by Dayton Ward
Following her latest humiliating defeat at the hands of SPACE MARSHAL DYLAN McCADE, The evil EMPRESS ENTROPIA has retreated to her secret lair deep within the dark recesses of the distant planet Pluto. There, she has finished construction on her newest creation, a weapon of unbelievable power, which she is readying to unleash against an unsuspecting galaxy....
From the balcony of her private chambers, Empress Entropia beheld her crowning achievement which dwarfed the teams of workers scurrying about it. Final preparations for the first test of her new weapon were almost complete.
The Ice Cannon was the culmination of a year’s work, a project so grand and immense in scale that it would have taken a legion of mere mortals decades to accomplish. When it became operational, Entropia would be forever unchallenged as Supreme Ruler of All the Universe. And once that day arrived, she would obliterate from existence those who had dared to oppose her!
Naturally, she knew that the Space Marshals would attempt to stop her. The bothersome police force under command of the League of Planets had given her nothing but grief since her ascension to the throne here on Pluto. The president had attempted to negotiate with her, hoping to draw Pluto into the interplanetary coalition, but Entropia refused to submit to another’s rule so long as breath remained in her body. Because of that, the Empress knew that the Space Marshals would be coming, including her arch nemesis, Dylan McCade. While Entropia looked forward to dispatching the entire Space Marshal Service, McCade would receive an up close and personal introduction to the Ice Cannon. He would become the first permanent exhibit in her new Deep Freeze Museum, at least until such time as she decided another fate for him as well as his meddlesome partner, Deputy Jacquelyn Blake.
While the thought of McCade becoming her personal trophy filled Entropia with anticipation, the excitement of contemplating the bothersome Space Marshal’s demise paled in comparison to the real target of her vengeance. No, McCade would suffer, but true joy could not be obtained so long as the League of Planets persevered. Their existence was an affront to her very being, so they must be annihilated. Of all the worlds comprising that coalition, one stood apart: Earth. While the League might well survive the loss of any of its other member planets, destroying Earth would be like driving a stake through its proverbial heart. Obliterate Earth, Entropia knew, and the entire League would fall. What a glorious day that would be, bringing with it warmth to the darkest, coldest recesses of her soul!
“Majesty!” a worker called up from the base of the Ice Cannon thirty feet below Entropia’s balcony. “Our adjustments are complete! The weapon is ready!”
The Empress nodded in approval. “Excellent. Prepare your demonstration.” Next, she turned and left the balcony, descending a spiral staircase leading into her ornate control center. Here, another team of servants stood at consoles and monitored the current status of the Ice Cannon as well as the energy supplying it. A complex distillation process broke down raw minerals from Pluto’s depths and recombined them into the fuel needed to power the immense weapon. All the energy she ever would require lay at the heart of the planet to which all others soon would pledge eternal loyalty.
“Are you ready?” Entropia asked the gathering of servants, allowing a hint of menace to creep into her voice. “I grow tired of waiting.” As she spoke, the Empress moved to the plush, oversized throne positioned at the center of the control room. “Put the first test target on the imaging screen.”
A worker manning the screen’s controls turned a knob and shifted a lever, and then the imaging screen flared to life, displaying a planet in space: Neptune. The world’s dull, lackluster blue colors made it seem lifeless, belying the fact nearly one million people called it home.
Not for long, Entropia mused.
“Bring the Ice Cannon to full power,” she ordered, already feeling the reverberations emanating from deep within the very core of the planet as massive power generators began to hum with energy. The Empress could even feel subtle vibrations in the arms of her lofty throne.
“Weapon is at full power, Majesty!” another worker called out.
Entropia nodded. “Target the planet and await my command to fire.” All around her, servants carried out their assigned tasks. She was pleased at the efficiency with which her minions toiled, intent on pleasing her.
“Planet targeted, Majesty!"
Directing her attention to the imaging screen once more, Entropia observed the image of Neptune now painted with large glowing red crosshairs. Months of work had brought her to this moment, and now all that remained was to give the command to put the Ice Cannon to use. She studied the planet for a few extra moments, imagining it as a world teeming with billions of Earthlings rather those few people who had colonized the harsh, unforgiving world. Soon, Entropia would be able to do more than merely imagine the end of the hated planet Earth and all its petty inhabitants.
Including Space Marshal Dylan McCade.
“Fire,” Entropia ordered.
An alert siren sounded in the control room, warning all who were nearby that the Ice Cannon was preparing to fire. Entropia settled herself more comfortably atop her throne and waited for the show to begin. Swiveling her seat, she turned to see the gigantic weapon pulsing with power as a vibrant blue-white beam of energy exploded from its enormous muzzle, arcing through the raised dome of the subterranean chamber deep beneath her mountain castle, rocketing upward through the a tunnel carved through hundreds of feet of solid rock and into the Plutonian sky. The beam surged into space at an unimaginable velocity! It hummed and crackled where it spat forth from the cannon, but remained constant as the weapon continued to push forth the massive energies at its command.
Once more turning to face the imaging screen, Entropia inquired, “Well?”
The worker at the fire control board reported, “Majesty, the beam is showing no signs of weakening.” At this distance, it would still take several seconds for the beam to reach out from Pluto across the cosmic void and embrace its target. The worker called out, “Five seconds!”
Silently, Entropia counted the remaining seconds until—on the imaging screen—the intense power beam touched the outer atmosphere of Neptune and began to spread, slowly yet unrelentingly blotting out the entire planet from view! It took only a few seconds for the process to complete, after which Neptune’s brilliant azure hue was gone, masked by a white sphere that seemed as bright as the sun itself.
“Majesty!” the servant shouted. “It worked! The planet is completely surrounded in a shell of ice!”
Rising from her throne, Entropia reveled in the sight of the Ice Cannon’s first successful test. Throwing her arms wide, she roared, “At last, my power is absolute! No one will ever dare to oppose me once all learn of Entropia’s Ice Weapon!”
This was, however, all the celebrating she would allow herself for the moment. After all, there still was work to be done, and more tests to be conducted, but soon—very soon—the Empress of Pluto would be ready to turn her creation on Earth itself!