Author : Bob Newbell

Captain “Jet” Connors of the Planetary Alliance and his sidekick, Cadet Lackey, burst into the secret base of operations of their archenemy, Dr. Sinistral. The evil madman barked German-accented orders at the robots who flanked him. “Destroy them, my mechanical minions! Destroy Jet Connors and Lackey!”

The lumbering automatons' advance toward the trim, muscular heroes in their form-fitting spacesuits was cut short when Jet and Lackey leveled their atomic disintegrator pistols at the machine men and fired. The robots collapsed to the floor, the vacuum tubes visible through the transparent bubbles in their heads went dim. Dr. Sinistral was too stunned by the quick defeat of his guards to put up much of a fight. Jet felled him with a single punch.

“Lackey, contact Commander Gernsback and let him know we've secured Sinistral's base. I'm going to look around.”

After informing the Commander of the Rocket Patrol of the situation, Lackey joined Jet in Sinistral's lab. Along one wall were several recharging alcoves designed for the mad scientist's robots. Lackey thought it curious that there were no robots in any of the alcoves. He was struck by the enormity of the odd chamber at the center of the room. “Jumpin' Jupiter, Captain, what is that?”

“That, Lackey, is a time machine. I found the blueprints for it on that desk. And look at that chalkboard over in the corner of the room.”

Lackey walked over and examined the chalkboard. On it were parallel horizontal lines, the top line marked “Prime Timeline” and the bottom one “Altered Timeline”.

“Captain, what does it all mean?”

“Lackey, Sinistral's plan was to destroy the Planetary Alliance by changing the past.”

“Roarin' Rockets, Captain, how?”

“By sending his robot henchmen back in time to destroy certain inventors and technologies so there'd be no solar system-wide Planetary Alliance. Look at that chalkboard again. Atomic rockets, flying cars, ray guns, space colonization. He was going to erase them all from history. He was even planning to have his robots self-destruct after they'd completed their missions in the past so no one could use their advanced technology to get history back on track.”

Lackey rested his hand on his semi-automatic pistol in its holster. “Good thing we stopped him,” he said. “Just imagine a world with no Moon base and no space stations.”

“Yep,” replied Connors. “If we'd gotten here just a minute or so later, Project Apollo would have been deleted from the history books.”

Connors and Lackey exchanged glances. “How did we get talking about the old space program?” asked Officer Lackey.

Connors looked around the room. Trash and drug paraphernalia were everywhere. The chatter from a mindless daytime talk show played loudly on the TV. The house smelled of pot and urine. Connors shook his head. “I don't know,” he said.

A siren screamed in the distance. Two police cars joined their own cruiser parked out in front of the house.

“Well,” said Connors, “let's get the paperwork knocked out on this.”

Lackey sighed. He looked at the three disheveled suspects sitting handcuffed on the floor. He looked at the squalid, filthy room. Another day, another meth bust, he thought. “Let's grab some lunch when we're done here,” said Lackey.

“Not fast food,” said Connors who looked down at his large belly. “Doc's been after me about my weight. Blood pressure and cholesterol are up, too. Sometimes I wish we just had food pills like in those old sci fi stories.”

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