"Oh God!" Joe gasped. The pencil thick, mile long beam from the enemy mobile synchrotron was cutting through the advancing line. It moved up and down so that it couldn?t be escaped even by leaping or by dropping prone. There were no depressions or foxholes for possible sanctuary, either.
Joe looked at the men running on either side of him. Their sweat and dirt streaked faces showed no expression other than fatigue. They weren?t men, but automatons, one eye on that inexorable pencil of terrible energy moving toward them, the other on the ground ahead of them where they would pass.
But a fierce, glad light appeared in the eyes of one of them. Joe followed his gaze. One man, by some miracle, had dodged the beam. He had leaped right and ducked right-and avoided it. Envy suddenly settled into Joe?s mind. He wouldn?t be that lucky. In another few seconds now-
He risked a glance ahead at the low lying hills where the enemy tanks with their synchrotrons were coming forward. They were absolutely impregnable, except to another of their kind.
Those terrible pencils of energy, of electrons travelling at two-thirds of the speed of light, up to almost the full speed of light. The mass of an electron was supposed to increase with its speed, so that the ones going at almost the speed of light had masses up in the ounces, instead of ten or more points to the right of the decimal point.
Nothing could stop them and survive. They disintegrated the very atmosphere. Where one hit into the soil it left a thin, slate-like slab of fused stuff. Where one passed across the face of foot thick armor plate, it left a crumbling mortar of stuff that had been mostly iron molecules, but was no longer.