Emergency air lock open!"
The tall, broad-shouldered officer, wearing the magnificent black-andgold
uniform of the Solar Guard, spoke into a small microphone and
waited for an acknowledgment. It came almost immediately.
"Cadet Corbett ready for testing," a voice crackled thinly over the
"Very well. Proceed."
Seated in front of the scanner screen on the control deck of the rocket
cruiser Polaris, Captain Steve Strong replaced the microphone in its slot
and watched a bulky figure in a space suit step out of the air lock and
drift away from the side of the ship.
"Go on, Astro," shouted the young Space Cadet. "Boot that screwy ball
with everything you've got!"
The three cadets of the Polaris unit raced down the Academy field toward
the mercuryball, a plastic sphere with a vial of mercury inside. At
the opposite end of the field, three members of the Arcturus unit ran
headlong in a desperate effort to reach the ball first.
Astro, the giant Space Cadet from Venus, charged toward the ball like
a blazing rocket, while his two unit mates flanked him, ready to block
out their opponents and give Astro a clear shot at the ball....
Stand by to reduce thrust on main drive rockets!" The tall, broadshouldered
officer in the uniform of the Solar Guard snapped out the order
as he watched the telescanner screen and saw the Western Hemisphere
of Earth looming larger and larger.
"Aye, aye, Captain Strong," replied a handsome curly-haired Space Cadet.
He turned to the ship's intercom and spoke quickly into the
"Control deck to power deck. Check in!"
"Power deck, aye," a bull-throated voice bellowed over the loudspeaker.
"Stand by rockets, Astro! We're coming in for a landing...
"Stand to, you rocket wash!"
A harsh, bull-throated roar thundered over the platform of the monorail
station at Space Academy and suddenly the lively chatter and
laughter of more than a hundred boys was stilled. Tumbling out of the
gleaming monorail cars, they froze to quick attention, their eyes turned
to the main exit ramp.
They saw a short, squat, heavily built man, wearing the scarlet uniform
of the enlisted Solar Guard, staring down at them, his fists jammed
into his hips and his feet spread wide apart.