When Interplanetary Insurance, Inc., is in danger of having to actually pay off a claim, they send their ace agent, Bert Brandon, into the field to see how they can worm their way out of it! That’s why Bert’s headed for the planet Cetus.
Seems that Cetus has a problem, in that it’s about to get pasted by “a runaway star”. This is a tragedy because Cetus is insured against destruction to the tune of 500 million space clams! Oh, and also a bunch of Cetians will die. Bert Brandon is there to…well, I’m not exactly sure what his boss thinks he’ll be able to do.
So Bert’s on Cetus, where the problem is so urgent he has time to notice how ramshackle all the buildings are. The planet’s leader — who Bert tells us has an “unpronounceable” title that translates into “dictator” — informs him that they have no spacecraft, they don’t know how to build any, and they only have a few days until the star hits. It all seems pretty inevitable!
Bert is puzzling over this situation when he makes a friend!
Bert can’t come up with a way to save the planet he’s on from imminent catastrophe, so he does what anyone would do — he leaves again in his ship! He heads to the opposite side of Cetus’ sun and discovers something interesting there…another planet, uninhabited, that might just be the thing…if he could get a million Cetians to it.
One million seems like a pretty low population for an entire planet, but it doesn’t matter anyway because remember, they don’t have any spaceships! And the idea of getting spaceships from elsewhere to move them doesn’t seem to occur to anyone. Luckily, Bert Brandon has an additional talent!
Bert thinks they might be able to bang together a couple hundred of these spaceships in a few days, but the next day he’s surprised to see that they have a thousand of them ready to go! Now everyone can get off the planet! They all climb aboard and take off. Once in space, they watch the runaway star slam into their former world, blasting it to dust.
The Cetians land on their new planet…like experts, strangely enough, even though they’re new to space travel. They all begin cheering for Bert Brandon, the big hero of the day!
But not everyone’s happy. Immediately Bert receives a spacegram from his boss chewing him out for screwing up. See, the policy the Cetians had insured their city, not their lives. And they city’s gone! So not only do they have a new planet now, they each have 500 stellar credits in their pocket! III still has to pay off the policy! Oh Bert, why did you let them all live?
If that weren’t bad enough, Emory the chimparoo splits on him too, but Bert takes off after him. The little pet heads for a cave which, it turns out, is completely furnished, complete with a little kennel for Emory. He’s come home!
Bert suspects something’s up, so he heads to the Dictator’s spacecraft and overhears the nefarious trickster gloating!
It was all a plot to defraud III! They camped out on a different planet for ten years, built temporary cities there, took out an insurance policy on them, and hid their spacecraft, which — luckily — happened to look just like the plans Bert drew up. What a scheme! Definitely worth the 500 million stellar credits they’d get!
The Dictator’s guards see the chimparoo and give chase, but Bert manages to make it to his ship and speeds away.
Bert and the chimparoo make it back to Earth safely and because of the fraud perpetrated by the Cetians, once again Triple-I doesn’t have to pay out a claim on one of its policies! The day is saved and the chimparoo is put into storage with Koko and Betty Gort.
Next week: The Robot Detective of Mars
“The Runaway World!”
Mystery in Space #18 (February-March 1954)
Writer: Sid Gerson
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Sy Barry
Editor: Julius Schwartz