Coffee and Puppets, by the Jeanster

Title: Coffee and Puppets
Author: Jeanster
Category: Crossover Fanfic
Fandoms: UFO/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: FRC Fan Rated Suitable For Children
Disclaimer: I do not own UFO and/or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or the character of Ethan Rayne from that series.

Ed Straker looked through the pages of the film script given to him by the man with whom he had finished having lunch.

Strange sense of humor that fellow has, he thought as he sat his office.

"I poisoned your coffee while you were in the men's room," he had told Straker after the film executive/commander of S.H.A.D.O. had finished drinking it.

Straker stared at Mr. Ethan Rayne who then burst out laughing.

"Just kidding! That's my way of adding some levity to this lunch meeting. You need to lighten up, Mr. Straker!" said Rayne.

Straker stared at him coldly. Rayne did not seem to care whether or not his film script would be accepted.

"Well, this has been absolutely lovely. But I have to run along now. People to meet and things to do. Good day, Mr. Straker."

And with that Ethan Rayne left the restaurant.

Straker leaned back in his office chair and thought of the odd Ethan Rayne. Then he frowned and pressed the intercom to buzz for Miss Ealand.

"Yes, Mr. Straker?" said Miss Ealand.

"Miss Ealand, would you please bring me something for an upset stomach? I'm not feeling well."

"Certainly, sir. I'll be just a moment."

Straker wondered if that Rayne character was mentally disturbed enough to have actually poisoned his coffee during his brief absence from the table.

A moment later Miss Ealand pressed the button that opened the door to Straker's office.

"Here, sir," she said carrying a bottle of tablets and a glass of water. "This should help. Sir?" She looked around but did not see Straker in the room.

She walked over to the desk and leaned forward. There sitting in Straker's chair was a small doll about eighteen inches in height.

"How cute!" she said aloud. Miss Ealand smiled as she stared at it. "Why, it looks just like Mr. Straker!"

And indeed it did bear a striking resemblance to her handsome blond blue-eyed boss, except the head was slightly larger in proportion to the rest of the body. The glass blue eyes were large and had an almost spooky-looking quality.

She wondered how it got there. Her boss was the last person she could imagine to be interested in dolls or toys.

Perhaps it's a gift from a friend, she thought.

She went around the desk and picked up the doll. Upon closer examination she realized it was actually a marionette minus the strings.

Miss Ealand wondered who would make a puppet in the likeness of Mr. Straker. And where was Mr. Straker?

* * * * *

Commander Ed Straker tried to speak, but nothing happened as he tried to tell Miss Ealand that he was right there in her hands.

He was still recovering from the shock of realizing that somehow he had turned into this small puppet.

Then Miss Ealand gently placed the stringless marionette back in Straker's chair and returned to her desk. She left the bottle of tablets and the glass of water on his desk.

"Hello, Miss Ealand," Straker heard Colonel Paul Foster say just outside his office. "Is he in?"

"He was. But not now."

"Well, well! What have we here?"

Straker could see Foster come into the office and smile as he came closer.

"What an uncanny resemblance!"

"I was thinking the same thing," said Miss Ealand.

"Right down to the blond hair and blue eyes," said Foster as he picked up the puppet and looked closer at it. "Even the clothes and shoes!"

Help me, Paul, Straker screamed silently. But no voice could be heard as he tried to make Foster understand what had happened.

* * * * *

Ethan Rayne felt like he had awakened from a hazy dream. He could not remember what happened during the past twenty-four hours. The effect of the mind control from the aliens aboard the UFO had worn off.

He looked across the street and saw the sign for the Harlington-Straker film studio.

"What on earth am I doing here?" he asked himself. He looked around. He saw his car parked down the street.

Rayne decided to go home. He had no idea of what he done to Straker. He did not even remember meeting Straker.

And if anyone were to ask him who Ed Straker was, Ethan Rayne could honestly say, "I have no idea."

* * * * *

Colonel Paul Foster arrived at the secret underground S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters beneath the film studio. He carried the stringless marionette in his arms so that he could show it to Lt. Keith Ford, Colonel Alec Freeman and the others there.

"Careful not to drop it," said Paul. "The commander doesn't know I borrowed it from his office."

Upon hearing that, Straker wondered what else the young colonel did that he should know about.

"It's adorable!" said Colonel Virginia Lake as she reached over and eagerly took it from Paul. She cradled it like a baby in her arms and gently kissed the top of its head.

Keith, Alec and Paul exchanged glances and smiled.

"I'd give anything to be that doll right now," said Alec grinning at Virginia.

"Oh, Alec!" she said laughing. She rocked the puppet gently in her arms for a moment longer, then sighed as she returned it to Paul.

"Well, back to work," she said as she turned reluctantly walked away.

* * * * *

Paul set the marionette near a cup of hot coffee on top of an electronic console. He wondered about the general practice among the S.H.A.D.O. personnel regarding the placement of cups of hot coffee in the close proximity of expensive secret military electronic equipment. But everybody including the top man Straker himself did it, so the young colonel followed their example.

That coffee smells good, thought Straker. He wished he could have just a sip of it, but he could not move.

Or could he? Suddenly Straker found that he could indeed move. His eyes moved from side to side and he slowly turned his head. He turned and looked at the cup of coffee and reached for it.

Then he paused. He wondered if he could even drink coffee now in his current condition.

Suddenly Straker found he could not move. He flopped down like a lifeless toy.

Lt. Keith Ford came over and picked up the marionette.

"That's odd," he said.

"What's odd, Ford?" asked Alec.

"I could have sworn I saw this puppet move, just out of the corner of my eye."

"Maybe you've been working too hard."

"Maybe. But it certainly looked like the arm was reaching up toward this cup of coffee."

"Paul, you'd better take this puppet back to Ed's office before some coffee gets spilled on it," said Alec.

"All right," said Paul. "Alec, do you think he'd mind if I take it with me to Moonbase and show it to the girls up there? I'm due to head over there in the next hour."

"Ask him," said Alec.

"I would, but nobody's seen him recently. Not even Miss Ealand."

Alec looked puzzled.

"Hmm. Maybe he stepped out of the building."

"Well, you know what they say. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

And with that Colonel Paul Foster tucked the stringless Straker marionette under his arm and proceeded to get ready for his trip to Moonbase.

"This little fellow will fit nicely in my luggage," said Paul.

Straker made a mental note to have a stern talk with Paul afterward.

That is, if I ever change back to my human self, Straker thought.

* * * * *

"Blackouts? No, I can't say that I've ever experienced any," said Rupert Giles.

"It's the oddest thing, Ripper," said Ethan. "One moment I'm taking a leisurely walk through the woods. The next thing I know I'm standing outside a film studio. My car was nearby, so I was able to drive home. But I have no idea how I got from the woods to that street. And according to the calendar three days went by from the time I was in the woods until I found myself just outside the Harlington-Straker Film Studio."

"Pehaps that film studio contains a clue about your blackout."

"Hmm. Do you fancy a trip over there with me?" asked Ethan.

"As it happens, my day is free. Why not?"

"Let's take my car," said Ethan.

Ethan and Rupert were surprised by the greeting they received at the Harlington-Straker Studio. It was warm and inviting and everyone working there smiled as they welcomed the two of them.

"Mr. Rayne! Good to see you again!" said a tall thin man carrying a cup of coffee. He looked at Rupert and said, "Are you the fellow for the part in the coffee commercial?"

"Coffee commercial?" asked Rupert. "No. I'm not an actor. And I don't drink coffee."

"Really? You look like you'd be perfect for the part. Try a cup of this. It'll convert you from whatever it is you do drink to coffee, I'll bet." The man handed his cup of coffee to Rupert.

"No, thank you," said Rupert.

"All the more for me then," said the man smiling as he sipped from the cup.

"Who's in charge here?" asked Ethan.

"If you mean the top man, that would be Mr. Straker."

"We'd like to see him," said Ethan.

"Certainly. His office is that way."

"Thank you."

Rupert and Ethan headed for Straker's office.

"Ethan," Rupert whispered. "Have you noticed that everyone here is drinking coffee? There's not a single person without a cup of it!"

"That is odd."

"And they don't seem to be doing any work. Look at them. They're either sitting around or leaning against a wall drinking coffee and chatting."

"I see what you mean. You'd think that a film studio crew would be hard at work. Time being money and all that."

They arrived just outside Ed Straker's office. Miss Ealand sat at her desk and sipped from her cup of coffee. She smiled at them.

"Hello, Mr. Rayne. Good to see you again."

"Uh, yes. Thank you. Is Mr. Straker in?"

"I'm afraid not. We've been trying to locate him for the past hour. But as soon as we do find him, I'll let him know you're here. I'm sure he'd love to see you."

"He would?" Ethan asked. He wondered what went on during the past three days that would endear him to the busy top executive head of this film studio.

"Oh, yes. And thank you again for the coffee. Everyone here at the Harlington-Straker Studio loves it!"

"Uh, you're welcome."

"We've had our entire supply replaced by your coffee. It's absolutely heavenly!"

"Indeed?" asked Rupert.

Not only had the entire supply of coffee at the Harlington-Straker Studio been replaced by the new mysterious coffee apparently from Ethan Rayne, but the same had been done at S.H.A.D.O. Control. Everyone down below was sipping the new coffee. And no work was being done.

Which left Earth wide open for attack by the UFOs.

* * * * *

Colonel Paul Foster boarded the Lunar Module and was about to head into space for Moonbase. On board was a supply of the new mysterious coffee.

Paul had tucked the Straker marionette inside his luggage. It was a soft canvas bag.

Straker struggled to free himself from the bag. He tried not to panic, but he suffered from claustrophobia. The bag inched along from the movement inside.

Paul thought he heard something behind him, so he quickly turned around.

That's funny, he thought. How'd my bag get over there?

Then he saw the bag move about as if there was some small animal inside.

Paul grabbed the bag and unzipped it. The movement suddenly stopped. There was the Straker marionette just lying there motionless.

Well, of course it's motionless, thought Paul. It's just a puppet. But I could have sworn I saw this bag moving!

* * * * *

"How they can stand drinking that?" Rupert whispered to Ethan. They examined the jar of instant coffee crystals on Miss Ealand's desk.

"I can't explain it," Ethan whispered back.

He smiled at Miss Ealand.

"Well, we'll be on our way then. Thank you so much."


* * * * *

Paul zipped the bag closed again.

Maybe I've been working too hard, he thought. If I'm not careful, I could end up needing a complete psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Jackson.

He tucked the bag away and turned his attention toward flying the Lunar Module toward Moonbase.

Commander Straker normally was a brave man. But this was a most unusual experience for him. He had no idea how he became a stringless marionette.

During the ride to Moonbase fear overcame Straker when he realized he might remain a puppet forever.

Paul arrived at Moonbase and was getting settled into his assigned quarters. He was reaching for his bag to unpack it when he saw it moving.

I am not imagining it, thought Paul.

He snatched the bag and quickly unzipped it. The movement stopped. There was the Straker marionette lying motionless.

But there was something different about it this time.

Paul stared at the puppet.

"Is that what I think it is?" he said softly aloud.

Paul placed his finger on the face of the Straker puppet and gently wiped away a teardrop from the right cheek.

There was a strange sharp jolt that lasted for a split second when Paul's finger made contact with the teardrop. But that was all it took to enable Paul to see the puppet move and to hear it speak.

Straker sat up and looked at Paul.

"Hello, Paul," he said.

Paul backed away and stared at the puppet that was now speaking to him. There was no mistaking the voice of his commander. But it was frightening to hear it coming from this toy that resembled Straker.

"Commander Straker?" said Paul. "No! It can't be!"

"Paul, don't be alarmed," said Straker. "I'm going to need your help on finding a solution to this problem."

Paul continued to stare at Straker.

"Oh, very well. Go ahead and ask your questions. But it would save a lot of time if you would just accept the fact that your commanding officer is now a puppet."

"But that's impossible! Oh, wait. I get it. This is just another weird dream I'm having. But I got a good night's sleep last night. I wasn't burning the candle at both ends."

Straker sighed.

"I wish you were right about this just being some dream, Paul."

"Oh, how adorable!" said Lt. Gay Ellis standing in the doorway. Paul had not closed the door to his quarters.

The Straker marionette suddenly became still and motionless.

Paul quickly looked up at Lt. Ellis, then at Straker, then back at Lt. Ellis, and then finally back at Straker.

It's just a puppet, thought Paul. A lifeless puppet. I'm going crazy! I was having a conversation with a puppet!

"Lt. Ellis, how long have you been standing there?" asked Paul.

"Just a few seconds. I was passing by and saw that cute doll. He looks just like Commander Straker! May I hold him?"

Paul paused before answering. He looked at the puppet.

It's just a puppet, he thought.

"Certainly," said Paul as he carefully handed the puppet to her.

Gay eagerly took the marionette and cradled it in her arms.

"Oooh, you're so cute!" she said to it. She gave it a kiss on the top of it's blond head and then hugged it as she smiled.

"Paul, where did you get it?"

"It was in --," he began to say, but stopped.

"Yes?" asked Gay as she smiled at the puppet and gently stroked its soft blond hair.

He thought of how no one at S.H.A.D.O. had seen any sign of Commander Straker ever since the puppet appeared.

"I'll tell you and the others about it later. I'd like to finish unpacking."

"Of course, Colonel," said Gay. "I'll let you get settled."

She started to leave Paul's quarters when Paul said, "Lt. Ellis?"

Gay stopped and turned.

"Yes, Colonel?"

"May I have the puppet back now, please?"

"Oh! Why, yes! Of course. Sorry," said Gay. "He's such a cutie!"

Paul smiled as she handed him the Straker puppet.

"Yes, I suppose he is. A cutie, that is."

Lt. Ellis left Paul's quarters.

He shut the door and sat on the bed. He looked deeply into the eyes of the Straker puppet for a few minutes.

"I'm probably going to feel foolish later, but here goes. Commander Straker? Is this really you?"

"Do you really think I'm a cutie?" asked Straker patting Paul's arm.

Paul stared at the marionette.

"Why do you do that? Why do you speak to me and move when no one else is around? People are going to think I'm crazy if I tell them you're this puppet!"

"I really don't know, Paul. This whole thing is new to me. I don't know what I can or cannot do in this puppet form. Can I eat? Drink? Do I require air? If I were to step outside onto the surface of the moon without wearing a spacesuit, would I survive? I don't have the answers, Paul."

* * * * *

"I'm going to check on something, Commander," Paul said the the Straker marionette. "Wait here, please."

He left his quarters and closed the door behind him.

Paul greeted the Gay, Nina and Joan in the Communications Control Center of Moonbase. They were all sipping coffee.

"Paul, thank you for bringing us that supply of new coffee. It's delicious!" said Nina.

"Yes," said Joan. "I could drink this all day."

"Paul, where's that cute doll that looks like Commander Straker? I told the girls about it, and they want to see it, too," said Gay.

"Oh, yes, Paul!" said Nina. "Where's the doll?"

"I'll bring it out shortly. But first I need to speak with Commander Straker. Can you reach him for me at S.H.A.D.O. Control?"

"I could try, Paul," said Gay. "But no one's been answering for the past few hours. And last time we tried they said no one can find Commander Straker. They've tried to reach him at his home phone and in his car. No answer."

Paul felt his sense of reality crumbling away.

Could that puppet he left in his quarters really be Commander Straker? What if he told the girls and they all went to see for themselves only to find a lifeless toy?

They'd think I was crazy, thought Paul. No, better to keep it to myself for now.

* * * * *

Gay, Nina and Joan were still sipping coffee as they sat at their stations a few hours later.

"I don't know about you two, but I'm very disappointed in Paul," said Nina.

"So am I," said Joan. "He said he'd bring out the doll that looks like Commander Straker, but he never did!"

"Perhaps he forgot," said Gay.

"Well, I want to see it!" said Nina. "I'm going over right now to his quarters to see that doll. Who's with me?"

"I am!" said Joan.

"But Paul's probably asleep now!" said Gay. "Let's not disturb him."

"We're going with or without you, Gay," said Nina as she and Joan headed for the doorway.

"Oh, very well," said Gay.

All three girls left their stations and headed for Paul's assigned quarters.

They opened the door and quietly slipped inside.

Paul was asleep in bed. The Straker puppet was seated upright in a chair by the wall. The large glass eyes stared straight ahead.

Nina and Joan grinned when they saw the puppet. They tiptoed over closer to it. Nina carefully picked it up and carried it quietly out of Paul's quarters. Gay and Joan tiptoed behind her.

They closed the door and stood outside in the hallway.

"How adorable!" said Nina gazing at the puppet. "The resemblance is uncanny!"

"Let me hold him, Nina!" said Joan.

"I will, but not just yet," said Nina giving the puppet a very warm and affectionate hug. She gently patted the doll's back and then stroked the blond hair.

"Come on, Nina! It's my turn!" said Joan.

Gay suddenly felt an urge to hold the Straker puppet.

"Give him to me, Nina!" said Gay.

"But you already got to hold him!" said Joan.

I can't believe they're fighting over me like this, thought Straker. Is it because I'm in this puppet form that they want me so much? Or have they always found me attractive?

Joan took hold of the puppet's feet and legs, but Nina held on to the rest of him.

"Let go, Joan!" said Nina.

"No, you let go!" said Joan.

"Stop that! You'll break him!" said Gay.

Straker was terrified that he'd be torn apart. He did know if he could die in this puppet form, and he did not want to find out this way.

Suddenly the opened. Paul stood in the doorway.

"Give me that!" he shouted as he grabbed the Straker puppet from the grasp of Nina and Joan.

Gay, Nina and Joan stared crossly at Paul.

"We were going to give him back to you later, Paul," said Nina.

"Yes, Paul," said Joan. "But we'd like to play with him first."

"Give him to me, Paul," said Gay. "We'll play nicely. We promise not to fight over him again. Right, girls?"

"Right. We promise not to fight over him. Just let us play with him for a few minutes. Please, Paul?"

"No. I think you three should go back to your workstations now," said Paul firmly. He held the Straker puppet closely to his chest and returned to his quarters, closing the door behind him.

Gay, Nina and Joan pouted as they stared at the closed door. They reluctantly went back to the Communciations Control Center.

"I could go for another cup of that new coffee," said Joan perking up happily.

"So could I," said Nina happily at the suggestion of coffee.

"That makes three of us," said Gay.

A half hour later Nina said, "Let's try to get that Straker doll again. Paul's probably asleep by now."

"I don't know about that," said Gay.

"Let's do it. I never did get to hold that doll," said Joan.

They discarded their empty coffee cups and once again headed for Paul's quarters.

"Quietly now," whispered Nina softly.

They opened the door and peeked inside.

"Oh, darn," whispered Nina when they saw that Paul was indeed asleep, but this time he had the Straker puppet safely tucked under his arm to prevent them from removing the toy. The blond blue-eyed head rested on Paul's chest.

Gay giggled softly.

"What's so funny?" whispered Nina.

"Paul looks like a little boy asleep with his favorite action figure!" said Gay.

"Aw, that's so sweet," whispered Nina. "I'll go get a camera."

Sure, why not, thought Straker awake during all of this. Go ahead and take a picture. It'll last longer.

* * * * *

As Paul slept he felt an uncomfortable weight upon him.

"Get off of me," he said sleepily as he opened his eyes and placed his hands on whatever it was on top of him so he could push it off of himself.

He stared at the puppet face of Commander Straker looking down at him.

It wasn't a dream, thought Paul. But wait. Something is very different. He's not little anymore! He's my size!

Then Paul noticed that his bed appeared to be much larger.

"Brace yourself, Paul," said Straker as he rolled off of Paul. "You're a puppet now, too. Just like me."

Paul quickly sat up and looked around the room. Everything appeared giant-sized to him.

"No!" said Paul. He jumped down from the bed and ran over to the wall mirror. He stared at his reflection that revealed his new puppet form. And like Straker, Paul's new appearance included a head that was slightly larger in proportion to the rest of the body.

"How did this happen?" he asked Straker who had jumped down from the bed and was now standing beside him. They stared at their reflections in the mirror.

"I don't know, Paul. Honest. One moment I was lying on your chest with your arm tucked around me. Nina and the other girls peeked in for a moment. They left. Next thing I knew you turned into this puppet. That's when you woke up."

"Maybe whatever it was that turned you into a puppet is contagious!" said Paul. "How do we change back?"

"I don't know if that's even possible," said Straker.

"We need a plan! Let's get in touch with Alec Freeman back at S.H.A.D.O.! And maybe also Dr. Jackson!"

"And how are we going to do that?" asked Straker.

Just then the door opened. Nina, Joan and Gay had returned. Nina held a camera.

The two puppets suddenly toppled down on the floor and remained there motionless.

The girls stared at the pair of puppets.

"Well, what do you know? Paul was holding out on us!" said Nina. "He had TWO dolls, not just one!"

"Look, girls. This other one looks just like Paul!" said Gay as he picked up the Paul puppet and stared at it.

"He's even wearing pajamas just like the ones Paul had on!" said Joan.

"Where is Paul?" asked Nina looking around the room. She picked up the Straker puppet, gave it a quick kiss on the top of its head, and then held it securely to her chest.

"He might be back soon. Let's take these two adorable dolls to the Communications Control Room and play with them!" said Gay.

Nina and Joan grinned. They all left Paul's quarters. Nina carried the Straker puppet and Gay carried the Paul puppet.

By this time Straker had figured out that whenever anyone was watching them, they became inanimate toys and could not move or speak. But they were aware of what was happening to them and around them.

Paul must be going out of his mind now, thought Straker. He hasn't had as much time being a puppet as I have.

* * * * *

Nina, Gay and Joan sat together in the Communications Control Center.

"Come on!" said Joan. "Let me hold one of those dolls! I still haven't had a turn yet!"

Gay cuddled the Paul puppet and Nina cuddled the Commander Straker puppet.

"Just a second, Joan," said Gay.

"Yes, just a second," said Nina.

But Gay and Nina continued to hold, cuddle and kiss the puppets as Joan pouted and glared at them.

After ten minutes of this, Joan said, "I'm going to get another cup of coffee. And when I return I want to hold BOTH of those dolls!"

Joan stormed out of the room. Gay and Nina exchanged amused glances at each other.

"I can't get over how much these dolls look like Colonel Foster and Commander Straker," said Gay.

"Neither can I," said Nina. "Here, let's switch."

Nina gave the Straker puppet to Gay. Gay gave the Paul puppet to Nina.

"Mmmmm," said Nina. "He's so cute!"

They sighed and smiled happily as they cuddled the puppets.

This isn't so bad, thought Paul.

Paul and Ed were unable to speak or move as the girls handled them.

Just then SID announced that an armada of UFOs was heading toward Earth. But Gay and Nina continued to play with the puppets as if nothing was wrong.

Tell the interceptor pilots to go into immediate launch, Straker screamed silently. But he could not make Gay or Nina hear him.

* * * * *

"And Nina and Gay won't let me play with either of those dolls that Colonel Foster brought here!" Joan said to the three interceptor pilots as they sat in the Recreation Room drinking coffee.

"Speaking of Colonel Foster, where is he?" asked one of the pilots. "I haven't seen much of him since he arrived at Moonbase."

"Neither have I," said the other pilot.

"Hearing about those dolls brings back memories," said the third pilot. "When I was a wee lad, there was this boy in my neighborhood who loved to take dolls from little girls. Then he'd strap the dolls to fireworks and blow them up just to make those girls cry."

Joan gasped and stared wide-eyed in horror.

"What a terrible thing to do to a doll!" she exclaimed. "I'm going back to that control room and have my turn at playing with those dolls right now!"

"We'll go with you. I'd like to see what's so special about those dolls that's causing such conflict between you and the other girls."

When Joan and the three pilots arrived at the Communications Control Room they stopped in their tracks and stared.

There lying on the floor were four small puppets.

There was one that looked like Commander Straker, one that looked like Colonel Foster, one that looked like Lt. Gay Ellis and one that looked like Nina Barry.

Joan squealed happily.

"Now I get to play with FOUR dolls, not just two!" she exclaimed as she scooped up the puppets one by one from the floor.

Straker, help us, Nina silently screamed at her commander.

But Straker could only look on helplessly.

I'm going crazy, thought Gay. This cannot possibly be happening!

"Paul must have wanted to surprise us with these adorable toys," said Joan. "I wonder if there's one that looks like me?"

* * * * *

Meanwhile on Earth SID's message to S.H.A.D.O. Control about the approaching UFOs was unheeded by everyone there as they sipped coffee and chatted.

Rupert and Ethan were leaving the Harlington-Straker Film Studio when they heard a strange sound overhead.

"What's that?" asked Rupert looking upward.

"See anything?" asked Ethan as he drove his car.

"I don't believe it! You're not going to believe it!" said Rupert.

"What is it?" asked Ethan.

But before Rupert could answer there was a huge explosion as three UFOs flown by aliens on suicide missions slammed into the Harlington-Straker Film Studio.

* * * * *

Commander Straker could do nothing as Joan cuddled him. She spent a good five minutes hugging and kissing him. Then she placed him on the console, picked up the Paul puppet and hugged and kissed him. She then placed the Paul puppet next to the Commander Straker puppet so they sat side by side.

Then Joan looked at the Lt. Gay Ellis puppet and the Nina Barry puppet.

She frowned at them.

"I don't think I want to play with you two," said Joan. She scooped up the two male puppets and took them with her out of the Control room.

"I'm ready to go to bed now," said Joan. "And you're both coming with me."

The three pilots looked at the two female puppets.

"Joan, what do you want to do with these other puppets?" asked one of the pilots as he carefully picked up the Gay and Nina puppets.

"Nothing," she called out as she continued walking away. "You can take them outside to the moon's surface, strap them to fireworks and blow them up for all I care."

The pilots exchanged puzzled glances as they watched Joan leave with the puppets that looked like Colonel Foster and Commander Straker.

* * * * *

The space interceptor pilots donned their space suits and carried the Nina and Lt. Ellis puppets out on to the surface of the moon.

The terror of suffocating outside went away when Nina and Gay realized that in their puppet forms they suffered no ill effects from the lack of air.

Gay wondered if they would suddenly changed back to their human forms while on the surface of the moon. They would have no protection of space suits with air supplies.

Nina tried in vain to scream out loud but in her puppet form no sound came from her mouth.

Gay and Nina were helpless as the pilots strapped them to explosive packs on the surface of the moon.

The explosive packs could be triggered by remote control. The pilots headed back toward the Moon Base. When they were halfway there they stopped, turned to face the puppets and were about to detonate the explosive packs.

This cannot be happening, thought Nina.

Please, no, no, no, thought Gay.

* * * * *

"Drive! Drive!" Rupert shouted to Ethan as the Harlington-Straker film studio collapsed from the attack of the UFOs.

Ethan floored it and the car sped away as debris fell around them.

* * * * *

Down beneath the Harlington-Straker film studio the people at S.H.A.D.O. Control were still sipping coffee and chatting.

"Did you feel that?" asked Lt. Keith Ford. "I could have sworn I felt a tremor."

"I felt something, too," said Colonel Alec Freeman. "More coffee?"

"Thank you, yes," said Keith.

* * * * *

Joan carried the Commander Straker puppet and the Colonel Paul Foster puppet into her quarters. She closed the door.

"You two wait here," she said as she placed them on her bed. She propped them up so they were in sitting positions with their backs supported by the pillow.

"I'm going to get ready for bed."

Her back was toward them as she prepared to brush her teeth.

The door to her quarters suddenly opened.

She turned to see who it was. Her eyes widened in surprise and fear when she saw the two aliens standing in the doorway.

One of the aliens in the red suit aimed his weapon at Joan and fired. She fell to the floor.

Ed and Paul moved quickly to leap from the bed, but they were not fast enough. The other alien scooped them up and placed them in a secure container and locked it shut.

Then they left Joan's quarters.

* * * * *

Ed and Paul did not know how long they were imprisoned inside the container before the lid was lifted. The alien reached inside, grabbed the two puppets, brought them out and strapped them down on to a table.

Ed and Paul looked around and were horrified when they saw their new surroundings. Displayed along one of the walls were rows of puppet parts: heads, arms, legs and torsos.

Ed turned to Paul and said, "We might be inside one of the alien UFOs."

Paul did not reply. His attention was riveted to the various puppet parts.

A doorway opened and another alien stepped inside carrying a container similar to the one that was used to hold Ed and Paul. He placed the container on the table, opened it, reached inside and brought out two puppets: Gay and Nina.

Gay and Nina struggled as the alien strapped them down beside Ed and Paul on the table.

"Nina! Gay! Are you all right?" asked Ed turning his head to face them.

"Commander Straker? Colonel Foster?" said Nina. She quickly realized that the puppets she and Gay had kissed and played with earlier were in fact Ed and Paul. She felt mortified as she wondered what her commanding officer must be thinking of her and Gay.

"Where are we?" asked Gay. Then she saw the rows of puppet parts along the wall. Her face revealed the terror she felt at the possibility of being taken apart by the aliens and having her various parts placed on the shelves with the others.

"Commander Straker, Lt. Ellis and I were strapped to an explosive pack and were about to be blown to bits. The next thing we knew this alien fired upon the interceptor pilots and brought us here," said Nina.

"What do you want with us? What are you going to do?" Paul asked loudly to the aliens. They ignored his questions.

If the aliens could understand what Ed, Paul, Gay and Nina were saying, they did not acknowledge it. One alien went over to the wall and looked at the puppet parts. He picked up one head at random, studied it, set it back on the shelf and selected another. The other alien brought out a tray of sharp tools and instruments and carried it over to the table and set it down near the four puppets who were strapped down.

The alien picked up one of the instruments and pressed a button on the handle. It made a high-pitched whirring sound as the circular blade spun on the other end of the handle.

The alien slowly brought the blade down toward Straker who was struggling in a futile attempt to break free from the straps.

Paul, Nina and Gay could only look on helplessly as the blade was moved closer toward Straker's neck.

"No!" they cried out. "Stop! Don't do this!"

* * * * *

Colonel Virginia Lake could hear the noise and rumbling from above. There was nothing she could do about it as she sat there in her puppet form. Her earlier handling and kissing of the Straker marionette had a high cost, and now she was paying for it.

Lt. Keith Ford strolled past her. He paused for just a second and stared at this beautiful blonde doll who bore a striking resemblance to Colonel Virginia Lake.

Lovely, he thought. He made a mental note to admire the toy more closely.

But first I must have another cup of this delicious coffee, he told himself. He had a bit of trouble walking toward the coffee station as the floor began to buckle from the tremors.

"Ooops!" he exclaimed as he collided into Colonel Alec Freeman. Alec was having trouble moving about as S.H.A.D.O. suffered the effects of the damage being done to the studio above ground.

"Sorry, Colonel," said Lt. Ford.

"Quite all right," said Alec. He saw the Colonel Virginia Lake doll. "Well, would you look at that!"

"Lovely, isn't she?" said Lt. Ford.

"She certainly is," said Alec as he set down his half-empty coffee cup and picked up the beautiful blonde doll.

Alec, help me, please, Virginia screamed silently. But no one could hear her.

* * * * *


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