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´╗┐Title: The terror
Author: Coppel, Alfred
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The terror" ***


                              THE TERROR

                           by Alfred Coppel

               The wars of nerves, the cold wars, of the
           early Twentieth Century pale into insignificance
               beside the fear that besets humanity when
                    Jan Carvel returns from space!

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
      Future combined with Science Fiction Stories November 1950.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


_From Quintus Bland's History of Mankind, Chapter XXIV "The Terror."_

These are the halcyon years. The awful goad of the Terror is gone and
men can look into the sky without fear. The new colonies thrive among
the low red hills of Mars, in the icy moraines of Io, Europa, and
Titan. Starships are poised on the outer moons; perhaps soon Earth will
wear a diadem of stars.

Yet some of the bitterness of the fear-ridden years is with us
still. Forgiveness does not come easily to those who have suffered
the humiliation of the Terror; there are the blighted lives to
remember, and the unfortunates who lived and died under the threat of
annihilation from the sky. Jan Carvel's memory is accursed--for it was
Carvel who brought the Terror.

Of the man himself, little is known. He lived--and died--in the
first decade of the Conquest of Space, or in the last decade of the
Nationalist Era, since they coincide. A few short years had passed
since the first successful Moon flights and the establishment of the
Space Stations, and the tensions that had been mounting among the
nations of Earth were nearing the breaking point.

Lunaris was 'Moon Base' then, and the launching racks were pointed back
toward Earth and not toward the planets. Intense activity had turned
the Moon into an atomic arsenal--a focal point of all the destructive
arts men had learned during and since the Second World War.

The Old Countries, mainly the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and
the United States of America, stood with weapons poised; the seemingly
eternal Cold War steadily growing hotter. Moon Base was American, and
the Space Stations were Russian; a parity of weapons had been reached
and jingoists cried for war.

History does not record the exact date of Jan Carvel's departure from
the Earth-Moon System. It is known that he was an American, a qualified
Moon pilot, and a fanatic on the subject of planetary exploration. It
is also known that he boarded an experimental long range rocket-bomber
without authorization and vanished from the arsenal in Tycho. Some
have suggested that he did not steal the craft and that he was
actually ordered on his epoch-making flight, presumably in search of
militarily useful information. This is unlikely. Having reached the
Moon and turned it into fortress, the United States lost interest in
space travel. Carvel chafed under the restraints placed upon him and
the Bureau of Security; it is therefore more than just probable that
he took it upon himself to press the cause of exploration without
authority or sanction.

The result of this irresponsible course of action was predestined.
Carvel lost his ship and his life. But he left a legacy that was to
shake the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of January 17, 1971, some six years after Carvel's
disappearance from Moon Base, the Pacific Radar Watch detected an
approaching missile. It was tracked for routine interception, and one
Ground to Air Missile was actually launched at it before its erratic
course identified the unknown rocket as a space-craft in distress.
Fortunately, the GTA Missile was caught and neutralized before
interception occurred, and the approaching space-craft was allowed to
crash in the middle of California's Central Valley near what was then
the city of Fresno.

[Illustration: Jan Carvel's ship crashed and burned when he came
back....]

Search crews found the wreckage and it was immediately established as
the experimental rocket-bomber stolen six years before by Jan Carvel.
It was badly smashed by the crash, and in addition seemed to have
sustained a considerable amount of battle damage.

A charred body was removed from the rocket and identified as Jan
Carvel. The craft's papers, however, were in an excellent state of
preservation, it being indicated that Carvel sacrificed his life to
protect them. These papers, consisting of some photographs, some
crudely drawn planetary maps, and a diary, were contained in a steel
box addressed to the Secretary of Defense. They were rushed to
this official without delay, fortunately he was at the time in New
Washington, somewhere under the Great Lakes.

Within twelve hours, a meeting was held among the Chiefs of State of
all the Western Powers. Two hours later, a special courier-plane was
dispatched to Kuibishev, the new Russian capital beyond the Urals, and
the greatest joint effort in the history of mankind was begun. The
Terror had come to Earth....

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the text of the President of the United States' message to
Marshal Vasili Kemprov, the Russian Dictator._

"... in spite of our differences. Therefore, I urgently request that
you personally authorize the dispatching of qualified Russian experts
to join in the scientific council now convening here to evaluate these
terrifying documents.

"If you desire, hostages may be exchanged to assure the safety of your
personnel...."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Carvel Diary._

I stood on the thin snowdrifts and looked westward, into the setting
sun. The vastness of the silent desert was red with faintly visible
plumes of sand that rode high on the icy air. Above me, the sky was
cobalt and the stars shone bright and unwinking. The nearer moon rode
low on the horizon, almost touching the tiny disk of the sun. I was
alone, as I have been since leaving Earth. Nowhere on this world is
there life, but here men might live and thrive, for there is beauty and
peace.

_Later._ I have found a rich vein of uranium ore. The ship's converter
will serve to refine it. I can go on. When I return, I will build a
cairn, to prove that one man, at least, was sane.

_Later._ The landing was difficult, for the heat of the rocket-blast
volatilized the frozen methane under me. As I let her settle, the ship
dug a pit in the glacier and now she lies half buried in the yellowish
ice.

I slept and fed myself and put on a pressure suit. Outside, the cold
and the black sky pressed in on me, making me afraid. It is never dark
here, for the planet fills the sky like a bloated yellow balloon. In
the far distance, I can see a fault in the glacier, and the black rock
of this moonlet shows through. I think there is silver in the rock. It
streaks it in a pattern of filigree.

There is little here but the challenge of keeping alive. The cold
depresses me and the giant in the sky fills me with vertigo. I shall go
on.

_Later._ A giant ahead and a giant behind. The blackness of space is
all around me, and I grow used to it. I sleep and eat little now and
weightlessness is beginning to sicken me. I have come a long way.

The system ahead shows promise.

_Later._ I landed the ship on a wide plain. Rubble is everywhere.
Perhaps this was once a moraine, but even the glacier is gone now. In
the light of the sun I can see a rising fault like a palisade. Some low
hills and a talus flank it. Bright colors are sparkling there. I think
the cliff is thick with gem deposits.

_Later._ I do not like to leave this moonlet. It is small and friendly.
The air is thin, but it makes the sky blue and not black and that makes
me think of Earth. Perhaps I should be thinking of going back. The fuel
is getting low and the air in the ship is fouling. It will take a long
time to reach home.

_Later._ I will go on for a little while longer. I cannot help thinking
that I will be the only one of my race to ever see these worlds. It
is a godlike thought, but sad. At home there is nothing but hate and
thoughts of killing. A great pity. The sky could be ours, if we were
united.

_Later._ God have mercy on me! I have seen the face of doom! The great
cratered plain that spread out below me was lined with ships. Great
towering machines of war. We have waited too long, and now _they_ have
come!

I am a soldier. A bad one, but still a soldier, I know the look of an
invasion base when I see one. This is what I have seen. I will take
pictures. I must return and warn them at home. They have so little time
to prepare.

Where have they come from? From the stars? They do not belong here.
This tiny moonlet never gave them birth. Then whence have they come?
And why? _I am afraid...._

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the report of the UN Psychometric Evaluation Board._

"Careful study of the Carvel Diary indicates that it is in fact
authentic. Apparently, the loneliness of a protracted deep-space
flight shattered his mind, but his observations are in no wise to be
disregarded for this reason. It is highly possible that the 'invasion
base' was the culminating cause rather than the _effect_ of Carvel's
obvious psychosis. Further investigation is most definitely called for."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the statement of Rep. L. Louis Frank, House Minority Leader,
after meeting with Administration officials._

"... unquestionably, the people must be told!"

       *       *       *       *       *

_From Pravda, Official Organ of the CP of the USSR._

"The authenticity of the so-called Carvel Diary, at first doubted, has
been established by Soviet experts."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Joint Resolution of the General Assembly of the UN._

"The nations of the Earth, in general concourse assembled, do hereby
proclaim a state of grave emergency; and for the preservation of safety
declare that the United Nations shall be considered a World Government,
with all necessary powers to command the massed armed forces of the
member nations. The principle of unanimity among the major powers is
indefinitely suspended, and...."

[Illustration: _The terrible years began with the return of Carvel's
ship with its dread discovery; and people dreamed nightly of death from
the skies...._]

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the files of the UNESCO._

"... fleet of twelve space-craft under UN authority will depart
from the UN Moon Base for Mars, there to establish a Military and
Scientific Base. Personnel will include Hansen White, astronomer;
Ivan Diagashaviliev, ecologist; George Washington Lee, radiologist;
Consuelo Diaz, cartographer; Jules Feldmann, physicist; Kendo Higashi,
psychologist...."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the report of the First UN Martian Expedition._

"... radar and watch station established and garrisoned according to
directive 25-33. Bimonthly transport service has been established
between Canalopolis Settlement and Luna. Combined efforts by UNESCO
and UT Armed Force personnel are being made to establish satellite
stations.

"It is strongly urged by the Project Committee that more personnel be
sent to Mars, however, as a serious shortage of manpower has developed
due to the feverish pace of the Settlement's growth. Colonization may
be the answer.

"Nowhere have the UN patrols discovered any indications of previous
occupation by alien forces. Nothing resembling the invasion fleet
discovered by Jan Carvel has been located. However, the cairn mentioned
in the Diary has been found, further supporting the authenticity of
that document...."

_Addendum in manuscript._

"Higashi suggests that the message found in the Cairn confirms the
original findings of the UN Psychometric Evaluation Board concerning
Jan Carvel's sanity."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the message found written in pencil on a shipping tag in the
Martian Cairn built by Jan Carvel._

"Welcome, my brothers!"

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Founding Directive of the New UN Planetary Colonization and
Development Committee._

"It being established that Mars and Europa are free of alien
occupation, colonization of the areas immediately surrounding the UN
Military and Scientific Bases on these planets immediately begun...."

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the statement of Delegate L. Louis Frank, Assembly Minority
Leader to the World Press._

"... simply because we have not yet been attacked. I stand foursquare
on my record as a public servant. If I am returned to the Assembly
as delegate from the Southwest Area, I will continue to support the
expanding military program. We cannot rest until _all_ the habitable
planets and satellites in the solar system are bases for our mighty
cruisers. Only then can we be safe from this Terror!"

       *       *       *       *       *

_From memorandum written by K. Higashi to the Psychometric Evaluation
Board's Subcommittee in Canalopolis, Mars._

"... since I have been on Titan. Both here and on Io and Europa, we
have found Cairns. Each time they contained the same message: 'Welcome,
my brothers!' Has it occurred to any member of the Board that these
messages were all written _after_ Carvel's supposed flight in panic
from the place where he spotted the invasion fleet?"

       *       *       *       *       *

_From a memorandum to K. Higashi, Base Psychologist, Titan Colony, from
the Secretary of the Psychometric Evaluation Board Subcommittee in
Canalopolis, Mars._

"It has. The pictures were faked too, were they not?"

       *       *       *       *       *

_From memorandum to Secretary, Psychometric Evaluation Board
Subcommittee, Canalopolis Mars from K. Higashi, Senior Staff
Psychologist First UN Triton Expedition._

"Yes. The pictures were taken on Titan, I think. We found a plain there
similar to the one in his prints. You'll recall that the plates were
all fogged--conveniently--by cosmic ray radiation. A little time and
touching up took care of the rest. He must have been quite a natural
psychologist himself, you know? He understood that people at home would
just be looking for an excuse to abandon their suicidal hysteria. What
he gave them was a common enemy. Had a lot of courage, too. Must have
shot up his own ship and then wrecked himself deliberately, leaving the
papers and the trail of Cairns.

"People will hate him when they find that he made fools of them, but
I don't think they'll go back to the old life of before the 'Terror.'
They will find out, of course. I suggest you break it to them back
home. I'd like to be there to see it, but I'm too busy out here. We're
building a staging base for the stars.

"I think Carvel would have liked that, don't you?"


                                THE END



*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The terror" ***




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