Planet Zootha

It happened suddenly and without warning. All Elekton was smitten by a surface tremor. Buildings fell in the broad streets of Trigan City. Aaaaaagh ! Everything is coming to an end ! We are doomed ! The Emperor Trigo barely managed to leap from his bed for the safety of the balcony, before the ceiling of his bedchamber fell in ! Is this an eruption of the planet ? The Emperor reached the palace gardens, where he was joined by members of his household, including the great scientist Peric. What is it, Peric ? What’s going on ? It is some sort of disturbance in the upper atmosphere, Imperial Majesty ! Something entirely new and unique in my experience ! Dawn brought the solution to the mystery. Countless millions looked up—to see that the sky above their planet was dominated by a strange new shape ! It is a new world ! It came in the night ! It is a miracle ! That same day, Peric addressed the Imperial Council in their ruined chamber. This strange planet is volcanic and highly unstable, which accounts for its unpredictability. It may stay with us for ever—or it may be gone tomorrow. My observations lead me to suppose that it may be inhabited ! The Emperor asked the question that was in every mind . . . Can this planet be reached by any means in our technology ? Undoubtedly, Imperial Majesty ! Our present atmosphere craft, suitably modified, could cross the void.
Then we shall visit our new neighbour ! Within a month, a large transporter craft was fitted with booster rockets for the journey through space. The rockets will carry the craft out of our atmosphere and across the void. On arrival at the new planet, it will decelerate . . . The Emperor himself was captain of the great adventure. He left his brother Brag in charge of the empire. Be careful ! We don’t want to lose you for ever ! Have no fear, Brag. Peric will give us warning if the new planet shows signs of departing into the wilderness of space ! The great adventure began ! May you come back to us, Brother ! For my shoulders are not broad enough to bear your empire ! It was a comparatively short journey. They crossed the void that separated the two planets. Stand by to decelerate . . . And soon they were flying over an alien landscape. Look out for any signs of habitation ! And then, Trigo and his companions saw . . . IT ! By all the stars ! Do you see that ?

This instalment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 630 on 9 February 1974.