Read Captain Future 04 - The Triumph of Captain Future (Fall 1940) Online

Authors: Edmond Hamilton

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Captain Future 04 - The Triumph of Captain Future (Fall 1940)

BOOK: Captain Future 04 - The Triumph of Captain Future (Fall 1940)
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#4 Fall 1940




A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

The Triumph of Captain Future

by Edmond Hamilton

Racing to the Ringed Planet in Answer to Earth’s Clarion Call, the Wizard of Science Seeks a Forbidden Elixir of Life — and Finds the City of Eternal Youth!




Radio Archives • 2012

Copyright Page


Copyright © 1940 by Better Publications, Inc. © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form.



These pulp stories are a product of their time. The text is reprinted intact, unabridged, and may include ethnic and cultural stereotyping that was typical of the era.


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The original introduction to Captain Future as it appeared in issue #1


The Wizard of Science! Captain Future!

The most colorful planeteer in the Solar System makes his debut in this, America's newest and most scintillating scientifiction magazine — CAPTAIN FUTURE.

This is the magazine more than one hundred thousand scientifiction followers have been clamoring for! Here, for the first time in scientifiction history, is a publication devoted exclusively to the thrilling exploits of the greatest fantasy character of all time!

Follow the flashing rocket-trail of the
as the most extraordinary scientist of nine worlds have ever known explores the outposts of the cosmos to the very shores of infinity. Read about the Man of Tomorrow today!

Meet the companions of Captain Future, the most glamorous trio in the Universe!

Grag, the giant, metal robot; Otho, the man-made, synthetic android; and aged Simon Wright, the living Brain.

This all-star parade of the most unusual characters in the realm of fantasy is presented for your entertainment. Come along with this amazing band as they rove the enchanted space-ways — in each issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE!


The Triumph of Captain Future

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

by Edmond Hamilton


Racing to the Ringed Planet in Answer to Earth’s Clarion Call, the Wizard of Science Seeks a Forbidden Elixir of Life — and Finds the City of Eternal Youth!



Chapter 1: Elixir of Evil


THE softly lighted room was a strange one. It had gray metal and double air-lock doors that allowed no outside air to enter. Through the hermetically sealed windows could be seen a dark, vaguely grotesque forest. Across the black, star-studded sky cut the colossal, gleaming scimitar of the great Rings that only one planet possesses.

An observer would have found the room queer, indeed. But he would not have dreamed that it was the secret heart of a poisonous traffic that reached out like an octopus to all the nine worlds of the Solar System.

One of the two men in the room sat at a chromalloy desk. His whole form and face were effectively concealed by a brilliant blue light of force that emanated from a humming little cubical mechanism at his belt. His voice came harshly from the glowing cloud that shrouded him.

“Are those the sub-leaders now?” he asked sharply.

“Yes, their ships are landing now,” answered the other man, peering from a window. “They’re exactly on time.”

The second man was a Mercurian, one of the tawny-skinned, catlike race native to the inmost planet. With feline lightness he turned, his yellow eyes flashing.

“Here they come, Life-lord,” he said eagerly.

Clad in the concealing blue “aura,” the man he called the Life-lord made no answer. He sat waiting in brooding silence.


THE air-lock doors of the room swung open. A dozen men trooped in. They also wore the shining blue “auras.”

The “aura” was a scientific device well known throughout the System. A cloud of radiated sporicidal force, it enabled men to pass unharmed through regions that were thick with deadly microscopic life.

They snapped off their auras as they entered. Without the concealing cloud of light they stood revealed as white-skinned Venusians, bald, big-chested red Martians, one hairy Plutonian, a lanky blue Saturnian.

The tall Saturnian strode to the desk and inverted a small synthesilk bag in front of the Life-lord. Out spilled platinum coins, brilliant gems, white System Government bank-notes.

“Four hundred vials of the Lifewater sold on Venus this time,” he told the Life-lord. “Here’s the take. We can use six hundred vials, next trip.”

“Count it, at once,” the Life-lord ordered harshly to the Mercurian hovering nearby.

“Three hundred and twenty vials sold on Mars this time,” another of the newcomers reported, laying down more money and rare planetary Jewels. “And we can use more Lifewater next time, too.”

One by one, flee men reported to the Life-lord their share in the illicit traffic on Mars, Earth, Venus, and all the other worlds. The pile of money, rare gems and little ingots of supervaluable metals grew higher.

The evil gains of the poisonous Lifewater traffic flowed from all nine worlds into this secret room! The catlike Mercurian counted and noted down the sums brought by each man. Then one third of the sum brought by each of the subleaders was paid back to him.

“There are your commissions,” spoke the Life-lord’s harp voice through his concealing aura. “Give them their new consignments of the Lifewater, Ybor.”

The Mercurian obeyed. From a connecting room he brought dozens of square, rocklike metal cases. Each cap, held scores of little glassite vials of opalescent, self-luminous fluid that scintillated like curdled light — the potent, mysterious Lifewater!

The sub-leaders made ready to carry the cases out to their waiting space ships. But one Venusian looked slyly at his chief.

“You still won’t tell us where you get the Lifewater?” he asked hopefully.

The concealed figure of their chief stiffened. His voice grated with menace through his disguising aura.

“Try to find that out, and you’ll find out what it’s like to die. The secret of the Lifewater’s source is my secret. While I hold that secret, I’m master of this traffic.”

The sub-leaders were cowed by the infinite menace of those accents. Hastily they snapped on their auras and started hauling the cases of Lifewater through the air-lock doors.

From outside came the roar of rocket-tubes as their space ships took off on the return voyage to the other worlds.

Still shrouded in his aura, the Life-lord rose and looked from the window. Across the star-studded sky in all directions stretched the shining rocket-trails of the departing ships.

“Master of the Lifewater traffic,” repeated the shrouded figure in a brooding whisper. “No man before me has ever had the money and power that are mine!”

The shining, diverging trails in the sky were like shining tentacles reaching out toward all the System’s worlds. That thought made him chuckle triumphantly.


A TENTACLE of the insidious Lifewater traffic reached toward one of the smaller moons of Jupiter.

It was night on the little satellite, a tiny globe only a few hundred miles in diameter. In the heavens bulked the vast, cloud-belted sphere of Jupiter, the red spot of the Fire Sea shinning like a sullen ruby on its breast. The great planet east down a vivid white light.

Amid a grove of towering ferns, a palatial mansion of white moonstone ruse proudly. Around it lay pleasure gardens, swimming pools, game courts. It was the home of Avul Kuun, the aged Jovian radium magnate who was sole owner of this moon.

Avul Kuun sat anxiously in his study, a small room paneled with flamewood. The Jovian magnate was green-skinned, bulbous-headed, squat of figure, and with the queer digitless hands and feet that were characteristic of his race. But his face was shriveled and wrinkled with age. His round dark eyes were filmy. His stooping form was warmly wrapped in a mantle of heavy violet synthewool.

Kuun had dismissed his servants. Now he sat taut with suspense, feverishly watching a window that opened onto the gardens.

He heard the soft, muffled roar of a small space ship landing somewhere out in the night. After a few moments, a yellow Uranian appeared in the window. His beady eyes glanced quickly around the room.

“You’re absolutely alone?” he asked the old Jovian magnate.

“I dismissed all the servants, as your message stated,” replied Avul Kuun hastily.

The little Uranian entered.

“Can’t take any chances,” He snapped. “The Planet Police are trying harder than ever to break up the Life-water trade. Not that they’re succeeding. But it might make things tough for our customers.”

“You’ve brought it?” old Avul Kuun asked eagerly.

The Uranian nodded. He drew out a small glassite vial filled with milky, luminous fluid.

“The Lifewater!” cried Avul Kuun.

His filmy ayes were avid as he reached a trembling, shriveled green hand for the vial.

“First the money,” reminded the little Uranian. “Two hundred thousand System dollars.”

Avul Kuun paused. “But that’s an extortionate price!”

The yellow man shrugged.

“The head of our syndicate charges people for the Lifewater according to their ability to pay.”

“Charges all they can pay, you mean,” retorted Kuun. “But I’ve got to have it. I want to be young again, to enjoy my wealth.”

He handed over a flat packet of System banknotes. The Uranian counted it, then handed him the vial.

“Drink it now,” he directed.

With trembling hand, Avul Kuun uncorked the vial and raised it to his lips. The shining Lifewater tickled down his throat.

The old Jovian stood gasping and shuddering, as though his entire body were being agonized by terrific forces. He staggered, coughed, clung dizzily to a chair for support.

Slowly, as the minutes vent by, Avul Kuun’s withered body straightened. His wrinkled green face rapidly became smooth. His age-filmed eyes cleared. The years seemed to be dropping from him, minute by minute.

The Lifewater was making the old Jovian young!

He stumbled to a mirror, stared unbelievingly at to reflection of his straight, clear-eyed, vigorous new self.

“I look young — and I feel young,” he whispered. Then his voice turned loud and resonant with joy. “I am young again! Now I can enjoy the riches I’ve piled up. Now I’ve years of happiness ahead.”

With an enigmatic, sardonic amusement in his beady eyes, the Uranian vendor of the Lifewater watched him.


ANOTHER tentacle of the Life-lord’s illicit trade reached to the great city Venusopolis by Venus’ Eastern Sea.

Than Harthal sat looking sickly into his mirror. He still had much of the handsomeness that had skyrocketed him to popularity throughout the System. But wrinkles had appeared in his white face around his eyes. His dark hair was graying.

“Through,” he muttered bitterly to himself. “I’m through as a telepicture star. Too old for romantic leads. Slipping —”

He rose and went to the window. With unseeing eyes he stared at the lovely vista of Venusopolis.

Under the perpetually cloudy sky ran the streets of white cement. Graceful buildings and dark green gardens swept away to the Eastern Sea, whose green surface was dotted by floating villas.

Rocket-fliers, cars, and crowds of pedestrians warmed gayly, in the streets and parks. The soft, damp west wind from the Swamplands was like a breath whispering from the mystery-laden unknown.

“Through for good,” Than Harthal said in defeat. “Just because I’m getting old —”

“You don’t need to get old,” said a rasping voice behind him. “You can be young again, at once!”

The telepicture star turned startledly. The bald, red-skinned Martian who had entered the room met his gaze coolly.

“Young again, at once?” Than Harthal repeated. “Who are you? What do you mean?”

“I mean that the Lifewater will take fifteen years off your age in only a few minutes,” the Martian answered calmly. “Everybody knows you’re slipping as a telepicture star. That’s why I came to offer you the Water.”

“The Lifewater?” the Venusian star exclaimed. “But it’s illegal to sell or buy it. It’s prohibited by the Planet Police!”

The Martian laughed. “Our syndicate doesn’t pay much attention to them. You can have the Lifewater for twenty thousand.”

“Twenty thousand? But it’s everything I have!”

“I know,” the other replied. “But once you’re young, you’ll be able to make a big salary again.” The Martian drew from his pocket a vial of shining, scintillating white liquid. “It’s yours — for that price.”

Than Harthal gazed with dilated eyes at the vial of Lifewater. He saw in it renewed youth, popularity, adulation, riches...

“But they say it’s dangerous, habit-forming, to drink the Lifewater.”

“That’s the kind of propaganda the Planet Police hands out,” scatted the Martian vendor. “Still, if you don’t want to buy —”

“Wait, I’ll buy it!” cried Than Harthal suddenly. “I have the money here in an invisible safe.”

At a combination of secret words, a section of the wall rolled back. He removed a box of money, gave it to the Martian. He took the vial, and with desperate resolution, drank down the shining liquid.

When the minutes of wrenching, fiery pain had passed, he looked hopefully into the mirror. A cry of joy broke from him. The fine wrinkles around his eyes had disappeared. His face was smoother, the gray-streaked hair at his temples already darkening.

“It worked!” Than Harthal said huskily. Tears of happiness misted his eyes. “I’ll be a star again!”

The Martian, with a hooded smile, took his leave.


STILL another tentacle of the evil Lifewater traffic reached to a city in the Twilight Zone of Mercury.

Perpetual, unending dusk lay oven the narrow, livable region between the terrific glare of the Hot Side and the black, mysterious desolation of the Lark Side, Here lived and reveled and quarreled the motley miners who had been drawn from many worlds.

Few in the dark metal street noticed a slender Mercurian woman, swathed in a dark cloak of fine synthesilk She stopped at a door that bore a simple number, before she hesitantly entered.

She found herself in a lightless hall. A strangled cry of fear escaped her. A ray of bright light had flashed out at her. It showed her as a lithe figure of tawny feline beauty. Her fine yellow hair was piled above a face whose slit-pupiled golden, egos were wide with apprehension. She was still beautiful, but soon that lingering beauty would follow her vanished youth.

The ray upon her snapped out. A door opened, anal she stepped hesitantly into a lighted room. At a table sat a gray peaked-headed Neptunian whose spectacled eyes surveyed her with impassive calm.

“You — you sell the Lifewater here?” she asked.

“Yes, for a price,” the Neptunian answered flatly. “For you, that price will be twelve thousand System dollars.”

The woman stiffened. “But I haven’t that much!”

The Neptunian’s spectacled eyes flickered to her jewels. She wore a Martian fire-ruby bracelet and a necklace of black Venus pearls.

“Those jewels will make up the sum,” he told her.

BOOK: Captain Future 04 - The Triumph of Captain Future (Fall 1940)
13.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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