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...

 
 

Chapter Four -The Dungeon Pits of the Android Princess!


THE AWFUL STENCH OF BURNING FLESH woke up Coogan.  Bright scarlet light filled his bleary eyes, nearly blinding him.  Groaning, he vainly tried to move . . . and couldn't.  Most of his space suit had literally been shredded off of his body by some sort of weapon, exposing most of his skin to the intense heat of, well, wherever he was.  Coogan knew that it was probably some sort of prison.  His wrists were bound together by iron manacles, and by the way the rest of his body was gently swinging around, he knew that his manacles were attached to a longer iron chain, one that held him high above the ground.  Very high.

"Look," cooed a female voice.  The voice echoed loudly around Coogan's head, so he wasn't sure if the woman speaking was close to him or far away. "It lives.  I told you, Doctor.  These humans are strong."

"Pity."  A second voice, somewhat masculine, dripping with disdain. "They're such loathsome monstrosities.  Why can't they just be sensible and perish quickly?"

"Oh, I don't find them loathsome," replied the first voice.  "I find that they have a certain . . . eye-catching quality to them."

"Hello?" Coogan blurted.  He winced as he spoke.  His tongue was bone dry, and each breath he took filled his lungs with gasoline heat.  "I . . . I can't see you.  I can't see anything.  Who are you?"

"Oh, look," said the second voice, "isn't that cute.  It's trying to think."

"Quiet," snapped the first voice.  "If the creature wants to see, we will let it see.  We are not barbarians."

Coogan heard a buzzing sound, quiet but furious.  He felt the lip of a cup being pressed against his cracked lips.  Cool liquid dripped inside his mouth.  Coogan swallowed, even though his throat felt like sandpaper.  The liquid wasn't water - it was much too sweet and syrupy - but it made him feel like a million bucks in no time flat.  The scarlet light faded away, giving way to a cooler pink hue, with fuzzy dark shapes floating around before his eyes.

Coogan looked around.  He was at the top of a gigantic cavern, surrounded by stalactites and furry brown bats with three eyes.  Far below, more than a thousand feet away, he saw a gigantic pool of lava, bubbling and frothing with lethal heat.  The only things keeping him from becoming instant barbecue were the chains around his wrists.  Gagging, Coogan tore his eyes away from the lava pit below, hoping to find some way of escape, or at least some hope.

Instead, Coogan saw a big floating object.  The object was a metallic disk, flat and thin, about as wide as a Buick.  Coogan realized that the disk was making the quiet buzzing noise - probably an anti-gravity generator, or some other scientific contraption built by brainy muckety-mucks.  Two imposing figures stood on the anti-gravity disks, watching Coogan's chained figure the way hungry dogs eye crispy bacon.  Both figures were tall, elegant . . . and definitely alien.  While they both looked almost human, they had light, powder blue skin, and their faces lacked any sort of nose. Coogan didn't need an encyclopedia to tell him that the two figures weren't born in the good old U.S. of A.

The first alien was a man, tall and gaunt, clad in a bulky midnight blue leather outfit loaded with buckles and other weird metallic objects.  A wispy white mustache covered his upper lip.  One of his eyes looked human, but the other glowed crimson, as if something had stuck a hot coal in that eye socket.  A slim steel box covered one of his ears.  The alien man's face was dark and expressionless. Coogan could feel the hatred pulsing from the alien man's pores.

The other alien was nothing less than a goddess of love.  Even though she was definitely not human, Coogan thought that the female alien was the most beautiful woman in the entire universe.  She was tall and willowy, with long white hair spilling down her slender shoulders.  She wore a filmy midnight blue chemise, one which barely covered her heaving chest and barely stretched down below her hips . . . and nothing else, save from a few thin metallic bracelets around her slim wrists.  Coogan didn't think that dames like Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe could hold a candle to such perfection, even if it was alien perfection.

The alien female flashed a dazzling smile at Coogan.  "Dear, dear, human," she said, "I am the Empress Cleopatronica, ruler of Neptune and the Nine Kingdoms of Moons.  My humble servant and companion here is Doctor Warlock. We mean you no harm.  Yes, you are chained, but that was only because we thought you might be a threat to us.  We know now that we were mistaken. We shall free you, so that you may be healed.  After that, you shall dine with us, and enjoy the pleasures of my court . . . one of my warrior handmaidens, perhaps?"

Coogan felt lightheaded and weak in the knees.  "Handmaidens?"

"But of course," said the Empress, batting her perfect eyes.  "My handmaidens have heard much about the male creatures of Earth.  A few have long yearned to feel the touch of their strong hands."

"Oh," Coogan croaked, "my."  He felt like he was in a dream, and he sure as shooting didn't want to wake up.

"Before you are freed, however," said Doctor Warlock, his mouth curled into a delicate sneer, "there is simply one thing we must know?"

"Oh, yeah," said Coogan.  "And what's that, pal?"  Coogan didn't like Warlock, which he thought was probably a good thing.  Maybe he'd been dreaming the best dream of his life, but he knew he needed to wake up, and the Warlock jerk was doing a heck of a job of shaking him out of bed.

"There was something on your ship, a minor thing, called the proto-analyzer, or something to that effect," Doctor Warlock replied. "Tell us the purpose of this machine, and we shall let you go."

"Get stuffed, Doctor," snarled Coogan.  "That's classified information. I'll tell you this, though - you're ugly, and your mother dresses you funny."

Doctor Warlock glared at Coogan.  "Insolent human," said Warlock, "I'll have your tongue for that!"

"Be silent," said the Empress.  Her dazzling smile had grown chilly. "Tell us about the proto-analyzer," she said sternly to Coogan.  "I wouldn't want anything to happen to your dear friend Butch Murdock."

"Murdock?"  Coogan felt sick.  "What have you done with him?"

"Nothing," said the Empress.  "Yet."

"Although, if you don't tell us about the proto-analyzer," added Doctor Warlock, "a lot will happen.  A lot of unpleasant, nasty sharp things will happen, I promise you.  So talk.  Now."

Coogan closed his eyes.  The monsters, they wanted to kill his pal Butch Murdock, all for some gizmo that Coogan really knew nothing about.  The proto-analyzer had been Murdock's baby, anyway.  He was the one responsible for the Mars experiments.  Coogan was just the bus driver on the Scorpio One mission. Coogan knew, however, that the proto-analyzer was top-secret, strictly hush-hush in the American Rocket Corps. He remembered getting the mission file from the brass upstairs, and being told how Ivan and those evil Russians would sell their godless mothers just for a peek at the device. These aliens didn't seem much better than the Russkies, that was for sure.

Coogan sighed.  He knew what needed to be done.  He knew what Murdock would do.

"Go to hell, you space whore," Coogan said to the Empress.  "I'll tell you nothing.  Do you hear me? NOTHING!!!"

To Coogan's surprise, the Empress only laughed.  "Feisty, isn't he?" she said.

"Feisty," Doctor Warlock agreed, "and completely expendable."

A bolt of white-hot light blasted out of Doctor Warlock's glowing eye.  The bolt shattered the thick iron chain connected to Coogan's manacles. Coogan, screaming, dropped like a stone towards the bubbling lava.  A few bats dropped from their perches and swarmed around Coogan's falling body. As he hurtled past the anti-gravity disk of the Empress, the sound of her mad, elegant laughter filled his ears, her insane glee echoing slashing through his tormented mind as he rushed towards his impending fiery death.


Previous episode: Freedom is a Four-Letter Word!
Next episode: The Left Hand of Doom!


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The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune is copyright Mike Ferguson.