Slaves of the Ninth Moon [Hallmeyer, Destroyer of Worlds #2]
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by Ross Rocklynne
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Nebula Nominee Author's Lost Pulp Saga of Man Ordered to Kill the Woman He Loves to Save Earth! This volume contains the final two stories in Nebula Award nominee writer Ross Rocklynne's lost pulp science fiction series, Hallmeyer--Destroyer of Worlds. As with the first volume of this series, all the stories are reprinted for the first time in more than sixty years. The second Hallmeyer tale in this volume, "The Bubble Dwellers," has the distinction of being both the only novel-length work in the series and the final story, bringing the saga to an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion. In Slaves of the Ninth Moon, undercover Jobs, too dirty and tough for the IPF, had always been Hallmeyer's tasks. But never, in even his wildest dreams, had he thought that to fulfill his mission he would have to murder the woman he loved. Then in his final adventure, The Bubble Dwellers, Hallmeyer finds the perfect woman for the happy ending he needs--if she doesn't kill him first! The hell-planet of Vulcan had spawned a deadly menace that might entrap the civilized worlds. Only Sydney Hallmeyer could halt that force, only he could stop the fiendish Zondat--and he was helpless, a slave laborer of the man he fought, condemned for life to Vulcan's depths!
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions,
eBookwise Release Date: March 2008
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [156 KB]
Reading time: 96-135 min.
This volume contains the final two stories in Nebula Award nominee writer Ross Rocklynne's lost pulp science fiction series, Hallmeyer--Destroyer of Worlds. As with the first volume of this series, all the stories are reprinted for the first time in more than sixty years. The second Hallmeyer tale in this volume, "The Bubble Dwellers," has the distinction of being both the only novel-length work in the series and the final story, bringing the saga to an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion.
It is surprising that these stories were not reprinted sooner, considering the praise they received from readers at the time. "Hallmeyer is tops. Something completely different from the run-of-the-mill sf pulp fiction, Rocklynne is one of [the] best writers," raved Hugo Nominee author Chad Oliver when these stories first appeared in the legendary science fiction pulp, Planet Stories. Milton Lesser, soon to be a bestselling thriller writer under the name Stephen Marlow, backed up Oliver's judgment, writing that "no other story can compare with Hallmeyer ... eerie, dramatic, cleverly woven, excellent-plus ... way on the top of the list." Other readers echoed this praise. "Enjoyable ... thought-provoking, rates first place," D. B. Thompson wrote of a Hallmeyer story.
No wonder. Hallmeyer is far from the stalwart Earth-good-guy hero out to save the Earth, downtrodden Martian "natives" and the inevitable girl from the bad guys to be found in so many science fiction pulp tales of the era. In fact, Hallmeyer's assignments are to destroy whole cultures and even whole worlds, simply for posing a possible threat to Earth--and in the case of the first story in this volume, to kill the woman he loves as well. Considering Rocklynne's deep study of spiritual/philosophic movement known as Vedanta it is possible to read these stories in several ways including ur-protests of U.S. policies in the East that have changed little to this day.
When you have finished all the Hallmeyer stories, you will see why the author's reputation endures, and why The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction hails Rocklynne as "a versatile and sometimes experimental writer ... whose writing transcends the medium ... his stories are thoughtful and well-written, often containing an ingenious scientific idea ... and many were never reprinted in book form." This last is an oversight we are dedicated to correcting.
Jean Marie Stine
2008* * * *
BOOK ONE: SLAVES OF THE NINTH MOON
Undercover Jobs, too dirty and tough for the IPF, had always been Hallmeyer's tasks. But never, in even his wildest dreams, had he thought that to fulfill his mission he would have to murder the woman he loved.
[original magazine blurb]* * * *
I FOUND my superior sitting in his swivel chair, palm propping up his fine, greying head. He had a look on his face that I knew only too well, and I winced.
I said, "What is it, this time?"
He frowned uneasily, hardly able to meet my eyes. "I guess it's up to you again, Sid," he answered grimly.
"Yes," I said over-politely. "I'm afraid not. I don't want any. I'm right in the middle of a very tender experiment. I'm not going to--"
He stopped me with a brief wave of one hand. "Ever heard of Strilla MacCloud, Sid?" he asked.
The name exploded in my face like a bombshell. I sank to a chair, stared at him, and knew he knew about me.
Had I ever heard of Strilla MacCloud? That was a stupid question; of course I had. We had met on soggy Venus, where had been located a local Bureau of Transmitted Egos. She had saved my life from several Venusian thugs, and she was such a woman as a man cannot forget. Her eyes were dark and esoteric; her skin a rich gold, and the sun-stones about her throat enhanced its goldenness. She was slim, and virginal--and deadly!
She had been a slave-runner, one of the most ruthless; and she had tried to get me to handle her Venusian slave ship. Instead, I had turned her over to the Council of Ten, had started the ball rolling that had wiped out the vicious slave traffic. She had hated me then, had sworn revenge, even though a few hours before, she had been soft and yielding in the circle of my arms.
Yes, I knew Strilla MacCloud. I had followed her career for years. She had escaped from prison, had manned a pirate craft with the dregs of the spaceway's pirates and killers, and had fought the IPF throughout the passing years. Newsflashes of her skirmishes with the IPF had made the viziscreens time and again, but always she had avoided capture and fled into the vastness of space.
And then a few years before, with a score of her toughest men, she had disappeared entirely, in a Grimiel-Hammond seven-jet ship-and gradually she had been forgotten by all but the IPF.
So when my superior sprang her name on me in the office that day, all I could do was slump back in the chair, and feel the memories racing quicksilver-like about in my mind.
I grinned in a crazy, cock-eyed fashion, felt the hot blood pounding at my temples.
"Sure," I said. "Sure, I'm the guy that busted the slave-racket wide open, and the same guy who gave Strilla MacCloud the damndest headache she had had for many a year. But," I leaned forward intently, spread my hands, "if I ever meet up with Strilla MacCloud again, she'll bust me wide open. So whatever it is you've got in mind, count me out." I fumbled a cigarette out of my pack and lit it.
We exchanged glances for a minute, and finally he arose, and sat on the edge of his desk, facing me. Little wrinkles were on his brow.
"I can't count you out, Sid," he said gently. "Believe me, if I could I would. But I can't. The Council of Ten has the records of your slave-running episode--everything. You know Strilla McCloud, they say, and so you're the man for the job. Furthermore, they've been impressed with the way you've handled jobs of this same general type, and I've got a special order-blank which names you as the agent in the case.
"Agent for what? To recover the sunstone necklace Strilla MacCloud stole from the Empress of Mars some twelve years ago." I smoked hard. "That's a job for the IPF!"
He sighed. He picked up from his desk what looked like a compass in a universal joint.
"Know what that is?" he asked.
When I told him it was a compass, he scoffed. "And you an electrical engineer! If it was a compass, the needle wouldn't be pointing east and west, would it? No, Sid, it's a sun-stone detector, and it's got a radius of a million miles."
Abruptly he turned and went behind his desk and sat down while I watched him in baffled, growing anger.. He pointed the compass at me, jerking it in little emphatic movements as he talked.
"It's this way, Sid. It all goes back to the radium mines on the dead sea-bottoms of Mars. As you know, Earth has a ninety-nine year lease on those mines. In another two months, the lease will be up, and Earth won't have a supply source for the radium she needs in such vast quantities."
I flicked ashes onto the rug and scowled at him. "Renew the lease. And besides, what's that got to do with--"
He interrupted, shaking his head emphatically. "We can't renew it. We submitted our formal option to the Empress. She refused it. She's on her high-horse. Twelve years ago, she asked the Council of Ten to restore her sun-stone necklace. The Council ignored the appeal. The Empress then appealed to Earth, since it was a human who had accomplished the piracy, and Earth was more directly responsible. Earth didn't pay any attention, either. And everybody was very relieved when the Empress dropped the whole subject-apparently."
He smiled ruefully. "She's a sly old bird, Sid. Last year she told us flatly that unless we recovered the sun-stone necklace she wouldn't renew our lease. Well, that brought action! We had to find her necklace, or face an absolute poverty of radium. So the Earth representative sent me instructions to manufacture some sort of detector that would react to the characteristic vibrations given off by sunstones. They loaned us the other sunstone necklace for test purposes."
I threw my cigarette away and got up and picked up the detector. "This is it?"
"That's it, Sid."
"And it's pointing at the sun-stone necklace at the Smithsonian?"
He nodded. "Three months ago, we made a dozen of the detectors, and distributed them among the captains of a dozen freight and passenger ships. And last week, a passenger ship of the Outer Planet Corporation reported that the needle pointed toward perp-planet number three. The ship discovered it by accident. There aren't any traffic routes laid down to the perp-planets, you know. This particular captain had to rise a million miles out of the plane of the ecliptic in order to escape a meteor-bog. So the sun-stone necklace is on that planet, and there is every possibility that that is where Strilla MacCloud is too."
I felt faint. I had to sit down again. I said hoarsely, "Do you know what Strilla MacCloud will do to me if she ever gets her hands on me, chief? She'll tear me limb from limb. She'll gouge my eyes out and play marbles with 'em. She'll--" I stopped and got hold of myself. I said dangerously, "Why doesn't the Council put the IPF on this job?"
He said, "Because--" Then he flushed and bit his lip. He said lamely, "You and Will Carrist will have one of the new ships, armed to the hull--" He stopped, and his shoulders fell. He made a weary little motion, because he knew that I knew what he had started to say. Perp-planet number three was another of those insignificant little worlds which the Council of Ten made a habit of kicking around in any way it pleased. I was being given carte blanche to do anything I wanted to recover the sun-stone necklace, during which the Council would conveniently look the other way, something they couldn't do if the IPF were put on the job...
I said glumly, "Let me have the detector," and I strapped it around my wrist.
I stuck out my hand and shook his. He looked pained. I grinned in cockeyed fashion. "You never know," I told him. "Perchance we will not meet again."
And so I went.