THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF MISTER GUNN, AGENT 18, in...
The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune



A 15-Chapter Star-Spangled Serial in Space!

by Mike Ferguson
About the author


Chapter One -  Attack on the Scorpio!


THE BLACK CADILLAC ROLLED THROUGH the desert night, its engine screaming, heading towards the super-secret government base known only as Crimson Omega.  Behind the wheel sat blonde perfection, the drop-dead gorgeous Dixie Sterling, master spy and fashion model.  Her colleagues in the spy business called Dixie the Knockout, because she looked like one . . . and because she could deliver one with a single smooth swing of her perfect fist.

Dixie glanced over at her passenger, a rugged-looking guy wearing a cheap blue suit, five o'clock shadow, and too much dime store cologne.   He wore sunglasses, even though the sky was darker than midnight in a mineshaft.  A Lucky Strike dangled carelessly from the guy's lips, which he'd drag on long and hard every couple of seconds.  Dixie wasn't quite sure what to make of her palooka passenger, especially since the guy hadn't said boo since she'd met him at the Dallas Airport.  She didn't know his real name, who he was, or why he was needed at Crimson Omega.  All Dixie knew were her orders, which came straight from the desk of President Eisenhower himself: Pick up Agent 18, and deliver him to the labs at Crimson Omega, pronto. Dixie didn't question orders.

A faint crackling sound started to fill the air.  Agent 18's sunglasses suddenly started to glow bright orange.  He didn't seem very surprised by this strangeness.  Instead, he tilted his head backwards and began to breathe deeply, an intense look of concentration etched across his face, almost as if he was listening to invisible voice a thousand miles away. Dixie wanted to ask questions, but knew better.  Instead, she took a moment to brush back her hair, trying to act as if everything was normal, and drove on in silence.

The glow finally faded away.  Agent 18's head snapped forward.  He turned very, very slowly to face Dixie, took off his sunglasses, and then spoke for the first time, his deep, rich voice filled with the power and authority of a Greek god:

"Hey, Knockout," he said, "put the pedal to the metal, sister.  We ain't got time to waste."

***

"Earth Base, this is Scorpio One," said Astronaut Jack Coogan into his galactic communicator.  "Earth Base, do you copy?"

Jack's only answer was silence.

"Blasted electronic junk," Coogan said in disgust.  "Nothing."  He switched the communication equipment into stand-by mode, and leaned out of the cockpit into Scorpio One's science lab.  "Still nothing, Butch."

"That's okay," said Coogan's co-pilot, Astronaut Butch Murdock.  Butch was busy fiddling around with Scorpio One's proto-analyzer.  "It's only been an hour.  They know we're still orbiting Mars.  Probably just a bad wire, or a blown vacuum tube.  Give the grease monkeys a little while to fix the problem, huh?"

"I guess," said Coogan.  He scratched his chin nervously.  "I just don't like it.  We're America's first manned mission to the Red Planet, by gum! You'd think that problems like this couldn't happen to the good old U.S. of A!"

"I know, it does seem unlikely," said Murdock, "but think about it.  It's got to be a mechanical problem.  Who could sabotage a scientific miracle like Scorpio One out here in the vastness of space?"

"Good point," Coogan said reluctantly.  He headed back into the cockpit, hoping his good buddy Murdock was right..

The galactic communicator started to softly beep.  A relieved smile crossed Coogan's face.  He tapped some switches on the communicator.  "Earth Base, this is Scorpio One, do you read me, over?"

"Surrender now," purred a strange, slinky, seductive voice that definitely did not come from Earth Base.  "Surrender now, and you may be spared. Otherwise, prepare to die."

"What?" Coogan was stunned.  "Earth Base, is this some sort of joke? Betty, is that you?"

"No joke," answered the mysterious female voice.  "Surrender or die."

"Well . . ." Coogan took a deep breath.  "Scorpio One ain't surrendering to nobody."

The galactic communicator abruptly sputtered and died.  Coogan didn't notice.  He was too busy staring as the blinking space radar screen suddenly revealed a large alien spacecraft the size of New York City! Coogan reached for the atomic engine throttle, knowing instinctively that he and Murdock were doomed and probably couldn't escape, but gamely determined to try nonetheless.

"Hey, Coogan," Murdock called from the space lab, "what the heck's going on?"

"Don't ask," Coogan answered.  "Just strap yourself in and say a little prayer, huh?"

The space radar showed three missiles blasting from the alien spaceship . . . and heading straight for Scorpio One!  Gritting his teeth, Coogan grabbed the controls of Scorpio One.  He pointed the sleek nose of his ship directly at the red sandy surface of Mars itself.

"Here goes nothing," he said grimly, as he switched on the atomic throttle, pushing it to FULL . . .
 


Next episode: Where Eagles Dare!


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The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune is copyright Mike Ferguson.