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After having understood that the planet of apes on which he landed is only the future of the Earth, the astronaut George Taylor and Nova, her new protected, leave to the conquest of the forbidden territory. When Taylor disappears there suddenly, Nova wanders alone in this desert region of the globe. By chance she meets John Brent, the only survivor of a new space exploration mission launched on the traces of Taylor's shuttle.
Ursus, the gorilla chief thirsty of power
His turn, Brent soon notice that the planet on which he crushed is governed by monkeys and that the formers do not hold humans in their esteem. Captured, he'll only be freed thanks to the intervention of two chimpanzees, Doctor Zira and Cornelius, who free the couple from the gorilla's claws, masters of the ape armies. Their leader, Ursus, a thirsty power social-climber for whoom the surviving of the ape people inevitably joins the total annihilation of the human race and the conquest of the forbidden zone.
Nova and Brent discover an underground station
While the gorillas armies are leading to the forbidden zone, Brent and Nova escape once more from their pursuers by a small cavity at the foot of a mountain close to the frontier of this territory. When Brent recognizes there an ancient underground station of New-York, he understands, as Taylor understood it earlier, that he is on Earth and that the madness of men destroyed his planet.
Attracted by a strange resonant snore that seems to guide them, Brent and Nova discover an underground human society that vows their cult to the fearsome item ; an atomic bomb in perfect functioning state doubled of a device that could annihilate the whole planet.
Desirous to protect themselves at any cost, this unarmed and non-bellicose people, has known during years how to develop their mind. Their members have the ability to communicate by telepathy, to control brains or more to generate hallucinatory images.
To oblige Brent to unveil the plans of the apes, they take the control of his brain, despite him obliging him to try to strangle his female companion. Being unable to resist Brent explains them that the gorillas are walking on the underground city…
Spoiler ! the end of the story is revealed below…
The astronaut is jailed in the same cell as Taylor he meets. If it is not in their habits to fight, these humanoids use nevertheless their psychic abilities in order that the two men engage a struggle to death without mercy. The army of monkeys invades the underground city and massacres its residents before trying to capsize the bomb erected such as a divinity.
By liberating the two astronauts, Nova finds death. Despite their intervention they will not be able to prevent the horror...
The end ?
While they fall under gorillas's bullets, Taylor triggers himself the bomb that puts a term to the totalitarian monkey reign and their incapacity to live in peace with men. In this desperate gesture that leads to the destruction of the planet, there his neither victorious nor conquered.