"Of Those Who Came."
By George Longdon (Francis G. Rayer, 1921-81).
Illustrations by [Gerard] Quinn (1927-2015; HERE).
First appearance: New Worlds, November 1952.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (12 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
"My sworn duty was to destroy them. Their plan was to eliminate me."
He knows that one slip-up could cost him his life—and then comes that slip-up . . .
~ "Mr. Smith":
". . . it was as good a name as any . . . In my job one seldom used one's own name."
~ The manager:
"The proprietor of the next town's only hotel greeted me with smiles, and I saw that he remembered my week's stay and large tips."
~ The youth:
". . . was frankly asleep, now, and snoring. I passed him and emerged into the street."
"You know I shall have to kill you."
"I do not fear death."
The resonant disintegrator ("the piezo-electric and waveform generator"): "I opened my eyes in time to see the last wisps of green mist shred away into nothing and dissipate on the air. . . . Better that I never return at all, than return without it."
The ship: ". . . the power that sustained it had been turned off, leaving it a fragile tracery of spidery girders almost as thin as wire, and vulnerable now that the lines of force forming the hull had been collapsed."
References and resources:
- "I stopped the saloon": British term for a sedan. "The spanner brought from the car": Another British term for a wrench. "a torch": A commonly used British term for a flashlight. "cove": Australian and British slang for a fellow.
- "bright Sirius": At 8.6 light-years (roughly 51 trillion miles) away, Sirius "designated α Canis Majoris (Latinized to Alpha Canis Majoris, abbreviated Alpha CMa, α CMa) is the brightest star in the night sky. Its name is derived from the Greek word Σείριος Seirios 'glowing' or 'scorching'." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE). Often called "the Dog Star."
"Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure and latent heat." (Wikipedia HERE).
- The basic setup of our story bears more than a passing resemblance to Hal Clement's Needle (serialized in 1949; novelized in 1950), published two years earlier than our story, although plot and character details are different; see Wikipedia (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE).
HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).