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Curt Newton and Otho plumb the perilous secrets of the Jovian Moon Europa—where Ezra Gurney, friend of the Futuremen, has fallen prey to a mystic cult!
“Moon of the Unforgotten” was originally published in 1951. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher.
THE machines hummed and whispered and a man’s life changed. He was an old man, with an old man’s burden of weariness and sorrow. But now that burden dropped from him and his years dropped from him and he was young again.
He felt the hot blood burst along his veins and the singing excitement in his nerves, the pulse and throb of long-forgotten youth. For youth was his once more and once more a whole universe of adventure lured and beckoned, far-off worlds calling and calling to him.
And Ezra Gurney, he who had been old, shouted a glad young cry that was answer to that call.
A MESSAGE went to Earth’s Moon, flashing across the millions of empty miles. It went by a secret wave-frequency that only a half-dozen people knew.
Back across the empty leagues of the void, in reply to that urgent summons, came a ship, driving hard for Europa, moon of Jupiter. There was a man in the small ship and one who had been a man and two who were manlike but who were not truly human.
The ship came down toward the dark side of Europa with the rush of a shooting star and landed in the rigidly restricted Patrol area of Europolis spaceport. The four came out of it and looked around in the magnificent glow of Jupiter. Then they heard the light running steps and the urgent voice.
“Curt!” And again, with a desperate gladness, “Curt, I knew you’d hurry!”
Curt Newton took the girl’s tense outstretched hands in his own. He thought for a moment she was going to weep and he spoke to her with an affectionate roughness, not giving her time to be emotional. “What’s all this nonsense about Ezra? If anyone but you had sent that message….”
“It’s true, Curt. He’s gone. I think—I think he won’t ever come back.”
Newton shook her. “Come on, Joan! Ezra? Why, he’s been up and down the System since before you and I were born, first in the old space-frontier days of the Patrol and now with your Section Three. He wouldn’t get himself into any jam.”
“He has,” said Joan Randall flatly. “And if you’ll stop being comforting I have all the data ready to show you—what there is of it.”
SHE led the way toward the low buildings of Patrol headquarters. The four followed her, the tall red-haired man whom the System called Captain Future and his three companions, his lifelong friends, the three who were closer to him even than this girl and the missing Ezra Gurney—Grag, the metal giant, Otho, the lithe keen-eyed android, and Simon Wright, who had once been a human scientist but who for half a lifetime now had been divorced from human form.
It was the latter who spoke to Joan. His voice was metallic and expressionless, issuing from the artificial resonator set in one side of his “body”. That “body” was a hovering square metal case that contained all that was human of Simon Wright—his brilliant deathless brain.
“You say,” said Simon, “that Ezra is gone. Where precisely did he go?”
Joan glanced at Simon, who was watching her intently with his lens-like eyes as he glided silently along on the pale traction beams that were his equivalent of limbs.
“If I knew where I wouldn’t hide it from you,” she said with an undertone of irritation.
In the next breath she said contritely, “I’m sorry. Waiting here has got me down. There’s something about Europa—it’s so old and cruel and somehow patient….”
Otho said wryly, “You need a double hooker of something strong and cheering.” His green slightly-tilted eyes were compassionate beneath their habitual irony.
Grag, the towering manlike giant who bore in his metal frame the strength of an army and an artificial intelligence equal to the human, rumbled a question in his deep booming voice. But Curt Newton only vaguely heard him. His gaze had followed Joan’s out into the alien night.
This was not his first visit to Europa. And he was surprised to find that Joan had put into words exactly what he had always felt about the silent moon, the old old moon that was scarred so deep by time.
Here, on one side, were the modern glare and thunder of the spaceport, busy with freighters and one or two sleek liners. Beyond the spaceport was Europolis, a glow of light behind a barren ridge. But on the other side, before him and behind him, was a sadness of ancient rock and distant hills, of brooding forest hung with shadow, of great plains empty in the red glow of Jupiter, dusty wastes where no herds had grazed and no armies fought for a hundred thousand years.
The woods and plains were scattered with the time-gnawed bones of cities, dead and forsaken even before the last descendants of their builders had sunk into final barbarism. A thin old wind wandered aimlessly among the ruins, whimpering as though it remembered other days and wept.
Newton could not suppress a slight shiver. The death of any great culture is a mournful thing and the culture that had built the shining cities of Europa was the greatest ever known—the proud Old Empire that once had held two galaxies. To Curt Newton, who had followed the shadow of that glory far back toward its source, the very stones of these ruins spoke of cosmic tragedy, of the age-long night that succeeded the blazing highest noon of human splendor.