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 whilst Coogan is threatened with fiery death...

 
 

Chapter Five -The Left Hand of Doom!


"HEY, MISTER GUNN," SAID DIXIE, "take a gander at this!"

Mister Gunn, who had been examining the engines of Scorpio One, walked over to Dixie's side.  The two had landed on Mars just a short while ago, right near the wreckage of the missing ship.  Clad in armored space suits, Dixie and Mister Gunn had begun the unenviable task of searching through the remains of Scorpio One, looking for clues about the crash . . . or for survivors . . .

"Talk to me, toots," said Mister Gunn.  "What'd you find?"

"This," said Dixie, pointing at a big metal box covered with light bulbs and diodes, "is the proto-analyzer.  At least, it's the outer shell for the gadget.  I looked inside it for its neutronium mini-reactor - which General Hammer said was the really, really important part of the proto-analyzer - and it's gone!"

"Gone, eh?" Mister Gunn took a quick peek inside the contraption.  Sure enough, the neutronium reactor was missing.  "Funny.  Coogan and Murdock's orders were to destroy the whole shebang if anything happened.  Instead, the most important part of this gizmo's gone for a joyride in the Poconos." Mister Gunn scratched the chin of his enviro-helmet thoughtfully.  "The question is, why?"

"Gosh," said Dixie, "maybe something happened to Coogan and Murdock before they could blow it up!  Maybe aliens killed them and took the mini-reactor!"

"Or maybe," Mister Gunn said darkly, "the mini-reactor was taken by a rat."

"Rats?"  Dixie looked puzzled.  "Gee, I don't think so, Mister Gunn.  The technicians really go over these spaceships with a fine-tooth comb before blastoff.  I don't think any mice or rats could've gotten on board."

Mister Gunn sighed.  He felt very, very tired.  "Never mind," he said. "Let's get going."

Dixie and Mister Gunn left the wreckage of Scorpio One, heading out into the desolate Martian deserts.  The sky was black velvet, glittering with the majesty of a hundred million stars.  Comets leapt across the horizon like silver tears of joy, burning brightly for a miraculous instant before fading into nothingness.  Looming high above a colossal volcano on the Martian surface was a crescent Earth - blue, green, and proudly watching over the crimson sands of its sister planet.

"Gracious," said Dixie, her voice filled with awe, "isn't this simply divine?"

"Divine, beautiful, yeah, yeah," said Mister Gunn.  "The poetic splendor of the universe.  Whatever, baby.  Follow me, I think I see a cave entrance. Coogan and Murdock probably headed this way."

As Mister Gunn and Dixie reached the cave, they found a surprise. A large metallic door sealed the entrance to the Martian cavern! A complicated keypad jutted out of one of the rocks next to the door, full of hundreds of alien-encrypted buttons.

Dixie stared at the doorway. "We'll never get inside," she said.  "How are we supposed to break an alien code?"

"Like this, sister," said Mister Gunn.  He gave the keypad a thunderous punch with his gloved fist.  Sparks flew as the keypad cracked in two.  A thin trail of smoke poured out from the remaining keys as the doorway whirred open.

"Never met anything that couldn't be solved by a quick smack in the chops," said Mister Gunn.  "Come on, Dixie."

Cautiously, Dixie followed Mister Gunn inside the cave.  The cavern itself quickly gave way to a long, winding corridor which led steadily down into the depths of the Red Planet.  A hefty lever stuck out of the rock wall right beside the inside of the doorway.  Mister Gunn gave the lever a quick pull, and the metallic door swung shut once more.  In one smooth gesture, Mister Gunn removed his enviro-helmet and brought a Lucky Strike to his lips.

"Oxygen's good in here," said Mister Gunn, lighting his cigarette.  "Come on, Dixie, lose the space suit."

"But, Mister Gunn," said Dixie, her voice filled with uncertainty, "we just . . . I mean, it was just a half hour ago that we . . ."

"No, no, not that," Said Mister Gunn, shaking his head in disgust.  "Great Caesar's ghost, Dixie, sometimes you're about as sharp as a sack of wet mice.  Just the space suit, not everything.  You can't be lumbering around the underground caverns of Mars in some big, bulky space get-up.  You've got to wear practical clothes down here."

A few minutes later, they began to move stealthily down the corridor, guns drawn, Mister Gunn in his rumpled blue suit, Dixie in her lemon yellow cocktail dress and patent leather heels.  They walked along for a good mile or so, occasionally stopping where side corridors opened up from the main walkway, but never finding anything of interest.

As Mister Gunn and Dixie passed by a small fissure in the cavern wall, however, Dixie caught something dreadful out of the corner of her eye!

"Mister Gunn!" said Dixie, grabbing Mister Gunn's arm, "look!"

Mister Gunn peered through the fissure.  He saw a man in a tattered space suit falling towards a massive pool of lava!  Though the terrified man was probably more than five hundred feet away, Mister Gunn instantly recognized the man's face from the case files he'd read in General Hammer's office: Jack Coogan, no doubt about it.

"Quick," said Dixie, "can you save that poor man?"

"Please," said Mister Gunn.  "You're talking to Victor E. Gunn here."

With that, Mister Gunn pointed his right arm out towards the falling man. He pressed one of the brass cufflinks on his right jacket sleeve.  A fine wire blasted out of the jacket sleeve, rocketing straight for the falling Coogan!  With a quick motion, the wire wrapped itself around Coogan's legs. Coogan's descent to impending doom hastily disappeared as Mister Gunn gave the wire a quick jerk, yanking Coogan towards safety!

"Wow," said Dixie.  "Do you need some help, Mister Gunn?"

"No thanks, baby," said Mister Gunn.  "I eat my grits every morning."

Within a few seconds, Mister Gunn had pulled Coogan up through the fissure into the safety of the corridor.  With another smooth move, Mister Gunn clicked on another cufflink, and a tiny blade popped into the hero's hand. The blade slashed through Coogan's manacles as though they were made of warm butter.

"Don't worry, bub," said Mister Gunn.  "I'm Victor E. Gunn.  This little filly's Dixie Sterling.  We'll get you back to Earth, safe and sound."

"Thanks," Coogan said wearily.  "But we can't leave yet.  Murdock's still here somewhere."

"So is the neutronium mini-reactor," Dixie said brightly.

Coogan shook his head.  "That can't be right.  Murdock was supposed to destroy it, before he left Scorpio One."

"Look," said Mister Gunn, dragging on his cigarette, "we ain't got time for arguing.  Dixie, take our pal Coogan back to Scorpio Two.  I'll find Murdock and the mini-reactawhatever, and then meet you back on the ship. Got it?"

"Um . . ." Dixie started to argue, but saw the fierce fires burning in Mister Gunn's determined eyes.  "Sure."

"Great, Dixie.  See you later."  With that, Mister Gunn planted a big wet passionate kiss on Dixie's waiting lips, then bounded further down the corridor and disappeared before Dixie could even say one word.

"He's good, isn't he?" Coogan asked Dixie.

"Oh God, yes," Dixie answered excitedly.  "He's the best I've ever had."

Coogan gave Dixie a puzzled look, but said nothing.

Meanwhile, Mister Gunn crept further down the Martian corridor, his eyes peeled for American prisoners and gizmos, when he saw a blinking light in the shadows.  Curious, Mister Gunn moved over towards the light.  The shadows greeted him with a large gray fist the size of a pickup truck, one that slammed right into Mister Gunn's jaw.  Mister Gunn flew backwards, stopping only when he hit the cavern wall.  Rubbing his jaw, he picked himself up off the floor . . . slowly.

Mister Gunn whipped his pistol towards the blinking light.  "Come on out of there, slappy," he said.  "Daddy's got some lead medicine for you."

With a grinding of gears, a hulking shape stomped out of the dark.  A steel robot, brimming with nasty spikes and sharp fangs, lurched towards Mister Gunn.  Its right fist was almost hidden by the barrel of a massive laser blaster.  The left fist, however, looked far, far worse. Deadly emerald energy pulsed from its knuckles, and Mister Gunn could see the bloody bones of mortal men imbedded in its massive fingertips.

{{O.G.R.E. ACTIVATED,}} grated the robot.  {{O.G.R.E. MUST DESTROY HUMAN.}}

"Come and try, you overgrown rusty toaster," snapped Mister Gunn.  "I've been threatened by better robots than you before."

{{SILENCE,}} said O.G.R.E.  {{TIME TO DIE.}}

Swallowing hard, Mister Gunn pointed his pistol at the advancing metal menace, and pulled the trigger . . .
 


Previous episode: The Dungeon Pits of the Android Princess!
Next episode: The Secret Laboratory of Doctor Warlock!


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The Android Princess Warriors from Neptune is copyright Mike Ferguson.