Maza of the Moon - Otis Adelbert Kline - ebook

Maza of the Moon ebook

Otis Adelbert Kline

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A missile is fired from earth to hit the surface of the moon. It is successful and the missilemen are heroes, until... THE MOON FIRES BACK! Terrible lunar missiles blast New York, London, and Paris. And an ultimatum is delivered from the unsuspected civilization of our satellite: „You have attacked us! You will pay the penalty! „. The Otis Adelbert Kline’s second book who was an adventure and science-fiction novelist of the pulp era. He is best known for his interplanetary adventure novels set on Venus and Mars, which instantly became science-fiction classics. A rousing space opera, first published as a four-part serial in ARGOSY, in which earth is threatened with destruction by the inhabitants of the moon. „Maza of the Moon” is doing all of those things you expect and want a classic pulp sci-fi to do, not the least of which being to put a smile on your face.

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Liczba stron: 248

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Contents

1. A DIFFICULT PROJECT

2. LAUNCHED

3. STARTLING RESULTS

4. MOON PEOPLE

5. THE ULTIMATUM OF P’AN-KU

6. TREACHERY

7. A PERILOUS JOURNEY

8. DEATH RAYS

9. A VICIOUS PLANT

10. ABDUCTION

11. THE CAVERNS OF THE MOON

12. AERIAL BATTLE

13. FLYING REPTILES

14. A NOTE OF APPEAL

15. MOON TRAVEL

16. TED ATTACKS

17. ALLIANCE

18. TORTURE CHAMBERS

19. DUNGEONS OF DARKNESS

20. TRAPPED

21. EARTH’S OFFENSIVE

22. THE FALL OF PEILONG

1. A DIFFICULT PROJECT

“We’ve got to win that reward, Roger, or close up shop.”

Ted Dustin, youthful president and general manager of Theodore Dustin, Inc., reached mechanically for his tobacco pouch, filled his black briar, and sighed.

Roger Sanders, assistant to the president, deposited his sheaf of papers on his desk, closed the door to the private office, and sat down in the chair facing his superior.

“You mean–?”

“I mean,” replied Dustin, flicking his lighter with his thumb, “that in order to prepare the projectile for launching, we’ve spent every cent we had, and borrowed a lot besides. Theodore Dustin, Inc., is flat broke, and the plant is mortgaged from roof to drains. If we don’t win that reward our creditors will be picking our bones in thirty days.”

“Mr. Dustin.” A female voice, apparently issuing from empty air, spoke his name. He turned to the radiovisiphone, a plain looking disc resting on a small pedestal at his elbow. It was wireless, and contained no buttons, levers or controls of any kind.

“Yes.” As he spoke, the picture of his information clerk flashed on the disc. The word “Yes” had completed the connection.

“Mr. Evans of the ‘Globe’ would like to know if you are ready to interview the representatives of the press.”

“Any other reporters waiting?”

“There are twenty-seven in the reception room. Mr. Evans says you told them all to come at once.”

“I did,” replied Dustin. “Send them up in five minutes. Off.”

When he spoke the word “Off,” the picture disappeared, the connection having been broken by this word uttered alone with sharp emphasis.

While Roger went out for chairs, he rose and walked to the window. For some time he stood there, gazing at the smokeless, chimney-less factories beneath him. During twenty of the thirty years of his life, or until 1954, there had been chimneys on these factories. Combustion–the burning of coal and oil–had been necessary to keep their wheels turning.

But Dustin had changed all this by his invention which economically captured and stored the energy of the sun, converting it into electricity for light, heat and power, and putting manufacturing on a newer, cleaner basis. Now, at the age of thirty, he had lived to see his sun power units in almost universal use.

The money derived from this he had immediately diverted to research and experiment with a still mightier objective in view–to harness the power of the atom. On the eve of success he found his funds nearly dissipated, and therefore spent his last few dollars in the building of an emplacement, a gun, and a projectile, for the purpose of winning the million dollar reward offered by the Associated Governments of the Earth to the man who could first succeed in touching the moon with a finger of terrestrial matter.

He turned from the window as Roger ushered in a group of eager, expectant reporters, and said:

“Take seats, gentlemen.”

Twenty-eight chairs creaked. Twenty-eight automatic interview recorders were quickly swung forward on their shoulder straps and adjusted. Then there was a tense moment of silence.

Ted cleared his throat.

“You fellows know,” he said, “that science, having conquered the air, now wants to conquer interplanetary space. The first logical step is the shortest one. The nearest heavenly body being our moon, and that being far enough away to present a pretty tough problem, the princely reward of a million dollars has been offered the man who will first send a projectile or vehicle across this space and prove it to the satisfaction of the Associated Governments of the Earth.

“Through some mysterious channel of communication, known only to you reporters, you found out that I had entered the race. Naturally I have, up until now, kept my plans a secret from the public and my competitors. But that’s all over with, now. The gun, which was constructed according to my specifications by the American Ordnance Corporation, has a bore of seven feet and a length of three hundred and fifty. Despite the fact that it will be reinforced to more than four times the proportionate thickness of the most powerful guns built today, my estimates show that it will be destroyed when the projectile is fired. It was shipped to Daphne Major, one of the smaller of the Galapagos Islands near the equator, on March 10th. My projectile, which was manufactured in my own factory, was shipped today, fully assembled and crated, in an International Air Freighter.

“I’ve calculated that March 20th will be the most favorable day for firing my projectile, as it will be the day when the moon, in its endless race with our planet around the sun, will cross the path of the earth. The projectile will be timed and fired to overcome the forward speed and gravity pull of the earth, travel in the arc imparted to it by the earth’s axial rotation, and wait for the moon at precisely the right point in space, according to my calculations. Its principle will greatly resemble that of the floating mines dropped by minelayers in the World War of forty years ago.

“The force which will send the projectile out into space is one which I have, after countless experiments, succeeded in liberating and, to some extent, directing. It’s the terrific force locked in the atom.

“The motions of the projectile, after it has left the earth, will be automatically controlled and corrected by my latest invention, the atomotor, a mechanism which separates electrons from protons and utilizes the terrific repulsive force of protons toward protons and electrons toward electrons, permitting them to escape through specially constructed cylinders after they have imparted their energy to the cylinder heads and thence to the projectile. These cylinders are pointed in all directions, thus making it possible for the automatic course-corrector to control the motions of the projectile.

“The projectile will be protected at the base by a firing plate of easily melted metal, which will be destroyed before it leaves the earth’s atmosphere. It will also be protected by six outer layers of reinforced asbestos with braced vacuum spaces between them.

“In the head of the projectile is a charge of explosive which will be set off by contact with any solid object. This powerful explosive will, when ignited, emit a lurid flash of light that will be easily visible if it strikes the dark side of the moon, and also a thick cloud of black, non-luminous smoke that will spread over a circle a hundred miles in diameter will be readily discernible if it strikes the light side.

“On tomorrow, the sixteenth, I leave for Daphne Major for the purpose of loading and pointing the gun.”

“That’s all there is to the story, fellows, until after the gun is fired.”

Roger opened the door, and the reporters, after wishing the young inventor success, filed out.

2. LAUNCHED

On the morning of March 16th, Dustin and Sanders set out for the Galapagos in the former’s swift Blettendorf super-electroplane, which was capable of a speed of eight hundred miles an hour. They arrived about noon and worked assiduously, with the result that the gun was loaded and ready for the Herculean task of lowering it into the emplacement by night.

On the seventeenth it was pointed according to the calculations of the young inventor, and on the eighteenth was braced in place by hundreds of tons of special, fast-setting, reinforced concrete.

On the nineteenth the U.S. Aerial Battleship Hawaii arrived with a group of trained observers, representing the Associated Governments of the Earth. She was equipped with high power telescopes, spectroscopes, and photographic apparatus, all to be used by or under the direction of this assembly of picked scientists.

Busy as he was in getting his men and equipment loaded and away from the danger zone, Dustin was compelled to hold a reception for his distinguished visitors, show them the gun and its emplacement, and answer a thousand questions. Sanders, however, assumed the burdens of the executive to such good purpose that before the scientists had boarded the Hawaii to be taken to their point of observation and there await the zero hour, he had everything loaded and off the island.

All that night, and up until one thirty on the twentieth, the inventor busied himself connecting the automatic firing apparatus and seeing that it was in perfect order.

By that time, Dustin, Sanders and Bevans, the pilot, were the only humans left in the archipelago. After a cold lunch and a final tour of inspection, each man made ready to play his part.

It was estimated that the moon would cross the path of the earth at 6 hours, 53 minutes and 13 seconds past noon, central standard time. This brought the firing time to 2 hours, 32 minutes and 22 seconds past noon, or approximately 2:30 P.M.

Promptly at 2:20, Bevans started the helicopter blades and rising above the rim of the crater headed northwest toward the point on the equator, 97 1/2 degrees west longitude, which it was thought would be most favorable for observation, and to which the scientists had gone the evening before. This was less than a forty minute run for the powerful super-electroplane.

As they hurtled along, Ted glanced, from time to time, at the chronometer. At 2:30 he hastily unslung his binoculars, opened the rear window and trained them in the direction of Daphne Major.

“Can’t see the island from here, can you?”

“Hardly. It’s a good two hundred and fifty miles back and we couldn’t possibly rise high enough to bring it to our horizon line.”

“Then what do you expect to see?”

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