This is the sixth installment of "The Golden Girl of Munan", the first published story by pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent; the first five installments can be found here, here, here, here, and here. The story first appeared in the June 1928 issue of Amazing Stories magazine, and was reprinted in 2001 in the anthology Rainbow Fantasia, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Anne Hardin.
As we join our story, Roy Hamilton, an artist in New York City in the year 2406, receives a videophone call from a mysterious woman. She warns him that a society of outcasts on an uncharted Pacific island called Munan are planning to wipe out the rest of the world. Hamilton and his friend Professor Nilsson must travel to Munan to foil their plans. Nilsson agrees to help Hamilton; he readies his newly-designed areo, the Pioneer, and the two take off for Munan, arriving in the dead of night. There, they are greeted by Hamilton's mysterious woman, Thelda, and her chief advisor, Landon, after which the exhausted pair return to the Pioneer for some much-needed shuteye . . .
Roy awoke at one, by his watch; nine o’clock in the morning by Munan time, he remembered, and set his timepiece back accordingly. Finding the professor still asleep, he dressed quietly so as not to disturb him and set forth to investigate his new surroundings. He stepped out from the Pioneer and found the cavern in which she reposed dimly alight from a circular opening high overhead, through which the light of day was admitted, and through which it would be necessary to guide the aero when they left. He returned for a pocket torch, and started down the passage through which they had entered this cavern. When he reached the large council chamber, he found it as brightly lighted as previously. On the far side of the cavern he observed a sort of raised dais on which there was a smaller table than that about which the company had assembled the previous night; also several easy chairs, one of which was occupied by none other than the Golden Girl, who was busily engaged with several books and a large map. At the sight of her beautiful head bent over her work, his heart again behaved unaccountably, and he approached silently, almost reverently.
When within a few feet of the dais, he spoke. “Good afternoon, fair lady. Or rather I should say, ‘good morning’.”
Somewhat startled, for she had been so absorbed in her work, that she did not notice his approach, she raised her head. When she saw who it was, she smiled and replied, “Good Morning, Roy. I hope that you are now refreshed after a good sleep. And you must not mind my use of your given name. That is our custom. You are to call me Thelda, too.”
Again, when their glances met, there was that indefinable something which passed between their minds and told both that a close bond existed. Each was momentarily confused, but Roy seated himself, as Thelda motioned him to a chair beside her own, and soon the embarrassed feeling passed. They found themselves at once discussing seriously the object of the trip from The Outside, as the outer world was spoken of in Munan. Roy was full of eager questions concerning Munan itself, and Thelda launched forth into a discussion of the subject nearest and dearest to her heart.
It seemed that Thelda had been the only daughter of one Paul Serano, who had been the leader of the small group of thinkers who were opposed to the designs of the Munanese against The Outside. He had been working on plans for frustrating these designs for ten years. Thelda’s mother had died at the time he first conceived these plans, and Thelda herself had been but ten years of age when this occurred. A few months before the call to Roy and the professor, Serano had been apprehended by the Zar in an attempt to obtain certain information regarding the exact nature of the plans for the conquest of The Outside, and had been summarily executed. This left Thelda an orphan, hunted by the Zar; and the group of faithful adherents to her father’s beliefs had made her their leader in his stead. Despite the fact that she was only twenty, she was well qualified to lead them, because she was not only greatly loved by the group, but she had worked with her father constantly since the conception of his idea and was more familiar than any of the others with that which had been accomplished. She was compelled to live in apartments connected with this underground refuge, as were several others of the group, to escape the hand of the all-powerful Zar. Luckily, however, most of the group were not known by the agents of the Zar as being non-adherents. These were enabled thus to live normal lives in the city, and ten or twelve of them were in the employ of the Zarists, endeavoring to get all information possible. Thelda’s father had been a scientist of repute in Munan; the only scientist in the group; and with his demise the group had become desperate, for it was necessary to combat the designs of the Munanese by means of Science. This had necessitated the sending of an emissary to The Outside, which was accomplished with considerable difficulty. The emissary had returned with knowledge of the professor and of his friend, Roy. The call to New York had followed.
By the time Thelda had reached this point in her narrative, the two were joined by the professor. Soon the party was augmented by the arrival of Landon and two of the women members of the group, who were known as Zora and Merna. Zora was a very beautiful woman of possibly forty years of age; nearly that of the professor, thought Roy, as he noted from the corner of his eye that she and the professor had engaged in earnest conversation.
Thelda and Landon decided that it was not necessary to call a meeting of the council, but that the entire situation could be discussed immediately among themselves. Landon was requested to give to the two strangers the entire story in as few words as possible. This being agreeable to all present, the six proceeded to the council table, where a map of the island and city of Munan had been laid out.
Roy and the professor examined this map closely, noting that the island was roughly elliptical in shape, about seventy miles in length and about thirty miles across the widest point. On the map, surrounding the island at a distance of some five miles from the coast, was a broad red line which Landon explained represented the neutralizing wall. The city itself occupied only one end. The rest of the island, which was of volcanic origin, consisted of part mountain and part level land, a small portion of which was covered by forest. The caverns were located almost exactly in the center, and were under the surface of a mesa-like projection of the largest mountain, which was known as Leyris.
“Friends from The Outside,” commenced Landon, “there is much to be done within the next twenty days, if the designs of our accursed people are to be circumvented. For this reason I am going to make my story as short as possible.
“Beginning with the founding of Munan and leading up to the present time, I need not tell you much more than Thelda reported over your videophone system. That conversation was very difficult of attainment, for none of us fully understand the operation of the apparatus which Paul had perfected for this very purpose before his death. However, we did paralyze the terrestrial video system as you know, and Thelda did get her message through.
“Munan was conceived in hatred, and the descendants of those original two thousand have handed down that hatred of The Outside, which gradually intensified through the ages. In each generation there would be a few who, like ourselves, were born with the love of mankind in our hearts, but as quickly as these were discovered by the Zar they were killed off in cold blood. Thus, by a process of enforced evolution, there was developed a race of cold-blooded creatures who call themselves men and women, but who are in actuality, fiends incarnate. There has been practically no internal strife, because the Munanese has a single-track mind. His venom is all directed against The Outside. Such is the power of evolution. Our group is entirely different. In all evolution there are reversions to types, which types may have been remotely located in the roots of the family tree. We are those reversions; thank the Supreme Being. We were born with love in our makeup instead of hate, and none of the early training could remove this love.
“Zar Taled the fourth, our present despotic ruler, decided about fifteen years ago that the time for the conquest of The Outside was nearing; he set the date for February twentieth, 2406. Meanwhile all efforts of the inhabitants, excepting those in pursuits necessary for the business of living, such as food preparation and the like, have been expended in preparation for the great event.
“The time is approaching rapidly and all is in readiness. Ten thousand aeros have been constructed; each is capable of carrying ten men and a cargo of ten tons. These are stored under heavy guard in the Zar’s arsenal directly on the other side of Leyris. They are the product of the not-to-be-despised scientists of Munan, and are very speedy and powerful. The secret of their motive power is known only to a trusted few; but we do know that it is from an inexhaustible source. These aeros, like your own, have no external wings or propelling mechanism. Unlike the Pioneer, though, they are provided with an impregnable means of defense and a horrible and inescapable offensive weapon. They can be made invisible! The mines of Munan have yielded metals and chemical elements unknown to The Outside, and from these our chemists have compounded a substance similar in consistency to the house paint of ancient days. This substance, when applied to its surface, renders the metal munium invisible. The Zar’s aeros are constructed of munium and will be absolutely non-existent as far as human vision is concerned. What avail would any of the energy beams of The Outside be against an attacker who could not be seen?
“The offensive weapon is also a product of our chemists. It is a highly concentrated liquid which has the property of completely disintegrating any object with which it may come into contact, excepting only the metal crysinum. The ingredients of this liquid are found only in Munan and are extremely rare, even here. Two hundred years have been spent in accumulating a sufficient supply and storing it away in crysinum containers. One drop of this liquid on the Pioneer would utterly destroy it and all within it. A crysinum bomb weighing less than one hundred pounds, dropped from the sky on your city of New York, would entirely destroy it with all of its inhabitants, and all within a radius of thirty miles besides. Do you see why we warned you and sent for you?
“The centuries old plan of the Munan is this: On the day appointed, ten thousand aeros, rendered invisible, are to set forth. Each aero will carry a crew of ten men and a cargo of two hundred of the crysinum bombs. Two thousand of the aeros are to head for the North American division, two thousand to the African division, two thousand to the European division and so forth. Each fleet is to spread out over its particular area, destroying the principle cities and industrial centers. No quarter is to be given; in fact none could be asked, since the inhabitants would not have the slightest idea of the cause of the destruction, nor where to sue for quarter. After the wanton destruction of all the great cities and probably eighty percent of the population of the globe, the Munanese intend to take possession and start the foundations of a new civilization in accordance with their own ideas.
“The small group you saw in this chamber when you arrived, with a few workmen who were taking care of your aero, and your two selves, are all that stand between The Outside and this dreadful catastrophe. Possibly we shall fail; but we have every confidence in you, Professor, as the only man who can avert the holocaust; and in you, Roy, as a valiant supporter of our cause and of the professor and his part of the work. That is all.”
(continue to part 7)