Read Captain Future 19 - Outlaw World (Winter 1946) Online

Authors: Edmond Hamilton

Tags: #Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Captain Future 19 - Outlaw World (Winter 1946)

BOOK: Captain Future 19 - Outlaw World (Winter 1946)
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#19 Winter 1946

 

Introduction

 

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

Outlaw World

by
Edmond Hamilton

On the trail of malevolent space pirates, Curt Newton and the Futuremen combat the evil machinations of the Uranian Ru Ghur, who plans the total destruction of the Universe!

 

 

 

Radio Archives • 2012

Copyright Page

 

Copyright © 1946 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 978-1610818674

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!

 

Outlaw World

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

by Edmond Hamilton

 

On the trail of malevolent space pirates, Curt Newton and the Futuremen combat the evil machinations of the Uranian Ru Ghur, who plans the total destruction of the Universe!

 

 

Chapter 1: Radium Raiders

 

DANGER was like a physical presence in the
Orion
, as the old space-freighter plodded through the lonely void. The ship was running dark, even its rocket-tubes baffled so that no betraying flare of flame would mark its course as it droned on the long voyage from Saturn toward Earth.

In his cubby, the telaudio operator, a dark-haired, clear-eyed, tanned young Earthman, alertly listened at his instruments.

“Planet Patrol calling all ships between Saturn and Jupiter,” issued a sharp voice from the loud-speaker.

The operator made no attempt to answer. He had strict orders to maintain telaudio silence.

“Urgent warning!” continued the sharp voice. “Unidentified cruisers, believed radium raiders, sighted entering your sector.”

As the operator jumped to his feet he heard a shrill shout from the lookout man forward.

“Four ships aft of our port beam, pulling up fast!”

The telaudio man leaped for the door, plunged for the bridge-room.

Captain Greeley, the grizzled old Earthman who was master of the
Orion
, was already there. He was peering through the small round lens-window of the aft televiewer, a powerful telescopic instrument.

The window was an eye peering into space, a dark abyss hung with the jeweled tapestry of the stars. Saturn was a yellow spark astern. Jupiter lay ahead, and beyond it the asteroid zone glinted against the flaring little Sun.

The telescopic window showed what the unaided eye could not see — four long, slim cruisers, running dark, pursuing the
Orion
. The stubby muzzles of heavy atom-guns that protruded from the sides of the cruisers were clearly recognizable.

“They aren’t Patrol ships, and that means they’re pirates!” exclaimed the Captain. “Look at those guns!”

“The Patrol just flashed warning that radium raiders are operating in this sector, sir!” rapidly reported the telaudio operator.

“Full speed on all cycs!” Captain Greeley shouted to the pilot.

The throbbing of the cyclotrons down in the lowest deck instantly intensified to a roar. The old freighter quivered to the increased thrust of power from its stem rocket-tubes.

“Radium raiders?” the Venusian second officer was repeating, thunderstruck. “But how could they know we’ve got two tons of refined radium ores aboard? We took off from Saturn secretly!”

“A lot of other radium ships have taken off just as secretly, and those devils found them,” gritted the Captain. He swung toward his telaudio operator. “Call the Patrol and tell them we’re being chased. There’s no use maintaining silence now!”

 

AS THE young operator raced back, his own mind was grappling with the mystery.

“How could they have known our cargo and course? And where did they come from?”

The radium raiders who had first appeared a month before were the enigma of the Solar System. In bands of up to a half-dozen cruisers, they pounced upon and looted unarmed freighters, then disappeared as magically as they came.

Space pirates were no new thing, to the System. There were always some corsairs infesting the outlaw asteroids or the wilder moons of the outer planets. But these radium raiders were different from any other pirates ever before encountered.

They sought only radium, the most valuable substance in the System, the element necessary for so many industrial and scientific power projects. Much radium was mined on Saturn and Uranus and transported to the inner planets. The raiders had cut off almost every such shipment. No matter how secretly a radium ship took off, they seemed to have knowledge of its movements.

Greatest mystery of all was the raiders’ origin. They did not come from any known part of the System. That had been established by Patrol searches. They seemed to enter the System from above the planetary plane, and to drive up out of it after each foray.

Did they come from some interstellar lair far across deep space? Or were they from another dimension entirely? These, and wilder surmises were afoot.

“Freighter
Orion
to all stations and squadrons of the Planet Patrol!” shouted the young operator into his microphone.

“Being pursued between Saturn and Jupiter by radium raiders!”

There came a flash of brilliant light outside the windows of the speeding ship, a glare that lit up all space for a second.

“They’re within range!” a yell rang through the ship.

The operator glanced swiftly through the port-hole and glimpsed a scene to bring a chill to the stoutest heart.

The four black cruisers, rapidly overtaking the fleeing freighter, were using their heavy atom-guns.

He glimpsed a shower of atom-shells rushing toward them. Then another blinding blaze of light, a quivering shock through the ship, and the roar of an explosion.

“We’re hit!” yelled the Venusian mate. “Caught our stern, and half the tube back-blasted!”

The explosion had flung the telaudio operator to the floor. He heard rending metal, the shriek of escaping air, the clang clang of automatic bulkheads closing to prevent its escape.

The
Orion
’s stern rocket-tubes had been ripped into junk, and a back-blast along the power pipes had exploded the cyclotrons.

“We’ve been crippled and are about to be boarded!” the operator shouted into the microphone as he scrambled to his feet. “Our space position as follows —”

The raiders’ four cruisers drew swiftly abreast the disabled
Orion
as it sagged helplessly in space. Magnetic anchors shot out to grapple the freighter and draw it close by raiders.

Then men in space-suits, heavily armed, came leaping across the narrow gap and swarming into the wrecked freighter.

Resistance was out of the question. The few stunned survivors were overwhelmed. Only the telaudio operator continued to shout into his instrument, rattling off their space position.

A crackling bolt of atomic energy speared past his head and tore into the metal wall.

“Get away from those instruments!” ordered a smooth voice.

The operator slowly turned from the telaudio and raised his hands. A dozen raiders had crowded outside the cubby. In their black space-suits they were a grim interplanetary band.

The leader was a fat, moon-faced man who turned to give orders.

“Start searching the holds for the radium. Make the prisoners tell where it is. Transfer the stuff to my cruiser immediately. The Patrol will soon be here — hurry!”

He turned back to motion the telaudio operator out of the cubby. And the young Earthman was thunder-struck as he glimpsed the leader’s face inside his glassite helmet.

“You!” he cried, stunned. “But you’re dead!”

 

 

Chapter 2: Warning from Space

 

FROM where did the mysterious radium raiders come?

Though that question had alarmed the whole Solar System, no one could do more than guess at the origin of these dangerous marauders.

There were wild rumors of an unknown planet where the radium raiders had their base, an Outlaw World. But where was that Outlaw World?

Not even the Commander of the Planet Patrol could answer that. In his headquarters in New York, on Earth, Commander Halk Anders’ bulldog face was grim as he admitted his mystification to two trusted aides.

“We can’t find the raiders until we find their secret base,” he said, “and discover how they’re able to trace every secret radium shipment, and why they loot only radium.” His big bands clenched. “And they must be found and destroyed! Radium is vital as a source of super-atomic power. And they have almost cut off its flow. Where can they possibly be coming from?”

Ezra Gurney, white-haired, black-eyed old veteran marshall of the Patrol, spoke in a skeptical drawl.

“I hope you don’t believe that about the raiders’ Outlaw World maybe bein’ in another dimension or universe?”

“I don’t know,” muttered Anders. “It’s certain the raiders do not have their base on any world of our System.”

Ezra pointed up at a huge wall chart of the Solar System that depicted all its worlds from Vulcan, the little solar satellite, out to distant Pluto.

“Not countin’ Vulcan, which is too hot for life, there’s nine planets, thirty-one moons an’ several hundred asteroids in the System,” he drawled. “What makes you so sure the raiders’ base ain’t on one of them?”

“Because after every foray, the raiders have sped up out of the System,” replied the Commander. “They’ve headed right out into deep space. That’s why we’ve never been able to intercept them.” A haunting doubt crept into his eyes. “Maybe their Outlaw World is in another universe or dimension.”

The second of his two aides, a dark-haired girl, ventured a suggestion. Slim and lovely in tailored space-slacks, she looked out of place in these grimly military surroundings. Yet Joan Randall, ace secret agent of the Patrol, was one of its most brilliant minds. The Commander knew that. It was why he had called her and her old comrade, Marshal Ezra Gurney, to this conference.

“As to the raiders’ uncanny knowledge of radium shipments,” she said, “isn’t it possible they’re using spies planted on radium ships?”

“It could be,” admitted Anders. “But that still wouldn’t explain the big mystery, the Outlaw World.”

He was interrupted by the entrance of an excited young officer in the drab gray uniform of the Patrol.

“Sir, a flash has just come through from the freighter
Orion
that it is being attacked between Saturn and Jupiter!”

Halk Anders instantly touched a switch, connecting his desk interphone with the main telaudio room.

“Cut me into the
Orion
’s call!” he ordered.

Suddenly there came from the instrument the sound of a explosion and the crash of rending metal. Sounds from is telaudio of the ship that was being attacked five hundred million miles out in space!

Through that ominous din came the half-smothered voice of the
Orion’s
telaudio operator:

“We’ve been crippled and are about to be boarded! Our space position is —”

As the operator yelled the coordinates above the din, the Commander shot an order at the officer who had brought him word.

“Flash every Patrol squadron in the Jupiter-Saturn sector to make for that position! Tell them to box the whole region and close in!”

“They’ll be too late,” muttered Ezra Gurney pessimistically. “The raiders are always gone before we get there.”

The Commander listened tensely, but no further sound came from the
Orion
’s telaudio.

“Done for,” he said heavily. “The operator has probably been killed by now.”

Joan Randall’s brown eyes suddenly flashed with excitement.

“Listen! More is coming through-in code!”

From the loud-speaker issued an almost imperceptible sound of light tapping, irregular in rhythm.

“The
Orion
operator is code-tapping a message!” Joan cried. “That’s standard interplanetary code!”

Each of the three could read the code. “Ship taken,” rapped the faint signals. “Leader of radium raiders is Ru Ghur, outlawed Uranian scientist who —”

The code message stopped there, abruptly. And there came a report from the main telaudio room.

“The
Orion
’s beam just went dead, sir. The transmitter must have been destroyed.”

 

HALK ANDERS and Joan and Ezra hardly heard him, for they three were looking at each other in stupefied astonishment.

“Ru Ghur!” Ezra finally burst out. “Why, that’s impossible! Ru Ghur’s been dead for a year!”

The Commander’s eyes narrowed. “Nobody ever saw that Uranian’s body,” he muttered.

Gurney made an impatient gesture. “What difference does that make, Ru Ghur must have perished when he fled the Futuremen. Why, he had only a flimsy little cruiser. He couldn’t have reached another star.”

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