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Before Egypt   By:

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories January 1957. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.



It was Mallison's strangest assignment. The weird little professor wanted to go to Egypt. That meant a trip back to Earth so far as Mallison was concerned. But the professor pointed to a distant star and Mallison wondered: "Who moved Egypt?"

[Illustration: Jaws agape, the hideous serpent hung poised above her slim thigh.]

Mike Mallison and Nicko were in the office when the new clients entered. A girl and an elderly man. The girl smiled at Mike. Then she looked at Nicko and a sharp involuntary scream got past her lips.

"It's all right, lady," Mike said. "He won't hurt you. He never injures a client. Won't you sit down?"

Nicko wasn't offended. He was used to women reacting that way at first sight of him. In fact, the hideous little Martian misfit had caused even strong men to turn pale.

The elderly man was also staring but with more clinical interest than horror. He turned his eyes on Mike and said, "I am Professor Arnold Brandon. This is my daughter, Doree."

"I'm Mike Mallison." He indicated with a nod. "This is my assistant, Nicko."

Nicko grinned, thus baring his tusks and adding new hideousness to his face. He waved his four arms and said, "I'm delighted to make your acquaintances. I hope your trip to Outer Port was not too tiring."

Nicko's tones were bell like his diction perfect. The girl gasped. The man blinked, then turned again to Mike. "I hope you received our electrogram."

"Yes, but it was a little vague. It merely said you would arrive at Outer Port as of this date."

"Quite. We wish to charter your ship for a cruise."

Mike considered. The Space Queen was at liberty but he wasn't sure about these two. Other than the fact that the man was old, the girl gray eyed, slim, and damned pretty, he knew nothing about them. They certainly didn't look like big game hunters.

"For what destination?"

Professor Brandon hesitated. "Out toward Orion, sir."

"A man could cruise out toward Orion for the rest of his life and still not arrive at a destination. Could you be more specific?"

"There is a planet out there I wish to visit but at this time I'd rather discuss details other than its location."

"Such as ?"

"The cost is very important to us."

Doree Brandon spoke up. "My father holds the Chair of Ancient Cultures at Casa Blanca University, and educators, as you may know, are not very well paid. We've been saving for this trip for a long time "

She faltered, somewhat embarrassed and Mike asked, "In what segment of Orion is this planet located?"

"The ninth, sir."

Mike leaned forward. "May I assume your trip is of a scientific nature?"

"You may, sir."

"Then I wonder if you are familiar with the Terran Educational Foundation? I happened to have had contact with them some five years ago."

"I'm quite familiar with the organization."

"Did it occur to you that they might assume some of the cost of your trip?"

"They refused. They make the absurd claim that this planet I spoke of doesn't exist."

"But you have proof to the contrary?"

"An ancient document," Doree Brandon cut in. "A papyrus scroll. Father translated it."

"And the Foundation did not agree with his translation?"

"I did not submit the scroll. They know nothing about it."

"Father bought it from two men in Paris and worked three years on the translation." Doree looked at her father with great pride.

"My reasons for not submitting it were personal," Professor Brandon said, "and are not pertinent to this discussion... Continue reading book >>

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