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´╗┐Title: Planet of Creation
Author: Geier, Chester S.
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 "Planet of Creation" ***

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                          PLANET OF CREATION

                          By CHESTER S. GEIER

              To these hardened spacemen, it was heaven.
             Bald rock sprouted grass, metal parts popped
              up as required, new men relieved the weary
              as soon as the need was merely thought of.
                 Who could imagine there was a joker?

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Planet Stories Spring 1947.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


In the control room was silence like fabric strained to the verge of
tearing. Softly through the weave of it came the murmur of the engines,
fretful, unhappy, the whimper of something sick.

The whimper echoed Thettumir's feelings. He gestured suddenly at the
telescopic space scanner, the six snake-like digits of his hand stiff
with dismay.

"But that is all? There are no other planets in this region?"

"None." Vandumonn shook for added emphasis the erect spiny crest which
ran from the top of his head down the middle of his back. "I have made
absolutely certain of that. This is the only planet. The next nearest
sun is ten light-years away. But listen to the engines, Commander. I am
an astronomer, not an engineer, yet I know the engines will not take
us that far. Even if they could, it would be a gamble as to whether or
not that next nearest sun had planets."

Thettumir gazed once more at the magnified image in the scanner.
It showed a great red sun, already well on its way toward cooling,
and far off to the right, a silvery speck which was the only planet
circling the dying giant. He reached for the dial which increased the
magnification of the scanner and twirled it until the disc of the
planet filled the entire screen.

The battered flagship had approached closer, but, as before, Thettumir
was able to make out no details. The planet was covered with
clouds--strange dense gray clouds. He knew the clouds indicated an
atmosphere--perhaps even a breathable one--but his reluctance to accept
the planet as a temporary repair base was due to the fact that the
clouds would make landing extremely difficult. The Urgollian fleet was
already badly damaged, and additional injuries would only complicate
matters further.

Yet Thettumir knew they would have to land. The fleet would never reach
Urgoll in its present condition. Many other vessels had suffered even
greater damage than that to the flagship.

Thettumir turned from the scanner with sudden purpose. The assembled
officers stiffened to attention.

"Forbidding as this cloud-covered world seems, it is our only hope for
obtaining materials for repairs as well as suitable working conditions.
Immediate orders shall be issued to the fleet to begin deceleration. We
shall take an orbit about the planet in order K4. Scout ships are to
be dispatched to descend and explore the surface. Further orders will
be issued after the scout ships report. For the present, proceed as
directed."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thettumir turned and left the control room. The task of slowing their
tremendous speed, he knew, would take time--time which he could spend
most comfortably in his cabin. Besides, bitterness still gnawed within
him at the recent Urgollian defeat by the men of Urrth. Or was it
Errth, he wondered. He could never remember the exact pronunciation.
He'd have to ask Sthalor, the chief psychologist, again. Sthalor had
questioned enough captive Errthmen to be sure.

Questioned. Thettumir decided that was too nice a word. Sthalor's
methods were apt to be harsh, but they produced vitally necessary
information.

Striding through the corridors of the flagship, Thettumir thought
wistfully of Errth. Of all the nine planets in the Solarian System,
Errth had been the most desirable. A beautiful world, so much like
Urgoll, and in many ways even superior. It would have made an ideal
colonial addition, if--

If Urgoll had won, Thettumir thought with sudden pain.

He entered his cabin. Removing his flexible tinted metal uniform
harness, he lowered his squat massive form gratefully into a chair.
From a humidor on his desk he took a _nikot_ leaf, which he rolled into
a cylinder and inserted into a smoke-tube. He lit up, puffed away, felt
the aching tension gradually leave him.

A knock at the door broke the _nikot_-scented quiet. It was Kasthel,
second in command of the flagship.

"Forgive me if I intrude, Commander, but there is a matter of grave
importance which I wish to discuss with you."

"Your visit is welcome, Kasthel." Thettumir gestured to a nearby chair
and pushed within reach the _nikot_ humidor. "What is this matter of
grave importance?"

Kasthel did not look up as he filled his smoke-tube. "You recall the
conditions that existed when we left Urgoll, Commander?"

Thettumir nodded slowly, his great yellow orbs clouding. "There
was threat of revolution. Only the announcement that a habitable
planet--Errth--had at last been discovered delayed it. And now, when we
return--defeated...."

"Exactly," Kasthel affirmed. "Revolution will burst out abruptly and
violently. With Errth lost to us, the population pressure on Urgoll
will have no other outlet."

Thettumir curled his snake-like fingers into a fist and brought it
down angrily on the desk. "It was the fault of the expedition which
discovered Errth! It was careless enough to give warning of our
existence. The Errthmen already had space travel. When we finally came
in force they were prepared."

"But a second attack, Commander. The Errthmen will not expect us to
return."

"There will be no second attack. The revolution on Urgoll will bring on
a dark age."

Kasthel leaned forward in sudden earnestness. "We could stop that.
We compose the entire military strength of Urgoll. We are armed and
trained. None could oppose us."

"But what good would it do?" Thettumir objected. "We would only keep
in power an Executive Council which, if it had been more efficient and
fore-sighted, would have controlled the spread of population in the
beginning."

"Why share with the Executive Council what we have won by our own
efforts?" Kasthel asked slyly.

For a moment Thettumir was puzzled. Then he smiled in sudden
understanding. "I see what you mean. But, aside from taking over the
rule of Urgoll, I see other things also. We could effect a temporary
solution to the problem of over-population--by exterminating the
weak and unfit. Then we could train all those remaining as soldiers,
assemble the greatest fighting force that ever existed. Errth could yet
be taken!"

Kasthel leaned closer. "But, Commander, are these things we could do,
or will do?"

"_Will_ do!" Thettumir snapped grimly, determinedly.

They interlocked digits in enthusiastic agreement. And then, over
glasses of fiery _glath_ liquor, they polished the rough jewel of their
plans.

       *       *       *       *       *

The scout ships reported back. Gray clouds extended down to the very
surface of the planet, but a landing would not be too difficult,
since instruments showed the terrain to be dry and firm and free of
irregularities. Gravity was slight, as the planet was a relatively
small one. There was air--thin but breathable.

Thettumir gave orders for landing. Guided by their instruments and
audio beams of the scout ships, the fleet settled slowly and gingerly
to the surface. Repair crews began at once to remove damaged parts,
while engineers and technicians began the design and manufacture of
replacements. The injuries sustained by the fleet, however, were
so extensive that the stock of spare parts and materials was soon
exhausted. Expeditions dispatched to locate deposits of the required
metals reported failure. There were metals, but not enough or none at
all of those which were most urgently needed.

Informed of the situation, Thettumir decided to make a personal
tour of the fleet in the hope of finding some sort of solution. He
had already the tentative idea of scrapping several vessels for the
necessary materials, and intended by his survey to determine those most
expendable. Accompanied by Kasthel and several other officers, he left
the flagship.

Outside on the surface of the planet, he examined his surroundings
curiously. There was disappointingly little to be seen. The
ever-present gray clouds were thinner here than at higher altitudes,
but the effect was that of a repressing fog in which visibility was
limited to several yards. The ground was smooth bare rock, as colorless
as the clouds. It was pleasantly warm, as might have been expected from
the size and proximity of the sun. The air, though rarified, did not
make breathing difficult.

Thettumir digested the result of his examination musingly. He told
Kasthel, "This planet is not without merit. If it were not for the
clouds and the barrenness of the soil, it would suffice as a colonial
site."

Kasthel nodded. "Vegetation and an unobstructed view would make a great
difference."

Thettumir gave an abrupt shrug. "We waste time in dreams. Come, we have
still to make our inspection."

Guide lines had been strung from ship to ship. Following these,
Thettumir and the others made their tour.

Thettumir was disheartened. The list of parts needed by each ship
was so extensive that more than half the fleet would have had to be
scrapped in order to supply the necessary replacements. He knew there
would be insufficient room on the remaining vessels for the crews thus
displaced. And because of the plans which he had made with Kasthel,
Thettumir did not wish to abandon any of the men. Every fighter would
be needed once they reached Urgoll.

It seemed to be checkmate. Trailed by the others, Thettumir glumly
strode from the last vessel on his way back to the flagship. Half-way
down the gang plank, he stopped abruptly, staring in amazed surprise.
Gasps and cries from behind him showed that Kasthel and the rest had
also seen.

The planet--or at least that portion of it in their immediate
vicinity--had undergone a change. The gray fog had vanished. They gazed
upon a gently rolling plain carpeted in green. Trees and shrubs in
profusion broke the verdant expanse.

Thettumir frowned as he gazed at the scene. Something about it
seemed to be wrong, but just what it was eluded him. He peered more
closely--then he had it. The vegetation lacked detail. The grass was
not composed of separate blades, but looked like a thick layer of rough
green felt. The foliage of trees and shrubs appeared as though cut from
green paper rather than being an aggregate of individual branches and
leaves.

As Thettumir stared bewildered, the landscape seemed momentarily to
blur, as though his eyes had gone out of focus. When he looked again,
the strange lack of detail was no longer apparent. Everything was
normal. The grass consisted of blades, the foliage of branches and
leaves.

Thettumir swung around to Kasthel. "Did you notice it--the change just
now?"

"Yes, Commander, and I think I know the explanation. What we saw at
first was the result of some kind of atmospheric distortion. This
distortion was removed a moment ago by a change in air currents."

"But the grass and trees," Thettumir said doubtfully. "They were not
here when we began our tour."

Kasthel shrugged. "Hidden by the fog, perhaps. I'll have to admit that
when I first saw the vegetation, it occurred to me that some omnipotent
being overheard our remarks earlier and made them come true. But
naturally there has to be a logical explanation."

"Naturally," Thettumir muttered. But he was disturbed. He remembered
only too well that the ground had been smooth naked rock--and grass
does not grow from rock.

Aboard the flagship, Thettumir found the men in a state of great
excitement. Everyone seemed delighted with the change that had taken
place outside. He reflected that it was good for morale and decided
that if now they only had the materials for repairs things would almost
be perfect.

       *       *       *       *       *

The buzzing of the inter-ship communication interrupted him as he
filled his smoke-tube in his cabin. It was Rhondu, the chief engineer.

"Commander Thettumir, a crewman just found a supply of parts near No. 2
escape port. I've checked my list, and everything we need is there. May
I ask where you obtained the parts?"

"Obtained...." Thettumir's voice failed him. He leaped from the cabin.

It was as Rhondu had said. Several yards from No. 2 escape port,
Thettumir found a small gleaming hill of repair materials.

Re-entering the ship, Thettumir unleashed a torrent of questions.
But, strangely enough, nobody knew where the parts had come from. To
add to the confusion, calls by audio beam began coming from the other
vessels of the fleet. Men from each had discovered further mounds of
much-needed supplies.

Thettumir did not try immediately to explain this bewildering turn of
events. Like the leader he was, he gave orders that the mysterious
supplies were at once to be used in completing repairs.

"This materialization of replacements is like a gift from the gods,"
Thettumir told Kasthel and Sthalor. "Wish I knew how to account for it."

"I've thought of mass hallucination," Sthalor said. "But ... well,
Rhondu showed me the stuff. It's real enough, all right."

Kasthel remained silent. He gazed through the cabin viewport at the
rolling expanse of tree-dotted grass beyond, and his yellow orbs were
clouded.

Thettumir said slowly, "Gift from the gods ... I wonder, Sthalor. We
took it for granted that this planet was uninhabited--but suppose it
isn't? Suppose that there are creatures here, intelligent, invisible,
possessed of such superhuman powers that they can create tangible
objects from the nebulous stuff of our thoughts?"

Sthalor shrugged uneasily. "Who can say? This is a strange planet. Our
standards of true and false, possible and impossible, do not apply
here."

The inter-ship communicator buzzed. It was Rhondu again.

"Commander, I'm afraid we won't be able to use the parts after all.
They don't fit. The specifications are all wrong. They look all right,
but--" With a hastily muttered excuse, Rhondu broke off. A short time
later his voice returned.

"I'm sorry, Commander, there must have been a mistake. My men just
checked the parts again--and they're all right. It's very strange,
though. Everything seemed to blur, and then ... well, the parts were
correct--down to the last detail."

Thettumir and Kasthel stared at each other. Kasthel said, "The
grass ... the trees...." Thettumir nodded somberly, his broad face
tightening.

Within ensuing seconds, audio beam calls came from the other ships.
Their engineers announced their replacements also to be incorrect
specifications--only later puzzledly to contradict themselves. The
repairs now went on without interruption.

Thettumir was thoughtful. If materials appeared from the very air
merely by thinking about them, or wishing for them, perhaps.... He
whirled abruptly to Kasthel and Sthalor.

"Look--consciously or unconsciously, we wished for those supplies. We
got them. Now if we were to wish for other things--"

"Of course!" Sthalor exclaimed. "We should have thought of that before."

"Come, we will give it a test." Thettumir led the way hurriedly from
the ship. Outside he said, "Now--what shall we wish for?"

"A weapon!" Kasthel said. "I've always wished we had several of those
new Class IV atomic cannons. The Executive Council thought it would
take too much time to make them."

Thettumir prompted, "But the specifications, Kasthel. Remember, you
must know the exact specifications."

"I know them well, Commander." Kasthel closed his eyes, concentrating
deeply.

Tense with eagerness, Thettumir watched. Suddenly, in a spot several
feet to his right, a transparent angular outline appeared. It darkened,
took on color and detail. And finally--there stood a Class IV atomic
cannon. At the exclamations of Thettumir and Sthalor, Kasthel opened
his eyes.

"It worked!" Thettumir exulted. "It worked!"

Kasthel's crest quivered with excitement. "Commander, if we can cause
the materialization of objects like atomic cannon--"

Thettumir nodded quickly. "Then we can cause the materialization of
objects like ships--the mightiest warships that ever blasted space!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Thettumir got swiftly to work. He called a meeting of the various
scientists and engineers of the fleet and explained his plans. After
what had been experienced, none doubted that his idea was feasible.
Designs and specifications were drawn up for an invincible battle
cruiser, which, serving as a pattern, could be duplicated in countless
numbers.

As the dreadnaughts began one by one to take form, a difficulty was
encountered. It was realized that there wouldn't be enough men to run
all the vessels. Thettumir overcame the difficulty with a solution
which everyone else had overlooked--duplicate the men until the
desired number of additions had been obtained.

It was done. On that fantastic little world anything seemed possible.
If the proper specifications and details were had, it seemed, anything
might be wished for--and acquired.

At last everything was ready. Thettumir called Kasthel to his cabin.
"Kasthel, we have now to make an important decision. We have the
mightiest battle fleet in the history of Urgoll--in the history of any
world, for that matter. Shall we continue on to Urgoll, or return to
the Solarian System? I move that we return to the Solarian System. The
Errthmen, though victorious, have been greatly weakened. They have not
had time to recover, and with our present strength conquering them will
be easy."

"I agree," Kasthel said. He grinned craftily. "The Executive Council
will not run away, eh?"

Thettumir nodded his crest. "It will be there when we are ready for
it. This is just the beginning, Kasthel. There are other inhabited
worlds--and we will find them. With this planet to aid us in
materializing ships and weapons, we can conquer the entire Universe!"

Many toasts of fiery _glath_ were drunk to the decisions. Thettumir and
Kasthel became quite drunk--and whether from _glath_ or power, it was
hard to tell.

The fleet began the long voyage back to the Solarian System. The crews
were drilled repeatedly until they functioned as perfectly co-ordinated
units. The old, now obsolete ships had been left behind and the
Urgollians, both real and duplicate needed a shake-down cruise in their
mighty new ships.

For Thettumir, however, there was little to do except to drink
_glath_--which he did copiously and with relish. Each ship-day he
impatiently counted off the miles which brought them closer to Errth.

Vandumonn finally made the long-awaited announcement that the Solarian
System was in sight. Thettumir hurried to the control room, where he
peered eagerly into the telescopic scanner. There was the familiar
yellow sun, magnified to a tiny disc, though they were still far away.
And by straining intently, Thettumir could discern two of its nine
planets.

Elation filled him at the thought of his coming triumph. Already he was
envisioning himself as master of Errth.

Closer and closer, ship-day by ship-day, hour by hour, the yellow sun
became a fiery star, visible to the naked eye.

Thettumir's impatience grew. "It seems impossible to wait until we
reach Errth," he told Kasthel. "I want to see the Errthmen pay for what
they did to us the first time we came."

Kasthel chuckled. "Revenge will be sweet, Commander."

The inter-ship communicator buzzed. The voice of Nurrgan, a junior
officer, blared abruptly from the speaker.

"Commander, something is terribly wrong! Half the fleet has
disappeared!"

Thettumir stiffened, congealed by an overwhelming dismay. "You must be
mad!" he snapped finally at Nurrgan.

"It's true, Commander, horribly true. Come and see for yourself."
Thettumir roused into action. With Kasthel close at his heels, he
dashed to the control room. A glance into the scanner verified
Nurrgan's words. Half of the fleet was gone! As Thettumir stared, he
saw a nearby vessel puff abruptly into nothingness. Some of its crew,
however, remained. He saw their strewn figures for a moment--before
they exploded in the vacuum of space.

A second vessel went. A third.

Realization of what was happening struck into Thettumir stunningly. He
whirled to Kasthel.

[Illustration: _Realization of what was happening struck into
Thettumir._]

"We were fools--fools! Our fine new fleet was the result of
materialized thought. We should have known that these materializations
could no longer exist once we went beyond the field of influence of the
forces that created them and held them together."

"We've got to stop!" Kasthel gasped. "We've got to turn back!"

Thettumir shook his crest sadly. "Our inertia is too great to overcome
quickly. Before we could decelerate, we would already be far over the
danger line. No, Kasthel, let us go instead to my cabin and have a last
drink of _glath_."

They never reached the cabin.



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