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Kirt Blattenberger

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Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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Falcons of the Flame
December 1939 Flying Aces

December 1939 Flying Aces

December 1939 Flying Aces Cover - Airplanes and Rockets Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

This might be the first of the Donald Keyhoe air adventure stories I have posted featuring Dick Knight. Flying Aces magazine, in this case the December 1939 issue, for many years ran series like this one with fictional heroes who flew daring missions for military, intelligence, corporate, and patriotic citizen purposes. The era was post World War I up through the run-up to and into World War II. Authors like Donald Keyhoe and Archibald Whitehouse were themselves pilots, and in many cases decorated air aces from "The War to End all Wars," "The World War," and other monikers alluding to WWI. Of course by now we know WWI was not the final multinational battle to be fought. In addition to the intrigue and of ground-based adventure was detailed descriptions of air battles which described wing-overs, renversements†, Immelmann turns, zooms, dives, spins, split-esses, stall turns, and other maneuvers which were nearly the exclusive domain of dog fights taking place from tree-top level to the rarified atmosphere above the clouds. Tales of "hot lead" tearing holes through wing fabric and the shattering of cabane struts reminds you that you are reading about biplanes of your and not metal-clad fighters of WWII like P−51 Mustangs and P−38 Lightnings. I can nearly guarantee you will totally enjoy this story.

† A renversement is basically an Immelmann turn with the order of the half-roll and half-loop reversed; i.e., a half roll first, then a half loop.

Falcons of the Flame

Falcons of the Flame, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsGripping Dick Knight New-War Adventure

By Donald E. Keyhoe

Author of "Fighters That Time Forgot," "Wings of the Black Eagle," etc.

Illustrated by Jon L. Blummer

***

Chapter I

Horror from the Sky

The music was low and pleasing, the lights dimmed to just the right softness. Richard Knight contentedly stretched his long legs, glanced around the well-filled cocktail lounge.

"I still can't believe it, Lothario," he said to the chunky Irishman beside him. "No more hiding out - no reward on my head. Cleared by the President's order-"

Doyle's homely face twisted into a lopsided grin.

"And did he lay into th' Staff guys that wouldn't listen to General Brett! 'Brass Hats' did someone say? 'Brass brains' would be more like it. Why didn't I hear about this sooner? Anybody that'd think Dick Knight was a traitor-"

"Let's forget it," said Knight. "I want to bury those memories-all except one, the way you stuck by me and risked your own neck."

"Nuts," said Doyle, embarrassed. "I just tagged along for th' ride. Well, here's mud in your eye."

"Happy landings," said Knight, lifting his glass. "And to that month's leave we get before the Q-unit goes to work again."

"Yeah - if hell doesn't pop in Europe," grunted Doyle.

"Looks like it any minute - and there'll be plenty of dirty work over here. Anyhow, September's just 'arrived - the start of a new season."

They had finished their cocktails, and Doyle was in the midst of a flirtation with a blond at the next table, when from somewhere, seemingly out in the street, there came an eerie, wailing sound. It rose on the instant to a nerve-shaking shrillness, like the scream of a woman in mortal terror.

Knight jumped to his feet, threw some money on the table, and ran toward the door, Doyle after him. The music had stopped, and part of the crowd was already surging toward the portal. As Knight reached the entrance, the weird sound beat into his ears with a sudden, frightful intensity, and he knew that it came from no human throat.

The doorman was staring wildly around the street. Cars had stopped, and motorists were craning their necks, trying to locate the source of that appalling sound. A woman near Knight thrust her fingers into her ears, ran, white-faced, into the hotel.

"What th' devil is it?" Doyle yelled hoarsely.

Knight shook his head, teeth set against the effects of that bloodcurdling sound. It was like the cry of some animal in terrible agony, but magnified a hundred times. It reached deep into his mind, touched some primitive fear long dormant. There was an instant when his brain seemed to reel under the impact of that horrible, un-human screech.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ended.

Stark silence reigned for a moment, broken by the clamor of frightened pedestrians and motorists. Knight wheeled, saw his own emotion mirrored in Doyle's eyes. There was perspiration on the Irishman's face.

"It came from right here in the street," Doyle whispered. "But there wasn't a thing -"

"Look!" cried Doyle, as the intense heat of the terrific blue blast made them edge back. "Over there to the left! A flyer with a fouled chute!"

He broke off, and Knight turned swiftly. Up in the misty night, a ghastly bluish light was rapidly spreading. The next instant, with a faint hissing sound, a ball of bluish fire plunged through the lowering clouds and hurtled toward the center of Washington.

Shrieking, the crowd broke and ran. Knight seized Doyle's arm, jerked him back toward the hotel entrance. The weird ball of fire whirled down, the hissing now grown into an audible roar. Unable to face the blinding light, Knight huddled back into the doorway. There was a stunning crash, an impact that set the hotel windows to rattling. Shading his eyes, he saw that the ball of fire had struck close to the front of a brick apartment house a block away, in the midst of a group of passers-by.

Even at that distance, the heat was so intense he , could face it only a second. But even in that swift glimpse, he saw the front of the apartment suddenly cave in, where the bluish fire swirled against it.

"Dick!" Doyle said tensely. "Look - over there to the left. A flyer with a fouled chute!" .                      I

Knight stiffened. Revealed in the glare was a form tumbling through the air with what was unmistakably an unopened parachute trailing above it. Just over the tops of the buildings, one side of the chute flapped out and was caught by the wind. In a second the entire chute was open, oscillating wildly above the figure beneath.

"Whoever he is, he's got the answer to this," Knight muttered. "Come on - there's a taxi."

The driver of the cab had fled, leaving his motor still running. Knight jumped in, took the wheel. The sidewalk was now deserted, pedestrians crouching behind cars or in shop doors to escape the withering heat. Knight ducked below the windshield to avoid the glare, turned at the nearest corner and hurdled another curbing. The heat was at once lessened as they put a row of buildings between them and the mysterious fire. Knight drove back into the street as soon as it was clear, began to zigzag to the spot where he estimated the man with the chute had landed. The Q-agent bore nearly all the way down on the accelerator pedal.

"Am I clear screwy - or is all this really happenin'?" Doyle said shakily.

"It's real enough," Knight said in a grim voice. "That blue fire - it must have a tremendous force. It ate through that brick wall as though it had been paper."

"I'm thinkin' of that sound," mumbled Doyle. "I thought I'd heard terrible sounds - I heard a man caught in a flamer once. But this -"

"I know," said Knight. "There was something ungodly about it - but it couldn't have been human."

"Where did it come from ?" insisted Doyle. "You think maybe it was from that ball of fire before it popped through th' clouds?"

"No, or it would have kept on until it hit." Knight put on the brakes with a jerk. "There's somebody running over there - must be about where that fellow landed!"

They swung into the other street, saw a small crowd gathering near the collapsed parachute. As Knight stopped the cab close by, he saw men and women backing away with horrified faces from a crumpled form on the ground.

Doyle and he jumped out, pushed through the awe-stricken group. The lights of the taxi threw a bright glow across the curbing. Knight bent over, then a shiver ran up his spine, making his body icy cold with a subconscious fear of the unknown.

Piercing, nerve-racking cacophony! Then scorching blue flame blasted out of the calm, evening sky - directly into the heart of Washington! Yet despite the horror of that holocaust, Air Agent Richard Knight could not believe that this fearsome scourge was to be the end. Rather, it was but the beginning - the prophetic prelude to some drama even more appalling. It was the ghastly, huddled form of a wretched Air Corps pilot that told him that - and the merciless trigger-finger of a masked man that proved it!

Lying face up was the body of an Army Air Corps captain. His right arm was twisted grotesquely across his breast, where all but fragments of his uniform coat had been burned away. But it was the man's face that brought a sick feeling to Knight's stomach. It was a hideous reddish-purple, and his lips were drawn back fixedly in a terrible death's-head grin.

"Good Lord!" Doyle whispered.

One of the men in the crowd touched Knight's arm. "It's worse than that, mister. Move his hand - I put it there so these women wouldn't see."

Knight felt a creeping at his scalp at the man's tone. He reached down, gripped the dead captain's sleeve. The cloth tore as though rotted, but the pilot's arm shifted. With a muttered oath, Knight jumped back.

A ghastly hole more than two inches in diameter had been burned clear through the man's body. The edges were bloodless, cauterized by whatever had made that frightful wound. Hurriedly Knight pulled some of the tangled parachute over the body, but not before he saw that it was the same awful color as the face.

"Help me get him into the rear of the cab," he said huskily to Doyle.

The Irishman shuddered. "Why not leave the poor devil there until the coroner sees him?"

"G-2 ought to know about it first," Knight said in an undertone. "Hurry up - before this crowd gets any bigger."

No one made a move to stop them as they lifted the shrouded figure into the car, but before Knight could hike the wheel again a man pushed through the staring group.

"Who are you guys? It's against the law to move a corpse until the police have seen it."

"We're from the F.B.I.," Knight said tersely. "Smith, show him your shield."

As Doyle fumbled inside his coat, Knight climbed into the front seat. He meshed the gears quickly, and Doyle sprang onto the running-board before anyone could stop him. The angry shouts of the man who had tried to stop them soon faded away.

"Where to?" Doyle said thickly.

''We'll take him to the Munitions Building dispensary. There's nobody there at night, but with our G-2 credentials we can get a guard to let us in."

"I'd give a hundred dollars for a stiff drink," said Doyle. "Did you feel his body ... ?"

"The heat, you mean? Yes, I expected that after I saw that hole, and the color of his flesh. His blood must've been raised to a tremendous temperature."

"Don't talk about it," whispered the Irishman. "A little more, and I'm goin' to be sick."

Knight stepped on the gas. As they turned into Nineteenth Street he looked up toward the Avenue, saw that the bluish glow had faded from the sky, but that angry-looking flames were rolling up into the night. Evidently the apartment house had quickly caught fire.

When they approached the guard's box between the Navy Department and the Munitions Building, several men were visible at the nearest entrance to the Army building, and then Knight saw there were lights blazing on the third floor.

"Looks like the whole Air Corps is working tonight," he told Doyle. "Some of those men must've been up to look at the fire. While I talk with the guard, see if you can find some one you know and have him flash word to General Brett to come down here."

He had hardly stopped at the guard-box when Doyle came running back with an officer in civilian clothes at his heels, Knight recognized Major Scott, aide to the Chief of Air Corps. Scott had been one of his closest friends before the months when he had become a fugitive on charges of murder and treason, which had been faked by the Four Faces.

"Dick Knight!" exclaimed Scott. He thrust out his hand eagerly. "Thank Heaven you're back with us, and that wretched business is cleared up. Doyle will tell you I always said it was bunk."

"Thanks Scotty," Knight answered. Then his brief smile faded. "We've run into something pretty bad, or has Doyle told you?"

"No, he didn't have time," said Scott. "I just told him that General Brett's looking for the two of you. They called my house, thought you might be there. That was half an hour ago - I just got here when I heard a crash and saw that blue fire up near the Avenue."

"You didn't hear anything before the crash?" interrupted Knight.

"No. Why - what was it?"

"I'll explain later. Ask General Brett and the Chief of Air Corps to come down to the dispensary. We've something to show them - and I don't think they'd want it up there."

Scott, mystified, hurried back to the entrance. Knight identified himself to the guard, and the man phoned to the guard-office for some one to unlock the side-entrance to the Army dispensary section. Knight drove in between the two buildings, stopped the taxi, and in a few moments a door opened. The interior guard stared as they carried in the covered figure, with the parachute shrouds trailing behind. They had barely laid the dead captain on a wheeled table in the dispensary when General John Brett, the kindly old Chief of Intelligence, strode into the room with General Gleason, the Air Corps head, beside him, and Major Scott bringing up the rear.

"Dick; what's wrong?" exclaimed General Brett. "Major Scott said you and Doyle -" he stopped abruptly as he saw the outline of a body under the folds of silk.

"It's not pleasant to look at," Knight said grimly. He pulled back the covering. There was a horrified chorus, and the guard turned and staggered out of the room. General Brett, after a sickened glance, turned, deathly pale. Then he faced the Chief of Air Corps, and asked:

"The others - they were like this?"

"The two I saw - yes," Gleason said in an unsteady voice. "Knight, where did you find this body?"

The Q-Agent was staring at him, as was Doyle. "

Over on Twenty-third Street, a few minutes ago. But do you mean this has happened before?"

"Even worse," Gleason said dully. "An entire squadron -"

"Wait," General Brett interrupted. "I want to know about this pilot. Exactly how did you find him, Dick? And how did it happen?"

"It's a fantastic business," said Knight. "You'd better hear all of it."

As briefly as he could, he described the uncanny sound which had preceded the mysterious ball of blue fire, and what had followed. The two Staff officers looked at him blankly.

"You're sure about the sound?" demanded Gleason. "You'll find plenty of others who heard it," said Knight.

"That's the only part that's different," muttered General Brett .. "We might as well tell you now - you, too, Major Scott. An entire squadron of the First Pursuit Group, ordered for emergency duty to the Panama Canal Zone during this threat of war in Europe, was destroyed this afternoon!"

Chapter II

Clue in the Clippings

For a moment no one spoke.

Then Knight motioned toward the covered figure. "Like - this?"

"Most of the pilots were cremated," Gleason said in a dead voice. "All but two of the ships burned - and it was no ordinary fire. There were only two or three eye-witnesses - it happened over a sparsely settled area in Ohio. But they agree that the ships were like masses of blue fire when they dropped out of the clouds. The two that didn't burn were almost completely demolished. Both pilots were killed, and both looked like that unfortunate chap on the table."

"Both had holes through their bodies?" queried Knight.

"One was almost decapitated," said Gleason with a grimace. "The other had a diagonal hole from his back down to left leg. The bodies were the same color."

"How did you keep all this out of the papers?" Knight asked.

"It was a lucky break," said the Air Corps chief. "One of the witnesses was a National Guard sergeant. He phoned McCook Field, and they rushed some men down there to help the National Guard close off that area. There's only one road leading near the scene of the crashes, and . that's been blocked with an excuse that a bridge was washed out. By morning we'll have the craters filled in, where the burning ships struck, and the two bodies will be taken away. I flew out there as soon as I got the flash, and arranged to cover everything as much as possible."

"You can't cover up the fact that a squadron's missing," Knight pointed out.

"No, but we can hide the true story and make it seem the ships were lost off the coast, somewhere en  route to Panama. If the truth comes out, it will spread panic through the entire Air Corps."

Knight glanced at Doyle. "Then that ball of fire we saw must have been the ship this pilot was flying."

"Must not have been much left but th' motor," said the Irishman. He looked toward the shrouded body. "If we had an idea who th' poor fellow was -"

"I think I know," Major Scott said in a shaken voice. "His face - I hardly recognized it in that horrible condition - maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's Captain Lanham."

Knight started. "Wasn't Lanham the pilot of that O-47 reported missing a few days ago?"

Scott nodded. "The ship hasn't been found. Lanham was on a routine flight from Wright Field to Washington. The course has been covered by searching planes, but he may not have followed a direct route. There were some local storms that day."

"At least, this gives us something to go on," said Knight.

"I see what you mean," said General Brett. "Let's get back upstairs and work it out on the big map."

Major Scott opened the door, jumped back with a startled cry. A crouching figure sprang erect, a black mask covering his face. The light glinted on the barrel of an automatic as he swiftly stepped inside.

"Keep still and don't move!" he said in a guttural voice. Through the eye-slits of the mask, his gaze twitched around the little group, rested for an instant on the silken folds covering the dead man. His eyes flicked back to Knight.

"Where is the drawing?" he said harshly.

"Drawing?" mumbled Knight. "I don't know what 'you're talking about."

"So?" grated the masked man. He jerked his gun with a peremptory motion. "Get back, you four. Now, my smart friend, lift up that parachute."

Knight saw Doyle tense for a leap, as the three officers obeyed the curt command.

"Don't try anything, Lothario!" he said hastily. "We haven't a chance."

The intruder laughed shortly. "A clever deduction, Herr Knight." Then, as though regretting the words, he snapped, "Lift the parachute, and be quick!"

Knight grasped a fold of silk, raised it with fumbling hands. The masked man's breath drew in sharply when he saw the dead man. He took a step nearer, his eyes darting toward the charred fragments of cloth that clung to the body. In a flash, Knight hurled the uplifted chute over the man's head.

Flame jetted instantly through the white folds, and a bullet shattered the window back of Knight. He threw himself down behind the wheeled table, clawing at the .38 in his armpit holster.

With a frantic jump, the masked man threw off the billowing silk. And Doyle, diving in to tackle him, was suddenly covered by the falling chute. As he sprawled, cursing, Scott leaped over him at the intruder.

Two shots rang through the room, as Knight tried to block the other man's fire. The masked man tottered back with a groan. He made a desperate effort to lift his gun again, then turned and lunged through the doorway. Knight ran after him, his .38 lifted. But it was not needed.

A few yards outside the door, the masked man crumpled to the floor. His gun clattered against the wall as it slid from his hand. As Knight hurriedly knelt beside him, an Air Corps colonel came hurriedly down the steps from the upper floor.

"What the devil!" the colonel roared. "Drop that gun!"

Knight looked up, recognized the arrogant face of Colonel Jackson Mapes, who had been one of his most violent accusers in the past months.

"So you're at it again!" shouted Mapes. "Help! Get the guard somebody -" he gulped as he saw Brett and Gleason appear from the dispensary and glower up at him.

"Keep your shirt on, Mapes," Gleason said tartly. "Knight has just nabbed a foreign spy."

Knight turned the masked man over, listened for a heartbeat. "Dead," he muttered. "Too bad - we might have learned everything." He took off the mask, saw a square-jawed face, with heavy brows meeting across the bridge of the nose.

"Anybody know him?" he said. The two Staff officers shook their heads. Knight stood up suddenly, as Doyle appeared in the doorway. There was blood on the Irishman's hands.

"Lothario!" he exclaimed. "I didn't know you got hit."

"Not me," said Doyle. "It's Scotty. He got nicked in the shoulder. I fixed a pad to stop it from bleeding, but he'd better get to a hospital."

Gleason beckoned to one of the Air Corps officers who had followed Mapes downstairs on hearing the shots. "Captain, take care of Scott. Get him to Emergency Hospital - and keep quiet about this. Refer any police inquiries to the War Department."

Knight looked anxiously at Scott, as he went by with the captain.

"Sorry, old man, I wasn't quick enough on the trigger."

"If I'd have kept clear, you'd have handled it," Scott said with a weak smile. They went on up the hall. Knight was starting to search the dead spy when the captain gave a shout.

"General Gleason! There are two men up here - dead or knocked out!"

Knight was the first one to reach the spot. The blue-uniformed guard who had opened the door to the dispensary lay at the intersection of the corridor and the main hall at the front of the building. There was a gash at one side of his head. The other man was younger, with small, almost delicate features. He was clad in expensive tweeds. A bruise on his left jaw, now perceptibly swelling, showed how he had been downed.

"It's the Austrian-Count Max Lieder!" said Gleason. "He must have learned something important, or they wouldn't have gone after him like this."

Brett made a hasty examination of the guard, as the Austrian began to stir. By the time he had finished, a dozen officers and several of the night guard force were gathered around.

"Two of you take this man," ordered Brett. "Get him to the hospital along with Major Scott. Captain-of-the-guard, turn on all lights and search the building. Don't let anyone out without a signed pass from me."

The guards scattered, and the two wounded men were taken away. Knight looked at the Austrian, shot an inquiring glance at General Brett.

"Count Lieder's been helping us - undercover, you understand," said the Intelligence chief. "He was the Austrian air attache before Hitler absorbed Austria. That left Lieder as a man without a country. He hates the Nazis like poison - they seized his home and put his brother in a concentration camp. So he's been working with us secretly, mainly on the spy activities near the Canal and in South America."

Lieder's dark eyes had opened by the time Brett finished. He looked up dazedly a moment, then groggily got to his feet with Brett's aid.

"The man with the mask!" he said hoarsely. "I tried to stop him - he had struck down a guard -"

"He's been taken care of," Brett said grimly.

Lieder felt his jaw, winced. "I was hurrying with important information -" he stopped, looked uncertainly at the Q-Agent and Doyle.

"You can talk in front of them," said the Intelligence general. "This is Mr. Knight and Mr. Doyle."

Lieder managed a shaky bow.

"There's a scheme - I couldn't get the details - to destroy the pursuit ships you're sending to Panama," he began.

"You're too late," Gleason said morosely.

"Just a second," cut in Knight. "Count Lieder, where did you hear this - and exactly what did you learn ?"

The Austrian eyed him with a faint resentment.

"I have already explained my sources to these officers. As to the plan, my informant thought there would be an 'accidental' fire at one of their refueling stops."

"No help there, Dick," Brett said gloomily. "As to the Count's sources, he circulates in diplomatic circles and has 'pipe lines' into two or three embassies."

"Perhaps he can identify our guest back there," said Knight. He led the way along the corridor. Halfway to the body of the dead spy, he saw some one kneeling to search the man's pockets. He broke into a run, with the others close behind. Then he saw that it was Colonel Mapes.

"I thought I'd see what I could find," Mapes told General Brett, with a sour look at Knight.

"Well?" said Brett.

"I didn't find anything - except this wallet containing some clippings. I was just going to look at them -" Brett took the clippings, held them under the light. Knight glanced rapidly over the first item:

Semmet, W. Va., August 21 - For 'hree nights, inhabitants of this mountain village have been puzzled by a mysterious screeching sound occurring near midnight and lasting for several minutes. Though it apparently came from the nearby Alleghenies, attempts to trace the source were fruitless. A peculiar effect of the phenomenon is that radio reception is impossible while the weird sound continues.

General Brett stared at Knight, then picked up the next clipping. It read:

Marietta, Ohio, August 23 - A mysterious fire of unknown origin completely destroyed a barge on the Ohio River near here last night. The barge was cut loose by its tow-boat shortly before the fire occurred, and ownership has not yet been established. Flames were described as having an odd bluish tinge, and it is thought an inflammable cargo was being carried. Department of Commerce inspectors are investigating.

The third clipping had a dateline of August 26, and the item was from Semmet. It read:

A rock slide at the top of Little Baldy Mountain, ten miles from Semmet, is believed to explain the peculiar sounds heard in this vicinity last week. Several fault-lines have been discovered, evidently from an earthquake centuries past. State geologists report an unusual condition in two or three spots as though the stone had been fused by extreme heat at some time in the past.

Knight looked back thoughtfully at the other clippings. "How soon can Doyle and I get an A-18, with guns mounted?" he asked General Brett.

"Inside of forty minutes," said the Intelligence chief. "But you can't land near Semmet - the nearest field big enough is Moundsville."

"That's good enough," said Knight. He turned to the Austrian. "Count Lieder, have you ever seen this man before?"

Lieder had been gazing at the dead man's face. He slowly nodded. "I think he is the one I saw with Hugo Briehm, a German believed to be active in espionage in Washington."

"If he was with Briehm, then this is some foul spy game," said Brett. "Dick, I'll order that ship made ready."

He went into the dispensary office. General Gleason turned to the Q-Agent.

"Knight, I haven't had a chance to congratulate you on your re-instatement. Brett told me the truth some weeks ago, and I'm glad to know that it was all cleared up."

"Thank you, General," Knight answered. He smiled drily as Colonel Mapes turned to Lieder, ignoring him. "Count, I've something up in my office that will help your jaw. Come on up."

The two men disappeared up the stairway. In a moment General Brett came back.

"The ship will be ready by the time you get there. And I'll send a flash to Moundsville for you to have any help you need."

"One other thing," said Knight. "If you can get some action at the Department of Commerce on that barge business it might give us a quick lead. With war likely in Europe, I imagine most of the Departments are keeping late hours tonight."

"I'll get the facts if they've found anything," .Brett, assured him. "Anything else?"

"Whatever you learn, put it in our old Q-code. We'll keep tuned in on Number Two wavelength. And I guess we'd better have a War Department car to Bolling Field - we commandeered a taxi to get here, and the police are probably looking for it."

"You can have my car," offered General Gleason.

Knight thanked him. As they were starting up the corridor, he looked back and saw the exposed body of the dead Air Corps captain. Brett caught the glance, and his, face clouded.

"I hate to be sending you and Doyle on such a mission, Dick."

"You're not sending us," said Knight. "It's the fiend back of that hellish business."

Chapter III

Black Wings

The clock in the front pit of the A-18 showed four minutes past ten. Knight switched the radio to catch the Uniontown beacon, checked the course, and started a gradual descent toward Moundsville. The Alleghenies, or the worst of them, lay behind in the blackness. A faint mist was still falling, but occasionally through the gloom he could see scattered lights as the attack ship roared above a break in the clouds. He set the radio back on the special wavelength he had mentioned to General Brett.

"How much longer?" Doyle said from the rear pit.

"Twenty minutes or so," answered Knight.

"I've been thinkin' about that bird with th' clippings," announced the Irishman. "What'd he mean when he asked you where was the drawing?"

"I've been wondering about that, too," said Knight. "However Captain Lanham got tangled up in it, he must've had some information the spies needed-or wanted to hide."

"I'll sure be glad to get back on terra firma," said Doyle. "I don't mind tellin' you I've got a permanent case of gooseflesh, thinkin' about Lanham."

Knight was silent, for no words could dispel the horror he, too, felt when he thought of the unfortunate captain. He forced his attention to the controls and the instrument board. The ship was down to four thousand feet, about to settle into the lower layer of clouds, when from the corner of his eye he caught a sudden flicker - a dot of bright green flashing swiftly in the darkness to his right. For a second he thought it was the winglight of another ship pas-ing in the opposite direction. Then he saw that the green light was rapidly closing in toward the A-18.

With a jerk at the stick, he pulled the two-seater into a sudden chandelle, opening the throttle almost to full manifold pressure. Four streaks of tracer flamed under the wings, missing the ship by inches. Knight heard Doyle let out a bellow of rage and whirl to the rear-pit guns. He hastily charged his four Brownings, ripped out a warming-up burst. Something, little more than a blur, whipped past on the left, and another blast of tracer sparkled through the misty night.

Doyle's guns cut loose with a furious clatter, and the red lines of tracer swerved sharply. Knight's hand flicked to the landing-light switch. As the beam drilled the darkness, a black wing shimmered wetly in the glow. With amazement he recognized the sleek lines of the black ship.

It was a German Messerschmitt fighter!

"What th' hell!" bawled Doyle. "Have we hopped th" Atlantic?"

The black ship whipped up and around for a swift attack. Knight whirled the two-seater in a furious turn, pressed the top stick button. The four Brownings responded with a thunderous chant, and he saw black dural fly from the Nazi ship's wings. As the pilot zoomed clear, Knight saw that the Messerschmitt was devoid of insignia - a pirate of the airlanes.

A sudden pounding at the tail of the A-18 made him renverse hurriedly. Another black Messerschmitt shot by, twisted back for another attack. For an instant, tracers blazed from two directions, crisscrossing to catch the American ship. Knight snapped off all lights, jerked the stick to his belt. The tracers faded below, and he saw the pinpoints of green reappear, as the Messerschmitt pilots took, quick precautions to avoid collision in the darkness.

"Try to get the one on the left!" he shouted back at Doyle. He nosed down, aimed the hurtling attack ship at the other spot of green light. Just as he tripped the Brownings, both Nazi ships whirled, swiftly spreading apart. The flare of his exhaust stacks had betrayed him in the dive.

Doyle's tracers flickered out at the nearest ship. Knight pulled out of the dive, flung a blast at the other green light. It vanished, and he thought he had scored. But in another second a fusillade from the gloom told him he had missed. He swore through grim-set teeth. The exhaust flares of the Messerschmitts were shielded, but it was obvious the pilots of the black ships could see the attack ship's exhaust.

He switched on the wing-lights for a split-second, saw one of the black fighters twisting in at his left. He tripped his Brownings, drove a furious burst into the tail of the Messerschmitt. The second black ship was hurtling down, guns blazing. Knight snapped off the lights, poured another hot blast into the first fighter as the darkness swallowed it up.

A lurid glow sprang up before him, then flame and wildly billowing smoke swept back from the Messerschmitt's cowl. The second ship plunged in madly, and a hail of bullets tore through the enclosure above the A-18's cockpits. Doyle whirled his guns, crashed a savage answer, and the diving fighter zoomed.

By now the stricken ship was blazing fiercely. Knight could dimly see the pilot through the flames, as the man fought to slide back the cockpit cover. For a second more the pilot beat at the latch, then he slumped forward and the black ship went streaking down like a vast torch hurled from the heavens.

Knight curved off sharply, giving Doyle a chance to fire as the other fighter charged back. The twin-fifties roared, and the lightning tracers leaped the gap, tore through the black ship's wings. The Messerschmitt yawed crazily, and something flashed off into space, bright in the glare of the falling flamer.

"I got his prop!" Doyle yelled exultantly.

The black ship nosed down. Knight turned on his wing-lights, saw the pilot preparing to bail out. He stabbed a burst past the Messerschmitt's right wing. The pilot ruddered hastily. Knight fired past the left wing, flickered his lights. The pilot twisted around, stared back, his face white in the glow. One hand went into the air in token of surrender.

"What're you tryin' to do?" yelled Doyle.

"Force him down at Moundsville, if possible. Be ready to herd him back if he suddenly turns. out."

The lights of Moundsville appeared ahead, through broken clouds. Knight edged the attack ship closer to the black fighter, until his lights flooded it completely. The pilot was huddled over the controls, staring down into the darkness. As the Messerschmitt settled into the cloud layer he started a hasty turn, but a burst past his wing sent him back onto the course.

With the attack ship's prop not forty feet from the Messerschmitt's tail, Knight grimly followed the black plane down. The pilot looked back desperately into the glowing lights, waved both hands above his head. Knight pulled up, circled as the black ship swung into the wind. He landed close behind it, spotting the ground for the two ships as they rolled to-ward the line.

There was a Stinson on the line, and beyond it two or three cars near the field office. As the Messerschmitt came to a stop three men jumped from one car and ran toward it. Knight braked the A-18, threw open the cockpit enclosure and jumped dawn, leaving Doyle to. switch off the motor.

The pilot of the black ship had also jumped to the ground, one hand thrust inside his flying-suit. Knight's gun was out before the other man could draw.

"Get your hands up!" he snapped. "Handen hoch - in case you don't understand English."

Sullenly, ;the man lifted his hands. The three men who. had been waiting in the car stared blankly at Knight. "Say, what is this?" demanded one of them.

"Who are you?" Knight said crisply .

"Lieutenant Hanlan, Air Corps Reserve," said the man. "General Brett called me long-distance, said to get out here and meet your ship and have a couple of other Reserve officers here in case you wanted help."

"Good," said Knight. He looked toward the road, saw two or three cars approaching.

"They must've heard your guns," exclaimed Hanlan. "Or else they saw your lights -"

"I don't want any crowd here," Knight said quickly. "Block the entrance to the field with one of those cars. Tell them it was only a mock battle - Air Corps night maneuver - anything to get them away from here. We'll be inside the office with the prisoner."

"Right," said Hanlan. He sent one of his companions hurrying toward the first car.

"If anybody asks about that black ship, tell him it's a special Air Corps fighter, under test," added Knight. He waited until Doyle had climbed down, then prodded the Messerschmitt pilot with the .38.

"Put your hands down," he said in German. "But don't try any smart tricks, mein Freund."

The pilot's pale face twitched, but he made no answer.

"Lothario, see if you can find anything important in that ship," Knight told the Irishman. "I'll take our alien visitor inside."

There was only one man in the office. He stood in the doorway, looking out at the two ships. When he saw Knight covering the German pilot with his gun, his jaw dropped.

"I'm from the War Department, special Intelligence duty," rapped the Q-Agent. "This man is an important prisoner. I want to. talk with him privately.

"You can have this room," stammered the man, painting to an inner office.

"Thanks. Not a word of this to anyone aver the phone, understand. You might go out and help Lieutenant Hanlan - he'll explain what I want."

The airport man, still gaping at the prisoner, went outside, and Knight motioned the German into the other room. In the light, the pilot proved to. be a man about thirty, with a thin, somewhat bony face, and hard blue eyes.

"Face the wall," Knight ordered. He ran his left hand over the man's belt, under his arms, then removed a Luger from a shoulder-harness under his coat. As the captive turned around, there was a cool sneer on his face. He spoke:

"Very well, Herr Offizier. Now you can send for your police."

"I'll handle this without any police," Knight said calmly. "I've no doubt you've a vice-consul somewhere who'd pop up to explain you pulled a Corrigan and got over here thinking it was Poland."

The prisoner scowled. "I am not amused, Amerikaner.

"And you're going to be less so, unless you talk fast," snapped Knight. "Where have those two Messerschmitts been hidden?"

"I have nothing to say," retorted the German.

"How did you know that two-seater was going to be landing here?" demanded the Q-Agent.

The other man made no answer. Knight studied the pilot's face, met the cold, unwavering stare of the hard, blue eyes. The silence was interrupted by Doyle's entrance.

"Not a damn thing in his cockpit that'll help us," said the Irishman. They've punched out the numbers on the instruments, and all the German words are gone off th' board. But I couldn't even spot a map."

"Never mind. This Messerschmitt skyman will help us out."

"If you need a persuader, I've got a good one," growled Doyle. He doubled a huge fist.

"Keep your filthy hands away from me, Humd!" said the pilot fiercely.

"Ah, so you understand English after all," said Knight. "Suppose we get down to facts. You're a foreign military pilot in this country without authority. And you're due for a long, long term in prison - unless you help us out."

"I have told you that I have nothing to say," rasped the pilot.

Knight straightened suddenly from where he had been leaning against the desk. "Talk, and talk fast! Who's the bloody cutthroat back of that blue fire business?"

"I don't know what you mean!" blustered the German.

"You're facing a murder charge," grated Knight. "You had a hand in killing Captain Lanham and the rest of those Army pilots!"

The pilot set his lips hard, but his face whitened.

"Let me work on him, the rat!" snarled Doyle.

"No, I've a better way." Knight stepped to the window, stared out. He saw that a fair-sized crowd had gathered where Hanlon and his two men were blocking the entrance. He turned back grimly. "Mein Herr, did you ever hear of the American word 'lynching'?"

The German started. Knight's eyes bored into him.

"If I tell that crowd about those dead pilots - and let them know who you are - they'll string you up in five minutes!"

"You wouldn't dare!" flamed the German. "I demand to be arrested according to law -"

"Listen, squarehead!" Knight caused his eyes to blaze. "It wouldn't take much to get them worked up - and by Heaven, I'll let them hang you, if you don't talk!"

Sweat was running down the pilot's face. "But I know nothing!" he groaned.

Knight whirled to Doyle. "Get out there and tell that mob the whole story."

"It'll be a pleasure," said Doyle. He started for the door.

"Wait," moaned the German. "I will tell you."

"All right," said Knight coldly. "But the first hint of a lie, and the mob gets you."

He had no intention of turning the man over to the crowd, but he kept up the pretense of grim readiness as the pilot started to talk.

"What you call the blue fire - I did not take part in that," the German mumbled. "I was sent only for the protection -"

"How did you get those ships into America?" demanded Knight.

The pilot's eyes shifted helplessly from the Q-Agent to Doyle, and back.

"We came by catapult ship, near to your coast, in the night. I did not want to come - but my orders-"

"Never mind the alibis," snapped Knight. "Where is your base?"

"They will kill me if I tell," groaned the captive.

Knight stepped toward the open window as though to shout to the crowd.

"Nein! Du Lieber Gott - don't call them," gasped the pilot. "The planes fly from the private field - it is up the River Ohio and to the west in the county called Belmont. The Amerikaner who owned it -"

The German stopped, went rigid, and in the same moment Knight heard a faint high-pitched moaning sound from somewhere outside the building.

"Gott im Himmel!" the prisoner cried wildly. "They are going to kill me!"

He made a frenzied leap for the door. Knight sprang after him, with Doyle racing at his heels. The moaning sound grew swiftly into a deafening screech. Just as the prisoner plunged out of the office, a brief flash of bluish light illuminated the field. Dimly through that unholy screech, Knight could hear the screams of the crowd.

With a roar and a blast of blue flame, the Messerschmitt fighter blew up. Knight threw himself flat to escape any hurtling fragments. Something hit the building behind him. He turned hastily on his elbow.

"Lothario, are you all right?" Doyle was scrambling to his feet.

"I'm okay - but that devil of a prisoner is gettin' away from us."

Knight jumped up, tried to spot the fleeing German, but the flames dazzled his eyes. Somewhere beyond the glare, an engine thundered into life, audible as the screeching sound decreased.

"He's grabbed that Stinson job!" howled Doyle.

They dashed around the shattered Messerschmitt, forced into a wide detour by the terrific heat. Suddenly the ungodly screech came again, and through the billowing smoke a tiny bluish streak shot to the ground. So swift the eye could not keep pace, it whipped across the roof of the office. There was a muffled grinding sound. Then the roof burst wide open, and in a split-second the entire structure was a mass of blue fire.

Chapter IV

The Blue Ray

For an instant, amazement held Knight speechless. That tiny streak had been no wider than a thread - but it had cut through the airport office like a gigantic flaming sword.

As the deadly blue streak flashed back across the corner of the field, he snatched at Doyle's arm.

"Get to the ship before it's too late !"

With a withering heat beating at their backs, they fled to the A-18. The Stinson was already half-way down the field, and the panic-stricken crowd was fleeing.

As Knight tumbled into the front pit of the attack ship, the thread of blue flame swerved toward them. For a second he thought they were doomed, but the dazzling streak jerked sidewise at the cars of the terrified crowd. Two of them instantly burst into flames, and a pall of acrid smoke swept over the field. Knight had switched. on the starter, released the brake-lock. The A-18 pivoted madly on one wheel, plunged through the smoke clouds. Gasping for breath, Knight ruddered into the wind, threw the throttle full open.

The ship leaped frantically ahead, roared through another billow of smoke. As it emerged, he saw the Stinson taking off. The wheels were hardly off the ground before the German pilot started to bank. Wingtip almost scraping the runway, the Stinson pulled up and away from the flaming chaos behind. Knight sent the two-seater roaring after it, flung a tense look back.

The thread of blue fire had vanished, leaving an inferno behind. When he turned back to the controls, he saw the Stinson zigzagging wildly, though the A-18 was not in close range. He banked away, swooped down toward the surface of the Ohio River, leveling out near the shore and just above the water.

"If you see that blue ray, yell!" he threw over his shoulder at Doyle.

"I think they lost us in that smoke," Doyle said hoarsely.

"Did you see where it came from?" Knight exclaimed.

"Not a chance," returned Doyle.

"Anyway, all I was thinkin' of was gettin' away from there."

Knight held the thundering motor wide open for a minute longer, then set the ship at cruising speed and climbed up into the mists. Behind them, the glare from the field showed dully through the murk. Doyle leaned forward under the cockpit enclosure, his homely face still pale.

"We'd better tip off Brett, now we got a lead on th' devils."

"Not yet," said Knight. "I want to be sure we're not going to be hit by that ray or whatever it is."

He waited until the last vestige of the inferno had faded, then switched on the transmitter.

"Q to B ... Q to B," he called into the mike, then switched on the receiver. There was a pause, and he was about to call again when the answer came:

"B to Q. I've been calling you.. No word yet on the barge -"

"Forget that," Knight said crisply. "We've run into something big. We were attacked by two black Messerschmitts near Uniontown. Shot one down, forced the other to land at Moundsville. A mysterious blue ray destroyed the Messerschmitt and the airport office, but we forced the pilot to -"

Knight dropped the mike, whirled the ship into a furious renversement. Less than three hundred yards away, a thread of blue fire was probing wildly around through the mist. As the. A-18 twisted away, the weird thread of fire made another frantic circle, then slashed back through the gloom.

"They caught that flash to Brett!" yelped Doyle. "They must've got a bearing on us!"

Knight hauled the ship into a tight climb. A cold chill had settled around his heart, but he grimly fought down the temptation to dive and race far away from that danger area. Somewhere up there was the answer.

"Turn on the receiver," he said, stiff-lipped, to Doyle.

A telltale light flickered on the special set as Doyle obeyed, then a furious roar came through the amplifier. Before Doyle could throw the switch, the light went out.

"Hell's bells!" he ejaculated. "The tubes are burned out!"

Knight closed the throttle for a moment. For the third time that night, a terrible un-human screech rang in his ears. It diminished in volume almost instantly, and the next second the deadly line of blue fire shot in diagonally and crossed their path. Knight dived headlong, opened the throttle and pulled the ship up and around in an Immelmann.

The blue streak had again disappeared. Suddenly Knight saw it off to the right, but now it had changed in appearance. The blue ray was no longer a thread of blinding fire, but was now thicker and shortened - like a straight bolt of lightning out of the night. Something hurtled madly to one side, and by the glare of that dazzling blue ray he saw the Stinson.

Then the German pilot flashed on his lights, blinked them with a frenzied speed. The blue ray flicked aside - just in time. The Stinson's wing-surfaces had started to smoke, though the ray was more than sixty feet away.

The Stinson's lights flashed something in code which Knight could not read, then it turned and dived into the gloom. Cautiously, as the ray thinned and then went out, Knight climbed above the space where the blue streak had seemed to begin. His heart was pounding, his hands cold on the stick.

"Be ready with your guns," he told Doyle in a grim voice.

"As scared as I am, I couldn't hit the side of a barn," Doyle answered.

"I'm going to try one quick flash of the lights - and dive at full gun before they can hit us," said Knight.

"Goodbye, old World," moaned Doyle.

Knight's hand was on the wing-light toggle when out of the gloom he caught a faint gleam. It was light of ordinary color, divided into rectangles side by side, and suddenly he knew what it was. The door from a ship's cockpit to the cabin had been opened, sending that brief glow out through the sections of glass that formed the windshield.

He threw the A-18 into a vertical bank, knowing that the other ship had been headed in the opposite direction and must now have passed underneath. With a clipped word to Doyle, he snapped on the lights and slid his thumb onto the gun-control buttons.

Almost directly ahead and a hundred feet below, the massive shape of a huge four-engined ship was at once revealed. Black as the Messerschmitts had been, it was not a European plane. He recognized the trim streamlines of a Boeing S-307 stratosphere ship. Projecting from an odd-looking turret in the top of the cabin was what appeared to be an anti-aircraft gun with a ribbed outer-casing. The weapon was pointed off to the starboard side, muzzle deflected, and in the glass turret enclosing the breech Knight had a hasty glimpse of a man with a weird helmet like a welder's hood.

As that fantastic picture loomed in the lights, Knight jabbed his thumb on the master-button. The Brownings blazed and four streams of tracer lanced down at the huge black ship. The Boeing twisted into a hasty turn, and the hooded figure in the turret wildly swung his weapon. Knight crashed a last burst at the turret and hurled the two-seater into a furious dive. As the ship shrieked down into the mists, he threw a look over his shoulder. The thickened ray reappeared, changed magically to a deadly blue thread and flicked down, searching the gloom.

Knight pulled up as the altimeter hand dropped to a thousand feet. The ray was lost in the clouds, and mist, but he knew the big Boeing was probably roaring down after them. He leveled out at eight hundred, for a quick race from the danger zone. But the two-seater had covered less than a mile when a red neon-searchlight flared up and caught the ship's wings. Knight twisted out of the beam with a quick turn, then sat up with a jerk.

Streaking up that beam, the red light masking its tracers, was another black Messerschmitt!

A hail of bullets tore through the leading edge of the A-18's right wing. Knight booted the rudder, raked the tail of the black fighter as they roared past. Doyle's guns snarled out still another blast, but a sudden shift of the neon beam made the Messerschmitt only a flitting shadow beyond the cherry-red glow.

Knight whirled back, pumped a fusillade through the red beam, hoping to hit the now almost invisible fighter. The Messerschmitt zoomed, lost itself in the shadows. As Knight skidded out of the neon-beam, the twin-radial skipped a beat, broke into a ragged thunder. Knight instantly began a climb, to gain altitude before the air speed was too slow.

"Slide open the greenhouse," he shouted back at Doyle. "Be ready to jump."

"If you're stickin' with her, so am I," yelled Doyle.

"I'll jump right after you," answered Knight. "We'd probably get smashed up trying to land - and I want to make those devils think we're finished."

The revs were dropping swiftly, and so was the oil pressure. Knight shot a look at the altimeter.

"Two thousand," he called back to Doyle. "Try to keep out of that light. "If I can drop near you, okay - if I don't, get to the nearest town and phone Brett. I'll do the same."

"Here goes nothin'," shouted Doyle.

He pushed up in the cockpit, tumbled over the side. Knight kicked the tail away, saw the falling figure swallowed up in the gloom. He banked to draw the neon beam, which was vainly trying to pierce the higher mists, then unfastened his belt. Pulling the stick back, he fought his way out of the cockpit, let go as the nose abruptly dropped. The tail barely missed him as the attack ship plunged off. He waited a second or two, pulled the ring. The chute opened with a loud plop. He pulled on the risers, slipped away from the diving plane.

In a few moments he heard the ship crash, then fire spurted up from the wreck. The dark bulk of a hangar cut off his view as he let go of the risers and braced himself for the landing. He hit with a jolt, rolled over, and managed to collapse the chute before he was dragged more than a few feet. Hurriedly unbuckling the harness, he stole along in the shadow of the hangar.

Suddenly he halted, transfixed.

A quarter of a mile distant, Doyle was struggling with three or four men who had raced out from the hangar in a car. For an instant Knight stood stunned, unable to realize how Doyle had made the mistake of slipping his chute toward the neon light instead of away from it. Then he saw the reason. A black shape swept down out of the mists, and he recognized the Boeing stratosphere plane. Doyle had evidently seen the big ship and tilted the chute to keep out of its range, choosing capture rather than Lanham's horrible fate.

Lying flat on the ground, Knight saw Doyle dragged into the car, which then swung back to the hangar. The neon beam widened to flood the runway, and Knight saw the Stinson pivoting around at the line. A Beechcraft was just inside the hangar, with two men beside it staring out at the Boeing. Painted across the front of the hangar, above the cantilever door, were the words:

J. D. Newton

Private Field

No Trespassing!

No Servicing!

The name struck some vague memory .at the back of Knight's mind. In a moment he had it. J.D. Newton was the famous, and somewhat eccentric, maker of pipe-organs who had recently brought out a "color organ" which matched each note with a color, creating exquisite blends for chords and lower clef arrangements. Knight recalled that Newton had been in trouble with the Civil Aeronautics Authority for driving off, at gunpoint, a private pilot who had used his field for emergency landing in a storm.

But what did the maker of color-organs have to do with this hellish scheme?

Knight watched anxiously as Doyle was hauled out of the car and hustled into the hangar. Single-handed, he had little chance of saving Lothario from that group. There were at least a dozen men in sight, and there would be more from the Boeing in a moment. Common sense dictated that he crawl back into the dark, find his way to a phone, and summon help. But something told him, with a grim finality, that it would probably mean the end of Doyle.

He saw the Boeing roll to a stop, swing slowly, ponderously in front of the hangar. A fuel hose was at once brought out, attached to a refueling platform. As the crew of the stratosphere ship descended by a portable gangway, the Messerschmitt fighter which had riddled the A-18 whined down onto the runway. The neon beam dimmed, went out before the German ship had even stopped rolling.

Knight listened intently as the Messerschmitt's engine went silent. He could hear voices, but he was too far to catch the words. He got to his feet, took out his .38, and tiptoed toward the hangar. Reaching the side, he inched his way toward the front, halted abruptly as he heard a harsh voice.

"You blundering Dumkopf! First you let Lanham escape, and then you let those two secret agents slip through your fingers."

"But, Mein Herr," protested another voice, "we have one of them - and the other died in the crash."

"What good is that now?" rasped the first man. And with a frown Knight realized there was something familiar about that voice. "That business at Moundsville will bring their Intelligence and police swarming. Some one may report this last fight. Even if no one does live close by, it could be heard for some miles."

"In this misty weather, no one could tell the direction," said the other German.

"Perhaps not, but we shall take no chances. Order all tanks filled, the motors checked. We leave here tonight!"

"Ach! You mean the order has come? The war -"

"Will start at dawn, when the bombers cross the Polish frontier," said the man who seemed to be the leader. "This plane and the device must be safe in the Fatherland by tomorrow night, in case the British and French are fools enough to keep their word to Poland."

"It will be ready within an hour, Excellenz! The men will work at top speed, with such news."

"Have two men take that fire-eating Irishman inside," ordered the leader. "I'll be in as soon as I talk with Schneider - we will see just how much fire Herr Doyle can eat, after all."

"Ja, I will have him taken to the house," said the other man.

Knight waited to hear no more, but slipped back and ran silently alongside the hangar to the rear, beyond which he had seen the bulk of a large brick house. The house was dark, and hardly distinguishable now in the night. A minute passed, then Knight's hand closed on the butt of his gun, for above a gruff German voice he heard an oath in the unmistakable tones of Lothario Doyle.

"One more time you try it, and I crack your skull," growled one of Doyle's captors.

Knight flattened himself against the 'rear of the hangar. Figures emerged around the other corner, barely visible In the gloom. Knight let them pass on toward the house, stole after them. One of the guards suddenly turned his head. Before he could make a sound, Knight's gun was rammed into his back.

"Stille, both of you!" he muttered. "Put your hands up and step away from that man."

The German he was covering hurriedly lifted his hands, but the other, after a loud curse, whirled Doyle between him and Knight and snatched for his gun. The Irishman lunged to his knees, pulling the German off balance. Knight's gun-butt thudded down on the man's' head, and he dropped without a sound. The other guard had wheeled, one hand partly lowered toward his pistol. But as Knight's automatic flipped toward him, he hastily changed his mind.

"Don't shoot, Bitte!" he said in a hoarse voice.

"So It's 'please,' now," grunted Doyle. He took the German's gun. "Dick, all you need is wings to be an angel from Heaven. I thought I was sunk."

"We may be yet," muttered Knight. "Think there's any. chance of grabbing a ship?"

"Not a prayer. There's another Messerschmitt in there, but even if we did grab it, or that Stinson or the Beechcraft they'd - well, there's no use talking. The place is full of  guards."

"We'll have to sneak around the house and get away," said Knight. He prodded the German with his gun. "Hurry up and drag your friend away from the walk, where he won't be seen."

Mumbling under his breath, the man obeyed. When he stood up, Knight grasped his arm firmly.

"You're going with us," he said tautly. "Get moving - and don't try anything funny!"

"No, 'Hans," said an edged voice, "our guests will play the comedy role."

Knight whirled - found himself staring pointblank into the muzzle of a pistol, as a flashlight spotted the three of them. Two men leaped in at Doyle, and his frantic shot went into the air.

"Very good," said the man with the flashlight. He tilted the torch, and above it his small, delicate features became satanically shadowed

"Lieder!" Knight rasped. "You double-crosser !"

Chapter V

Chamber of Death

The Austrian's face did not change, but in his eyes a malicious amusement darkened into something like murder. "Hans, take this loose-mouthed swine inside - and if he as much as moves his head, give him the gun-butt."

"La, ja, Herr Count," stammered the German. "It was not my fault -"

"March!" snapped Count Lieder.

"Captain Mannheim, call some one to take care of this man on the ground, then bring in the other prisoner. I shall be in the library with Schneider and the man Knight."

When the group reached the house, a burly German inspected them through a grill before unlocking the door. Inside, they went down a dimly lighted hall and into a large library, where both table and floor were littered with sketches, blueprints, and scrawled notes. Books had been taken from their shelves, contents of recessed file-cases emptied, An undersized German with too-large spectacles peered at Knight and the others, started as he saw the guns.

"Don't be afraid, Karl," Lieder said with a thinly veiled contempt. "This man is in no position to hurt you. Have you found that copy of the drawing yet?"

"Nein," said Karl despondently. "I am afraid Lanham got away with the only one. We can only hope our engineers will be able to take down those circuits and grasp the principles."

"It may not be necessary," said the count. He turned to Knight. "You're a clever man, from all I've heard. If you're as wise, as they say, you'll answer my questions without any Yankee bluff."

Knight waited coldly.

"What happened to the drawing Lanham took from here?" demanded Lieder.

"What's left of it is locked in a G-2 vault by now," Knight lied. The Austrian looked at him searchingly.

"I can find out if that is true, later - when I return to Washington. That jackass Mapes is always ready to talk."

Knight saw that the man who now guarded him was glaring at him fiercely and then for the first time since entering the lighted room he realized that the man called Schneider was the Messerschmitt pilot who had escaped from the Moundsville airport. There was a mixture of uneasiness in the German's glare, and Count Lieder's sharp eyes caught his expression.

"Herr Schneider, there is something about the two Americans you have not told me?"

Schneider's bony face twitched into a ghastly imitation of a smile. He could not afford to let it be known he had given any information to the Americans.

"No, indeed, Excellenz, I told you everything. I admit to stupidity in being captured, but I thought I might be able to get free and silence them that way, where if I had simply died for the Cause -"

"If you are lying to me, you will regret it," Lieder said calmly. "I may have taken a few matters into my own hands, but my suggestions carry real weight - weight which you may feel."

He turned abruptly as Captain Mannheim entered, pushing Doyle. Mannheim was a solidly-built man with heavily lidded eyes and the ram-rod back of a Prussian officer.

"I have ordered your Beechcraft refueled," he told Lieder. "Or have you changed your mind about going with us to the Fatherland?"

"When you cross the Atlantic coast en route to Berlin tonight, my part of this valued mission I have conceived is done," answered Lieder. "I shall of course forward any other information as to the Newton apparatus, if I can possibly uncover anything in my espionage work at Washington. However, though, I have made my own personal plans to stay here and extend a spy-chain in America, with preparations for sabotage, too, if I deem it wise."

Mannheim looked nervously at his wrist-watch.

"I shall be glad to be away from this accursed place. Sentiment will be very dangerously against us after our troops enter Poland. And if by some chance the Americans found we caused the death of those pilots -"

"How could they?" snapped Lieder. "You told me you jammed the air before Knight's message to General Brett was half-started."

"I was thinking of nothing specific," said Mannheim. "It is only the tension of those last minutes - like waiting to go over the top -"

"Then these final details will help occupy your mind," interrupted Lieder. "You are to fly at ceiling of thirty thousand feet, cruising speed 240, great circle course to Berlin. You are not to use the device, except in self defense, against any targets, military or civilian, until the Berlin staff has decided on how it can best be employed. It will probably be used against England's fleet, if she declares war on Germany. Later, for raids on enemy ammunition depots, railheads, gas-plants, and vital cities."

"I understand," nodded Captain Mannheim. He looked around the littered library. "Too bad that Newton had to be killed. I've been afraid we might need him again."

"The man infuriated me," said Lieder. He grinned mirthlessly. "I don't like people to oppose me. Karl, you can give up the search. The big ship will be leaving here shortly, and the house must be set afire before we go."

Karl nodded spiritlessly. Lieder's eyes shifted from Doyle to Knight. "You are very lucky to be alive," he said drily. "I presume you would both prefer to stay that way - or am I mistaken ?"

"Go ahead, you rat, and get it over with," flared Doyle. "I heard you tell Mannheim you'd finish me off."

The Austrian's eyes were fixed on Knight.

"As you possibly have deduced," he said with heavy sarcasm, "war is about to break out in Europe. In my opinion, it will become the Second World War. My mission is to block any help America may try to give Britain and France."

"Remarkable," said Knight. "I'd never have suspected it."

"If there's any humor, I'll indicate it," snarled Lieder. "I'm offering you a chance of life or death. Between you two, you've amassed a great deal of information on French and British aviation, not to mention complete details on American defense plans. If you agree, you'll be given posts in my spy ring-closely supervised, I'll admit -"

"You can go to the devil, for all of me," Doyle said furiously.

Two deadly pinpoints of light came into Lieder's eyes, but he went on in a flat voice.

"- you'll be taken across in the Boeing tonight, guarded en route. But certain later rewards will make. up for -"

"You're wasting your breath," Knight said coldly. "Doyle has spoken for the two of us."

Lieder's fingers tightened convulsively on his pistol. Then he jerked his free hand.

"Into the hall!" he said in a tone. of repressed fury. "Mannheim, you-and Schneider bring that pig of an Irishman."

"I've two men out here waiting," Mannheim said hurriedly. "They can help you while I attend to final -"

"The orders are given," snapped Lieder. "I want you to see this little performance. You, too, Karl. You can tell the Berlin experts how it works, at close range."

He beckoned to the two men Mannheim had mentioned, and at his order they took Doyle's arms and marched him down the stairs into the basement. Schneider and Hans followed with Knight. They went through an arched passage into a long, narrow chamber, the sides and ceiling of which were painted dead black. Across from the doorway through which they entered was another door, evidently leading outside. It was heavily barred and secured with three huge padlocks.

About thirty feet away, and midway between the black walls, stood a smaller model of the sinister-looking weapon Knight had seen on top of the big Boeing. It had a heavy shield, covered with asbestos, for the operator, and transparent composition observation panels at least three inches thick. At the other end of the long chamber a black hole loomed where the concrete wall had been blasted through by the heat of the ray. Steel braces, leaning at angles, shored up the floor at this point, without being in range of the device.

Two-thirds of the way down the narrow room was a pair of heavy steel poles, fifteen feet apart, with hooks and pulleys for stretching objects of various sizes and shapes between them and in line with the apparatus. A massive steel plate, sliced, in two, lay on the floor between the poles. On the concrete floor nearby Knight saw a dark stain that looked like blood.

"I think you begin to understand," Lieder said with an ugly smile. "Are you ready to change your mind?"

Knight shook his head woodenly, and the fury came back into Lieder's eyes. "You fool, do you realize what you're saying? You saw Lanham's body. Do you want to die like that?"

"At least it will be quick," Knight answered grimly.

"You'll die a thousand deaths in those seconds," snarled Lieder. "Look at this!"

He spun around, jabbed his hand at an intricate layout of high-tension coils, fluorescent tubes, and electric mechanism. The tubes, Knight noticed, ranged from small ones to units more than ten feet high.

"Somewhere in that hook-up, Newton found a way to get into the unknown waveband of the spectrum," Lieder said harshly. "Looking for something weird in music - and he hit on the deadliest weapon any nation could ever ask for. He got the secret of controlling rates of vibration - and before we're through, Germany will know it, too. That's how he generated that heat - and that's how Lanham was killed. When that blue ray hit him, it wasn't electricity - it was a combination of sound and light waves at tremendous rates of vibration, carrier waves between the cosmic and ultra violet. When those waves hit anything they generate blue fire. And that fire has a temperature of more than twenty-five thousand degrees!"

Knight saw Doyle's face. It was pasty white, and he knew his must be the same color. In spite of his desperate attempt to keep up his show of courage, a great horror began to congeal his blood. Lieder took a step closer.

"You saw those clippings - what Newton did in his tests. And you heard what happened to that pursuit squadron. Are You convinced now?"

Knight shook his head. "The answer is still - no."

"You stubborn Schweinhund!"

Lieder turned to the men holding Doyle. "Tie him between the poles. When Knight sees what it really means, he will change his song."

The two Germans started to drag the struggling Irishman to the poles, but halted as a rumble of motors sounded from out on the field. Lieder jerked around to Captain Mannheim.

"I told them to start the engines as soon as they finished refueling," said Mannheim. "You said to lose no time. I ordered all but the engineer crew to dump gasoline through the house so we'd be ready," he added, as the sound of men clumping through the rooms above was audible.

"Very well," replied Lieder curtly.

"This other business will take only a minute or two. Schneider, you and Hans bring Knight over here behind the shield where he can have a good view. I don't want him to miss anything."

He turned quickly to the deadly ray-gun, twitched the geared pointer-wheel at one side, to center the weapon squarely between the poles. The men struggling with Doyle had started to drag him ahead, but when they saw Lieder stoop behind the shield and touch a master-switch and rheostat they stopped, frightened.

"What's the matter with you ?" the Austrian said fiercely. "I'm only warming up the tubes. There's no danger until the master switch and rheostat are cut in."

The two Germans looked fearfully at the battery of tubes, as they lit up and started to hum. Before they could take another step, Knight burst out with a furious cry.

"Schneider! Shoot this devil now - Brett'll be too late to save us!"

Lieder whirled, and Schneider - stunned by Knight's words - went rigid before the look in the Austrian's eyes.

"Don't believe him!" he moaned. "He lies - I didn't betray you!"

"It's in your face!" snarled Lieder.

His hand whipped under his coat to the gun he had hidden. Schneider let go of Knight's arm, leaped back. In a split-second, Knight spun and drove his fist into Hans stomach. The German doubled over with a gasp, and Knight snatched his holstered pistol.

Lieder, his gun half-drawn, flung himself back desperately as Knight sprang toward him. Knight seized the pointer-wheel, gave it a fierce whirl. A .shot blazed from Lieder's gun, spattered against the heavy shield. Mannheim dived for the stair-hall, shouting for help, and Doyle's two guards threw themselves flat as the muzzle of the ray-gun flicked toward them.

Schneider and the little scientist, Karl, both crouched back against the wall, ashen-faced. Knight gripped the master switch, rammed its blades home, and reached for the rheostat.

"Gott in Himmel!" cried Lieder "Don't kill me!"

His pistol clattered on the concrete floor, and he huddled back beside Karl's trembling figure.

"Tell those two guards to get over there with you!" Knight said grimly. "Doyle, take both their guns."

Doyle seized the automatics the men had dropped.

"Unbar that side exit, Lieder!" Knight ordered. "Make it quick, or I'll blast it open and you with it!"

The terrified Austrian leaped to obey, and the bolts slid back. Above, Mannheim's voice came for a second through the vicious hum of the tubes:

"Use the machine-gun. Fire down through the floor!"

Chapter VI

The Second World War!

"Mannheim!" screamed Lieder. "You'll kill us all!"

"Doyle, get him out to the Boeing!" Knight said tensely. "I'll stand off these men for a second or two and then follow you."

The Irishman thrust Lieder through the doorway, the two guns gripped in his fists. "Let those butchers go," he said hastily to Knight. "You'll be -"

T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t! A machine-gun stuttered from the upper floor, and splinters of wood flew down into the basement.

"Run!" Knight shouted. "I'll be right behind you!"

He lifted his pistol, fired two shots into the largest fluorescent tube. The crash as the tube exploded momentarily drowned the bark of the machine-gun above. Flames leaped from the released gases and swirled through the middle of the chamber. Knight dropped the rheostat control and dashed for the side exit. A burst of machine-gun fire gouged the opened door at his left, and he heard someone behind him scream.

He took the steps three at a time. Just as he reached the ground level there was a dull boom from the house behind him, and shattering glass fell from the windows. The blaze that followed told him the truth without even the need for a backward glance. The flame from the broken fluorescent tube had set off gasoline fumes in the rooms prepared by Mannheim's men.

By the glare he saw Doyle and Lieder. The Irishman was rushing Lieder up the gangway to the entrance of the big stratosphere ship. A lone mechanic, running apparently in search of a gun, was the only other person in sight. The alarm had evidently brought the others back to the house.

Two muffled reports sounded as a gun barked from behind Knight. He jumped aside, zigzagged at top speed. Over his shoulder he saw Schneider charging up the stairs of the basement exit. He pumped a quick shot at the German pilot, ducked around a refueling truck. Another pistol jetted flame from the main entrance of the house, and he saw Mannheim emerge, coughing, from a cloud of smoke that billowed through the open door. Back of the German officer came five or six men, two of them carrying another.

Knight raced up the steps of the gangway, with bullets gashing the metal sides of the ship. A piece of dural nicked his jaw, and another slug ricocheted from the frame of the, air-tight door. He jumped inside, slammed the door shut, and twisted the triple handles. Three shots roared from up forward. He dashed around a maze of electrical equipment of the same type which had been in the basement laboratory. Amidships was a ladder leading up to the ray-gun turret, and as he ran by he saw that the entire ray-gun could be lowered as it unit and aimed through another turret in the bottom of the ship.

A figure with two smoking guns whirled as he reached the control compartment, and with a vast relief he saw that Doyle was uninjured. A German in dungarees was stretched, lifeless, a few feet away, and Knight saw the legs of another mechanic protruding from the passage to the starboard nacelles.

"I had to drop 'em," Doyle said, breathing hard. "They both came at me with guns -"

"Where's Lieder?" demanded Knight.

"I locked him in the tail compartment-and gave him a good smack to keep him quiet."

"Make sure that's no one else in those nacelles," Knight exclaimed. He sprang into the pilot's seat, released the parking-brake of the big ship. A machine-gun pounded as he opened the master-throttles. He swung the Boeing around tightly, sent it rolling away from the hangar. A hail of bullets ripped through the top of the control compartment while he hastily searched for the wing-light switch. The beams flashed on, and the next second the stratosphere plane was thundering into the wind for a take-off.

"No one else aboard," Doyle reported, breathlessly, sliding into the co-pilot's seat. "But they're starting those two Messerschmitts!"-and I didn't see any machine-guns on this bus!"

Knight's gaze flicked from the manifold-pressure to the air speed. He lifted the big ship gently, pulled into a climbing turn as soon as the needle passed 100. The red neon beam flashed on below, and the black wings of the first Messerschmitt fighter hurtled through the glow in a lightning take-off. Back of it he saw the other ship swinging into the wind.

Doyle shot an anxious look over the side as he finished retracting the landing-gear. "Step on it, Dick! Those babies will shoot us down - Lieder and all - if they can't force us back."                          -

"She's slow picking up, with all that fuel load," muttered Knight. "Here - take over. I'm going back and see what I can do."

"You don't mean -" Doyle blurted. "Keep her wide open," Knight said grimly, and hurried back through the cabin. At the forward end were a few seats and a chart-table on which a map of the United States had been tacked. The rest of the cabin was filled with the tubes and huge coils of the Newton ray-gun. In a rack which had escaped Doyle's attention he saw two German machine-guns and loaded belts. They were obviously for emergency use, for the walls of the stratosphere ship had not been pierced for their use.

Evidently Mannheim had preferred to keep the ship capable of high-altitude flight, and thus out of range of ordinary planes and anti-aircraft guns, counting on the ray-gun for defense except in a last resort.

Knight stepped to a window, slid up the light black shutter which covered it. A bright glow struck him squarely in the eyes. The neon beam was focused on the Boeing, and beyond it he could see nothing.

He was hurrying around the supports of the ray-gun turret for a glance from the other side when the Boeing shivered under the furious impact of multi-gun bursts. Knight spun around, and his eyes raced over the switchboard. In the same position as on the smaller model, he recognized the "warming up" switch Lieder had cut in first. He closed the blades, and a green light glowed on the switch-board as the tubes began to hum. Under the light he saw, in German, "Turret control."

The Boeing slued crazily, and went into a tight turn. There was a break in the pound of bullets into the tail, and Knight had a spine-chilling moment when he thought the ship had gone out of control. Then he felt it twist out of the turn, and he knew that Doyle was maneuvering as best he could to shake off the attack.

Gripping the ladder, Knight climbed up into the turret. It was larger than he had thought, fully six feet in diameter and projecting four feet above the top of the ship. The platform was under the cabin roof, suspended so that he could stand erect behind the breech of the ray-gun. Dangling from the rheostat handle on the gun-control panel was the peculiar jacket and helmet combination which had reminded him of a welder's hood. Heavy asbestos gloves were tied to it with cords. He jerked the hood over his head, put on the gloves. The neon beam had shifted and was fainter, so that he could see only a dim luminance through the mist. But his sudden hope that they had escaped the fighters was rudely dispelled.

From off to the right, two tunnels of light abruptly spotted the side of the Boeing. Like some great prehistoric bird with blazing eyes, one of the Messerschmitts charged in at the stratosphere ship. Knight seized the master-switch, frantically spun the pointer-wheel.

The fighter's four guns flamed - and went dark as the pilot saw the ray-gun muzzle swing toward him. With a wild zoom he shot over the Boeing and drilled up into the gloom. Knight saw his wing lights go out, caught a hasty blinking of tiny green signal-lights, and knew that the pilot of the other fighter was being warned of their peril.

A presentiment of what might come sent him swiftly searching for the gear that lowered the ray-gun to the bottom position. Bent over the switchboard, trying to read the German words by the dim light of the luminous voltmeter dials, he failed to hear anything until metal scraped sharply on metal behind him. He jumped around, and went rigid.

For the second time that night he was staring over the muzzle of a gun in the hands of Count Max Lieder!

But this weapon was a machine-gun, and the snout was less than a foot from his ribs.

"This time I will make no mistake," the Austrian said in a voice thick with fury.

Knight stood motionless, frozen in his tracks. Lieder's lips curled malevolently. "Your stupid friend should have looked twice at that cubby where he locked me in. The box onto which he threw me happened to be a tool-chest. Forcing the door was child's play."

"He should have killed you," Knight muttered. "That's the only way to deal with a snake."

"Enough of that," snapped Lieder. "Where are the Messerschmitts?"

"I don't know," Knight said dully. "Take that phone," ordered Lieder, jerking his head toward an interphone set back in the shadows and which Knight had not seen before. "It's hooked with the pilot compartment. When Doyle answers, tell him the fighters are trailing the ship and to switch on the landing-lights again and blink them four times, then turn back to the field and land."

Knight reached for the phone. The Austrian's eyes glittered in the dim glow from the radiolite dials.

"I wouldn't try to warn him," he said significantly. "This machine gun would make even a larger hole than the one you saw in Lanham's body."

"I know when the game's up," Knight answered hopelessly. He put the receiver to his ear, and pressed the button under the mouthpiece. After a moment, Doyle's anxious voice came over the wire.

"Dick! That you ?"

"Yes," mumbled Knight. "Turn on your landing-lights. We're licked - those Messerschmitt devils have us covered - they're right on our tail. Blink the lights four times, so they'll know we're giving in and landing."

"You mean we're quittin'?" Doyle said hoarsely.

"You heard me," Knight said. "We haven't a prayer."

"Okay, Dick," Doyle said in a beaten voice. The phone clicked in Knight's ear, and after a few seconds the landing lights streamed into the darkness, winked slowly. From up in the night, there came an answering signal, the tiny green lights growing brighter as the ebon planes closed in. Knight's last hope died. After all, how could he have expected Doyle to ...

With a violent surge of power, the motors went full on, and the Boeing whipped into a vertical bank. Knight was hurled over the breech of the ray-gun, Lieder plunged to his knees, and with a deafening roar his machine-gun blasted up through the side of the turret, the bullets missing Knight by hardly a foot. The heavy composition turret covering was blasted by the burst, and tracers lanced up into the mists.

Knight lunged under the spurting weapon and slammed his fist into Lieder's jaw. The Austrian's finger slipped from the trigger, and with a quick twist Knight jerked the gun from his grasp. But the heavy gloves made him lose hold of the barrel, and the machine-gun thudded back into the cabin. Lieder was still on his knees, moaning. Knight started to drag him away from the ladder, but four streaks of tracer suddenly leaped from the murk.

The Messerschmitt pilots, believing the signal a trick, were charging in to finish them off!

Desperately, Knight whirled to the ray-gun. The pointer-wheel spun at his touch, and the heavy muzzle jerked around at the first black fighter. With a wild cry, Lieder sprang up, clawing at Knight's hands. The Q-Agent slipped, caught himself at the edge of the ladder. Tracer smoked across the tail of the Boeing, pelted through the jagged turret. The Messerschmitt howled by, shot back for another attack as the second fighter plunged down.

Knight dragged himself up, with Lieder hanging onto one arm and pounding madly at his ribs. His gloved hand touched the oversized handle of the rheostat, and the contacts flared as he threw it to the last tap.

A terrific screech filled the air, dinning into his ears, and for a second a mirage danced beyond the ray-gun, shone in the flitting tracers. Then like a bolt of lightning, a blue ray hurled itself into space.

The nose of the German fighter split wide open as the ray struck into the prop. There was a blinding flash, and the Messerschmitt went plummeting down, a mass of blue fire. Two hundred feet away, the second Messerschmitt swerved wildly - then went up on its tail as the glare blinded the pilot. Knight spun the elevator control and the ray-gun flipped steeply upward.

With a strangled cry, Lieder turned to jump from the platform and seize the fallen machine-gun. The rheostat whirled again under Knight's hand. And again came that frightful shriek as the ray blazed up through the mists. Only an instant, that terrible blue fire streaked upward, then both the ray and that unholy sound abruptly ended. Down in the cabin, there was a brief flash - a tortured scream that rang like the echo of that other, blood-curdling sound.

A hundred yards above the Boeing, the last black fighter vanished in a blinding swirl of blue flame. Knight dropped below the edge of the shattered turret to escape the scorching heat, saw the blazing mass roar past. Seconds later, he stared down into the cabin, and then he knew what had so suddenly ended the deadly ray.

Sprawled across two shining bus-bars from the high-tension coils lay the body of Count Lieder. Smoke was slowly curling up from a relay-control box and a coil nearby, and all of the tubes were blackened from that abrupt short-circuit. Max Lieder had carried out his last mission - in vain.

With a shiver, Knight climbed down the ladder and made his way forward.

"I Should've got wise right off," said Doyle. He peered over the side of the Boeing at the lights of Moundsville, faint through the misty darkness. "It wasn't till you hung up that it hit me. Dick Knight quittin' - hell's bells, something had to be mighty sour. Then I got it - what you said about those hellions havin' you covered. I knew Lieder must've got out - and when I figured he'd think it was all set, after I turned on the lights, I kicked th' ship around to give you a chance."

"I almost knocked my brains out on that ray-gun," said Knight. "But you saved the day, Lothario - even if Newton's death-ray was destroyed."

"I'm blame glad it was," Doyle said fervently.

"War's bad enough, without a thing like that," agreed Knight. He turned on the radio, started to tune in the War Department at Washington. But a crisp announcement from a nearby broadcasting station stopped his fingers on the dial:

"- this flash just received: Germany has invaded Poland! Border attacks were accompanied by bombing of strategic bridges and objectives near Warsaw. Further details will be given as soon -"

Knight turned the dial, stared at Doyle.

"So it's come," said the Irishman. "The Second World War!"

Knight slowly nodded. "It'll be a terrible thing. But-there'll be no 'blue death' from America to make it worse."

 

 

Posted August 13, 2022