[prossimamente verrà tradotto..., ndt]



L. Ron Hubbard



The winch on the truck wound inward,

growling and snapping and groaning. Seaweed

whipped and wound and unwound on

the taut, protesting cables as they dragged

an object toward the beach from under the


The intensity of the watching group

had no eye for the beauty of the scene; the

soft purling of the small waves, the soothing

whisper of the tropical wind, the distant

clatter of a palm, the rich gold of sand and

crystal aquamarine of water might as well

have been a tourist poster in a waste basket.

The rigid cordon of Marines, facing

outward, automatic weapons in hand, had

fierce eyes against any threatened intrusion

into the site. VIPs that must not be approached,

an object that was top secret and

a sergeant with a hangover increased their

trigger-happy vigilance.

Several supercilious scientists gazed

benignly at the water, tolerantly and learnedly

waiting for the object to appear, hoping

no one had penetrated the fact that they

hadn’t a clue.

Jedgar, the jut-jawed czar of all US police

and security forces scowled with ferocity

at the water.

God damn president, he ought to have

his ass kicked, getting him out here for

what. God damn hobby-happy bastard. So

it’s an historical find. So it may be from

outer space. Sand fleas when he had an appointment

at the race track with Bennie the

Dip. $30,000 payoff via the window.

Damned junkie, he’d probably blow it or

forget it. What the hell was he doing out

here playing nursemaid to his nibs’ crap

hobby? Nursemaid, that’s what he was.

God damn president. Bennie better pay up.

Jedgar glared at the water as though about

to arrest it on suspicion.

On the other side of the groaning cables

sat a disconsolate young man in a scuba

suit. He twisted his helmet and mask in his

hands around and around. While he might

have the nerve to face the monsters of the

deep, what were those compared to US officials.

Damned government. He ought to

have kept his mouth shut. No breaks. He

always lucked out. Here he’d made the find,

personally and privately and even paid for

his own bike gas and air. Well, an orphan is

an orphan. Still, there was law about ownership.

You couldn’t give up just like that.

One more try. If it didn’t work…

The young man braced himself, got to

his feet and wiped some of the sand off his

pants. How would John Wayne handle this

on the late-late show? One more try.

The young man ducked under the

growling cables and walked up to Jedgar

who gave him not a glance.

Now or never. ”It’s mine! I insist it’s

mine! I found it. If it weren’t for me you

wouldn’t even know of its existence!”

Jedgar did not even take his eyes off

the water. He put out an arm and brushed

the young man sideways.

The leading scientist of the group found

his own view obstructed. He never wore“

glasses despite needing them as they

spoiled his image of the tawnymaned man

of science. He peered at the young man. In

his benign voice, reserved for assistants he

intended to fire, he said, ”You don’t understand.

Such finds as this belong to the world

of science, to the museums, to the universities.”

Having registered now that there was a

dispute, Jedgar tore his eyes from the water

and stabbed them at the young man.

Reaching out with a sudden and practiced

cop hand, he seized the front of the young

man’s scuba suit.

”You give me any more crap,” Jedgar

yanked the young man close to him, ”and

you’ll be charged with conspiracy to steal

archeological treasures. Section 896. Three


years in jail. Not one more word out of you.

Not to the public! Not to your friends! Not

to the press!” He hurled the young man

from him violently so that he staggered and


”This,” pronounced Jedgar, ”is a state


The young man looked up from the

ground, defeated. He looked out to where a

government scuba diver was guiding in the

cables. There was no sympathy there. He

looked at the tense Marine backs. He

looked at the scientists. He looked at Jedgar.

He was totally, completely and utterly

ignored. He had never felt more lonely.

He got up and unsteadily wandered

across the sand. Head down, shuffling, he

went out through the cordon and wandered

away through the distant crowd.

The winch cables groaned on, coiling

and twisting. The government scuba diver

watched the cables. The group on the sand

stared, waiting.

A greenish sea-coated metal object began

to emerge.

It had no bolt studs, no apparent

seams. It was many planed, symmetrical.

First one, then two, then a the eight foot

diameter of it came into full view.

”All right!” yelled Jedgar. ”Let’s get the

thing loaded on a plane.” Maybe he could

still get to the race track.

Washington the fair, Washington the

beautiful, home of the incorruptible politician

and the shining knights of social justice,

basked in the summer sun, owned, operated

and controlled as usual by the bankers and

their police.

The Institute sat on a low hill, securely

backed by the printing plant that poured

the newly printed money into the hands of

the deserving few. As much summer sun as

could get through the smog entered the windows

of a large hall and fell upon the object.

All eight feet of it had been placed

against one wall. It had been polished up a

bit – at least the sand had been removed. It

had two small panels, oblong sealed rectangles,

much like slitted eyes and these

seemed to stare blindly into the hall facing

it, waiting.

Several feet in front of it, Jedgar and the

leading scientist stood. The President, who

had just arrived with his usual escort, joined


Excitement agitated the President’s

eyes. Ever since he had been a little boy he

had been interested in such things. It might

be something from outer space, it might be

some archeological wonder. He had strictly

forbidden them to tinker with it. These scientists

monkeyed so. Who knows but what

it might be some discovery he could claim

the patronage for and help his votes and

show he was an intellectual. Maybe somebody

would work out its secrets and make

some great new weapon he could use as a

big stick. Maybe it held secrets that would

blow everything up. His background training

for his hobby consisted of a chemistry

set somebody had given him at the age of

ten and which he had used mainly to make


The President took his eyes off the

object and looked around. ”And what have

we guessed so far?”

The leading scientist swept back his

tawny hair, which he hoped would come to

look like Einstein’s. It didn’t much matter

what he told the President so long as it

added up to new grants for the Institute and

new honors for himself. ”Well, Mr. President,

we’re not at all sure what it is. It must

have been imbedded in a cliff side and when

that fell into the sea, it exposed itself. I’m

having it analyzed now.” And he pointed to

the right of the object.

Beyond the object a table of instruments

had been set up – those used in carbon

half-life estimations of age, radiation


detection, electrical detonators – all strewn

about in disorderly jury-rigs. White-coated

and serious, the instrument man was

searching through the scattered papers and

getting them in some kind of order.

”All right,” said the instrument technician,

”I think I’ve got it.” He frowned heavily

at a note. ”It’s some kind of alloy we

have never achieved.”

The leading scientist nodded and said,

”Yes,” hoping it sounded as though he knew

it already.”

The instrument technician pulled a wad

of tape out of the notes and, with some difficulty,

stretched it out. ”This is stretching

our equipment, but I’d say that, according

to the carbon age test, this thing is tens of

millions of years old close to seventy-five

million years old at an estimate.”

The leading scientist’s eyes flashed

wider. Damn the technician. You never told

laymen things that were likely to scare them

off. You damped it down a bit.

But the heedless technician bored on.

”It’s also been subject to heavy radiation I

think, but the count is too faint to tell. No

longer dangerous. It doesn’t appear to be

explosive but there is some sort of energy

charge in there.”

The President nodded intellectually.

”Well, why not get on with finding what it

does, or something.”

Jedgar scowled at the scientists,

scowled at the machine and jutted his jaw at

the President. Jedgar was in no pleasant

mood. He had missed Bennie the Dip and

30 Gs. This bastard was just a kid playing

with toys.

”Mr. President,” said Jedgar in a respectful-

sounding voice, ”I know of your

interest in such things and how this is a scientific

age and so forth, but we ain’t got any

guarantee that that damned thing won’t

blow up. The Secret Service would insist”

The President waved him off with an

indolent hand and turned to the leading scientist.

”Go ahead, Doctor. I am truly intrigued.”

The two approached the object, leaving

Jedgar standing alone in the center of the


The two front plates of the machine

continued to stare blindly. The leading scientist

poked a finger at the left hand one.

”Jenkins says this one is apparently moveable.

But there’s no getting into it with

drills. It just breaks the bits.”

The President looked curiously at the

plate. It had a number of raised dots and

marks and he fingered them. First there

were ten dots in a line, low and to the left.

Then a circle about an inch and a half in diameter

with a radius mark. Then a straight

line at the level of the bottom of the circle

and about as long as the circle was round.

Then two dots at the end of the line but at a

height level with the top of the circle. After

that came a wide gap. And to the right of

the gap were a group of dots arranged so

that as dots they made up small individual

groups of one to nine. Part of this last

group was a square that was empty.

”Those,” said the leading scientist,

”appear to be meaningful, some sort of an

equation perhaps.” He coughed depreciatingly.

”My assistant Jenkins says whoever

possibly made this didn’t want barbarians

to open it and put a code on it that only an

advanced civilization could resolve.” Always

feed the laymen the interesting bits

even when one personally might discount

them. And let assistants take the rap if they

were challenged. ”Isn’t that what you said,


Jenkins had come out of a hole somewhere

and crept up on the group. He was

short, poorly formed as a man, looking as if

he had borrowed his white coat from an

elephant. His glasses were three quarters of

an inch thick which made his pupils look


like enlarged specimens. He was very, very

nervous. Jenkins seldom got very brave, and

today, finding himself in company with the

President and the top cop of the country,

he was having a hard time with his nerve.

Nevertheless he braved up to it.

He spoke all in a rush. ”When we

couldn’t make a dent in it with a sledge

hammer, I guessed it might be some culture

superior to ours. So… ” He bogged down.

The leading scientist looked at him in

contemptuous tolerance. ”Well, well, come


Jenkins took a deep breath. ”I think…

begging your pardon Mr. President and

all… I think that’s ”pi”, the radius of a circle.”

He yanked a book, a table of logarithms

out of his enormous jacket pocket

and tremblingly opened it to where he had

made a marker. God help him if he was

looking smarter than his boss. That old bastard

would put an assistant that looked like

competition back on an instructor’s post as

quick as look at him.

The leading scientist said tolerantly,

”Well, come on. No matter how silly it may

be, we’re quite receptive.”

Appalled at his own bravery, Jenkins

dived all the way in. ”That first row of dots

on the left must mean common base ten

logarithms, the circle and line must mean

pi – the circle is the same length as the

line – I measured them – the two dots there

must mean squared, the gap must mean

equals and that group of dots on the right

must mean one through nine and zero so

you can punch in the answer if you figure it


He shakingly found a place in the book

and held it close to his glasses. ”The log of

3.14 is 0.4969 and the answer to that

squared is 0.9938.” He looked up, scared

but brave. ”The combination to that thing is

0.9938 he swallowed. ”If you let me push

the dots… ”

The smile of the leading scientist had a

certain amount of hydrochloric acid in it.

Never a word in all that about how his boss

had suggested… even if not true. An instructor’s

post in some desegregated school

would certainly be in order.

”I think,” said the leading scientist,

”that I’m at least capable of pushing the


Without any great expectations of anything

happening, he probed an index finger

over the dot groups one by one. A common

base log squared was not very advanced

math in his opinion, although it is true that

pi was a pretty good idea – communication

was possible without arbitrary symbols.

Now had they put a formula on it in quantum


A flaring green light glared in the other


The leading scientist and the President

jumped back.

The green turned into a racing, flashing

red that played over their startled faces.

A low whine began to ascend. It ended

sharply with a loud snap. Jedgar went for

his gun. The left hand plate ceased to flash

and turned into a criss cross of white lines

like a speaker grid.

In a saw-toothed, metallic voice, the

object spoke. ”Mark 92 Vocotranslator. All

sound and information is now coming to

you by thought concept and visual feedback

so that you hear as though spoken in your

own language.”

The group looked at it wide-eyed. The

voice continued. ”You have activated the

power charge. It will last for two years continuous

running and many times that used

intermittently. It will shut off automatically

at the end of this use. Please step back at

least two paces.”

There was an earsplitting whine and a

creak and a crash. The whole front face of

the object below the panels flashed wide


open. It was very hard on their nerves and

confirmed Jedgar’s solid opinion, which

was usually wrong, that it was a bomb after

all. The gun in his hand shook but he

couldn’t see anything to shoot at except a

deep wide cavity which had been disclosed

by the opening doors.

”Please be seated,” said the object politely.

The President was suddenly mindful of

his traditional White House responsibilities.

He rose to the crisis. ”Clear the room! This

may contain confidential information. It can


This more routine attitude served to

clear Jedgar’s scrambled wits. It was an order

he could understand. He scowled around

him. As he was still holding onto his gun,

the leading scientist and all others in the

room made haste to comply. By various

doors they left.

Jedgar scurried around the hall and

turned keys in locks, looked behind and under

things with a very practiced eye, used

his gun muzzle to see if a bug was anywhere

in the potted palms and, satisfied,

found two chairs and brought them back to

the area in front of the object.

He seated the President and then, reversing

his own chair and still holding his

gun, sat down. It occurred to him that the

damned thing seemed to know they weren’t

ready until they were and he glared at it.

The President continued to stare into

the black cavity. It was quite wide and quite

dark. He nervously hoped no monster

would spring out of it or that it didn’t turn

on a sudden vacuum, suck them in and send

them spinning off into space.

Jedgar looked around the roam one final

time to see if they were alone. The screen at

the back of the cavity flickered, faltered and

then turned on in full color.


The music was faintly oriental and the

drums were sad.

A tattered and ripped up operations

room showed the signs of battle.

The man at the desk was handsome,

young, but his face was disfigured with a

bandage around his forehead. The plain

khaki blouse he wore was singed over the

left shoulder. He looked vital, competent,


He was holding a sheaf of papers in his

hand, reports, notes, records.

”We assume,” he said, ”that as you

have solved this capsule, your civilization

has advanced to a high standard of technology

– possibly nuclear fission, computers,

even space flight – or at least you are capable

of these things in your immediate future.

”You have a right to know the violent

history of your planet. Some day when

grass has grown again and the few pitiful

survivors have multiplied into a culture,

you will know what to do with this and

understand it.

”My name is Mish, a Loyal Officer of

the People of the Galactic Confederation.”

He stretched his hand behind him to the

wall. There a star map glittered and sparkled.

”You may never have heard of the

Galactic Confederation. It consisted of 21

stars and their 76 inhabited planets. You

were one of those planets.

”Earth was a beautiful jewel then. It

had vast cities, lovely forests and mountains

and billions of inhabitants.

”But all was not calm. Things had happened,

not just on Earth but all over the


He propped up a screen up on his

desk. A mob appeared on it, an angry mob

carrying placards, surging and seething outside

a building.

Mish continued, ”Throughout the Galaxy

symptoms of unrest, hitherto unknown


in the Confederation were occurring as you

can see by these news clips.”

An old woman was being mugged on

the street. She fell. One of the muggers

snatched her purse, the other kicked her in

the face.

”Crime was becoming commonplace.”

A littered street lined with broken shop

windows appeared.

”When there was a power failure in a

major city, thousands of people began a

fury of looting and burning.”

A school yard appeared. A young girl

was being attacked by a mob of thugs.

”All these conditions had begun in the

past eight years.”

A horde of secret police in grey-green

uniforms and riot dress were shown charging

a mob.

”The popularity of the government had

dropped to an all time low.”

A tank was shown attacked by a mob.

They turned it over on its side.

A government building was shown. The

huge sign ”Tax Office” was suddenly obscured

by a blast of flame.

”The words ’idealism’ and ’patriotism’

had become meaningless throughout the 76


A large array of assorted arms and explosives

were being displayed by police, a

cache discovered in a basement, enough material

to fight a regiment.

”Gun running had become a highly

profitable business.”

Trucks loaded with bales of drugs were

being unloaded by police and tumbled into a

huge bonfire.

”Organized crime was profiting as

never before. To combat it hundreds of

thousands of secret police were being recruited

by the government.”

Long ranks of men in grey-green uniforms

were shown drawn up.

A colored agitator, speaking from a

platform was shown haranguing a mob. A

secret policeman lined the speaker up in the

sights of a blast rifle and fired. The agitator

was smashed backwards.

”But the government in its turn was

using more and more force in an attempt to

control the violence.”

A civilian sniper appeared on a parapet

of a building. Beyond him a city spread out.

The sniper fired down into the street.

”And reprisals were earning reprisals in

their turn.”

Mish folded the screen. He looked at

his notes and then up again.

”The Galactic Confederation was very

old. It had endured for thousands and thousands

of years. It had been happy, prosperous

and peaceful.

”The planets were politically democratic.

The people elected their own governors

and civil officials and the entire Galaxy

was governed by the Congress of Loyal Officers

of the People. These were trained

men, skilled in political and martial arts.

When they were graduated from their academy

they stood for election to the Congress

and those chosen loyally served the people.

”There was also an executive branch

headed by the Supreme Ruler, a man also

elected by the people and responsible for

the day to day running of the Confederation

but under the laws and appropriations of


Mish laid down his notes.

”The Congress of the Loyal Officers of

the People met every ten years. Matters of

state, finances and other concerns had been

smooth and routine in the 2053rd Congress.

Indeed there had been no upsets at all

throughout the Galaxy.

”The Grey Invasion had occurred just

before that. An invader had attempted a

destruction of the Confederation, had sailed

in in savage attack and had been effectively

and efficiently destroyed. He had come


from another Galaxy. But he had found the

Confederation prepared and alert and -that

was the end of him.

”The Grey Invasion was shot out of

space even before full mobilization could

occur on Earth and our planets and the

whole affair had become ancient history.

”The 2053rd Congress had done what

was necessary to handle all that and it was

finished. Thus it was with considerable

concern that the Loyal Officers came to the

2054th Congress.

”Revolt was growing in the Stars.

”And it was in this atmosphere that the

2054th Congress met to decide what course

to take. On Home Planet, many light years

away from Earth, the Loyal Officers of the

People were arriving from every part of the



The Announcer on his platform gazed

across the vast spaceport of Home Planet.

Behind him a military band in resplendent

white and blue uniforms blared joyous music.

Before him spread a tumultuous vista of

arriving ships, surging crowds and whipping


Two thousand planetary troops with

their guidons, plumes and drummers lined

both sides of the concourse facing inward,

an honor guard.

Police cordons blocked tens of thousands

of people safely away from the

landing ships and the concourse.

The harried staff of the Announcer hectically

tried to catch everything in their radio

cameras, tried to spot everyone and

write down the names of arrivals and data

about them and pass the result to the Announcer.

Well aware that his voice was carrying

across this whole vast assemblage through

huge public address horns, not only across

and in almost every room of the limitless

city beyond the field, but also across the

stars to seventy-five other planets, the Announcer

spoke in a rapid, impressive

monologue, kept going by the slips passed

to him by his staff.

He was apprehensive. Just two days

ago these mobs had been surging through

streets and burning. He had thirty-three

staff here including his cameramen and this

was a very visible platform, easily rushed.

He had half a million credits in equipment

strewn around here and one firebomb would

take it all. He felt responsible as well. What

he said was going to this crowd and huge

viewscreens around the field as well as everyone

else in the Galaxy. The regular announcer

for such things had declined today

and he had had to take over even though he

was actually the producer. Soothe them,

soothe them. Nervous business.

”Hope is a wonderful thing! Looking

across the field of Home Planet today you

would not think that half the inhabited

worlds of the Galaxy were close to outright

revolt. Such is the confidence of the people

in the Congress. There isn’t even a demonstration

placard out there today.” He

reached urgently to his staff for another slip

of paper.

Ship after ship was landing from a sky

full of ships. As each one swooped down, a

Loyal Officer would step out, promptly

surrounded by guards, and stride toward the


”Ah, what a great day, a great day,”

said the Announcer, reaching beseechingly

for more slips from his staff. ”The most

famous names of the entire Galactic Confederation

are arriving on this field this afternoon.

The two thousand and fifty –

fourth Congress of the Loyal Officers is

beginning auspiciously.”

The high pitched whine of circling


ships, the roar of the crowd and the upsurge

of the band as they began a new piece blotted

his voice for a moment. He stepped

closer to his dozen cube shaped mikes and

his sound engineer frantically re-adjusted

his levels.

”The Loyal Officers, the Loyal Officers

of the People, heading 76 planets for the 21

star systems of the Confederation, one by

one are coming up this concourse… ” One

of his staff got a piece of paper into his

hand and he looked at it urgently and then

smiled happily.

”Hah! Here is Rawl!”

The group which had entered the field

end of the Concourse was larger than others,

being joined by military officers in

white and blue and some civilians. They

were jostling one another, some of them

trying to reach through and shake hands

with the man at the center.

Rawl was smiling good-naturedly. He

was a tall, athletic man, handsome in a blunt

sort of way. He wore the plain khaki trousers,

blouse and cap of a Loyal Officer.

The Announcer stood on tiptoe to see

better over his mikes. ”Rawl, the Loyal Officer

in charge of Earth. Rawl, Speaker of

the Congress! You have heard his name

connected with every great deed and decency!”

A surge in the outer crowds became a

cheer roaring up to blanket the whine of

circling ships. Rawl was looking up around

at the familiar faces, smiling, trying to shake

each hand extended to him. His progress up

the concourse was being slowed by the increasing

pressure. He drew a long breath

and then caught sight of a drummer boy in

the ranks of the Ninth Army honor guard

and winked at him. The drummer boy

grinned happily and suddenly added to the

din with a bursting roll upon his drum.

Just behind Rawl’s group was another.

Mish, the center of it, pushed forward,

trying to reach Rawl. The Announcer didn’t

need another slip. ”And there is Mish!

Mish, Loyal Officer in charge of the Outer

Limits, Rawl’s best friend! You know the

story well of how these two stood off the

entire fleet of the Grey Invader until our

own battle fleet could arrive. And you

know their daring rescue of the freighter

Aldebaran… ”

Mish finally struggled through the mass

and tapped Rawl’s shoulder. They gripped

each other’s hand and beamed, their greeting

lost in the excited babble of the groups, the

swelling roar of the crowd and the band

suddenly tearing into ”Grey Invader Victory”.

The Announcer was staring down at a

new sheet of paper jammed into his hand

urgently. He looked at it, his pleasure

evaporating, and followed the stabbing finger

of an assistant. Several radio cameras

whirled in that direction.

Standing like a naked sword, the black

tower of the spaceport administration

building stabbed at the sky and circling


A balcony near its top was draped in

somber green. A black wreath with twentyone

stars hung from the railing.

”Just now,” said the Announcer in a

much changed tone, ”on the receiving balcony

of the Administration tower there has

appeared the party of the Supreme Ruler.”

The Announcer made sure the radio

cameras were centered on the balcony.

”There he is, Xenu, the Supreme Ruler of

the Galactic Confederation.”

Xenu, bitter faced, sardonic, leaning

heavily on a cane that was more like a club,

limped forward to the front edge of the

draped railing. He glared down at the stalled

group on the concourse below and did not

like what he saw. The dark somberness of

his civilian suit, the darkness of his hair and

face seemed to spread outward. The cheerREVOLT


ing below dimmed off to silence. The band

faltered and died down.

The Announcer’s voice was overly

loud suddenly for only the whine of ships

lay over the field. ”He is accompanied today

by Chi, the illustrious Minister of Police

of the Galactic Confederation.”

Chi, jut-jawed, bulldog faced, squat and

as crudely built as his civilian suit was

rumpled, was oblivious by any announcement.

He stepped up to Xenu’s side and

looked belligerently down at the stalled

groups on the concourse.

The Announcer was glad to get off the

subject. He frantically waved to his cameramen

to target the right side of the balcony.

”And here is something of interest.

He has brought with him today his new

mistress, the Lady Min!”

Lady Min caught the cue from the PA

and stepped forward to the balcony railing.

She was a warm and smashingly lovely

woman, splendidly gowned in gold. The

band abruptly struck up a lively theater


”As no one needs to be told, Lady Min

is the foremost stage star of the Galaxy!”

With perfect poise, Lady Min curtsied.

There was a spattering of applause, a few

cheers. She spread her hands to receive the

applause and it increased. She blew a kiss

and the applause increased again.

The Announcer, although he knew she

was unlikely to see him and didn’t even

know him, blew a kiss back at her in thanks

for getting him out of that one. That crowd

silence had scared him and he had no skill in

handling riots.

Putting new forced vitality into his

voice to swing the crowd’s attention off

dangerous ground, the Announcer shouted,

”There seems to be a lam of the concourse.

No, that’s Rawl!”

The radio cameras swiftly whipped to

the concourse. Two cameramen pushed

through the ranks of the Honor Guard and

added to the press and turmoil, trying to get

their cameras high enough to shoot down

over the milling heads.

Rawl and Mish were jammed in tight.

A new group had come down from the administration

building adding to the civilians,

military officers, press and staff that surrounded

them already. The group was

pushing a big wreath of flowers over people’s

heads and struggling to get closer.

”Ah,” said the Announcer, ”Look at

that. The city is trying to give Rawl a

wreath of welcome and they can’t even get

to him.”

The wreath, a bit frayed, finally made it

by knocking Rawl’s hat askew and bashing

down on his shoulders. Rawl and everyone

around him was laughing but their laughter

was drowned by the rolling roar of cheers

from the vast crowds when they saw on the

screen boards the wreath had finally made

it. City fathers, their own hats askew in the

press, tried to shout, unheard, their speech

of welcome.

Up on the balcony, Xenu and Chi beheld

the scene.

”Well, ” said Xenu bitterly, ”he seems

to have lost none of his popularity.”

Chi said, ”Huh!” And it was eloquent.

They glared at the sky and concourse

as the Announcer’s voice continued to roll

over the PA system, to the city, to the

planet, to seventy-five other inhabited

worlds on carrier wave hyperspeed sound

and picture.

”And still they come, the Loyal Officers

of the People! Tomorrow they will

meet in the long awaited two thousand and

fifty-fourth Congress in the Galactic Capitol.

From every quarter”


Rawl let the entrance door swing shut


behind him and gazed across the enormous


Seventy-six great flags jutted out on

poles high above, each one with the plaque

of its planet in solid gold below it. The great

arched windows spread a pattern of sun.

Hundreds of Loyal Officers were at their

seats already, talking tensely to one another.

Many caught a glimpse of Rawl and

shouted their greetings.

At the near end of the room a choir

stood in ranks upon a raised balcony and

before them the Archbishop of Home

Planet stood, his tall, mitred cap flashing

with jewels.

Rawl’s eyes went to the rostrum at the

distant end of the hall. On the first tier were

the Ministers of the Executive Branch. At

the wide desk above it, in a sombre black

robe, backed by the glittering seal of the

Confederation, sat Xenu, Supreme Ruler.

For a brief instant over that expanse,

their eyes clashed. Then Rawl began to

walk down the aisle. The click-click of the

magnet-heeled space boots he habitually

wore was sharp and punctuating in the

room despite the babble of sound.

Chi, on Xenu’s left, was following

Rawl’s progress down the long aisle with

ferret eyes and a palm that itched for contact

with his hidden blaster.

The calm strength of Rawl seemed to

spread outward. He was giving little heed to

the greetings beyond a preoccupied nod. He

had spent the night with committees and, as

speaker of the Congress, he knew what he

had to do.

His seat was in the front rank of chairs

with empty space between it and the rostrum.

Mish was there already, smiling eagerly.

Rawl stopped and swept his eyes

across the hall and back at the rostrum.

That Chi was a nasty breed. And Xenu

looked sardonic, contemptuously amused.

Rawl sat down.

An officer in the row behind him put a

friendly hand on his shoulder. ”Are we going

to take up this police state thing right


Rawl said, ”Might as well.”

Mish nodded rapidly. ”Head on collision.”

The officer behind them said, ”Good

boy, ” and sat back expectantly.

A huge round gong rested in a frame beside

Xenu. He picked up a brass hammer

and gave the gong a hard blow. Its long,

doleful sound rolled in waves across the

hall, carrying audience silence with it.

Xenu spoke. ”Now that we seem to

have gotten together somehow – if late – I,

Xenu, duly elected Supreme Ruler by the

Loyal Officers of the Galactic Confederation,

do declare the two thousand and fiftyfourth

Congress to be in session.”

The choir lifted their voices into a


The hundreds of Loyal Officers rose to

their feet, caps off and stood facing the

front of the room.

The Archbishop stood, tall and solemn,

bathed in the sound of the choir behind him.

As the hymn finished, the Archbishop

raised his palms upward. His droning, sonorous

voice spread through the hall:

”All blessings to Almighty God and the

Galactic Confederation, upon its 21 stars,

upon its 76 green planets, upon its trillions

of population and upon the Loyal Officers,

loyal to the people, to the Confederation

and to God and upon this Congress. May

peace and prosperity continue as it has for

ages past.”

The Loyal Officers resumed their seats.

A crier stepped forward from the end

of the rostrum. ”The Congress is now open

for its first deliberations!”

Rawl stood. He looked around him

calmly, at the Loyal Officers, the rostrum.


”This Congress, ” said Rawl, ”meets in

the shadow of possible planetary revolt.”

The last particle of noise vanished from the

hall. Every eye gave him full, strained attention.

”Head on collision, ” Mish had said.

Well here it was.

”In the ten years since the last Congress,

certain orders have been issued by the

Executive Branch which were not ratified

by the 2053rd Congress.”

Xenu went rigid. He had not thought

they would dare. ”While we do not wish to

be critical, ” said Rawl, ”and imagine there

are reasons for these orders – no matter

how much mistaken – it has been decided

by the Congressional Committees that our

first order of business should be to survey

these changes, put them to a vote, and ratify

them or not so that their legality or illegality

is clearly established.”

A rapid, electric buzz of approval

spread through the hall.

Xenu braced himself, corrected his expression

to one of political suavity.

”What changes?” said Xenu.

Mish instantly produced an ornate

folder and passed it to Rawl who took it

without glancing at it.

”Over the past two hundred years or

so, ” said Rawl, ”certain political ideas and

innovations have been put forward from

time to time. And each time they have been

defeated. But now, beginning eight years

ago, we find they have become executive


Xenu continued to keep a grip on himself.

He was very sure of his own ground.

Rawl glanced at the folder he held.

”These ideas are: personal income tax, credit

records, fingerprinting all citizens, identity

cards, passports.”

An angry mutter swept through the


Rawl dropped the folder. He lifted his

head. ”For thousands of years we have done

without these things and done well. Yet today,

by executive order, we find them instituted

and enforced on every planet of the

Galactic Confederation.

Chi bent and whispered urgently into

Xenu’s ear.

Suavely Xenu smiled. ”These are lawless

times. It is the executive responsibility

to keep the realm peaceful, prosperous and

calm.” He tented his fingers and assumed an

attitude of stating a fact that everybody

knew and only an idiot would disagree with.

”By making it possible to identify every

citizen swiftly we can catch criminals at


In the back of the hall a grey-haired officer

leaped to his feet. ”If this identity system

is so successful, then why is it that

during the last eight years, crime throughout

this Galaxy has multiplied five times?”

Rawl raised his hand in a signal.

The doors at the rear of the hall crashed

open and six page-boys, each one pushing a

wheeled table, raced in and rushed to the

front of the room.

The tables, each one piled high with

documents and reports were rapidly positioned

before Rawl.

Rawl swept his hand indicating the tables.

”The Congressional Committees have

not been idle, ” said Rawl. ”Here, Your Excellency,

are the crime records of all seventy-

six planets for the past ten years. Here

also are the complaints and petitions of

those planets. Here, as well, are the financial

records and appalling rate of inflation of

the Galaxy.”

He let the hall calm down a bit. He

looked mild and persuasive. ”Personal income

tax and credit records carry with them

a total invasion of privacy. Identity cards

and passports put every citizen at the

mercy of personal enemies as well as the



He picked up some of the petitions,

long rolls with tens of thousands of names

and, after glancing at them, sought to pass

them via a page to Xenu. Xenu flattened his

hands against them. He wanted no petitions.

Rawl continued, even more mild and

more persuasive. ”Such measures are the

mechanisms that make slaves of a people,

that sap their initiative and fill them with


His gaze at Xenu leveled. His voice became

very firm. ”These are the mechanisms

of tyranny and oppression and no rightminded

citizen would ever permit them.

They are the tools of the sly slave-master

and every one of these measures is a stench

in the nostrils of free men.”

An abrupt rolling shout of approval

burst from the hall.

He stood very straight. ”The executive

branch is regarding populations as domestic

cattle, to be milked for taxes and the payment

of loans. You are ear-marking and

branding them with enforced identity cards.

You are even teaching them in schools that

they are animals. You do NOT own them.

They are NOT your herd, They are free

human beings, not economic slaves or government

property. And any government

that violates this fact cannot end in anything

but destruction of both itself and the

people. This is NOT opinion! This is history!”

Cheers and applause rolled through the


Savagely Xenu cut into it. ”These

measures were vital! He struck the gong

hard for order. ”Here, I will call a witness!”

He gestured behind him, and to the crier.

The crier stood. ”Master Lord Lieutenant

Zel, chief of the secret police of Earth,

appearing as witness for the Ministry of


The curtains parted and Zel came forth.

He was dressed in a grey-green uniform,

glittering with braid. He came to Xenu’s

right and stood there, black eyes shifting,

his weasel face suspicious.

”The only way to handle crime, ” said

Zel, ’’is to be able to lay your hands on any

citizen at any time. Men are all basically

criminal. Without identity cards, without

the most detailed dossiers… ”

”For police blackmail, ” came a shout

from the hall.

”… the most detailed dossiers, ” continued


”without passports to cut down criminal

travel, police work would be utterly impossible.”

”You’re causing the revolt!” someone


Zel struggled on. ”You cannot handle a

crime wave unless you consider every citizen

a potential criminal. And you have to

have fingerprints of everyone to identify

missing persons and bodies… ” Laughter

from the hall drowned out what he was


He had not been prepared for this much


He looked sideways at Xenu, looked at

the Congress and then, backward step by

backward step, he got to the curtains and


Xenu was hard eyed. He clamorously

struck the gong. He gestured urgently toward

the curtains and the crier.

The crier caught his cue. ”Master Lord

Chu, Executive President of the Galactic

Interplanetary Bank, presenting testimony

for the Treasury.”

The curtains slipped apart and a fat,

pudgy man, very much like a pig, slid forward.

His civilian clothes were quite plain

but he wore four diamonds in his tie and a

huge diamond on each hand.

He was very nervous and was twisting


the rings on his fingers. ”I am very honored

for the privilege to address the Congress of

Loyal Officers. Doubtless, ” he repressed a

giggle, ”this slight misunderstanding can be

cleared up. You see, ” and he didn’t succeed

in repressing the giggle this time, ”You see,

the Confederation is not solvent. It has, ” he

paused and looked very pleased, ”very bad

debts. Er… ”

A Loyal Officer leaped to his feet in

the hall. ”It was completely solvent at the

time of the last Congress!”

Chu nodded energetically. ”Well, yes,

perhaps it was solvent then. But only on

the surface. The bills for the Grey Invasion

were not all counted up. And the Treasury

was very empty. And so I… I mean the

Treasury proposed a personal income tax.

Oh, yes, it very much eased things.”

Rawl looked at him, calm, assured.

”These petitions show that personal income

tax has caused wild inflation on every

planet and has brought about economic

stress. The government takes the money of

individuals and companies before it can be

invested or enter commerce. Wages and

prices have had to be doubled, tripled,

quadrupled to compensate for this loss of

income. Inflation and increased public debt

has followed.”

With a flurry of ring twists and a wriggle,

Chu said, ”All the very best economists

recommended it, I am sure. But this is a

state matter. I am more concerned with any

effort to abolish personal credit files and

ratings. You see, a bank.”

Back in the hall, a Loyal Officer was on

his feet. ”As Chairman of the Loyal Officer’s

Economic Committee, I wish to remind

you that banks were perfectly capable

of handling their loans and affairs and prospered

well before this enforced individual

credit file system was instituted. Your

business is with your customers and depends

on your judgment, not upon some

spider web espionage system that pries into

the lives of every citizen’s finances.”

”Well, ” said Chu, ”well, yes, I dare say

you have a point… I… er… hasten to assure

you that banks are not an official part

of the government and… er… possibly

have no right invading privacy.” But he had

his own point to make and he firmed up and

shot it at them. ”But when the government

needs money, it always has to come to the

bank!” And with this petty triumph he

dived back through the curtains.

Xenu furiously banged on the gong to

still the laughter.

”I suggest, ” said Xenu, ”this Congress

get about its proper business. The executive

orders have been passed, they are in effect.

They were undertaken under the authority

of the emergency powers granted to the Executive

in its last session. More police, better

means of identification and more tax

money are vital to suppress this growing

revolt, these crime waves. This unruly,

population must be gotten under

CONTROL!” He smashed his clenched fist

down on the desk. He recovered himself a

bit. He was sure of his ground. He knew he

was right, for one of his virtues was that he

always knew he was right no matter what

he did.

”They are legal orders. Personal income

tax was necessary to replenish the Treasury.

Identity cards and passports were vital

to check crime. They exist as orders, they

are legal and in force. Under the emergency

powers… ”

Rawl smiled tolerantly. ”Not so hurried,

Your Excellency. The law of the Galaxy

is formed by this Congress. The situation

is very plain. This evidence spread before

me says very eloquently that inflation

and crime have followed those orders.”

He turned his back on the rostrum and

addressed the hall. ”The flaw in all those

enormous personal files being gathered is


that they are obtained by newly active secret

police. The credit and identity files of

individuals are stuffed with false reports,

lies that are never questioned. When the file

of an individual has been so corrupted, he

can no longer obtain work. He is ruined. A

person with a false file has no choice but to

turn outlaw and criminal. As you well

know, the criminal ranks, hideouts and lairs

are swelling out of control and directly as a

result of these measures. The criminal does

not have to show an identity card to the

person he robs or kills. Only decent citizens

are being regulated.

And as to inflation, other wiser methods

and economies can be found to handle


A mutter of agreement and applause

came from the hall.

”The way to handle a possible revolt, ”

he continued, ”is NOT more oppression,

more police. Revolts start with oppression

and because of repression. The government

frantically adds more repression and gets

more revolt. And so it goes on until either

the state or the people die. History has

shown that the way to handle threatened

revolt is to remove utterly, fully and completely

all possible reasons for revolt at

once. Laws of government that do not stem

from the desires and wishes of the people

cannot be enforced and must not exist.”

Rawl took a long breath. It was now or

never. ”I therefore move that the emergency

powers of the executive be cancelled and all

executive orders be declared null and void.”

The shock wave of ayes and cheers hit

Xenu like a blow. And as the bedlam continued

he sank from bitterness into suppressed


The crowd had been standing for hours

on the outside steps of the Congress hall,

waiting, waiting.

Suddenly the big PA horns blared. ”The

motion has passed!”

For an instant the crowd was still.

Then they exploded into a deafening roar of

cheers. Some leaped in the air, others

danced. An old lady just continued to stare

at the PA horns and then sank down against

the wall and began to cry tears of relief for

it meant her two grandsons, imprisoned for

not paying accurate tax, would be freed.

The waves of cheering and dancing feet

churned about her.

The factory cafeteria, where workers

had been eating their evening meal, was

suddenly struck to silence by the PA.

The lunchroom exploded into a frenzy

of cheering. Plates, food and all, sailed into

the air.

They jumped on tables and began to

dance and shout.

A foreman raced up the curving stairs

to the time keeper room and jabbed frantically

at ”whistle”, ”siren” and ”fire alarm”

buttons and out of the top of the factory,

joined promptly by other towers in the industrial

zone, came a shattering blast of

joyous sound.

A priest as wide as he was tall raced

into the bell loft of the great cathedral and

began to yank on every bell rope he could


The street had been impassably

jammed with cars and people, waiting,

waiting, all eyes riveted upon the huge view

screens and PA horns.

The blared ”Motion has been passed”

was like hitting a button for total commotion.

The people screamed with delight.

Every driver hit his car horn.

Whatever else the PA might have said

was totally inaudible in the din.

Three young men immediately reached

into the back seat of their bus and ripped a

blanket off a concealed, mounted automatic

blast weapon and stripped the charge bolts

out of it. Grinning at one another they


dumped the weapon into a street garbage

can, abandoning it. They stood and added

their voices to the din.

The newscaster in the Home Planet Interplanetary

Broadcast Corporation tower

held the first slip in his excitedly shaking

hands and screamed at the operator, ”Connect

it up! Connect it up!”

The technician was urgently unsnarling

cables that re-snarled in his haste and jamming

plugs into the connector for each

planet. He got the board green lighted and

snapped a mike cable into the master after

two misses.

The newscaster gripped the cubicle

mike, started to talk, realized his signal was

not green, hit the mike, got it green and

yelled, ”Alert, alert! All planetary newsrooms.

Official, official! Galaxy wide. The

2054th Congress of Loyal Officers just cancelled

the executive orders of personal income

tax, identity cards and passports. Details

to you as fast as they come in here!”

A door opened behind him. The distant

shouts, horns, sirens of the city were heard

for an instant.

The newscaster whirled. One of his reporters

had just come in.

A huge fan of celebration fireworks exploded

over the city and flashed through the

control tower windows.

The newscaster stripped the paper

from the reporter’s hand. ”Quick! Get Mol

at the palace… we want details… color…

background… interviews… ” The reporter

dived at a communication panel. ”The palace

the palace Mol. Get me Mol.”


Lady Min was close to being smashed

up flat in the palace hallway.

Half a hundred newsmen and cameramen

clamored before her, pounding her with


Beside her, Ap, her press agent, a

flashily dressed young man, tried without

much success to keep her from being

knocked off her feet.

”Lady Min, ” shouted a reporter, ”as

the Supreme Ruler’s mistress, would you

say Xenu was pleased?”

Ap tried to field the question. ”Lady

Min is the greatest actress in the Galaxy.

She does not meddle in politics. Gentlemen,

would you please… ”

Another newsman shouted, ”Is it true

Rawl accused Xenu of trying to stir the

planets to revolt?”

And another, ”Lady Min, would you

say the women will be pleased… ”

And yet another, ”Did Xenu say he

was planning a vacation on the summer satellite?”

Lady Min had edged backward and

backward, trying to keep herself all in one

piece. Her red evening gown was pulled

askew on one shoulder. Her red, sparklestudded

shoes had been stepped on. The

jeweled flower in her hair had been pulled

back of one ear.

The din was hard on her ears. ”Ap, ”

she shouted, ”stars and spotlights, handle


Ap groaned. ”In ten years I never had

to handle a wild animal act.” Suddenly he

saw that she had her back to an executive

office door and her hand was already turning

the latch to open it behind her. ”Where

are you going?”

Lady Min slid through the door and before

any pressure could be put on it, banged

it shut. Ap promptly stepped in front of it

and held up one hand while he fished in his

big-checked jacket for a sheaf of releases. A

fanfare of hands began to grab at them.

Lady Min sagged back against the door.

From the other side still came the mutter of

the commotion in the hall. She was limp.


What had she gotten herself into? The

commands of the Supreme Ruler in the past

few years had become absolute. Three

weeks ago he had simply sent an order to

the theater that she was appointed his mistress.

And why? He hated women, apparently

couldn’t stand to touch one. Had she

said ”No” there was no telling what would

happen to her. The government lately had a

way of ruining anyone who said ”No.” So,

even though Ap beat his brains trying to

find a way around it, here she was.

She looked about her. This was one of

Xenu’s executive offices. It was splendidly

ornate in red velvet and gold. It had a bar, a

black table in the room center with some

sort of a computer panel in its top and a

couch that faced the windows, its back to

the room. It was the couch that caught her

weary eye and she moved toward it.

One of her glittering red leather shoes

came off, its strap broken in the ”interviews”

but she let it lie and limped on

across the room. Exhausted she dropped

down on the couch. The back blocked her

view of the room, the wide windows gazed

out on the evening

city. She started to light a cigarette and

then let it fall back in the tray. She put a

finger under the gold band at her throat and

loosened it. Her eyes lingered on a bracelet

that bore the enameled picture of the Supreme

Ruler and then tore it off her wrist

and dropped it on the floor. She stared at

the ceiling and let out a long sigh.

What had she gotten herself into? In her

many years on the stage, beginning when

she was five, she had been in some commotions,

some remarkable ones, but seldom

anything even approaching this. The play

had closed, mainly because she had had to

leave the cast but partly because of public

disturbance. The broadcast series she was

going to do had been suspended due to her

being ordered to the palace. And Xenu had,

in the underworld if not amongst the population,

a very unsavory reputation, vague,

whispered about, never specified. What

crazy bent had caused him to suddenly order

someone to become his mistress? Ah,

well, tomorrow would tell. Evening was

gradually turning into night. She turned on

her side and stared out at the stars, dimmed

by the celebrations and lights of the city, far

from guessing that there lay her immediate


The latch of the door to Xenu’s quarters

rattled and the door swung open. Much

in the way one would shoo a chicken, Xenu

pushed Chu before him.

Xenu shoved the door shut with his

cane and snapped on the lights by jabbing it

at the switch. He looked at the bar, the table,

the hall door. The back of the couch

was toward him. Satisfied, he limped to the

table and lowered himself into the chair before

the computer.

Chu was in an uproar. He was twisting

so hard at his rings that he appeared to be

taking his fingers off.

”It’s ruin!” said Chu. ”It’s ruin, I tell

you. Ruin. Without personal credit files or

identity papers, we will never be able to

locate debtors and persuade them into


Xenu showed no slightest sympathy.

”Crush them into paying, blackmail them

into paying, you mean.”

Chu agitatedly gestured at a chair for

permission to sit and then wriggled into it.

”You promised… ”

”I promise nothing, ” said Xenu

sharply. Then he relaxed. ”I brought you

here, my piggy, little friend, to give orders,

not to make promises.”

With a sly lift of his eyebrows, Chu

said, ”Remember it was my ideas and suggestions

that got all the money into the


”Yes, and now it will have to be paid


back. And exactly how we make up the little

commissions that were spread around

amongst us is a problem. And don’t forget

that it was your idea because it was a bad


Chu began to sweat a bit in alarm. One

could never tell about Xenu.

But Xenu was not there to engage in

idle conversation. ”We have business to do.

The Congress has put over me and the

whole executive branch a guard committee

on finance. Without their authorization the

government cannot spend a single credit.

This was their method of paralyzing any

secret action I might take. They could not

remove me as every action I took was completely

legal under the emergency powers.

But there is an election next year.”

Chu flinched.

”Precisely. We will all be retired to the

scrapheap. And don’t think that because

you are a banker you will be overlooked. It

is not beyond possibility that under a new

Supreme Ruler, they will look into some of

your loans and connections. They might

even discover how you use billions of public

funds to improve the surroundings of

your private holdings. They might even find

how much public money you had us spend

to completely rehabilitate asteroids so that,

you could put resort hotels on them and

pocket… ”

”No, no, ” said Chu nervously. ”You

don’t have to push me into despair with it.

My doctor… ”

”Good, ” said Xenu. ”Then we understand

one another.”

He promptly began to punch buttons

on the table computer and view screen. It

flared green and the green light, shining upward,

glowed on their faces.

Xenu muttered as he pushed buttons.

”About two billion for renegades… another

four billion to secretly rehire the secret police.”

Apprehension began to mount in Chu

as he watched the dancing figures.

”The minimum amount, ” said Xenu,

looking at Chu, ”is one trillion Galactic


Shock made Chu twist a ring so deeply

it cut him.

”In private funds, ” said Xenu. ”Untraceable.”

Chu did not speak. He was incapable of

it for the moment.

With a long, expert finger, Xenu began

to punch buttons again and the figures again

started to race across the computer, increasing

the amount.

”No, ” said Chu. ”No, no, no. ” He

gathered his wits and gradually took on a

sly, calculating attitude. ”And my credit


”You’ll get them back, ” said Xenu.

”And the use of public treasury to improve

my private holdings?”

”Of course, ” said Xenu.

With well being slowly seeping through

him, Chu said, ”A trillion Galactic credits.

Untraceable funds and accounts.” He got up

and minced to the door. He looked back at

Xenu and, humming to himself, opened the


Chi came through it. A very gloomy,

listless Chi. He closed the door after Chu

and wandered over to the middle of the


Xenu pried himself erect with his cane

and limped to the bar. He was smiling, more

cheerful than he had been for days. He took

down a bottle and began to prepare drinks.

Chi gloomily followed him to the bar.

He let out a deep sigh, ”We are crashed.”

Xenu uttered a short vicious laugh and

continued to pour drinks. ”Not so, my

friend. The game has not ended. It has only

now begun!”

The handkerchief Chi was using to mop

his face halted at the side of his jutting jaw.


He was not quite bright enough to take this

in. He looked stunned.

”But it’s only a matter of time until

they depose you. Certainly within the year!

And my files. They’ve ordered me to destroy

my files and erase my computers!”

Xenu pushed a drink toward him and

spoke casually. ”There are other files you

can destroy and plenty of useless computers

you can erase. Chi, did it ever occur to

you that you now have a file on every

criminal, renegade and psychopath in this

entire galaxy?” He sipped his drink lovingly.

”And have you ever thought at one

time or another what a splendid secret force

they would make?”

Uncertainly Chi took hold of the drink.

The concept finally got through to him, he

raised his eyebrows and started to lift the

glass in a toast but a horrible thought occurred

to him.

”But this will take money. And all finances

are cut off. Have you ever asked a

renegade how much he… ”

”Indeed I have, ” said Xenu. ”But no

target. We will have more than adequate

funds, private, secret.”

The illustrious Minister of Police

stirred it around in his mind and then began

to get the idea.

Xenu put down his glass, all business.

”And so we reoccupy the bases destroyed

and abandoned after the Grey Invasion. We

recruit every renegade we can lay our hands

on, we train and equip and on one certain

day a few months hence we will… ”

Chi hastily got out a pad and pencil and

eagerly started to write these orders down.

Xenu knocked the pad up. He began to

move back to the black table leaving his

drink behind him.

”No, no notes. This is totally secret.

You will even have to develop your own

codes and transmissions. You can trust only

those on whom you have definite blackmail.”

He sat down in his chair. ”This will

take very careful planning. A simultaneous

strike coordinated on all planets… ”

Under Xenu’s finger the green computer

face lighted up. ”There will be no

Loyal Officers left to object. And especially

no Galactic Commander Rawl, especially no

Rawl.’’ This pleased him and he stabbed

the buttons viciously. ”They wanted a revolt!

We’ll give them a revolt. Did you

know, Chi, that all revolts start from the

top. It’s an historical fact… ”

Chi grabbed his arm. Xenu looked up in

some annoyance and then followed the line

of Chi’s glare.

On the floor midway between the

couch and the sofa lay a glittering red shoe.

Chi’s hand darted to the hidden blaster

under his coat.

Xenu restrained him and silently began

to rise from his chair. He walked catfootedly

over to the back of the couch.

He looked down on Lady Min. Her

eyes were closed as though asleep, but her

breast was heaving a bit rapidly.

He reached down and suddenly grabbed

her hair. With a savage wrench he yanked

her to her feet.

She backed up toward the window.

”I’ve been asleep!”

He curled his lip. ”And by that you

confess you heard every word!”

She got her hair loose and tried to run.

She stumbled and crumpled into a heap.

Xenu leaped after her. He yanked her to her


”And I suppose your first thought is to

contact Rawl! You corrupted bitch! You

filthy whore!”

He shook her violently. ”This is what I

get for taking you in.” His voice rose to a

scream. ”You were supposed to bring me


Terror was giving away to anger in

Lady Min. She gave him a level look,


”Popularity is earned, not bought!”

The cane came up and struck her.

She went sprawling into the corner

back of the hallway door, knocked out.

The blaster was in Chi’s hand, he made

a gesture to Xenu to get him out of his line

of fire. ”Please move a bit your excellency

so I can get a clear shot.”

Xenu took his eyes off the crumpled

figure. Slowly, he was gathering his wits,

taking a competent estimate of the situation.

”No. Mo, we don’t want another

scandal. The pigs of this galaxy have been

fed enough.”

He hobbled over to the table motioning

to Chi to put away his gun. ”Call Doctor


”Robotize her,” said Chi.

Xenu nodded several times. ”Depersonalize

her with neurosurgery.” The

thought pleased him. ”Drag her to her room,

put her under guard.” He laughed. ”She

might even be some fun.”


Lady Min’s bedroom was a very ornate

affair. It looked out across the sprawling

night-lit city. Mirrors that could be adjusted

to different angles reached from ceiling to

floor all about the walls. One mirrored door

led into the hallway, another into a large

bathroom. A huge boudoir table, ornate

with gold frames stood beside the bed. A

full communications panel and screen glittered

in the wall.

Lady Min lay sprawled upon the bed

where they had thrown her.

She started to rise and winced. She felt

gingerly at her head where the cane had

struck her. Panic was rising in her but she

steadied it down. This was no time to go to

pieces. She had no illusions whatsoever

about the trouble she was in or her possible

fate. The rumors in the underworld about

Xenu could not be without foundation.

Unsteadily she removed her ruined

gown and walked over to the wash basin at

the boudoir table. She took a wet towel and

began to sponge the bruised area above her


The sharp knock at the door was followed

at once by a key grinding harshly in

the lock.

Doctor Stug opened the door.

In the hall behind him a nurse, a wheeltable

and a guard were waiting.

Stug closed the door and advanced into

the room. He was a tall man dressed in

black civilian clothes. His pointed beard and

ribboned eye glasses gave him a veneer of

professionalism. As Xenu’s private psychiatrist

he had had a great deal of practice

in deception. His left hand was held behind

his back.

”I just came to see if you were all right,

” said Doctor Stug.

Lady Min laid down the towel and

looked alertly at him.

The tilted mirror beside the door clearly

showed his back.

It disclosed as well the narcotic pistol

he was hiding, a pistol good for a hundred

shots anything-up to ten feet which guaranteed

a day or more of unconsciousness.

”These petty lover’s quarrels!’’ said

Doctor Stug. ”Tch. Tch. I have known

Xenu for a long, long time and he may get

angry but he quickly forgives, quickly forgives.

I wouldn’t doubt that it will be all

made up by bed time.”

He began to move forward slowly, easily.

”Why, you seem to have a bruise on

your cheek. Well, well, we can do something

about that at least.”

Lady Min looked at him and then

pointed to her cheek. She winced and began

to walk toward him unsteadily. ”It is a bit


swollen, but really I feel very faint.”

She came close to him presenting her

cheek. ”Can you see if anything is broken?”

She stumbled and her left hand flew up

as to balance herself.

Instinctively Stug reached for her with

his free hand.

Lady Min’s right lashed around to his


She jerked the hidden gun outward so

that it pointed at his side.

Her thumb depressed his finger on the


A tiny white puff hammered through

the cloth of his coat.

Stug’s eyes flew wide, dazed. His

mouth opened and he slowly slumped forward.

His head hit the rug.

Lady Min knelt over him and disengaged

the narcotic pistol. She fumbled with

the slide and then got it cocked again.

Softly she said, ”You’re not so different

from any stagedoor jackass, Doctor


She checked the slide, pulled his coat

collar open and pressed the muzzle against

his bare neck.

”Have a good day’s sleep, brain surgeon.”

The muzzle jumped and a puff of

white smoke eddied up from it.

She tossed an apprehensive look at the

door. She knew there were guards there, not

only the one who would come with Doctor

Stug, but also door guards. Xenu would not

neglect that.

She sped to her closet and yanked out a

large flowing night robe. She threw it over

Stug and quickly adjusted it to cover all of

him and his shoes.

Moving fast, she went to the communications

console. She knelt before it and

hastily pushed buttons. It’s screen blurred

and flashed. Urgency and some panic was

catching up with her.

A long way away in the city Ap was

flopped over a bar in a honky-tonk, gripping

a drink, listening languidly to a girl

who sang soothingly in front of the band. A

ragged buzz came from his pocket and with

a bored sigh he took out a flat small communications

unit with a tiny view screen.

His calm vanished when he saw a disheveled

Lady Min appear on it.

Her voice was sharp and tinny through

the tiny receiver. ”Ap! Where is Rawl?”

Ap blinked and got his mind into focus.

”What a spectacular question. He left for

planet Earth about sunset. The congress is

over, you… ”

”You’ve got to contact him!”

Ap’s hand on the receiver began to

shake. ”We got banner headline trouble, I

can tell! He’ll take days in flight. That’s

out. Look… ”

”Ap. Get out to the spaceport fast and

get my spaceyacht ready for instant takeoff.

Quick, quick!”

The honky-tonk music increased in

volume. ”But Lady Min, they just changed

your pilot… ”

There was a sharp click as the communications

receiver went off.

Ap steadied himself against the bar.

”Hot smoke, she rang off. Well here goes

tomorrow’s headlines maybe.” He let out a

shivering sigh, ”Future Zero!” He jammed

his communicator into his pocket. It seemed

to him that the music was actually a shriek.

He collected himself, threw a one credit

note on the bar and tottered out toward the


In the bedroom Lady Min rose from

the console. She stared at Stug on the floor

and quieted her rapid breathing.

She rushed to the bathroom and turned

on its light. She opened a faucet until the

water roared.

She left the bathroom door a crack open

and made sure lights could be seen from the



Narcotic pistol in hand, she sped over

beside the main entrance door, positioning

herself so that when it opened she would be

behind it.

She was breathing rapidly and carefully

steadied herself down. She pulled back the

slide on the narcotic gun and hefted it. She

took a deep breath. Slowly she unlatched

the door and let it drift open a couple of


She raised her chin and in a not too

good imitation of Stug’s voice called,


With a clatter and a bang the door was

shoved open from the outside by the

wheeled stretcher, pushed by the nurse and

flanked by the guard. They saw the covered

body on the floor and pushed the stretcher

on into the room.

The guard, dressed in the grey-green of

the secret police, gripped his blast rifle at

ready and looked about.

The nurse’s head was covered with a

white scarf, her shirt was blue-striped and

white-cuffed and she wore a voluminous

white skirt. She looked at the body on the

floor and then at the partly opened bathroom

door, noted the running water and

smirked. ”Have some fun for yourself first,

Doc?” she said.

With her palm Lady Min swung the

hall door shut.

At the sound of the latch the nurse

started to turn.

With one step forward Lady Min

pressed the muzzle of the narcotic gun

against her neck and fired.

The secret police guard whirled and

started to raise his blast rifle to firing position.

He opened his mouth to shout.

Lady Min worked the slide of the pistol

and jammed the narcotic gun in the direction

of his open mouth.

She pulled the trigger and a white puff

of smoke eddied around his suddenly slack

jaws as he crumpled.

She grabbed the blast rifle to keep it

from clattering on the floor and eased it to

the carpet.

She silently slid home the bolt on the

bedroom door. She sagged against the wall,

gasping with relief. ”Stars and spot lights!”

she breathed.

She realized she wasn’t out of there

yet, and it would only be a matter of minutes

before the guards outside the door

would begin to wonder what was going on.

She went to the peephole port in the

door, uncovered it and looked at its lens.

There were two guards in the hall. One

was standing indolently beside the door.

The other was sitting in a chair across the

hall, his blast rifle held between his knees

while he fished in his pockets for a lighter,

an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. The

rest of the hall was empty.

Lady Min closed the view port. She

took the guard by the shoulders and with

considerable effort dragged him into the

bathroom. She went back and knelt besides

the nurse. Laying the narcotic gun on the

floor she urgently began to strip the nurse

of her clothes, first the scarf then the skirt,

then the shoes and finally the blouse. Dear

God it was lucky the nurse was a trifle bigger

than she was.

Working fast and frantically she shortly

had the now naked nurse dumped in the

bath tub, Stug – with exertion that was almost

too much for her – laid out on the

stretcher and the blast rifle under him. Dear

God it was also lucky that he wasn’t too

big a man. She pulled the cover sheet over

his form obscuring him utterly. She climbed

into the nurse’s clothes and then with two

darting trips to look at the nurse’s face she

converted her own nose, mouth and hair line

to a similarity.

She adjusted the nurse’s scarf and

looked at herself in the mirror. She inREVOLT


spected herself carefully and then nodded.

She opened a drawer in the boudoir and

grabbed a handful of rings and her wallet

and stuffed them inside her shirt bosom.

She picked up the narcotic pistol and

went into the bathroom. Working the slide

rapidly she pumped an additional shot into

the guard and another into the nurse.

She came back to the stretcher, picked a

nightgown off the floor and threw it carelessly

across the stretcher’s foot.

She looked around the room, closed the

bathroom door, locked it and sailed the key

under the bed. Silently she unbolted the

main entrance door.

She took one final look around the

room, drew a long breath to steady herself

and then with one hand on the bottom rail

of the wheelstretcher she swung the door


With a hard yank she sent the stretcher

sailing out into the hall, stepped after it and

slammed the door. The guards stiffened.

The one nearest it, looked at the closed

door and then at Lady Min. ”Where’s the

other two?”

Lady Min looked at him sneeringly.

She had heard the nurse speak and hoped

her voice now sounded like it. ”The fun

they had made a little mess. They’re cleaning

it up so old Xenu won’t notice. Phagh,

Doctors! ”

The guards leered and looked at the


Lady Min jabbed her finger authoritatively

at one of the guards. ”Call an ambulance

to the south door.” She glared authoritatively

at the other one. ”Give me a hand

with this stretcher.”


Standing beside the spaceyacht, his ears

assailed with the whine of ships and rattling

clatter of the hangar, Ap was gradually losing

seven years of his growth. The sweat

ran damply down one side of his forehead

and he dabbed it off with a gaudy handkerchief.

The spaceyacht designing was black

with a white diagonal stripe and while it

might have very nice appointments, it left a

lot to be desired for long voyages. And just

now it was only about an eighth full of fuel.

Ap stared out across the expanse of

space port toward the administration tower.

He didn’t know what he was watching or

waiting for and he expected the area to

erupt with guards any instant.

The pilot was lounging under the stub

wing of the craft, one foot indolently resting

on the sloped landing ramp which extended

from the side of the fuselage. He was a new

pilot. He had Just been assigned. Some of

his time in the last twenty-four hours had

been spent in wondering what happened to

the man he replaced, what he had done to

throw him out of favor.

”You say she’s only going to the Summer

Palace satellite, ” said the pilot. ”That’s

no great flight.

Why do you want to top up all the fuel

tanks and air?”

Ap carefully put on his most persuasive

manner. ”Well it’s safest to have full

fuel tanks. Go ahead. Fill her.”


”They may want to take a grand tour,

sightseeing amongst the satellites. Look,

you’re just new here. When you serve at

this stellar level of command chain, take it

from Ap, be prepared for anything.”

Doubtfully the pilot moved over to the

head of the ship and waved a lazy hand at a

passing fuel and air truck.

Ap went on staring toward the administration


Chi prowled along the palace hall. One

had to keep one’s eye on everything these

days. You couldn’t trust anybody to do


anything. Also they didn’t keep him informed

the way they should. Only a few

minutes ago he had heard that Lady Min

had been taken away by ambulance, which

was peculiar as there was a complete operating

room right here in the palace specially

installed by Xenu for exactly such emergencies.

He looked at the guard outside Lady

Min’s door. ”Why are you still on guard

here? Haven’t they gone?”

The guard started and straightened up

stiffly. It made one nervous just to see Chi

much less to be talked to by him. ”Yuh

Yuh. They took her out. But the brainbanger

and one of my guys are still in

there – straightening up.”

Chi didn’t like it. He stood for a moment

and then suspiciously slid the door


There was nobody in there. He instantly

drew his gun and stepped sidewise

through the door.

Cat-footed he approached the bathroom

door, flipped the knob, found it

locked. He stepped back and crashed the

flat of his foot against the door just beside

the knob.

It flew open.

The guard lay sprawled on the floor.

The nurse lay naked in the tub.

The guard stood jaw open looking in

and then something like terror came into his

eyes as he shifted them to Chi. He had a

very good idea what would happen to him


Chi thrust the guard violently aside and

rushed out into the hall shouting.

Ap heard the siren before he saw the

ambulance and for a sweating instant was

certain that it must be a police car.

The white vehicle shot across the field,

dived into the hangar and, siren dying, spun

about and pointed its nose toward the hangar

door. With a squeal it backed to the


On the run the driver and attendant

raced back to the rear ambulance doors and

flung them open.

Ap was hastily trying to put the pieces

of this together. He saw a nurse step out

and if she hadn’t moved her hand toward

him briefly, only in a way Lady Min would

do, he wouldn’t have known who it was.

The driver and attendant rolled the

stretcher toward the bottom of the ramp

and would have rolled it straight on up into

the ship had it not been for the pilot barring

the way.

The pilot frowned. ”What the rockets

is this?” He came on down the ramp to the

bottom and reached for the cover at the top

of the stretcher.

Lady Min chopped at his hand. ”Why

don’t you call Xenu and find out?”

He frowned and again reached for the

corner of the sheet.

This time Lady Min used the side edge

of her hand on his wrist.

”I know all about little boys who can’t

keep their hands off unconscious girls. You


Ap had it now. He rushed forward.

”Come on, come on. There’s little time to


And he gave the stretcher a perilous

push up the ramp. If he hadn’t jumped

aside the pilot would have been knocked

down. The driver and attendant pushed

with a will and with a roar of wheels the

stretcher flew on up the ramp and into the

fuselage of the spaceyacht. Sullenly the pilot

followed it.

Ap came to the spaceyacht door as the

driver and attendant trotted back down the

ramp. ”Thank you fellows, ” Ap called after

them. ”Greatest drive in history pretty

near. Xenu won’t forget this!”

The ambulance men waved back to him,

climbed into their vehicle and shot off.

The pilot pulled the ramp closed and


walked doubtfully to the pilot seat.

His eyes wide with unanswered questions,

Ap looked at Lady Min. She shook

her head at him and pushed the stretcher

down the aisle of the ship toward a cabin at

the tail.

Languidly the pilot was obtaining his

clearance from the tower. He checked over

the instrument panel and began to start the


”Take off!” yelled Ap. ”Get this thing

spaceborne!” The ship lurched and began to

roll forward slowly.

Lady Min got the stretcher fully inside

the rear cabin and began to lash it to cleats

in the wall. Ap banged the cabin door shut

and lifted the sheet at the head of the


He gulped.

”Stug!” He stared at Lady Min. ”Why

him? This is Stug, Xenu’s chief brainbanger.”

”Can this rust can get to Earth?”

”Earth! That’s days away. No.”

They were pushed back heavily as the

ship leaped into take-off.

Chi flung himself out of the car and

raced up the steps of the control tower,

glancing sideways at the sky as he went.

The open air defense platform at the

top of the tower was manned by blue and

white uniformed soldiers, idling about.

They were planetary troops and not in total

agreement with keeping a constant alert

since nothing had happened for a decade

since the Grey Invasion. It seemed a waste

of time, Their officer sat, bored, on the

parapet. The snouts of four heavy caliber

anti-spacecraft guns pointed motionless at

the zenith.

Chi burst upon the platform, looked

around for the officer and rushed at him,

pointing at the sky.

”I am Chi, Minister of Police. That

ship, that one there. A bank has just been

robbed and they are escaping on that ship.

By police orders fire on it!” The officer

looked through his viewer and then back at

Chi. ”But that’s Lady Min’s spaceyacht!”

”I know, I know, ” screamed Chi.

”She’ll be furious. Start shooting. Start

shooting before they get out of range!”

”Bank robbers?” The officer made up

his mind and gestured at his sergeant, ”Stop

that ship!”

The four muzzles of the battery swept

down into firing position, long streaks of

red flame sped from them in a staccato roar.

Inside the ship Ap struggled forward

up the aisle against the heavy acceleration.

He tapped the pilot on the shoulder.

”If you’ll just set a course… ” He

gaped as ribbons of flame shot by in front

of the wind screen.

The pilot whipped his head around to

the side window and looked back at the

rapidly receding field. The red boom of gun

fire flashed in his eyes. His face went grey.

Without a second thought, the pilot

turned back to the control panel. His glance

centered on ”Pilot Eject”. His hand stabbed

hysterically at it.

The pilot seat and the panel beside it

tilted violently over.

The white smoke of the ejection explosion

puffed around the pilot.

In a long graceful arch the pilot sailed

out into the atmosphere and began to tumble.

Ap screamed, ”Come back here!”

The hurricane wind of the ship’s passage

was whipping into the cabin from the

open ejection port. He reached and hurriedly

snapped the panel shut.

Down below he could see the pilot’s

parachute opening.

Flame shots raced by between the

parachute and the ship.

Ap stared at the maze of controls, the

keyboards of buttons on the flashing spinREVOLT


ning navigation console. He threw up his

hands in despair.

More shots flashed by the windscreen.

Lady Min was trying to inch forward

from the tail. Her handkerchief and glasses

were off and her hair was flying wildly.

Five flame shots zipped through the

side of the ship directly in front of Lady

Min. She flinched.

”I can’t fly this thing!” wailed Ap.

”Neither can I!” shouted Lady Min.

He ripped open a drawer under the pilot’s

seat and scrambled in it. He brought

out a manual ”Mark 38 Navigation Console!”

He shakingly yanked at its pages one

by one.

A flame projectile went through the

windscreen another hit the tail and the ship

began to shake.

Trying to get the diagram to match up

with the buttons, Ap hit ”Accelerate’’ He

huntingly hovered over other buttons.

He clenched his fist in indecision and


”Future Zero!”

Abruptly he jabbed five buttons chosen

at random all at once.

The ship abruptly changed course and

vaulted skyward in a spinning spiral.

A final barrage of shots sped by under

the ship converging on where it would have


Lady Min held on desperately in the

aisle. Loose objects thudded and banged

about the ship.

The passing hurricane velocity air made

the small holes in the fuselage whistle and

scream like maniacs.

Lady Min looked at the holes. She realized

that when they hit space they would

lose all their air.

She braced herself and pried open a

locker. She brought out a roll of tape and

dragged herself to the side of the ship.

Stripping off chunks of the adhesive with

her teeth she began to patch the holes.

The ship, steadied out, continued its

vertical headlong course for who knows



The ship rocked gently as its auto-pilot

corrected against gravitic pulls. The aisle

between the two couches was littered with

empty food cans which clinked together as

the ship moved. Crumpled wads of note

paper littered the floor between the two


Ap took one last look at the navigation

manual and resumed staring at the ceiling,

dropping the manual into the litter of the


”Guy that wrote that navigation manual

ought to get top billing as an idiot… ”

Lady Min stirred on the opposite

couch. She still wore the nurse’s uniform

but now it was rumpled and dirty. She took

her eyes off the overhead and looked listlessly

at Ap.

”No idea where we are?”

”Not being pulled into a flaming sun

anyway – maybe.”

”These weeks of this have been… ” She

was interrupted by a sudden tilt of the ship.

Ap sat up, startled. He stared through

the window.

Covering a large portion of the sky beside

the ship was a huge-black asteroid, its

outline visible only because of the Milky

Way beyond it; A patrol ship flashed by,

close to.

The spaceyacht console speaker

flashed red and from it came a loud official

bass voice.

”Patrol A from Interceptor Base 62.

Shut off your motors. You will be landed

by remote control tractor beams. Anyone

found armed on landing will be guilty of a

felony. Do not jettison any cargo.”


Lady Min sat up, ecstatic. ”Interceptor

Bases are commanded by Loyal Officers!

We’re saved! We can reach Rawl!”

The spaceyacht was slowly and inexorably

pulled toward the satellite where large

hangar doors were sliding open.

Two pilots in the hangar watched its

approach. One of them took a closer look at

it and then slid his blast pistol into its holster

and buckled the flap, dismissing the

situation. ”Ah it’s just some fool

spaceyacht that lost its way.”

The other dropped his chin on his

speaker button inside his space helmet.

”Dull, dull, dull. No excitement at all since

the Congress. Crime doesn’t pay anymore.”

They turned and sauntered through the

airlock door and shut it behind them.

The spaceyacht came to rest on the

hangar floor. The big red lights which said

”No air” began to flash. The hangar doors

ground down and sealed themselves with a

grating clank. The hangar warning light went

green and flashed, ”Safe atmosphere”; The

landing ramp from the yacht fell into position

with a crash.

A cleaning man and cleaning woman,

old and not much surprised at anything,

gathered their mops and buckets together

and shuffled toward the ramp.

An officer in blue and white-fatigue

uniform lounged up against the craft.

Lady Min and Ap, highly excited and

urgent scrambled out of the ship and ran

down the ramp. The Officer smiled tolerantly,

thumbs hooked in his belt, cap on the

back of his head. He negligently waved his

hand to indicate the direction they should

take and, leading off, escorted Ap and Lady

Min into the now open airlock which led

deeper into Asteroid Interceptor Base 62.

The cleaning couple watched them go

and then shuffled up the ramp with their

mops and bucket.

They paused at the port and gazed at

the littered wreck.

”Well, well, looks like they had quite a

party, ” said the old woman She chuckled to


The cleaning man walked through the

litter, kicking at it and approached the cabin

doors at the rear of the ship. He tried to

open a door and found it locked.

He sighed, reached to the key ring in his

belt, laboriously sorted out a master key

and finally got it unlocked.

Just as he was about to touch the knob

it was twisted from within.

The door was yanked inward.

Doctor Stug, disheveled, savage, his

professional calm left far behind him,

loomed in the doorway. He glared around.

When he saw the cleaning man and woman

were the only occupants he quickly readjusted

his expression. ”Ah, thank you my

good man.”

Stug’s eyes lighted on the communications

console in the pilot compartment and

he hastened up the aisle.

”Where are we?” he said to the cleaning

woman as he passed. ”Is this an Interceptor


The old woman chuckled. These people

who used yachts certainly were something

to laugh about. ”Interceptor Station 62,

close as you’ll ever get to it.” Laughing to

herself she got busy with her broom

sweeping the litter together.

Doctor Stug tensely and expertly

punched a series of buttons on the communication

console and then slid into the chair

before it. He adjusted the hypersound dial

for distance and then triggered the two buttons

which turned on a scrambler.

The screen lighted up, was jagged for a

moment, its lines snapping and smashing

into each other. It cleared and a picture of

Chi came on.

Chi glared at his own screen before him

and then recognized who it was. He snarled


impatiently, ”Stug! Where the crap have

you been for a month?”

Stug pulled the mike toward him,

looking deadly. ”No time for tales. The lost

ones are at Interceptor Space Station 62.

Just arrived.”

Shock spread over the face of Chi,

”That’s commanded by a Loyal Officer.”

He paused, his eyes darting about. Then he

looked back at his own viewscreen and a

cunning look which he thought was persuasive

came over his face. ”Stug, we have always

counted on you.”

”You’re counting on me now to the

tune of a hundred thousand credits. Right?”


”I suggest you send a hyperspace interceptor

here at once, ” said Stug. ”Manned

with a couple of reliable men, of course. I

don’t like asteroids.”

”All right, ” said Chi. He added ferociously,

”They must not talk!”

Stug smiled. ”They won’t talk, ” he

said smoothly and consolingly.

The white doves, imported to decorate

the chambered gardens of the otherwise

bleak asteroid and also to fall dead if air

pollution rose dangerously, flitted about

from perch to perch, the whir of their wings

mingling with the artificial waterfall. It was

a beautiful garden but in the opinion of

Lady Min and Ap was no place to spend

two days of idle waiting.

They sat on a seat beside a heavily

grilled door, very strong in the black rock.

True, they had been able to clean themselves

up even though no changes of clothes

had been offered them.

But two days of waiting, despite the

urgent notes they had sent the Base Commander,

was creating a mystery that depressed

their spirits.

The door opened and a white-coated

servant entered carrying a tray. He walked

over to them and set his burden down.

Lady Min caught at his sleeve as he

turned to leave. ”Wait!”

”Listen, ” said Ap, ”we’ve been waiting

two days to see the Base Commander. He

can’t be that busy!”

The servant shrugged and went out

closing and barring the door behind him.

”I guess you get that way on an asteroid

base!” said Ap.

Lady Min stared at the barred door.

”Ap, something must be wrong! I feel it.

Why should a Loyal Officer keep us waiting?”

”I sent him messages that you were the

greatest actress in the universe and had vital

data.” He looked defensive. ”Maybe I’m

flopping as a press agent! Probably.”

They sank back hopelessly ignoring the

luncheon tray.

Some hours later the bolts grated and

the door opened. An officer uniformed in

blue and white entered, followed closely by

a uniformed guard who held his blast rifle at


Coolly the officer said, ”The Base

Commander will see you now.”

Ap looked at the guard, the blast rifle

held at ready, its safety lock off. ”Future

Zero!” he whispered to himself.

The officer escorted them through the

long tunnels and ramps which led up

through the light gravity of the asteroid.

The Base Commander’s office was

spacious even for an asteroid base. Behind

the desk was a large illuminated chart of the

home planet system with small patrol craft

on pins. The kidney-shaped desk was long

but very narrow. The Base Commander was

young, guileless, with the optimism of

youth and a bit bored. He was uniformed in

Loyal Officer khaki but his collar was open.

A holstered blast pistol was belted about

his waist, but his hands folded behind his

head as he leaned back in his chair showed

that he considered the whole thing rather


dull, not even really amusing.

On his right sat Doctor Stug, smiling,

smooth. Beside Doctor Stug and standing

against the wall were two toughs in the

green-grey and kepis of the secret police.

The corridor door burst in and Lady

Min, Ap and their escort entered.

The scene was so different from anything

she had been anticipating that Lady

Min stopped in shock. Ap tried to back

hurriedly out of the doorway but was

shoved forward by the guard’s rifle.

Doctor Stug smiled professionally and

affably, ”Ah, come in, come in my dear.

Don’t be frightened. These people won’t

hurt you.” He turned to the Commander,

”It’s certainly a relief to know they can be

taken back for the treatment they need,

poor things.”

The Base Commander nodded absently.

Lady Min advanced to the edge of the

desk, ”Don’t listen to him.” She jerked her

head towards Stug. ”I am the Lady Min. I

must talk to you and quickly. Alone!”

The Base Commander gazed at her languidly.

”As I said, poor girl, ” said Stug. ”She’s

always had these paranoid hallucinations.

Somebody after her. Messages of vast importance.

I thought she had been cured and,

well, there you are.” He began to rise.

”So we’ll put them back in the institution.

Very sorry to have… ”

”Don’t listen to him! I am the Lady


With a bored smile the Base Commander

reached down to a waste basket and

pulled out a newspaper. Spreading it on his

desk he revealed a front page picture of

Lady Min. The caption said, ”Lady Min

gives charity ball. Yesterday Lady Min was

hostess to three thousand notables at a ball

for Charity to Stray Children.”

The photograph was a very touched up

press photo showing Lady Min with a huge

head of hair and coronet.

The Base Commander’s finger traced

along the newspaper’s date. ”Then how is it

Lady Min was on the Capital Planet three

days ago and you are here?” He tossed the

newspaper aside and reclined back in his

chair. ”She doesn’t even look like you.”

Lady Min was getting furious with


”That’s a wig, you idiot. And that’s a

fake paper.”

Stug again started to rise. ”Well, we’d

better be going. She does bear some slight

resemblance. Trades on it too.”

Both Stug and the Base Commander

were on their feet. The Base Commander

leaned forward with his knuckles on the

desk. ”Well I suppose these things happen.

Glad to be of assistance… ”

Lady Min put out her hand to stop

him. ”Wait, I’ll prove to you that I’m a

stage actress. Look! What is that doing under

your belt?”

Dear God, let this thing work. With her

left hand she made a pass over his belt

buckle and then, gracefully, with her right

hand appeared to pull a dove out from behind

the belt buckle on the Commander’s


The dove began to fly away in a mad

flutter of wings.

Her darting left hand flipped his holster

open and then in a fraction of a second had

transferred his blast pistol to her left thigh,

snapping her garter down on it and flipping

her voluminous skirt over it.

All eyes were on the dove which

pounded the air, veered off from Stug and

finally came to rest on a desk light.

Stug rapidly interrupted anything the

Base Commander was about to say, ”Yes,

she always amused other patients with that

trick.” He gestured at the secret policeman

who promptly took hold of Lady Min and

Ap and pushed them toward the door.


”I’m certainly pleased with your cooperation,

Commander.” said Stug. ”With your

permission, we’ll be taking off now for

Home Planet.” He shook the Base Commander’s


”Say, by the way, ” said the Base

Commander, ”I thought the Secret Central

Police had been disbanded.”

”Oh, those, ” said Stug. ”I think they’re

finding them other jobs as fast as they can.

Poor devils. Soon they’ll be out of work,

the economy being as it is. Well, good-bye

and thank you.”

”The Base Commander glanced at the

dove and then back at Stug. ”You sure have

some interesting patients. Well, have a safe


A few minutes later, in the hangar, the

green sign ”Safe Atmosphere” began to go

on and off as the huge side ports exhausted

and salvaged the hangar air. The red sign

”No Air” flashed on. The hangar door began

to grind open.

The Police spaceship interior was greygreen,

like any prison. One secret policeman

was at the controls while the other finished

fastening the ramp lugs from inside.

Stug shoved Ap and Lady Min back

down the aisle and slammed them into the

two hard seats at the back of the ship. Partial

bulkheads were on either side of the seat

and it was ordinarily enclosed with a strong

wire door.

Shoulder-height thick straps were fixed

to the seat back. Stug, with no gentle hands,

snapped the strap shut across Ap’s chest

and then turned to Lady Min. She was

shorter than the usual prisoner and the wide

belt barely enclosed her shoulders. Stug

tightened it with abrupt ferocity.

”That will do until we get you troublemakers

on an operating table, ” said Stug.

The ship surged forward with an ascending

whine and zoomed out of the hangar

into space.

Stug steadied himself and then reached

for the cage door, stepping outside the enclosure.

Lady Min looked up to her right into

an area hidden from view from the forward

part of the ship. An expression of shocked

horror and terror spread over her face.

She screamed.

”My God, ” shrieked Lady Min. ”A

time Bomb!”

The pilot sprang up from his controls

and whirled to come back down the aisle.

The other guard froze in paranoid horror.

They very well knew their own service and

they had no slightest doubt that it was often

in the State interest that prisoners not

arrive alive.

”A time bomb!” screamed Lady Min.

”They never intended us to reach there

alive! Let me out!”

Both guards were now rushing towards

the back of the ship.

Stug had ceased to close the cage door,

He threw it open, fumbling with the lock,

and then thrust his head into the compartment

looking up toward the hidden spot.

Lady Min hitched the strap up to the

level of her throat. Her hand darted to her

skirt and yanked it up, All in one motion

she threw the safety catch of the blast pistol

and drew it from under her garter.

Green violent flame hammered at Stug’s

stomach pounding him back from the door

with a massive blow.

He went down.

The nearest secret policeman skidded

to a halt. He clawed at his holster.

Lady Min fired. The shot took him on

the left shoulder and spun him toplike, his

blast pistol flying up the aisle.

The second secret policeman reached

frantically for the bulkhead gunrack and

yanked down a blast rifle.

He brought it to his shoulder, aiming.

Lady Min fired.


Her shot slammed into the muzzle of

the blast rifle. Fragments of the weapon

disintegrated the guard’s head and shoulders

in a great gout of green flame.

Smoke drifted and eddied along the

floor and through the cabin of the police


The three bodies lay inert, pounded and

charred out of recognition.

Lady Min stood up shakily.

Tendrils of smoke spiraled up toward

the air circulators and purifiers.

Lady Min gradually wound down.

Ap, with a considerable struggle, got

out of his strap and stood up, steadying

himself against the partial partition. He

coughed in the green fumes.

The ship’s motors continued in an accelerating

whine. Its nose bored relentlessly

outward into the vast emptiness of outer


Ap sighed, ”So now what do we do for



Rawl stood alone on the parade ground

of Galactic Base Earth.

The brisk wind from the deep blue sea

snapped and rustled in the flags. The parade

ground was paved with white marble and

surrounded by a gilded and ornate balustrade.

In the far distance stood a volcano,

the wind pushing its plume of smoke into a

horizontal banner. Ner, the black mountain

which contained the barracks, vast hangars

and work shops, reared above the parade

ground, its face honeycombed with hangar

doors from which could spring a multitude

of defense and attack ships as well as


On the parade ground a band, brightly

uniformed in blue and white, played a military


The wind rippled Rawl’s khaki. He

looked toward the two groups approaching

him, a faint smile on his lips and a trifle of

unfriendliness in his eyes.

The first group was composed of the

high ranking officers who had headed the

Earth Secret Police Organization. They

were uniformed in grey-green with much

gold braid.

Zell, head of the Earth Secret Police,

advanced with outstretched hand.

”Well, it’s farewell Earth for us, ” said

Zell as he shook hands.

Rawl’s eyes were watchful. ”So you’re

leaving us to return to the Home Planet.

Departing today?”

”Within the hour.” He looked around

and sighed. ”All in all we of the Secret Police

have not been too unhappy here on

Earth, ” he sighed. ”And on arrival home

we’ll be disbanded.”

”Fortunes of war, ” said Rawl.

The Secret Police Chief could not quite

keep the viciousness out of his voice. ”Yes,

well, that Congress of yours finished us.

But it’s all for the best, of course. Our eight

regiments will be getting spaceborne right

now. So, fortunes of war, eh?”

One by one the Secret Police executives

shook Rawl’s hand. All in all, Rawl

thought, they were a seedy lot for all their

gold braid. They bore the mark of their profession,

a bit craven, shifty-eyed, and debauched.

Rawl looked toward the second group.

These were civilians, the heads of the Personal

Tax Collector Units.

Their chief shook his hand. ”The tax

clerks and staff all bid you farewell Commander

Rawl. No more personal tax, hah,


Rawl took his limp sweaty hand and

shook it.” Are all your clerks and investigators

leaving as well?”

”Yes, we’ve pulled every one of them

out of the two thousand cities of Earth. ”


He gestured toward the looming base. ”It’s

back to Home Planet and unemployment

for all of us. ”

The five civilian chiefs after him one by

one shook Rawl’s hand and followed the

Secret Police executives toward the entrances

and ramps of the base.

But the tax chief could not resist a final

jibe. He turned when some distance off.

”Watch your privacy doesn’t get invaded.”

Rawl stood for some time watching

them go, his eyes narrow, speculative. The

band ceased playing, its drummer boys began

to beat a march and it moved off.

Rawl walked over and leaned against

the gilded balustrade, his eyes still on the

cliff face.

The transports began to eject from the

hangars one by one then two by two then

four by four.

At length Rawl gestured toward a

communicator ”Bring me a communications


The cart rolled forward, equipped with

compact panels and a view screen. The

communicator was pushing buttons on it,

bringing it to life as he wheeled it forward.

Rawl picked up a cubicle mike.

”Get me Solar System Interceptor

Combined Headquarters on Uranus. Commander


The communicator reached across the

cart, pulled a lever and hit a red button.

While he waited Rawl gazed at the

panorama of departing ships. Their sound

was punctuated with small explosions as

they ejected from the hangars, pulled up

steeply and cracked the sound barrier. The

more distant ones flashed pinpoints of light

as they cracked the light barrier after leaving

atmosphere. Rawl gave his attention to the

cart. ”Hello, Mish.”

The view screen was a trifle sun-glared

and the communicator adjusted its hood.

Mish’s face went clear. He was smiling. His

collar was unbuttoned, his cap was off and

he was drinking from a steaming cup. He

was very glad to hear from Rawl.

”Hello, Rawl. How’s the good planet


”The Secret Police and income tax people,

” Rawl said into the mike. ”They’re

leaving the planet. About one hundred and

fifty thousand of them.”

”Well, hip hurrah for them, ” said Mish


”I’ll show you.” He turned the mike

toward the cliff face.

Mish stared intently at his own view

screen, ”That’s sure a lot of transport.”

”That’s the point. They’re taking every

transport we’ve got. But why didn’t some

of them stay here? They’re being disbanded.

Earth’s a good planet.”


Rawl looked at the cliff’s face again and

the long extended parade of ships. ”They

took it too tame, too cheerful in fact. Mish,

I wish to smoke I had some reliable intelligence

from Home Planet. It’s too quiet. I’m

getting nothing from there and haven’t for a

couple of months.”

”You want me to run a patrol?”

”No, that would tell us nothing. What I

want you to do is order every Solar System

Station you have stock up on ammunition,

fuel, food and spare parts. Got it?”

”Good. The day you can trust Xenu

will never dawn.” Rawl hung the mike on

the communications cart.

The wind whipped at the flags. The

long parade of departing ships made a line

across the sky that was black and ominous.

Rawl didn’t like it. Not one bit. He settled

his cap against the tugging wind and

continued to look at the sky.


Through the windscreen of the Police


interceptor ship Ap stared hopelessly at

the onrushing planet.

A thunder and lightning storm was

raging in the lower atmosphere. They were

approaching it awfully fast.

”I can’t figure out what planet it is.

We’re a long way from the solar system.

Whatever star this planet belongs to, it’s

got atmosphere, maybe even oxygen.


The atmospheric flaps of the police

ship were down, bent and buckling. The

tips of the flaps were glowing incandescent.

The tips began to burn and the flickering

light of the flame sputtered through the

cockpit punctuated by the flashing of lightning

in the storm they were now entering.

Lady Min was crouched down in her

seat, her head turned away from Ap. She

was crying quietly to herself.

They were out of food, out of water

and their air tanks indicator was flashing

danger red.

”Nothing about the Secret Police was

right including their mucked up ships.

There’s no eject”’ He stabbed again at the

red ”Emergency Decelerate” button.

He rocked the manual controls again.

They were limp. The auto pilot had evidently

jammed in, engaged.

”Buckle yourself in tighter. On the bottom

side of this lightning storm is a crash!”

He looked sideways and saw that Lady

Min was crumpled up in despair. He

reached over and tightened her straps.

The piercing shriek of the air rushing

by made his nerves feel as though they were

tearing apart.

Belatedly deceleration cut in. The

storm was all about them, the lightning cutting

jagged blades of blue and yellow. A

flame from their burning wing tips danced in

reflection across the windscreen.

The air appeared to be solid water as

they struck into the torrents under the


Ahead of them Ap could see an expanse

of watersaturated jungle.

A huge tree was rushing up at them.

It struck in an explosion of leaves and


The striking ship made an enormous

geyser of mud.

He had no recollection of how he got

out of the ship. A short time later he came

to himself crouching beside a jungle path

that was running torrents of water. Lady

Min was on the ground where he had placed

her. The drenching iciness of the rain

brought him out of it. He had no idea whatsoever

how he had gotten her out of the


He bent over her, felt for her pulse and

looked in growing panic at her bloodless

lips and white face.

A searing flash of red flame was followed

with a hammer blow of concussion as

the police ship exploded some distance

from them.

He looked dazedly about him. Jungle,

jungle, jungle. Jungle and rain.

He stared at the torrent of water going

by them and realized at length that it was a

cart track, turned into a creek by the storm.

Thunder rumbled. The distance he could see

grew slightly greater as the torrent lessened.

But still there was nothing but jungle, jungle,


He gently picked up Lady Min and

started down the cart track, expecting at

any instant to be pounced upon by wild

beasts or snakes.

He walked along a river bank, his shoes

collecting great globs of mud. He found another

track, a broader one and trudged down


The thunder muttered in the far distance.

Soaked, exhausted and stumbling, he

did not see the wall until he collided with it


directly. He backed up and stared at it. Yes,

it was a wall, green-grown and slimy but

made out of rocks. It was very high, so high

he could not see the top of it. It reached

from his left and from his right beyond any


Then he saw that the cart track had

ended at a small square door, itself almost

obscured with vines.

He staggered toward it and fumbled for

its latch.

”Future Zero, ” he sighed and pushed

the door inward.

It was a room of rough stone, littered

with odds and ends of metal. There was a

huge block of stone which served as a work

bench or desk and sitting at it was a hulking

man in a filthy undershirt. The man did not

look up. Ap swept some pieces of metal

out of his way and placed Lady Min gently

in the corner. He shut the outside door.

The man still had not looked up but

continued to work on the bent barrel of a

blast rifle which lay in pieces on the table

before him.

”Are you the guys that crashed out

there a while ago?” He pushed the gun back

in disgust, stretched and yawned.

Ap crossed over to the table. Might as

well try. ”What place is this?, what


The man finished his yawn and rubbed

his arms before looking up. ”This planet?

This is the crummiest, louseforgotten,

steam-beamed, ball of mud… ” He swept a

lazy arm. ”Welcome to Altec, pearl of the

Southern Galaxy. Welcome to Stip, gunrunning

capital of the Confederation, haven

of the… ”

Suddenly, he got angry. Half-rising

from his seat,.he shook a grimy, greasesmeared

finger at Ap. ”You know what

happened? When that Congress ripped up

them oppress orders, this place got to be a

condemned, rip-blasted graveyard, that’s


To Ap’s relief, the other man’s anger

faded. The man sat back in his chair with a

deep sigh, despair written on his face. ”No

crime means no guns. No explosives. We’re

broke, finished. Some of the best outlaws in

the Galaxy quit us and went back to honest

work.” He shook his head sorrowfully.

Rallying, he banged a fist on the table,

sending gun parts scattering and Ap’s alarm

level up to a high pitch. ”Bird dung!” he


The man flung an angry glare at Ap and

went back to fiddling with his gun. ”Well,

what the blast do you care?”

Ap shuffled his feet uncomfortably. If

only he were back home, safe. Man looked

nasty. ”Who’s in charge here?”

”I am, ” he muttered, still working on

his gun, ”but in charge of what? Fourteen

thousand broken-down crooks and ten

busted-up ships.”

He stabbed viciously at the gun, then

swung his arm in a wide arc. ”You see before

you the great outlaw leader, Sna, Lord

of Stip. But don’t, ” he added, red eyes

suspicious and tool jabbed toward Ap for

emphasis, ”ask for a job. We’re so dead we


Losing interest, Sna returned to his gun.

”Get out of here. Go on into town.” He

waved the tool over his shoulder to indicate

a back door. Boring, boring, boring. Nothing

ever happened anymore, and who gives a

damn anyway?

Giving up, Ap turned back to Lady

Min. better check the town out. If there

even is a town, maybe.

Kneeling down, Ap anxiously checked

Lady Min’s pulse. Its unsteady beat

alarmed him, as did the dead white of her

face. He looked back over his shoulder at

Sna and almost asked where a doctor could

be found, but decided against it. The man

was ignoring him so pointedly, he probably


wouldn’t have answered anyway.

He eased Lady Min into his arms and

stood up carefully. Picking his way across

the smoky room, he reached the door and

went through it, shutting it sharply behind


Outside, the rain had stopped but the

main street of Stip before him was a narrow,

curving river of mud. Ap grimaced in

dismay, he’d had enough of mud. He looked

around to get his bearings. The buildings

were decayed, obviously having passed

their prime a long, long time ago. Crooked

signs poked out from dilapidated shops. A

couple of drunks were lying, lost in stuporous

slumber, on a flat stone slab that

fronted a sleazy bar. Wolf-like and heavily

fanged, a dog was walking up the street toward

Ap. It stopped to sniff a drunk, then

moved on.

Ap shuddered. Friendly place, but

where to now?.He studied the various signs

and was thankful to see one that announced

a ”Dr. Ax” and next to it, a ”Drug Emporium”

Gently tightening his arms around Lady

Min, he made for the Doctor’s house.

The door was partially open, nearly

falling off its hinges. Ap knocked and settled

himself against the casing to wait. Inside,

some bedsprings creaked. Shuffling

footsteps approached, bringing a gaunt,

grizzled man with them.

”Go ’way, ” grumbled Dr. Ax as he unsuccessfully

tried to close the door. Pausing,

he peered at his callers. ”You got


Ap nodded and fished in his pocket.

The doctor peered more closely at Lady

Min. Fine gal, could do with more flesh on

her bones. Looks pale, though… Catching

sight of a bill in Ap’s hands, Dr. Ax abandoned

his trail of thought and seized the

money. Ten Galactic credits! He jumped up

and down, hardly able to contain his excitement.

”Dregomine, ” he proclaimed breathlessly,

”is vitally necessary.” He shoved the

bill somewhere in his jacket and pushed

past Ap, heading for the Drug Emporium.

”Take her to the Grand Hotel, ” he

called back over his shoulder. ”I’ll be right


Ap glanced down the street to where it

turned. Some hotel. Its sign had fallen off to

lie in the debris beside some filthy steps.

Wearily, Ap trudged toward it, at least it

would be warmer inside. Hopefully.

The lobby had once been a fancy place.

Now, it sagged sadly in advanced disarray.

A man lounged on a divan, busying himself

with a bottle, not looking over as Ap entered.

”You got a room?”

The man just stared at the ceiling. ”Do I

have a room?” He laughed derisively.

”When those income tax laws were in effect,

you couldn’t get a room. Two hundred millionaires

in this town to escape tax. Wine,

women, money everywhere. Then they

cancel the law. The millionaires all go back

home. They don’t need a tax haven anymore.”

He shook his head and took a gulp

from the bottle.

Annoyed, Ap repeated his question.

”Do you have a room?”

Eyes still on the ceiling, the man,

waved the bottle. ”Take any you can find.

Want to buy a hotel?”

Ap grunted and gazed around the

lobby. Place sure was run-down, he observed,

even the elevators were out of order.

Casting a final glare at the hotel proprietor,

he proceeded up the stairs.

Picking a random door, Ap entered a

room. Despite the smothering dust, it still

clung to an air of cheaply imitated luxury.

Twisted drapes flanked a window that

looked out over cloudy skies, rooftops and

stone battlements. An unmade bed leaned


against a peeling wall.

Ap straightened out the covers, laid the

still unconscious Lady Min down on the

bed and began to loosen her soaked, ice-cold


Dr. Ax, having tracked Ap’s muddy

footprints, waltzed into the room and threw

his tattered bag down on the bedside table.

Humming to himself, the doctor produced

a package from somewhere on his

person and ripped it open to reveal a syringe

filled with a clear fluid. He rolled up

his sleeve and plunged the needle into his


Ap raised an eyebrow as the doctor

pushed down the plunger and drew the needle

out with a convulsive shudder.

Smiling brightly, the doctor tossed the

syringe aside. ”Now that the preliminaries

are attended to, let’s have a look at the little


After a long examination of Lady Min,

accompanied by much bandaging and tuneless

whistling, Dr. Ax signaled for Ap to

follow him out of the room.

In the hallway, Ap closed the door behind

them, patiently watching the doctor

set his bag to rights.

”She’s got concussion, three broken

ribs and a torn ligament in her arm and that

will be another ten credits, ” the doctor announced,

all in the same tone of voice.

Ap glanced back at the door and fished

a bill out, jerking it back teasingly as the

doctor tried to snatch it. ”And how long

will she be laid up?”

”Two or three months, ” Dr. Ap replied,

attempting to grab the bill.

”And if you give her your very best

medical attention… ?”

”Two months.”

”… And if you had a regular supply of

your Dregomine?”

Leaping high, the doctor grabbed the

note. ”Six weeks!” holding it lovingly, he

fairly drooled over the bill. ”Six weeks, ” he

whispered again.

”If these hold out, ” he added, a shadow

of doubt crossing his wizened face.

Ap pulled out another ten credit bill.

”Five weeks, ” he said, holding on tightly as

the doctor tugged frantically at the bill.

”Five weeks!” echoed Ax with a vigorous


The note released, Dr. Ax scuttled off.

Re-entering the room, Ap crossed over

to the window and leaned on the sill.

Weeks! Five of ’em! And in the middle of

nowhere. That man, Sna, was right. This is

a steam-beamed ball of… oh damn!


The music was awful. Broken for a long

time, the juke box skipped and fumbled its

way through the musical phrases. No one

listened anyway.

Early yet, the hotel’s barroom-cumnightclub

had few occupants. Some bungedup,

one-eyed, -armed or -legged outlaws

lounged around. The bartender leaned on his

counter, chin propped in hand. A blackoutfitted

pilot sat alone in an alcove, listlessly

fingering a handful of darts. Staring

blankly at the wall before him, the pilot

spun the occasional dart at it, bringing down

flakes of plaster and insects.

Near the mezzanine stairs, a group sat

playing dice. The bulk of the square chips

spilled over beside Ap.

The other players were having less

luck, their own meager piles of chips

proved it. Greedily eyeing the pot, they

tensely waited for Ap to throw.

Disinterestedly rattling three of the

eight-sided dice, Ap had his mind elsewhere.

A worried frown marked his brow as

he turned to the doctor. ”Doc, you said five


Dr. Ax shrugged. ”You got a day left. ”


His frown more pronounced, Ap threw

the dice, reached out. and pulled in the pot.

”I think I had better go up and see if she’s

conscious yet.”

The hotel proprietor half-rose in protest

as Ap began to push his chair back.

”Hey, no! You can’t quit a winner like


Sna laughed. ”He’s going to wind up

the richest man in Stip!” He turned his

leering face to Ap. ”Want to buy a gunrunning


Suddenly reaching out and grabbing

Ap’s sleeve, Dr. Ax’s face was split in a

wide grin as he pointed to the mezzanine


Following the doctor’s direction, Ap

saw Lady Min there. Thin, face pale against

her gauzy red dress, she steadied herself

against the bannister as she carefully negotiated

the steps downwards. A little triumphant

over her accomplishment, she smiled

shyly at Ap and the others.

Ap let out a long breath of relief.

Starting to rise again, he stopped to look at

his chips. To the doctor’s shocked surprise,.

Ap shoved them at him, then he

upped and raced for the stairs.

Ecstatic, Ap reached Lady Min’s side.

He couldn’t talk, was afraid to touch her.

Not knowing what else to do, he whooped

in delight and hugged the bannister.

The late afternoon crowds had drifted

in. Brokendown outlaws smoked, drank and

argued among themselves. The bartender

was kept busy sloshing gut-rotting liquor

into ever-emptying glasses. The dog Ap had

seen weeks ago was there too, lying beside

the door.

Just off the dance floor, Ap was hammering

out a tune that had been popular in

pro-Congress days on a beat-up electric


Looking fully recovered and stunning in

a golden gown, Lady Min was seated on the

piano, mike in hand.

The song was one of longing to go

places far away. Singing it with feeling,

Lady Min directed frequent, meaningful

glances across the room to where the pilot

sat in his alcove.

But Pilot Tring ignored the song.

Keeping his rapt attention on the roachcovered

wall before him, he flipped a dart.

Skewered right through the middle, a cockroach

scrambled its feet helplessly, then

expired as silently as it had lived. Smiling to

himself, Tring settled back leisurely and

raised a glass to his lips.

A burst of applause followed the

song’s conclusion. Lady Min gracefully slid

off the piano and bowed to her audience.

Keeping her demeanor professionally

charming, she vented some of her pique in

an aside to Ap. ”I don’t believe he’s human!”

Ap, poker-faced, hardly moved his lips

as he replied. ”Human or not he’s the only

pilot here that has a spaceship that can get

us to Earth. If it’s still there.”

Blowing a last kiss to the cheering men,

Lady Min set down the mike and weaved

her way through the overturned chairs to

the end alcove.

Paying no attention whatsoever to the

approaching vision, the pilot just flipped a

dart as Lady Min perched provocatively on

his table. She leaned over and spoke softly

to him. ”Changed your mind about the charter?”

Tring still didn’t look up. ”Politics I

hate” he stated, flipping a dart.

”Galactic Confederation I hate.” Flip.

He paused to consider a moving target

on the wall. ”Women I hate, ” he added,

flinging the dart.

Nonchalantly, Lady Min pulled a

joined string of glittering jewels from her

bosom to dangle them in the pilot’s face.

”Jewels, ” she said soothingly, ”are curREVOLT


rency in any galaxy.”

No response. She sighed in discouragement

and put the jewels away. Getting to

her feet, she began to move back to the piano,

when the door across the room was

burst violently open.

Sna entered, knocking the yelping dog

flying. A strip of paper waving in his trembling

hand. ”Hey, hey listen!” he shouted.

”We’ve been saved!”

The room went very still. Only the

dog, barking in outrage, made any movement.

Overcome with jubilation, Sna barrelled

forward to stand imposingly in the center of

the dance floor. ”I got a special secret message

from the Minister of Police. We been

recruited. Every able-bodied man on this

base has been made a special agent. And

every ship we got has been put into Confederation


The hush in the room ceased abruptly.

Outlaws leapt to their feet and surged forward,

calling to friends and foe alike, exchanging

heated opinions and speculations.

A few people, however, were not

pleased, one being Tring who stood up,

wide-eyed, tense. Clenching his fists in anger

and trepidation, he hissed furiously.

”That’s just one ship- mine.”

Meanwhile, Lady Min threw an agonized

glance at Ap. Racking her brains, she

signalled her hastily construed plans to him.

He rolled his eyes. ”Future zero!” Turning,

he moved to unobtrusively follow Sna as

the man ploughed through the surging

throng toward the pilot’s alcove.

”There you are, Pilot Tring, ” Sna

boomed, all bonhomie. ”Just the man I

wanted to see.”

Tring stared at Sna, hands fiddling

nervously with his holster flap. Rip-blasted

phony; who’d he think he was. Not going

to fork over my ship. No way! ”You


”Here’s the message. Just came in.” Sna

brandished the paper under the pilot’s

nose.” ’The whole blasted base, every outlaw

recruited in the service of the Ministry

of Police. High ranks, high pay! And every

ship taken into service… ”

The pilot convulsively clutched the table.

”There’s just one ship here – mine!”

Unnoticed by either man, Ap slipped

behind the pilot as Tring’s voice rose to a


”I wouldn’t work for the condemned

blasted Confederation for anything!”

Unperturbed, for he had an overwhelming

faith in his ability to get what he

wanted, Sna laid a pacifying hand on

Tring’s arm. ”Ah, now, now, now. Not for

a thousand credits a week?”

Easing a pistol from under his jacket,

Ap pressed it lightly into the pilot’s back.

Tring kept his eyes riveted on Sna who,

unaware, continued his persuasions.

”This is your chance. This is all our

chances. Why, man, they’ll make you a

general or something… ”

By now, Ar, had picked up the pilot’s

jacket and was draping it over his arm and


Sna shook the paper vigorously. ”All

charges forgotten, look. Look at the message!”

Still, Tring had made no move. Ap,

having completed the masking of the gun,

glanced up at the mezzanine where Lady

Min stood. She nodded at him, a wad of

coats over her arm and two grip cases in her


Ap turned back to face Sna and spoke

convincingly in the pilot’s ear. ”Pilot Tring,

it sounds pretty unreasonable, I know, but

look, Tring. This is your chance!”

The pilot made no reply. Just slitted

his eyes as the gun jabbed him slightly in

the back.

”Tring, ” continued Ap, ”as an old


friend, please tell Sna you’ll do him this


Swallowing spasmodically, the pilot

managed to choke out an ”All right.”

”In fact, ” Ap jabbed the gun again, ”I’ll

help Pilot Tring get his ship ready. You’ll

need it for transport. Let’s go!”

Beaming, overjoyed, Sna stepped back

to let them pass.

Steering the pilot over to the exit, Ap

began trembling with relief. Stage one of the

escape plan done… maybe.

Fortunately, the spaceport was deserted.

Lady Min was standing anxiously in

the boarding door of Tring’s craft. The

coats and cases lay in a heap beside her. She

chewed a fingernail, dear God let them


Hearing running footsteps, she looked

down to see the pilot and Ap running

across the landing field. She beckoned urgently

to them as they raced up the stairs to

the flight platform, and stepped back as the

two men crowded through the door.

Tring hurried up the aisle and scrambled

into the pilot’s seat, hands reaching for

the controls. Ap came to stand behind him,

gun now held openly.

Through the windshield, the blue of the

late afternoon sky was pierced by the occasional

spire. The tangible silence was broken

only by the whine of the ship’s starting


With a lurch, they took off, the acceleration

pressing the ship’s passengers down

and back, forcing Ap to grab the co-pilot’s

seat in order to keep his gun trained on the


Suddenly, the pilot began to laugh.

Loud, extravagant, the sound mingled with

the rising shriek of engines.

Banking the ship again, Tring tried to

still his laughter. Without looking back, he

finally managed to speak. ”You can put that

gun away. You didn’t even need it. You did

me a huge favor getting me out of there.

They would have killed me for my ship.”

Startled, Lady Min and Ap stared at

the pilot, roundeyed in amazement. Then

they too burst into laughter.

Ap looked at his gun and put it away.

Reaching over, he clapped the pilot on the

back. Guy must be all right, take us to

Earth, maybe.


Surrounded by huge trees, Xenu’s secret

base on Home Planet was dominated

by a single domed building.

Low and ominous, military drums beat

a deadly rhythm. Rank upon rank of greygreen

uniformed secret police, fully armed,

lined the parade ground in military formations.

Over by the operations dome, an illdressed

mob of renegades stood watching.

An inspections party walked through

the ranks, headed by Xenu and Chi. With

them were tough looking renegade guards,

several high ranking officers of the secret

police, Zel the ex-Chief of Secret Police

Earth and Sty the chief psychiatrist.

Xenu curiously inspected the troops as

he passed them by. He turned to the

sweating Chi to bark a query. ”Are you sure

this base is still secret and secure?”

Chi mopped his brow with a soaked

handkerchief. Fool idea, this inspection.

Too hot for it. Damned question anyway,

Xenu already knew his orders on security

had been carried out to the letter. ”We’ve

shot anyone who comes close to it.”

Xenu nodded. ”Then we’re almost


”Indeed we are, ” Chi agreed, noting

thankfully that Xenu was starting to head

for the operations building.

Stopping before the band of renegades,


Xenu banged his cane to catch the regard of

one of the two slouching Chiefs of the

Renegades. ”And those men?”

The Renegade Chief smiled evilly, displaying

a broken row of yellow teeth.

”Those are my finest renegades, sir. The

finest and best criminals in the Galaxy, fit

for deviltry. And thousands more ready on

every planet.”

Again, Xenu nodded and moved on.

Halting abruptly, Xenu turned back to

the Renegade Chief. ”Get them in white

coveralls. They look like something from a


Obeying Xenu’s next signal to follow

him, the Chief sauntered along behind the

rest of the party. He scowled at Xenu’s

retreating back, scowled at his deputy chief

beside him.

Steam-beamed maniac. Must have a

loose screw in his finicky head – lily-white

coveralls? Nuts!

Ignoring the outbreak of ragged cheering

among the renegade mob, Xenu led the way

up the stairs and through the arched doors

of the operations building.

The actual operations office was located

in the dome of the building. The

sloped walls, painted with stars and planets,

served as an operations map and were

studded with abundant miniature spaceships

and flags. Crouching below, a huge

table was flanked on one side with three

large rollers. On the other side, by a rack

stacked high with papers.

Xenu entered the room, banging the

door wide as he came, and limped across to

the table. The two secret police clerks,

standing rigidly to attention, were waved

brusquely aside.

Putting his cane down, Xenu picked up

a hooked stick and turned to face his officers.

Slap-slapping the hook in his palm, he

regarded his officers for a moment.

Blackguards, the lot of them, but they

had their uses, oh yes they had their uses.

The men returned Xenu’s regard, alert

and expectant, though the animosity was


Finally, Xenu began his address. ”This

is your last and final briefing. Listen carefully.”

He reached out with his stick and

hooked it into the ring of the lowermost

roller. ”This is a Phase One of the galacticwide

action.” With a savage yank, he pulled

out a chart from the roller that spread itself

out, flat, on the table.

He rapped the stick on the first pile of

papers on the rack. ”And those are the detailed

orders ready to issue.

”The objective of Phase One, ” Xenu

continued, his voice losing all trace of its

surface urbanity, ”is the slaughter of every

Loyal Officer in the Galaxy.”

Grim and silent, his men nodded.

Reaching forward, Xenu engaged the

second roller with his hooked stick. ”Phase

two: The destruction of the main galactic

defense base on every planet.”

Brutally, he yanked out the second

chart so that it covered the first. He rapped

the second stack of papers. ”And the detailed


With a nasty, irritating screech, the

third chart was unfurled.Xenu struck the

last stack of papers. ”Phase Three: The removal

of all minority and unwanted populations

in the Galaxy to the planet Earth and

their extermination.”

A slow smile crossed his face. ”I think

you will find this solves all problems of

overpopulation, crime and finance in the

Galaxy as well as preventing our being deposed.

Before Minister Chi issues the detailed

orders, are there any comments?”

The momentary silence was broken by

a sardonic Renegade Chief. ”You’re the

paymaster, ” he sneered, running a hand

through his hair.


Xenu glared the other down. And you –

you’re a prime bastard. Indicating for Chi to

take over, Xenu retrieved his cane and

stalked from the room, favoring his bad leg.

On the parade ground, the miscellaneous

groups were breaking up.

Regiments of secret police and bands of

renegades marched purposefully towards

assigned destinations. Drums quickening in

pace, the military ensemble also took their


Soon, only the litter remained to bear

the wind and the scattered guards company.

Chi was standing on the roof, silhouetted

against the stars.

His left hand held a radio transmitter.

In his right, the dial of a stopwatch was illuminated

by an electric lantern.

In his mind, he reviewed the injunctions

that Xenu had given him concerning Phase

One. Missed anything? Didn’t seem that

way, but still… he glanced down at the

stopwatch. With maddening slowness, the

secondhand approached the appointed

hour. Too late anyhow!

He clicked the stem of the timepiece

and spoke into the radio. ”Phase One!”

Paring his nails with a deeply notched

knife, one of the Renegade Chiefs sat in his

dark, unkempt office.

A speaker near his head crackled to life.

”Phase One!”

The Chief lifted his chin to a nearby


The aide disentangled himself from his

chair and began to shuffle out the room.

Vexed at the man’s dawdling, the Chief

threw his knife between the other’s feet.

”Get going, ” he snapped.

The second Renegade Chief stood in

the Intergalactic Control Center, outlined

against the lighted curve of a communications

panel. Beside him bristled a battery of

microphones. Surrounding him was a tangle

of wires.

The panel itself was a maze of jackplugs

and the brightly lit names of the Galactic

Confederation member stars: Sirius,

Canopus, Alpha Centauri, Vega, Capella,

Arcturus, Rigel, Procyon, Achernar, Beta

Centauri, Altair, Betelgeuse, Acrux, Aldebaran,

Pollux, Spica, Antares, Fomalhaut,

Deneb, Regulus and Sol.

Whistling tonelessly, the renegade

checked to ensure all stars were connected

up to the mikes. They were. He flicked a

switch and spoke. ”All systems, all planets.

Phase One!”

Car headlamps swung across the front

of a suburban house, coming to rest aimed

at the garage as the vehicle entered the


A Loyal Officer in his khaki coat and

cap cut the engines and stepped out of the

car. Startled, he looked up as a spotlight

suddenly stabbed at him from the dark.

Two blast guns fired.

Hit, the Officer slammed back against

the car and crumpled to the ground.

Two men in white coveralls ran over to

him. One stretched out a booted foot and

lifted the Officer’s shoulder to see if he was


He was.

A Loyal Officer trotted up the broad

white stairs leading up to a governmental


Rifles blasted, taking his arm off at the


Leaving a trail of red, he rolled slowly,

inexorably, back down the steps.

Frowning over some despatch, a Loyal

Officer never noticed as two whitecoverall’ed

men entered his office.

Raising their blast guns, they aimed and

fired, pounding the Officer to the wall behind

him, then down to the floor. His body

charred, blackened, lifeless.

The two men turned and fled from the



A small scout craft landed. A Loyal Officer

jumped down onto the spaceport

pavement, removed his helmet. He looked

up, alert, as a grenade-like object hurtled by

to strike the ship’s side.

A flash of fire erupted and leapt for the


Shortly, the conflagration died down

enough to reveal the dismembered craft, and

beside it, a shriveled form.

In his darkened office, the first Renegade

Chief was biting the end of a pencil. A

stack of papers lay on the desk before him,

the top list entitled: Loyal Officers Capella


The radio spoke. ”Planet Chellis. Lieutenant


The Chief hunted for and found the

name. Crossing it out, he looked back up at

the speaker.

”Captain Sten.”

With a grandiose sweep of his hand, the

Chief drew a long mark through the name,

ripping the paper slightly. Fixed him! Son

of a space-hound had the gall to arrest me


The speaker crackled again…

Three Loyal Officers tore down a

smoke-filled corridor, weapons held at the


A heavy caliber blast gun blazed,

swirling forth a ball of green flame to lace

around the officers.

They fell forward, guns clattered to and

skittering across the polished floor.

All was quiet in the barracks – until the

whole damned place blew up in unmitigated


A couple of secret police left the scene

in a hurry, sprinting out the gate and under

a placard that read: Loyal Officer Quarters,

Betelgeuse System.

Holding a rifle, a white-clad arm inched

through a crack in the cautiously opening


Asleep in his bed, jacket and cap hanging

on the post, a Loyal Officer muttered in

his sleep.

The renegade froze, listening. Reassured,

he sighted and jerked the trigger once,


Green smoke and flame engulfed the


Hunched over the Phase One chart, face

eerily lit from below, Chi gripped a large

marking pen in his slippery fist.

A legion of speaker-units babbled in the

background. Names of stars and Loyal Officers

occasionally flashed up on console


A uniformed orderly stood by Chi’s

chair, holding a sheaf of papers. ”Planets of

Altair, ” he reported, ”Phase One, All


Chi nodded and drew a circle on the already

much circled chart. Laying down his

marking pen, he wiped his hands on his

pant legs. Business could go on all night. He

glanced at a clock. Business was going on all


He sighed in resignation and ordered

some coffee.

A person, half-visible in the shadows,

approached the table and handed a slip of

paper to the orderly. The orderly checked it

over and read it aloud to Chi. ”Marcab System.

Phase One. All Clear.”

Chi mopped at his hands again, picked

the pen up and added another circle to the


Five Loyal Officers strained against the

rope- that bound them to a white picket

fence. Reflected in their perspiration were

the spotlights that illuminated the scene.

A renegade finished securing the last

Officer and scuttled off into the clear.

Automatic blasters let loose, tearing

asunder the Officers, fence and all.

Burning brightly, scores of votive candles

lit the cathedral altar. There, head


bowed in prayer, knelt a Loyal Officer. His

eyes flew open in shock as a rifle burst

hammered him down.

Dislodged in the furor, a candle rolled

to the floor. A vagrant current of air snuffed

the momentarily flaring wick, to send a thin

spiral of smoke curling upwards to the


”Major Tonlin, ” buzzed the speaker.

The Chief popped a benny and gulped

it down before crossing the name from his


It had been a long night. The Chief was

tired, irritated. He added another butt to the

overflowing ashtray. At last that wrapped

up the list for the Polaris System.

Daylight, filtering through from somewhere,

encroached upon Chi’s red-rimmed


The room was quiet now that the garrulous

speaker-units were silenced.

The exhausted orderly, wearily gripping

his enormously grown sheaf of papers,

made a report: ”Polaris System, Phase One,

All Clear.”

In a final, flourishing manner, Chi drew

a large circle. Scratching his neck, he regarded

his handiwork of circles on the chart.

He grunted and turned to push a button on

a console.

Xenu, sitting tense and rigid at his desk,

staring off into nowhere, appeared on the


Chi cleared his throat a couple of times

and pressed the buzzer to draw Xenu’s attention.

Finally, Xenu shook himself out of his

reverie and fixed a steely eye on his screen.

”All going according to your plans, ”

said Chi with an inky thumbs-up sign.

”How many left?”

Chi waved his hand loftily. ”Only a

few on outlying Interceptor Bases. And

only those in the planetary Galactic Bases


Xenu relaxed somewhat. ”We’ll get the

Galactic Bases in Phase Two so that ’ s no

worry. Keep a news blackout going and put

busy signals on all Loyal Officer networks.

And keep working on those Interceptor


He switched off the circuit and rubbed

his jaw, chuckling to himself.

Soon, soon. Victory was in sight. He

chuckled again, and resumed his reverie.


In outer space hung the black asteroid

that was the interceptor Control Center

Solar System.

Mish stood on a glassed-in balcony

appended to the asteroid’s side. He completed

a sweep of the star-studded voids

and lowered the long-range viewing instrument.

He felt vaguely uneasy, disturbed –

by what, he didn’t know.

Unexpectedly, the door-way behind

him filled with intermittent green flashes.

Mish whirled around and dropped the

viewer to grab his gun.

Moving inside, he was brought up

short by the tableau posed within. A junior

Loyal Officer stood frozen in aftershock,

his blast rifle still smoking in his hands.

Over by the main entrance, two renegades

were sprawled over the doorsill, a mist of

green wisps rising from their bodies. A pistol

lay where it had fallen, just beyond the

renegade’s out stretched arms.

The junior Officer unsteadily downed

his rifle and pivoted around to face Mish,

his voice breaking as he spoke. ”These two

were in that small ship that said it was in


Mish continued to stare in dismay at

the bodies, hardly hearing as the junior Officer

went on speaking: ”They came in here

with drawn guns.”

Rousing himself, as if from a nightmare,


Mish strode over to the communications

panel, elbowing the communicator there out

of the way.

Rapidly jabbing buttons, Mish cursed.

Blast! Nothing but hell-fired busy signals.

He banged his fist down in frustration, gritting

his teeth as he said: ”Home Planet network

still busy.”

The junior Officer joined him at the

console. ”I’ve been trying all day. Only a

couple of our Interceptor Bases are answering


Exasperated, Mish punched another

button. ”I’ll try Earth.”

Rawl appeared on the screen. ”Galactic

Base Earth… ” He began in a clipped voice,

then seeing who was calling, he continued in

a friendlier tone. ”Oh, hello, Mish.”

Mish made an effort to calm himself.

Thank God at least this circuit was operational.

He leaned closer to the video scanner.

”There’s something going on, ” he said.

”I can’t get in touch with Home Planet on

the Loyal Office circuit.”

Rawl shrugged ”It’s happened before.”

Mish slammed his hand on the console

and swore. ”Not at the same time as an attempt

on my life!”

Taken aback, Rawl blinked. ”I’ll try it

on the Galactic circuit.”

Cutting the line, Rawl gestured to his

communicator who proceeded to make the

connection. Busy signal.

Seeing the communicator was only getting

jammed lines, Rawl ordered another line

be tried. ”Get Xenu on Home Planet. The

Supreme Ruler emergency lines ought to be


Xenu’s face flashed onto the screen,

smiling suavely. ”Ah, Rawl. Glad to hear

from you. What can I do for you?”

Rawl gazed at Xenu’s image briefly, a

wave of acute dislike for the man passing

through him. ”There are a lot of communication

channels that don’t seem to be working.

Busy. Thought you might know.”

Xenu raised his eyebrows in innocent

surprise. ”Is that so?”

Impatiently indicating an affirmative,

Rawl raised his voice in vexation at the

other’s playacting. ”I wanted to be sure this

wasn’t another Grey Invasion.”

”I’ve heard nothing like that, ’’ soothed

Xenu, with an air of offended worthiness. ”I

did hear there was some trouble with some

new equipment that had just been installed.

We’re having to economize, you know… ”

unable to resist a dig, his voice hardened,

”since the personal income tax was abolished.”

Thinking fast, Xenu saw a possible advantage.

Schooling himself back into pleasant

urbanity, he resumed speaking. ”But if

you’re worried, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll

schedule space fleet maneuvers in your area

over the next few days just to make sure.”

Sharply breaking the connection, Xenu

swiveled his chair around to snarl at Zel and

Chi seated by his massive desk. ”Rawl and

possibly other Planet Base Commanders are

getting suspicious.”

Acutely uncomfortable, as always in

Xenu’s presence, Chi stared down at his

hands and muttered something inaudible.

Ignoring his Minister of Police, Xenu

forgot his displeasure. Gloating for an interval,

he then exalted in his next words.

”Launch Phase Two.”


Intensely, Tring studied a radar screen.

He didn’t like what he saw there. Not one


Ap, bored and unaware of the conflicts

raging in the pilot’s mind, sat flopped back

on a settee. Next to him, Lady Min was

doing her nails as best she could, dabbing hit

and miss with the polish as the craft rocked

and shook.


”The screen here, ” said Tring hoarsely,

”seems to indicate a lot of heavy spaceships

over Earth, Galactic ships. Thicker than


He leaned back and turned to present a

white face to his passengers. ”I’m not going

in there!”

Lady Min and Ap stared, appalled, at

the pilot. He couldn’t fail them – not now!

Tring waxed persuasive. ”This Galaxy

is getting too hot. Gone to buzzard bait.

Listen, I’ve got a cache of fuel, food and air

out on an asteroid. I’m going out there and

fuel up and make the long jump to another

galaxy.” He raised a hand in mute appeal.

”You’re a couple of nice guys. There’s all

blazes about to break loose. I can feel it.

Those jewels you got will serve as currency.

How about it?”

Lady Min had gone rigid. ”’We’ve got

to get to Rawl.” she insisted. ”How do we

get down?”

Shrugging, Tring squared himself

around and got back to flying. He’d done

his best. ”All right if you want to get

burned, ” he called back over his shoulder.

”There’s oxygen masks and parachutes under

that seat. Put them on and get into the

airlock. I’ll spill you into the stratosphere

over the base, and even that’s risky.”

Shaking his head, he snorted sadly. ”Patriotism!”

Well, he’d tried. Pity. Banking

the ship, he took it downwards.

Rawl was standing in his office, gazing

up at the overhead. A heavy rumble of

ship’s motors filling his ears. Something

was going on, he was sure of it. But what?

Faces echoing Rawl’s apprehension,

two orderlies and a communicator were

standing nearby. Rawl swung round and

spoke to the communicator. ”Maneuvers!

Have you got any answer yet to why Earth

ships were not invited to take part?”

The man shook his head, perplexed.

Hadn’t been able to raise the damned ships,

let alone get an answer!

Rawl pointed at one of the orderlies.

”Pass the order to get my ship ready for

immediate blast-off. I’m going to do a flyby

and look this over.”

The orderly up and raced off. Rawl

glanced back up at the ceiling. Can’t figure

this out…

He frowned, pounding an agitated fist

into his palm. Moonshine! He wasn’t

achieving anything by moping around his

office. He strode over to a wall hook and

took down his flight coat. Going out the

door, he paused to call a command back to

the remaining orderly. ”Sound a base alert

just in case.”

Base alert was sounded. Klaxon horns

rent the air with an insistent note. Several

troops, uniformed in blue and white, ran

across the parade ground towards their

various stations. Hatches in the looming

cliff face, cranked open to reveal dozens of

snub-nosed anti- spacecraft guns. Officers

yelled directions to their crews.

Unobserved in the flurry, two parachutes,

one hanging higher than the other in

the blue sky, swung down from upwind

towards the parade ground.

Lady Min landed first, rolling awkwardly

to absorb her fall’s impact. Scrambled

to her feet, she ripped off her oxygen

mask and, grabbing the chest release buckle,

yanked hard. Her parachute and harness

went sailing away.

She ran a hand through her disheveled

hair and stared round-eyed at all the commotion.

Jumping forward, she gripped the

arm of a passing soldier. He skidded to a

halt in obvious impatience.

”Where is Commander Rawl?” she

asked, breathless.

He pointed to the cliffed hill and

dashed off before she could speak again.

Now landed and rid of his parachute,

Ap came to stand by Lady Min. He raised


an inquiring eyebrow.

She tugged at his sleeve. ”Rawl’s up at

the hangars. Come on!” She turned and

raced off, Ap close behind, muttering to

himself between his ragged breaths.

Some orderlies looked up in surprise as

Lady Min and Ap barged into Rawl’s cliffside


”Where ’ s Commander Rawl?”

An orderly indicated one of the other

doors. ”He’s about to blast off.”

Lady Min looked at him beseechingly,

wringing her hands in desperation. Oh no!

They couldn’t be so close yet too late.

”This is urgent, ” she wailed. ”Urgent!”

The orderly was puzzled. He didn’t

know who or what this lady was, but some

of her agitation had been communicated to

him. Decisively, he waved an arm for them

to follow and raced out the room.

Rawl slid into his Interceptor’s Pilot

seat and strapped himself in. The ship’s

motors roared as he touched the starter.

Eyes and hands roaming across the control

panel, Rawl readied the ship for takeoff

while speaking into his radio-mike.

”Control. Interceptor One immediate


Suddenly, the boarding door was flung

open. Rawl turned and was amazed to see

Lady Min and Ap sprawl into the aisle of

his craft. ”Lady Min!”

The mass of Galactic bombers

swooped low over the base. A bay opened

in the belly of one of them, and a single

bomb was released.

It hung there, motionless, for an instant,

then plummeted downward, an angel

of death.

Rawl shot a glance through the windscreen.

Good, the hangar door was beginning

to open. His radio crackled as Control

gave launching clearance. Assured he could

blast off at any moment, he swung back to

face the aisle.

Lady Min had picked herself up, and

was scrambling towards him. ”I’ve got data

for you, ” she gasped. ”Urgent data… ”

Rawl motioned her in brusquely. ”You

can tell me as soon as we blast off.”

The hangar door was now opened all

the way. Rawl pulled back on a lever and

the Interceptor lurched forward to soar

gracefully up into the cerulean heavens.

The bomb hit the base with an incandescent

atomic blast.

Hurtling debris and smoke swept tumultuously

across what had previously

been a parade ground. The whole cliff

buckled, collapsed. Turning into a roaring

avalanche it slid down to disappear into the


In other words, the entire base blew up.

Savagely working the controls, Rawl

fought to steady his spinning ship.

Lady Min and Ap, trying desperately

to hold on, were knocked about violently as

the craft bucked and shook.

Gaining the upper hand, Rawl rocketed

the ship upwards. Soaring a glance at the

holocaust below, he grimaced. So that was

what Xenu was up to. A sharp lurch

brought his attention back to the controls.

They weren’t out of it yet.Not by a long



Night was spreading her dark wings

over the secret base on Home Planet.

Shady figures milled around the gloomily

lit interior of the operations room –

guards, the two Renegade Chiefs and several

bearded psychiatrists among them.

At the table was Chi, holding a felt pen.

He was sweating profusely because Xenu

was also there.

Xenu, intent on the spreading Phase

Two chart, listened with half an ear to Chi

as his Minister called out stars and planets


in a quavering, singsong voice.

”All Galactic bases Vega System, ”

chanted Chi, putting a cross-mark on the


He continued his litany.

”All bases Spica.” Made a cross.

”All Galactic bases Altair.” Made another


Then the speaker box piped up. ”Galactic

base Earth totally destroyed.”

Cheered by this news, Chi exchanged a

look of satisfaction with Xenu and drew an

exaggeratedly large cross on the chart. A

travesty of a smile curving his mouth, he

glanced back up at his boss. ”End Phase

Two. ”Now all opposition is removed,

what are your next orders?”

Thoroughly enjoying himself, Xenu

stretched, stood up and stretched some

more. So this was what it felt like to be Supreme

Ruler in full sweet fact.

He searched for his cane, couldn’t find

it, and hobbled over to the center of the

room anyway. Assuming a splendiferously

majestic pose, conscious that all eyes were

on him, he spoke, savoring each word to the

fullest. ”Issue an all-Galactic proclamation.

’Due to crime wave, martial law is established

on all planets.”’

He raised a pompous hand. ”Gentlemen,

we begin Phase Three. We are regaining

political control of all planets. Even at

this moment our planted agents will be

seizing all governmental centers. But this is

not enough!” He made a chopping gesture.

”As you well know, minorities and people

who might object, which is to say independent

thinkers, protest a perfectly functioning

police state, the ideal form of government.

Furthermore, our planets are

overpopulated. Phase Three consists of

rounding up such people on every planet,

transporting them to Earth and exterminating


A murmur of agreement spread through

the listening group.

One of the Renegade Chiefs, seeking an

advantageous opening in these affairs, regarded

Xenu through slitted eyes. ”If my

men are to do this, they have to be within

the law.”

Chi was as happy as he could ever get,

especially when he was in such close

proximity with Xenu. He butted in with a

rush of words. ”All worked out. We are creating

the Confederate Bureau of Investigation

under the newly formed Justice Department.

Every one of your renegades are as of

this moment appointed government agents

G-men – with full official powers.” So

saying, he grinned like a wolf, albeit with a

trace of bulldog.

The Renegade Chief replied with a

wolfish grin of his own. He knew opportunity

when he saw it.

Xenu stamped his good foot for attention.

Getting it, he continued speaking.

”The selection of these minorities is already

determined. However, certain scientific

judgement is required concerning others. For

this reason, we have appointed you, the top

leaders of the psychiatric profession… ”

The bearded men, the psychiatrists, in

the group leaned forward expectantly,

hanging on Xenu’s every word.

”… to handle the ultimate fate of minorities

and to decide who should be exterminated.”

Xenu paused theatrically, then

added a magnanimity. ”I know you will do

so in a fully scientific and dedicated manner.”

Gravely, seriously, the psychiatrists

nodded in unison. Sty, top dog amongst this

elite cream the noble profession of psychiatry,

nodded with particular emphasis,

pleased with this arrangement. His longsought

lucky break at last.

Xenu’s surface urbanity slipped.

”They must, ” he screamed, ”never trouble


us again!”

Checking himself, he got his mask back

in place, continued in a more subdued pitch.

”The gathering from every planet shall begin.

The extermination site is Earth.”

He drew himself up to his full, if inconsiderable

height. ’’Gentlemen, I officially

announce the beginning of Phase Three.”

As if by prearranged signal, several orderlies

entered, bearing trays laden with

bottle and glass. Someone had switched on a

stereo, and soothing music filled the room.

Drinks were passed around.

Xenu raised his glass. ”And now, a

toast… ”

A family was seated at their midday

meal. They started in shock as a gun butt

banged loudly, three times, against their

door, followed by a booted foot kicking it

open. Two uniformed men entered on the


Obeying the signalling blast rifle, the

family rose shakily. With rising terror, they

were impelled out of the room.

The youngest, a little girl, screamed and

clutched her mother’s skirts. A vicious

blow on the head silenced her.

Sobbing aloud, the mother picked up

her child, and was thrust onwards.

A street, lined with three-storied

houses, was a pandemonium of panicking


Secret policemen herded struggling men,

women, and children out through exits and

down into the street.

A little to the side, a psychiatrist

stood, looking on, a loud hailer in his hand.

Protesting and bewildered blacks were

being gathered from the shops and homes of

their neighborhood by a group of bellowing

secret police.

A second group of grey-green uniformed

men who were in the center of the

street, received the people passed to them.

They held order with violent bashings and

sweeps of their rifles.

In a white, middle-class suburb, a column

of despairing yet striving individuals

were being force-marched down an avenue.

The laugh of a young secret police officer

could be heard above the din. The object

of his amusement being an old woman, eyes

shut tight and grasping a cross, being

dragged along, legs trailing and bloody on

the tarmac.

A white-coated psychiatrist sat in front

of the flashing boards of the Intergalactic

Network Communications control tower.

Professionally unemotional, he was

speaking into a mike. ”These are the determinations

for the Procyon planet populations…

He consulted the list in his hand. ”All

motion picture producers, all editors, writers

and newscasters, all blacks, members of

the government employees union… ”

The sign, ”Daily Post, ” hung limply,

half-blasted apart, from the front of the


Resisting employees of the newspaper

were being driven down the steps and piled

into a line of parked vans.

A thousand and more marched wearily

down a long, dusty road. In between their

shuffling legs, a child was being yanked

along. She herself was pulling her doll along.

Tears ran down her face. Her sobs were

muffled by the sounds of bootbeats and

dragging steps.

One of the Renegade Chiefs joined the

psychiatrist at the panel in the Intergalactic

Network Communications control tower.

Bored, the Chief fiddled with his rifle,

absentmindedly listening to the psychiatrist’s

droning voice broadcast a set of determinations.

”Vega System exterminations list: Religious

leaders, athletes, musicians, teachers,

salesmen. All the Ninth Terrestrial Army.

All actors. All unemployed. All members of


the… ”

Trapped in a gully, the mob screamed

frenziedly as white-jacketed men moved

among them.

These men, the white-jackets, were but

recently trained in the use of their hypodermic

needles, having been pressed hastily

into the service of the psychiatrists. They

brandished their hypos ferociously. The

syringes contained a smoky, gaseous drug

that induced instant unconsciousness for

long, indeterminate periods of time.

Secret policemen knocked down or held

individuals for the white-jackets to inject –

in arms, legs, whatever.

Moaning, a woman struggled to rise and

collapsed as a smoking needle was injected

into her back.

White-jackets moved through a

crowded garbage dump. In their wake, they

left inert, motionless bodies to lie in heaps.

A constant stream of captives flooded

through the gates at the far end of the stadium.

Moving fast to keep apace with the

flow, white-jackets competently wielded

their hypos.

A public address system squawked.

”Trucks will be here in three hours.”

A white-jacket glanced over at one of

his fellows. Would this river of bat-brained

crackpots ever end?

A multitude of weaponless soldiers attired

in the Loyal Corp’s blue and white,

were being wrestled into submission by

grim, sweat-faced secret police.

The first of them was knocked down

and then put out by a white-jacket’s smoky


And thus the Ninth Terrestrial Army

was overthrown.

Muttering secret police loaded the unconscious

into a convoy of trucks.

The bodies were landing haphazardly,

just tossed in as if they were so much


It was night again. The Renegade Chief

had moved to stand by one of the tower’s

windows. He flicked an ash on the floor,

too tired to fetch an ashtray. Loosening his

collar further, he leaned back against the sill

to watch the psychiatrist.

Disinterested, but asked all the same,

he spoke to the psych. ”How many millions

is it so far?”

Himself exhausted and unusually untidy

for a member of his exalted vocation,

the psychiatrist shrugged. ”The Betelgeuse

System has not reported yet.”

The Chief looked back out the window

and took a drag of his cigarette. Slippery

fish, these nut-crackers. Never can get

straight answers out of them. Probably as

buggy as their so-called patients, anyway.

He spat on the wall.

In innumerable spaceports across that

Galaxy, a similar scene was occurring. Long

lines of transport vans drove up beside

space-freighters. Rumpled secret police

transferred inanimate forms from the trucks

into the receiving arms of renegades whose

job it was to stack the bodies in the ships.

The little girl, now drugged into insensibility

but still hugging her doll close, was

dragged out of a truck and dumped into a


The renegade who had stacked her

turned to his assistant and cracked a joke

about child-girls. The assistant sniggered

and swung his boot at the piteous figure.

Operation round-up was nearing its

conclusion. The last few ”undesirables”

were hunted down, knocked flat, and

drugged up.

The space-freighters, loaded over and

above maximum capacity, were ready for


Chi peered up at his boss. Seeing Xenu

sitting there peacefully, delicately sipping a

drink, Chi dared to begin humming a little

tune to himself as he made cross-marks on


the Phase Three chart.

Pondering over the recent events, Chi

was suffused with a sense of well-being.

Hadn’t expected things to work out so well.

He hummed a little louder.

The transportation stage of Phase

Three was gotten underway.

On every planet, the freighters blazed

upward, destination: Earth.

On one ship, the renegade co-pilot’s

ceaseless, senseless chatter fell on the bothered

ears of the pilot. ”Last time I was on

Earth, ” babbled the co-pilot, ”I bought this

young girl – oh, a peach she was. When I

got her clothes off I found... ”

In a spaceport control tower, a secret

policeman was acting as Controller. He gave

launching clearance to yet another ship.

”Control to ship Nine Three Four A. Proceed

to Earth by filed plan.”

A light-year away, another Controller

was having a bit more difficulty. ”Bast it!”

he yelled into a mike. ”If you don’ t know

the route to Earth, then fly in company

with Seven Six Five Eight N!”

In an Altair System spaceport, the

freighters were still grounded, for there had

been some delays. A renegade and a psychiatrist

stood on the control tower’ s observation

platform, looking out over the

landing field.

The psychiatrist checked over a list.

”That completes this planet, ” he announced.

”As soon as your ships are ready,

I suppose you can tell your pilots to proceed

to Earth.”

The renegade sneered. ”You sure you

got ’em all?”

The psychiatrist gave him a frosty regard.

”My dear fellow, medical science

never makes mistakes.”

Bleary-eyed and rumpled, the Renegade

Chief struggled to stay awake. Had to rivet

his attention to what the speaker was saying

– ”Planet Three Alpha Centauri to

Home Planet Control. Planet Three Alpha…

With a flash of irritation, the Renegade

Chief cut in. ”Yeah, yeah. Gimme the hot


The speaker spluttered. ”All cargoes

spaceborne here and proceeding to Earth.”

The Chief turned down the volume

knob and rubbed his eyes. These late nights,

he just wasn’t up to them anymore. He

popped a benny and ordered a cup of coffee.

Xenu had taken time out to shower and

dress with care.

Just as he arrived back at his desk, a

call was put through from his Minister of


”All seventy-five planets clear, ” reported

Chi, ”spaceborne and heading for

Earth. Right on time.”

Xenu’s eyes narrowed with cruel

pleasure. ”Good, good. Proceed as ordered.”

Shutting off the video-phone, he turned

to stare out his window. Just as planned,

Like clockwork…

He snickered softly to himself.

A wind roamed mournfully across the

shattered pavement of what had been, of

late, the proud parade ground of Galactic

Base Earth. Blackened balustrades and broken

flagpoles silhouetted themselves against

the empty sky.

But not empty for long.

The whine of their engines growing into

a steady roar, a multitude of ships began to

mass across the heavens till the skies were

literally filled with freighters of every size,

shape and description.

Over a wide, barren plain, a cliff face

watched as the cargoes arrived.

Using no runways – there were no

runways to use – the ships simply landed

in place, covering the entire field from end

to end.

A harried Controller darted a frantic


gaze through each of the many windows of

his hastily rigged control tower. Some fusebrained

idiot sure fouled up royally! Fudged

it totally. Too many ships, not enough

landing space.

He barked some orders into his tightly

gripped mike. ’’Earth Control Post Number

One to Squadron Leader Eight Seven Nine.

Divert to Earth Northern Sector Twelve…

”Earth Control Post Number One to

Squadron Leader Two Six Five. Divert cargo

to Earth Continent Three Control Post Sixteen…

Down on a field, a truck drew up

alongside a grounded freighter. The ship’s

boarding door banged down to form a ramp,

disclosing two renegades in creased and

filthy coveralls.

Carrying sheafs of paper, three secret

policemen hastily approached, gesturing as

they came for unloading to commence.

Stepping back, the renegades started to

lug out the drugged bodies to take them

down the ramp for placement in the truck.

Across the landing space, a stream of

vans were moving toward the ships.

At a nearby ship, the disembarkation

was also beginning. One of the captives, a

black man, was recovering consciousness.

Raising himself up, he opened his eyes to

stare, horror-stricken, at the booted foot of

a secret policeman as it swung at him, to

catch him square on the jaw.

And he collapsed.

Several other landing fields on Earth

were similarly occupied.

One, near Mount Shasta, was unloading

in haste, as their cargoes were groggily

coming to.

The little girl still clutched her doll.

Dazed, she struggled awake and sat up.

A secret policeman jerked her to her

feet and gave her a shove. So directed, she

began to follow her companion victims up

the sharply increasing slope of the volcano.

Mt. Etna, Mt. Fuji. The new arrivals

were tumbled out of the freighters and

forced to clamber up the volcanoes’ sides.

An old man, baffled and dismayed,

plucked the sleeve of a guard. His questions

were cut short as he was cuffed viciously


The survivors of the Ninth Army were

unloaded at the base of Mount Washington.

Hands behind their backs, uniforms in

shreds, they held their heads as proudly as

they could as they marched up the slope.

A drummer boy, once a friend of

Rawl’s, stopped and turned to look back

down the incline.

His drum straps hung from his shoulder,

the broken top of a drum still clinging

to them.

A soldier behind him was pushed forward.

They collided, forcing the boy to

move on upward.

Set on a rocky island and centered in a

rolling ocean of blue, a volcano’s side

crawled with a struggling line of humanity.

By the top edge of its cone, a renegade

crew fought to hold down their helicopter

as the fierce wind threatened to blow it


An engineer had just finished connecting

a radio wire to a curious cylindrical object.

Words painted imposingly in red on its

sides proclaimed it to be an atom bomb.

Shouting above the rushing gale, the engineer

summoned over an assistant technician.

Together they tied a rope securely

around the bomb and commenced lowering

it into the crater mouth.

Another engineer peered over the edge,

watching the bomb descend slowly towards

the pools of bright lava, moving and red,


A third engineer was paying out wire

from a large coil in his hand. It snaked out

and down the cone – to serve as the link


between the signal and the detonation.

The waiting Controller stood anxiously

to one side. A worried frown creasing his

brow as he looked through the window at

the landing field. The ships under his

authority were all sitting out there,

grounded and idle. Sons of dogs! When were

they going to let us get the hell out of here?

By the panel, the Renegade Chief was

snarling into a mike. ”This is Earth Control

Post Number One to Volcano Crew Seventeen.

Advise when atomic charges have been


Tossing the mike away from him, the

Chief spun around to face the controller.

”Damned bastards. They’re the last ones to

report atomic charges in place in the volcanoes.

But the nervous Controller couldn’t

care less about that. He waved his hand at

the field. ”It’s going to take several hours to

get all these ships spaceborne and out of


The Chief gave a snort of laughter.

”Don’t get your pants wet. Our people will

all be of Earth before we push the button.”

The Controller hesitated, not too sure.

He looked down at his hands fidgeting with

some crumpled up papers.

Relenting, the Chief shrugged a shoulder.

”Ah, you can tell them to refuel and get

back to their planets as soon as the secret

police are aboard and my men recovered.”

Relieved, the Controller let out his pent

up breath. Maybe this whoreson wasn’t

such a whoreson after all.

Leaning into the wind, the first engineer

reached up a black gloved hand to rub his

grimy face. Raising his other hand, he

placed his receiver-mike to his mouth and

pressed the transmit button. ”Earth Control

One, come in.’’

He depressed the receive button and

put the instrument to his ear, only to remove

it a ways as the Renegade Chief’s

voice blazed through. ”What the blasters

kept you bastards?”

The engineer gave the radio a withering

look and swore silently to himself. But he

knew better than to reply in kind, so he

collected his ragged temper and spoke

calmly. ”Volcano Seventeen fully charged

and complete. In fact it’s got two atomic

bombs in it. Rope broke.”

”Good. Scramble out of there, get back

to the field and take off. I’m spaceborne


Thankfully, the engineer put the radio

away and signalled a let’s-go to his men.

An exhausted group eddied to a halt

and turned to watch, bewildered, as their

persecutors began to race downhill, leaving

them behind.

Reaching the trucks in the valley, the

renegades and secret police piled in and

drove off.

Soon, every operational ship had left

Earth, having taken on the renegades and

secret police and blasted for home.

Zel, former Chief of Secret Police

Earth, was piloting the communications

plane as it hovered above Earth. Too close

for his liking, but orders were orders. He

chewed his lip in trepidation.

In the co-pilot’s seat, the Chief was on

the air to Chi. ”No trouble. The secret police

have been evacuated. My renegades

also. Been some mobs and riots amongst the

planetary population, but what the hell.”

Chi’s visage on the screen was replaced

by another’s as Xenu shoved him aside.

”Are you ready?” asked Xenu.

The Chief gave him a lazy salute. ”Oh,


An anticipatory gleam leapt into

Xenu’s eyes. ”Turn one of your cameras on


Nodding, the Chief yelled back to a

technician. ”Get two or three cameras on it,

different depths.”


The Chief turned back to the video and

nodded again.

Xenu passed his tongue over dry,

cracked lips. ”You can proceed when

ready.” With that, he shut down the circuit.

Moving into a more comfortable position,

the Chief grunted. ”What some people

will do for power!”

Zel gave him a sideways glance. ”Including


The Chief flinched a little then grinned

wickedly, presenting Zel with the full benefit

of his yellowed teeth. ”You’re talking!”

Meanwhile, on the face of Earth, hundreds

of thousands of hungry, hopeless

people sat bemused on the slopes where

they had been left.

The dispirited and ravaged Ninth Army

soldiers were too dejected to move. Only

one of them was attempting to free his

hands of their binding.

And the little girl was down on her

knees, rocking her doll. Bruised and dirty,

tears coursed silently down her face.

She looked upward at the sky, saw

nothing there.

Hugging her doll closer, she began to

whimper, not understanding where she was,

or why.

The Chief lightly held the electronic

box. Its red lights glowed softly, hypnotically.

Face expressionless, he moved his right

hand toward the box. Finger poised, he hesitated

only a moment, then smoothly, gracefully

even, he depressed the center button.

Simultaneously, the planted charges


Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters

of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington,

Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others.

Arching higher and higher, up and outwards,

towering clouds mushroomed, shot

through with flashes of flame, waste and


Great winds raced tumultuously across

the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction.

Debris-studded, and sickly yellow, the

atomic clouds followed close on the heels of

the winds. Their bowshaped fronts encroached

inexorably upon forest, city and

mankind, they delivered their gifts of death

and radiation.

A skyscraper, tall and arrow-straight,

bent over to form a question mark to the

very idea of humanity before crumbling into

the screaming city below.

People standing, racked by the hurricanes,

on a street looked up horrified at a

descending atomic cloud. Making a futile

attempt at escape, they were dropped in

their tracks, exterminated like so many pestilent


Molten lava poured, chaotic, down volcanic

slopes, obliterating all trace of the

people that had been huddled there.

A mountainous tidal wave engulfed a

once thriving seaport, leaving only a few of

the taller building tops showing over the

swirling waters. A second wave formed,

preparing to finish what the first had left


Areas of rioting vegetation and forest

became barren plains, inhabited only now

by the screaming winds.

The fair jewel, Earth, had been brutally


Casually, the Chief still held the electronic

box. His craft rocked a little, as if

echoing the passing violence below.

Through the windshield, he looked

down at Earth, its cloud formations now a

reddish, uneven swirl.

Also observing this view, by way of a

dozen screens propped up around his office,

was Xenu.

He tapped his fingers in time with the

soft, gentle symphony his office stereo was

playing and took a delighted sip of his long,


cool drink.

It was over.

The charred remains of the little girl’s

doll bobbed on a choppy sea, lamented only

by a low, moaning breeze.


An orchestra was playing loud, foolishly

gay music. The hall was all decorated

for a party.

Chattering and laughing throngs milled

around the room. A few degraded, halfnaked

women were hanging on the arms of

the top leaders of state, also there.

Off in a secluded corner, Chi has his

head together with the banker Chu.

”So you are sure I will get all my

money back?” the banker asked, nervously

twisting the diamond rings on his sausage


”With interest, with interest, ” replied

Chi. ”In addition to the Confederate Bureau

of Investigation I am forming an income tax

police in Treasury.” He made a wringing

motion with his hands, as if wringing out

towel. ”And they’ll extract every last possible

penny from the populace.”

Chu cheered up for a moment, then

turned doubtful again. ”This cost is a terrible

lot of money.”

Chi rolled his eyes in some exasperation.

How could a banker be so stupid?

”Master Chu, the people are a bottomless

pit for taxes. It can go on forever. A bottomless


Sniffing superiorly, he favored the

banker with an arch look. ”Providing of

course you back it up with a heavily

manned police force – with a secret police

and Treasury police, and of course psychiatrists

to take care of any people who object.”

Chuckling, he gave Chu a reassuring pat

on his chubby back. ”Police states never go

broke. The populace maybe, but not us, not


Slightly mollified, but not convinced,

the banker giggled in reply.

Across the hall, an orderly placed a silver

tray on a table occupied by Xenu and

some of his top men.

Zel reached out and took the bottle

from the tray. He popped the cork and began

pouring the amber liquid into glasses.

”I’d say, ” said he, pompously, ”it was successful

beyond any possible hopes I had.

Our men in charge of the government on

every planet, planetary armies still obedient

to us, no large bases left to bother us… ” –

his hand slipped, spilling a quantity of liqueur,

”… and no Congress to bother us.”

They raised their crystal goblets, aqua

vitae twinkling, in a toast.

At that moment a tiny, shrill sound became

audible above the music and social

buzzing. Like a diving plane, the noise

swelled a trifle.

Curious, but not too concerned, Chi

and his piggy friend ceased their talk and

looked upward, listening.

Renegade men in the hall also looked

up, listening. As alert professionals, vigilant

at all times, they grew perturbed at the rising


Zel lowered his goblet uncertainly and

stared at the ceiling. Xenu started too, his

glass dribbling as it tilted, unnoticed, in his

rigid hand.

Rising to an almost unbearable pitch,

the sound’ reverberated across the room.

Then, with a thunderous crash, a spear-like

object burst through the ceiling to bury its

arrowhead into the wooden floor.

The note of the bomber’s engines

changed abruptly as it revved and pulled

out of its dive. The canister, poised erect

there on the dance floor, began to vibrate.

But few, if any, of the crowd noticed this.

Galvanized into action the instant the cylREVOLT


inder had hit the floor, they were already

surging – men yelling, women screaming –

from the confines of the room, each intent

on being the first out.

A more courageous renegade raced

across to the object. Grasping it, he yanked

it loose. ’’It’s not a bomb, ”he shouted, examining

it. ”The force field above the palace

would have detonated it if it was. It’s a

message tube.”

He removed the screw-cap top and

brought out a scroll and a piece of paper.

Taking the scroll first, he read it out to the

small group who had gathered around, curious.

” ‘Proclamation. The Congress of the

Loyal Officers of the People hereby deposes

Xenu as Supreme Ruler… ’ What the

bloody blastick is this?” The renegade

glanced briefly up at Xenu who’s face was

going ominously black, then continued to

read the scroll. ” ’… and orders him to surrender

for MASS MURDER.’ What the…

? It’s signed by Mish and Rawl!”

Fingers fumbling, he grasped the second

sheet of paper. Voice growing hoarse, he

read that, too, aloud. ” ’Xenu, copies of this

proclamation are being dropped on streets

of every planet. I advise you to surrender

peacefully… ’ Hey, what’s this nut Rawl

think he’s doing?”

Horrified, the renegade gaped around

wildly, as if expecting Rawl to leap out

from somewhere and shoot him down.

”He’s dead. Every Loyal Officer is dead!”

The assembly began to mutter. Xenu

stalked over to Chi in a cold fury. Grabbing

the latter’s coat lapels, he yanked them hard

and spat into his face. ”How many Interceptor

Bases did you leave untouched?” He

yanked again.

Chi, nearly choking, his body turned

into a lump of quivering jelly, could only

stammer. ”O-only… only Mish. Th… there

was a sh… ship seen leaving the Earth b…

base as it bl… blew up.” He made a frantic

attempt to lose Xenu’s hands. ”O-only


Releasing his Minister, Xenu burst into

laughter. Still laughing, he turned to face the

startled crowd and held his hands up in a

calming reassuring gesture.

”Purest bluff, ” he announced. ”Two

men against millions of secret police, against

seventy-five totally secured planets, against

all our planes and armies!”

Taking the papers from the limp grip of

the renegade, he laughed again, then began to

rip the papers to shreds. ”Well, good luck

to them.” he finished sarcastically, dropping

the strips to the floor with exaggerated contempt.

His audience let out a sigh of relief,

then they also broke into laughter.


Very alone, very small against the vast

reaches of the Galaxy, a single Interceptor

hung suspended. In its fuselage, four people

were in various stages of getting into space

garments. Oxygen masks and parachutes

were to hand, ready to be donned.

Rawl paused and looked up. ”you

don’t have to do this, Lady Min. You’ve

already done enough – we’d never have

known what this was all about without


She kept right on getting dressed, her

soft mouth set into a line of determination

as she pulled a safe-seal suit over her khaki


Ap, already dressed for space and

scared stiff of the action ahead, stared at

Lady Min. If only she wasn’t going, then he

wouldn’t have to go either. Oh lord!

Continuing to buckle his parachute

straps, Rawl smiled approvingly. He

glanced out through a port. ”Well, here it is.

We’re over Alpha Centauri Planet Two,


Cronjin. It’s the least populated and a long

way from Home Planet.” He laughed derisively.

”The idiots took out all the Galactic

bases including this one so there’s no

chance of being bombed – they’ve got no

bombers we can’t handle. We’re going to

parachute in on the night side while our pilot

flies cover.”

Finishing the last buckle, he reached out

and took a rifle from a wall peg. ”Keep together,

” he instructed, checking the blaster’s

load, ”guide in on me closely.”

Up to the aisle, the pilot called back to

Mish. ”About thirty-five seconds to target.”

Mish gave the pilot a thumbs-up sign.

”When we’re gone, keep alert to cover us. If

we make it, we’ll radio you where to land.”

He stepped forward into the airlock, waving

an arm for the rest to follow.

Rawl sealed the door behind them and

glanced at the safety board. The red light

had turned green. He opened the outer door

and spun off into space.

Ap was the last to jump. Hanging back

at the threshold, he stared down in awestruck

horror. With much misgiving, he

squeezed his eyes shut, pulled himself together,

and stepped out.

The four landed in rapid succession on

the spaceport pavement. In the distance, a

mass of lights denoted a city. To their immediate

left, a building bristled with antennae

and red beacons – the Communications

Center for the planet.

Rawl ripped open his harness buckle

and, unslinging his rifle as he went, made a

dash towards the building. Reaching the

stairs, he took them two at a time. He was

halfway up them before Mish started up

behind him.

Inside, a secret policeman was flopped

down in a chair reading a girlie magazine.

Hearing footsteps coming up the stairs,

he jumped to his feet and spun around. His

hand dived for his gun, but too late. Before

he could even draw it, a green ribbon of

flame cut into him. He staggered, eyes wide,

and crumpled to the floor.

Rawl propped his rifle up against the

wall and, eyes rapidly studying the console,

began removing his space suit.

Behind him, Mish had stopped in the

doorway, rifle held ready, standing sentinel

over the staircase. Breathless from the run,

Lady Min and Ap brushed past Mish and

entered the room.

Typically female, Lady Min produced

a compact mirror and fluffed out her hair.

Critically appraising her reflection, she got

out her lipstick.

Having seen the dead secret policeman,

Ap was in no mood for seeing to his own

appearance. He eyed the body queasily, and

decided to put it out of sight and mind.

Holding his heaving stomach in check,

he picked up the dead man’s feet and

dragged him off into a corner.

Meanwhile, Rawl had completed the

removal of his space garments. Pulling his

cap from his pocket, he put it on and

moved over to the panel board. Naming

them as he went, he threw a number of levers.

”Planetary News Media, home television

interrupt, Planetary Army Headquarters,

radio emergency interrupt, all Planet

Alert System, theater screens… ”

The circuits clicked and whirred as they

went open. A regiment of TV monitor

screens leapt to life with Rawl’s image.

Making a conscious effort to calm himself,

he drew a deep breath. He was on the

air. Putting a cubical mike into position, he

commenced speaking. ”People of Cronjin, I

am Rawl, Speaker of the Congress of Loyal

Officers of the People, the ruling body of

the Galactic Confederation… ”

Lounging in a downtown bar, the Cronjin

Secret Police General visibly jumped

when Rawl appeared on the TV behind the


counter. Slamming down his drink, heedless

of the slopping alcohol, he snatched a portable

radio from his coat pocket.

”… Xenu has been deposed, ” continued

Rawl’s voice from the TV, ’’the secret

police disbanded. Xenu is being sought for

trial for the destruction of the Planet Earth,

murder of populations… ”

The Secret Police General barked into

his radio. ”All police! Go to Cronjin Planetary

Communications Center, airfield. At

once!” Casting a last venomous glare at the

TV, he swung about and stalked from the


A couple of teenagers were watching

what they called the boob-tube. The programs

had been so boring lately, nothing but

lectures and ”dramas” of militaristic nature.

Half-dozing, they jerked awake when Rawl

came on. One of them beckoned urgently

for the rest of his friends and family to

come over to the screen. Clustered around

the set, they listened avidly to their longterm


”Many of your own people were recently

rounded up. They were transported

to Earth and murdered there by atomic fire.

You have been told that recent measures

were taken to combat a crime wave. That

crime wave was Xenu!… ”

Flanked by his staff officers, hastily

summoned and still buttoning on their blue

and white jackets, the Commanding General

of the Cronjin Planetary Army stood

tensely watching his office TV set. Rawl’s

words were filling the room.

”In addition to the entire population of

Planet Earth, Xenu also rounded up and had

murdered the entire Ninth Army because it

sought to carry out the lawful orders of

Congress and resisted the formation of a

police state… ”

The Commanding General’s face hardened

as he nodded grimly. He knew it. ”So

that’s why they don’t answer up, ” he muttered

to himself. He turned and shouted

’’Orderly! ”

An orderly came running up. The staff

Officers began pulling transceivers from

their belts and leapt into action as their

Commanding General issued a stream of

decisive orders.

On a sidewalk, a crowd had gathered.

Staring up at a public address system

speaker, they were intent on what Rawl

was saying.

”Your own bomber base did not blow

up because of terrorists as you were

told..Xenu blew it up and every other Galactic

base in an effort to destroy the power

of the Loyal Officers and Congress. You are

safe, therefore, from any retaliation from

Home Planet. The sky above you is guarded

by us… ”

The crowd in the street shifted, angry.

”… by the authority of the Congress l

therefore call on you to rise, smash the secret

police and restore lawful government to

this planet!”

At Rawl’s last words, the crowd surged

forward, snarling. One of them, ordinarily a

peaceful citizen but now a ferocious mob

leader inflamed by what he had heard,

leaped up onto a balustrade and began

shouting directions.

Listening to the wailing sirens, Mish

braced himself against the door. A fleet of

secret police cars were coming, hurtling

across the airfield.

Rawl glanced out the window. Curtly

signalling Ap over to him, he spoke again

into the mike. ”You can and must win!”

Shoving the mike into Ap’s resistive

hands, Rawl grabbed his rifle, dashed

through the door and along the outside platform.

He dropped down to use the parapet

for cover and raised his gun over the edge.

Shivering uncontrollably, Ap tried to

gather his scattered wits. All he wanted to

be was a thousand miles away. Steeling


himself bravely, he stepped into the path of

the television scanner and raised the mike.

”Ladies and gentlemen, people of Cronjin,

you have just heard an emergency announcement

by Commander Rawl… ”

Outside, the first of the armored cars

had skidded to a halt, and secret policemen

were leaping out. Rawl aimed and fired…,

Ap jumped as the blast echoed through the


Desperately telling himself that he was

perfectly safe, and that he was, after all, a

publicity agent and so should be able to do

something as simple as talk on the radio, he

forced himself to continue. ”… Loyal Officer,

Speaker of Congress. And if you’re

going do do anything, ” he swallowed a

gulp, ”you better do it now and fast. The

secret police are piling into this airfield like

an avalanche… ”

The burst of flame from Rawl’s rifle hit

the car. Chock-full of ammunition, the vehicle

was a deadly weapon.

This same attribute was also its only

Achilles’ heel. It detonated in a scintillating

flash of white and scarlet. Caught flatfooted,

its crew went up with the car.

Jerking his head down, Ap wailed.

”People of Cronjin, where are you? We

need help!”

The second of the cars pulled up short.

Jumping out, the Secret Police General surveyed

the scene. Hell! One unit lost already.

He about-faced and started directing

the arriving forces into combat positions.

Ap stole a glance out the window and

turned sickly pale. He could count two,

five – no, ten trucks! And all unloading secret

police. ”Future zero!”

A flatbed truck with a mounted artillery

piece, joined the crowd. Its gun crew

started training the gun on the dome of the


The Secret Police General elbowed his

way through his rushing men and jumped

up onto the flatbed. ”No, no!” He was

shouting, motioning for the men to desist.

”Don’t destroy the Communications Center.

We’ll need it in a few minutes to tell the

population they are dead and we are in control!”

He sprang off the truck and ran to direct

a small arms attack. At his command,

lines of secret policemen threw themselves

down and commenced discharging arcs of

flame towards the Center.

Lying prone over the doorsill, enemy

fire chewing the frame above him, Mish returned

his own staccato shots of fire.

Ducked down, Lady Min crawled over

to where Ap valiantly continued his address

to the populace. ”This field, ” he was saying,

”is swarming with secret police.” He

closed his eyes and muttered a short prayer.

”Right now we’re going to find out if the

people of Cronjin are friends of murderers

and oppressors!”

As he spoke, two vanloads of renegade

forces arrived. By far more deadly than the

secret police. Scrambling out, the renegades

hit the ground at dead runs and made for the

staircase leading to the control room.

Noticing Lady Min’s frantic gestures,

he gave in to her plea. ”And so I give you

Lady Min, eyewitness to the planning of

Xenu and destruction of Earth.” And he

thankfully handed her the mike.

The first of the renegades were pounding

up the stairs. Mish, ready for it, let

them come to within a few feet of him before

cutting loose with his blast gun. The

leading renegades fell back, smashing into

the ones behind, creating a confused tangle

of falling and thrashing men.

Lady Min glanced back at the door.

Spotlights! Composing herself, she turned

back to the mike. ”People of Cronjin, this

may be your last chance to attain freedom,

’’ she began, close to tears. Dear God –

where were the people of Cronjin?


Rawl cursed as his gun clicked emptily.

He thrust the last charge he had into the

breech and resumed firing. If the cavalry

don’t come soon, they wouldn’t stand a

chance. Not a damned chance. He should

never have let Lady Min come either. Gritting

his teeth he smashed down another

renegade with a sharp burst of flare.

By the flatbed, the determined Secret

Police General looked on through slitted

eyes. Hearing a throbbing from behind, he

whirled around. Seeing nothing, he hit a

switch on the truck’s side and a spotlight

stabbed out into the dark.

The General froze in shock as the light

revealed four blue and white army tanks

rumbling towards him, gun snouts depressing

into firing positions as they came.

Fanned out behind the tanks, a flock of

carrier trucks were pulling up, soldiers

pouring over their sides.

A ragged battle cry reached the General’s

ears. ”Remember the Ninth Army!

Remember the Ninth Army!”

Stationed in a tank turret, the Commanding

General of the Cronjin Planetary

Army glared at the secret police maneuvers

ahead. His face set into harsh lines, his

voice severe, he snapped an order into a

radio unit. ”Fire low so as not to hit the

Communications Center. Attack at once!”

Together, the tanks fired huge sprays

of blue-white flame.

A secret police car, hit, leaped into the

air. A group of trucks vanished as such, becoming

blazing pyres instead. The flatbed

truck burst asunder.

As yet unaware of the ravages behind

them, the front lines of secret policemen

still exchanged shot with the Center. Then,

a few seemed to sense that all was not well.

As they rose to turn back, a wave of soldiers

hit them, screaming ”Remember the

Ninth Army!”

Hearing the stepped up turmoil outside,

Lady Min risked a peek over the windowsill.

Seeing the change of circumstances,

she jumped to her feet, face radiant. Thank

the stars! ”Victory!” she cried. ”People of

Cronjin, you are free, free, free!”

Rawl and Mish grinned at each other.

Dangling their rifles, they went to stand by

the shredded door to greet the approaching

Army General and his officers.

Catching sight of Rawl, the Army General

rushed forward and firmly shook his

hand. ”So I finally get to meet the famous


Mish gestured, ”Shall we go inside?”

They did so, Ap clearing some battered

chairs out of their way.

Lady Min had stopped speaking and

held the mike toward the conferring group,

volume up.

A sudden commotion at the door made

them turn. A group of officers with a

shackled civilian in their midst crowded in.

One of the officers gently pushed the

civilian forward. ”Look what we have here!”

The man was middle-aged, he held his

head up proudly as another officer tried out

various keys on his shackled wrists. The

officer who had spoken explained further,

noting Rawl’ s raised eyebrow. ”We got him

out of the police barracks’ dungeon. The

Civil Governor of Cronjin!”

One of his hands successfully unshackled,

the Governor extended it to Rawl.

Shaking his hand, Rawl studied the

man, liking what he saw. ”Can I count on

you and the General here to get this planet

mopped up and in order?”

The Governor and Army General

beamed with enthusiasm. ”Indeed so!” they


Mish and Ap had gone over to the console

behind Lady Min. Looking as if he

were about to faint, Ap collapsed against

the panel and wiped his face on his sleeve.

”That was tombstone close!”


Mish shrugged. ”One down and seventy-

four planets to go.”

Ap was horrified. ”Seventy-four more

like these?”


Through the Interceptor’s windscreen,

the stars seemed like a chain of diamonds

against a backdrop of black velvet.

In the pilot seat, mike in hand, Rawl

broadcasted a rallying message.

”People of the Galactic Confederation,

fight on! We have wrested thirty planets

from the unlawful control of Xenu. Everywhere

populations are in revolt. The measures

of personal income tax, enforced identification,

illegal entries and violations of privacy

by the secret police have inflamed

peoples everywhere.

”Xenu in his stronghold on Home

Planet receives little news to cheer him… ”

And revolt they did.

Anchar: The Personal Income Tax Bureau

headquarters was particularly hated. A

band of civilian saboteurs slipped in by

night and planted charges in key locations.

And it was blown ski-high.

Betelgeuse: A secret policeman was

standing at the identity computers, feeding

in the unverified data. He didn’t care what it

said, just so long as there was stuff there.

He had heard rumors about an impending

revolt – no problem. The secret police could


Then, three civilians, armed with automatic

blast guns burst in, their leader

shouting ”To hell with your false reports!”

And the policeman, computers and all,

vanished in a flash of fire.

Pollux: An angry pack of rebels were

dragging a secret policeman along by his

foot. They had a kangaroo court ready and

waiting for him and the renegade they had

captured and whom they had stumbling

along behind, rope round his neck in preparation

for his predetermined execution.

Spica: The mob had a bearded psychiatrist

down on the floor. One of them jabbed

him repeatedly with a hypo, yelling: ”Let ’

s see how you like it!”

Beta Centauri: A dead secret policeman

was sprawled across the console in the

communications center of Planet Two, a

butcher knife in his back. Beside him, a

wounded renegade screamed into a mike.

”Home Planet, Home Planet. The people of

Beta Centauri Two have risen in revolt. We

are pinned down, outnumbered… ” His

scream rose even higher as the room exploded

with a deafening, sonorous crash of


Insurrection against the oppressors

spread like wildfire across the Galaxy.

Bit by bit, the secret police, renegade

forces and officials loyal to Xenu were

beaten down and crushed, their headquarters


And the mutineers revelled in each victory,

spurred on to greater acts of rebellion

by each success.


A chart was spread across an aisle table

in Rawl’s Interceptor. Consulting it was

Rawl himself, Mish, Lady Min and Ap.

Rawl slapped down his pencil and

stretched his cramped limbs. ”Sooner or

later they will get their wits working and

start to use the Home Planet bombers to


Intent on oiling his pistol, Mish nodded

absently. He’d discussed this with Rawl

last night.

Ap darted his gaze from Rawl to Mish,

then back to Rawl again. Bombers! What

this meant he didn’t know, but it must be

bad news.


”I propose to attack that base, ” Rawl

tapped an area of Home Planet on the chart,

”and then move right on in on the Home

Planet without waiting for other planets.

They’re doing all right.”

Mish nodded again. ”Looks safest.”

Ap gasped. Had he heard that right?


Rawl smiled. ”This is an outer space

atomic Interceptor, ” he explained patiently,

”made to combat enemy space battleships.

Using it in an atmosphere makes it dead

easy against planetary ships. I doubt if

there are any renegades that can even fly


Ap was unconvinced. ”Like a tiger

fighting a puppy, huh?”

Rawl laughed. ”You can man the tail


Clutching at the table, Ap moaned, ”Do

you have any heart medicine aboard?”

A young girl was being shoved around

like a rag doll. The renegades, seated in a

circle, laughed at her terror, pushing her

from one to the next of them with her

clothes tearing further at each jolt.

In the background, the Home Planet

bomber base’s fleet of ships sat idle and

poorly cared for. For sure, the renegades

who manned the base had better things to

do, like what they were doing now.

One of the renegades loosened up his

collar. ”I didn’t think it would be so much

fun to be an agent of the Confederate Bureau

of Investigation.”

Another man gave a leer and turned to

the girl. ”Come on, sweetheart, let’s investigate


The girl was tossed at him. He caught

her and ripped a garment further. She fell to

his feet, inert, eyes wide open.

He shook her a little. No movement.

”Hell! She’s dead!”

A renegade to his left reached out.

”Good, hand her over, that’s the way I like


One of the group had grown bored. He

got to his feet and yawned. ”I better get a

squadron airborne to relieve the Home

Planet patrol.” He began to slouch off.

The renegade holding the girl pitched

her into the arms of the renegade to his left,

and called out after the departing man,

”Yeah, you do that.”

And he returned his attention to the


Up in patrol, the renegade co-pilot

punched a transmit button. ”When are you

dog lovers coming up to relieve us?”

The radio uttered an uncouthness in reply.

Starting to put the mike back on its

hook, a blip on the radar caught the copilot’s


He cast a searching glance out through

the windscreen and yelped in fright.

He frantically shook the dozing pilot’s

arm and pointed outside, bringing the mike

back to his mouth with his other hand. His

voice cracked as he practically squeaked: ”A

Loyal Officer Interceptor!”

Rawl threw his Interceptor into a dive.

Between his craft and the base below, six

renegade patrol ships were flying in sloppy


Back in the tail, Ap sat in the gunner

seat wrestling the gun with clumsy hands.

Looking out through his viewport, he

flinched. ”Six Interceptors!”

Alarm sirens sounded at ground level.

Aroused from their various and nefarious

activities, renegades scrambled toward their


Holding the dive, Rawl signalled Mish

to hold fire as the latter readied a firing control.

Mish shot a grin back, and nodded.

Ap checked the port again. ”Six more

taking off!” He began muttering a prayer,

hoping that somewhere some kind god

would listen and transport him instantly to


some other place. Anywhere but here!

Firing tracer shot, the patrol rose to

meet Rawl’s ship.

Flashing downwards to pass right

through the enemy formation, Mish closed

the firing control just as his own ship

passed the first of the renegade Interceptors,

leaving behind a pattern of black balls

strewn between the patrol ships.

Then, the black balls exploded, knocking

four of the renegade craft from the skies.

Ap at his tail gun was intent on mopping

up the remaining two. Firing wildly, he

managed to score a direct hit on one of

them. Belching greasy black smoke, it fell.

Letting loose a whoop of delight, Ap

turned his blazing gun, prayers forgotten,

on the last ship as it pivoted around and

began to fire at him.

A curtain of swirling red engulfed Ap’s

turret. In the cockpit, Rawl swore and

jerked at the controls to steady his Interceptor.

But the hit was only glancing, not,

much damage done. Ap, a trifle singed,

yelled triumphantly as his next shot caught

his opponent right on the nose.

Rawl held the dive. Mish pointed down

at six more ships shooting vertically up towards

them. ”Second squadron!

Being twice the speed as well as twice

the size of the renegade craft, Rawl ’s ship

had flashed by them before they could even

change course to fire on him.

Nearly grazing the ground, Rawl pulled

out of the dive and took the Interceptor,

engines shrieking, up and under the patrol.

Shooting right through the squadron,

Mish again closed the firing switch, and the

six ships were blasted to fragments.

Rawl yanked at the controls and dove

downwards again, for the base itself. In the

tail Ap was raring to go, ready to roll.

Hunting for something to fire at, he found

nothing, and slumped back in disappointment.

An anti-spacecraft gunner crew concentrated

ribbons of shot at the plummeting

Interceptor. No use – the ship just kept

diving toward them. They ceased fire and

ducked futilely for cover.

Mish once more had his hand on the

firing control, waiting for the word…

”Now!” yelled Rawl, and Mish

snapped his thumb down.

Rawl banked his ship and sped for

safety as the base went up in a cloud of

atomic particles.

Flying left-handed, Rawl cruised his Interceptor

above Home Planet. He held a

mike in his other hand, and frowned slightly

as he spoke. ”Calling Commanding General

Arn, Commanding Planetary Army Home

Planet. Calling Commanding General Arn,

Commanding Planetary Army Home

Planet… ”

A voice spluttered in over the receiver.

”I’ll get him, I’ll get him.”

Having answered the call, a communications

clerk signalled urgently to the Commanding

General across the room. He

ducked down to avoid a red slash of fire

that laced above him. Many others in the

room did the same, for the Planetary army

was engaged in a pitched battle.

Soldiers, in the blue and white uniforms,

were at the windows, firing intermittently

at the enemy outside. A line of

wounded lay against the far wall, growing

longer by the minute.

General Arn, a dignified, grey-headed

man, answered the clerk’ s summons. Cap

off and collar open he ran, keeping his head

down, over to the radio.

The clerk handed Arn the mike, shaking

his head incredulously. ”It sounds like


The clerk hit a video button and the

General stared, jaw agape, at the screen.



He drew a breath of relief, then spoke

very seriously. ”Don’t try to come in here.

We’re pinned down! They seized our tanks.

Secret police and renegades are out there in

thousands all around our base.”

”Are you at Central Base Three?”

The General looked a little suspicious.

The guy would have to be crazy to come in

here! With reservation, he answered ”Yes.”

Rawl gave a short laugh. ”Keep the

heads of your men down when you hear a


”Rawl… ” the General began, to be silenced

by the audible click as Rawl cut the


Looking around him in some amazement,

he spoke to no one in particular.

”He’s coming in here!” Then, hastily buttoning

his collar and jamming his cap on his

head, he

turned and shouted to his men. ”Increase

your fire!”

High above Central Base Three, Rawl

and Mish surveyed the scene below. The

base was a fortress-like building surrounded

on three sides by open parade ground and

backed on the fourth by a winding river.

Some twenty tanks were ranged around the

building, spouting gushes of flame. Masses

of secret police in battle formations were

keeping up continuous fire at the building

where army soldiers at the windows only

shot back sporadically.

Rawl pulled a lever and his ship

swooped downward. ”Use fire, ” he told

Mish. ”Don’t hit the building.”

Mish grinned back at Rawl and gave

him an OK sign.

Zel, a bit removed from his men, was

seated in a camp chair, observing the battle

in satisfaction. Just a few more hours, and

he’d probably get a medal or something.

Deserved it too – no one would ever know

that this really wasn’t his plan, but what

the hell. He was the senior officer here


The note of an alien engine intruded

upon his ruminations. He looked up, consternated

and dumbfounded to see a diving

Interceptor. Jumping up, he ran for the

cover of some nearby trees.

As the ship’s shadow raced over the

tanks and men on the parade grounds, Mish

jerked on the firing control, letting loose a

blanket of raging flame.

Army soldiers crowded, wounded and

all, to the windows, cheering as the tanks

blew up one by one.

Those still alive in the ranks of secret

police nearest the army building had aboutfaced

to stare, awe-struck, at the burning

wreckage. They didn’t see as the soldiers

leapt over their window embrasures to

charge headlong at them.

Then, hearing the battle cry ”Remember

the Ninth Army!” the secret police whirled

around to be knocked flat by the wave of

blue and white uniformed men.

”Remember the Ninth Army!”

In the Interceptor, Lady Min and Ap

had come to stand behind the pilot seats in

the Cockpit, looking eagerly through the


Ap clutched Mish’s arm and howled in

delight. ”We’ve won!”

Laughing, Mish disengaged Ap’s hands

and reached across to lightly punch Rawl’s

shoulder. ”Hey, pardner. We’ve done it


Seeking an avenue of release for his high

spirits, Ap grabbed Lady Min and waltzed

her down the fuselage, to her own and the

others’ amusement.

But below, Zel was making good his

escape. He clambered into an armored car

and kicked it into gear. Hatless and

scorched, he careened off madly, intent only

on getting away.



The heads of state were holed up in the

palace. Renegade troops, scattered strategically

around the walls, kept up a barrage of

small arms fire.

Out in the street, a crowd of affronted

civilians were held back by barricades and

panes of anti-shot glass.

In the square, facing the palace, were

several armored vehicles and a blue and

white tank. Next to the tank, General Arn,

Mish and Rawl were conferring.

”They’re in there all right, ” observed

Arn. ”The lot of them, like rats in a hole.”

Mish slammed a fist against the tank’s

side. Blast! He spoke gruffly in his frustration.

”You can’t bomb the place. It’s force

screen detonates anything you drop on


Rawl leaned back on the tank and

shook his head. ”No, no. We’ve got to take

them alive.” He beckoned to a civilian police

captain who held a loud-hailer.

Stooping low to avoid ricocheting shot,

the captain ran over to the tank, trailing the

hailer’s cord behind him.

Rawl jabbed a thumb over his shoulder.

”Isn’t there any way we can get them out of


The captain shrugged. ”We could storm

the place. Cost an awful lot of men.”

”Call them again, ” sighed Rawl. ”We

want to take them alive.”

A man in the forefront of the watching

crowds turned to his neighbor, marveling at

what he had just heard. ”Rawl just said they

want to take them alive!”

Pleased with the idea, his eyes lit up

fanatically. Cupping his hands to his

mouth, he shouted to Rawl: ”Take them


Those around the man stared at him,

astonished. Then they too took up the cry.

”Take them alive!” the din grew as

more and more joined in.

The captain glanced back at the people

behind the barricades, a small smile crossing

his face. Turning again to confront the palace,

he switched on the hailer. ”You are

called upon to surrender peacefully. All

renegades in the palace will be granted amnesty

and transported out of the Galaxy.

All officials will be arraigned for trial. Come

out without weapons and your hands above

your head.”

In a window, a renegade was turning

the captain’s words over in his mind. He

listened for a moment to the mob’s chanting

– ”Take them alive!”

Sighing, he worked the slide of his rifle

and pulled the trigger. It gave an empty

click. He regarded the street again, then

withdrew from the window in defeat.

One of the palace doors opened a crack.

Several blast rifles slithered out to clatter

down the broad front steps. The door

opened wider, and a ragged bunch of powder-

burned renegades straggled out, hands

held high.

An officer signalled to his blue and

white uniformed men. ”Hold your fire!”

The men who had capitulated were

frisked and loaded into an open-sided truck.

Suddenly, a burst of fire from the palace

knocked three of the renegades down.

A civilian police officer dropped to his

knees and raised his rifle to shoot back.

Holding his smoking rifle, the secret

police executive tarried a second too long at

the window before drawing back. The demoniac

snarl on his face changed to one of

agony as the shot from below caught him in

the abdomen. Loosing an involuntary burst

from his gun, he pitched forward and fell to

the pavement below.

Viewing this exchange, Rawl’s frown

deepened. He looked over at Arn; ”Still a lot

of fanatics in there.”

Arn, scowling at the palace, nodded absently.


Rawl drew his pistol and checked its

load. Jerking his head towards Mish, he

moved off in the direction of the palace.

”Come on, Mish.”

Aroused from his meditations, Arn

made a grab at Rawl in alarm; ”No!”

But they were off, crouching low.

Creeping alongside of them was a driverless

armored car, pushed by a couple of civilian

police, to protect them from fire. A splatter

of red glanced off the top of the car without

doing harm.

Deciding the least he could do was keep

the enemy busy, Arn shouted to his men:

’’All troops, rapid fire at palace windows!”

Pulled up in front of the building’s

arched portals, Rawl and Mish knelt in back

of the car’s fenders. Keeping his eyes on

Mish’s face, Rawl drew a coin from his

pocket and flipped it.

”Heads, ” chose Mish.

Rawl didn’t even look at the coin or

show it to Mish. ”I lost, ” he stated, cutting

short Mish’s protests by sprinting off towards

the palace steps. Red streaks of

flame ripped at the cement around him, but

still he ran on.

Mish swore. Seeing someone about to

shoot at Rawl from a window, he rapidly

aimed and fired. The man’s gun, hit, exploded

in his hands.

Mish turned anxiously back to watch

Rawl dart through the palace doors. Hell!

He wasn’t going to let Rawl go in there

alone! He upped and dashed off to catch up

with Rawl.

Inside, Rawl paused to spray the hall

with shot. Spotting a shadowy figure on a

balcony, he brought his gun to bear and


He started as someone raced past him

and made for the stairs. Seeing it was Mish,

he smiled – not surprised. Staying below to

cover him, Rawl waited until Mish had

reached the head of the staircase before

dashing up them himself.

Their backs to the hallway on the left

of the bannister, neither saw an office door

surreptitiously open. Nor did they see a

grey-green uniformed man sneak out and

take aim.

The shot caught Mish on the side of his

head. A look of amazement on his face, he

jerked once and, weapon flying into the air,

he fell backwards rolling over and over as he

toppled down the stairs.

Rawl’s face went white as stunned, he

watched Mish fall. Then, whirling around,

he saw a door down the corridor bang shut.

Running furiously towards it, he cut

loose a blast of fire and the door buckled

inward. Kicking the smoking door aside, he

entered the room, gun held ready. He swept

his eyes across the room. Cowering by the

desk were two secret policemen. A third

was getting to his feet, having been knocked

down by the door, and was bringing his rifle


Though Rawl was still in shock from

the loss of Mish, his reflexes were lightning

quick. Instinctively almost, he blasted the

man with the rifle down and turned his

blazing gun on the other two men. And he

kept on firing long after the secret policemen

were dead.

He checked himself, the fury clearing

from his mind. Stepping out into the hallway,

he looked down over the bannister at

the crumpled form lying at the bottom of

the stairs.

For a moment only he allowed grief to

tear through him. Mish had been his best

friend. Damn, damn, damn! Then, grimly

determined, he moved down the corridor.

In the street, Lady Min had joined

General Arn by the tank. Her face white

with strain, she stared at the palace, clasping

and unclasping her hands in nervous

tension. Oh lord! Let him come out alive…

Bootbeats echoing, Rawl strode down


the hall. He passed door after door until he

arrived at the last one, slightly more ornamental

than the rest, its plaque announced it

to be Xenu’s office.

He reached out his hand, tentatively

touched the doorknob. he turned it. Then,

he savagely kicked the door open and

lunged through.

At first glance, the room seemed bare.

Red velvet drapes hung askew, red carpet

littered with paper and discarded weapons,

the massive black desk was smothered in

scatters of files.

Rawl took this all in in a flash, then

brought his gaze to rest on the floor under

the window. There slumped down, were

five men. Rawl walked slowly, cautiously

even, towards them.

Stopping before them, Rawl regarded

the five men with contempt. Zel was whitefaced

with fear; Chi was panting – his hand

raised to ward off imagined horrors; Sty lay

stiffly as if he were one of his own patients,

or victims rather; Chu the banker would not

meet Rawl’s eyes, concentrating as he was

on not vomiting from total shattering terror;

and lastly, Xenu – he was slightly more

composed than the rest.

Rawl’s lip curled. Well here they were.

The kingpins. Not so brave now, but

weren’t all criminals basically cowards at


Praying Rawl wouldn’t notice, Xenu

obliquely eyed the floor by his right hand.

A blast pistol lay there invitingly. He crept

his hand toward it, keeping a close watch on

Rawl as he frisked down the other four.

Closer and closer crept Xenu’s hand.

Still Rawl hadn’t noticed…

With a sudden movement, Xenu

grabbed the pistol. Out of the corner of his

eye, Rawl saw this and spun around,

swinging his foot at the same time.

Jamming the gun against his right temple,

Xenu squeezed the trigger…

Just as Rawl’s boot connected with his

hand, sending the pistol spinning up into

the air, it discharged harmlessly.

Scooping it up from where it bounced

back onto the floor, Rawl tossed the pistol

to the far end of the room.

His attempted suicide foiled, and all

weapons removed from his vicinity, Xenu

flopped down in despair. ’Whoresons! He

was lost, lost, lost.

Casting a withering glance at Xenu,

Rawl moved over to the window and shattered

the glass with his pistol butt.

Reversing his gun so as to keep his

prisoners covered, Rawl leaned out the

window and waved his cap to the people

below. ”They’re alive!”

The crowd roared in approval. Lady

Min, tears of relief streaming down her otherwise

glowingly beautiful face, waved back

frantically, trying to catch Rawl’s eye.

Car horns and church bells joined in the

uproar. Rejoicing spread through the city at

the news of victory. As one, the crowds

burst through the barricades and surged,

yelling in jubilation, towards the palace.

The joy of the moment was infectious.

Rawl smiled to himself as he Looked down

at the tumult below. Seeing Lady Min there,

his grin widened and he blew her a kiss.


General Arn was talking with Rawl in

his office. Nearby, flashy in his loud new

clothes, Ap was fidgeting. Lady Min, beautifully

groomed and poised, gazed adoringly

up at Rawl through long lashes.

Rawl put a hand on the General’s arm.

”There’s a lot to be done. Can you nominate

some of your people as Loyal Officers?”

”Yes, ” the General affirmed. ”And if I

were you I would take the two top classes

of the Loyal Officer Academy, commission


them at once and put them up for election

by the people.”

Rawl nodded, then a frown marked his

face. ”It won’t, ” he added gloomily, ”be the

same operating without Mish.”

As he spoke, the door flew open and

Mish, heavily bandaged and grinning madly,

entered on crutches. ”That, ” he laughed, ”is

one problem you won’t have to feed into

the computer!”

Rawl looked as if he was seeing an apparition.

Mish? Alive? Recovering from the

initial shock, he whooped in delight and

rushed over to clap him on his good arm.

”You’ll never know, pardner, ” he said,

”how pleased I am to see you!”

Lady Min and Ap also swooped down

on Mish trying to hug him and be careful of

his wounds at the same time.

”Hey, watch it!” exclaimed Mish in

mock protest.

The Congressional Hall echoed as the

black-robed judge, seated in the place once

occupied by Xenu, rapped his gave!

Two other judges flanked him. Many

more were seated below him in a long tier.

The vast rows of chairs were empty,

save those occupied by a stern-faced Rawl,

a black-veiled Lady Min and a bandaged


Heavily guarded, Xenu, Chi, Zel, Sty

and Chu faced their tribune, awaiting sentence.

Broadcasting the trial, a newsman and

an audio assistant rolled the TV camera

around on its crane support.

The chief judge looked down gravely on

the criminals before him. ”Having been duly

and carefully tried under the authority of

Congress, the following persons are found

guilty of attempting to form a police state,

extorting personal taxes, of instigating revolt,

high treason against the state, willful

and malicious mass murder of populations

and the destruction of the people and all

things on planet Earth:

”Zel – former Chief of Secret Police

Earth, Sty head of the Psychiatric Associations,

Chi – former head of the Department

of Justice, Chu – former head of the Galactic

Bank, and Xenu – deposed Supreme

Ruler… ”

The judge paused for breath, then continued,

his voice taking on an even more

somber tone. ”… are hereby sentenced to be

exhibited on every planet to the populations

of each planet and then imprisoned in

a mountain sustained for eons by lifesupports.

”Such is the judgement of this court, of

the Congress, of the offended peoples of

the great Confederation and the moral natures

of all decent men.

”Is there anything the felons would care

to say?”

His question was met by silence. The

banker’s nervous giggle didn’t count.

The Judge, with some asperity, rapped

his gavel to silence the banker. He frowned

severely. ”Such is the fate of those who

would form a police state and such it has

ever been.”

He rapped his gavel three more times to

signal the conclusion of the proceedings.

The sentence was carried out meticulously.

The criminals were displayed in glass

encased locomotives that travelled the face

of every planet in the Confederation.

At each station, the trains would halt,

met by angry, indignant crowds. Among the

bands of citizens were some more bold than

the rest. These displayed their hatred and

utter contempt for the felons with tangible

expressions in the form of eggs, tomatoes

and other such objects, pelted pell-mell at

the carriages.

The prisoners reacted in various ways.

Chi merely stared out the windows, eyes

wide and vacant as he slowly went insane.


Sty took to muttering Freudian style

phrases to himself in an attempt to occupy

himself with things other than his horror of

the fate in store for him. Chu lost a great

deal of weight, becoming less piggy, but still

maintaining his habit of twist-twisting his

rings. Zel became a manic-depressive, and

indulged in paroxysms of deep melancholia

followed by fits of glee.

And Xenu – Xenu just sat and sagged,

head in his hands.

Their grand tour over at last, they were

taken to a solitary mountain that brooded

over a barren plain.

A cluster of blue and white trucks were

parked around a tunnel entrance that led

into the heart of the mountain. Nearby, a

milling crowd of civilians and soldiers were

scattered about. A military band played

funeralistic music, slow in beat and low in


Accompanied by his TV and radio

broadcasting equipment, a newsman was

keeping up a steady commentary. ”We are

standing here on the desolate slopes of

Mount Xenu on Planet Tawn. This is the

mountain named for him in the days of unholy

power when he planned his criminal

course of destruction. It was designated,

possibly with bitterness, as the final place

of imprisonment. Officers of the Court are

completing… ”

Inside the mountain was a grotto carved

out of the living stone. A blue-overalled

electrician was connecting up sheets of

copper plating that lined the room. Alert

guards stood about. Cables and wires lay in

heaps on the copper sheathed floor. Several

white-coated doctors and their attendants

worked busily around a semicircle of hospital-

style tables on which the prisoners,

strapped down, were lying.

Xenu was staring dully upwards as one

doctor fastened tubes to his wrists and another

fastened them to his ankles. The first

doctor, having finished the wrists, began to

put two prongs around Xenu’s throat.

Wetting his dry, cracked lips, Xenu

looked up at the doctor, some terror showing

in his glazed eyes. ”These devices keep

one alive forever?”

”Don’t talk, ” snapped the doctor.

A guard stepped forward. ”Don’t talk

to the prisoner!”

Despairing, Xenu rolled his eyes. ”How

long is forever?”

No one answered, no one knew.

Completing their tasks, the doctors began

to pull out. Guards moved away from

the tables. They filed out one by one, leaving

only the electrician and one guard in

company with the prisoners.

Rapidly, the remaining two gave the tables

and wirings a final check. The prisoners

lay inert but awake. The banker and psychiatrist

stared wretchedly at the exit, small

and more desirable than life, at the end of

the long tunnel. Zel started to laugh hysterically.

Chi looked around, vacant-eyed. And

Xenu gazed blankly, torment-torn, at the


Satisfied all was in order, the electrician

and guard also began to depart. Swinging the

copper-grated door shut behind them, they

walked the length of the tunnel.

Reaching the final exit, the electrician

switched the lights off, and the guards

banged the heavy steel door shut.

Inside, the prisoners were bathed in

darkness. And the screaming began…

The newscaster buttonholed the electrician.

”How long, ” he asked, thrusting the

mike forward, ”will the power last to continue

their life-supports?”

Turning in some impatience, the electrician

shrugged. ”About seventy-four million

years, I think, possibly more. Long


Piqued at this laconic reply, the newscaster

looked around for another prospecREVOLT


tive interviewee.

Bulldozers moved up and began shoveling

dirt to cover up the tunnel entrance.

An engineering officer spoke to one of the

drivers. ”Make sure there’s no trace of that

tunnel entrance.”

The driver grinned and gave him a salute.

Finally, the people had drifted away,

the band was gone.

Mount Xenu once more stood alone.

No sign left of the tunnel. No sign of anything.

A sullen breeze moaned monotonously

over the plain, tumbling a few dried weeds

before it.

A faint scream sounded. Perhaps a

sudden gust of air, perhaps…

Just the lonely wind.


Earth. A murky yellow mist swirled

about some shattered tree stumps that

spotted a promontory.

A white helicopter was hovering there

as it lowered an angular, cylindrical object.

It was a large capsule, shiny green in color.

Its surface was smooth but for the panels

set in its nose.

A few people were standing on the

promontory. All wore anti-radiation suits

over their normal clothing; Mish, watching

the lowering capsule, guided it down with

hand signals.

Ap, not doing anything much as usual

but there anyway, looked around at the

desolated landscape. He found it a little bit

spooky. ”This sure is, ” he commented to

the air as no one was listening to him, ”the

end of Planet Earth! Future zero!”

Off to one side, Lady Min and Rawl

had their heads together, talking quietly.

Lady Min looked up at Rawl a trifle

uncertainly. ”I never was his mistress, that

was just his idea of a way to become

popular. He hated women.”

Rawl smiled, a little surprised but

pleased all the same.

”I used to keep news clips of you, ”

she went on as she lowered her gaze, embarrassed.

”Kept them under my pillow when I

was a teenager. Silly, huh?”

Rawl’s eyes flew wide open. ”You

kept clips of me?” It was his turn to look

embarrassed. ”I used to keep photos of you

in my wallet.”

They looked at each other in sudden

understanding. Their hands reached out and


Meanwhile, the capsule grounded, the

helicopter had landed. Mish disengaged the

cable and together with Ap, wrestled the

cylinder into position.

Unhooking one of the panels, Mish

switched on a camera unit and recorder. He

turned to signal Rawl. ”You’re on, ” he


Gently, Rawl took his hand from Lady

Min’s and softly touched a finger to her

mouth. Her eyes were brilliant as she smiled

at him.

Stepping into line with the capsule’s

camera lens, Rawl braced himself to speak.

”A few of us labored together to make this

capsule so that those who may follow will

know how your planet was murdered and


He swept his arm to indicate the devastated


”This desolation was the result of

forming a police state. When populations

are restless, unwise governments seek to

oppress. And the more they oppress the

closer they bring a revolution. Foolish governments

seek to prevent revolution with

more oppression. And they die.

”But part of the fault for this must be

shared by the Congress. Congress let an

executive branch grow bigger and bigger and


let it act to antagonize and alienate the people.

To that degree Congress betrayed the

people who elected and trusted them.”

He looked down and raised a hand to

tick off a finger as he made each point. ”Before

the other planets are also destroyed,

Congress has got to reform the school system

so -they stop teaching kids they are

animals. Then it has to get the police to realize

they are responsible for public safety,

not just nabbing people they don’t like.

Congress will have to pass a bill abolishing

the whole evil fraud of psychiatry. Congress

has to eradicate the executive branch

as it is and organize one with far less


Rawl gazed intensely into the camera

lens, as if willing a result of duplication and

action to occur if, when, Earth ever was reborn,


”Do not attempt to form another police

state for then your planet will die again.

”The mistakes of the past were ours.

The future is yours.”

With that, Rawl essayed an easy salute.

A stray wind blew a wisp of yellow

fog between Rawl and the capsule and the

screen went blank.


Stunned, the president and his head cop

could only stare at the blank screen as the

capsule’s panel doors slowly swung shut.

Through the window, the sun was setting

on Washington the fair, Washington the


And still they just sat. The head of National

Police vacant-eyed; the president

pensive, trying to gather his scattered wits.

The president considered the consequences

of this capsule’s contents became

public knowledge. He shuddered at the idea.

All his plans, all his power… he shook his

head to disband such awful notions.

After a time, he stood up. Seeing his

boss rise, Jedgar also got to his feet, thankful

to get going. He knew this business was

terribly important, and that much was at

stake – but all he could think of was his

dinner and the race tonight. And he had a

mighty big bone to pick with that Benny

the Dip…

Thoughtfully, the president walked

towards the locked doors that led from the

room, Jedgar trailing behind, anxious to be


On the steps outside the science building,

a cluster of newsmen and photographers

had gathered. They had been waiting

an awfully long time.

As the huge portals opened, their desultory

talk ceased abruptly. They looked

up expectantly as the president and his

sidekick, czar of all US police, appeared to

be instantly hit by a barrage of clamorous

questions and popping flashbulbs.

”What was it?” yelled a reporter.

”Mr. President… ” began another.

And another reporter ”Was it some ancient


Loud and clear above the others, one

reporter could be heard. ”Was it a time capsule?”

The president looked down at the reporters.

They were obviously awaiting

some kind of answer. Well, he’d give ’em

one. He smiled slowly, eyes veiling.

Waving his hands for silence, he spoke

in a jocular tone of voice. ”Sorry to disappoint.

It was just a piece of old World War

II junk. Just scrap metal, gentlemen. Just

scrap metal.”

Turning his head a little, the president

exchanged a sly, conspiratorial glance with

his Chief of National Police.

Jedgar, catching on and approving

whole-heartedly, smiled back – a bit evilly,

slightly twisted.

No one would ever know…


Just scrap metal.