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


Previously: Dixie Sterling and Agent 18 are given a spaceship and asked to deal with an alien menace.  The Scorpio One is shot down on Mars where Butch Murdock and Jack Coogan are taken prisoner by aliens in stiletto heels.  Our heroes blast to the rescue and rescue Coogan from a fiery death...Searching for the missing Proto-analyzer, Dixie and Coogan are captured and threatened with torture...Escape only to encounter Karkaz, Soviet Agent Number Four, who they knock out with a drug...Gunn meets astronaut Murdock only to be betrayed and thrown in to the Arena...

 
 

Chapter Ten -The Dark Wings of Destiny!


"TT'S RIGHT OVER THAT HILL," said Dixie, pointing towards a dark Martian ridge with one gloved finger.  "Scorpio Two should be sitting right in a crater."

"Good," said Coogan.  He followed closely behind Dixie, still limping along slowly.  "Good thing Mister Gunn left his spacesuit by the main entrance. I don't know how else we both would've made it out alive."

"Oh," said Dixie. "Gosh, I hadn't thought about that.  How is Mister Gunn supposed to join us on Scorpio Two?"

Coogan didn't answer.  He just kept plodding along.

Dixie and Coogan eventually cleared the ridge.  As Dixie had promised, the sleek cigar-like shape of Scorpio Two sat there in a crater, patiently waiting for blastoff.  Next to Scorpio Two, however, sat another sleek spaceship, a smaller black craft with a hammer and sickle insignia on its fins.  The smaller spaceship also had huge racks of laser missiles poking out of launchers near its cockpit, making the strange little Russian craft look quite deadly and dangerous.

"Karkaz's ship," said Dixie.  "We've got to disable it before we take off."

"Actually, no," said Coogan.  He started towards the Russian spaceship. "Follow me, Dixie, I got an idea."

Dixie followed Coogan, plodding all the way up to the main hatch of the Soviet ship.  With a grunt, Coogan yanked open the hatch, and stepped inside.  Dubiously, Dixie followed him, sealing the hatch as she made her way inside.

Using a spiraling metal ladder, Coogan climbed into the cockpit of the Russian ship.  He removed his helmet, putting it near a huge storage cabinet behind the navi-computers.  Dixie made her way into the cockpit as well, stepping in just as Coogan began his cursory scan of the Soviet controls.

"Are you looking for the self-destruct button?" Dixie asked.   She removed her own helmet, and ran her hands through her mane of lustrous blonde hair. "If you wanted to blow up this ship, we've got a time bomb on board Scorpio Two."

"I don't want to blow this thing up," said Coogan.  He took a seat at the command post.  "I want to fly it."

"Can you really do that?" Dixie asked.

"Sure can, sweetheart," said Coogan.  He flipped a few switches on the main control panel.  The atomic engines of the Russian ship started to hum and throb with raw power.  "Spaceships are spaceships, Dixie.  If you can fly one, you can fly 'em all.  It's just like riding a bicycle.  Take a seat, we'll be moving out soon."

"Okay, I guess," Dixie said uncertainly.  She obliged, taking the co-pilot's seat.  "But what about Mister Gunn?  And Murdock?  Shouldn't we wait for them?"

Coogan sighed wearily.  "Dixie . . . the odds of Mister Gunn and Murdock making it out alive are slim to none.  Face facts, they're trapped in those caves, fighting for their lives against an army of android femme fatales who possess the key to our planet's destruction.  The last kiss you gave Mister Gunn was a final kiss good-bye."

"No!" shouted Dixie.  She stared at the stars, not wanting to believe such a possibility . . . but a tiny part of her brain, cold and sad, knew that Coogan might be right.  A single tear of sorrow rolled down one pretty cheek.  "That can't be right, Coogan.  We have to do something for them! We can't just let them die!!!"

"I am going to do something," Coogan said quietly.  "I'm going to make sure that they didn't die for nothing."  He pointed at a massive control panel near the Soviet ship's steering mechanisms, a panel loaded with buttons and switches for the weapons systems.  "Dixie, this Russkie ship's got enough firepower to crack a planet open like an egg.  If I can get this thing into the air, I should be able to fire enough missiles at those caverns to seal in the Android Princess Warriors from Neptune beneath Martian soil forever. I'll make sure they never threaten the planet Earth ever again."

"But . . .we can't," said Dixie, wiping hot tears from her eyes.  "If there is even a chance that Mister Gunn or Murdock is still alive . . ."

"The good of the many outweighs the good of the few . . . or the one," said Coogan.  "We can't afford to risk the safety of the Earth for our friends. Think about it.  What would Mister Gunn do if he was in our shoes?"

Dixie thought hard about Mister Gunn.  He could easily picture his handsome mug with its breezy grin, his rumpled blue suit, and the stink of cheap cigarettes and bourbon on his breath.  She pictured him at the controls of the Russian spaceship, flying straight for the Martian caverns, thinking about his beautiful young lover Dixie . . . and pressing the button to launch the Russian laser missiles without a second thought, blowing up his young lover Dixie underneath a mountain of Martian rubble, killing her along with an army of androids from Neptune in a particularly horrible, painful, and grisly manner.  She pictured the breezy grin of Mister Gunn's face only growing bigger as the missiles exploded and as death reigned supreme across the Martian landscape.

"Good point," Dixie said with a shrug.  "Come on, blast off already.  You fly, I'll launch the missiles myself."

"Umm . . . sure."  Coogan hit the atomic throttle.  Dixie watched the surface of the Red Planet disappear as the Russian spaceship leapt towards the stars.  She glanced over at Coogan, who still seemed to be somewhat in pain, but his strong hands wrestled smoothly with the Soviet controls.  He flew the ship effortlessly, as if flying through space was just a dream, as if he had no need for a co-pilot . . ."

Dixie glanced down at her co-pilot's chair.

"Ah, nuts," said Dixie.

"What?' asked Coogan, his steel eyes never leaving his astro-navigation instruments.

"Well, there's two seats in this space jalopy," said Dixie.  "One for the pilot, and one for the co-pilot."

Silence.

"Ah, nuts," said Coogan.

"I was wondering when you would notice such things, comrades." The doors to the huge storage cabinet swung open.  Karkaz stepped out of the cabinet, brandishing a bulky energy pistol.  He was joined by another armed soldier wearing a Soviet jumpsuit.  "Have you met Soviet Spy Number Five?  He is famous in Siberia."

"No," Dixie said brightly.  "Is he famous the same way you're famous, which actually means you're not famous at all?"

"Shut up," said Karkaz, his face darkening.  "No.  Soviet Spy Number Five is better known as Dmitri Killotzov.  He would introduce himself, but sadly he cannot talk.  A large Ukrainian badger tore out his tongue when he was five, leaving him mute."

"That's so sad," snapped Coogan.  "Oh, the humanity.  Poor little Killotzov, boo-hoo.  Sissy."

Killotzov pointed his blaster at Coogan.

"I wouldn't say things like that if I were you," said Karkaz.  "Killotzov likes to talk with his fun gun."

"Really?  Wow," said Dixie.  "So does Mister Gunn!"

Karkaz stared curiously at Dixie.  "By fun gun," he said, "I meant his laser blaster."

"Oh."  Dixie looked disappointed.  "That's not what I meant."

"Enough of the Commie chit-chat," said Coogan.  "You've got the guns. What're we supposed to do?"

"Right.  Yes.  Yes!!!" said Karkaz excitedly.  He put the barrel of his pistol to Coogan's head.  "Do exactly as I say, or your beloved little slattern Dixie dies."

"I'm not little," Dixie protested.

"Shut up."  Karkaz pointed through the spaceship windshield at Mars.  "Fly back down towards the Martian surface, and fire all the ship's laser missiles at the android base."

"But I was going to do that anyway," said Coogan.

"What?  Oh . . . drat," said Karkaz.  He scratched his bearded chin thoughtfully.  "My word, that does put a damper on things, doesn't it?  How am I supposed to threaten you if you're so bloody agreeable?"

Silently, Killotzov reached over to the weapons controls.  He flipped one of the switches, and grinned ruthlessly at Karkaz. A single missile leapt forth from the Russian ship, rocketing at frightening speeds back towards the red Martian surface.

Karkaz stared at the weapons control for a moment, and smiled.  "Excellent work, comrade," he said.  "Mister Coogan, take us back to Mother Russia. You and Miss Sterling can enjoy the comforts of a Siberian gulag once we have arrived.  Our work here is finished."

"Why," asked Dixie.  "What did your friend do?"

"He fired our new weapon," Karkaz said smugly, "the anti-Gunn missile.  The missile is designed specifically to hone in on Mister Gunn's brainwave patterns and blow him into micro-dust.  Just him.  The androids might survive, but is of no concern."

"It should be," said Coogan.  "After all, they might have the neutronium mini-reactor."

"What, this?"  Karkaz pulled the neutronium mini-reactor out of a large pocket.  The mini-reactor looked vaguely like a tennis ball wrapped with baling wire and spray-painted gold.  It beeped softly.  "I think not. Trust me.  Your Mister Gunn is as good as dead."

Dixie's jaw dropped.  She realized that she never could've really fired the laser missiles at the Martian caverns herself - she cared too much about Mister Gunn. p; No matter how mad she got at the big lug, she knew that he was super-important to her, the peanut butter of her jelly sandwich.  Dixie watched in horror as the anti-Gunn Missile rapidly grew smaller and smaller, disappearing towards the Martian caverns and heading for a deadly collision with her hero (and . . . could it be?  her love? she wondered), the Star-Spangled Mister Gunn . . .


Previous episode: Duel At The Gates of Dawn!
Next episode: Courage Ain't Nothin' But Stupid Misspelled!


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The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune is copyright Mike Ferguson.