Chapter 22 Summary
The Overlords' ship, carrying Jan Rodricks, returns to Earth eighty years after it left, though it has seemed like only six months to Jan. He stands behind the three pilots and watches as they work their way through the solar system. He is glad to be back home, even though he had worked so hard to leave it. He had slept through the outward journey to Carina, the Overlords’ home planet, awakening just as they were entering the Carina system. There had been no surprise when he appeared. They land on one of the satellites where there was a transport. He journeys down to the surface of the planet.
Jan discovers that the planet is larger than Earth but with lower gravity. He learns that this is not the Overlords’ original home, but a place that they had conquered and adjusted to meet their needs. He is contained for a few days until the Overlord Vindarten, who speaks some English, comes to meet him. Vindarten escorts Jan through the city, which is focused on the study of alien races. Jan can tell that this place is designed with the Overlords’ ability to fly in mind. Doors are often at the top of the buildings, and there are often sudden chasms that are meaningless to someone with the power of flight. The city is featureless, and Jan thinks that if a person from Earth’s medieval period were to see it, he would immediately identify it as Hell.
Jan spends several days being observed by the Overlords, functioning as a scientific specimen though he is not harmed in any way. Vindarten takes him to a museum to see the other alien races that the Overlords have encountered. Jan is terrified when he looks down into a shallow pit and sees a giant eye, which Vindarten assures him is true to life-size. Vindarten has Jan observe several Earth objects, but Jan is not able to identify their uses, even though they are from his own planet. Vindarten takes Jan to the top of one of the highest buildings. Jan can see a mountain whose base is beyond the curve of the planet’s horizon. It seems to be alive, though it is not organic. From a blue cloud at its base rises a ring which expands as it goes up. It passes overhead, and Jan tries to take a photograph, but Vindarten stops him. Jan then understands that, whatever the mountain is, it seems to be connected somehow to a power that is master over the Overlords.
When Jan reaches the orbit of Earth, he is disturbed to see that there are no city lights shining up from the dark side of the planet. When he lands, he is met by Karellen.