A Rae Arizona Adventure: The Revenge of Jonn-Nixx by Vernon Welles © Jorbello Adoud Goud looked up from his game of Escher chess to see a member of his personal guard standing respectfully before him.
"A stranger is requesting an audience with you Master Goud. He brings information relating to Rae Arizona and her companions." The Legate of the Red Moon Brotherhood seldom granted an audience to anyone, much less a stranger. However this person's news was of immediate interest. That woman had been a thorn in the Brotherhood's side when she was in the Peace Patrol. Now that she was a Cosmic Retriever she and her companions continued interfering with even less restraint.
"Bring him here." "Yes, Master" The man who entered was of average height and weight, hair white stubble on his skull, skin tanned a deep brown. What drew Jorbello's attention were the man's eyes, they were glittering pools of pure evil. Instinctively he gripped the crater gun under his robes.
"I have a proposition for you," The stranger said with no introduction. "We have a common goal, the elimination of Rae Arizona and her partners. They will no longer trouble you and I will have my revenge." Jorbello sat stunned at the sheer vehemence in the stranger's words, the cruel set of his mouth and those cursed eyes. He shuddered in spite of the warmth of the room and finally found his voice.
"Who are you?
"I once ruled a planet, now I am a common fugitive thanks to the Arizona woman and her companions. Those fools thought my mind was being healed in the Tanks, but a spark of rage burned deep within me that would not be quenched. When I was pronounced 'cured' I was sent to Cygnus III to begin serving my sentence.
"I bided my time, and then when the opportunity presented itself, I escaped. While in prison I heard tales of the Brotherhood and decided it would make a useful ally in my plans for revenge." "The Brotherhood allies with no one..." Jorbello began, but something in the strangers' eyes stopped him and he found himself saying "However we can come to terms." Jonn-Nixx smiled.
"Where's Sith this morning?" Jan said, padding into the kitchen, "Oh, good, coffee." "He's gone out to try his new pseudogills," Rae replied. "He's determined to catch that Oxfish that hangs around the second reef." "What's he going to do if he does catch it?" Jan said, "That monster's the size of a space liners escape shuttle." "Take a holo of it and turn it loose I suppose, he hates to have anything get away from him."
"I hope he doesn't take on more than he can handle. You know how he is in hunting mode." "After he left I asked Pallas to keep a watch on him, he'll only interfere if it's necessary." There was the chime of an incoming holocall and the smiling, mustachioed face of Cedric Hyde-Mathis, the director of Cosmic Retrievers Ltd. appeared.
"Good fortune, ladies." "Good fortune Cedric," the women chorused.
"First, I have a bit of news; Jonn-Nixx escaped from New Alcatraz and has disappeared. There's an all galaxy bulletin out for his recapture, but so far, nothing." "When was this?" Rae asked.
"Four Universal Months ago. The Prison and Rehabilitation Authority tried to recover the prisoner themselves, but finally had to admit they'd lost him. No one has ever escaped from Cygnus III and it's an embarrassment to the Authority." "An embarrassment is it?" Jan said acidly. "The Peace Patrol and the Galactic Consortium lose four crucial months before they're asked to help find Nixx? He could be anywhere on hundreds of planets. Bureaucrats and their egos, Seker take them all." "Do you have an assignment for us?" Rae said.
"Yes, an interesting one. Siemens-Krupp Armaments Ltd. reported the theft of an experimental weapon two Universal Days ago by persons unknown. It is suspected that one of their security squad was involved, but he was brain burned and cannot answer questions ... nor feed himself for that matter.
"The weapon was designed to be installed on a Class Four Peace Patrol Battle Cruiser. It is a combined quad-thread disruptor and tractor-repellor beam generator. It had been successfully fired, but further tests were needed before it could be built in quantity and installed in the cruisers.
"Siemens-Krupp is offering a 60 million CR's reward for the prototypes safe return; they have no interest in the thieves. Would you be interested?" "Of course," Rae replied and Jan nodded. "Shall we say 40% of the reward?" "Done, all available information on the case is being tight beamed to you. Good fortune, ladies." "Good fortune, Cedric." The holo winked out.
"Here come the fishermen," Jan said, seeing Sith and Pallas emerging from the surf, "They seem to be arguing about something." "Probably who let the 'big one' get away," Rae said with a grin.
Sith shook the water from his fur, unstrapped his pseudogills and headed for the house, Pallas floating alongside, his spherical 'body' turning various shades of red as they continued their discussion.
"How was the fishing?" Jan said as they entered.
"I almost had that monster until my friend here butted in," Sith grumbled.
"He almost had you," Pallas replied, "If I hadn't paralyzed his jaw muscles you would have been a hors d'oeuvre." "I was well prepared to deal with him from the inside..." Sith began.
"Are you two interested in our new assignment or not?" Rae interjected.
Acting on a tip from a friend in the Peace Patrol, Rae and the others were soon in orbit around the fifth planet of Aldebaran, a thickly forested world, with one huge sea. It was not known to be inhabited and it's animal life was both vegetarian and benign.
"If anyone's here, they're well hidden," Rae said, "No signs of life, no trace of plasma drives, no radiation, nothing." "They may have shields up and are under those trees," Jan replied.
"Or in the ocean," Sith added, "Let us move in closer, we may detect something." "I'll go down and scout around," Pallas said. "If they do have that disruptor energized you'll be an easy target. They won't see me;" A moment later 'he' emerged from his hatch in the Sunflower's hull, descended through the atmosphere and disappeared into the trees.
"It's been over four hours and no sign of him," Sith rumbled. "He's practically invulnerable so he can't be captured or destroyed." "That's it," Rae said. "We're going down and have a look." Jan smoothly decelerated the Sunflower into the lower atmosphere, set the tracking deepdar on maximum and began a slow orbit around the planet. The thickly wooded continent slipped slowly by below them, then a violent shudder shook the ship and warning alarms blared.
"Tractor beam!" Jan shouted. "The drive's gone into overload and safety shutdown." "It's the thieves," Rae said excitedly. "We're going to have to fight our way out." "We're being pulled into the trees," Sith growled, loading his machine pistol.
"Full power in the positron pistols," Rae said as she and Jan buckled on their gun belts.
"Nullnerve and smash grenades armed and ready," Jan added. "We'll hit them as soon as we land." Moments later the ship thudded to the ground. The airlock cycled open and the three charged out ready for battle. They found themselves in a clearing ringed by mammoth trees and no one in sight. They stood confused in eerie silence, broken only by the sighing of the wind in the trees and the fluting call of some unseen creature.
"Anubis' fangs," Rae swore, "Why don't they show themselves?" "They have the advantage, yet no one is attacking," Sith growled. "Do they mean to toy with us as kits with a marsh rat?" "I'm going to see if I can energize the drive..." Jan said when a mocking voice interrupted her.
"We meet again Cosmic Retrievers; I have been waiting for you." Jonn-Nixx emerged from behind a tree and strolled toward them, grinning in triumph. Men clad in scarlet tunics stepped from the forest leveling proton rifles at the trio.
"Your weapons are useless and you are my prisoners. What a delicious moment." Sith growled and attempted to fire his machine pistol, but was instantly paralyzed and it dropped from his paws. Rae and Jan were likewise rendered immobile and dropped their weapons.
Indifferent to the glares of his prisoners, Nixx walked slowly around them saying "Now the question is what to do with you? You robbed me of my destiny as ruler of the galaxy and for that you must pay. Have you any thoughts in this matter, Jorbello?" That worthies' portly figure appeared between the ranks of riflemen and waddled up, robes trailing on the ground.
"Burn them down where they stand," he blurted. "The Brotherhood will have it's revenge for their continued interference." "It is my revenge we seek," Nixx replied, "Yours is of no consequence." Jorbellos face purpled in anger but he was silent.
"Now," Nixx continued; "I propose we retire to my headquarters while I consider a suitable end for these meddlers. Bring them along." Freed from their paralysis, the three were urged to follow Nixx and Jorbello into the woods by prods from rifle barrels.
"Where is Pallas?" Jan whispered to Rae. "He'd make short work of these vermin." Rae shook her head. What in fact had happened to their partner?
A trek through the woods brought them to another clearing. As they approached, a rectangular section of the ground lifted revealing a sloping ramp. Descending this led them into an immense cavern filled with busily working men, the stolen disruptor prominently displayed on a raised platform.
The three were led to a barred cell carved into the rock wall and locked in. Four guards took up station outside as Nixx and Jorbello studied their captives.
"I know you've been wondering where your little friend has gone," Nixx said with a chuckle, "Here he is." Pallas swooped down from the caverns' roof and hovered over Nixxs' right shoulder. "All is in readiness Master Nixx" he intoned in an expressionless voice pulsing deep blue.
"Pallas my friend," Sith roared, "What has happened to you?" "He is under my control," Nixx replied. "He is integral to my plans for being the ruler of all. With legions of Jorbellos' compatriots on hundreds of planets armed with copies of the disruptor, we shall sweep all resistance aside and I shall assume my rightful place as Emperor of the Galaxy." "I still say burn them down before they cause more trouble," Jorbello muttered. Nixx ignored him.
"I grow weary of this," Nixx said. "We shall adjourn to my throne room." "At your command, master," Pallas droned.
Rae, Jan and Sith watched helplessly as Nixx and Jorbello were lifted into the air and wafted across the cavern.
"He's gained control of Pallas," Jan said sadly. "Now that maniac will rule the galaxy." "I can't believe he'd turn on us," Sith grumbled.
"We have to figure a way out of here," Jan said. "Pallas or no, we have to stop that madman or die trying." "How long will it be before he puts his plan into operation?" Sith replied.
"He'll have to replicate millions of parts to make copies of that disruptor and get them to hundreds of planets," Jan added. "That will take time."
"Don't forget he has Pallas to help him," Rae said grimly. "We may not have much time at all."
"Sith, Sith my friend, wake up." Sith's eyes flashed open, he instinctively flew into a fighting crouch and then saw Pallas floating before him pulsing shades of copper.
"I knew you hadn't turned on us, my friend," he purred. "Why are you pretending to be Nixxs' slave?" "Nixx has somehow developed primitive but effective mental powers," Pallas began. "He's gained control of Jorbello, Legate of the Red Moon Brotherhood and consequently his legions of murderers and thieves. They're scattered over hundreds of planets and if armed with copies of the new projector they could wreak havoc and may very well be unstoppable.