Authors: Edmond Hamilton
Tags: #Sci-Fi & Fantasy
#10 Spring 1942
A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel
Outlaws of the Moon
by Edmond Hamilton
Curt Newton leads his valiant band of Futuremen in the thrilling campaign to preserve a priceless Lunar heritage!
Radio Archives • 2012
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.
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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
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!
Curt Newton leads his valiant band of Futuremen in the thrilling campaign to preserve a priceless Lunar heritage!
“CAPTAIN FUTURE is dead!” The rumbling voice of the big green Jovian space-sailor rose above the laughter and chatter and clink of goblets, in this crowded Venusopolis spacemen’s cafe. He eyed his little knot of companions at the bar, as though challenging them to dispute him.
One of the hard-bitten spacemen, a swarthy little Mercurian, shook his head thoughtfully.
“I’m not so sure. It’s true that the Futuremen have been missing for months. But they’d be a tough bunch to kill.”
“I’ll say they would!” chimed in a lanky, blue Saturnian rocketeer. “Why, Captain Future and those three queer pals of his knew the whole System like the back of your hand.”
“Yes, but this time they went
the System,” rumbled the big Jovian. “Out into uncharted interstellar space, God knows for what reason. And they’ve never come back.”
He drained his goblet of black Venusian swamp-grape wine, wiped his lips and delivered his final word.
“They’ll never come back, now. Everybody’s given up hope for them. Somewhere, somehow, they met their deaths out there among the stars.”
* * * * *
“I tell you, Captain Future
dead!” Albert Wissler said with vehement emphasis to the pilot of the little space-cruiser, bearing the two Earthmen toward the Moon.
It was almost as though Wissler was trying to convince himself. The thin, middle-aged scientist had a faint uneasiness in his bony gray face and blinking eyes. As he sat there in the co-pilot’s chair, his fingers were knotted together nervously in his lap.
“There’s no danger in this with the Futuremen gone for good. Strike,” he repeated to the pilot.
Gil Strike, the pilot, a hawk-eyed young fellow with a mean face, shifted the space stick slightly before he answered.
“If those four devils did come back, and found us fooling around the Moon —” he began.
“Oh, you’re dodging shadows,” retorted Wissler impatiently. “The Futuremen may have been something to fear when they were alive. But their ghosts can’t hurt us!”
“I still wish I hadn’t let you talk me into this,” muttered the pilot, staring ahead with an uneasy frown.
Framed in the bridge window of their little craft, the Moon bulked big ahead. Most of its earthward face was in shadow, but the western limb was a dazzling scimitar of light. Upon that narrow illuminated sector stood out boldly the black blot of the Mare Crisium and the towering ringed peaks of Langrenus and Petavius.
Their ship fell toward the shadowed sphere. This nighted face of the great satellite was bathed in an uncanny green glow. It came from the great green globe of Earth, hanging in the starry heavens overhead. The iridescent light lent an added weirdness to the lunar landscape over which they flew.
The pilot’s hawk like eyes narrowed suddenly. “Just what do you expect to find there that’s so valuable, Wissler?”
“I’ve told you — the scientific secrets of the Futuremen!” exclaimed Wissler. “Future wasn’t just a mere space fighter and adventurer. He was a scientist, too, perhaps the greatest in the System. There’s been more than one rumor of his discoveries and inventions. If we found them —”
“We would appropriate the credit for them and get rich, eh?” said Strike sardonically. “Don’t spend the money yet, Wissler. I don’t see much chance of finding what you’re after, in all that.”
HIS thumb jerked toward the lunar landscape over which they were flying. Fifty miles below lay one of the wildest regions of the Moon, the tumbled, rocky wilderness of the great southwest crater region. In the green glow, the closely clustered craters were a forbidding spectacle.
And everywhere the lunar plains and deserts were cracked by deep fissures. It was known that far beneath them, the Moon was honeycombed by labyrinthine caverns and hollows caused by its unequal cooling ages ago. But daring men, who had attempted to explore the chasms on the surface of this dead world, had met death in the lunar landslides that were so fatally easy to cause.
Other early explorers, seeking to solve the baffling mystery of the perished Lunarian civilization, had themselves died on the glaring plains when their air supply became exhausted. The riddle of the Moon’s past seemed insoluble. There were apparently no valuable mineral deposits. So, from the earliest days of space travel, Earth’s wild satellite had been avoided and was still almost unvisited and unknown.
Strike muttered discouragedly.
“The Futuremen would have their home here well hidden. No one has any idea where it’s located.”
“We’ll find it,” declared Albert Wissler.
He had brought a delicate-looking instrument from a case. It had a needle mounted on a quadrant.
“This is a radioscope,” he told the pilot. “It’s extremely sensitive to the emanations of any radioactive substance. The thing is a recent invention.”
“What’s the good of prospecting for radium here? Everyone knows there’s no radium on the Moon. Future himself said so.”
“That’s just the point!” exclaimed Wissler. “There’s no natural radium deposit on the Moon. So if there’s any radium here, it must be in the Futuremen’s laboratory. They’d have some there for experiments.”
Strike looked at him with more respect.
“I get it now,” he muttered. “Wherever that instrument shows radium to be present, we’ll find the Moon laboratory?”
“That’s the idea,” nodded the thin scientist, blinking rapidly. “The radiograph is sensitive over a two-hundred-mile range. We’ll quarter back and forth over the surface till it shows something.”
He had brought a large Moon chart. Using it as a guide, the two men began their search of the lunar surface. The little cruiser flew northward at steady velocity, over the green-lit wilderness of craters. Clear to the northern pole of the satellite they flew, without the radiograph needle stirring.
Strike turned the little ship and flew south again on a more easterly course. Over the giant ranges of the Caucasus and Apennines they sped, close past the towering ramparts of Copernicus, on southward until they had passed over Tycho’s numerous battlemented peaks.
Wissler had watched the radioscope with nervous intensity, but its needle had not once moved upon the quadrant.
“Your idea’s good — except it doesn’t work,” came Strike’s sour comment. “How do you know Captain Future wouldn’t have rayproofed his place, so nobody could use this plan of yours to locate it?”
Wissler’s face fell.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. “Maybe he did do that. But we’ll go on looking, anyway. We’ll try the other side.”
The pilot flew on southward past Tycho and they passed around to the other side of the Moon, the side that men had never seen until the beginning of space travel. This other side lay bathed in the blazing glare of the full lunar day. Its peak and plains and craters reflected the intolerable brilliance of the unsoftened face of the Sun.
“Fly north and we’ll quarter over this side in the same way,” Wissler said doggedly.
But the result was negative.
“Not a quiver of the needle,” murmured Wissler, blinking discouragedly at the radioscope.
“Your plan’s a washout — Future’s Moon laboratory must be rayproofed,” muttered Strike. He looked uneasily across the scorching, savage wilderness. “Let’s get away from this devilish world!”
“Not yet,” pleaded Wissler. “There’s Great North Chasm ahead — let’s try it. The Moon laboratory might be hidden down in it.”
The tough young pilot’s uneasiness increased.
“I’m not going to fly down into that ghastly hole! I’ve heard old stories —”
“Just superstitious legends,” sniffed the scientist. “All right, fly over it from this height, if you’re scared.”
The greatest wonder of the Moon was coming into view ahead. From east to west, for eight hundred miles across the barren lunar plain, extended a colossal, yawning chasm. It was forty miles wide. Its sheer rock sides dropped down into a darkness of unguessable depths.
Twenty miles, Wissler knew, was the average depth of Great North Chasm. Its bottom was a realm of perpetual, freezing darkness. But long ago the first space pioneers had explored it, and had found in it those remnants of strange and ancient lunar civilization that had given rise to so many superstitious tales.
“Good Lord, look at that!” yelled Wissler suddenly, his eyes bulging at the radioscope.
The needle of the instrument had begun to jerk in ever more agitated fashion on its quadrant dial, as they flew toward the great canyon.
“That means radium somewhere down there ahead!” exclaimed Strike excitedly. “Then we’ve found the Moon laboratory’s location?”
“No — we haven’t,” blurted Albert Wissler, through lips stiff with amazement. “No small amount of radium such as Future’s laboratory might contain could cause this on the radioscope!”
He stared at the pilot, his pale eyes blinking rapidly. “Only a great natural deposit of radium down under the lunar crust could cause this!”
“Impossible!” exclaimed Strike, startled. “Captain Future himself always said there was no radium on the Moon.”
“Future said that, and made the System believe it, but he was either lying or didn’t know about this deposit!” Wissler cried.
His thin face was flushed with overpowering excitement.
“Stay circling over the chasm — I’ll take directional readings to locate the deposit exactly.”
For almost two hours, the small space-cruiser droned in widening circles back and forth over the yawning blackness of the great canyon. Wissler feverishly noted each reading of the radioscope needle.
“That’s enough,” he breathed finally. “It won’t take me long to calculate it now.”
The pilot kept the cruiser circling idly on throttled rockets while Wissler made his excited calculations. Finally the scientist raised his head.
“One of the biggest radium ore deposits in the System’s history!” he choked. “But it’s deep under the lunar crust — more than fifty miles deep. There must be thousands of tons of it, to register so strongly.”
GIL STRIKE wet his lips. “Thousands of tons?” he whispered. “Why, that much high-percentage radium ore would be worth billions!”
“More than that!” retorted Wissler exultantly. “This is the last big, virgin radium deposit in the System. And all the planets are clamoring for more radium now, to provide even cheaper atomic power.
Strike’s avid excitement faded.
“But what good will finding it do us? The System Government won’t let it be mined. They never give anybody a concession on the Moon, without Captain Future’s consent.”
“Ah, but Captain Future has been given up for dead now,” reminded Albert Wissler. “Besides, the people of the System aren’t going to have so high an opinion of Future when they learn of this radium he hoarded.”
The scientist’s blinking eyes gleamed.
“We’re going to take this discovery to Larsen King, the big planetary promoter. His corporation has power and influence. He’ll force a concession for us out of the Government.”
The pilot frowned.
“Perhaps King could, but he’d cheat us out of our share. I’ve heard how ruthless and tricky he is.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll see that King doesn’t trick us,” Wissler assured him. “And when his publicity machine gets through, the people of the System are going to have so low an opinion of the late Captain Future, the Government will be glad to throw the Moon open for exploitation.”
He flushed exultantly.
“Then we’ll not only share in the radium profits, we’ll also be able to search out Future’s Moon laboratory at leisure. Now hurry back to Earth, Strike, and we’ll start the ball rolling!”
The little cruiser darted up into the starry vault of space and roared urgently back toward the great, hanging globe of Earth.
The Moon brooded on in unbroken silence, unaware that a fateful, climactic chapter of its dark history had begun.