The Fall Of Nu-yok
: The Airlords Of Han
My position among the Hans, in this period, was a peculiar one. I was at
once a closely guarded prisoner and an honored guest. San-Lan told me
frankly that I would remain the latter only so long as I remained an
object of serious study or mental diversion to himself or his court. I
made bold to ask him what would be done with me when I ceased to be
"Naturally," he said, "you will be eliminated. What
else? It takes the
services of fifteen men altogether, to guard you; and men, you
understand, cannot be produced and developed in less than eighteen
years." He meditated frowningly for a moment. "That, by the way, is
something I must take up with the Birth and Educational Bureau. They
must develop some method of speeding growth, even at the cost of mental
development. With your wild forest men getting out of hand this way, we
are going to need greater resources of population, and need them badly.
"But," he continued more lightly, "there seems to be no need for you to
disturb yourself over the prospect at present. It is true you have been
able to resist our psychoanalysts and hypnotists, and so have no value
to us from the viewpoint of military information, but as a philosopher,
you have proved interesting indeed."
He broke off to give his attention to a gorgeously uniformed official
who suddenly appeared on the large viewplate that formed one wall of the
apartment. So perfectly did this mechanism operate, that the man might
have been in the room with us. He made a low obeisance, then rose to his
full height and looked at his ruler with malicious amusement.
"Heaven-Born," he said, "I have the exquisite pain of reporting bad
San-Lan gave him a scathing look. "It will be less unpleasant if I am
not distracted by the sight of you while you report."
At this the man disappeared, and the viewplate once more presented its
normal picture of the mountains north of Lo-Tan; but the voice
"Heaven-Born, the Nu-Yok fleet has been destroyed, the city is in ruins,
and the newly formed ground brigades, reduced to 10,000 men, have taken
refuge in the hills of Ron-Dak (the Adirondacks) where they are being
pressed hard by the tribesmen, who have surrounded them."
* * * * *
For an instant San-Lan sat as though paralyzed. Then he leaped to his
feet, facing the viewplate.
"Let me see you!" he snarled. Instantly the mountain view disappeared
and the Intelligence Officer appeared again, this time looking a little
"Where is Lui-Lok?" he shouted. "Cut him in on my north plate. The
commander who loses his city dies by torture. Cut him in. Cut him in!"
"Heaven-Born, Lui-Lok committed suicide. He leaped into a ray, when the
rockets of the tribesmen began to penetrate the ray-wall. Lip-Hung is in
command of the survivors. We have just had a message from him. We could
not understand all of it. Reception was very weak because he is
operating with emergency apparatus on Bah-Flo power. The Nu-Yok power
broadcast plant has been blown up. Lip-Hung begs for a rescue fleet."
San-Lan, his expression momentarily becoming more vicious, now was
striding up and down the room, while the poor wretch in the viewplate,
thoroughly scared at last, stood trembling.
"What!" shrieked the tyrant. "He begs a rescue. A rescue of what? Of
10,000 beaten men and nothing better than makeshift apparatus? No fleet?
No city? I give him and his 10,000 to the tribesmen! They are of no use
to us now! Get out! Vanish! No, wait! Have any of the beasts' rockets
penetrated the ray-walls of other cities?"
"No, Heaven-Born, no. It is only at Nu-Yok that the tribesmen used
rockets sheathed in the same mysterious substance they use on their
little aircraft and which cannot be disintegrated by the ray." (He meant
inertron, of course.)
San-Lan waved his hand in dismissal. The officer dissolved from view,
and the mountains once more appeared, as though the whole side of the
room were of glass.
More slowly he paced back and forth. He was the caged tiger now, his
face seamed with hate and the desperation of foreshadowed doom.
"Driven out into the hills," he muttered to himself. "Not more than
10,000 of them left. Hunted like beasts--and by the very beasts we
ourselves have hunted for centuries. Cursed be our ancestors for letting
a single one of the spawn live!" He shook his clenched hands above his
head. Then, suddenly remembering me, he turned and glared.
"Forest man, what have you to say?" he demanded.
Thus confronted, there stole over me that same detached feeling that
possessed me the day I had been made Boss of the Wyomings.
"It is the end of the Air Lords of Han," I said quietly. "For five
centuries command of the air has meant victory. But this is so no
longer. For more than three centuries your great, gleaming cities have
been impregnable in all their arrogant visibility. But that day is done
also. Victory returns once more to the ground, to men invisible in the
vast expanse of the forest which covers the ruins of the civilization
destroyed by your ancestors. Ye have sown destruction. Ye shall reap it!
"Your ancestors thought they had made mere beasts of the American race.
Physically you did reduce them to the state of beasts. But men do have
souls, San-Lan, and in their souls the Americans still cherished the
spark of manhood, of honor, of independence. While the Hans have
degenerated into a race of sleek, pampered beasts themselves, they have
unwittingly bred a race of super-men out of those they sought to make
animals. You have bred your own destruction. Your cities shall be
blasted from their foundations. Your air fleets shall be brought
crashing to earth. You have your choice of dying in the wreckage, or of
fleeing to the forests, there to be hunted down and killed as you have
sought to destroy us!"
And the ruler of all the Hans shrank back from my outstretched finger as
though it had been in truth the finger of doom.
But only for a moment. Suddenly he snarled and crouched as though to
spring at me with his bare hands. By a mighty convulsion of the will he
regained control of himself, however, and assumed a manner of quiet
dignity. He even smiled--a slow, crooked smile.
"No," he said, answering his own thought. "I will not have you killed
now. You shall live on, my honored guest, to see with your own eyes how
we shall exterminate your animal-brethren in their forests. With your
own ears you shall hear their dying shrieks. The cold science of Han is
superior to your spurious knowledge. We have been careless. To our cost
we have let you develop brains of a sort. But we are still superior. We
shall go down into the forests and meet you. We shall beat you in your
own element. When you have seen and heard this happen, my Council shall
devise for you a death by scientific torture, such as no man in the
history of the world has been honored with."
* * * * *
I must digress here a bit from my own personal adventures to explain
briefly how the fall of Nu-Yok came about, as I learned it afterward.
Upon my capture by the Hans, my wife, Wilma, courageously had assumed
command of my Gang, the Wyomings.
Boss Handan, of the Winslows, who was directing the American forces
investing Nu-Yok, contented himself for several weeks with maintaining
our lines, while waiting for the completion of the first supply of
inertron-jacketed rockets. At last they arrived with a limited quantity
of very high-powered atomic shells, a trifle over a hundred of them to
be exact. But this number, it was estimated, would be enough to reduce
the city to ruins. The rockets were distributed, and the day for the
final bombardment was set.
The Hans, however, upset Handan's plans by launching a ground expedition
up the west bank of the Hudson. Under cover of an air raid to the
southwest, in which the bulk of their ships took part, this ground
expedition shot northward in low-flying ships.
The raiding air fleet ploughed deep into our lines in their famous
"cloud-bank" formation, with down-playing disintegrator rays so
concentrated as to form a virtual curtain of destruction. It seared a
scar path a mile and a half wide fifteen miles into our territory.
Everyone of our rocket gunners caught in this section was annihilated.
Altogether we lost several hundred men and girls.
Gunners to each side of the raiding ships kept up a continuous fire on
them. Most of the rockets were disintegrated, for Handan would not
permit the use of the inertron rockets against the ships. But now and
then one found its way through the playing beams, hit a repeller ray and
was hurled up against a Han ship, bringing it crashing down.
The orders that Handan barked into his ultrophone were, of course, heard
by every long-gunner in the ring of American forces around the city, and
nearly all of them turned their fire on the Han airfleet, with the
exception of those equipped with the inertron rockets.
These latter held to the original target and promptly cut loose on the
city with a shower of destruction which the disintegrator-ray walls
could not stop. The results produced awe even in our own ranks.
* * * * *
Where an instant before had stood the high-flung masses and towers of
Nu-Yok, gleaming red, blue and gold in the brilliant sunlight, and
shimmering through the iridescence of the ray "wall," there was a
seething turmoil of gigantic explosions.
Surging billows of debris were hurled skyward on gigantic pulsations of
blinding light, to the detonations that shook men from their feet in
many sections of the American line seven and eight miles away.
As I have said, there were only some hundred of the inertron rockets
among the Americans, long and slender, to fit the ordinary guns, but the
atomic laboratories hidden beneath the forests, had outdone themselves
in their construction. Their release of atomic force was nearly 100 per
cent, and each one of them was equal to many hundred tons of
trinitrotoluol, which I had known in the First World War, five hundred
years before, as "T.N.T."
It was all over in a few seconds. Nu-Yok had ceased to exist, and the
waters of the bay and the rivers were pouring into the vast hole where a
moment before had been the rocky strata beneath lower Manhattan.
Naturally, with the destruction of the city's power-broadcasting plant
the Han air fleet had plunged to earth.
But the ships of the ground expedition up the river, hugging the tree
tops closely, had run the gauntlet of the American long-gunners who were
busily shooting at the other Han fleet, high in the air to the
southwest, and about half of them had landed before their ships were
robbed of their power. The other half crashed, taking some 10,000 or
12,000 Han troops to destruction with them. But from those which had
landed safely, emerged the 10,000 who now were the sole survivors of
the city, and who took refuge in wooded fastnesses of the Adirondacks.
* * * * *
The Americans with their immensely greater mobility, due to their
jumping belts and their familiarity with the forest, had them ringed in
within twenty-four hours.
But owing to the speed of the maneuvers, the lines were not as tightly
drawn as they might have been, and there was considerable scattering of
both American and Han units. The Hans could make only the weakest
short-range use of their newly developed disintegrator-ray field units,
since they had only distant sources of power-broadcast on which to draw.
On the other hand, the Americans could use their explosive rockets only
sparingly for fear of hitting one another.
So the battle was finished in a series of desperate hand-to-hand
encounters in the ravines and mountain slopes of the district.
The Mifflins and Altoonas, themselves from rocky, mountainous sections,
gave a splendid account of themselves in this fighting, leaping to the
craggy slopes above the Hans, and driving them down into the ravines,
where they could safely concentrate on them the fire of depressed rocket
The Susquannas, with their great inertron shields, which served them
well against the weak rays of the Hans, pressed forward irresistibly
every time they made a contact with a Han unit, their short-range rocket
guns sending a hail of explosive destruction before them.
But the Delawares, with their smaller shields, inertron leg-guards and
helmets, and their ax-guns, made faster work of it. They would rush the
Hans, shooting from their shields as they closed in, and finish the
business with their ax-blades and the small rocket guns that formed the
handles of their axes.
It was my own unit of Wyomings, equipped with bayonet guns not unlike
the rifles of the First World War, that took the most terrible toll from
They advanced at the double, laying a continuous barrage before them as
they ran, closing with the enemy in great leaps, cutting, thrusting and
slicing with those terrible double-ended weapons in a vicious efficiency
against which the Hans with their swords, knives and spears were utterly
And so my prediction that the war would develop hand-to-hand fighting
was verified at the outset.
None of the details of this battle of the Ron-Daks were ever known in
Lo-Tan. Not more than the barest outlines of the destruction of the
survivors of Nu-Yok were ever received by San-Lan and his Council. And
of course, at that time I knew no more about it than they did.