The Project Gutenberg eBook of Leave, Earthmen—Or Die!

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Leave, Earthmen—Or Die!

Author: John Massie Davis

Illustrator: W. E. Terry

Release date: August 31, 2021 [eBook #66188]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Greenleaf Publishing Company, 1953

Credits: Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


"Leave, Earthmen—Or Die!"

By John Massie Davis

Murph, Forsyth, and Jamison heard the
alien voice warn them. And to each it sounded
familiar—a sweetheart, a son, a hated enemy!

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy
January 1954
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

In a dwindling spiral they circled the planet, and Murph's cold blue eyes studied the radarscreen. Things looked good: no sign of cities, social denizens or humanoids. He was scribbling notes on his desk when the all-wave above him started crackling.

He watched the green line sweep back and forth along the dial, finally centering on the wave length which was broadcasting. As it focused, the speaker sputtered in.

"... in accordance with Interstellar Code," it sounded like a recording, "... we repeat. Landings and colonizing efforts have been previously attempted upon this planet. They are not welcome and have not been successful. Change course and seek other areas. This warning is being broadcast upon wavelengths available to you and in language translatable by you in accordance with Interstellar Code...." Murphy switched it off and looked at his crew of two.


Forsyth grinned at him. "The hell with them! We've heard that from every race in the solar system—one way or another. I say we land."

Jamison shrugged. "Put 'er down anywhere. Makes no difference to me." His scarred lips tightened.

"Okay," Murph switched the set back on. The same record was playing, monotonously.

"Load up with combat equipment, boys. We're going in."

The deadly silver needle tightened the spiral course around the planet, and above Murph the speaker crackled again and went dead.

"Guess they got tired of playing that record," he muttered.

Another crackling and the mechanism blared again.

"... we see you intend disregarding our warning. In accordance with Interstellar Code, it is only fair to warn you...." It clicked off abruptly as Murph jabbed at the switch. No use listening to this outworld nonsense—he'd heard it all before and lived through it.

"Where's the rest of the fleet?" He threw the question out generally.

"Nine hours behind," Jamison said. "We blast in. They follow us." The three men were silent as they scanned the radar screen. They whined above a land mass and Murph juggled the controls and the ship swooped upward, then settled slowly, riding on the jets. While they waited for the ground around them to cool, the men climbed into combat gear. The radar scanned the military hemisphere available and Murph casually flipped the radio switch again.

"... have disregarded our warning," the voice said, insistently. "In accordance with the Interstellar Code, we can not now be further responsible...." It croaked into silence as Murph slammed the switch closed again.

"Nuts!" he said, buckling a belt around his waist.

"Yeah," said Jamison. "The hell with them—whoever they are."

"Well," said Forsyth—he was the navigator, "now, I'm not so sure...."

"Get dressed," Murph was in command, and he showed it. "We are going out."

... There was an oddity about the voice, Murph thought, as he dressed. The voice reminded him of his sweetheart, Sitra, back in Philly on earth: husky, throaty—and with the soft, vibrant purr of a happy kitten.

... It reminded Forsyth of his son's tones, during the family farewell for this expedition. A twinge of concern tautened his body as he remembered: one never knew when—or if—crews returned from these grim expansion campaigns of humanity.

... Jamison had another impression. He remembered his days as a professional fighter and that last, rough brawl when he hadn't quite made champion. It still rankled. The voice was that of his opponent, in the seventh round—just when Jamison's knees started to buckle. The sly, calculated insults in the clinches, intended to make him lose his head. They had accomplished their purpose. He had charged in slugging, when he should have hung on—or run backward until his wind returned. From then on he became a has-been, working steadily downward, until the manpower needs of humanity had offered an opportunity to pick another career. His scarred lips, remembering, were a tight line and his eyes cold and uncompromising.

They'd finished dressing. Murph flipped on the radio again, grinning in contempt. The voice still vibrated through the ether.

"... that you blast off immediately or assume responsibility for the consequences. Interstellar Code states that invaded peoples are justified in using any tactics...." It clicked off. Murph had been annoyed by the resemblance to Sitra's voice: perhaps he was homesick. Jamison's lips vanished into a white line and Forsyth looked around, rabbit-eyed with astonishment, expecting to see his son emerge from the piles of supplies and equipment. Self-conscious, none of them said anything.

"Okay," said Murph, "Out we go."

The precision door swung open quietly and the three descended to the still-smoking ground. Each set up his rapid fire electro-gun, covering the entrance and then they sat back, waiting. Nothing happened, and Murph broke the tense silence.

"Turn on the radio," he looked at Forsyth. "We can hear it from here. I'll man both guns."

Forsyth grunted and vanished into the ship. Murph heard the crackle as equipment warmed up, and listened to the voice of Sitra. Oddly enough, Jamison tensed as he heard the voice of the present champion, and Forsyth nearly cried as his son's tones came through the metallic speaker. But all the voices said the same thing.

"... subject to unprincipled attack to resist invasion of our homeland. This is the last time this warning will be broadcast." The receiver clicked, then dropped into the monotonous hum of a radio on an unused but still alert wavelength.

Forsyth returned and the three men sat, each back of an electro-gun, alert eyes scanning the alien landscape. From over a slight rise a mile off, a figure approached the ship. Murph blinked, doubting his senses, confused, then his roar broke the silence of the strange world.

"Sitra!" Just one word, but that's all he could do. She looked as she had when he'd left on this expedition, when they had said goodbye. Sparkling with sequins in her dressing room, undulating with feathers in the right places, she walked toward him with the feline grace he'd learned to love.

"Sitra!" he shouted again. Astonished, he deserted his position behind the gun and started running across the plain. Gracefully, daintily, encountering difficulties because of her spiked heels on the rough terrain, she smiled bravely and hurried toward him.

Forsyth saw the approaching figure too. He tensed with disbelief and surprise and then his voice rose excitedly.

"Jimmy, Jimmy!" What was his boy doing here? Reason faded as he watched his nine-year-old son stumbling toward the ship. He unfastened his harness and slipped from behind the gun: his boy on an alien planet, confronting unknown dangers! He must—must—get him back to the ship and the little ring of certainty behind the guns. Forsyth started across the level space, grateful that the towering hulk of Murph had recognized his boy and would, on this unknown world, help bring the kid back to comparative safety. In six hours, now, the fleet would be here. The boy could be sent home on one of the capital ships....

Behind him Jamison watched the two figures running away. His face froze into granite. Rage and resentment surged within him. Across the plain he saw the man who had stolen, yes, stolen, the championship from him. The fighter loped toward him casually, sneering and confident. Jamison felt a surge like an electric shock across his shoulders. His teeth ground together and he could hear their roaring within his ears. Deliberately he moved from behind his gun, started at a fighter's dog trot toward his opponent. It occurred to him that Murph and Forsyth would beat him there. He was glad they were willing to help, but for the sake of his own integrity he considered this his fight.

Jamison ran swiftly then. He passed Forsyth and Murph, determined to be the first to reach the one man he hated. He sprinted eagerly, sucking the strange air chemicals of this world into his lungs. He was short of breath. Behind him he heard the heavy thudding of Murph plunging and plowing toward him, and in addition, the light but rapid steps of Forsyth. By now he didn't care. He was confronting his opponent.

Dropping into a crouch, Jamison moved in. Feet wide, tense; there would be no mistake, no error, this time. His fist lashed out and his opponent fell on the strange and powdery dust of a strange world millions of miles from their first fight.

The man started struggling up—and again flat-footed, tense, fists like crunching sledge hammers, Jamison dove at him.

And then it happened. Murph hit Jamison from the side. Raw and choking with rage, Murph clubbed, groped, kicked, fouled, until the ex-fighter fell in the pale and strange dust. Murph's voice was hoarse and shaking:

"Hit my woman, will you!" he screamed in rage.

Jamison tried to rally, but each time he moved Murph's fists slammed against his face and head.

There was a final crash as the back of his head struck against the rocks on the ground. Jamison lay in the dust on an alien planet and from behind his right ear gray and reddish matter oozed. He didn't move.

Murph stood up. He looked again at Sitra. He was choked and tired, standing there, and as he grasped for breath, Forsyth ran by him, ran up to her. Angrily he watched. Forsyth running up to his woman! What was wrong with these men? Murph saw Forsyth put his arms around Sitra, and say—meaninglessly to Murph—"Jimmy, Jimmy!"

Again a red rage filled Murph. He dove forward, smashed into Forsyth, and the navigator reeled backwards. As he fell back, his feet tangled in the scrubby vegetation of the planet, he reached toward his belt and his electro-gun jerked free from the holster. He saw the bull shape of Murph over him, an enraged beast, and as he fell, the twin electrodes shot out an energy stream. Fear and hatred tensed his nerves, but despite the emotion, he set the range right. The sparks arced together just in front of the great bulk of Murph. There was a crackling and the smell of burning flesh, then a surprised look upon Murph's face. The surprise turned to rage and the last thing Forsyth saw was Murph falling down on him, his clothes and his chest burned away until the ribs showed, animal rage welling from his lips.

A figure stood fifty feet away and watched this drama. Murph, blood coughing from his mouth and nose, the great muscles of his chest nothing but crisp burned meat, reached for Forsyth, picked him up, holding him over his head as an ape would a man, and slammed him again and again to the ground.

The final time Murph tried to lift Forsyth, his strength gave out. He dropped Forsyth's limp form, coughed in a final paroxysm, and fell beside Forsyth and Jamison.

The figure which stood fifty feet away turned and walked leisurely back over the rise.

Now, it was not a fighter, and it was not Jimmy, and it was not Sitra. It was a denizen of the planet and it looked like no human.

Shortly thereafter the all-wave radio in the deadly, powerful silvery needle standing serenely on the strange world blared again.

"... in accordance with Interstellar Code we have asked that we not be invaded and are warning you that according to Article 19, Section 3, fleets which invade a peaceful people become subject to unprincipled attack, even to the use of psychological weapons."

Five hours away the main fleet streaked toward the planet. The Admiral looked at the tape reports from the scout ship and at transcripts of the recorded warning.

"Nuts!" he said. "We go in."

He felt an odd, intuitive twinge. The voice was so much like his mother's—and she hadn't been well when he'd last seen her. Beside him the Radioman busily, tersely, sent out landing instructions. He felt irritable: the voice had sounded just like Peggy—that no-good, cheating!... He shrugged: just imagination.

In a diminishing spiral, the fleet swung around the planet while the Admiral scanned the screen for a free landing site.