X23 The Mysterious Dr. Aikens
[G-II #26: Pandora, the
Mysterious Private Secretary]
The Mantle Energy Plant in Cape Long has been having problems with its electro-magnetic pump, but no one suspected they were severe enough to cause a giant surge of exploding magma to nearly destroy the plant. Dr. Keane informs that team that this has caused a magnetic malfunction, and that the eruption will descend into the Earth’s core if it is not fixed. To that end, the Global Security Council has hired a renowned scientist, Dr. Aikens, who has done much research into the area of magnetic flux densities.
Dr. Aikens is traveling to Gateway City to work with Dr. Keane on this matter. Dr. Keane requests that the Eagle Riders go pick up Dr. Aikens, but they will be using a large truck, so they can travel incognito without attracting the Vorak’s attention. I’m not sure whose idea it was to use a truck, but hey, I’ll go with it.
Joe drives the truck, because he’s such an awesome driver, not to mention he looks cute in the silly cap they make him wear as part of his disguise. Meanwhile, the remaining Eagle Riders hide in the back. They travel to the Shadow Valley Airport, which is normally only used for small planes, however Dr. Aikens’ plane is huge. I guess the idea of being incognito just went out the window.
Entering the cargo hold of the plane, Mickey and Ollie notice a good-looking redheaded woman standing next to a yellow car. Ollie smirks, “Just my type… a girl!” Getting desperate there, aren’t you, Ollie? Hunter states that the woman is gorgeous. Kelly grows indignant, commenting that Hunter’s acting like he’s never seen a female before. I agree. Hunter never seems to notice the fabulous woman on his team, so what’s up with this? Joe merely wolf whistles at the woman.
Surprise! It turns out that the woman is Dr. Francine Aikens, and the guys on the team are suitably embarrassed, apologizing for their behavior. However, they are still smitten with Dr. Aikens, while Kelly appreciates the Doctor’s recognition that Kelly is an intelligent, competent mechanical engineer.
The team loads Dr. Aikens’ car (a clunky-looking yellow vehicle) and belongings into the truck, and Joe drives back to Gateway City.
Enroute, Dr. Aikens tells the team that she can ‘sense’ Mallanox and that the Vorak must be close by. Without further explanation, she tells them to get off of the highway. I have to say that this makes me highly suspicious, but no one seems to question her words.
Except Joe. He follows her directions reluctantly, and manages to avoid a Vorak ambush by doing so. Unusually however, Mallanox’s androids are prepared. They follow the truck in a helicopter, sending androids with jet packs and rocket launchers to chase down the Eagle Riders.
Dr. Aikens insists that the Eagle Riders quickly get inside of her car.
The front cab of the truck blows off, and despite massive damage to that part of the vehicle, Joe crawls out, unhurt. Guess those cybernetics came in handy again! The back of the truck appears destroyed, and Mallanox comes to open it, but is surprised to see Hunter crouching on top of Dr. Aikens’ car, with everyone else inside. Hunter attacks the androids, and Joe, Kelly and Mickey get out to join him, while Ollie stays behind to protect the Doctor. More Vorak arrive in heavily armored vehicles, and Hunter states that it’s time to go. I’m glad to see that he has a sense of prudence.
Everyone gets into Dr. Aikens’ car, but it’s stuck and won’t move. Joe gets out and provides traction for the car by having it drive over his own foot. Dr. Aikens sees this in the side view mirror and thinks to herself that Joe is even stronger than she suspected. It is clear that she is not surprised by his cyborg nature, even though no one else on the team is aware of it.
The team makes a narrow escape in Dr. Aikens’ car, which turns out to be bulletproof and equipped with missiles. Dr. Aikens seems to think that she’s some kind of James Bond as she flips open panels to reveal her car’s ‘enhancements’.
Joe holds onto the car’s roof while Hunter drives and Dr. Aikens shoots rockets, destroying the Vorak vehicles. Mallanox escapes on a small hovercraft platform, with one of the androids hanging on as he lifts off. “Get your hand off my suede boot you overgrown tin can!” Mallanox shouts, before the android falls off of the escape craft. Clearly Mallanox has respect for all of his men…. uh, androids.
After returning safely to Gateway City, Dr. Keane tells the team that he and Dr. Aikens will be traveling to Cape Long to check out the problems with the Mantle Energy Plant herself, and that the Eagle Riders must stay behind at Gateway City in case of Vorak activity. Wait a minute! Dr. Aikens was attacked coming in to meet the Eagle Riders, they barely escaped, and now Dr. Keane wants to leave with her, completely unprotected?
Apparently so. And then the good Doctor drops another bomb. Keane announces that not only is Dr. Aikens an expert in magnetic flux, but also in cybernetics. Joe is immediately suspicious, wondering what she knows about him.
The team is slightly distressed to hear Dr. Keane and Dr. Aikens calling each other by their first names, and Dr. Keane referring to Dr. Aikens as ‘my dear’. Any romantic inclinations the guys had instantly disappear. Just as well, because Kelly is far more worthy than a washed up widow who fancies herself to be some kind of third-rate secret agent.
As soon as they leave, Joe states his belief that Dr. Aikens is a Vorak spy, because otherwise how would she know that the Vorak were about to attack? She never explained how she ‘sensed’ Mallanox. This is a really good point. Of course, she might not be a spy, but it’s certainly worthy of checking out.
Despite Joe’s suspicions, the Eagle Riders have no proof, and for once, Hunter convinces Joe to not run off, but to stay behind, as he has been ordered to do. The team spends a few bored days at Gateway City. Days. They’re suspicious of Dr. Aikens and don’t even bother investigating for days. Can anyone explain this to me?
I’ll be that the Eagle Riders are sorry they wasted so much time, though, because they soon learn that Dr. Keane has been shot.
At the scene of Dr. Keane’s shooting, the silhouette of a female figure is holding a gun… it seems to be Dr. Aikens!
The team rushes to the Ultra Eagle to reach Dr. Keane, and Joe is convinced that Dr. Aikens must have had something to do with this situation.
To be continued…