Read Captain Future 12 - Planets in Peril (Fall 1942) Online

Authors: Edmond Hamilton

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Captain Future 12 - Planets in Peril (Fall 1942)

BOOK: Captain Future 12 - Planets in Peril (Fall 1942)
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#12 Fall 1942

 

Introduction

 

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

Planets in Peril

by Edmond Hamilton

Through an unguessable abyss fraught with peril, Curt Newton and the Futuremen set out to save the remnants of a great civilization from suicide and destruction!

 

 

 

Radio Archives • 2012

Copyright Page

 

Copyright © 1942 by Better Publications, Inc. © 2012 RadioArchives.com. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form.

 

 

These pulp stories are a product of their time. The text is reprinted intact, unabridged, and may include ethnic and cultural stereotyping that was typical of the era.

 

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ISBN-978-1610818414

Introduction

The original introduction to Captain Future as it appeared in issue #1

 

The Wizard of Science! Captain Future!

The most colorful planeteer in the Solar System makes his debut in this, America’s newest and most scintillating scientifiction magazine — CAPTAIN FUTURE.

This is the magazine more than one hundred thousand scientifiction followers have been clamoring for! Here, for the first time in scientifiction history, is a publication devoted exclusively to the thrilling exploits of the greatest fantasy character of all time!

Follow the flashing rocket-trail of the Comet as the most extraordinary scientist of nine worlds have ever known explores the outposts of the cosmos to the very shores of infinity. Read about the Man of Tomorrow today!

Meet the companions of Captain Future, the most glamorous trio in the Universe!

Grag, the giant, metal robot; Otho, the man-made, synthetic android; and aged Simon Wright, the living Brain.

This all-star parade of the most unusual characters in the realm of fantasy is presented for your entertainment. Come along with this amazing band as they rove the enchanted space-ways — in each issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE!

 

Planets in Peril

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

by Edmond Hamilton

 

Through an unguessable abyss fraught with peril, Curt Newton and the Futuremen set out to save the remnants of a great civilization from suicide and destruction!

 

 

Chapter 1: People from Beyond

 

LIKE a huge red eye, Mars peered down from the starry sky at the blossoming paradise of its little moon Deimos. This tiny satellite was a man-made fairyland, created by artificial air and water and gravitation.

Balmy night breezes set the tall trees to nodding in the pink planet-glow. Birds called from the shrubs that bordered the streams in the shadowy parks around metal mansions. To Martians, this Garden Moon was a haven of beauty and peace. But peace was far from the Martian who stood in front of a small chromaloy house, scanning the night sky.

"Why don't they come?" he muttered tensely to himself, his eyes desperately searching the heavens. "There's only an hour left —"

Tiko Thrin was an elderly Martian, a little, withered red man wrapped in a synthewool cloak despite the night's warmth. His incongruously big, bald head was tilted far back as his thick-lensed spectacles surveyed the starry sky in an agony of impatience.

"The greatest event in the history of the Solar System — and they'll be too late for it!" he thought despairingly.

Then the little Martian scientist stiffened. A low drone of rocket tubes came on the balmy breeze. A gleaming speck was cutting across the stars, slanting down toward the little moon in a long glide. It grew into a sleek rocket cruiser that dived toward the Martian with a staccato roar.

Tiko Thrin skipped back in alarm. But the cruiser, its keel and brake rockets exploding spouts of atomic fire, was already landing smoothly on the lawn. Its door opened, and a slim, dark-haired girl in white space slacks emerged into the pink planet-light. She was laughing.

"What's the matter — did my landing scare you, Tiko?"

Joan Randall, Earthgirl secret agent of the Solar System Government, was a boyishly pretty figure as she came toward him.

"Where are Captain Future and the Futuremen?" Tiko asked quickly.

Joan waved toward the cruiser.

"There comes the Brain now. I brought him, and the others will be along soon."

 

A WEIRD shape was emerging from the cruiser. It looked like a square box of transparent metal, floating in the air upon almost invisible magnetic propulsion beams.

This was the Brain, one of the famous Futuremen. That square box was a serum-case in which ingenious mechanisms kept alive a living human brain. In the "face" of the case were the Brain's lenslike glass eyes, mounted on flexible stalks, and his microphone mouth or speech organ.

Once, long ago, the Brain had been an ordinary human Earthman. He had been Doctor Simon Wright, a brilliant, aging scientist. Death had claimed his failing body. But he had escaped that death by having his living brain removed surgically from his body and placed in this serum-case.

He came gliding silently through the soft planet-light toward the pretty Earthgirl and the old Martian. Both of them knew him well.

"Why didn't Captain Future come?" Tiko Thrin asked tensely. "I told you in my message that it was urgent."

The Brain, posed beside them, contemplated the excited little Martian with expressionless lens-eyes as he spoke in his rasping voice.

"Captain Future and the other two Futuremen went to Venus a week ago," he declared. "They've been helping Ezra Gurney smooth out some trouble with the marsh-men there. But before I had Joan bring me here, I telaudioed them to come on here. They should arrive at any moment.

"Why did you ask us to come here?" the Brain continued in metallic accents. "You interrupted an extremely engrossing experiment of mine."

"Yes, what's all the mystery about, Tiko?" Joan challenged. "You can't call the Futuremen on the run for nothing. It had better be big!"

Tiko Thrin's withered red face became solemn.

"It is big. What is going to happen here tonight will mark an epoch in the history of the Solar System." He paused dramatically. "I've established contact with another universe, and one of its people is going to visit me tonight!"

The Brain seemed startled, for his lens-eyes fastened sharply on the little Martian's face.

"You can't be serious!"

"It's true!" Tiko affirmed eagerly.

"I don't understand," Joan said puzzledly. "You know I'm no scientist. What do you mean by 'another universe'?"

Tiko Thrin explained.

"Our three-dimensional universe is limited and finite, for our three-dimensional space is
curved.
Thus our universe is a great three-dimensional bubble floating in the extra-dimensional abyss. It's been believed that there are other bubbles, other universes, out in that abyss.

"This other universe which I've contacted is such a bubble. It's unthinkably remote from us. I have calculated that it must be at least twenty billion light-years distant, but my power-beam reached it."

The Brain was incredulous.

"No System scientist has ever yet succeeded in sending a beam beyond our own three-dimensional universe," he stated.

"I know, and it wasn't
my
science that enabled me to do it," admitted Tiko Thrin. "You remember that queer race, the Alius, whom we fought on the comet-world — who were invaders from outside? You remember that we fell heir to all their strange scientific apparatus? Well, I've been studying and altering the Alius apparatus, hoping to be able to make contact with the inhabitants of another universe.

"And I succeeded! I sent out signals along a power-beam that I projected along the fourth dimension. The signals were quickly answered. For weeks, I've been in steady communication with the people of an unthinkably distant universe."

"But that's impossible!" protested the Brain. "The theory of relativity shows that the fourth dimension is non-spatial in nature. You couldn't send any beam along a non-spatial dimension."

"But I have," insisted Tiko. "I've talked with a man of that universe, have slowly learned his language. His name is Gerdek — he's of a human people who call themselves the Tarasts. And this man Gerdek is going to come across the abyss bodily tonight."

 

THE little Martian scientist rushed on.

"I've utilized the scientific secrets of the Alius to build an apparatus that would transmit matter, broken down into electrons, along my beam. I taught Gerdek, in that other universe, to build such an apparatus too. When both machines are turned on, solid matter can flash from one universe to the other on the beam."

"I want to see this apparatus of yours," said the Brain abruptly. "I still can't believe that it's scientifically possible."

Tiko Thrin led the way with nervous haste toward his little chromaloy house. The Brain glided close beside him in the pink planet-glow, while Joan Randall followed with a feeling of increasing excitement.

Mingled with Joan's excitement was a dawning apprehension. This talk of a visitor from another universe recalled to her only too vividly those other terrible visitants from outside, with whom the Futuremen had struggled desperately. Remembering those alien Alius, she felt a chill of dread at the thought of another such visitation.

Her uneasiness deepened when they entered Tiko Thrin's laboratory. The room was crowded with electrical and physical apparatus. Four giant atomic generators droned softly at the end of the room, feeding power into tall accumulators connected by a maze of cables to various instruments. Many of these looming machines were devices of the alien Alius science.

The little Martian pointed proudly to a big object.

"There it is. The matter-transmitter and receiver, which will enable a man of that distant universe to come here tonight."

The Brain glided to the mechanism. He poised, studying it with his strange lens-eyes that moved uncannily on their flexible stalks.

"I see," he muttered. "You've adapted the Alius method of photon-transmission to handle electrons."

The main feature of the machine was a big, barrel-like chamber of transparent metal. Its interior walls bristled with thousands of tiny copper electrodes, all pointing inward. Complexities of wiring led from these electrodes to the tall switchboard nearby. This switchboard contained banks of dials and relays, and an ordinary speech microphone. Above the board was mounted a curious antenna of copper sheets in queer arrangement.

The Brain keenly studied the fantastic geometrical design of the copper planes.

"This antenna is hypothetically set to project or receive a beam along the fourth dimension," he admitted. "But it can't do it. No ordinary power-beam can travel along a non-spatial dimension."

"You'll find out differently in twenty minutes," said Tiko Thrin. "That's when Gerdek is going to come through from his own distant universe."

Joan's nervousness increased.

"Tiko, I don't like this I Your machine creates a bridge between our universe and that other one. It might be dangerous."

The Martian blinked at her uncomprehendingly.

"There's no danger. The Tarasts — the people of that other universe — are humans like us. And Gerdek, the man who's coming through, is friendly. I've talked with him for weeks."

"He might
pretend
that he's friendly, so that you'll open a way for him into our universe," persisted the worried girl. "But we don't know that he's really friendly. We don't know that he's really even human!”

Tiko patted her hand.

"Don't worry, Joan. If Gerdek is hostile when he materializes in that chamber, I can instantly project him back."

"But it might not be so easy to do that, once he's here," Joan pointed out anxiously. "At least, wait until Captain Future arrives."

"I can't do that," replied Tiko hurriedly, glancing at the chronometers. "It's almost the time set by Gerdek and myself for the attempt. I'm going to call him now."

 

JOAN stepped back, but her lovely face was pale and troubled as she watched the little scientist working hastily at the switchboard.

"There's nothing to worry about," the Brain told her confidently. "His beam won't work along the fourth dimension. It can't."

Tiko Thrin had closed a series of switches. Tall vacuum tubes behind the switchboard silently lit up. A shimmering, pearly white glow enveloped the fantastic copper planes of the curious antenna.

In a moment, the little Martian spoke loudly into the switchboard microphone.

"Gerdek! Gerdek, nya kurul di rad!”

Strange call in a strange language! A call into the infinite abyss outside the known universe, a cry to an alien universe twenty billion light-years away!

Almost immediately, a deep, vibrant male voice issued from the loudspeaker beside the microphone.

"Rasta, kol! Amal ta fafir mutin!"

Tiko Thrin turned a face glistening with excitement toward the girl and the Brain.

"He's there, ready to come through. He's going to turn on the transmitter I taught him to build — in two minutes, he'll be here!"

"I don't understand," whispered Joan to Simon Wright. "If he's really billions of light-years away, how could his reply come so quickly?"

The Brain, who was staring with a fixity that indicated astonishment, made a reluctant concession.

"If that beam
is
working across the fourth dimension," he said, "it would operate instantaneously by short-cutting the three ordinary dimensions. But I still can't believe —"

Tiko Thrin, sweating with excitement, reached a clawlike hand to close the largest switch on the board. The big vacuum tubes flared up brilliantly as the full power of the accumulators rushed into them. In the transparent chamber, a thread of crackling lightning stabbed from each of the thousands of tiny copper electrodes.

Joan Randall, watching with mingled awe and dread, saw those thousands of gushing threads of light coalescing swiftly at the center of the chamber. They formed a shining cloud, which almost faster than the eye could perceive grew more dense and definite of outline.

"Why, it's working!" exclaimed the Brain incredulously. "Those jets are electrons, drawn across the abyss and now reforming into their original patterns!"

Joan heard a bell clang warningly. A red light flashed on the switchboard. With a convulsive movement, Tiko opened the switches.

"Look!” shrilled the little Martian scientist exultantly. "It succeeded! I've opened a road to another universe!"

The shining haze inside the chamber was rapidly dissipating. Through it, they could vaguely discern a human figure. Then they stiffened with amazement as they saw that there were
two
figures in the chamber. They were a man and a girl.

They were human in every respect — yet there was a subtle unearthliness about them. Their skin was a pure, marbly white, without a trace of color. Both the young man and the girl had hair of a platinum shade that was almost white. The man's hair was close-cropped, the girl's flowed to her shoulders in a wonderful torrent of platinum tresses. Both had dark eyes, with unusually large pupils.

BOOK: Captain Future 12 - Planets in Peril (Fall 1942)
2.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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