally. Red-Dog Jimmie Thurman had got one of the fighters with a single burst from his guns and was pushing his jet straight up at the soft belly of the bomber far overhead when a shell, from an Asian fighter that he had not seen, knocked off half of his right wing. A fragment of the exploding shell hit him in the right shoulder, mangling the flesh and the bone.
Spinning like a leaf being whirled over and over in a hurricane, the plane started the long plunge downward toward the polar ice cap below. Jimmie couldn't work the seat ejection mechanism because of his broken arm.
Just before the ship crashed, he realized that someone else was in the cockpit with him, fighting to take over the controls. Since Jimmie was still in the seat, this was not easy, but somehow the other one had managed, not only to take over the controls, but had been able to bring the ship down in a crash landing. The other one pulled Jimmie out of the burning wreck. Then, discovering Jimmie's broken, mangled shoulder, "it" had cured it.
At least this was the story Red-Dog Jimmie Thurman had told after a helicopter had picked him up and had taken him back to his base. He was very stubborn about it, defiantly insisting that someone else had brought the plane down. The only conclusion Jimmie had been able to reach about the other one in the cockpit with him—he did not know whether it was male or female—was that it had been one of the new people.
When the psychos had asked him how another human being could have gotten into a falling plane while it was still thousands of feet in the air, Jimmie had had no answer, except to point out that since the new people were apparently able to accomplish feats beyond the power of an ordinary mortal, they were probably not human.
This comment had marked him as permanently unfit for flight duty. Jimmie began to grieve his heart out at this, for he had really loved flying. Then he began to wonder why the new people—presuming they existed—would save his life at the cost of his sanity. He went over the hill a year later.
With Spike Larson it was different. Larson was the commander of an atomic-powered submarine operating