Even their aircraft worked on a form of teleportation.
As for the nukes... it was actually a case of many dirty bombs exploding under an energy shield, down through a hollowed out core of the planet which was mined for hundreds of thousands of years.
Finally they projected it. What a brilliant picture! They had thought it might be fuzzy such as you get with heat waves. But the light that had traveled for over a year was crystal-clear and straight.
There was the imperial City of Psychlo. Circular tram rails, streets down from its cliffs like conveyor belts. They even carried the idea of mining into their city design.
Huge, bustling Psychlo! The center of power of the universes. The hub of the great, cruel claw that raked the bones from planets and peoples everywhere. There was the three-hundred-two-thousand-year-old monster itself, spread out in its sadistic and ugly might!
Neither Jonnie nor Angus had ever seen a live city of that size before. A hundred million population? A billion? Not the planet, just the city above the lower plain. Look at the trams. Rails that ran in circular spirals. Cars that looked for all the world like mine cars but full of people. Mobs in the streets. Mobs! Not riots. Just Psychlos.
You ever see so many beings? Even in such a tiny size one could see mobs!
They were daunted.
They compared it to their own towns, even to their own ruined cities. These didn't measure up to it at all.
What arrogance to attack anything like that.
They were so awestruck and impressed they hadn't even been looking at the transshipment rig of Psychlo. They missed the beginning and had to track back.
They adjusted the projector lens and position to get the transshipment platform of Psychlo more centered and enlarged.
And then they saw the whole sequence, just as it had occurred right after Jonnie and Windsplitter had raced across the Earth platform.
First, there were the Psychlo workers racing out to leave the platform clear for the incoming semiannual from Earth. There were flatbeds lined up to receive coffins and personnel.
There was the first shimmer of arrival of the Psychlos Jonnie and Windsplitter had knocked down.
Then a small puff.
There were the Psychlo workmen flinching back.
A force screen had gone on! A dome over the platform had closed instantly to contain that small explosion. It could not have been an atmosphere armor cable. Some sort of shimmering, sparkling screen. Transparent but very much there.
Trucks had time to start up before anything else occurred. One huge emergency truck had lunged nearer the platform, evidently to handle the minor blast. A whole minute went by.
Then the first lethal coffin exploded!
A big âoeplanet busterâ nuclear bomb, nestled into a bed of dirty mines.
The force screen held.
The holocaust was contained. The boiling, ferocious blast had not even bulged the screen.
Then another shock as the second coffined âoeplanet busterâ went off.
The screen held! Good lord, what technology to build a screen like that. What power it must take to hold it.
Another shock inside that dome. The third planet buster. It and all its ancient, very dirty atomic bombs. The screen held.
Psychlos were racing toward it from far off. Those near the platform were flattened by concussion transmitting through the screen.
The fourth contained bomb went off. The screen still held.
But the transmitted concussion had hurled the emergency truck backward. Nearby buildings lost their glass.
The ground was shaking as though hit by gigantic earthquakes.
A nearby building suddenly dropped downward as though sucked from below. Other buildings began to go the same way.
The fifth bomb went off!
And seen in slow motion, first narrowly, then more broadly, the entire scene went into a churning, boiling mass of atomic fire.
No, something more! Molten, flaming fire was erupting in spots all over the plain.
They widened the angle quickly.
The whole Imperial City of Psychlo was sinking and all about it sprayed up rolling oceans of molten fire.
The circular trams, the mobs, the buildings, and even the towering cliffs were drowning in a tumult of liquid, yellow-green flame.
They hastily widened the view.
And they saw the entire planet of Psychlo turn into a radioactive sun!
The recording ended. They sat limp. âoeMy god,â said Angus.
Jonnie felt a little sick. Psychlos or not, he had just watched the end product of all their planning and risk a year ago, and he was hit with a feeling of guilt. It was not easy to take responsibility for that much destruction.
He had thought the bombs would wipe out the company headquarters and perhaps the imperial City. But they had created a new sun.
âoeWhat happened?â said Angus.
Jonnie looked at his feet. âoeI pulled ten tabs out of those coffins. We didn't want to set a time fuse and then have them go off on Earth. We knew the bombs were a bit contaminated. Had radiation leaks. They were old and their cases were old. We handled them in radiation suits.â
He made a dropping gesture with his hand. "In the fight, I dropped the fuse tabs on the platform. I forgot them. They must have been slightly radioactive, and when they hit the Psychlo platform, they made a small puff of explosion. They are what caused the minor recoil last year.
âoeThey triggered the force screen on Psychlo that the Chamcos mentioned. And that force screen was good enough and strong enough to contain the blasts.
âoeI read in a book Char had that the crust of Psychlo is riddled with abandoned mine shafts and tunnels, a complete sieve. They call it semicore mining. The blasts went down. One after another they pounded deeper and deeper toward the molten core of Psychlo.
âoeThe fifth explosion penetrated the core. The next five exploded in that.
âoeI think all a nuclear weapon does is simulate a chain reaction into existence. And in addition to blowing out the planet crust, the fusion continued. And is probably still going on and may well go on for millions of years.
"Psychlo is no longer a planet. It 's a flaming sun!â
Angus nodded. âoeAnd all the transshipment rigs in the whole Psychlo empire, keeping schedule, not knowing about it, fired into that radioactive sun and blew themselves to bits!â
Jonnie nodded, a bit spent. âoeJust like we did in Denver a year later.â He shuddered. "Terl fired himself into a holocaust. Poor Terl.â
That's what it took to yank Angus out of it. âoePoor Terl! After all the rotten things the demon did? Jonnie, I sometimes wonder about you. You can be cool as ice and then all of a sudden you come out with something like 'poor Terl'!'
âoeIt would be an awful way to die,â said Jonnie.
Angus straightened up. âoeWell!â he said just like he had popped up out of a dive in the lake. "Psychlo is gone! The empire is gone! And that's one thing we don't have to worry about anymore! Good riddance!â