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INTERPLANETARY OLYMPIC HORROR
By Suzanne Muldowney
Heads of State
Earth's radar systems pick up a strange signal from deep space. Underdog flies off to investigate. It turns out a distant solar system is in danger of total destruction from a massive outer-space disaster (not an invasion by living beings). Underdog diverts that threat, and then immediately hears another signal meaning "Thank you. Orbit our system so that we may see you." The spared solar system consists of six planets orbiting a yellow sun much larger than our sun, larger because the planets, varying in size, axe equidistant from the sun and equidistant from each other. The sun is larger so that the planets in their relative distances receive the same temperatures and levels of sunlight that Earth receives from its own sun. When Underdog completes his orbit of the solar system's perimeter, another signal says, "Go in peace. We will be in touch with you again." Whereupon Underdog returns immediately to Earth.
Some time later, Underdog again tunes in on a mysterious deep-space signal. Apparently it is from the same source he investigated earlier, for it indicates that an intergalactic ambassador is coming to visit him. Underdog sends a return signal indicating the visitor to land in a designated remote area to avoid not only detection but also UFO hysteria. He heads out to the selected area and sees a small spacecraft land. Out steps an alien who calls himself Anton. He is from one of the planets Underdog saved from annihilation; in fact, his planet had been the one most directly in the path of the deep-Space menace. To celebrate their salvation, the six planets axe holding a series of athletic games on Anton's planet, and they want Underdog to come and participate in them as a mascot. Underdog informs Anton about the Olympics, their being similar to this projected festival. But why does this solar system want him to mascot when he is a total stranger? Anton replies after all, if it had not been for Underdog's coming to the rescue, this group of planets and their inhabitants would not be alive now. Underdog states how, at that time, he had picked up the distress signal but had seen no spacecraft clustered around the planets. Hadn't they attempted evacuation? No, replies Anton, the interplanetary ships were limited to their own solar system; they had not graduated to deep-space travel until now. There would have been no way they could have fled to another world. Next, Anton proffers a portable-TV unit. Underdog views a film showing different activities featured in the upcoming Games. Many are similar, some slightly variant, to Earth's. But unlike Earth's Olympics, these Games are geared toward accumulation of points to make one team or individual the Games' winner. Apparently, though, the idea of a "grand champion" sparks no hard feelings, rivalries, hostilities, etc., among these extraterrestrial athletes.
ANTON: There's still one matter that puzzles me. When you saved us and then orbited our solar system, our monitors indicated you were all alone!
UNDERDOG: Of course I was.
ANTON: No, I mean you didn't seem to be inside a spacecraft. We saw you the same way I'm looking at you now! Have you special powers that you can travel through space without a carrier?
UNDERDOG: Let me take you into confidence. You're right about special powers. Look! (He lifts off into the air making a casual loop.)
ANTON: Oh - oh my! But if you do that in front of everyone, you'll upstage all our athletes! None of us have powers like that! Does everyone on your world have them?
UNDERDOG: No, sir. Only I. But I understand your point about over-whelming everyone else. I won't use those powers, or I'll tone them down so I won't steal the show.
Underdog is especially attracted to several sports which are more theatrically inclined than others. One, called Flyleaping , reminds him of aerial exhibitions he is sometimes called to put on for large outdoor charity shows. Underdog poses more questions which Anton settles. As mascot, Underdog will compete in whatever activities he wishes, on behalf of all six planets. Whatever his scores, all six add on that many points. Each time it is his turn at something, an instrumental fanfare will call everyone to attention. But because of his great powers, Underdog must try his best not to overwhelm the other competitors, as it is obvious only he has the power but must not "steal the show".
Thus Underdog agrees
to participate. When the time comes to leave, he will bring along his friend
Polly and several media personnel who can broadcast the Games back to Earth;
to go to the Host Planet, compete, and return will take five weeks Earth time.
Suddenly Underdog senses bounty hunters on the way and bids Anton to leave immediately.
Anton reboards his spacecraft and departs. Two weeks later Polly, several technicians,
and Underdog meet in the same spot he had made Anton land before. (The technicians
who will tape all the activities have been included in Polly's strictest confidence,
their embarking on a deep-space mission.) A larger spacecraft appears. Anton
and Underdog recognize each other. The Earthers board the alien craft and set
off for their Olympian adventures. During the voyage, Anton has the Earthers
view a filmshow containing information on the planets which are to participate
in the upcoming Games.
Aslon, the hosting planet, is about the same size as Earth. Its natives are great architects and landscapers. Most of Aslon's surfaces are hilly, which results in picturesque towns resembling those on the high Hollywood and Beverly Hills bluffs. Brooks and rivers which wind through these hills collect in valleys where the water works are located; the water also serves as mineral baths for valley-based health resorts. Aslon City, the planet's capital, is an athletic training ground which also utilizes the natural grounds for its governmental headquarters and museums. one of its natural building wonders is an amphitheater used to honor its heroes: visitors walk along a continuous spiral ramp built on the native soil, the ramp resembling the spiral used by visitors to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Aslon serves as architect, landscaper, and health resort to all six of the planets.
Belese is a mining and engineering planet. Nearly all of its land is arid, thus providing the minerals and metals needed to build buildings and especially spacecraft. Belese thus also specializes in technology. The testing grounds for the solar system's spacecraft and their astronauts axe in Belese's capital, Qatise.
Velpar, a larger planet halfway between the sizes of Uranus and Saturn, is an immense garden. Millions of flowers grown here are used to ornament the towns which, when built by Aslonian builders, resemble ancient Greek temples. The healthful atmosphere and blend of floral and architectural ornamentation make Velpar a health resort like Aslon, and also a group of sports camps. Velpar is the only planet with moons; three moons have enormous factories on which are made clothing: when Velparian flowers and other plants die, they are ground into fertilizers while dying flowers axe sent to the factories on Velpar's moons, where these blossoms are processed into clothing fabrics.
Zalmar, is the size of Jupiter and the largest of these planets, is an agricultural world. More than 70% of its land is used for farming, which results in enormous quantities of bumper crops and other foods. Because Zalmar has the fewest inhabitants, the surplus foods are a boon to the other planets which do not produce that much food on their own. This is especially vital to the mining planet, Belese, whose only native food is seafood. Zalmar's polar regions contain storehouses for perishable foods, plus the planet's spaceports. Its equator is actually one band of ocean, bi-secting the northern and southern hemispheres. The shorelines of this equatorial ocean contain vacation resorts plus vast groves of juice-producing fruits. (Underdog muses how all this food wealth could greatly aid Earth's malnourished sections.)
Ronthaal, a small planet about the size of Mars, is rather self-sustaining. It contains a hodgepodge of industries which balance itself out and also aid other planets when their own supplies are in trouble, or vice versa. There was one time that the northern half of Ronthaal had had a heatwave which killed most of its sea life, whereupon Belese had shipped seafood to compensate. Another time Ronthaal had sent native medicines to Zalmar to cure some of the vacation areas' janitors of wild plant poisoning.
Nebril , is the same size as Aslon. Like Ronthaal, Nebril is self-sufficient. But unlike any of the other planets, Nebril refuses to do business with them or to associate with them at all. (The Earthers cannot watch any footage of the surroundings or inhabitants, as none are available.) Its king, Reltih , forbids the natives to migrate, let alone trade, with the others, whereas the natives of all the others work and live in a mixture just like the various Earth peoples. Long ago Nebril had had another name, now forgotten, but at that time the king had mysteriously disappeared. Rumors claimed he had somehow reached another solar system, although deep-space travel did not yet exist for these planets. Upon his return, the king named himself Reltih, the planet Nebril, and barred all contact with the other planets. Only now, in the aftermath of the great rescue, had the other planets succeeded in persuading Nebril to rejoin their family by participating in the Games. In fact, King Reltih had been strangely glad to do so.
For the rest of the
voyage, the Earthers review the documentary on the planets and also information
on the various Games. Underdog especially educates himself on the basics of
the Games in which he chooses to participate. Upon reaching the outskirts of
the solar system, the spacecraft orbits its perimeter, so that the planets realize
their distant mascot is arriving. Then the spacecraft heads for the port at
Aslon City, where the Games are to be held. Vast crowds watch the spacecraft
land. Several Aslonian dignitaries greet Anton, Polly, and the group of Earth
camerapeople. Everyone pauses as down an aisle come King Selon and Queen Jolan.
They stop a few feet from the spacecraft door. Then out steps Underdog. The
crowds cheer and wave ribbons on sticks, their method of saluting a VIP. The
Aslonian royal pair present Underdog with a many-stranded ribbon and an official
Games flag, both of which he is to wave at the opening ceremonies. All the Earthers
are escorted by the royal retinue to a bungalow reserved as living quarters
for the Earthers. A day or two goes by before the official start of the Games.
While Polly and the media technicians set up their gear, Underdog practices
for his events. As advised by Anton, Underdog does his best not to go too far,
to control his powers. But he soon discovers that his powers have lessened without
his help. He loses his energy faster and must revitalize more frequently with
his energy pills.
That night he summons Polly into his confidence. Ever since their arrival on Aslon, Underdog has felt this sense of reduced strength. He senses that an unknown gas in the atmosphere affects him, reducing his powers by fifty percent. Polly is worried, but Underdog feels that this way he is on fairer grounds with all the other athletes. The opening day arrives. Vast crowds from the six planets throng the arena. One section in the middle is ornately roofed, and is presently empty into this section are to enter the planets' rulers. Directly opposite from this area, at the boundary between spectators and playing field, is a row of seven flagpoles, the center pole being several feet higher than the others. The activities begin with the entrances of the planets' rulers into their special box: King Selon and Queen Jolan of Aslon; King Qa-Ti-Son of Belese; Queen Florinda of Velpar; Emperor Zeltor of Zalmar; President Kel-Hahn of Ronthaal; and King Reltih of Nebril. Polly and a group of newscasters from all the planets are busily observing the action from their own section of the arena. When Polly sees King Reltih take his place, she stares in amazement. Parts of his clothing are decorated with what appear to be swastikas! She forgets herself, being caught in the shock of the moment. One of the extraterrestrials alongside her has to snap her out of it, bringing her back to reality. Once all the heads of state are in their places, the Parade of Planets begins. Six teams, one for each planet, process around the playing field, their representative flags being borne just in front of each team. Polly again stares in horror and silence when she gets a view of the flag and team of Nebril. The flag contains a swastika as did Nazi Germany's, and the team uniforms also have swastikas! The Nebrilians acknowledge the spectators and especially King Reltih, when they pass the VIPs' booth, with the Nazi salute!
Once again Polly has to be brought back to reality by another reporter. She apologizes and resumes her duties, but thinks to herself how she cannot alert Underdog, at this point, about the swastikas. She will have to wait. When all the athletes are in the playing field, they wave while the flag bearers go to the end containing the row of flagpoles. The flags are now hoisted on all the poles except the taller central one. Next, the athletes rearrange themselves into six equidistant circles, forming not only the layout of their own solar system but also the layout of the white circles on the Games' flag.
The entire arena sings the Games' anthem. After the song, King Selon rises and begins an allegorical narration of the planets' recent threat and rescue. The clustered athletes, still in the six circles, cower as another group of citizens enter en masse from one end of the field. They slowly advance on the athletes, since they represent the outer-space menace. When Selon's narration comes to the part about Underdog's coming to the rescue, all eyes turn to the top of a descending ramp, where Underdog stands bearing his flag and beribboned stick. Brandishing these props, he descends until he is at a level with the row of flagpoles. He flourishes his props again, facing the "invasion" of citizens, who then turn around and leave. He hands over his flag which Is then hoisted on the central pole, and then runs down into the arena to the very center, where he officially starts the Games with a ribbon-twirling dance as the clustered athletes and the entire assembly cheer their mascot and rescuer.
Underdog and Polly request a meeting of Ambassador Anton, the king and queen, and the Games Committee--the festival's masterminds. Underdog informs them of the swastika symbol and the horrors of Nazi Germany. He also cannot understand how this deep-space planet could have come up with such a symbol. The committee sympathizes with the Earthers' concern, but reminds them that so far there has been no foul play; that never has anyone borne weapons; and that all the competitors pledged to play fairly. Apparently the inhabitants of these planets have no war, crime, tyranny, or other problems which result in weaponry and similar adverse reactions. Underdog wonders if they do indeed have that universal harmony Earthers have never achieved, but he is still suspicious about the Nebrilians. The first day of the Games consists totally of track and field events. Unlike Earth Olympics, participants in these Games are not restricted to one kind of sport; athletes can be registered individually in many sports (the way Underdog himself is registered in several different Games). Like some Earth Games involving professional actors and celebrities for entertainment's sake, any one athlete could be a runner, a swimmer, a biker, a gymnast, and other things all at once. For today's events, Underdog is mostly not enrolled himself, but as mascot his presence is required simply to boost morale. For the most part, he is starter of the running races by positioning himself some distance away from the starting line, and starting races by dropping his stick with the ribbons. When winners are determined, they mount a platform, receive their awards, and watch the representative planetary flags hoisted. Afterwards they process to the border of the arena meeting the VIPs' box (every premise used for Games must have sections reserved for media personnel and the VIPs) to exchange signs of friendship with the rulers of the six planets. Toward the end of the day, Underdog himself competes in a short-distance dash, in which he places first. Other winners are a Velparlan and a Ronthaalian who have done well in many previous contests. But when these winners go to exchange greetings with the top VIPs, Underdog notices that King Reltih appears angry. Later that night, after some other contests have been completed, Underdog goes to a pharmacy established in the athletes' living quarters to get his supply of energy pills replenished. While waiting, his super-hearing picks up what sounds like a rabble-rousing speech. After returning to his bungalow with his prescription, he goes to investigate secretly. His search takes him to an open park among the bungalows occupied by Nebrilians. Keeping out of their sight, he sees that throngs of Nebrilian athletes and visitors, either seated on the ground or peering from their windows, are tuned in to King Reltih, who, to Underdog's alarm, is ranting and gesticulating in the style of Hitler! Occasionally his captive audience salutes him Nazi-style and utters their chant equivalent of "Heil Hitler!" Underdog launches himself skyward. Once out of Aslon's atmosphere, his powers return to full capacity. He flies to the planet Nebril and its capital, where he can still hear Reltih's voice. Circling the planet a number of times from several miles up, he observes with his super-vision how Reltih, broadcasting from Aslon, is seen by the entire population of the planet, even in the area where it is now night-time. He sees soldiers, secret police, and what could be arsenals, none of which he has seen on Aslon, and probably is unknown--or discontinued--by the other planets. Now Underdog senses that Nebrilian tracking stations have picked up his presence. (They should hear only "INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!" The signal does not clarify who or what he is.) Promptly he returns to Aslon. He takes Polly into his confidence, telling her what he has observed. The next day, Underdog is to compete in a short-distance race. He takes his place in the lineup and sees that the big-winning Ronthanlian of yesterday is also competing. When the runners are allowed to go, Underdog is so fast it appears he will win. But as he nears the finish line, he looks back over his shoulder to see how much of a lead he has. At that very moment, the Ronthaalian collapses to the ground! For-getting everything, Underdog rushes across the field to the rescue. In doing so, however, he cuts across the lane used by a Nebrilian, delaying him a split second. The delay causes the Nebrilian to finish second to a Zalmarian on the end lane. Underdog tries to revive the fallen Ronthaalian, but a doctor who takes over for him makes a terrible announcement: the Ronthaalian is dead! A first-aid crew carries the corpse out. The other racers are in shock, all but the Nebrilian. He wrathfully scolds Underdog for having slowed him down by cutting in front of him so that he lost the race. The other racers, in turn, scold the Nebrilian; how can he blame Underdog when a fellow racer was in trouble? Underdog lost the race at any rate for failing to cross the finish line. Later in the day, as night is coming and spectators are shifting between arenas used for day and night Games, an announcement is made that autopsies on the dead Ronthaallan reveal he died from ingesting poison. No one can tell how he came upon it, as he had shown no ill signs before the race. He had died suddenly as though someone had turned him off like a light bulb. Later that night, following the night Games, Underdog gathers Polly, Anton, and a few Games Committee members together. They conceal themselves in the area Underdog had used last night. King Reltih states how Nebril, out of all these planets, is pure-blooded and thus is obliged to win the Games and prove its racial superiority to the other planets whose races mingle their bloods. Nebril must be the top-scoring planet; any Nebrilian athlete who fails to win an event degrades his people and defies his king.The spies turn away in horror after a while. Underdog takes Polly to media headquarters where her crew is editing footage and jotting notes. Polly picks up some papers to review the notes, and then discovers in sheer terror how "Reltih" is "Hitler" spelled backwards, and how "Nebril" is an anagram of "Berlin". Underdog, too, is thunderstruck. Hitler was legally declared dead in 1953; how could this society have come about unless some original Nazis had escaped to this solar system, an impossibility since deep-space travel did not exist during and after World Wax II? Underdog looks at a frozen image of King Reltih on film. Since Hitler had apparently killed himself in 1945, and had been declared dead In 1953, he could not have escaped to this distant planet. And King Reltih looks quite different. Still, events are building up to suspect more trouble is in store. Indeed, the terror is only beginning, for next morning two athletes are found dead in their beds: the Zalmarian who had won yesterday's race, and the Nebrilian Underdog had prevented from winning. One strange element is that the Nebrilian's eyes were found wide open, as though he had been staring at something. Examinations find no poison as with the first death, but the hearts of both victims just stopped cold. There were no wounds or other improper signs. That night, Underdog is to compete in Flyleaping, one of the showy events that attracted him at the invitation. The teams participating are unevenly numbered, unlike Earth teams for other sports. Some entries are soloists, like Underdog, whereas others are pairs, trios, quartets, etc. But when several Flyleapers perform at once, they are judged and scored as one person. Flyleaping is judged similar to Earth's gymnastics in terms of individual all-arounds plus separate events. There is no general team competition. But there is a bonus round, participants for this being chosen on the basis of scores received for previous rounds. A few other exhibitionist Games are judged in like manner. The competition opens with a preliminary, the Horsey Leap, after which the entries go to the Runway and Hourglass events in the large floor area. Each time it is Underdog's turn, the musical fanfare is used to grab everyone's attention. After the two events, there is an intermission before the major event, the Freestyle. All the competitors rush to their quarters to fetch recorded music, as Freestyle makes use of it. After several teams have done their Freestyles, the musical fanfare announces Underdog's turn. Underdog steps into the area, a little tense. The judges give him the signal and start his music. As he goes through his routine, some spectators rise from their seats in amazement. Others utter cries of encouragement. Still others may clap their hands and sway in their seats in time to Underdog's music. Underdog himself is not a professional stage performer, but his routine is appealing enough so that at its conclusion, at least half the spectators give him a standing ovation. When his score is posted (it may not necessarily be the highest), the spectators, a few at first, then gradually to almost the whole assembly, shout for an encore. The demand amazes Underdog, the judges, and most of all the Games Committee; such a demand has never happened before. Underdog feels he should decline since he has been rated and judged. But the clamor grows louder and louder. Suddenly King Reltih bolts from his seat in the royal box. He booms out a cry for silence. He will not allow this absurd request to be fulfilled because Underdog has had his turn; he would have an unfair advantage over the other competitors; and he is, over all, a stranger to this area. He sits down as a group of Nebrilian spectators, who seem to have a part of the arena all to themselves, rise and salute Reltih Nazi-style. But countless other spectators again raise the cry for an encore. Finally the emcee of the Games orders a brief recess, during which time the judges and the Games Committee will make a decision. These people leave their places, only to be followed by King Reltih,
In a side room, the Committee members are trying to come to a decision when King Reltih storms in and repeats his previous objections, and adds that a stranger has no right to steal the show the way Underdog is being encouraged to. (Another possible objection: if Underdog's score is lower than someone else's, if he hadn't scored the highest, why should he be allowed to encore?) The Committee reminds Reltih that Underdog spared all the planets, including Nebril, from devastation; moreover, as mascot, Underdog not only personifies all the Games and the participants but also scores for all the planets at once. The Committee pulls rank on Reltih: their vote are many against one, himself, in favor of an encore! Foiled and enraged, Reltih storms out of the room. Upon their return to the arena, the Committee members and Flyleaping judges announce that an encore has been approved. Everyone except the Nebrilian section cheers.Underdog goes through his second Flyleaping Freestyle, after which he becomes quite exhausted. But the assembly is still not yet satiated; when his second score is posted, again comes the cry for an encore! Underdog consents, but asks for a few moments' time out. He is badly in need of an energy pill and slips out of the room. He finds a water source and prepares to chase the pill with water. But as he does, somehow a Nebrilian witnesses the dosage, by either stumbling upon the scene by accident or peeping around a corner. Underdog, wary of the incident, returns to the arena to perform his third Freestyle. Fortunately, everyone feels afterwards that three are enough. Naturally, Underdog scores highest since he has performed three Freestyles. These, plus his scores from the other Flyleaping events, add up so that he places first in individuals' All-Around! The prizes are awarded, the flags raised, and the Games anthem sung. But afterwards, when the winners go to the VIPs' box to exchange signs of friendship, King Reltih refuses to congratulate Underdog!* For the rest of the evening, Underdog remains secluded in his bungalow. He looks around for a spot in which to seal his pills. Up until now, he has stored them in a drawer, but must now find a more unlikely spot, as he fears betrayal. His ring can store only one pill at a time, and he cannot trust them with anyone else, even Polly, who has no way of knowing when he will need one. Ever since his arrival, he has seen nothing in the form of security systems, guards, or police--except among the Nebrilians, who appear sinister enough to equal any wrongdoers he has fought with on Earth. Underdog's suspicions are justified. The Nebrilian who saw Underdog consume a pill reports to King Reltih. How can this almighty mascot be so splendid when he must take special food occasionally as everyone else? He is no god, as the other planets apparently built him up to be; he is another mortal. King Reltih resolves to kill this extraterrestrial superstar. The next evening, Underdog is called back to that same enclosure. He is not involved in tonight's Games, but he has been summoned to perform an exhibition routine to start tonight's program.Shortly before he is to go on, Underdog realizes the need for a pill, as he has expended much energy today in practicing for some of his other events. But when he hears his musical fanfare, instead of feeling strong and ready he feels a dizzy spell. He waits for it to pass, but as he goes into his routine he grows fainter and fainter, weaker and weaker. He falls once or twice and forces himself to continue. But his strength fails and he collapses in a dead faint. The assembly is horrified. What could have happened? A first-aid squad rushes to the rescue. Unable to revive Underdog at once, they take him away to the infirmary. In the broadcasting section, Polly is aghast when she witnesses Underdog's collapse. Another reporter has to snap her back to her senses. Then a thought strikes her; she has one of the camerapeople focus on King Reltih. She sees that unlike the horrified spectators, he appears very casual. All night Underdog lies unconscious in the infirmary. Crowds throng around wanting to see him but are denied entry. Doctors' tests reveal that like several other unfortunate athletes, he has been poisoned. In the morning, Underdog revives, to the relief of the attendants, but feels quite weak. Today he must go on exhibition in several track events. He returns to his bungalow to make sure all is in order, and fetches one of his pills, as he feels deep need of renewed strength. Today will be run a four-person relay obstacle course. Underdog cannot join any of the teams, but is booked to make a demonstration nm through all features of the course. Secretly Underdog consumes the pill, then heads onto the field where the delighted assembly hails him. But he peers at long range toward the royal box and observes that King Reltih appears astonished. He takes his place at the starting point and makes his run, but upon its completion, again passes out. When he revives this time, it is almost night of the day after. This time Polly and Anton are at his bedside and inform him how several more athletes were found dead early today. Obviously conspirators are behind it and have successfully disposed of all their intended victims except for Underdog. Anton presents a small device. If Underdog appears in dire need, he must sound this alarm for Anton to come at once. Underdog takes it but feels he should not use it; as the mascot and a hero, he should give aid, not ask others for it. Tonight he is to compete in the Spotlight Spacewalk a.11-arounds. He forces himself to report to the arena, and secretly consumes two revitalizing pills. When he hears his name called for the first event, the Adagio, he again notices King Reltih's reaction. He manages to get through his routine, but then immediately feels another spell coming on and bolts out of the room. Not wasting a moment, Polly and Anton leave their posts and find Underdog convulsing. He manages to gasp, "Poison pills Beware Reltih," before he again passes out. Anton calls for the first-aid squad to return Underdog to the infirmary. A while later that evening, there is an emergency session of the Games Committee and the doctors attending on Underdog. Why has he been worsening? Why didn't the doctors perform some conventional cures? The first time, it was discovered he had ingested poison as had several other athletes, but had not died immediately. But there was no known antidote, neither could one be freshly invented. They could not have bled him while simultaneously transfusing him untainted blood because his blood type did not match any of the solar system's blood types. The doctors feel that with each time he falls ill, he has fallen into greater danger of death. Polly is greatly alarmed. She alone knows how Underdog's powers became reduced when the Earth contingent arrived on this planet; now the danger is that much greater. Later that night, the attendants hear Underdog, apparently half-awake in a stupor, is murmuring Polly's name. They summon her and Anton to his bedside. Sensing their presence, Underdog makes sure no one else can hear what he must say. Then he delivers them a secret message: should he not recover, they must not perform an autopsy, but put his body in secret storage until the Games are finished and their media coverage contract ended, whereupon the Earthers should take his body back home for burial. But above all, they must observe King Reltih and the Nebrilians closely, as even worse horrors seem imminent. Polly almost goes wild at the thought of Underdog perishing, but Anton forces her to control herself and be mindful of what instructions were given. They both leave.In his royal headquarters, King Reltih summons one of his soldiers. He is displeased that poison has not yet finished Underdog off; he must be eliminated at once. The soldier will see to it before dawn. To assure it, Reltih orders that his weapon be set at highest capacity.
In the hospital, the dimly lit corridor suddenly goes completely dark. Employees rush around trying to restore power. Two attendants posted outside Underdog's room run off to aid the others. Immediately down the aisle runs the black-clad soldier. The noise of the scuffle arouses Underdog from his swoon, though only slightly. He tries to focus his eyes and makes out a black form aiming a gun at him! Too late--the soldier empties his weapon and flees before anyone can restore power, let alone catch the intruder. In the morning, the tragic news is brought to the shocked races of the six planets. Polly is overwhelmed with grief. King Selon and Queen Jolan proclaim a three-day suspension of the Games in order to mourn Underdog, who will be laid in state in the great Memorial Amphitheater as are all deceased Aslonians of distinction, a tradition of the planet Like Snow White in the classic fairy tale, Underdog is sealed in a see-through coffin and put on display, while mourners file through the great spiral ramps of the Memorial Amphitheater. Polly and the Earth media are burdened with having to process a broadcast that Underdog has perished. But they are required to stay after the period of mourning to complete their coverage of the Games, and then to edit them for broadcasting on Earth. How can Earth be expected to watch this program when Underdog's death is part of the story, wails Polly, and his corpse would be among the cargo to be shipped back? At the end of the third day, Anton drops in on Polly to inform her that there was not one Nebrilian among the mourners, and to remind her that in line with Underdog's last wish, they must be watchful over anything King Reltih does from now on.
Before dawn of the fourth day, the whole solar system is overwhelmed by an aerial invasion. Like Pearl Harbor, endless inhabited acreage is bombarded and countless citizens, many of them awakened from their sleep, are driven from their homes. The invaders are, of course, Nebrilians, the vast arsenal which had been in secret preparation on their homeland; now upon command they are ravaging the other planets, who cannot fight back since they have no defense systems of their own! The leaders of the other planets, still temporarily living on Aslon for the Games, are forced to abdicate to King Reltih, who sends them back to their homes. After the initial blitz, Aslonians on the premises of the Memorial Amphitheater find Underdog's coffin smashed and the body missing! As the shock wears off, numberless citizens on all the planets see "Gestapo" police officers marching up and down the streets, and are forced to tune in to Aslon City, where King Reltih sets up an announcement. Having conquered the other planets, proving the Nebrilians are the master race, Reltih establishes himself as king-dictator of his new "Nazi" planetary empire. To symbolize his achievement, he declares the Games will resume but will be transferred to his own planet and capital city! As he continues to speak, there should be multiple scenes (double exposures, cuts, voice-overs, etc.) of Nebrilian soldier contingents, people being roused into spacecraft, staring in terror and disbelief, the exiled planetary heads despairing, etc. The resumption of the Games also fosters a reign of terrorism. Ground and aerial patrols continually probe not only Nebril but also the other planets. Though they have no weapons, some brave citizens among the conquered try to resist, but perish through the Nebrilian death-ray gun. The greatest terror of the Games is the continual deaths among athletes, now openly carried out: Nebrilian competitors who fall to win matches and Game-winners from the other planets are shot to death before the whole live or at-home audiences! Bound to their contract, Polly and the other Earthers must continue to take footage of the events, but the Nebrilian atrocities are, of course, a nightmare. What kind of program is this for Earthers to view? Suddenly, one morning, all the Earthers are rounded up by soldiers and a few Gestapo officers who bring them into the palace and throne room of King Reltih. He astounds the Earthers by inquiring about Hitler and the Third Reich; how are they prospering these days? Polly demands to know how does he know of such people, and then reveals how the horrors of Nazi Germany have perished. King Reltih is perturbed at learning the Third Reich has fallen; it was on top of the world when he was there. How could King Reltih have been on Earth during that bloody era? Many years ago, his planet, then called Xenlan, was suffering worldwide famine. As an advisor to the Premier, he had been unsuccessfully urging the government to appeal to the other planets for aid. Unable to wait, he had fashioned his own spacecraft and was heading for Zalmar when he had encountered a mysterious space storm which left him stranded in Germany from just before the Berlin Games until Hitler's war machine held Europe in his grasp. Idolizing Hitler's tyranny, theory of racial supremacy, and especially the men and materials constituting the war machine, this extraterrestrial madman finally returned to his own world, overthrew the government, changed the names of the planet and himself, and held the planet under his thumb while simultaneously building a horrendous war machine and an equally horrendous planetary ambush. The Earthers, though shocked by this story, realize that obviously Reltih had passed through a gateway, a black hole of sorts. But why is he passing on this information? King Reltih answers: since he recognized the home planet when the Earthers arrived, that Underdog was from Earth, and that upon completion of the Games the Earthers might incite their kind to overthrow Nebril, he intends to invade Earth once the Games are over! Though Earth has many war machines, they are no match for the Nebrilians; moreover King Reltih had succeeded in subduing five planets, so how can one expect to win? The Earthers are taken back to their quarters by the Nebrilians. Polly is in deeper shock than ever. Tonight there are more of the theatrically-inclined Games in the one large arena, a seasonal one like the Astrodome in Houston in that it can be roofed over or left uncovered to suit the weather. On this occasion there is no "ceiling", but there are large spotlights illuminating the play area as would be used to highlight any nighttime baseball game on Earth. An intermission from Game activity is ending. Polly and the other media personnel from Earth are headed back to their booth guarded by several soldiers, when into the corridor steps a very high ranking officer, his hood covering all of his face except for the eyes. The soldiers salute the officer who orders them to leave. He will escort the Earthers back and recall them momentarily. Once in the booth, the officer orders the Earthers to observe him closely. He then reveals his face; the Earthers are stunned! "Not another word!" is the strict command. He then asks what events are about to begin; the answer: Spotlight Spacewalk Individual Events, the Allegro. The officer appears satisfied, then bids his captives to do as he instructs.The scene cuts to the arena, where a soloist, or several competitors bunched together, is occupied with a routine, the only source of light being a spotlight, with fast music in the background. The routine completed, the stadium lights come on, and we see that the perimeter of the arena floor is surrounded by black-robed armed soldiers. The score is posted and the competitor (s) gone. There might be another routine. But at any rate, an announcement is made that one more performer, overlooked, is to compete next. But his name or planet is not given at this point. While preparations are made for the next routine, the faceless Nebrilian commander enters the arena and exchanges salutes with the subordinate soldiers. He glances toward the stage and at the royal box. Then the camera should show him just briefly lifting his hand to just below his exposed eyes. The lights go down except for the one spotlight. The announcement is made: "And now our final contestant in the Allegro for these individual events--representing all the planets--Underdog!" The assembly is thunderstruck. And sure enough, to an explosion in the music, into the spotlight steps Underdog! As he goes through his routine, there should be multiple cuts and exposures of horrified spectators, amazed soldiers, and especially of King Reltih enraged; at one point he should be shown issuing orders (inaudibly). Underdog's routine ended, the stadium lights come on and he stands proudly erect. Several soldiers now discover a discarded officer's uniform at their feet; it had been his disguise. The spectators go wild; they might chant "Underdog! Underdog!" Not waiting for his score to be posted, King Reltih rises and bellows an order. All the soldiers aim their weapons and open fire on Underdog. All those death rays bombarding him from all angles, Underdog vibrates and sinks slowly to the floor. The crowds stare, aghast. What has happened to Underdog now? They had all seen him dead, then back alive, and now dead again? He seems to be glowing as he lies inert. Then he begins to move again. He rises and glares at King Reltih, his face as furious, fierce, and hellish as Reltih's has ever been! Reltih screams how can this be so? He had seen Underdog dead, as had everyone else. Underdog replies how Reltih has admitted to the arrangements for athletes' demises and to the tyrannic domination of the solar system. He must be done away with. King Reltih orders the foot soldiers to fire again. But their weapons have given out. Losing his self-control, Reltih orders the entire aerial and ground patrol, even those units controlling the other planets, to leave their posts and invade this area immediately. No, Underdog yells, he will allow no more attacks within these premises. He challenges Reltih and whatever invasionary forces there are to "come and get me!" whereupon he launches himself like a rocket out of the arena and into the sky. Underdog's takeoff again bewilders the countless onlookers (he has never yet utilized his full powers since his arrival for the Games). Many of them fear that he is a ghost or even a god. King Reltih, too, is moved, but not deeply enough to change his mind. He vacates the royal box, his retinue and every available henchman at his heels. Underdog hovers in the sky, high above the city. Soon Nebrilian spacecraft close in on him and open fire. But the rays only make him stronger, and soon give out. On the ground, Reltih orders reinforcements. Underdog flies off, making everyone think he is fleeing, but he heads only above an uninhabited area. Fleet after fleet of fighter crafts bombards him, but to no avail. Soon the entire Nebrilian war machine is wiped out! Underdog, so luminous from the rays which only renew his strength, returns to the Nebrilian capital where, on the outskirts of town, stands a tall tower topped by a swastika. Underdog alights atop this structure and surveys the scene. But he also feels throbbing, pulsing, under him; this tower might be a power station of sorts. His long-range vision reveals a horrible mass execution: all the armed forces who had failed to kill Underdog in this blitz are being unmercifully killed by King Reltih, who extends his scepter which emits the same death ray. Batches of black-robed Nebrilians fall dead at Reltih's feet. Unable to stop these purges, Underdog screams "Enough!" The shout (technically amplified) reverberates like thunder, and far off we hear distant crying and screaming. After a few moments, a flying machine comes toward Underdog still atop the tower. The skycraft is King Reltih's royal carrier. He circles around Underdog like a vulture, while at the same time raving that since no one else succeeded, it is up to him to destroy this extraterrestrial menace. "Prepare to die!" Like the fighter planes bombarding King Kong, Reltih opens fire on his foe, all the while screaming his head off like Captain Ahab pursuing Moby Dick. But one of the blasts hits the swastika accidentally, causing the tower to disintegrate and Reltih to have to land his craft. He jumps out and, strangely, touches his scepter to the ship's generator where the death ray comes out. Then he looks around and sees Underdog coming in for a landing. They exchange verbal barrages: Reltih demands Underdog give up or be killed! Underdog retaliates he had already been killed and was now back to haunt him for his disruption of the Games, the takeover of the planets, and the inexcusable assassinations of thousands. Now he has no chance with his entire court and national defense annihilated. Reltih extends his scepter at Underdog, emitting another ray (it should produce a different sound). But Underdog extends his hand, sending the current right back, causing the scepter to shatter. Reltih is unnerved--yes, unnerved!--at the loss of his scepter. In one final rage, he rushes at Underdog and grasps him firmly aloft. But Underdog's body, like an electrical live wire, sends a deadly current through Reltih so that, "electrocuted," he releases his grasp, deteriorates like a corpse, and falls dead. Underdog solemnly walks over to Reltih's body, picks up the pieces of scepter, and crushes the swastika portion in his palm. Looking around, he can see the sky lighten on the horizon with the dawn. As he had done the first time, Underdog takes off into space and orbits the solar system's perimeter. Then he returns to Nebril, to an area of Reltih's palace which had been the tyrant's oratory platform. Throngs are astounded to see him alive; everyone wants to know how these things have come to be. Underdog tells his story. It had begun with Reltih's henchmen trying to kill him: they had started by secretly poisoning several athletes. When a Nebrilian had stumbled upon Underdog's consuming an energy pill, the rest of his pills were replaced with poison pellets of a formula unlike any formula he had overcome on Earth. Impatient when Underdog did not perish immediately, King Reltih had ordered one of his soldiers to shoot him with a death ray normally reserved for Nebrilian criminals. But instead of killing Underdog, the death ray counteracted the poison in his system, though so slowly that life functions were slow enough to let him pass for dead and lie in state in Aslon City's Memorial Amphitheater. When the Nebrilian invaders came, their blasts not only shattered the coffin but also catapulted him into space until he crash-landed. Amazed at finding himself alive, he also saw, in the half-light of dawn, the aerial invaders opening fire. He had been struck again, unknown to the Nebrilian pilots, by the death rays and had thus discovered the rays' being a counteragent and energizer. Until he could regain his strength, he had to feed himself and convalesce in the Zalmarian farmlands--where he had happened to crash-land. He could not rescue any of the ambushed planets yet, especially with all of them being overrun simultaneously. Any time he saw a Nebrilian air or ground patrol, he had to attempt getting a dose of the Nebrilian death ray without revealing himself. When he finally had his powers replenished, he returned to Nebril and the capital, stole an officer's uniform and weapon, bluffed his way into the arena and turned the tables on King Reltih. Although the Night and Reign of Terror have come to an end, no one can be allowed to forget the carnage witnessed since the start of the Games. Even if a better government should be established on Nebril, it does not take away the fact that these horrors did occur. Underdog declares the Games to return to Aslon and finish there, but prior to resumption, there are to be again three days of mourning, this time for the slain athletes and all victims of the blitz and Nebrilian occupation; these bodies will lie in state the same way Underdog did. We should again see mourning processions in the Amphitheater and a view of many glass-encased bodies. Underdog himself might be shown roaming solemnly among the caskets and perhaps placing honorific tokens here and there. Then we see Underdog and Polly alone. Why, asks Polly, did King Reltih seem to decompose so suddenly when he grabbed Underdog in the fight the monitors had shown? Underdog replies: apparently the swastika tower generated a kind of energy that, when Reltih tapped into it with his scepter, retained his own life over many years that had passed since his visit to Nazi Germany. All the time the Earthers had visited this solar system, they had never seen King Reltih accompanied by a wife and children. He seemed able to live forever, but then the tower and scepter were destroyed, so was Reltih's source of longevity. We should see the Games resumed by multiple exposures of various activities; Underdog himself should be shown involved in recital-type exercise. Then, by night, it is the time of the closing ceremonies. Many athletes fill the interior of the arena and, as they did in the beginning, form the six circles. For the second time there is allegorical narration and pageantry; the clustered athletes cower as a mass of other people, black-robed to represent the Nebrilian invaders, enter from another door and then surround the cowering athletes. For the second time the attention shifts to Underdog who descends the ramp as before, and then stands erect while the "soldiers" mimic firing upon him. He flails his arms and the "soldiers" run out. But instead of descending to arena level, Underdog waits as the athletes break up their segregated circles and intermingle until they are again in one vast hodgepodge. They sing the Games' anthem as just one flag--the Games flag--is hoisted. Underdog takes off into the sky and flies high above the arena in an aerial exhibition during which he should be highlighted with dazzling lights effects. When he returns to the ground, it should be to arena level, where the athletes have cleared a space for him smack in the middle. Within this space, he performs a Freestyle in Flyleaping, the sport for which he garnered the greatest acclaim. Now comes the announcement awaited by all the athletes: which of the six planets has won the Games? But the answer is: there will be no overall winner. The idea of peaceful, harmonious competition for its own sake is more important than for one or several to attain the upper hand. From now on, whenever these Games are staged, no final championship will be granted any planet. Yet there is one participant who has come out as Grand Champion--not athletically, but heroically, in the light of the hardships and horrors witnessed and moreover for having been the solar system's salvation--twice! That person, of course, is Underdog. He goes over to the VIPs' box and is awarded a very special prize. Dissolve to: an exterior view of the solar system. A spacecraft appears, containing the Earthers on their return home. Underdog waves farewell through one of the windows.
FADE TO BLACK & ROLL CREDITS