The Fiendish Experiment

Each anniversary of the founding of the Empire, the Trigan Air Fleet gave a thrilling display over the Imperial City. This particular year, the high spot of the display was a demonstration of aerobatics by two fighter-craft chained together ! The Emperor Trigo and his brother Brag watched from the balcony of the Imperial Palace. That lad of yours and young Vella are not only the finest pilots in the air fleet, but they have the blind courage of youth ! Humph !—I’ve done some crazy things in my time, but nothing on Elekton would induce me to try that trick ! Later, the two craft landed. Janno and his comrade Vella grinned across at each other. Thank the stars that’s over ! Agreed ! We must never try it again— eventual disaster is a mathematical certainty ! Moments later, Vella was accosted. A few words in your ear, Lieutenant ! Message from a friend ! Oh ! How dare you come here on the air base ? Do you people want to ruin me ? It might come to that, Lieutenant —unless you pay up like a gentleman !
Give me time . . . please ! You’ve had time. The message is that, unless you settle your debts by the end of the lunar month, Lord Janno will be told that his friend is a gambler and a cheat ! If that happens I shall be ruined ! Thrown out of the Air Fleet in disgrace . . . But I can’t pay up . . . I haven’t a zerst piece to bless myself with ! Vella managed to conceal his private problem that evening, when he accompanied Janno on a visit to the laboratory of the great scientist Peric. Yes, gentlemen, I am on the threshold of several new discoveries which will revolutionise our way of life on this planet. All Elekton is in your debt, Peric, for the great work you have already done. You must be a very happy man. Happy ? Yes, perhaps. But I have done things, in the cause of science, that give me cause for regret. This invention, for instance, would be worth a fortune to anyone who could get his hands on it. But it is a thing of evil . . . utter evil . . . and I wish I could bring myself to burn the papers. When his companions’ backs were turned, it was an easy matter for Vella to slip the red folder inside his tunic. Enough of science for one evening. Come and have supper. Worth a fortune, eh ? Then I’ll borrow the papers for a while. The old fool will never miss them. That night, Vella studied the contents of the purloined folder. When dawn came, he was filled with mingled triumph and terror. Either Peric is raving mad, or what I have here is the key to riches beyond belief . . . . . . if only I have the courage to submit myself to the dreadful experiment described here !

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 550 on 29 July 1972.