118 - Der Robot-Sergeant
SGT. Robot
Kurt Mahr

The cargo ship GILLAINE lands on the planet Azgola, located 37,000 light years from the Earth. To their great surprise, the crew doesn't find any trace of its inhabitants. On the other hand, they do discover a strange creature resembling a huge stranded whale.

Section (Division) III intervenes to determine what has happened. Colonel Quinto questions the influence of one of the cellular activators obtained by the Antis.

The cargo ship VICTORY and the battlecruiser VONDAR arrive in the Azgo System. While the VONDAR remains in orbit, the VICTORY lands. Agents Meech Hannigan, Lofty Patterson, Ron Landry and Larry Randall leave to get information. The soil has been infested by an unknown species of lichen. They also find a formless, puffed up, spongy thing that is revealed to be an Azgonian. This Azgonian directs them to a tower where they soon arrive. It is empty but they believe to see a face. In fact, the face belongs to another Azgonian, Baladoor, who, while still very fat, is able to speak and to move.

He tells them what has happened. Around two months earlier, two unknown vessels, a small one then followed by a big one, appeared on the planet. After their departure, the Azgonians began to feel no more hunger and, little by little, they became fat and formless. Only Baladoor has not been affected too much, living in a very protected office with its own ambient air supply. He is now certain that the air transports a nourishing substance.

Several armed gliders attack them and the VICTORY is also attacked. Landry orders the VICTORY to take off and go into orbit. The attackers turn out to be Springers. The two Terran vessels attempt to land but they are again forced to take off and return to space.

All the agents of Section III, with the exception of Meech Hannigan, are captured and taken to the Springer base where they are subjected to psycho-cross-examinations. The robot (Meech Hannigan) follows them with a glider. Inside the Springer outpost, Ron Landry manages to free himself and, while threatening the Springers, liberates his companions. On the other hand, Baladoor dies during his captivity.

One of the Springers blames their chief, Garathon, for having allowed the native to die. Meech Hannigan then intervenes and during the confrontation, Garathon is killed.

It is finally determined that the air contains spores that produce a moss fungus that one finds everywhere on Azgola. These spores contain hypercaloric elements that pass inside the organism by inhalation. The moss, baptized lipo (fat)-fungus, generates a ton of spores and is of extra-planetary origin. The entire population of Azgola is evacuated until a solution is found.

Michael P. Mahoney 2007-01-29

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