Betty crouched before Maximus, fists at the ready, Sparky and X-5 on either side of her.

"Sorry, Maximus," she said. "Cleaning up after evil babies is not my idea of a rewarding career. I prefer busting bad guys!"

With the grace of his cat form, Maximus sprang for the button. Betty sprang too, but the villain was closer to it. His hand reached out--closer, closer--

With a howl of triumph, he thumped it down!

Sparky turned even greener. "Oh no!"

"'Oh no' is right," X-5 said. "The robots are on their way to their targets now, and according to my calculations, they shouldn't take more than 11.6 minutes to arrive."

Betty gave Maximus a kick that sent him tumbling across the room. Once he caught his breath, he laughed again, slouching with his back to the wall.

A droning, robotic voice echoed from the walls. "Now commencing final phase of Operation Maximus Victorious. E.T.A. to targets, ten minutes."

"Not if I can help it!" Betty yelled. "X-5! Find out how the signal's being transmitted. It's controlling all the robots from every wave! If we can knock it out--"

"No!" Maximus leaped to his feet. "Guards! Seize them!"

Soldier robots swarmed in. Betty leaped off the console and dove into the attackers, kicking one, punching another. They hit the floor, slammed into walls, breaking up, littering the place with fragments.

Sparky did the same. A circle of robots surrounded him, but he only grinned at them. "C'mon, come on! That's it...a little closer..."

They all fired, blasted, rushed him at once. He leaped clear, executing a perfect somersault in midair. By the time he landed on his feet, the robots had blown or smashed each other into titanium confetti. "Woo-hoo!" he yelled, pumping his fist.

The computer voice announced, "Operation Maximus Victorious proceeding. ETA to targets, five minutes."

"Five minutes!" Betty punched a robot over her shoulder. It crashed to the floor. "X-5!"

"Working on it." X-5 flew to and fro above the melee. His scanner buzzed and made bursts of static as it sought to interface with the lair's control system.

"ETA to targets, three minutes."

"Man!" Sparky decked another robot. "Time flies when you're having fun!"

"Two minutes."

"X-5!" Betty yelled.

"Minimus!" Maximus stood glaring in a corner, waving his arms. "Do something!"

Minimus' meek face looked like a scared puppy's. "Call out more robots?"

"I can't!" Maximus raged. "They're all over the galaxy, getting ready to strike!"

"Almost there..." X-5 worked to sync with the system.

"One minute."

"Got it!" X-5 pointed out the main window. "It's those three skyscraper-crystals, the ones close together. They make the most powerful antennas in the galaxy, you know."

"Oh, no!" Betty looked out the window. "We'll never knock them down in time...wait...knock them down...That's it! X-5, this place has emergency thrusters--Infantor drew them."

"What?" Maximus and Minimus said together, all three voices, at once.

"Thirty seconds."

Betty continued, "Can you activate just some of them, while leaving the others off?"

X-5 replied, "I'm sorry, my system is not following your logic."

"Bowling!" she cried.

The robot's eyes lit up. "Ah! Yes!"

There was a whirring and a beeping as he fed data from his electronic brain into the lair's. Then, a mighty roar shook the place. X-5 gave a metal-armed salute. "Done."

"Fifteen seconds."

"Let's fly!" Betty yelled, and the three Galactic Guardians leaped out the hole in the ceiling where they had come in, the starcruiser catching them in its transporter beam and whisking them aboard. Below, Maximus was shouting something at his sidekick. "Reverse it, you fool! Shut it off--"

"I gotta see this!" Sparky pressed his nose to the porthole. Betty and X-5 crowded in behind him.

There was a fwoosh of nuclear flame as the thrusters on one side of the lair kicked in. The force rolled the structure onto its side and onward, speeding across the landscape like a fireworks-pinwheel. Through its main window, Betty could see the two villains tumbling around inside. Maximus was yelling something; Betty wondered if it was printable. With the speed of a runaway Arturian Fusion Locomotive it raced over the crystal landscape, bowling right into the three antennas, shattering them to bits!

"Wow!" Sparky pressed his hands and nose to the porthole. "Look at all those pieces! Like crystal snow flurries!"

They were a sight to behold, filling the entire sky, sparkling as they caught the starlight on the way down. Betty wished she had a camera.

X-5 put a claw to the side of his head. "I'm picking up reports that the robot fleets are going haywire, crashing into each other, spinning off into space. The suns of some star systems are catching millions of robots in their gravitational pull and dragging them in."

"That's gonna be a lot of cooked robots!" Betty giggled. She stood between Sparky and X-5, and put a gloved hand on each shoulder. "Well done, guys! Let's go."

"Settin' course for Earth!" Sparky whooped, punching buttons.

"And on the way--" Betty shot a glance at their prisoner--"we'll drop my ex-brother at the Galactic Juvenile Detention headquarters."

Infantor bawled and wailed inside his force field. "It's not fair, it's not fair! Waaaaaah-haaaaahhh!"

The ship zoomed up through the crystal snowfall and out into space.

That night, Betty relaxed with her parents in her living room, sipping lemonade. The television showed a soccer game. Purrsey was curled up in mother's lap and had never looked happier.

"The place seems a lot different without the little guy," mother said, petting the cat.

Dad was holding out the remote, channel-surfing. "Sure does. It's a lot quieter."

"Isn't it, though?" Mother gave a faint smile. "I'd forgotten how noisy those little ones can be."

"Or the messes they can make at the dinner table!" Dad chuckled. "Remember when Betty was a baby?"

Betty giggled. "I wasn't that bad, was I?"

"Never like that boy! Oh, I hated to see him go, but once things quieted down, I realized how good we have it with you, and what a wonderful young lady you've grown into. Isn't that right, dear?" she turned to Dad.

"Yessir! I'd rather have one of you, Betty, than a dozen of him or any other child. C'mere, daughter!"

Betty went over and snuggled in between her parents. Even Purrsey didn't seem to mind, purring in mother's lap. Daughter, Betty thought, beaming. I like the sound of that.

"And just think," said mother. "I was just about to show you how to change his diapers!"