“It may look peaceful and calm here at Center Neptune Beneath the Sea – not to be confused with Center Neptune Atop Mt. Everest – but it’s been a regular beehive of activity, let me tell you!” he said.
He pulled out an old-fashioned oil can and began to furiously pump lubricant into all the external joints of his body. Of course, he paid no heed to the small note taped to the oil can – Chief Anderson reminded Zark to ease up on the oil use, since OPEC had taken away Galactic Security’s high-volume discount. “I’ve been burning the midnight oil faster than they can supply it!” the robot crowed. He stopped, gave the oil can a quick glance, and then tossed it aside. “That’s the last of it.” After a nanosecond of reflection, he added, “I wonder if they make midday oil – I could use it! And midmorning oil. . . and mid-afternoon oil. . . and maybe midlife oil!
“Anyway,” he continued, “I’ve been working around the clock to design and supervise the construction of our new starship in time for the air show. I just love designing new starships. There is something thrilling about making the galaxy look more FABULOUS!” Zark suddenly stopped and nervously looked side to side before adding, “Oh my, where did THAT come from? For a moment, I sounded like a resident of Castro Street in San Francisco! While there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just not that kind of robot!”
Suddenly, the air was filled with electronic tones.
“Center Neptune Control, 7-Zark-7.”
“Hello, Zark.” a breathy voice came from a speaker by Zark’s table. The table raised up until Zark was completely upright. “This is Susan with the Early Warning System on,” she paused a moment as if this next part was hard to say, “DWARF planet Pluto.” There was a small pause before she continued, “Congratulations on your new spaceship design, Zark. You have a most wonderful imagination.”
Center Neptune’s resident robot giggled and unconsciously rubbed his hands together as if he was a B-movie pervert. “If only you knew how I imagine YOU, you sweet thing!”
“Oh, Zark, you’re making me turn all rusty-red, especially in some UNUSUAL places!”
Zark could have sworn he heard Susan let out a small moan before she continued, “I just called to let you know that I spotted a very unusual spacecraft coming from the Hostile Planet of Urgos. It appears to be an old-fashioned biplane.”
“Oh, it’s probably on its way to the Intergalactic Air Show!” Zark cried with delight, “That should make the program interesting – super-modern starships and old-fashioned prop planes!”
“But, Zark, it’s from the Hostile Planet of Urgos!”
“I doubt that would be any worse than when the Annoyed Planet of Vexia had an entry.”
“Still, keep an eye on it. My Ouiji board says something isn’t right. Goodbye, Zark.”
Once the communications link had been broken, Zark returned his attention to the invisible audience. “She really charges my accelerators! I do wish I could see her someday.” He started making his way to the access tube that would take him to the control room. “Right now I’ve got to get to my monitor; the air show must be about to start.”
The Intergalactic Air Show started as so many air shows have for many years – jet fighters performing aerial maneuvers while producing colored-smoke comtrails while crowds of spectators wandered from one display on the tarmac to another. Here were the latest offerings of the Alliance; some were so sleek and sexy that they had built-in birth control dispensers.
“I hope Mark’s careful.” Zark said as he watched from his monitor at Center Neptune, “The Intergalactic Federation is SO confident in Mark’s piloting skills and my designing abilities that the XF-97 will be tested during the air show! Normally, an aircraft completes its testing before it makes its debut at a show.”
If he had teeth to click, Zark would have done so before he said, “They say robots can’t worry, but sometimes those young people give me the strangest feeling in my diodes!”
Of course, the “strange feeling” had nothing to do with his compulsion to smother his most sensitive electronic parts in oil.
Mark and Chief Anderson stood beside the XF-97, an impossibly pointy spacecraft with such sharp edges that a person could be sliced to death simply by looking at it.
“How does the new flight suit feel, Mark?” the chief asked.
“It’s modeled after one worn be Eval Knievel.”
“Wasn’t that a stunt cyclist who had some horrific crashes?!”
“I think you’re getting him confused with someone else.”
“Anyway,” Chief Anderson’s voice took on a more serious tone, “it’s all up to you now, Mark. If this ship performs well, it can strengthen Galactic Security tremendously. There’s a lot riding on this – perhaps the fate of the known universe.”
A few beads of sweat ran down the side of Mark’s face.
“Come to think of it,” Anderson continued, “the fate of other dimensions might also rely on the results of this ship’s test flight.”
“Don’t worry, Chief.” Mark finally chimed in, “I’ll turn her inside out.”
Security Chief Anderson shook his foster son’s hand, quietly assuring himself that Mark meant he’d provide an excellent test and not confirming a rumor about Mark’s love of aviation – the kind of love that usually creates a new disease.
Once he had finished the preflight checks, Mark paused and took a slow, deep breath. He reached into a chest pocket and pulled out a light stick, snapped it, and shook it until it activated. But instead of the steady, solid-colored glow of a normal stick, a psychedelic light show started, and an intense mist sprayed from the slight bend where he snapped the stick.
Nothing like a little Rigan Special to ease the stress of the job!
Mark let the glow stick drop to the floor of the cockpit as he started to taxi to the runway. As the XF-97 left the ground, one of his favorite pieces of classical Earth music began to play in his head. Now who did that song? Freud? . . . No. . . . Floyd! Yeah, Pink Floyd!
Before he realized it, Mark was belting out, “I have become. . . comfortably numb!”
Meanwhile, Princess, Keyop, and Chief Anderson watched the test flight from the balcony of a VIP pavilion. Watching Mark soar made them forget the fact that Tiny and Jason were inexcusably late. But then Princess found her mind drifting away from the test flight. She found herself wondering what it would be like if SHE was the plane. . . and what would Mark think if the plane gripped HIS stick. . .
“Beautiful!” Mark replied to the control tower, “She’s climbing like a homesick angel!” As soon as he could cut off communication with the tower, Mark glanced around at the clear sky past the canopy. “Helloooooooo, ladies!” he cooed as if he was a long time singles’ bar's resident who had spotted two women who came in simply to get out of the rain while waiting for a tow truck. “Have you come to take me under your oh-so lovely wings?”
Off in the distance, a dark form began to come into view. “Uh,” Mark said as he strained to see what was closing in, “are any of you having problems with an ex-boyfriend?”
Finally the object was in clear sight: it was a dark biplane with bat-shaped wings. A man stood on the very top of the plane, but he wasn’t the typical wing-walker. The man was dressed like a cartoon rich man sailing a yacht. A fuchsia scarf fluttered behind him in the wind, as did a mane of brassy blond hair. His fashion statement was finished by a pair of dark, aviator-style sunglasses that seemed to be attached to his yacht captain’s cap.
But the clothes were overwhelmed by his face. He had the face of a mummy. . . or Michael Jackson, if he had lived to age 70 and had continued to fuel his plastic surgery addiction. And there was a set of bull’s horns sprouting from the sides of his head.
“What the – ?” Mark muttered as he got a better look of the oncoming plane.
“So, Earthling, it looks like you have a new toy!” the man atop the biplane said, “Let’s play!”
Two long, metallic whips extended from the biplane’s top wing and lashed out at the XF-97. One of the whips severed the top inch off the tail rudder, forcing the spacecraft into a sudden death spiral.
Tiny and Jason arrived just in time to see the plane go down and explode as soon as it hit the ocean. They stood there in stunned silence.
Princess let out a startled cry. Keyop, with a shake of his fist and a flurry of angry burbles, shouted, “I’ll get you!” to the strange biplane.
“Mark’s down. . .” Chief Anderson said as if nobody could see, “and THAT THING forced him into the ocean!”
“Now to take care of the rest of the show!” the man on top of the biplane cried. The whips lashed out at the displays on the ground. “There!” he cried as a whip scratched the paint on one starship, causing the craft to explode. “There!” he shouted as a whip cracked, causing a bobblehead inside a cockpit to move just before the plane disintegrated. Once again the man cried, “There!” as a whip killed a fly, which then caused another craft to turn into a fireball.
Then it was finished. All four entries of the great Intergalactic Air Show had been destroyed. Mark watched the stranger’s rampage as his parachute carried him to the water. The Rigan Special was almost out of his system and, hopefully, the light stick had been destroyed in the plane explosion.
“Mark, are you all right?” the chief’s voice came from the wrist communicator.
“The plane’s a total wipeout.” Mark replied, “And I’m all wet, not all right! . . . Wait a minute – I think I see some mermaids over there! Helloooooooo ladies!”
Almost, but not quite out of his system.
Mark realized what he’d just said. “Uh, just kidding, Chief!” he quickly said, hoping Anderson wouldn’t get suspicious. “Seriously, Chief, I think we’re dealing with a new enemy.”
“It’s Captain Dooooooooom.” Anderson replied.
“He’s that space pirate from the Hostile Planet of Urgos.” Jason added.
Chief Anderson, Tiny, Keyop, and Princess gave Jason a surprised look. Jason tried to shrug it off as if it was something he just happened to know – he wasn’t about to admit he’d played against the space pirate in several poker games in some of the galaxy’s seedier outposts.
A short time later, Mark had been plucked from the water, and the Phoenix was carrying the entire G-Force team in pursuit of Captain Dooooooooom. The representative of the Hostile Planet of Urgos had been lazily cruising the sky, mocking anything that caught his eye. “Bah! You call that a ‘v’ formation?” he spat at a migrating flock of geese, “Take that!” A whip lashed out from the biplane, turning the entire flock into roast dinners – complete with stuffing – with a single crack.
Captain Dooooooooom noticed the Phoenix closing in from behind. “So, G-Force, you haven’t learned how foolish it is to challenge the power of my laser whips!”
G-Force blinked in confusion at the growing image on the main viewscreen.
“Doesn’t that guy sound an awful lot like Zoltar?” Mark asked.
“Yeah,” Tiny replied, “and his ‘laser whip’ doesn’t look very laser-y.”
“And how are we able to hear him?” Princess added, “He wasn’t broadcasting over any communications channels.”
“Bad scriptwriting?” Keyop offered.
By this time, the space pirate had circled around to face the Phoenix. Both whips lashed out. . .
And did nothing.
“So, Dooooooooom,” Mark said, “you haven’t learned that the Phoenix isn’t that easy to destroy!”
“Now it’s our turn!” Jason strode confidently to the main console and stood between Mark and Tiny. He reached out and pressed the red button. He pressed again. . . and again. . . and again. Several missiles went straight toward the space pirate.
A large dome suddenly surrounded the captain – it looked like the kind of dome used to protect a valuable porcelain doll. The missiles went straight for the biplane’s propeller and exploded. Yet not a bit of damage was done.
“He’s got a force field!” Mark proclaimed. The rest of G-Force blinked at him in confusion – there was no hint of an energy field around the biplane. There was only the clear dome around Captain Dooooooooom, and that certainly didn’t qualify as a force field.
“Uh, Mark,” Jason muttered to his commander, “have you been messing with the Rigan Special again?”
Captain Dooooooooom’s whips lashed out again. This time, however, 1/16 inch of the Phoenix’s tail rudder came off.
“Farewell, fools!” the space pirate cried as he banked around to leave the Phoenix behind him, “I would stay to watch you spiral to your end, but meeting your maker in that overrated flying brick is humiliation enough!”
The biplane began to change. The wings and propeller slowly retracted into the body of the plane – so slowly that other planes would have spiraled to the ground. But this plane transformed itself into a space worthy rocket. As soon as Captain Dooooooooom had been lowered into the body of the spacecraft, it launched itself toward the Hostile Planet of Urgos.
It was a struggle, but G-Force managed to get the damaged Phoenix back to base. But the team was still clueless about the enormity of their encounter with the space pirate from the Hostile Planet of Urgos. That is, until they went to Chief Anderson for a briefing.
The chief was sitting in a chair built into the Federation’s freakishly HUGE microscope, studying metal fragments taken from the Phoenix’s damaged rudder. It was such a large microscope that it required a diesel engine. “This is fantastic!” Chief Anderson breathed as he peered at the magnified image of the 1/16 inch fragment from the Phoenix’s rudder. Each silvery bit stuck to the jagged rudder edge had “Proud Product of Urgos” stamped on it. “Simply amazing.” he added.
Anderson paused for a reaction from the team but found himself becoming more and more annoyed when none came. He looked up from the microscope to find them on their knees, choking on the intense diesel fumes.
After the chief shut off the engine and ventilated the room, the briefing continued as if nothing had happened.
“Were the scientists able to get a sample?” Mark finally asked.
“Oh yes.” Anderson replied, “But nobody knows what it is. All we know is that it’s indestructible.”
“How did bits of it come off with the smashed rudder?” Keyop asked, though nobody else seemed to pay attention to him.
“How can we fight something indestructible?” Princess asked.
“We’ll need to figure out where that stuff came from, right?” Tiny chimed in.
“I believe this metal comes from an asteroid that wandered into our solar system and was captured by the Hostile Planet Urgos.” the chief said.
“Since when has Urgos been in our Solar System?!” Jason strained a bit to keep from shouting in an incredulous tone.
“You mean the Hostile Planet Urgos.” Keyop corrected.
“Seems like it’ll be awfully hard to find a little bitty asteroid.” It wasn’t often that Tiny had any sort of conversation with the chief, and, dammit, he wasn’t going to let anyone steal his thunder!
“Zark has pinpointed an unidentified object,” the chief replied to Tiny, “two hundred million miles beyond Venus.”
“Now hold on!” Jason couldn’t believe what he hearing, “You mean to tell me that Urgos – ”
“The Hostile Planet Urgos.” Keyop corrected.
“– isn’t just a part of our solar system, but it’s also been within pissing distance, and NOBODY’S noticed until NOW?!?”
“Actually, Jason,” Zark’s voice chirped from hidden speakers in the ceiling, “it’s impossible for a human on Earth to urinate on an object two hundred million miles past Venus.” The robot then launched into a half-hour dissertation explaining why.
After Chief Anderson got Zark to shut up and go back to his monitoring duties, Mark struck his unnaturally straight, heroic stance and said, “It looks like we’re off to the Hostile Planet Urgos to see if there’s a defense against their indestructible metal!”
“I hesitate to send you on such a dangerous mission.” the chief replied, “You’ll be facing the most dangerous weapon ever – ”
“And how’s that any different from all the other missions we’ve been on?” Jason asked.
“ – while trying to complete an impossible task.” Chief Anderson acted as if Jason had said nothing.
Tiny jumped to his feet. “You don’t have to ask us, Chief! We volunteer!” Tiny decided that, dammit, nobody was going to out-hero him, either! “And we’ll survive!”
“If all of you feel that way, I won’t try to stop you,” the chief replied solemnly, “and you have my blessing. I just wish I could give you something more than words.”
“How ‘bout a raise?” Keyop chirped. Mark promptly slapped him in the back of the head.
“This will certainly be a dangerous mission!” Zark proclaimed from his control room, “Finding the asteroid that the Hostile Planet of Urgos is using will be like finding a needle in a haystack! And I’m not exactly sure where the Hostile Planet of Urgos is located, either. . .”
From a distance, the Hostile Planet of Urgos truly looked hostile to life. Its surface was pock-marked by thousands of craters. In fact, it looked very much like a picture of Earth’s moon. However, once inside the atmosphere, the Hostile Planet Urgos was flush with life – it looked like a picture of a tropical rain forest painted by an artist who had never seen anything resembling a tropical rain forest.
As the Phoenix soared over the green canopy, Mark had a large contour map spread out on a console. He fiddled with a compass and a slide rule before declaring, “According to this laser printout, our sensors detected something HERE.” his finger stabbed a large, red “x” already on the paper.
“Um, Mark,” Princess asked, “is there something wrong with the real-time, heads-up display?”
Princess pressed a button, and a 3D holographic display appeared above her console. It showed an up-to-the-minute map of the Hostile Planet of Urgos with the same red “x”, and it made constant adjustments according to the changing location of the Phoenix.
Mark crumpled up the paper map and tossed it over his shoulder. His face took on a sour expression – he didn’t want to admit he didn’t know which button to press in order to get the heads-up display. “Let’s go check things out.”
Soon they were coming upon a craggy mountain with a crater, and within the crater was an entryway.
“Hey, that looks kinda like a giant sphincter!” Tiny cried as soon as he saw the entrance.
“I’m not going near that planet’s butt hole!” Keyop cried.
“Planets don’t have those things.” Mark gently scolded.
“That’s good to know.” Jason said, “Otherwise, I don’t want to be anywhere near whatever’s coming out of THAT hole!”
As Tiny’s fingers danced over the controls, the Phoenix dodged two enemy missiles.
“All right!” the Owl cried, “Let’s take ‘em out!”
“No.” Mark said as he blocked Jason’s access to the red button, “Our missiles might not penetrate the force field.”
“WHAT?!?” Jason shrieked, “I don’t see any force field. The sensors aren’t detecting any force field. What force field – ”
“Tiny, do your wounded bird routine.” Mark commanded.
“Aw, man!” Tiny whined, “I’m gettin’ tired of always staying behind to babysit the ship!”
Two more missiles zipped by. Tiny pressed a button to start smoke pouring from the ship’s aft. As the Phoenix went down, Mark, Princess, Jason, and Keyop flew out and landed near the mountainside entrance.
A soldier of the Hostile Planet Urgos watched on a monitor as the Phoenix went down in a steep arc, trailing smoke behind it. This soldier looked exactly like a Spectran henchman – the Hostile Planet of Urgos snatched up everything from the discount rack at Goons ‘R’ Us, Spectra’s main supplier of uniforms.
“Sir,” the soldier said to Captain Dooooooooom, “the enemy ship has been destroyed.”
“Well done!” the space pirate proclaimed, “Now we’re going to be the conquerors of Earth instead of Planet Spectra!”
“Uh, sir,” the soldier nervously asked, “has anyone ever told you that you sound just like Zoltar?”
Meanwhile, four members of G-Force slipped through the unfortunate-looking entrance seconds before it closed. Keyop stopped holding his breath. “Afraid it would fart.” he explained as Mark gave him a questioning look.
At that time, 7-Zark-7 paced the floor of the control room at Center Neptune. “Oh, I wish I could be out there, battling alongside G-Force!” he sighed. He then took a few moments to imagine himself fighting an entire division of Spectran soldiers, punching some as though he was Muhammad Ali, and chopping others with his own version of karate.
“It can be very lonely, being a stay-at-home coordinator.” he groaned. “If I were with them, I wouldn’t worry about them so.
“They say robots aren’t supposed to have emotions,” Zark continued, “but when my linear transducer gets worked up, it’s a real feeling! Why, sometimes it’s as if I’d personally gestated each and every one of them!”
With that, his cape began fluttering, lifting him into the air and carrying him an entire foot over to his favorite monitor bank. He pressed a few buttons.
“With all the worrying I do,” he whined, “you’d think they’d at least CALL once in a while!”
The four members of G-Force stood at the bottom of a missile silo. As they stared up at the entranceway they’d just come through, Jason said, “You know, Mark, I’ve been thinking about what the chief told us. Maybe we should send Princess and Keyop back to the Phoenix, since they’d probably just be cannon fodder – ”
With just her thumb and index finger, Princess let Jason know what she thought of his idea.
“Kidding!” Jason’s voice was a barely audible squeak as his knees buckled a bit, “Let go. . . PLEASE. . . !”
“Knock it off – ” Mark barked.
“Please don’t do that!” Jason breathed to Princess.
“ – we’ve got a job to do!” Mark finished. He looked around before adding, “Princess, you’re with me. Jason, Keyop, go that way.” He jerked his thumb in the direction behind him to indicate where he meant.
A short time later, Mark and Princess crept along a corridor until they saw the back of a soldier of the Hostile Planet of Urgos wearing a Spectran uniform.
“Okay,” Mark quietly declared, “let’s put him out for an hour!”
Within moments, the soldier found himself wearing a dog collar and muzzle while being shoved thorough a conveniently-located doggie door.
Soon after that, the twosome were peering over the guardrail of a dark shaft. At the bottom of the shaft were blinking lights.
“Do they celebrate Christmas here?” Princess asked.
“What makes you say that?” Mark replied, “The blinking lights?”
“That. . . and the tinsel. . . and I think I see some mistletoe. . . .”
Mark continued along the guardrail until he found a ladder going down into the shaft. “Cover me.” he said as he started to climb onto the ladder.
Once he was four rungs down, he stopped and let out a slow, deep breath. “So far, so good!” For much of his life, Mark had a fear of ladders caused by an unfortunate accident during a game of “Snakes and Ladders”. Once he relaxed, he continued on down.
“Mark!” Princess cried. He froze, certain the ladder had come to life and was about to wrap itself around him. “Behind you!” she added. He realized there were guns emerging from the walls.
Mark stepped off the ladder and let his sonic boomerang fly. By the time his feet hit the bottom of the shaft, Mark’s boomerang had sliced all of the gun barrels in half. He thrust his hand into the air, and the boomerang lightly landed in it. Mark twirled his weapon before holstering it.
The commander of G-Force felt exceptionally good about himself, so he threw a salute to Princess before starting a small victory dance. However, after a few minutes of moonwalking, he realized she was focused more on climbing down the ladder than his dancing ability. He stifled a couple of curses as he brought his wrist communicator close to his mouth.
Jason and Keyop were in a large, brown room. It had been painted the shade of brown that reminded them of the “planetary butt hole” comments that had been made earlier. Behind them was a dormant mantis mecha, and in front of them was a wall-sized bank of machinery.
“Jason!” Mark’s voice barked from the Condor’s wrist communicator, “Check in and give me a run down!”
“Sheesh!” Keyop muttered, “He needs to be medicated!”
“We’re standing in front of some sort of generator.” Jason answered Mark, unfazed by his commander’s apparent bad mood, “Whatever it is, it won’t be here much longer. We’re about to put it out of business. Stand by – you’ll hear the noise!”
“Watch this!” Keyop added.
“Watch what?” Mark answered, “Our bracelets don’t have visual!”
“Earthling fools!” Zoltar’s – oops, sorry, Captain Dooooooooom’s voice – boomed around Jason and Keyop, “Did you think you could invade the Hostile Planet of Urgos without being observed by our forces?
“Your presence,” the space pirate continued, “was detected the moment you arrived! And now, fools, you shall pay for your invasion!”
“Do you take Visa?” Keyop asked. Jason promptly slapped the Swallow’s helmet. “Oh yeah.” Keyop added, “Maxed out.”
“Throw down your weapons!” Dooooooooom ordered. The two members of G-Force promptly obliged.
“Get ready.” Jason muttered to Keyop.
Meanwhile, Mark and Princess stood in the center of a room just off the shaft. The room was empty except for one wall filled with rectangular, blinking lights. Near the top of the wall was a sign that read, “Important Unit.”
“This looks like an important unit.” Mark said off-handedly. Princess wondered if he’d seen the sign or if he’d simply been hanging around Security Chief “State the Obvious” Anderson too long. “Why don’t you see if you can figure this thing out?” he suggested.
Princess stepped up to the unit and tipped her head to one side as she examined it.
“I hate to push, Princess, but – ”
“Can’t you give me just five freakin’ seconds?!?” Princess snapped, “I mean, Jeez, you’ve gotta be a little more realistic!”
“Sorry!” Mark replied, “It’s just that – ”
Just then, three mantis mecha attacked. At first, Mark had nearly gotten himself killed several times as he tried to shield Princess from the attackers. Finally, he remembered Princess was hardly a defenseless damsel. Within moments, they were able to use the mechas’ attacks to obliterate the computer, destroy the mantis machines, and escape.
Mark lead the way up the ladder. (Normally, politeness would have dictated that ladies go first. But, in this case, Mark might have accidentally looked up Princess’ skirt. . . even though the entire galaxy can see up her skirt every time she fights an enemy.) But they only got halfway up when a familiar figure appeared at the top of the shaft.
“Now I’ve got you!” Captain Dooooooooom cried. As he stood there, glaring down at the twosome, his scarf fluttered in a nonexistent wind. “And for the damage you have done, prepare to pay dearly – and I already know your credit cards are maxed out!”
“Keyop must’ve blabbed.” Princess muttered.
The space pirate pulled out a hand-held version of the metallic whips featured on the biplane. A couple of quick flicks and part of the ladder went crashing to the floor below, leaving Mark to desperately hold onto the remnants of the ladder still attached to the wall with one hand and Princess with the other hand..
“I’m tired of this game!” Dooooooooom declared, “It’s time to end this! Farewell, Earthlings!”
“Princess, we need your pitching arm.” Mark said as he glared at Captain Dooooooooom. In less than a heartbeat, Princess cast her yo-yo skyward. She pulled herself and Mark to safety just as the space pirate prepared to crack the whip again.
“What luck!” Keyop cried.
“Yeah,” Jason agreed, “who would’ve guessed Dooooooooom would get distracted and we’d find a pile of loaded guns in the corner?”
They took aim at the generator and let loose with a hail of bullets. The machine let out a sigh and fell silent.
Keyop and Jason stared for a moment.
“Damn,” Jason muttered, “that’s disappointing.”
“Made a liar outta you.” Keyop added.
“Hey, that’s right!” the Condor exclaimed, “I told Mark to listen for the noise!” With an angry cry, he rammed the butt of his gun into the nearest panel of the generator.
He smashed the gun against the machine.
He reached over to grab Keyop’s gun when a klaxon sounded.
“Will that do?” Keyop asked.
Captain Dooooooooom prepared to crack his whip when the klaxon sounded. “Oh no!” he gasped, “The main electron generator is about to blow!”
Mark promptly knocked the whip from the space pirate’s hand and then grabbed the lapels of his yachting jacket.
“Alright, Dooooooooom –!” Mark hissed, about to throttle the space pirate. But then he realized he was gripping an empty jacket. “Huh? He’s vanished!” He glanced around until he saw an arrow that said, “He went that way!” light up near a corridor entrance. Mark tossed aside the jacket and dashed toward the corridor.
“What are you doing?” Princess shouted at Mark, “This place is about to blow, and have you forgotten what happened the LAST TIME you followed strange, lit-up arrows?!?”
Mark froze as a memory of waking up naked while slowly sinking in the La Brea Tar Pits flashed through his mind. He shook it off. “Jason, Keyop, rendevous! And move it!” he barked into his communicator. He snatched up Dooooooooom’s discarded whip as he and Princess raced back to the base’s entrance.
Jason and Keyop were the first to arrive at the missile silo. The Condor pulled a lever, opening the sphincter-like entranceway. Hovering just outside was the Phoenix, perfectly positioned to be blown out of the sky if someone launched the missiles from that particular silo. They leapt up to the top of the firing mechanism and then to the belly hatch of the Phoenix.
“Where are the others?” Tiny asked as soon as his teammates were on board.
“On the way.” Jason replied.
“I hope so.” Tiny said to himself, remembering the incident at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Mark and Princess arrived at the silo. A previously unseen crucible that was hanging from the ceiling and filled with molten steel tipped, flooding the silo with its white-hot contents. Mark and Princess scrambled up the missile firing mechanism.
“Why don’t they fly like we did?!?” Jason shrieked as he watched the molten metal get closer to his teammates.
“Listen.” Keyop replied. Jason obliged and heard a few strains of dramatic music drifting over the din of the missile silo.
“I wish they’d quit paying attention to the background music!” Jason groaned, hanging his head for a moment.
The molten metal splashed and flooded the silo as though it was actually glowing white ocean water. And it kept coming from the crucible as if the container had some magic spell cast on it that caused it to never be empty.
“Mark, I’m slipping!” Princess cried. Actually, she had her footing – she just decided that it was a good time for Mark to put an arm around her like a hero would.
And he obliged. Then, with a flick of a wrist, he lashed Captain Dooooooooom’s whip to a conveniently-placed pole on the Phoenix. He and Princess were pulled on board just as the mountainside sphincter closed.
“Get us outta here, Tiny!” Mark commanded.
“Can’t.” Tiny replied, “Heat must’ve jammed the lifting doohickey or somethin’.”
“Why hasn’t that happened before?” Princess asked, trying not to sound too panicked, “I mean, we transform into the Fiery Phoenix every other day or so. . . .”
“It’s now or never, Tiny!” Mark barked. Tiny hit the forward thrusters. Just as the molten metal burst through the mountainside entrance, the Phoenix made a clean getaway.
The missiles inside the silo finally exploded, destroying the entire steel industry of the Hostile Planet of Urgos.
Meanwhile, Captain Dooooooooom stood on top of his biplane as it flew away from the base. He glanced over the shoulder of his crisp, fresh replacement yachting jacket at the shrinking Phoenix. “You haven’t seen the last of me, G-Force! You will feel the LASH of my vengeance!” He paused a moment before adding, “That was a whip-related play on words, you twits!”
The Phoenix flew to the night side of the Hostile Planet Urgos and maintained a height of roughly fifty feet above a pristine-looking ocean. Mark watched the off-white moonlight reflected off the waves from the open belly hatch. Then, in one dramatic gesture, he tossed Captain Dooooooooom’s whip into the sea.
“Why did you do that, Mark?” Princess asked as she came up to stand beside him.
“Wasn’t it dramatic enough?”
“It’s just that, since we don’t know how to defeat that indestructible metal, Chief Anderson would’ve liked to study it.”
“Oh. I didn’t think of that.”
Back at Center Neptune, 7-Zark-7 let out a very audible sigh as he stepped back from his monitors. “This has been a terribly dangerous mission.” he said to nobody, even though 1-Rover-1 was in the room, “And I think I know how human mothers feel. My G-Force team is coming home safe and sound, thanks to my constant nurturing, I’m sure! But do you think they’d realize how many missions would have failed if I hadn’t insisted they eat all their Brussels Sprouts?”
Rover let out a series of electronic yips and yaps.
“You’re right, 1-Rover-1!” Zark replied, “I really should relax. In fact, I think I’ll try a new way to relax now!” He made his way to the ready room with Rover close behind.
Next to the relaxation table was a rectangular pan filled with steaming hot water.
“Yip yip yap?” said Rover.
“I’ve heard many humans say how much soaking their feet felt good to them, so I decided to give it a try.”
The robotic dog let out a flurry of electronic yips.
“Oh don’t worry.” Zark said with a chuckle, "with all the oil I’ve consumed, I’m sure to be water-resistant.” With that, his cape fluttered, lifting him into the air and lowering him into the pan of water.
A moment passed. Zark let out a contented sigh. “See, Rover? I told – ”
There was a sudden, loud buzz before sparks flew from every joint in the robot’s body. After a couple of moments, silence.
1-Rover-1 shook his head and trundled off to contact maintenance.