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.’Koenig frowned.He knew the theory of reversed atomic electronic charges—a state in which the proton held a negative, not positive charge as was usual in normal matter.‘Anti-matter,’ he said.‘If it comes into contact with ordinary matter the result would be an explosion of tremendous magnitude.’‘Theoretically, yes,’ admitted Bergman.‘But Feldon found there was an intermediate state in which there was a literal cancelling out.The energy released was high, but not in the anticipated order of magnitude which had been predicted.The things which worries me is that the samples I took from Russell seem to be following that pattern.It is almost as if the force which had held them in normal form are now dissipating and allowing them to revert.If the reversed polarity should progress to a point where it is in direct opposition to ordinary matter—John, could that be what he was trying to warn us about?’‘Terra Nova made of anti-matter? Impossible.’‘So is a dead man appearing within a closed ship,’ reminded Bergman.‘Lee Russell wasn’t a man and we both know it.’ Koenig was impatient.‘And the planet can’t be made of anti-matter or the Eagle which landed would have been immediately destroyed.It wasn’t.Parks and Bannion both went outside.They took samples.Be logical, Victor, could that have happened if what you suspect is true?’‘No, John, I admit it couldn’t.’ Bergman moved around his laboratory, touching a piece of equipment, a plan.Without looking at Koenig he said, ‘Maybe you had better wait before sending down the preliminary team.’‘Wait?’‘Until we are certain nothing is wrong down there.Lee worried me and I’ll admit it.He—’‘Lee Russell wasn’t a man.’‘It then, does it matter?’ Bergman turned, his face serious.‘Why did it appear, John? Let’s think about it.What did he do—let’s call it he, it’s easier.What purpose could there have been behind the whole incident?’‘Life needs no purpose other than the need to survive.’‘True, but in that he failed.He gave us a warning and then simply died.Died or went away or did what he had to do.The warning, John.Remember the warning.’‘Stay away,’ snapped Koenig harshly.‘That isn’t a warning, it’s a threat.Maybe whatever is down there doesn’t want visitors.They must have seen us and could have sent Lee to frighten us off.’‘You can’t be sure of that.’‘I’m only sure of one thing, Victor.Unless we make a move soon we’ll lose our chance of a new world.I don’t intend to lose that chance.The preliminary team is going down.’‘But—’‘Going down,’ repeated Koenig firmly.‘I want to leave within the hour.’Reconnaissance had been busy, the Eagle had been checked, loaded and was ready to go.Morrow approached Koenig as he came from his office.‘Commander, you’ll need a crew.’The least of his worries—everyone in the base was eager to get a first-hand glimpse of the new world.Koenig smiled, anticipating the request.‘You’re booked, Paul.Carter will be the pilot.Who do you suggest we take as analyst?’‘Sandra Benes, Commander.’Sandra, naturally, and Koenig could guess why.For a moment he kept him waiting, then nodded.‘See that she’s briefed.Doctor Russell will complete the team and I’ll be going with you.Check equipment and arms.’‘Arms?’‘Laser pistols—we don’t know what we may run into down there.Are you still sure you want to take Sandra?’‘I’m sure—I mean, yes, sir.’Helena was just as eager.She came in answer to him.‘No, John, I’ll go.I’d like to see what’s down there.Lee—I’d just like to go.’To see what he had seen, to walk where he could have walked, to breathe the same air, to catch the same smells.Despite her previous acceptance of his death memory lingered and, perhaps, a vestige of hope also.It would die, Koenig was sure of it, but it would take a little time.And time was running out.‘Commander, you have ten minutes to lift-off.’ Kano’s face was anxious on the commlock screen.‘And you won’t be able to stay long if you decide to evacuate.Operation Exodus is pretty tightly confirmed.In a few hours we’ll be moving away from Terra Nova.’‘Understood.’‘Yes, well.good luck, sir.’Bergman made contact with less than a minute to go.His face looked from the screen facing the control chairs in the command module.A worried face, anxious, a little baffled.‘John, something odd’s just happened.Russell’s body has vanished.’‘What?’‘Vanished, John, disappeared.Mathias was just getting down to the autopsy when it happened.He was flung across the room by some form of electrical discharge.That condition I spoke about, it could have peaked.’From where he sat Carter said, flatly, ‘Sixteen seconds, Commander.’‘John, abort the mission.’‘On what grounds?’‘You’re heading into the unknown.Russell’s warning could have been genuine.His condition—if there is anti-matter down there you’ll all be wiped out.’‘Ten seconds, Commander.’‘We’ve been through all that, Victor.I’ve made my decision.’‘Three seconds, Commander.Do you want me to hold?’‘No, Alan.’ Koenig glanced at the pilot.‘Take us down.’CHAPTER EIGHTThe planet was beautiful.A world of which men had dreamed and written and sung, setting the concept like a jewel in mighty sagas, placing it at the heart of religion, making it the stuff of legends.Paradise, Avalon, Hesperus, Arcadia, the Elysian Fields.the old yearning for a place in which there would be nothing but loveliness forever.Terra Nova had answered that need.Koenig stood before the open port of the Eagle and filled his lungs with air which held the scent of perfume, watching a bird with plumage like the fires of dawn, treading on grass which sank beneath his feet like a cushion.Before him trees soared like the columns of a cathedral, their tops tufted with delicate fronds, the boles scaled and shimmering.On one side of the clearing in which they had landed rocks rose in smooth rotundity, backed by the haze of distant mountains.On the other topping a low crest a mass of shrubbery bore star-like flowers.‘It’s beautiful!’ Helena stared around, her eyes entranced.‘John! If we could only stay here!’Koenig gestured towards the rocks, the distant mountains [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]