Triple-I Sunday: The Thought Pirate!

Interplanetary Insurance, Inc., is in trouble! Space pirates have been hijacking insured freighters! Since it’s up to the insurance company and not the police to stop this sort of thing, they send their top agent, Bert Brandon out to confront the villains! But Bert doesn’t only sport his big insurance-knowledge-packed brain, he also has the latest in technology.

The pirate lair is located somewhere in the asteroids, and there are like, SEVERAL of those, so all Bert can do is fly back and forth through the belt, protected by his “force field” until the pirates take the bait. They never do, and Bert gets fired. Ha! Just kidding, of course they do, and they take him back to the pirate hideout on the asteroid Ceres.

Gort here has hit the jackpot. He got him a swanky space clipper, complete with “force field” technology, and a hostage! He sends a message to Bert’s boss (he actually has Bert send him one of those Spacegrams) demanding $50,000 ransom for the insurance agent. While waiting for the PayPal response, Gort locks Bert up in a dungeon.

Bert’s cooling his heels in his cell when suddenly…well…something happens. Honestly, I’m not really sure what’s supposed to be happening, but some rocks fall and a strange creature emerges from a hole in the wall.

As you can see, Bert is merely thinking about how cute Koko is, but a moment later Koko actually speaks Bert’s thoughts aloud! He can read minds! They’re fast friends, and soon a thug comes to take Bert to see Captain Gort.

Bert’s thinking the ransom has been paid but on the contrary, the III has denied payment! Looks like being a hostage is a pre-existing condition! Gort informs Bert that they’re giving him a last meal and then marooning him on an asteroid somewhere. Bert quickly dashes off a Spacegram…

While Bert is pushing a bit of breakfast into the Brandon face, Koko picks up the thoughts of one of the pirates, who is thinking about how he cheated during last night’s poker game. Within seconds a fight breaks out and, in the melee, Bert makes his escape. He searches through the hideout until he comes upon something unexpected.

BETTY GORT

Betty Gort turns out to be Gort’s niece. She is quite taken by Koko, and instead of explaining the Parcat’s amazing abilities, he demonstrates it.

But before she can even pull back her hand to smack him, Uncle Gort finds the two. Outraged at the gentle flirtation, Gort orders Bert taken to “the execution room”, which seems to have mountains in its distant background. Luckily for Bert, though, just as he’s about to be shot by a firing squad, the Space Navy attacks the hideout!

This would be it for the pirates except for the fact that they’ve used the technology in Bert’s ship to whip up a “force field” of their own…there’s no way the Space Navy can penetrate it!

One of the pirates asks Gort is they can survive a blockade by the Space Navy and Gort assures them it’s not a problem. But Koko hears the pirate captain’s real thoughts: they don’t stand a chance, and he’s thinking of making a break for it with Betty in Bert’s ship! Obviously this causes quite a stir, and Bert seizes the moment!

The Space Navy makes short work of the pirates and Bert returns to his boss on Earth, along with Koko and Betty Gort. Bert’s boss explains that of course he was going to pay the ransom, he just sent a fake message “to gain time”. Koko then betrays the guy’s thoughts into giving Bert a $100 raise, and we end with Bert and Betty Gort the Pirate’s Niece headed off to the Galaxy Room, the most expensive club on Earth!

The profits of Interplanetary Insurance, Inc. are safe again!

Next week: The Runaway World!

“The Thought Pirate!”
Mystery in Space #17 (December 1953-January 1954)
Writer: Sid Gerson
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Sy Barry
Editor: Julius Schwartz

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