The Duplication Machine (continued . . .)




Reaching the Trigan coast well ahead of the Caton air fleet, the duplicate Janno dropped flares and fired his guns. That should wake up the defences ! A cease-fire was in operation, but the Trigan coastal gunners quickly roused themselves. It's a Caton craft !—Sound the alarm ! Action stations ! The evil triumvirate who ruled Cato were also in the craft. One of them struck wildly at the duplicate Janno. Fool—Get away from here ! Do you want to get us all killed ? With no hand on the controls, the craft swerved towards the coast. Open fire !
Meanwhile, the alarm had reached Trigan City—and the fighting craft of the air fleet were screeching up into the dawn sky. All-unsuspecting, the Caton fleet flew into a trap. Silhouetted against Elekton's rising suns, they were mauled to tatters by the Trigans ! The war was over ! Later that day, a Trigan naval patrol craft found an unconscious figure lying on the shore of a lonely islet. By the stars !— It's Lord Janno, the Emperor's nephew ! In due course, Robi was brought from Cato and questioned by Peric. He confessed his secret to the great scientist. I think his Imperial Majesty will agree with me when I say that your execution or imprisonment will only deprive Elekton of a brain it cannot afford to lose. But the infernal duplicating device will be destroyed— and you will speak of it to no one ! Never, master !— I promise you ! One thing puzzles me—is the Janno who was found on that lonely beach the original Janno, or the duplicate Janno ? That we shall never know for sure, Imperial Majesty ! And neither will he ! As to the circumstances leading up to his crash, his mind is a blank ! A statue was erected in the great square of Trigan City to the Lord Janno who saved the Empire at the cost of his own life. Janno often pondered on the great question mark of his life. Am I the original me— or my own duplicate ?

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 505 on 18 September 1971.

 

The Duplication Machine (continued . . .)




Janno's craft plummeted into the sea. A comrade circled over the wreckage for some time—but . . . I regret to report that Lord Janno has departed to join his ancestors ! That night, at a lonely spot off the coast of Trigan . . . Is that you ?— Do you have the prisoner ? Yes !— I have him ! The duplicate Janno was dragged aboard the Caton undersea warship. Well—now do you believe me ? Is this not indeed Lord Janno the Emperor's nephew ? By all the stars, so it is ! Then give me my money and let me depart, Admiral ! Ten thousand Trigan pieces, as agreed ! You will be paid for your treachery, fellow—but my orders are to take you back to Cato ! A cold finger of terror traced its course down Robi's spine. I'm done for ! As soon as the Catons announce that they have Janno, the Trigans will issue a statement that it is a lie ! AAAAAH ! Then the Catons will torture the truth out of me !

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 503 on 4 September 1971.

 

The Duplication Machine (continued . . .)




Late that night, a dark figure climbed the face of the tenement building that housed Robi's apartment. This is the window. The intruder was soon inside the apartment, and delving into a drawer that contained an emperor's ransom in precious objects. They're all here. Enough to keep me for the rest of my life ! And he won't be needing them any more ! —heh ! heh ! And then . . . So, you animal— you dared to come back, eh ? Aaaaaaaaaah ! Robi stared at the thief in astonishment. You're a ghost ! An evil spectre ! With my own eyes I saw you hurled from the cliff-top last evening ! Don't come near me ! You are evil—evil ! Blinded by panic, the wretch fell back to his doom ! Eeeeeeeeeeaaaaaagh ! In the silence that followed, Robi looked down. So that's it, eh ? My duplicate was destroyed by that cur ! And it is impossible to make a second copy of myself ! I am all alone again—and the chances of my great discovery being detected increase with every day that passes ! What shall I do ? At dawn next day, the Catons attempted the first bombing raid of the war upon the Trigan capital. An air battle raged till noon.
Robi witnessed the conflict in the sky—and it gave him food for thought. That's it ! It's to Cato I must look to complete my fortune ! I will provide them with a rich prize, for which they will pay me anything I demand ! When Janno, the emperor's nephew, landed his fighter-craft later that day . . . Message for you, Lord Janno. What's this ? . . . "You will remember me, Lord Janno. I am Peric's assistant Robi. I have something of great interest to show you, if you will come to my apartment . . ." Intrigued and mystified by the strange invitation, Janno went to Robi's apartment that evening. He found the door ajar. Robi !— Are you in there ? Sudden oblivion descended upon Janno ! Uuuuuh ! . . . Instants later, Robi was bundling the unconscious form of the emperor's nephew into his strange device. I must work quickly—before he comes to his senses . . . It was not long before Janno's shape began to appear— duplicated !
What's this ? . . . "You will remember me, Lord Janno. I am Peric's assistant Robi. I have something of great interest to show you, if you will come to my apartment . . ."

This installment was originally published in Look and Learn issue no. 501 on 21 August 1971.