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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 with Butch Murdock and Jack Coogan...   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, meanwhile, is thrown in to the Arena...Dixie and Coogan flee in a spaceship and, thinking Gunn is already dead, fire missiles to destroy Mars...Gunn escapes death and races to de-activate the dreaded Planetary Disintegration Ray, only to discover it's already been sabotaged by Karkaz, who is now in possession of the power source...to get their revenge, the Empress and Doctor Warlock use the weapon's last remaining power to fire at Karkaz's ship...with Dixie and Coogan still aboard...


Chapter Thirteen -Russian Rocket Roulette


"HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL WE REACH MOTHER RUSSIA?" snapped Karkaz.

"Another two and a half hours," said Coogan.   His eyes never left the instrument panel, never wavered towards his gun-toting Soviet captor.  "That's the third time in five minutes that you've asked me that question.  Ask it again, and I'll punch you so hard you'll get home an hour early."

"Brave words, for an unarmed man," Karkaz said coolly.   "It does not matter.   You will be beaten in the gulags, broken into a shadow of a man.  And Miss Sterling, she shall be broken . . . somewhere more comfortable, I would guess."

"Touch Dixie," snarled Coogan, "and I'll rip out your intestines with a salad fork, you Commie."

Karkaz put the barrel of his pistol to Coogan's temple.   "Keep your eyes on your instruments and your mouth shut," he said.   "Speak again and I will kill you."

Standing in the back of the cockpit, Dixie hoped that Coogan could keep silent.   She had a plan, and it was quite a good plan, but she needed Coogan to stay alive in order for it to work.   She'd already lost Mister Gunn, and she had no intention of losing anyone else on this mission.

Dixie's wrists and ankles were bound together tightly by rough strands of rope.   Her body leaned against the secondary enviro-computer for support.  Killotzov, who was armed with a very large pistol, guarded Dixie closely, but the bright young spy didn't think that the Russian was watching very closely . . . at least, not her hands.   She'd managed to slip a titanium nail file out of the hem of her lemon yellow cocktail dress without arousing any suspicion from Killotzov, and was nearly done sawing through the ropes around her wrists.   All she needed was an ample distraction, and she knew she could kick her plan into motion.

Dixie knew what needed to be done.   She decided to go with the tried and true.

"Oh . . . my stars . . . I feel faint," Dixie moaned in a soft voice.   She leaned forward, as if to faint, giving Killotzov a complete and spectacular view of her ample cleavage.   "Please, Mr. Killotzov, hold me . . . ravish me. . ."

Killotzov's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.   His pistol practically dropped to the floor.

"Oh, hell," said Karkaz, "not again!  Comrade Killotzov, it's a trick!  Kindly get your mind out of the gutter!  Avert your eyes!  Avert your eyes!" Karkaz took his pistol away from Coogan's head, and pointed it at Dixie's chest.   "Put those things away, Miss Sterling!"

"Mister," Coogan said quietly, "you just made a big mistake.   Nobody threatens a pair of national treasures on my watch and gets away with it!"

Coogan leapt out of the command chair.   One haymaker flew, then another.  Before Dixie could even blink, Coogan had managed to pound Karkaz into pulp, leaving the Russian spy on the floor of the cockpit with a bloody nose and a blackish-blue face.   Karkaz twitched a few times, but made no effort to fight back.   Coogan reached for Karkaz's pistol, but his hand stopped a few inches short of the weapon. . .as he looked up and noticed Killotzov's gun pointing right between his eyes.

Dixie seized her chance.   Her hands, now free, flew towards her feet.   She pulled off her black pumps, and pointed them at the Russian spies -- one shoe towards the hostile Killotzov, one towards the moaning, twitching Karkaz.   She squeezed the sole of each shoe.   The stiletto-like heels sprung forth from the pumps, rocketing towards their targets.   Killotzov grunted as a patent leather heel slapped him in the back of the neck, a very special heel with a tiny hypodermic tip. . .and containing enough super-secret tranquilizer drugs to knock out an elephant.   Killotzov dropped his gun.   He staggered a few steps towards Dixie, reaching out towards her with his massive hands as though he wanted to tear out her slender throat. . .and then crashed face first into the side of an atomic garbage bin, his eyes dilated into tiny pinpricks.

Dixie glanced over at Karkaz.   The second heel, she decided, probably hadn't been necessary.   The second stiletto, which had found its way into Karkaz's shoulder, had given the bloodied Russian spy a one-way trip to coma world.   A dumb smile crossed his face, and saliva gaily dribbled from the corner of his mouth.   Dixie's didn't think that Karkaz would be getting up any time soon . . .for that matter, any time during the decade.

"Hey," Coogan said to Dixie, "nice work."  He gave Dixie a grateful grin.  "You're a hell of a fighter, I'll give you that."

"Thanks," Dixie said, blushing.   "You're pretty good yourself . . . oh, no!"

Coogan wanted to ask Dixie what she was talking about, but never got the chance.   Dixie took the remnants of one of her pumps and hurled it across the cockpit like a javelin.   The tip of the shoe hit the atomic throttle with deadly precision, causing the ship to lurch forward and dip down dramatically.   Azure light blazed past the windshield of the Russian rocket, blinding both Dixie and Coogan for a few moments.

"The radar screen," said Dixie.   "It showed something nasty coming from Mars."

"Damn good work," said Coogan.   He climbed back into the command chair, and checked a few instruments.   "Now I know why they really call you the Knockout.   The mega-energy meter says that light was a Planetary Disintegration Ray.   We'd be nothing but space powder if it wasn't for your reflexes . . . and your shoe."

"Great," Dixie said brightly.   "Good thing it missed us, huh?"

*****

Meanwhile, back on Earth . . .

A rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum slowly began to open in the flats of the Arizona desert.   A slavering, demonic creature, one of the Nameless Ones before the Time of Man crawled out of the temporal portal, looking to feast upon the souls of mortal men . . .

. . . and was promptly vaporized by a bolt of azure light from the heavens above.

Not a soul noticed.

*****

Gripping the controls of the Soviet spaceship, Coogan abruptly wheeled the nose of the craft back around towards Mars.   He activated the ship's massive weapons systems.

"Hey," said Dixie, "what're you doing?"  She finished adjusting a tight knot around Killotzov's wrists, then rudely shoved him and his companion Karkaz back into the storage locker, bound, gagged, and quite unconscious.  She slid easily into the co-pilot's chair.   "I thought we were heading back towards Earth."

"We are," said Coogan, "but I want to give the Empress and her Neptunian . . . is that right?  Neptunian?"

"Close enough," Dixie said with a shrug.

"Anyway, I want to give them a little payback," said Coogan.   He pressed a button on the weapons console, one labeled ALL.   Hundreds of missiles raced out of the Soviet ship's missile silos, hurtling towards the Red Planet.  "Every last blasted one of them, addressed right to Mars.   See you in Hell, Empress."

"NO!" shouted Dixie.

"Why are you shouting?" asked Coogan.   "It's done.   Over.   Finito.  Finished.   I can't exactly call them back now."

Dixie held up the neutronium mini-reactor.   "Because," Dixie said sadly, "the Empress didn't have this mini-reactor.   Mister Gunn and Murdock . . . they might not be dead!  They might only be prisoners!"

"Might be, Dixie.   Doesn't mean they are.   Remember the anti-Gunn missile?  That probably killed Mister Gunn; it might have killed Murdock if they were sharing the same alien prison cell."

"But if they are alive . . ?"

"Well, whoops," said Coogan.   "Sorry."  He opened up the dashboard and pulled out a Cuban cigar.   "Well, look at the bright side.   Then they won't be in the stinking hands of those aliens for too much longer."

"You're awfully calm about this," Dixie said bitterly.

"Hey, I don't like this," Coogan said angrily, "but I'm trying to be logical.   There's absolutely nothing we can do.   They're probably already dead.   You got any bright ideas?"

"No," Dixie said glumly.   She felt a certain sense of déjà vu as the Russian missiles rocketed towards the Martian caverns.   Only a miracle could save Mister Gunn, if he wasn't already dead . . .

"But if anyone can make their own miracle," Dixie whispered to herself, "it's Mister Gunn."  She gazed wistfully through the windshield at the tiny Red Planet, hoping against hope that she'd see him again someday . . .


Previous episode: It's a Wonderful Death!
Next episode: Gunn's Last Stand!!!


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The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune is copyright Mike Ferguson.