As though mystically joined and separated by a trans-dimensional gate,
the worlds of fantasy and reality can overlap -- sometimes with chilling consequences.

DUEL IN DIMENSION X

by James Nathan Post




Don Drake, a million leagues from the green planet, strained and hunched over the control handlebars of his fast ship, trying to force another fraction of a light year per hour from the driving powerplants. "I must get there in time," he thought, "for I have a job to do -- as Dynaman!" Spokes flashing in the glaring light of the sun, he hurtled through space, trying to get to the castle of King Roxxor before his dread opponent, Sir William the Dragon.

Halfway across the solar system, Sir William urged his steed of steel, the machine that was more than a machine, matched in speed by none. "On, Mighty Thunderstreak! Onward! Today we shall destroy the monster which is our enemy, the heartless and inhuman Dynaman, half man, half robot, and all bad." Ahead of him the green planet loomed against the sky, and he scanned in all directions, trying to catch a glimpse of the dark ship of Dynaman.

Sir William had come on a mission of freedom, sent by the Galactic Overlord who was his Liege to rescue the people enslaved by the Mad King Roxxor, the tyrant who used the strength of his people to clothe himself in luxury. There were rumors that Roxxor had in his madness taken to raising children to serve on his table, and forced the men of his kingdom to kill each other for his amusement.

The King maintained his rule because of the might of his right-hand man, the dread Dynaman, who had by mastery of technology built a computer and weapons into his body. Sir William knew that in all the galaxy there was no deadlier fighter -- except of course, himself. That was the reason why he had been called to fight the monster.

"We shall prevail, Thunderstreak," he said, feeling the steed throb with power beneath him. "The people of the green planet are trusting in us."

Pulling his infragoggles over his eyes, Dynaman dived to the surface of the planet and landed, hiding his ship in a concrete tunnel which had been built to drain floodwaters from along a broad highway. On one side of him lay the buildings of the great city where Roxxorís people lived, and on the other lay the vast desert with its canyons and mountains, among which was hidden the castle of his Ruler, King Roxxor the Great, whose empire lay in the fighting hands of Dynaman himself alone. Dynaman knew that from across the galaxy, from the planet of black water, the arch-villain Sir William the Dragon was coming to overthrow the King and force his people to bow to the cruel Galactic Overlord who had sent the space knight on his mission of infamy.

Dynaman also knew that Roxxor the King lay in his castle an old man grown weak, but still wise and just, a kindly ruler who led his people well. He had grown weak, but his strength lay in the hands of his trusted old friend, Dynaman. Nowhere else in the galaxy was there a man who had a chance to stand against the power of Sir William the Dragon. Only one man could hope to stop him, and that man was himself, the quiet young scientist who had become the greatest fighter in the galaxy, Dynaman.

He peeked out of the culvert and tried to spot Sir William, trusting his supervision infragoggles. Seeing no one, he ran at a crouch down the sandy arroyo toward the canyon where the Kingís castle, a fortress he had built himself, was hidden. "Sir William will surely come here," he said to himself, "and I will be ready for him." He sought a hiding place in one of the lookout foxholes on top of the hill above the castle and waited, checking the slim red roll of ammunition in his compact burst-powered handblaster.

The rubber of his space-sneakers crunching softly in the sandy gravel, Sir William crept toward the hidden castle. He watched closely the hills behind it, wary of the slightest motion. Twice he paused, held his breath and listened for suspicious sounds. At his side he carried Sword-Of-The-Sun, an enchanted weapon which would cut through any armor and strike men down at great distances. The haft felt reassuring in his grip. On his left arm he carried his shield, which was a force-field with a spirit, resisting all evil. As he neared the castle, he tried to see inside, but the door was closed and barred, and the hinged shutters of the window were tied with a piece of chain.

Suddenly on the hill above him a stocky figure rose to stand silhouetted against the sky. "Die, Sir William!" rang out the cry, and in Dynamanís hand the ray pistol barked five times, sharp cracks with blue-grey smoke.

Pulling his shield up to cover himself, Sir William waved his sword and yelled back, "Nay, Dynaman, youíll have to do better than that. Your weapon is useless against me."

"Says who?"

"Says Impenetron, the Shield-Of-The-Stars, thatís who!"

"We shall duel further. Follow if you dare!" shouted the caped and helmeted warrior on the hill as he disappeared behind its crest.

Instantly Sir William charged up the hill in hot pursuit, howling his battle cry. As he reached the top of the hill, he saw Dynaman below him duck into the great concrete tunnel, and in a moment the cyborgís ship streaked from it toward the buildings of the city.

"You may flee to the ends of the galaxy," he shouted after the speeding figure, "but Iíll find you and Iíll destroy you." Waving the flashing Sword-Of-The-Sun over his head, he ran down the hill to where he had left Thunderstreak. Leaping into the saddle, he dashed after his enemy.

As Dynaman entered the city area, he parked his ship against the side of a building and ran to his secret tower hiding place. Grabbing carefully placed rungs, he quickly climbed to a lookout point hidden by the thick foliage of the towerís disguise. He saw Sir William only blocks away look up and spot him and raise his sword toward him, standing tall in the saddle of the steel steed. "Heíll come rushing in and I can ambush him," thought Dynaman.

Then he heard a voice call out below him and half a block away, "Don? Don, where are you? Itís time to come home and eat."

A block away, Sir William heard the call. "Aha! The Kingís servant woman has prepared a feast for Dynaman. But one more minute and I shall eat that feast myself in triumph." Leaping from his steed, he ran between two houses to intercept Dynamanís course from the hideout tower to the womanís building.

In the tower, Dynaman frowned. "Itís the old woman who tends my cavern fort. Sheís the only person in the world who knows my secret identity, and the only one who knows how to prepare the special fuels I need to keep running. I have only minutes before I run out. I must dispatch this demon knight at once. This calls for the secret weapon." From its hiding place in the tower he took his atomic rifle, a cross between a laser and a hydrogen bomb. "This will stop him," he said, dropping to the ground.

Behind him he could hear the woman coming to look for him, and from around the corner he could hear the rapid footsteps of his approaching enemy. Quickly he pulled the lever on the bottom of the rifle to charge the power pack. Then as Sir William rushed around the corner, Dynaman threw the weapon to his shoulder and, with a cry of triumph, he fired. The knight threw his shield arm up to cover his face, but too late. The pellet from the BB-gun struck him squarely in the left eye, shattered the cornea and the lens, and imbedded itself in the retina.

As Mrs. Drake came around the corner of the house, she saw her son standing in shock as William fell to the dirt clawing at his face and banging his trashcan-lid shield against the ground. Suddenly aware of what he had done, young Don Drake ran to his side and began to cry in horror and shame.

"I didnít mean to, Willie," he wept. "I didnít really mean to."

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