Hidden on the shore, Craig and his men watched the looting of the Idaho. Th_lanes of the Ogrum were still wheeling overhead. Dozens had alighted on th_ater around the doomed ship and the Ogrum were climbing aboard. Craig saw ho_he ship had been taken. Gas! Trails of thin white mist still floated aroun_he vessel. The diving planes had sprayed some kind of gas on the ship. It wa_bviously some kind of vapor different from any known in the far-off Twentiet_entury but equally obviously it was devilishly effective. Guru verified th_act that gas had been used.
"White cloud makes sleep, Guru says," Michaelson supplied.
Before the sleep had come, the guns of the Idaho had taken a toll of th_ttackers, as wrecked planes on the water testified. Craig saw the pilot o_ne of the planes, obviously wounded, signal to the other Ogrum to help him.
His flier was sinking and he was unable to swim. His comrades completel_gnored his cries for help. The plane sank and the Ogrum pilot, after vainl_ttempting to swim, went under too. There were planes near that could hav_escued him and certainly some of the Ogrum saw him, but they made no attemp_o help.
"Devils!" Craig said huskily. "They're devils. They don't even take care o_heir own wounded comrades."
"If they treat their own men that way, what will they do to their captives?"
Craig could only stare at him in horror.
"Ask him," he jerked a finger toward Guru, "if the gas _kills_ the peopl_ho inhale it."
The scientist put the question. Guru, squatting on his haunches, answere_lowly.
"He says they are only asleep, that after awhile they will wake up,"
"God!" Craig groaned. "I was afraid of that. Ask him what the Ogrum will d_ith their captives?"
Again the scientist questioned the dawn man.
"He says the Ogrum will take them to their city and feed them to the whit_east that is always hungry."
Craig said nothing. He turned and looked at the Idaho. The skin was draw_ight across his face and knots were bulging at the corners of his jaws. H_ould see the Ogrum dancing on the decks. They looked something like human_xcept that their bodies were distorted, out of proportion. One was tall an_ery skinny. Another was short and fat. A third had one long arm and one shor_rm. Another had a long body and two very short legs. Just looking at them, h_ated them.
"Damn you," he whispered. "Damn you—"
Something touched his arm. He turned and saw that Guru had risen to his feet.
The dawn man, a look of sympathy on his face, was awkwardly trying to pat hi_n the shoulder.
"Guru is trying to tell you that he is sorry," Michaelson said.
"Thanks," Craig said chokingly. "We—we're not licked yet."
In his heart, he knew that he was whistling to keep up his own courage when h_aid they weren't licked. If the Ogrum could conquer the Idaho, what could _andful of sailors do against them? True, there were several exploring partie_shore, but all of them did not total fifty men.
What chance had fifty men against the might of the Ogrum? Fifty men armed wit_ub-machine guns when there had been more than a thousand men on the Idaho, armed with anti-aircraft cannons!
From the shore, Craig and his companions watched the Ogrum loot the ship.
Oddly, they were not interested in any of the fittings of the mighty vessel.
The loot that interested them was—men! They brought in large, cargo carryin_lanes, powered by the same weirdly silent motors, moored them in the wate_eside the ship, then one by one carried the sleep-stricken members of th_rew to the side and dumped them into the cargo planes. Craig thought he sa_hem drop Margy Sharp into one of the planes. He sat silently cursing, fist_lenched. Several times the Ogrum missing connections in loading the carg_lanes, with the result that the unconscious human fell into the sea. Th_grum made no attempt to rescue the fallen men but let them float away in th_urrent flowing from the river. Triangular fins tore through the water towar_hese helpless floaters.
"What the Ogrum miss, the sharks get!" Craig said fiercely. Blood was flowin_own his chin from his bitten lips. The sailors with him were white-faced an_rimly silent. Michaelson, after watching the scene for a few minutes, turne_bruptly and walked a few feet along the shore. They could hear him bein_ick.
One by one the loaded cargo planes took off, carrying their loads of helples_uman freight. The fighter planes buzzed after them. The Idaho was lef_eserted. Either the Ogrum had not known there were men ashore or were not a_resent interested in them.
The sun was low in the west before Craig dared to venture back to the Idaho.
The other exploring parties, who had been watching from hidden spots along th_hore, joined him. Silently the little boats moved toward the bulk of th_eserted battle wagon.
The gas had long since disappeared from the ship. By sun-down, Craig knew th_hole story.
About two hundred men, caught in the lower parts of the ship by the attack an_rotected from the full effects of the gas by doors, were reviving. Most o_hem were too deathly sick to be of any immediate use. Mrs. Miller and he_aby had been found hidden in the hospital bay, safe but sick.
Captain Higgins had not been found.
Margy Sharp had not been found.
One man had been dragged, trembling, from the lowest hold where he had take_efuge—Voronoff.
On the main deck, Craig held a conference with Michaelson and Guru. Th_nswers to the questions he asked left him with a grim look on his face. H_alled the sailors together.
"I have been talking to Guru," he said. "Guru tells me that the city of th_grum is not far from here. He says we can reach it tonight, if we go by land, and if we use the big logs that float—by which he means our power boats—we ca_each it by midnight."
He paused and looked expectantly at the sailors. A little stir ran throug_hem. They instantly grasped what he was driving at.
"Moreover," he continued, "Guru tells me that the city is usually unguarded, that the Ogrum do not bother to post sentries."
Craig watched the men closely. There was hard, bitter resentment on thei_aces. They had seen their comrades carted away like so many sticks of wood t_ome unguessed fate. All they wanted was a chance to rescue their friends, o_ailing in that, to avenge them.
Craig wasted few words. "I am going to the city of the Ogrum," he said. "Al_f you who want to go with me, step forward."
The fierce shout that answered him told him all he wanted to know. The blue- jackets were with him. Only one man failed to step forward. It was Voronoff.
Craig eyed him.
"What about you, Voronoff?" he said.
"Don't be a damned fool!" Voronoff spat out the words. "We don't have _hance."
"No! The Ogrum have planes and gas and everything else. If we jump them, they'll mow us down."
"What would you recommend that we do?" Craig asked. His voice was soft an_here was a worried expression on his face. He looked like a man who is face_ith a tough problem and is weighing all the possibilities before decidin_hat to do.
"There is only one thing to do," Voronoff snapped. "Get to hell away from her_s fast as we can. Hide in the jungle. Maybe the Ogrum don't know there ar_ny of us left alive. If we jump them, they'll know we're alive and they'l_lean us out."
"Hmmm," Craig said thoughtfully. "You've probably got something there. Bu_hat about the men the Ogrum have captured?"
Voronoff shrugged indifferently. "They're done for," he said. "We can't hel_hat happens to them."
A low growl came from the mass of sailors as Voronoff spoke.
"I suppose we really can't help what happens to them," Craig said. "But I, fo_ne am going to try to help it. We need every able-bodied man we have. Tha_ncludes you, Voronoff. Are you going with us or aren't you?"
Craig's voice was still soft and pleasant. Voronoff completely misinterprete_t.
"Include me out!" he snapped. "I'm not going."
"No! You can't make me volunteer if I don't want to."
"But we need you, Voronoff," Craig pleaded. "We need all the strength we ca_uster."
"You can go to hell!" Voronoff said sullenly.
"You won't go?"
"I won't go!"
Craig glanced over the side of the ship. Dusk had already fallen but there wa_till enough light for him to see the triangular fins cutting the surface. H_odded toward the water. "Either you go with us, Voronoff," he said evenly,
"Or I, personally, am going to throw you overboard."
Voronoff looked like a man who did not believe his own ears. A low growl o_pproval came from the sailors. They remembered how they had found this ma_iding in the lowest depths of the ship when they had come aboard. While thei_idnapped comrades had fought, he had gone to hide.
"You—you don't mean it," Voronoff whispered.
"I never meant anything more," Craig answered. "We can't have any slacker_ere. Either you go with us or you go overboard and take your chances o_wimming ashore."
His voice was hard and flat and there was not the slightest trace of sympath_n it. There was no mistaking his meaning. Voronoff turned pale. He looke_uickly around as though seeking a place to hide.
"You've got no hole to pull in after you now," Craig said. "What is you_nswer."
Voronoff gulped. "I'll—I'll go with you," he said.
"Good," Craig said. He gave swift orders for the preparation of the attackin_arty. The sailors scurried to do his bidding. He was aware that Michaelso_as plucking at his sleeve.
"Weren't you being rather hard on him?" the scientist questioned.
"Maybe," Craig answered. "The truth is, I don't like him. There is somethin_urtive about him. He impresses me as being pretty much of a rat. Besides, w_eed every man we can get."
"I know we do," Michaelson said slowly. "But would you honestly have throw_im overboard if he had refused to go?"
Craig shrugged. "Don't ask me such questions. I don't know the answers. Mayb_ would and maybe I wouldn't."
"I see," the scientist smiled. "You're a hard man, Craig. All I can say i_hat in this situation we need a hard man and I'm glad we have you to lea_s."
"Thank you," Craig said.
Hours later Craig stood on the side of a mountain looking down at a_ncredible scene. Guru, by devious paths known only to the dawn man, ha_uided them here. Below them lay the city of the Ogrum.
The city was located on the edge of a huge, circular bay that had apparentl_t some time in the remote past been the crater of a large volcano. To th_ast where the walls of the volcano had crumbled down was a vast swamp, _avorite feeding ground for the dinosaurs. Hundreds of the great beasts coul_e heard screaming and fighting in the swamp.
The city itself held Craig's eyes.
He had seen the Ogrum in airplanes, he had seen them use gas, both of whic_eant an advanced civilization, with a great knowledge of technology. He ha_xpected to find a city bright with lights, numbering hundreds of thousands o_nhabitants, with large factories, broad streets, and—since they use_lanes—landing fields.
None of these things was visible. The city of the Ogrum was unlighted. Ther_ere no wide streets, no factories in sight. There was only one large buildin_n the city, and the buildings which apparently served as homes for the Ogru_ere little better than crude huts. There was a brilliant full moon overhead, clearly revealing the whole scene.
"It's not possible!" Craig whispered to Michaelson. "This can't be the city o_he Ogrum. Guru brought us to the wrong place."
The scientist questioned Guru. Craig could hear the dawn man's replies.
"Guru says this is the right place," Michaelson spoke. "He says this is th_ity of the Ogrum, that there is no other city."
"But with the exception of that temple, this place is a dump!" Crai_rotested. "I have seen Papuan head-hunters who had built more pretentiou_ities than this. The Ogrum have planes. You can't build planes without _omplex industrial system."
"It is certainly strange," the scientist said musingly. "But Guru insists thi_s the place and I am inclined to believe him. You will note also that th_ity below us is not laid out in streets and I see no evidence of a lightin_ystem."
"Maybe they've got a black-out on," a sailor suggested.
Guru, consulted on this point, said no, the city of the Ogrum was always dar_t night. Guru had a great deal of difficulty in understanding what was mean_y light, but once he grasped the idea, he insisted the Ogrum never use_ights.
"Well, it's a damned mystery," Craig said. "And I'm going down there and fin_ut about it. Guru, come with me."
Craig had spent the hours in the boats trying to grasp the language of th_awn man. He still did not understand Guru as well as Michaelson did but h_ould understand enough for his purpose.
"Just the two of you going down there?" Michaelson questioned.
"Yes. Any more would only increase the chances of discovery. We've got to kno_he lay of the land and we've got to have some idea of what we will meet dow_here before we attempt a rescue. We probably will not be able to make a_ttack before tomorrow night anyhow."
After disposing his force and ordering them to get as much rest as possible, Craig and Guru started down to the city of the Ogrum. Michaelson had to b_estrained from accompanying them.
"You stay here," Craig bluntly told the scientist. "You're not as young as _m and you need a rest."
Overhead was a broad tropic moon. There was no wind. From the great swamp cam_he only sound that broke the silence of the night, the scream of th_inosaurs, the roaring of the great lions of this time. Below lay the strang_ity of the Ogrum.
Craig felt the weirdness of the scene as he and Guru started down the side o_he mountain. What kind of creatures were the Ogrum? What secret lay behin_heir existence? They had left no mark on history as he knew it. So far as th_uman race knew, the Ogrum had never existed. And yet—the sudden thought wa_tartling—there was a word in the English language that came close t_escribing these creatures—ogre! Ogre and Ogrum were very similar. Were thes_he original ogres, those mythological monsters who devoured human beings? Ha_he Ogrum, known, feared, and named by the dawn men, come down through legend_s ogres?
The thought sent a shivery feeling up Craig's spine. Was he going down into _ity of monsters? Were Stinky Higgins and Margy Sharp and hundreds of men fro_he Idaho held as prisoners by ogres? What horrible secret was hidden dow_here in that silent city?
They reached the edge of the city. It was larger than Craig had thought.
Hundreds, possibly thousands of rude huts, were hidden in the jungle growth.
The place smelled bad. Apparently no effort at sanitation had ever been made.
A nauseous stench arose from the ground. Craig wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"Filth!" he muttered. "This place needs nothing so much as it needs burning t_he ground. Where Ogrum, Guru?" he said, turning to the dawn man.
"Ogrum sleep," Guru answered. "In little caves," he said, nodding toward th_uts. "Ogrum sleep."
"Where prisoners?" Craig asked. He had to rephrase the question and repeat i_everal times before the dawn man understood.
"In big cave," Guru said, understanding at last.
"Where big cave?" Craig asked.
"Big rock cave," Guru answered, pointing toward the large stone temple tha_tood in the center of the city.
"Then that is where we are going," Craig said. "Come on."
Guru hung back. Craig sensed the dawn man's fear. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Monster that is always hungry in big cave," Guru answered.
"Ah," Craig said. The monster that is always hungry! The bright beast tha_ats forever! A shiver passed through him as he remembered how Guru ha_escribed whatever was in the cave. "What is the monster?" he questioned.
But Guru either did not understand or could not explain, and Craig was lef_ith no knowledge of the nature of the monster. However he could guess tha_he Ogrum regarded the thing in the temple as a god and offered sacrifices t_t, an impression which Guru confirmed.
"Tomorrow when sun goes," Guru said. "Ogrum feed one man to bright beast tha_s always hungry. Next day when sun goes feed beast again. Keep up until n_ne left to feed. Then go hunt more people."
Craig recognized the performance as an incredibly ancient ritual of sacrific_o ensure the return of the sun. The Ogrum seemingly had no real knowledge o_he universe. Each night when the sun went down they were not sure that i_ould rise again. To make certain the bright light in the sky would retur_gain, they offered a sacrifice to it.
"What do they do when they run out of captives?" he asked.
"Catch Ogrum, feed him to beast," the dawn man answered.
When they ran out of captives, the Ogrum sacrificed their own people!
"Well, we've still got to find out what is in that temple and where our peopl_re being held," Craig said grimly. "If Guru is afraid, Guru may stay here. _ill go alone."
Guru was afraid. There was no doubt about that. Craig did not criticize th_awn man for being afraid. He regarded it as evidence of good, sound sense.
But, afraid or not, Guru went with him. Slipping like a pair of ghosts throug_he rough paths that served as streets, they entered the silent city. Guru wa_s noiseless as a shadow, and Craig, every sense alert, moved as quietly as a_ndian. The big American knew that from any of the huts an Ogrum might emerg_t any moment.
They reached the temple unobserved.
It was a bigger building than had been apparent from the mountain above.
Unlike the huts, it was constructed of stone. Roughly circular in shape, _ine of columns circled the outer edge. The construction was crude. The Ogru_ither had not yet invented the arch or scorned to use it. Numerous holes bi_nough for a man to enter standing erect, but not much bigger, served a_ntrances. The holes were without doors, another invention the Ogru_pparently had not yet made, and Craig was again struck by the strangel_arped development of this race that knew how to build airplanes and to us_oison gas but still did not know how to build arches.
Unlike the city, the temple was guarded. Yellow-robed, shaven-headed sentrie_aced around the building keeping inside the circles of the columns.
"Friends of the bright beast that is always hungry," Guru called them. Crai_ecided they were priests, temple guards. He saw they were armed with spear_nd swords. In addition each guard carried a pouch of small, round object_hat looked like grenades.
"Are those things _grenades_?" Craig whispered. But Guru had never heard o_renades. He did not understand. Nor could Craig make him understand.
Through the small dark holes that served as entrances to the temple occasiona_lashes of light could be seen. The light was dull, like the fitful glow fro_ campfire that has almost burned out.
"What is that?" Craig asked.
But Guru either did not know or, for some superstitious reason, refused t_alk.
"I'm going into that temple," Craig decided. "You stay here and wait for me."
This time Guru did not insist on going along and Craig realized that the daw_an was desperately afraid of something within the temple. Craig, waitin_ntil one of the pacing sentries had passed, darted into the nearest opening.
He knew, as he slid into the building, that there was an excellent chance h_ould never come out, but he had to go in. He had to know what was in there, so he could plan how to defeat it. He had to know where the men of the Idah_ere held prisoner and how well they were guarded and if it was possible t_rganize a way for them to escape. Finally, he had to know the nature of th_right beast that was always hungry, the god of the Ogrum.
What was the monster that was always hungry? Some black leering idol on whos_ltar was daily sacrificed a living victim? Or was it something else, som_eal monster that the Ogrum believed to be divine?
Guided by the fitful flickering of light ahead of him, Craig slipped alon_hat was in effect an artificial tunnel. He reached the end of the tunnel, an_topped, appalled at what he saw.
The temple was built like a gigantic amphitheater, like some large bowl i_hich athletic contests were held. Circling downward in ordered rows were tie_n tier of rough stone steps. Down below him, in a huge cup that apparentl_ose from the solid foundation of the mountain itself was— _a seething mass o_hite-hot bubbling lava_!
The city of the Ogrum was located in the crater of a supposedly extinc_olcano. The volcano was not extinct. It was merely inactive. Fires stil_eethed in its heart, and the white-hot lava, held in balance by som_ubterranean arrangement of pressures, bubbled up here, like a geyser tha_ever overflows and never subsides.
This bowl of lava, rising from the volcano beneath, was what Guru called th_hite beast that was always hungry. It was the god of the Ogrum. In a flas_raig saw why they worshipped it and why they fed human sacrifices to it. I_as bright and hot like the sun. Therefore, by the laws of sympathetic magic, a sacrifice offered to the lava was the same as a sacrifice offered to th_un. The Ogrum, creatures of the dawn world, in spite of their planes an_heir poison gas, had no real knowledge of science, of the laws of cause an_ffect. The Ogrum thought that they could assure the return of the warming an_ife-giving sun by offering a living sacrifice to this bubbling lava!
If their reasoning was erroneous and false, it was nonetheless hideous an_eal for all that. For they would certainly offer in sacrifice, here, ever_an taken from the Idaho, unless they were prevented by force.
Across the arena he could see a larger opening closed by a grill of woode_oles. The flickering light from the pool of bubbling lava enabled him to se_aces behind the grill—the prisoners. Involuntarily he started toward them.
Then he saw the company of shaven-headed yellow clad guards standing besid_he enclosure.
The Ogrum were on watch!
Studying the situation, Craig could see no way by which he could effect th_elease of the men. He had a handful of sailors to help him. There wer_housands of the Ogrum. The Ogrum had planes and if they did not hav_irearms, they certainly had other weapons.
"Surprise!" Craig thought. "We've got to take them by surprise, divert the_ong enough to release our men. Then—" He cursed softly. Presuming a sudde_urprise attack enabled them to release the prisoners? What would happen then?
"They'll hit us with planes!" Craig cursed. "They'll gas us and spray acid o_s, and even if we manage to get away from here, they will follow us throug_he air." His eyes narrowed. "Which means that we have got to blow up thei_angar, destroy their planes, first of all. Then—"
A plan was maturing in his mind. He slipped out of the temple, watched hi_hances and darted across the open space when no sentry was near, rejoine_uru.
The dawn man was frantic with excitement. "See monster?" he questioned.
"There is no monster," Craig said grimly. "Guru, where cave where Ogrum kee_iding birds?"
To Guru, the planes were merely large birds that the Ogrum rode. Craig wa_sking the dawn man where the hangar was located. Guru led him around th_emple, pointed to a projecting wing. "Birds kept there," he said.
The hangar was open. In line with their ignorance of doors, the Ogrum ha_ever devised a method of closing the entrance of the building where the_ept—and no doubt built—their planes. An open space leading down to the edg_f the bay apparently was the runway where the planes landed. Inside th_angar Craig could glimpse the strange airships of the Ogrum. Except for th_egular sentries that circled the whole immense temple, the hangar wa_nguarded.
"Twenty men with grenades will hit the hangar first!" Craig thought. "They'l_mash the planes and then they will appear to retreat. The Ogrum will follow.
Meanwhile across the city, another twenty men will suddenly appear and star_iring the thatch huts. The Ogrum will be confused. Before they can organiz_hemselves, I'll take a hundred men and hit the temple. By God, it will work!
"Then," Craig thought, "we'll die one at a time as we try to make our getaway.
The Ogrum, even without planes, will hunt us through the jungle forever." H_aused, seeking a solution to that difficulty. To free the prisoners only t_ave everybody perish from the relentless attack of the Ogrum would be n_ain.
"The only way to keep the Ogrum from pursuing us is to destroy them—utterly!"
Craig thought grimly. He had no qualms about destroying the Ogrum, if h_ould. The only problem was how! He had not enough men and not enough strengt_o meet them in open battle. Yet they had to be destroyed.
"Return to others," he told Guru.
The dawn man returned by a different route, passing through the other edge o_he city of the Ogrum. Here they found a heavy stone wall, like the retainin_ike of a river.
"Why wall, Guru?" Craig questioned.
"Keep earth-shakers out of Ogrum squatting place," the dawn man answered.
"Earth-shakers" was Guru's name for the dinosaurs and "squatting place" wa_is word for city. Beyond the wall was the vast swamp. The Ogrum had erecte_he wall to keep the dinosaurs out of their city.
"Well, I'm damned," said Craig thoughtfully. "I wonder. Hurry, Guru. Must ge_ack before sun rise."
At a swift trot, the dawn man led him up the mountain.
"This is what we're going to do," Craig said excitedly to Michaelson. Th_ailors, listening closely, squatted around him in the darkness. Dawn was no_ar off. Already the sky in the east was beginning to turn gray.
Swiftly he outlined his plan of attack, submitted it to the scientist. "I a_o military strategist," Michaelson said slowly. "I am not competent t_riticize your suggestions."
"I am," a voice spoke. "I've studied military strategy. Your plan hasn't got _hance in a thousand to succeed. You are just getting us all killed fo_othing."
It was Voronoff who spoke.
"That may be true," Craig admitted. "If you have a better plan, I'm willing t_isten."
"I've told you all along the only thing to do is to clear out of here as fas_s we can."
"That is the one thing we're not going to do," Craig said icily. "If you hav_othing constructive to offer, keep your damned mouth shut."
Voronoff sullenly walked away.
Craig selected a group to charge the hangar where the planes were kept, _econd group to provide a diversionary attack across the city, and a thir_roup to hit the temple and release the prisoners. The attack was to star_ust after darkness fell the next night. At that time, so Guru said, all th_grum would be gathered in the temple to watch the sacrifice.
"And after that," Michaelson said slowly. "What is to happen?"
"Ah," said Craig. "There is the heart of the affair. What happens next wil_etermine whether any of us ever get out of here alive. And," he looke_teadily at the scientist, "that is where you come in."
"I? What am I to do?"
"You and Guru are going to take a dozen men and round up as many of Guru'_eople as you can find. Here is what you and Guru are going to do."
In great detail Craig outlined the part the scientist and the dawn man were t_lay in the attack on the Ogrum. They made an odd pair. Michaelson, almost _hysical weakling but possessed of one of the keenest minds of the Twentiet_entury; Guru, a splendidly muscled giant but almost a child mentally.
"Do—do you think our part in the attack will really work?" the scientis_esitantly asked.
"It's got to work," Craig said bluntly. "If it doesn't work, we are all dea_en."