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The World with a Thousand Moons   By: (1904-1977)

The World with a Thousand Moons by Edmond Hamilton

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories December 1942. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

THE WORLD WITH A THOUSAND MOONS

[Illustration: The forest was a hell of vicious brutes]

by EDMOND HAMILTON

Grim death was the only romance to be found on this world that boasted a thousand moons

CHAPTER 1

Thrill Cruise

Lance Kenniston felt the cold realization of failure as he came out of the building into the sharp chill of the Martian night. He stood for a moment, his lean, drawn face haggard in the light of the two hurtling moons.

He looked hopelessly across the dark spaceport. It was a large one, for this ancient town of Syrtis was the main port of Mars. The forked light of the flying moons showed many ships docked on the tarmac a big liner, several freighters, a small, shining cruiser and other small craft. And for lack of one of those ships, his hopes were ruined!

A squat, brawny figure in shapeless space jacket came to Kenniston's side. It was Holk Or, the Jovian who had been waiting for him.

"What luck?" asked the Jovian in a rumbling whisper.

"It's hopeless," Kenniston answered heavily. "There isn't a small cruiser to be had at any price. The meteor miners buy up all small ships here."

"The devil!" muttered Holk Or, dismayed. "What are we going to do? Go on to Earth and get a cruiser there?"

"We can't do that," Kenniston answered. "You know we've got to get back to that asteroid within two weeks. We've got to get a ship here."

Desperation made Kenniston's voice taut. His lean, hard face was bleak with knowledge of disastrous failure.

The big Jovian scratched his head. In the shifting moonslight his battered green face expressed ignorant perplexity as he stared across the busy spaceport.

"That shiny little cruiser there would be just the thing," Holk Or muttered, looking at the gleaming, torpedo shaped craft nearby. "It would hold all the stuff we've got to take; and with robot controls we two could run it."

"We haven't a chance to get that craft," Kenniston told him. "I found out that it's under charter to a bunch of rich Earth youngsters who came out here in it for a pleasure cruise. A girl named Loring, heiress to Loring Radium, is the head of the party."

The Jovian swore. "Just the ship we need, and a lot of spoiled kids are using it for thrill hunting!"

Kenniston had an idea. "It might be," he said slowly, "that they're tired of the cruise by this time and would sell us the craft. I think I'll go up to the Terra Hotel and see this Loring girl."

"Sure, let's try it anyway," Holk Or agreed.

The Earthman looked at him anxiously. "Oughtn't you to keep under cover, Holk? The Planet Patrol has had your record on file for a long time. If you happened to be recognized "

"Bah, they think I'm dead, don't they?" scoffed the Jovian. "There's no danger of us getting picked up."

Kenniston was not so sure, but he was too driven by urgent need to waste time in argument. With the Jovian clumping along beside him, he made his way from the spaceport across the ancient Martian city.

The dark streets of old Syrtis were not crowded. Martians are not a nocturnal people and only a few were abroad in the chill darkness, even they being wrapped in heavy synthewool cloaks from which only their bald red heads and solemn, cadaverous faces protruded.

Earthmen were fairly numerous in this main port of the planet. Swaggering space sailors, prosperous looking traders and rough meteor miners made up the most of them. There were a few tourists gaping at the grotesque old black stone buildings, and under a krypton bulb at a corner, two men in the drab uniform of the Patrol stood eyeing passersby sharply... Continue reading book >>




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