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The Martian Cabal   By: (1899-1976)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Astounding Stories May 1932. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

The Table of Contents is not part of the original magazine. The pages have been renumbered.

The Martian Cabal

A Complete Novelette

By R. F. Starzl


Page I Strange Intruder 2 II Scar Balta 10 III The Price of Monarchy 18 IV Torture 23 V The Wrath of Tolto 30 VI The Fight in the Fort 37 VII The Flight of a Princess 49 VIII In the Desert 57 IX Plot and Counter Plot 71 X One Thousand to One 79 XI Giant Against Giant 86 XII "He Must Be a Man of Earth" 96

[Sidenote: Sime Hemingway, of the I. F. P., strikes at the insidious interests that are lashing high the war feeling between Earth and Mars.]


Strange Intruder

Sime Hemingway did not sleep well his first night on Mars. There was no tangible reason why he shouldn't. His bed was soft. He had dined sumptuously, for this hotel's cuisine offered not only Martian delicacies, but drew on Earth and Venus as well.

Yet Sime did not sleep well. He tossed restlessly in the caressing softness of his bed. He turned a knob in the head panel of his bed, tried to yield to the soothing music that seemed to come from nowhere. He turned another knob, watched the marching, playing, whirling of somnolent colors on the domed ceiling of his room.

At last he gave it up. Some sixth sense had him all jumpy. It was not usual for Sime Hemingway to be jumpy. He was one of the coolest heads in the I. F. P., the Interplanetary Flying Police who patrolled the lonely reaches of space and brought man's law to the outermost orbit of the far flung solar system.

Now he jumped out of bed and examined the fastening of his door, the door to the hotel corridor. There was only one, and it was secure. Windows there were none, and investigation showed that the small ports were all covered with their pivoted safety plates. He extinguished the light, swung aside one of the plates, and peered out into the Martian night. It was moonlight both Deimos and Phobos were racing across the blue black sky. The waters of Crystal Canal stretched out before him, seemingly illimitable. Sime knew that the distance to the other side was twenty miles or more. Clear cut through the thin atmosphere of Mars, he could see the jeweled lights of South Tarog, on the other side.

The hotel grounds, too, were well lighted. Long, luminous tubes, part of the architecture of the buildings, aided the moons, shedding their serene glow on the gentle slope of the red lawns and terraces, the geometrically trimmed shrubs and trees. They were reflected warmly in the dancing waves of the canal, though Sime knew that even in this, the height of the summer season, the outside temperature was very near freezing.

Now a hotel guard came along. He carried at his belt a neuro pistol, a deadly weapon whose beam would destroy the nervous structure of any living creature. He went past the port with measured stride, and Sime slid back the safety plate with a puzzled frown.

Why was he so nervous? This wasn't the first dangerous mission on which he had embarked in the course of his official duty. And danger was the element that gave zest to his life.

[Illustration: Clinging like leeches to the wall, the two men resisted the warped gravitational drag.]

He began a methodical examination of his room, peering under the bed, into closets, a wardrobe... Continue reading book >>

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