AE Van Vogt - Black Destroyer

AE Van Vogt - Black Destroyer - BLACK DESTROYER by A. E....

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BLACK DESTROYER by A. E. VAN VOGT ON AND ON COEURL PROWLED! The black, moonless, almost starless night yielded reluctantly before a grim reddish dawn that crept up from his left. A vague, dull light it was, that gave no sense of approaching warmth, no comfort, nothing but a cold, diffuse lightness, slowly revealing a nightmare landscape. Black, jagged rock and black, unliving plain took form around him, as a pale-red sun peered at last above the grotesque horizon. It was then Coeurl recognized suddenly that he was on familiar ground. He stopped short. Tenseness flamed along his nerves. His muscles pressed with sudden, unrelenting strength against his bones. His great forelegs—twice as long as his hindlegs—twitched with a shuddering movement that arched every razor-sharp claw. The thick tentacles that sprouted from his shoulders ceased their weaving undulation, and grew taut with anxious alertness. Utterly appalled, he twisted his great cat head from side to side, while the little hairlike tendrils that formed each ear vibrated fran- tically, testing every vagrant breeze, every throb in the ether. But there was .no response, no swift tingling along his intricate nervous system, not the faintest suggestion anywhere of the presence of the all-necessary Id. Hopelessly, Coeurl crouched, an enormous catlike figure silhouetted against the dim reddish skyline, like a dis- torted etching of a black tiger resting on a black rock in a shadow world. He had known this day would come. Through all the centuries of restless search, this day had loomed ever nearer, blacker, more fright- ening—this inevitable hour when he must return to the point where he began his systematic hunt in a world almost depleted of idcreatures. The truth struck in waves like an endless, rhythmic ache at the seat of his ego. When he had started, there had been a few idcreatures in
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every hundred square miles, to be mercilessly rooted out. Only too well Coeurl knew in this ultimate hour that he had missed none. There were no id-creatures left to eat. In all the hundreds of thousands of square miles that h~ had made his own by right of ruthless conquest— until no neighboring coeurl dared to question his sovereignty—there was no Id to feed the otherwise immortal engine that was his body. Square foot by square foot he had gone over it. And now—he recognized the knoll of rock just ahead, and the black rock bridge that formed a queer, curling tunnel to his right. It was in that tunnel he h~d lain for days, waiting for the simple-minded, snakelike idcreature to come forth from its hole in the rock to bask in the sun—j his first kill after he had realized the absolute necessity of organized extermination. He licked his lips in brief gloating memory of the moment his
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AE Van Vogt - Black Destroyer - BLACK DESTROYER by A. E....

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