The war was over. The great computer which had arranged and directed the complex military operations of that future nation was to be dismantled. But the computer had become expert in the science of self-defence…and it resisted.
The government buildings were blasted. Rockets rained on the great city, and the Empire of Toromon, the first great hope of humanity after the millennia of radiation wreckage, faced disaster at the hands of a super-scientific monster of its own creation.
But, unknown even to Toromon’s desperate leaders, was the fact that behind the berserk computer lurked the unearthly mind of a real enemy – a foe from the most distant realm of space, intent on making the Earth the first victim of galactic conquest.
As the sun gleamed off the gilded domes of Videssos the city, Abivard, marshal of Makuran and son of Godarz, pondered the impossible. How could he carry out the command of Sharbaraz, King of Kings, to destroy the invincible Empire of Videssos?
Then, against all expectations, the Emperor of Videssos invaded Makuran itself. Abivard was thrust on the defensive, forced homeward to drive the invaders from the fabled land of the Thousand Cities.
Abivard needed not only his greatest battle skills but his most powerful magicians, for no one doubted that Videssian military strategy would be accompanied by the finest sorcery. Yet even as reality reversed itself and renegades plotted Abivard’s ruin, the undaunted warrior vowed never to surrender…
With the discovery of the hyperdrive, mankind at last possessed the means of going out to the stars. Four expeditions had already gone by the fine the fifth starship left Pluto for Vega. Carrying its complement of scientists and military personnel, they arrived at the solar system of Vega to find one planet sufficiently like Earth to allow them to land.
Here, they discovered mystery. The ruins of great cities built on the shattered remains of still earlier fortresses, showing that some great race of conquerors had passed that way sometime in the past thirty thousand years.
No life now remained on this planet and speeding to the next sun, they found a civilisation which possessed powers so utterly strange to them that one native almost succeeded in destroying them and taking over the ship. And still the mystery remained, for the legends of the planet spoke of a race of gods who had come down from the stars twenty thousand years before.
It was not until they reached the planet of a red giant sun that they ran into a race of creatures so fantastically alien that there was no defence against them, and they learned the real identity of the race which had conquered the stars millennia before…