Before he began the climb that would take him to the invaders, Lockley stopped at a small stream.
He drank thirstily.
There was a three-day-old moon in the sky when the last colors faded in the west. When darkness fell it was already low. It gave little light; not much more than the stars alone. It did help Lockley while it lasted however. He knew the terrain about Boulder Lake but not in detail. And it would not be wise for him to move openly to wreak destruction on the enemies of his nation.
He used the moonlight for his approach by the least practical route to the lake. When it dimmed and went behind the mountains, he continued to climb, sliding dangerously, then descend and climb again as the rough going demanded. His mind was absorbed with reflections upon what he meant to do. The wrecks on the highway would have given notice to the invaders that he could do damage. They would take every possible precaution against him.
It was typical of Lockley that he painstakingly imagined every obstacle that might be put in his way. During the last half hour of his scrambling travel, for example, he was tormented by a measure his enemies might have used to make him advertise his presence. If they simply laid rifle cartridges on the ground at intervals of twenty-five or fifty yards, he could not cross that line with his device in operation without blowing up those shells. It was a possible countermeasure that caused him to sweat with worry.
But it wasn’t thought of by anyone else. To contrive it, a man would have to know how the detonation field worked and how far it extended. Nobody but Lockley knew. Therefore no one could contrive this defense against him.
He worked his way to Boulder Lake’s back door through brushwood and over boulders. Presently he looked down upon his destination. To his right and left rocky masses were silhouetted against the starry sky. He gazed down on the lake and the shoreline where the hotel would be built, and the places where roads came out of the wilderness.
There were changes since the time he’d looked down from Vale’s survey post and before the terror beam captured him. He catalogued them mentally, but the sight before him was intolerable. Everything he saw, here where space monsters were believed to hold sway, was in reality the work of men. Rage filled him at the sight. Hatred. Fury....
In the rest of the world an entirely different sort of emotion was felt about the subject of the invaders. The United States had announced to all the world that American and other scientists, working together, had solved the mystery of the alien weapon. They had produced a duplicate of the terror beam. It was no less effective and no less an absolute weapon than the invaders’. And a defense had been found which was complete. It was being rushed into production. The experimental counter beam generators would be moved into position to frustrate and defeat the monsters who had landed upon earth. Military detachments, protected by the counter generators, would move upon Boulder Lake at dawn. By sunset tomorrow the aliens would be dead or captive, and their ship would undoubtedly be in the hands of scientists for study.