Wrane Randall is slumped in a chair at the manly-named saloon, Limpy’s. The barkeep says, “Ill bet that’s why they call him Rainy — there’s always a storm when he’s around.” Although being named Wrane might have had something to do with it also.
The Air Cops come in to haul Randall away. It is stated that the Air Cops were the “private army of the Air Chief, outranking all local, state and national officers”. So basically slightly less powerful than Barack Obama.
Randall is locked in a steel cage at the back of the prison-rocket. Truly possessing the Right Stuff, Randall is more impressed with the power and technology of the craft than in his own predicament. They land in the forbidden city of Yss.
Looking him over, doctors decide they can change his eyes from brown to blue, raise his hairline, reshape his face, and tweak his nose. He learns that his body is being remade in the image of the Air Chief whose mind will be transferred into it. Oh yeah, Randall’s brain and consciousness will be destroyed in the process.
He wakes up after the cosmetic surgery to find the strategy has changed slightly. Whereas Randall was going to be brain-murdered so the Air Chief’s brain could be inserted into his body . . . new plan: Air Chief will be killed and Rainy will become the most powerful man on earth. Better.
After disarming Nurse Patty, Randell escapes. When the first guard he encounters mistakes him for the Air Chief, he seems home free. When the next person he meets recognizes him as the Air Chief, it is a problem as that person is the Air Chief. Soon, Plan A is back in effect.
Luckily after a bit of commotion, the Air Chief drops dead with a heart attack. Randall seizes control of the situation. He makes it clear that he will assume the Air Chief’s position — there is a new sheriff in town; but with the same face as the old sheriff.
He’s a little bit Libertarian, a little bit Operation Wall Street. It is encouraging, however, that he takes George Washington approach that he will someday hand over power to another. “Maybe we can make it elective,” he says. Maybe.
Yeah, that’s why we put that stuff in writing, sport.
Not that it seems to matter any more.
- First published in Science Fiction Magazine, October 1940.
- Also that month: Abbott & Costello’s first movie released.