by Goose Gansler
The battleships of the Alien Alliance continued to deploy throughout the Sol star system. Many of the ships were filled with armaments and troops bent on destroying all opposition on the world that was referred to by many as the annoying mud-ball. However, not all the warcraft were intended for Earth. There were other inhabited worlds in this star system.
One of these worlds was Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn. Though it stood some 750 million miles from Earth, it was linked to that world by common peril. The Alien Alliance was here, too. While the world was technologically advanced, having possessed rapid interplanetary space travel for decades now, it was not the equal of the warships and troop carriers that had come to Titan. Word had spread across Titan regarding the invasion fleet and the slaughter they were perpetrating. No electronic means of transmission were necessary to spread that word. The Titanians were all telepaths, and communication could be conveyed clearly, instantaneously, and to multiple destinations by power of the mind alone.
The Central Council, the democratically elected body of Titan’s rulers, had convened in the capital city of Atlasa. The one hundred members, presided over by the Prime Councilor, were debating a peace offer being made by the alliance. The fact that there was a discussion at all was a testament to the progress that the world had made in the last few years. Once Titan had been a world bent on conquest itself, but the civilization had changed its ways due to the unceasing efforts of their principled champion, Kral.
It was Kral who now stood before the Council. The seated Councilors surrounded him on their semicircular dais. Kral had come to offer his views on the issue at hand, the alien fleet that stood poised to strike unless Titan acquiesced.
Like virtually all of Titan’s small population, Kral was a hearty individual. One had to be in order to survive the challenging climate of this unique atmosphere-shrouded moon. Like all Titanians, he possessed thermal powers — the ability to generate heat or cold in order to withstand the extreme variations in temperature. However, he possessed these powers at a level unmatched by any other Titanian. He also had the ability to fly, a mutant ability unknown to his fellow citizens.
“Councilors,” Kral spoke up over the din of politicians. He spoke rather than tele-projected in order to ensure that all could hear him. “Time is of the essence here.” The powerful sound of his voice garnered the attention of all who were gathered there. Their gaze came to rest upon the prodigious figure of Kral in his maroon sleeveless tunic, emblazoned with a double wing symbol mounted above a star in circle emblem, white belt about his waist, purple boots upon his feet, maroon tights upon his legs, and white bands around his wrists. He was a sight known to all Titanians. It was he who, after an unsuccessful effort to pave the way for an invasion of Earth as a youth, had led Titan on the path to a better civilization. Though he had matured in those years, he still maintained his boyish looks and unkempt brown hair.
“Councilors,” Kral continued. “The facts are not an issue here. The alien fleet, comprising a multitude of alien races, is destroying our world. They have already attacked Earth, as our ultra-telescopes have shown. We face destruction together.”
“Earth may face destruction. Titan may not, if we agree to join the Alliance,” a Councilor argued.
“Have we learned nothing in the past few years?” Kral countered forcefully. “It was the people of Earth who showed us that there could be a better way for Titan. It was Superboy of Earth who taught me that power could be used for the greater good. (*) We would not have this society, based upon peace and friendship as I promised Superboy I would strive to build, if not for the people of Earth. We owe it to ourselves and our society not to become vassals of some alien power.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Journey of the Second Superboy,” Adventure Comics #205 (October, 1954).]
“As you well know,” another Councilor noted, “since we implemented our new society, we dismantled much of our military might. With no need to conquer, there was no longer any need for vast quantities of arms. We are ill-equipped to continue this fight.”
“Perhaps we were a little shortsighted in that regard,” Kral sighed. “While we can live in peace, there is no assurance that the rest of the universe feels similarly.”
The comment set off a round of side conversations among the council members. It took nearly five minutes for the commotion to settle. “You ask a great deal of us, Kral,” the leader of the Council finally said.
“No more than I ask of myself. I will fight against the invaders. I will stand side-by-side with those who want to safeguard the Titanian society that we have built. I will not become a lackey for off-worlders. The Council can do as it wishes.” Kral’s face showed his determination. He turned and marched out of the Council chambers.
A few minutes later, at a bombed-out spaceport, Kral was making the last checks on a small, one-man rocket-ship that had survived. Even his powers would not allow him to operate very freely in the vacuum of space. With some protection, he could operate somewhat effectively, and he planned to do just that.
With the checks complete, Kral brought the ionic engine online and launched into the air. Soon he was outside the limits of Titan’s atmosphere and into the cold depths of space. It was not too long before he saw a contingent of alien ships. With his ship’s shielding and small size, he felt confident that he could come upon these larger cruisers unnoticed.
His reasoning seemed to be valid as he pulled alongside one of the cruisers. Deploying his rocket’s magnetic locks, he latched into the hull of the larger ship. Slipping on a transparent globe helmet and attached oxygen tank, he exited the rocket. He employed his telepathic powers to reach the minds of the crew inside. Their language was unknown to him, but their thoughts were clear — they had no inkling of his presence.
He flew to the stern of the craft and then began to concentrate. A searing beam of heat, ever-increasing in its intensity, flared from his eyes through the glass helmet toward the tail section where the ship’s engines were. In a matter of seconds, the metal melted under his hellish heat, and the tail section floated away from the rest of the ship.
Kral darted back to his own rocket and disengaged it from the floundering ship. He piloted his rocket away and into the mad jumble that this group had become. His thoughts of replicating the attack were interrupted by a volley of rocket fire launched from Titan’s surface assaulting the alien ships.
“The Council has decided to fight for Titan.” Kral was filled with newfound respect for the politicians. They had found the will to fight.
The battle on Titan continued to rage for days. While the Alien Alliance had possessed the initial advantage, the Titanians were beginning to push the invasion back. The natives had scrambled to reassemble their vast armory that had been decommissioned when they gave up their ways of conquest. Now, Titanian rocket cannons were taking a deadly toll on the invaders.
At the forefront of the Titanian resistance was their hero, Kral. His words had moved the Council to action, and his actions were moving his fellow citizens to even greater feats of bravery and courage. He swept into the midst of some green-skinned Pyloxian ground troops and unleashed blasts of bitter cold. This served to slow down the reptilian invaders, making them less effective combatants. The Titanians seized the advantage and cut down the Pyloxians mercilessly with their rocket-rifles.
While hope now existed for Titan, their civilization was still in peril. The initial indecision of the Council had cost Titan many lives, and the efforts to rearm had been too slow. The population of the world had been devastated. However, for those who had survived to this point, the return to their former belligerent ways had come rather easily. The Alliance had miscalculated in thinking that this was a purely peaceful, sedentary people. While the Titanians had adopted the ways of peace, they had not forgotten the ways of war.
Some miles outside of the capital city of Atlasa, Kral had joined another battlefront. His flying powers had allowed him to cover the distance quickly, but before he had arrived, he had already been apprised of the situation. His telepathic mind had reached out and received reports of the local commanders. He knew where he had to strike.
The Pyloxians had assembled a monstrous quantum bazooka with which they intended to bombard the capital. The Titanian defenders had not been able to destroy it with their rocket cannons. It was up to Kral to do that.
Weaving his way through a sky filled with plasma beams, Kral landed amongst the Pyloxian troops. While the reptilians’ strength was prodigious, Kral was stronger. The first Pyloxian who lashed out at him was sent flying by an uppercut. The second was laid low by a roundhouse right. Once Kral was within reach of the bazooka, he increased his thermal field to near-absolute-zero intensity. The cold-blooded reptilians fell into senseless shock.
After waiting a few moments for the cold to set in, Kral switched his field to the other extreme — blistering heat. He focused his power through his eyes and reduced the quantum bazooka to slag.
The warmth was reviving the Pyloxians once again. Kral took to the air and mentally informed his comrades that the quantum bazooka was destroyed. The invaders had disabled all electronic communication on Titan, but that had produced no disadvantage to the telepathic race. As Kral departed, a barrage of rocket fire came down upon the dazed Pyloxians.
Kral tapped into the mental communications network to find out where his abilities might be best put to use. There were firefights going on all over Titan. What caught his interest was the report from the observatory that energy discharges were spotted on the monstrous artificial satellite that hovered near Earth now.
“A Terran counterattack against the Alliance?” Kral wondered. “If we can repulse the invaders here, perhaps I can join them.”