Warfare in Space
by Gardner F Fox
Published in Flash Comics 1940
SYNOPSIS: Billy Morton, eighteen year old boy whose father, Keith Morton, had been killed by space pirates, in the year 2139, discovers a weapon to be used in fighting in outer space. It is a secret known only to himself. As he is showing it to Commander Donald Worth of the planet Jupiter Spaceport, the air raid siren shrieks a warning blast. It is the pirate Ralph Farnham, called “the Ruthless", who had killed Billy's father! Securing Commander Worth's consent, Billy takes his own space flyer into the void to fight the pirate fleet alone, armed only with his newly discovered space-gun!
Through the quartz window of his flyer, Billy Morton could see the planet Jupiter, dropping away below him. On it glowed the strange red spot that had long puzzled Earth astronomers in years gone by. The Earthmen now knew that that red spot was fertile land, and had established a spaceport there. It was that spaceport that he—Billy Morton was going to try to save from the space pirate Ralph Farnham!
Billy knew it was a tough job but—
He craned forward suddenly. That blur out there in star-studded space! It was a space-flyer! And another! And another! Twelve of them. Twelve of Ralph Farnham's flyers to his one!
Billy kicked over the controls, shot home the switch for another rocket blast and lifted his new discharge-gun. His flyer was barely free of Jupiter's gravitational pull in time to meet these ships in space and he wasn't going to waste anytime going into battle!
With lips set in thin line, Billy rocketed his flyer straight for the invading fleet. He set the levers on his space-gun to the necessary distance. His flyer's quartz-gelida composition windows could withstand heat, but the terrific blast he was going to unleash was something different. If he fixed the ray to begin ahead of the window, he would be safe, he reasoned.
Up came the metal rod that was the weapon's barrel, pointed straight for the nearest space-flyer. Gently Billy squeezed the trigger—
“Golly!” he cried in an awed voice, "Gee—I—didn't think!"
The ship ahead of him glowed brightly and brilliantly for one long moment. Suddenly it broke into two parts, and started to drop through space!
Billy bit his lip to keep from crying out. His weapon was a success! It was the first weapon to be used in space fighting. No bullet or bomb could be used out here in the void because there was no air and no gravity-pull to carry it. A bullet would reach the end of a gun and then, likely as not, float upwards!
But now! Now he had invented a weapon that needed neither air nor gravity! And it was a smashing, terrible weapon of destruction. Now Ralph Farnham would know how it felt—
Suddenly there was deafening thunder in his ears, A crash of shattering glass, scraping of steel, against steel! Billy was almost torn loose from his gyro-seat!
His head snapped on his neck Billy saw stars and dots jumping over each other for one instant he felt as though the entire universe had fallen onto him! He dropped limply against the straps of his gyro-seat, unconscious—
Dazedly, Billy Morton looked about him. He jerked erect. What—what was the matter with his flyer? The entire room was rolling madly about his gyro-seat, spinning and turning forward pull of his ship, and the needle indicator of his accelerator showed a steady speed rise.
It wouldn't be long before Jupiter would lift like a swollen dot before his eyes. But in the precious moments that he had lost, Billy knew that Ralph the Ruthless would sweep like some murderous bird upon the helpless space-port!
He pressed the rocket-blaster again and again. The ship was hurtling now like a mad thing through the vastness of the empty void. He had to reach Jupiter in time to prevent the pirate raider from destroying that spaceport! Commander Worth was counting on him and the man who was doing the killing was his father's murderer!
Suddenly a spaceship loomed up ahead of him—one of Farnham's, with the white skull-and-bones on its black sides! It rushed out of the blackness like a fat slug—
Billy grabbed for his space-gun and pulled the trigger over. There was a glow about the doomed ship as the ray struck it that made Billy blink. This time he did not run into the falling parts of the ship. Instead, he swung the prow of his flyer and headed for the next pirate vessel.
Dipping and darting, firing the terrific power of his new weapon, Billy Morton fought like a man possessed. One after the other of the space ships glowed brightly and fell apart. And always as Billy flung his newly discovered weapon at each of the pirate ships he whispered, "That's for my Dad!”
“Eight!" growled Billy.
“Nine!” he shouted a minute later.
The tenth pirate ship turned tail And fled through the dark void like a frightened lightning bolt. With steady hands and eyes Billy turned his weapon's power on full blast, lifted it, and fired!
The fleeing ship exploded in a blaze of flames and sparks. It was a crimson splash of fire for one long instant—and the next, a charred metal cinder that went falling end over end into black space.
"Now for Ralph Farnham!" said Billy to himself, swinging over the wheel of his flyer.
Billy had counted twelve of these pirate ships. He had destroyed ten out there in space. There were two unaccounted for, and one of them was Ralph Farnham's flagship! He knew what that meant. He knew only too well that Ralph Farnham's raiders would be blasting and destroying Jupiter's spaceport! Billy was grim with fighting rage as he thought of the ruthless space pirate.
Down toward Jupiter's great globe zoomed the space-flyer. Up toward the quartz window raced the big planet. Billy set his controls, his thick black hair flying about his eyes as he moved with swift precision.
Suddenly Billy Morton gasped. Two black dots were lifting toward him from Jupiter's surface! It was Ralph Farnham—come to fight him here in space! Billy swung his ship and dropped like a plummet to the attack.
Too late, he saw what they meant to do. While one of them would surely get away, the other would crash into him amidships, cracking his flyer open like a nut! With a big ship like Farnham's they could shut of the portion of the ship and seal the other chamber. But to him, encased alone in his tiny flyer, it would mean instant death!
They were somewhere underneath him, probably driving up at him. Any minute he expected to her the crash of steel against steel and feel the in rush of the cold, breathless ether!
Wildly Billy, slammed over his accelerator, lifted his ship then power dived, searching the void with straining eyes. He saw them then, less then five miles ahead, blank and big in the murky darkness.
Swiftly he lifted his gun—pushed its lever to full power—and blasted away!
Then they were on him, both huge ships, glowing and blazing with the force of his space-gun. Two miniature suns they were and it was too late to swing aside!
Billy gulped frantically, shoved over his rocket-blaster to its last notch, and closed his eyes!
There was a momentary thud as the nose of his flyer struck a solid substance. A lift, a lurch, and he was through! His quartz-gelida windows were burning hot. He was nearly suffocating with the terrible heat, but—he had won!
"Yea!" he shouted hoarsely bouncing up and down in his gyro-seat as much as he could with the straps around him. "I've won! I've won! And I got him, Dad—like I told you I would!"
Commander Worth was the first one to meet him at the hanger when he dropped onto the planet. Outside, he could hear whistles and sirens, shrilling welcome.
"My boy, you've done it!”
"Shucks." Billy grinned. Then he remembered. "Oh—I never told you what my weapon is, did I? Well, Dad thought if he could separate these heat in elements in the sun could make a weapon of ultra-violet rays!
"That's what my weapon is a—small sun! We know that if a space ship came within one-hundred thousand miles of the sun it would burn to a crisp!
"Well—I couldn't bring the spaceships to the sun, so I did the next best thing. I brought the sun to the spaceships!”