“ Now You See Them” by Mace Draper
If ever there were two opposites in looks and manner these two men were; yet the best of friends they were willing to die at a moments notice to save the other. Both were sitting inside an old beat up looking 1968 Cutlass Oldsmobile that had a bumper sticker on the back which read: “ Don’t Laugh, It Runs.”
The Cutlass was parked near a high metal chain link fence surrounding an ominous looking factory. One man, if you could call him that, resembled an Orangutan. Every bit as wide as he was tall, his arms could dangle below his knees while standing. His tiny brown eyes and low forehead hardly fit the description of a man with any brains; yet at one time, he had been one of the leading chemists in the U.S. Even his thick red hair covering his arms, legs, and trunk gave the impression of a jungle beast.
His voice was his most startling characteristic, a high tiny quality not unlike some teenage kid who had yet to reach puberty. At the moment, this curious voice was addressing the other man who was behind the wheel of the Oldsmobile. It was part of an argument they were in which it never stopped unless they were separated.
“I tell ya, this is the only way we’ll catch him with the goods is to follow him. Shadow ‘em till he slips.”
The other fellow, who was slender of build, handsome for his years and dressed in a suit that made him look like some high executive of a corporation, replied patiently.
“Doc specifically said to gather information on this guy because he’s under suspicion of embezzling his company over twenty million dollars in the last six months. Now that doesn’t mean for us to do the leg work ourselves. Doc’s right Monk; were getting too old for this. How you talked me into it, I’ll never know.”
Purposely leaning over close enough that the other man could smell his bad breath, the apish one explained.
“ That was simple Ham. You still love the excitement as much as I do.”
The driver looked around and threw up his hands.
“ Yes, but in the middle of the night? In this God-awful place? Do you realize I could touch something around here that could possibly ruin my suit?”
The apish Monk was in the process of making an ugly face and mentioning something not so nice about his partner’s attire; when Ham suddenly said in
a hushed excited tone,” Look, I believe our quarry’s making his move.”
Monk followed Ham’s intense gaze,” Well, well. So the mouse has come out to play.”
A petite sized man with little hair on his head and dressed in an old brown sport coat and trousers silently slipped out a side door by a delivery dock area. He had a large brief case tucked under one arm; and a small automatic revolver in his other hand.
Ham whispered,” I wonder how he’ll go, by land or sea?”
Monk had every intension of answering his friend with some kind of wisecrack, but forgot it all in an instant and Ham forgot the question. Just in front of the embezzler, there was a tremendous rush of air, which seem to be sucked into an area ten feet above the ground.
Then a sound not unlike a clap of thunder, assailed Monk and Ham’s ears. Their target they had been observing immediately turned and began running in the opposite direction as if the devil himself was chasing him. A split second later there was a wondrous bright light and heat that engulfed everything around the factory yard. Ham and Monk tried to shield their eyes from the light with their arms and hands, but was little help against the torrid heat.
Monk yelled,” Hey, like who turned on the brights?”
Seconds ticked by and all was transformed into white intense blinding light. Then, there was that phantom thunder sound again and as suddenly as the flash of light had appeared; it faded into oblivion. When the night air cleared, Monk and Ham were gone; their Oldsmobile sit apparently abandoned by its owners. All that remained was what was in the factory yard. A small burnt, smoldering skeleton with a few pieces of flesh still clinging to it lying face down on the practically untouched grassy surface. All was silent except for the dogs throughout the city that were howling at the top of their lungs.
Nearby, an old drunk had witnessed most of that unbelievable event and it’s strange and terrible results. He staggered after that toward an alley dumpster and proceeded to be very sick into the foul-smelling container.
Later that morning, on the eighty-fourth floor of one of Manhattan’s tallest
skyscrapers; a rather large man dressed in a distinguished three-piece suit
stepped off an elevator and into a wood paneled hallway. This giant was so perfectly developed that the only way you could tell his true size was he dwarfed the teenager who was following right behind him. And the teenage boy was every bit of six feet tall.
At one end of the hall was a large wooden door with fine bronze lettering etched into it, which read: “SAVAGE INDUSTRIES”. This giant of a man was about to enter the door when he quickly whirled around to face his pursuer. Despite the fact this teenager knew who he was, his mouth still fell open in astonishment; for he suddenly found himself face to face with the one he had carefully tailed all the way from the first floor lobby.
The bronze hue of this man’s skin and his gold-flecked eyes that seemed to swirl constantly; was startling even for those that saw him often. To those that did have something to do with him everyday; this man was usually addressed as “ Doc” or “ Clark”. The rest of the world knew him as
“ Clark Savage Jr.” or “Doc Savage” an adventurer and defender of justice.
He was especially known for his rebirth. This wasn’t the first time he had had a career such as this. The first time started in 1932 and ended rather abruptly at the end of the year 1949. Mysteriously frozen at the North Pole in a state very similar to suspended animation; he was miraculously revived in 1989 more than forty years later.
It took some time for Doc Savage to get back on his feet again. There were the tremendous changes that had taken place around him since the last time he had roamed this world. All that was behind him and his mind was beginning to be more at ease with his unusual situation.
The bronze man spoke first in a most commanding voice with a hint of irritation,” Yes? May I help you? It must be pretty important to follow me this far.”
The boy could only stammer out an answer,” I-I only wanted t-to give y-you a morning paper. I recognize you Mr. Savage and thought you might be interested in what’s on the front page.”
The giant he called Savage smiled at him pleasantly,” Oh, is that all.”
A bronze hand flashed out and grabbed the rolled up newspaper from the teenage boy’s hand so fast that it was almost impossible to follow. There were several large headlines on the front page of the paper, which the man of bronze quickly scanned. What he observed was so startling that he quickly looked up to ask what was the meaning of such a joke as this.
“Hey, what did…”
Instead he just got a glimpse of the teenager entering the elevator down the hallway. A joke it was not. He made a mental note to thank him in some special way as he opened the door and entered. If one was to have kept a careful eye on the door upon opening it and entering; one might have witnessed the magical transformation of the lettering from reading: “ SAVAGE INDUSTRIES” to “DR. CLARK SAVAGE JR. INVESTIGATIONS”. It was a trick made possible by a two dimensional photograph applied to a sign in such a way that when the door is closed it reads one title, but when it is opened; it read still another.
The room he entered was a spacious combination living and reception room. Almost everything in it was either off white or bronze in color, including the front reception desk, couch, and the panel walls. Even the plush carpet that ran throughout the area was a light shade of bronze. Only one thing clashed with it all, a gorgeous sandy-haired woman in her mid-thirties sitting behind the reception desk trying her hardest not to look bored. She wore a low cut bright red dress that clung to her in a way that it left no curve hidden.
She hadn’t noticed Doc Savage enter until; standing by the front door he read more of the article he was so interested in, and unconsciously made a low whistle. They both looked up at the same time.
The bored blonde smiled brightly and said,” Thanks.”
Savage puzzled inquired,” Thanks? Thanks for what?”
The woman in red replied,” That’s the first deceit thing anyone has said to me all week.” She stood up as the bronze man approached her desk.
“ Nancy, if you would stay out of trouble for one hour, I bet you would see a change in other’s attitude towards you.”
The blonde named Nancy folded her arms and replied,” Ha Ha, very funny. While we’re at it, where have you been all night?”
“ Oh, I stayed at an apartment I have around the corner. I decided I needed sleep and a fresh change of clothes. What are you doing behind Marlyn’s desk?”
Nancy tried to look as innocent as possible,” I’m just helping out. She asked me to hold the fort while she ran some urgent business.”
“Don’t you believe it for a second, Doc.”
Neither Doc Savage nor Nancy had said those words. A slender well dressed man about the same age as the blonde stood just inside a doorway toward the back and to the side of the reception room.
“ Ok Nick, what is going on?” asked the man of bronze.
A slender woman in her late thirties with long black hair, which was a bit disheveled; stormed through the back doorway nearly knocking the thin man down. She stopped even with Nancy and answered in an agitated voice.
“ She tricked me into a closet and then locked me in just to be here to greet you first.”
Nancy looked aghast, but the ploy didn’t convince the man of bronze. He sighed,” Nancy, sometimes you can be so childish. You know by now how I am about relationships.”
Nancy looked hurt and defeated,” You mean you believe these two?”
His face was expressionless as he replied,” I do.”
The woman with the long black hair spoke up before Nancy could carry anything further.
“ Something interesting in the paper today?”
Doc Savage approached his three friends as he spoke,” Yes, it would appear Monk and Ham have come up missing as of this morning.”
Everyone was startled, but Nancy was hit hardest of all. She asked Doc Savage desperately,” Does it say that in there?”
“ No”, Doc Savage replied,” But they did find a half burnt out automobile that fits the description of Monk’s and they also found the burnt skeleton remains of the man I sent them to stake out.”
“ Looks bad Doc.” Nick commented.
The man of bronze addressed the dark haired woman beside Nancy,” Marlyn, I’ll need your abilities to help with an interview at the police station that Nancy is going to set up for me this afternoon; since she wants to be the receptionist so bad.”
Marlyn held back her laughter as best she could while Nancy began to protest,” What?! Now look here Mr. Clark Savage Jr….”
Clark Savage ignored Nancy’s protests as he addressed Nick,” Nick, have you seen Billy?”
“ Not a sign of him.”
Doc Savage paused a moment in thought before he continued.
“ This may have more at stake than I thought. I want you to contact as many in our organization as possible. Do it in person whenever you can, we can’t take any chances over the phones.”
Marlyn voiced her concern, which was rare. There really had to be
something to it; for her to be concerned.
“ Doc, I’m worried about Monk and Ham too. I haven’t felt any trace of their presence for the last twelve hours.”
Doc did not comment, nor did anyone else there. No one could think of anything to say that might have helped explain this chilling mystery.
The three who Doc Savage had divulged this mystery to; were some of his closest friends and associates all belonging to his investigation organization. The blonde Nancy was by far the most aggressive and the most stimulating woman Doc Savage had ever met. She wore clothes ever bit as flashy as her father Monk Mayfair, with one exception. At least she tried to make the clothes match.
She had a natural animal magnetism about her that drove the ordinary men mad; yet her most striking feature was her bright green eyes. Nancy was a black belt in karate and other forms of the martial arts. She was also a crack shot with almost every kind of pistol and rifle made.
Marlyn on the other hand, was her telepathic abilities and in some instances mind over matter talent. There was no question she had them; for in more than one occasion she had already shown those remarkable abilities, which has helped to get their skins out of a desperate situation or two.
Nick, Ham’s only son; with the exception of Doc Savage was the true scientist of this organization. His tenuous frame was deceiving for he had been at one time an Olympic gold medallist in boxing. He was the most innovative person that Savage had ever had the pleasure to know.
Marlyn turned to Nancy and commented,” Since you two were so close I thought maybe you might have seen Billy recently.”
Fuming, Nancy replied,” We haven’t been close as you might think. He goes his way and I go mine.”
“ Yes, of course.”
“ What he does with his time is strictly…”
“ I think we get the picture Nancy,” Nick interrupted.
Nancy turned to Savage still fuming and asked,” Well, who in the hell are you wanting to rap with in a jail cell anyway?”
Doc Savage paused then explained,” Fred Burton, the one man right now that might have witnessed what caused Monk and Ham’s disappearance and the burning death of another man.”
“Have the cops got anything out of him so far?” asked Nancy.
“ Nothing that makes any sense. Apparently, ever since he was sobered up; he hasn’t spoken a word.”
“ You think you can get him to spill anything?” Nick asked.
The man of bronze looked down at the carpeted floor,” I hope so. He’s are only lead.”
Marlyn moved closer to Savage and her mind seemed to be intently working on something as she asked him,” Did he ramble on about anything while he was drunk?”
Again Savage hesitated then reluctantly answered,” Yes, the article did mention something he said about a big ball of light.”
Now it was Nick’s turn to whistle.
“What a mess.”
At the same time in another location located on the other side of Manhattan, near the water on the wharf; one man was commenting to another,” What a mess.”
The other man he spoke to, a black man in his twenties asked,” Say what?”
The man continued as he turned toward him,” I just don’t like it. It smells. I think it was a mistake of our boss man to take these two.”
“ Why? You scared or something?”
“ Nah, just cautious.”
“ Look. You take care of your part of it, and I’ll take care of mine. The boss will take care of the rest.”
The other man stared out at the bay and tried to explain,” It’s…sometimes it gets to me. This is all so very big!”
“ Think of the billions involved. The power man.” The black man rubbed his hands together.
“ Yeah, now that you put it that way; it does sound sweet.”
“ You know it’s gonna be worth it. Besides, you know what happens when someone crosses the boss man…”
“ What if someone slips and this Savage dude finds out things?”
“ Then we’ll have to off him too.”
The black man took a turn at staring across the bay,” Somehow Nat, I think I’ll not rest easy until I see that chump six feet under.”
“Ah come on Tyrone, don’t be a fool. You worry too much man.”
“I worry too much?” Tyrone punched his friend and comrade-in-arms in the shoulder,”HoHo. That’s a good one, homeboy. We gotta get back.”
Colonel John Renwick “Renny” to his friends had recently taken up with a hobby, which was building and flying model aircraft. As a world famous engineer, the experience in design and construction helped him in producing
unique flying models; almost as real as the real thing.
He was flying one from the top of his penthouse. It was located on a skyscraper down the street from Doc Savage’s headquarters; a few minutes past noon that same day. He laughed out loud with his booming voice as his rocket propelled aircraft looped a large loop high above and then swooped down in a power dive that scared the wits out of a poor sunbather on top of a lower building across the street. The bikini clad teenage girl screamed and ran inside a door leading to the staircase of that building.
It pulled up sharply at the last instant and Renny had the lightning quick craft ready for another loop, when a large ball of light appeared suddenly inches from it; causing the little model to dash itself to pieces against the eerie light. Renny stared in utter disbelief as the ball of light slowly metamorphosed into a large smooth sphere; at least one hundred feet in diameter. It hovered right above him, emitting a low humming sound.
He could only mutter,” Holy cow!”
Renny suddenly got the shakes and almost overwhelming nauseating feeling. For a man over six feet tall and able to knock out panels out of wood doors with his large bucket size fists; he didn’t feel so big now. In fact, he felt small and weak. A half minute later, a small door opened briefly toward the bottom of the floating sphere and a small metal cylinder dropped in front of the big man’s feet. As he stared dumfounded down at the cylinder; there was a bright flash and a booming sound that echoed across the city.
Following that for an instant, the heat was terrific that flashed down in waves upon Renny. At the same time, he was almost sucked upward off his feet causing him to stumble. He nearly fell off the edge of the roof to the streets below.
When Renny was finally able to look; the sphere had apparently disappeared into thin air. Something snapped in Renny’s head then. He laughed hysterically as he grabbed up the cylinder shaped object and ran for a ladder to descend into his penthouse apartment on the floor below.
Fifteen minutes later, Doc Savage and Marlyn entered a special high-speed elevator that only Doc and his closest associates used. It was sound proof and thickly carpeted with a light bronze carpet across the walls and floor. One other special item was it was controlled strictly by the sound of your voice as soon as you turned it on by punching in a certain code into a key control panel inside.
Doc Savage’s voice and some of his closest aides voices were recognized
by the elevator’s computer to allow it to function. Doc Savage punched in
his code and there was a small beep. Then he instructed out loud to the elevator the destination he wanted.
“Basement level 3, seal code red e m niner niner zero. Count down at departure, then seal as instructed.”
The elevator quietly descended to its destination in less than a minute. They entered a basement like no other on Earth. Automobiles of all descriptions were parked neatly along three of the four walls in that vast basement. Motorcycles, three and four wheelers were among the collection.
One side was devoid of any vehicles and that was because two large metal doors made up most of the space along that wall, directly opposite of the elevator nearly two hundred feet away. They stopped halfway as Marlyn remarked,” Come on Doc, I sense you are holding something back here.”
Savage leaned against a rotten antique roadster touring car and seemed a bit on edge.
” Sometimes, your telepathic powers can get on one’s nerves. I am as of this moment stumped as to what happened last night.”
Marlyn placed her hands on her hips,” You may have fooled everyone up there all these years, but remember I can read thoughts at times.”
“ I do, all too well miss Roberts. You must understand I have only some sketchy theories. We may know more after we interview this witness.”
“ If he really was a witness. Now which car are we…”
She suddenly stiffened and threw herself at the bronze man before her as she shouted a warning knowing well that she wouldn’t be able to move him with her body without help.
“ Look out! They’re going to shoot.”
Doc Savage didn’t need a bigger hint. They both hit the pavement behind the old roadster. This move proved to be a lifesaver for both Marlyn and Doc Savage, as a hail of lead hit part of the roadster and floor where they had just been standing. Bullets that hit the body of the old car ricocheted harmlessly away; for it was well bullet proofed. The gunfire was from a revolver and a machine gun pistol called an Uzi. Roar from the gunfire was amplified three times as loud in that large basement.
As Marlyn and Doc Savage lay side-by-side dodging bullets from behind that vehicle; she leaned over and yelled in his ear.
“ Where would you be if it weren’t for my abilities?”
“ Probably a lot saner. Now since you don’t seem to have the ability to turn
their bullets back on them yet; I think I’ll try to do something about this
situation in a way I know.”
Marlyn searched for her small revolver that she usually carried hidden on her person when she spotted it by a tire of the roadster. She was barely able to stretch enough to reach it and grab it quickly; before several bullets hit in a pattern into the pavement nearby.
“ Phew, I’ll cover ya Doc…”
When Marlyn turned back to instruct Doc Savage what she thought they should do, she found he was no longer with her.
“ Guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” She said to no one in particular. Then she quickly positioned herself behind the front fender of the old roadster, and aimed her gun around the corner; in the direction of the gunfire.
She yelled out to Savage,” I’ll cover ya Doc.”
There followed a howl of pain and then silence. The shooting had already stopped. Marlyn concerned, yelled,” Doc are you alright?”
A second later, she felt a tap on her shoulder which made her practically jump out of her skin. It was Doc Savage bigger than life squatting down beside her. He seemed totally calm as he spoke to her.
“ Its unnecessary Marlyn. There were three of them. One was unarmed which concerns me some. He carried only a small case which was empty.”
Marlyn with her mouth hung open, could only manage a, ”Yeah.”
Savage continued,” He might have rigged up some of our vehicles perhaps all of them with bombs. I think it would be wise if we rode a cab.”
As they stood up to leave, Marlyn could only shake her head and say once again that all encompassing word,” Yeah.”
As Savage and Marlyn approached within several blocks of the police station; they could tell something important was going on up ahead. Several police and emergency vehicles flew by their taxi they were riding.
Marlyn watched them speed by and asked the man of bronze,” Hey, what gives?”
Savage acted as though he hadn’t heard Marlyn’s question; instead he leaned forward and passed a twenty dollar bill to the cab driver explaining”, Please follow these emergency vehicles as close as you can until we are
within a block of the police station.”
Marlyn asked about how Doc Savage knew they were going to the police
station and again she was ignored. The cabby glanced back at his two passengers in the back seat.
“ Uh, its against the law to chase ‘em you know. Hold it! I recognize you two.”
Doc and Marlyn exchanged knowing glances as the cabby continued,” You’re that Savage guy and you are…you’re oh! You’re Miss Marlyn Roberts. This is great! I’ve heard all about your adventures and they were dope! Wait tell I tell my friends about this. They’ll never believe it. No sir!
Doc leaned closer,” That’s fine, could you follow them then?”
“ Hey sure Mr. Savage. It’ll be a pleasure. Hold on!”
Marlyn muttered,” Uh oh” under her breath as the cab began to weave dangerously through the noon hour traffic. Several times the taxi cabby found it necessary to drive upon the sidewalk for half a block or so. Soon, the cab came to a screeching halt in front of a telephone building a block from their destination. Marlyn suppressed a desire to knock Savage and the cabby on their heads; as they piled out of the cab and onto the sidewalk.
After Doc Savage paid the cabby his fare and had left out of ear shot, the cabby said to himself out loud,” Boy! Wait till I tell ‘em I helped Doc Savage on a case. They really won’t believe that. Damn. I wish I’d thought about getting their autographs.”
The man of bronze asked Marlyn without turning or slowing down his stride,” What is dope?”
“ Means great.”
As they made their way toward the police station, Marlyn noticed Doc Savage whispering into a small device on his wrist just below his wristwatch.
“ What are you doing Clark?”
“ I’ve called our headquarters with this small communication device similar to a walkie talkie.”
“I’ve informed Nick to check the basement equipment for bombs and the like. I think we mat be too late,”
Marlyn followed his gaze that was fixed on the police station half a block away. Several fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars were parked in front of what was left of the police station. The front of the building had little damage, but thick gray smoke was rolling out from the back. There were
people running everywhere trying to find survivors that they could help to safety. Several paramedics were desperately working on an old fellow lying in the middle of the street. They were in no danger of traffic since the police were cordoning both ends of that city block. Doc and Marlyn approached the paramedics working on the old victim and the man of bronze exclaimed,” I think that is the old gentleman they picked up the other night. I could barely recognize him; he is so badly burned.”
Then he asked a paramedic who was a young man just out of college, yet wise for his years,” Will he make it?”
When the young paramedic slowly shook his head no, the man of bronze continued,” I’m Clark Savage Jr. and this is my assistant Marlyn Roberts. Could it be possible for us to talk to him for a second?”
The paramedic said,” Ok, but you had better make it fast sir. He doesn’t have long.”
Doc asked as he kneeled beside the dying wreck of a man,” Does he have any family?”
“ Yes, somewhere in Virginia.”
“ Contact me when you find out the exact location and how they’re related. This man didn’t deserve to die.”
The paramedic was touched and could barely reply,” Yes sir, we sure will.”
The bronze man carefully watched the old man’s face. His eyes had been closed most of the time; but soon they opened to stare full into Doc Savage’s hypnotic swirling golden eyes. Savage used his eyes hypnotic effect and his calm monotone voice to try to hypnotize the dying victim. Both paramedics were amazed to find that within a few minutes the old drunk’s breathing relaxed and he seemed to forget his pain temporarily.
Then before Savage could ask a question, the dying man grabbed him by the shirt and with some difficulty, pulled himself to a sitting position. His face was only inches away when he spoke to Doc Savage.
“ That light…they took those two guys.” He stopped there while he coughed and then shook all over with spasms. Soon, he was able to continue.
” Those two guys were taken into the light!”
He groaned and Doc Savage cautioned him to relax, but he only shook his head and continued to talk.
“No listen. Then they came to kill me.”
There was an irony quality to his laugh, which was suddenly cut short with
another fit of coughing.
“Never felt so important..uh.”
Savage slowing lowered the lifeless form of the old man to the wet pavement. When he arose, Marlyn asked Savage a question.
“ Make any sense?”
“ No, not a whole lot.”
“ Wait, there’s somebody by the burning building that looks familiar Doc. Maybe he saw something too.”
Without a word, Doc Savage turned toward the burning police station and the crowd that was beginning to form. Then he started walking in long strides toward the crowd; as Marlyn had to run to keep up with him. In a matter of seconds, the bronze giant silently and swiftly made his way through the crowd; like a fine running back of football would-be tacklers. To most of the crowd he was only a blur; except for one odd looking fellow standing to the front and right of the oncoming man of bronze.
He looked like he could pass for a dwarf standing only four feet high or so. This odd little man seemed to have enjoyed the fire immensely, for he had a terrible grin on his troll like face. Then he spied Doc Savage plunging through the ever growing mob of people; his expression turned to pure loathing.
Nearer to the burning police station and tangle of fire hoses stood a line of New York city’s finest to keep the crowd back. Behind them stood a police captain who was stamping his foot and ordering the crowd through a megaphone to keep back. Doc Savage managed to slip through to the front of the crowd to get a better look. Marlyn was beside him in a flash and immediately recognized the police captain.
“ Doc, that’s…”
“ Sergeant McGregor, I know.”
“ Only he’s a captain now.”
Marlyn, please stay here. I need to have a little chat with him.”
Then Savage strolled briskly toward McGregor. Marlyn was right on the giant’s heels. Doc glanced over his shoulder and continued on his way. When McGregor spotted Savage, his mouth fell open in complete surprise, but only for a moment. Then he grinning from ear to ear, he yelled Doc Savage’s direction.
“ Well, well; and to what do I owe the pleasure of your company Mr. Savage? Do you know something about this mess?”
“ I was hoping you would know something.”
“ All I know is out of the blue some damn bright ball of light appears and starts firing a kind of heat ray or something at our own station. Can you imagine that? I think they were after that old drunk Fred Burton and that’s unofficial of course.”
“ But why burn up the whole station?” asked Marlyn.
“ Guess to try to cover up who they were really after, I don’t know. This whole town’s gone bloomin’ crazy!”
Doc Savage began to take a step toward McGregor as he spoke,” Describe to me in further detail what you saw.”
McGregor waved Marlyn and Savage back,” Whoa right there lad. Take another step and I’ll have my men arrest you. Do me a favor and stay out of this. We have enough gun play in this town without you and your private army blowing away half of it.”
Marlyn whispered to Doc,” He’s not kidding, Clark. I sense it clearly.”
Doc Savage gradually backed away as he shouted to the red faced Irish police captain.” Ok. Thanks for your help. At least I have something to go on.”
“What? What did you say?”
Marlyn pulled at Doc’s arm,” Uh oh, now you’ve done it! Let’s get the hell out of here while we can.”
Suddenly, the man of bronze spotted the evil looking little man backing out through the crowd. Marlyn couldn’t believe how easily Savage slipped out of her grasp, not did she have time to think about it. Doc Savage gave chase after the little man; plowing through the crowd as if they weren’t there.
While McGregor threw his pipe down to the pavement in sheer fury; Marlyn desperately chased after the bronze man who looked more like a blur in the crowd. The midget of a man was out of the crowd by then and laughed tauntingly after the pursuing man of bronze.
By the time Savage had pushed his way through to the other side of the crowd; his quarry was already rounding the corner to the nearest entrance of an alley in hasty retreat. Or was it hasty?
Doc Savage slowed to a stop as he reached the corner. Gradually, he peered into the alleyway. What he saw made him quickly duck behind the
safety of the corner of the building. He caught Marlyn around the waist just
in time, as she was about to run past him. He pulled her bodily back to safety.
Marlyn had only manage to get out the words,” What in the…” When there was a tremendous brilliant flash of light and heat, which flooded the alley beyond. The hair on Doc Savage’s arms was singed a bit but neither was affected otherwise. There immediately followed a deep booming sound like a sonic boom would make from a jet plane-flying close.
When Doc thought it was safe to look, he and Marlyn stepped out into the alley. Their quarry was gone. The only way by foot would have been through their way. There could have been no way to reach the fire escape in that short of time.
“ How did he do that?” Marlyn asked in awe.
Savage didn’t answer because he had none to give. He was deep in thought as Marlyn remarked.
“ The whole damn alley’s been burned like it was in an oven or something; yet the buildings are untouched. Now that is weird.”
Suddenly Doc Savage’s wristwatch communicator began beeping and he quickly pressed a small button on the side to activate the device.
“ Yes, Doc here.”
A desperate voice of a man they both recognized answered through the tiny speaker of Doc’s communicator.
“Doc, its Billy. Something’s wrong. I’m outside of Renny’s apartment and he won’t let me in. He sounds like he’s gone nuts in there Doc. I just thought I’d drop in on him and see about his new toy he was bragging about the other day. He keeps telling me to go away and leave him alone. Then he starts throwing things around and laughing kind of crazy like.”
Suddenly, they heard a loud crash as of wood splintering. There was static and then a second or two later they heard Billy’s voice once again.
“ Hurry Doc! Renny is punching through the door. He says he’s going to get me for what I did whatever that was. Uh oh! Here he comes.”
Then there were noises of a struggle and the communication device cut off. Savage desperately tried to contact Billy again, but with no luck. He tried his headquarters, but no one answered.
“ What’s going on? Where is Nancy?”
“ I don’t know Marlyn. Let’s try that phone across the street.”
Doc Savage dodged the mid afternoon traffic both auto and pedestrian and when he was on the other side; he seized the phone off the hook and quickly
dialed his headquarters’ number. After at least five rings he hung up. Doc kept a level head and decided on a course of action. By that time, Marlyn had finally made it across the busy street.
“We’ll have to split up here. You go see about Nancy and I’ll see if I can handle Renny’s dilemma. I will give you a call at Renny’s place when and if we calm down him.”
Marlyn looked extremely troubled as she gazed into Doc Savage’s eyes.
“ Ok. Sounds like a good plan. You don’t suppose all these weird incidents are related do you?”
Doc Savage acted as if he hadn’t heard her question and cautioned her.
“ Don’t take any chances. Here, you can take my machine pistol with you for added protection.”
Doc Savage pulled out from under his vest of his suit a rather awesome looking miniature machine pistol that he had developed long ago in a past that seemed from another lifetime. It wasn’t as light as an Uzi machine pistol, but could fire as fast and it also had the capability of holding a special kind of explosive and smoke bullets.
“ Why you bastard!” Marlyn angrily exclaimed,” You had that with you all the time! Back at the garage you…”
Marlyn became speechless with anger, yet Doc ignored it.
“ Please Marlyn, we don’t have time to lose.”
Savage hailed a cab and left Marlyn to boil with indignation.
“ Of all the obstinate male chauvinists I’ve ever met, he takes first prize.”
Soon, she found a cab among the tangle of traffic and was off to their headquarters. At that point she had toyed with the idea of changing the doors locks at their headquarters and needless to say it was a great temptation.
In a cab on the way to Renny’s apartment, Doc Savage made a call on his wrist communicator. The cab driver almost had a wreck; while he craned his neck to see who or what this mysterious bronze man was talking to. It didn’t take long to reach Renny’s apartment, and it took even less effort to find Renny’s door in the hallway on the top floor of his building; because what was left of the door lay mostly in the hallway.
When Doc Savage ran inside the doorway, the first thing he saw was Billy
having Renny lying down on a couch with a wet rag across his forehead.
Billy was hovering over him, but whirled around at the sound of Savage’s voice.
“ How is he Billy; better or worse?”
Billy an anthropologist in his mid-thirties, who always looked very much like a teenager that hadn’t reached maturity, seemed shaken by Renny’s condition.
“ He’s delirious and pretty much out of it for now. When I got here he had plenty of energy. Found his remote control, but I couldn’t find his latest toy airplane. What’s this all about Doc?”
“ I’m beginning to get an idea…”
A warm spot on his wrist on his left arm warned Doc just in time.” Wait Billy! Don’t touch him.”
“ What now?”
Doc Savage undid a button to his shirtsleeve and rolled it back to reveal a button sized disk attached to the underside of his shirt button. The disk was a miniature sophisticated radiation detector; which gave off heat whenever it detects contamination above human safety levels. Doc explained to Billy his warning.
“ Radiation is coming from the couch. We must assume the worse in that; somehow Renny had been exposed to radiation of some kind. I must admit, I don’t recognize the symptoms. This is a new one to me. ”
“ What do we do with him?”
“ We’ll have to take him to my lab as soon as possible.”
“ And how do you suppose we’re going to accomplish that when we’re not suppose to touch him?”
“ We’ll use a mattress and a sheet from his bedding.”
“ Oh, that might work.”
“You’ll have to be examined too. You have already touched him.”
Billy’s face was gloomy before, but it got even gloomier with that bit of bad news. The two carried the mattress and sheet into the other room where Renny was. Then the two lowered Renny from the couch to the mattress and sheet lying on the floor. Billy had on one of his latest and most up to date in-fad suits; yet when it came to a choice of a friend being saved and possibly ruining his clothes, he would pick his friend every time.
Billy asked,” Have you seen my father today?”
“ No, but I called Johnny earlier. He’ll meet us at our headquarters later.”
“ I don’t know Doc. I think he’s getting too old for this any more. After all,
he’s the oldest of this group.”
“ I’ve been meaning to have a talk to him about that. Is Renny’s car parked nearby?”
“ Yeah, in the garage building next door.”
“ We’ll use his car. It may be a little hard to explain his condition and why we’re not taking him to a hospital.”
“ You’re right. Didn’t think of that. Hey, what’s this?”
As both men were lifting the ends of the sheet and mattress like a stretcher, a cylinder shaped object three inches long and an inch wide fell out of one of Renny’s large sized fists. Billy picked it up to examine it.
Billy commented,” I might as well open it; I’m exposed already.”
“ It may not be as seriously contaminated as Renny’s body.”
“ How’s that?”
Savage acted as if he hadn’t heard Billy. “ Wait, lets take it back to the lab too. I have a hunch about it.”
Soon, they were on their way to the penthouse headquarters of Doc Savage. They both sat in the front seats, while Renny lay motionless in the back. Billy wondered to himself if the man of bronze was losing his hearing.
Marlyn couldn’t reach Nancy by phone or communicator and this disturbed her greatly. Often under stress, she would talk to herself to reason things out. This time she was talking to herself plenty.
“ I hope she didn’t go off on some hair brained scheme of her own.”
Marlyn entered the eighty-four-story building hoping that Nancy might have trekked down to eat at the restaurant adjoining the lobby. She found that hardly anyone was seated in the restaurant and only two men in a heated argument were seated in the lobby area. She was headed for the special elevator Doc had placed in the building a few months ago; when she got the sudden feeling that something was wrong, out of place somehow.
The desk clerk nearby who’s name was Tom kinder and was a good friend of Marlyn’s was moving his eyes back and forth as if to motion to her that heated argument the two square jawed men were having was only an elaborate act. Just as Marlyn began to hurry for the elevator; the men stopped their act and started to move briskly in her direction. It was a race for the elevator most would have been terrified at the aspect.
Tom yelled,” Watch out Marlyn.”
She only had seconds to reach the elevator doors, call the elevator and get aboard. Luck was with her. The elevator doors popped open a second after
She hit the button was able to quickly enter. As the doors closed she turned, smiled and waved saying to the two goons,” Bye bye.”
One of the frustrated men, a black man was the first to reach the elevator and he immediately hit the button. However, he was too late, for the elevator had already lurched upward at a fantastic rate of speed. He kicked the doors saying,” Damn!”
The other was cooler headed and assured him,” Hey, that’s ok Tyrone, we’ll take the regular service elevator and ride it as far as we can; then take the stairs the rest of the way.”
The black man chuckled,” Yeah, you are right on Nat. Besides, where could the chick go?”
Tom thinking the two men were reporters yelled,” You two leave her alone. She looks like she’s already had a rough day.”
The black man named Tyrone whipped out his flat automatic and pointed it squarely at Tom’s head,” And you’re going to have an even worse day; if you don’t shut up and lay down on the floor over there…now!”
Tom was a rough individual that Doc Savage had employed a few months before straight from his upstate New York hospital. At one time, he had been a criminal himself. After a small brain operation performed by Doc Savage and several months of special treatments and training he had become a model citizen. Even though he had kept his tough character that he had before; he knew when someone had the drop on him. He moved his arms and slowly reached for the floor.
Tyrone’s hands were as steady as a rock. The slightest move would have been that clerk’s last.
“ Now that’s better,” said Tyrone, “ You just stay put man and you’ll be alright.”
The other elevator arrived and the two piled in. After the elevator started again, the clerk jumped up and grabbed the nearest phone on his desk. As he quickly dialed he said to himself,” Come on Nick, Nancy. Somebody answer.”
The first thing Monk was aware of was a roaring sound and then the sound of a door closing. It took a moment for his vision to clear and when it did he found he was propped up in a sitting position against a smooth curved metallic wall. Ham was slumped over on his side beside him. Both of them had their hands and feet tied and they were also gagged. A sinister looking individual dressed in army fatigues and a cap to match sat facing them six
feet away. The fatigues were a camouflaged light blue and gray instead of the usual green that Monk was use to.
The sight of Ham lying in a most undignified manner, and their guard wearing the most ridiculous colors for fatigues he’d ever seen; made Monk shake with laughter which got louder with every passing second. This aggravated their guard to some extent. Monk could tell that the man was on edge and threatening by the tone of his voice.
“ What’s so funny dumb ass? You think this uniform’s funny looking? You ought to take a look in the mirror sometime. Oh, by the way, we’ll be picking your daughter up soon.”
The guard licked his lips and continued,” And am I ever gonna have a good time with her!”
He laughed and was so busy taunting the prisoner; he didn’t notice Monk had drawn up his legs until it was too late. Monk kicked his antagonist full in the face with both feet. There was a crunch sound and the guard did a back flip landing five feet away out cold.
Ham had awakened and his eyes were as big as quarters. He tried to say something from behind his gag, but it only came out as muffled noise. Men in the same blue and gray uniforms came at them from all directions. Just before the first ones reached Monk, he had snapped his bonds and had Ham’s bonds almost undone. The first man to arrive was a burly dark haired fellow over six feet tall. Monk saw him coming and punched him so hard in the midriff; that it knocked the air out of him and sent him sailing back to crash into another attacker.
Ham got the rest of his bonds loose by then and removed his gag. He noticed right away that Monk in his excitement had not removed his gag as of yet.
“ That’s a good boy Monk; keep your gag on and we’ll all be thankful.”
Monk quickly ripped the gag away and laughed,” At least now we have something to fight, something we can see.”
“ Yes, but what in heavens’ name is going on?” Ham asked as he doubled his fists in preparation for the fight forthcoming.
“ I haven’t the foggiest.”
“ Correction, the fogginess is in your head.”
One uniformed thug tried to hit Monk with a small club. Monk grabbed on of his arms and twisted it behind him so far; that it snapped from the tremendous pressure that was applied. The man fell to the metallic floor
screaming and withering around in pain.
“ Too bad I don’t have my sword came with me.” Ham commented as fully half a dozen men closed in on them forcing their backs closer to the metal wall.
“ It’s a cinch they want us alive, cause they’d pulled knives or guns on us by now.” Monk observed out loud.
“ Very astute of you, Monk, Ham said. Then he cleared his throat and addressed their attackers much to their surprise.
“ Gentlemen, there must be a misunderstanding somehow. Perhaps if we could talk to your boss this whole mess could be straightened out in a sensible manner.”
One of the uglier goons snorted,” Get this dude. He thinks he’s in a fancy courtroom or something.”
Several guards chuckled knowingly and then they continued to close in. For a moment it was so quiet, that all Monk could hear was the soft hum of electrical machinery and foot falls behind their assailants. Then Monk heard a strange but familiar voice give a command.
“ Alright, this has gone far enough!”
Grumbling and cursing the guards slowly backed away; but remained alert as the voice continued,” Please forgive the rough treatment. We couldn’t let you two get away after what you had witnessed. Especially when we found you to be two of Doc Savage’s original assistants. That just wouldn’t do. Tisk Tisk.”
The lighting in the room they were in was a dim violet light; so Monk couldn’t tell much of this new arrival’s features. All he could see was an outline of a man in the shadows and the faint glow of a cigarette burning on what looked to be a solid gold holder stem.
The man in the shadows continued to explain as he moved closer to Monk and Ham,” Besides I need you two alive to capture your friend of bronze. I can hardly wait to see the expression on his face when he finds out who has you two and what I have in store for him.”
“ There won’t be any expression on his face. He rarely shows expressions,” retorted Ham.
The leader took a step closer enough that some of the light revealed his features. It revealed an interesting face; very long and the skin was dark brown, no doubt from being exposed to tropical sun below the equator. His wavy hair was so blonde it looked white and his light gray eyes had an
intensity to them, almost feverish. The most striking feature was his height, at least five inches taller than Doc Savage. This combination made it impossible to forget. The instant he stepped out of the shadows, Ham recognized him.
” You are supposed to be dead. It can’t be!”
Monk who hadn’t recognized this strange individual right away turned to Ham and said,” Huh?”
Ham continued to stare as he voiced his thoughts out loud; his voice had a doomed quality to it.
” John Sunlight.”
The startled Monk turned his head to peer at this individual that had confronted them.” Awh, that’s impossible. I think you might have gone off the deep end this time, Ham.”
The one Ham called John Sunlight had a fowl expression on his face, which quickly changed to delight when he observed their perplexity.
“ It is possible and it can be.” Commented the strange looking man.
“ How did you survive and how did you keep from aging after all these years?” Ham asked growing uneasier with every passing moment.
John Sunlight laughed,” Come sit with me and I’ll explain the whole thing. After all, no one is ever going to hear the story I am about to reveal to you unless I so wish it.”
“ You want to bet?” Monk threatened.
“ Wait, let us see what he has to say.” Ham cautioned.
Monk protested but finally gave in still unsure of the validity of what he was hearing.
“ Good! Follow me,” John Sunlight instructed. The others left to do their various tasks when they were sure that the danger to their boss had passed. John led the pair of captives to a row of futuristic reclining chairs bolted to the metal floor against one wall. Monk noticed that there appeared to be only this round shaped room. It meant one thing to Monk and that was they were now in some kind of vehicle. In the middle of the room was a large pedestal with a dark red dome covering the top. There were various other equipment, control panels and the like; but nothing even as complex looking as the panel that they stood before now.
“ Please gentlemen, do sit while I strive to explain to you my glorious and I must say rather miraculous return.”
As Monk sat he couldn’t help commenting,” This ought to be good.”
John Sunlight ignored monk’s remark and in his most theatrical tone he began his story. If you remember almost fifty years ago you men left me for dead. By a stroke of bad luck, one of my weapons backfired and I was gravely wounded. Somehow, I dragged myself out and escaped to the jungles of Brazil. Even though I escaped from you, as it turned out; it looked like I wasn’t going to escape death. I found due to exposure to radiation, I had a matter of weeks to live. I became weaker by the day. I made the most important decision of my life.
With the help of a few of my most loyal followers that were left; I had myself placed in a special suspended animation sealed container. Placed in a freezer if you will. Up until two years ago, I was all but forgotten. My few followers that were left had died off or had lost interest. My container remained in a concrete vault in the middle of the jungle, until one day a scientist and his party looking for artifacts accidentally discovered my presence.
A friend of this scientist also a scientist; after much labor revived me. Ironically the very process used to suspend my person and the process this scientist used to free me; completely restored my health. Still, the shock of waking fifty years later with so much changed almost did me in. After traveling around the world for a year, I began to formulate a plan. This scientist that had restored me gave me an idea.”
“ You mean this craft we’re in now don’t you?” interjected Ham.
“ Why yes, he had developed teleportation, but didn’t have a workable design of a craft that could be used to make his theory work. That’s where I came in because I did have one.”
“ Yeah, I thought this design looked familiar.” Monk commented with growing anger in his voice.
“ By Jove, this was a design of Savage’s craft he had thought of developing just before World War II got in full swing. It was to be a high atmosphere craft for high altitude bombing and eventually space exploration.” Ham dismally stated.
“ Just one of the many secrets I uh, acquired from Clark Savage’s Artic retreat, the Fortress of Solitude. I had to modify some things, like this craft was to withstand the tremendous strain that would be imposed on it from the process of teleportation.”
Monk yelled,” Why you S.O.B.! You’re still using Doc’s designs you stole years ago. There’s only one way your type will ever learn, and that is the hard way!”
Then in one leap, he was upon John Sunlight with fists flying, yet even with his great speed, agility and strength; he couldn’t touch the mastermind. John easily blocked his blows with a speed that Ham had up until then seen only in one individual, Doc Savage. Ham had thought of stopping the fight quick; but he no longer had his sword cane. And he knew it was sheer folly to fight someone that fast as he was. Seconds later, Mr. Sunlight landed a blow on Monk that sent him flying over his chair to land rather ungracefully onto the metal floor.
Johnny laughed and then more menacing explained,” if either of you try that again or try any act of sabotage on this ship; your friends at your penthouse headquarters will surely die.”
Monk rubbing his jaw and head asked,” What do you mean scum?”
Ham helped Monk to his feet replying,” I think he means he’s acquired some other hostages.”
Monk glared at John who only laughed and confirmed Ham’s suspicions,” At this moment a trap has sprung and my men have now your friends Nancy, Nick and Marlyn.”
“ Hell! I don’t believe it.” Monk yelled in desperation.
Johnny Sunlight only smiled and flipped a switch on a control panel in front of him. He spoke toward a microphone,” Phoenix one to Phoenix two reply.”
A voice from a small speaker implanted in the panel replied,” This is Phoenix two group, Phoenix one. We have the drop on the one called Nick and the Wildcat named Nancy. Nat and Tyrone are here. Marlyn chick has given us the slip so far. She seems to know our every next move. Think she might have exited onto another floor below us somewhere. Perhaps they have a secret room or rooms on another floor that they use in just such an occasion as this.”
Sunlight cursed and ordered,” Forget her. This should be enough hostages to keep everyone off our backs for a while.”
“ Do you want us to question this wildcat about Marlyn and her whereabouts? She’s been giving us hell here.”
“ No, we have enough hostages I said. Have someone sit on her and gag her. Then signal Phoenix two to pick you up there and return to base.”
You could tell the relief in the other’s voice as he signed off,’ Will do. See you there, over.”
“ You have another craft.” Ham stated more than asked.
John Sunlight turned toward them ignoring Ham’s statement completely,
“ Do you know that even as I speak your Mr. Savage is stumbling into a
trap, and I am about to rob one of the largest banks in the world?”
“ Big deal.” Monk snorted.
“ Exactly. You see, I’ve contacted New York’s finest ahead of time and informed them of the location and time of day that it will be robbed.’
“ Why would you do that Mr. Sunlight?” Ham asked.
“ It’s a test of sorts. A test of strength. I don’t want the bank’s money Mr. Brooks, I want to demonstrate these teleporting globes’ abilities to my bidders.”
Ham stood up in anguish,” You mean bidders as in other countries?”
“ Yes, to the highest hostile country bidder. They pay a lot more than any friendly country would be willing to fork over.”
“ You’ll never succeed you know.” Stated Ham.
Monk who had sunk further and further into a gloomy disposition since his futile attempt at lashing out at sunlight, suddenly changed the subject,” Where the hell are we now?”
John Sunlight motioned to several guards nearby as he replied,” We are now at my base of operations under a lake in upstate New York, where all of you shall be treated as my honorary guests rather than hostages. Just as long as you behave yourselves.”
“ One more question before we are jerked somewhere else,” Monk asked,” Why did it take so long to get here from New York City?”
John Sunlight answered,” I had to make a side trip or two and for some reason we haven’t been able to comprehend; we have trouble teleporting through water. Takes a few minutes. So now if you will excuse me, I have some matters to attend to. I hope to see all of you together by dinner time.”
As monk and ham were lead away by four guards, they could hear the mastermind John Sunlight burst out loud with an uncontrollable fit of laughter. His high pitched laugh was mercifully cut off by the sliding doors of the Phoenix One teleportation craft, as they made their way into the bowels of the under lake base.
Within a block from Doc’s headquarters, Doc Savage received an urgent call from Tom Kinder over his wrist communicator in Renny’s car. Billy Littlejohn was driving Renny’s car and he flinched when he heard the voice from Doc’s communicator.
“ Mr. Savage, Mr. Savage, please come in.”
Doc Savage quickly answered,” What’s going on Tom?”
“ Thank goodness I reached you. Two thugs followed Marlyn to your
headquarters. There may be others waiting for her up there.”
“ Don’t worry about marlin, she can take care of herself. It’s the others I worry about. Just stay put.”
“ You got it. Those two thugs were the most cold blooded I’ve ever seen.”
“ By the way, have you seen William Littlejohn lately?”
“ No, not since yesterday.”
Savage paused for a second in deep thought then before he could give instructions to the lobby clerk; he heard Tom exclaim,” Wait! There’s Mr. Littlejohn now.”
“ Tell him to wait downstairs for us. It is not safe to go up there alone. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Doc Savage turned the communicator off not waiting for Tom’s reply. “ Step on it Billy.”
Billy got Renny’s automobile to accelerate to the maximum speed allowed in a crowded Manhattan city street. They rounded the corner just in time to see several armed men running into the front entrance of Doc Savage’s skyscraper. One hundred feet from the building, Savage instructed Billy to pull over and let him out.
“ Now, stay with Renny and park the car somewhere near where you can see the entrance. I’ll motion you it’s clear.”
Billy protested but fell on deaf ears. Something caught Savage’s eye above them. Billy leaned out his window to gawk at the sky above them. A brilliant ball of white light appeared out of nowhere near Savage’s skyscraper and was slowly floating toward the top west side.
“ What in the hell is that?”
When no one had answered, Billy glanced over to the other side of Renny’s automobile; but Doc Savage had already left in a flash of speed few humans could match.
Johnny otherwise known as William Littlejohn was ever bit of six feet one inches and was so thin that some acquaintances have called him bean pole and could have sworn he was even taller. He was the eldest of the aides to Doc Savage. He was also full of long-winded words. Long words flowed from him like a dictionary unless he was excited or angry. His hair was streaked with gray and he still wore his monocle when he could remember to. His eye damage he had suffered during World War I. Doc Savage had later restored the eyesight with a transplant surgery; but he always tried to wear it because he thought it made him look distinguished, sophisticated. So
it was easy for Tom to recognize Johnny when he entered the lobby. There wasn’t anyone like him that he knew of. One of a kind. They were the best of friends even with the great age difference. Tom was only in his forties, while Johnny was in his early seventies, an age difference indeed. How Johnny was able to stay so young looking for his age and so full of energy was a mystery to Tom that he would probably never understand. Johnny hailed Tom.
“ Good afternoon Tom and what pretentious wisdom do you have to offer today? I don’t mean to be pleonastic or to be accused of verbosity; but I must obtain any information having to do with the latest predicament. You know me, I’m as annivorous as ever for any information.”
Tom never got a chance to answer. There was a muffled explosion from behind Johnny, and then a small red hole appeared in Tom’s forehead. His eyes rolled up and then he went down backwards to the floor like a felled tree. Johnny whirled around in time to see a small dwarf like man armed with an automatic with a silencer attached; running straight for him. Three men in business suits accompanied the little guy.
“ Stay where you are Mr. Littlejohn or you will be next.” The dwarf character yelled threateningly.
Johnny didn’t wait to find out what was to happen next; for he dived over a couch by him and pulled out a sleek looking machine pistol. But before another shot was fired, a bronze whirlwind of fists dispensed one of the dwarf’s henchmen in a split second. It was Doc savage that appeared as if from nowhere. The second man tried to kick this new threat in the head, but hit a lobby sign instead. The man of bronze quickly placed a thumb on a certain area of the henchmen’s neck and he slumped to the floor paralyzed completely for a good several minutes. If Doc Savage had wanted to he could have applied just the right pressure to make the effect last several hours.
The dwarf squawked in panic and tried to make a break for the elevator only to be tripped and sent sprawled on the lobby carpet by Johnny’s foot. Then he placed the same foot on the little man’s back to hold him down.
Doc asked,” You alright Johnny?”
“ I am in excellent condition. I am interminably alleviated that you arrived in time.” Johnny answered.
“ What about Tom?”
“ Unfortunately he is dead. I shall miss him. I believe this Worm’s
responsible for his untimely death.”
The dwarf man turned his head and looked up in hatred suggesting to Johnny in a rather weird voice,” Go to hell!”
Then as Johnny proceeded to pick the odd little character off the floor, it began to punch, kick and shout a string of obscenities toward him. The dwarf man found out very fast that Johnny was pretty strong for his age, yet he was giving Johnny a lot of trouble. Doc Savage came to his rescue by placing two fingers on the little man’s neck; therefore completely paralyzing him except for his power of speech. Their little prisoner continued to curse and spit at them.
Doc savage examined Tom’s body and found no pulse as he expected. Afterwards, he commented to Johnny.
“ The little guy’s an excellent shot. If only he had been off his aim by a hair, I might have saved him. I’m sorry Johnny.”
“ It is ok Doc, there’s nothing you could have done. I’d like nothing better then to stuff this squirt down a disposal, but he might have valuable information. Right now, we don’t have time to think about it.”
“ Then let’s go get Renny and maybe its not too late to save the others at my headquarters upstairs.” the man of bronze suggested.
They found Renny still lying nearly unconscious in the back of his car. Billy was nowhere to be found.
“ Damn, now where’s my son off to?” Johnny asked.
“ Not sure,” Doc answered.” We’ll look for him later. Right now let’s take care of the business at hand.”
Savage carefully lifted Renny and helped him up and into the building as if he were drunk. Johnny called the police in the meantime and explained to them that an attempted robbery took place there, but was foiled at the cost of Tom’s life. Then they carried the cursing dwarf man and Renny to the special high-speed elevator of Doc Savage’s. After the elevator quietly started on its way, Johnny mentioned the obvious.
“ I wish you had paralyzed this idiot’s voice.”
“ I’m afraid he’s not quite an idiot, Johnny,” Doc grimly commented,” This is Eric Wolfgang, an East German scientist who was thought to have defected to the west years ago.”
“ I did you fool, but for reasons I just happen to have not mentioned to your authorities.” Eric blurted out in a surprisingly deep voice with a heavy
German accent,” I’ve made friends on this side of the world and they will
put you six feet under.” He then added a suggestive finger gesture at Savage and Johnny.
Johnny felt like choking him, but only remarked,” Before he was unintelligible, now he can’t seem to stop expressing his antagonistic verbalism. Very inimical and grotesque little man.”
The little dwarf man exploded into another string of obscenities.
“ I have been attempting to use direct hypnosis on Eric for the last few moments, explained Doc Savage.
“ Well, I’ll be supermalgated! It would seem it isn’t working so good.” Johnny remarked in surprise.
Seconds later their elevator slowed to a halt and the doors slid open. Doc immediately sensed something, a curious odor penetrating the hallway.
“ What is that smell Doc?” Johnny asked as he drug the chattering dwarf out of the elevator.
Doc Savage carefully maneuvered Renny to sit down on the thickly carpeted floor with his prisoner’s back resting against the wall by the elevator. Then he answered Johnny’s question.
“ I think someone’s been tampering with our laboratory. Drop the little guy and help me a moment.”
Johnny did as instructed and had a huge urge to kick the dwarf man right in the head to make sure he stayed out of action. Then he realized the little guy was already paralyzed from hypnosis as it was. Johnny followed Doc Savage at a run and found that he could hardly keep up with his friend. As they approached the door to their headquarters; they could see smoke rolling out from under it.
“ It is a very malodorous smell of a malicious nature that is literally permeating this hallway and perhaps our abode.” Johnny observed.
The man of bronze didn’t wait to unlock the door to his apartment. He simply threw his 260-pound frame shoulder first into it. It didn’t crack the door, but it did bust out the frame surrounding it. Together Doc and Johnny shoved once more against the heavy door and it fell in frame and all.
Nancy couldn’t believe how easy the three thugs had surprised her and Nick. She had just started to leave out the door to do a little investigating of
her own, when Nick began arguing with her about leaving. When she turned
in the open doorway to give him a piece of her mind; someone hit her on the head a glancing blow with a small club. It wasn’t enough to knock her out. It was only meant to daze her. Nick went for his gun in his coat, but a voice made him freeze in mid-draw.
“ Try it and the chick gets her throat opened.”
Three men pushed their way through with Nancy in front of them. One held her up with a switchblade to her throat near the jugular vein.
“ What’s this all about boys?” asked Nick cautiously, “ Nancy, are you in trouble again?”
One of the thugs who was the shortest and had coal black hair combed straight back laughed and responded,” Yeah, you could say that. Now, nice and easy man, I want you to pull your piece out with two fingers and throw it over to us.”
Nick quickly did as the shorter thug asked and the gun, a flat automatic; landed not more than a foot away from the nearest thug.
The short thug continued,” Nice. Now get away from the desk and lay down over next to the wall….Now man! Move it!”
While Nick complied, one of the men made the mistake of passing a little too close to Nancy whom they had thought to be harmless; since she had no weapon on her. As he passed by, Nancy suddenly kicked his feet out from under him and then kicked him in the head knocking him out cold. The other two thugs pointed their guns toward her and the shorter one screamed at her,” Stop it! Stop it bitch!”
He shook with rage as he continued,” You try that or anything else again and I’ll off ya. You understand?”
Nancy started yelling at them that if she ever got a chance, she would get them, which prompted the shorter thug to walk right up to her and slap her down to the floor. He placed the gun to her forehead and held it there for at least ten seconds before he reluctantly pulled it back.
He then quietly asked,” You have a death wish or somethin’? One more stunt and you’ll get your wish.”
The other thug asked,” Why don’t we just off her now and take Nick and that Marlyn chick when she gets here?”
“ Cause the boss wants at least two hostages and we can’t depend on Marlyn showing up soon. Tie them both up and see about Giff will you? I’ve got to answer my little radio.”
Ten minutes later, Tyrone and Nat arrived and the shorter thug who was
apparently their leader called up Phoenix Two. A few minutes more and everyone in the penthouse was showered by a brilliant white light that radiated from outside near the edge of the patio. Everyone crowded around the back glass doors leading to the patio, including Nancy who was shoved over there by Gliff. He had regained consciousness a minute before in a rather violent disposition.
Quickly the radiated light dimmed to an orange glow. Then it disappeared to reveal a metal sphere exactly like the one Renny had witnessed earlier. This time it was floating only several feet from the penthouse patio’s edge. Seconds later, a hatch twice the size of a regular sized door opened sinking into the bowels of the floating sphere. A ramp slid out to touch the patio floor below and several feet ahead.
Then the leader of the thugs yelled,” Alright Tyrone, start phase two and then meet us in the Phoenix Two.”
Tyrone laughed,” Ok, that ought to stop Savage.”
The leader grinned,” Yeah, just don’t be too slow about it. Wouldn’t be right to get caught in it.”
Tyrone ran off down a hall leading to Savage’s laboratory and storage rooms. He was back within a couple of minutes. He ran up the ramp of the sphere looking pleased with himself. After he was inside he commented to Nat standing near the hatchway,” Man is that Savage guy in for a surprise.”
Nat slapped him on the back and someone shouted,” Hey, everyone. Take a seat, we’re engaging now.”
As the sun began to sink behind the skyline of Manhattan, the large sphere’s ramp slid in and the hatch slid closed. Suddenly it was a brilliant ball of light again. Heat from the ball of light blistered the paint off the walls on the sides of the penthouse that faced the sphere’s teleportation process.
It was then that the front door of the headquarters fell in. Savage ran into the apartment reception room just in time to catch a glimpse of that brilliant specter in the sky and then with a resounding boom, it vanished right before his golden eyes.
Johnny was right behind him,” Did you see that?” he asked Savage.
And then without another word, Doc Savage rushed down the same hall that Tyrone had so recently traveled through. Smoke was filling up the penthouse apartment quickly. Johnny held his breath and slid open the back sliding glass doors to let the smoke escape and to let air in. There was an acid taste
in the air also.
Savage entered his laboratory through a front entrance. The front entrance consisted of a specially designed airlock system, made up of two sets of bulletproof glass doors. The inner set were forced wide open and the outer set of doors were open a crack. A blue haze was rising inside the lab to mix with the smoke. Savage didn’t notice that important fact until it was almost too late.
He touched the glass with the intention of forcing them open since he found that the automatic door opener wasn’t operating. Suddenly he felt as if his fingers were on fire. He quickly backed away from the entrance and fled back down the hallway.
Johnny looked up to see the man of bronze running back into the reception room. There was an urgency in his voice that Johnny rarely heard as he gave instructions.
“ Hit the button to the suction fans and the sprinklers to the main lab now!”
As Johnny reached behind the desk and pressed several buttons on a control panel; the man of bronze rushed out of the apartment. He found Renny was still lying against the hallway wall looking paler then ever. Then he noticed that the little dwarf man was gone. Doc Savage examined the elevator and found it had not been used since they arrived at their headquarters minutes before. Johnny had been right behind Doc Savage in leaving the apartment for the main hallway.
“ Now how did that whelp manage the vanishing act Doc?” Johnny asked excitedly when he noticed that the dwarf was gone.
“ It should have been impossible to come out of a paralyzing hold that soon.” answered Savage clearly troubled by the incident.
“ Help me with Renny. We better start with his treatments right away.”
With Johnny’s help they carried Renny on a blanket to a couch in the reception room. Savage checked the laboratory and found it in pretty much of a mess. Everything was soaked but with the fans still on; most of it would dry soon. After opening the airlock and leaving it open he walked back into the reception room to help Johnny with Renny.
Savage and Johnny again picked up Renny and carried him into the lab where he was carefully placed on an examination table. Doc Savage checked the room using a small black box with a digital reader on top. He made a
sweep of the room holding it out in front of him with his long muscular arm
extended out as far as possible. When he was satisfied, he placed the device
on a shelf and took out another. The long blue box with a thin red rod extended out the front.
“ And now for Renny.” explained Savage.
It made a ticking sound, which increased in volume as he waved it, closer to Renny’s unconscious body. Then placing several fingers to Renny’s neck, Doc Savage checked his pulse.
“ Has his languid state become more alarming?” Johnny asked.
None of the concern could be read on Doc Savage’s face, but his voice gave it away enough to worry Johnny even more.
Savage could only answer,” Let’s get him the required injection for starters and then we’ll see from there.”
He placed a hand on his oldest aides shoulder and smiled at him adding,” Don’t worry Johnny, Renny’s as tough as they come. He’ll pull through.”
Johnny decided to get his friend’s sickness off his mind, looked the lab over a moment as Doc Savage worked quickly on Renny. He found several very toxic chemicals spilled together in such a way that it would cause a deadly gas and an acid residue that would be deadly to the touch. Yet, all it’s effects could be washed away with water.
When he returned to stand by Savage he stated,” Very ingenious of our saboteurs to mix chemicals who’s evidence would be washed away by simple H20.”
Doc Savage held up a small match box and replied,” Not ingenious enough. He dropped this on his way out I think.” Doc threw the box to Johnny. He read the front of the matchbox. Inscribed in silver lettering it read the logo: “ Plug into Trent Electronics. 2003 W. 5th St. Manhattan, New York 88237.
Johnny grinned at his boss and long time friend,” I think I know our next stop.”
“ First, let’s examine this cylinder that Renny had in his hand when you found him. Then we’ll see where we go next.” Savage stated.
Doc Savage pulled the shinny cylinder from his pants pocket and turned it over and over in his hands to examine it closely. Johnny moved closer as the man of bronze finally found a way to open what appeared to be a container for messages. A small stud protruded a thousandth of an inch from one of the ends were pulled away from each other with a twist of the wrist; the cylinder pulled apart into two hollow halves. Inside was a small blue piece of blank paper four inches by five inches when unrolled.
“ There must be a written communication on it somehow. The old glow in ultraviolet light technique?” Johnny asked all consumed with excitement to the point that he put away his monocle so that nothing could interfere with his eyesight.
Doc Savage didn’t
answer instead he let his actions speak for him, by taking the sheet of the
blue paper to a specially designed darkroom he had over in one corner of his
fantastic laboratory. After they were both inside with the door closed behind
them; Savage flipped on two ultraviolet lights which shown down from the
ceiling. Then he placed the cylinder’s paper on a specially constructed table
with a glass top. Both men then donned strange looking red lenses goggles. They
examined the paper once more; but this time under a different light. White
lettering all aglow appeared immediately across the light exposed surface of
the blue paper. It read: SOMETHING TO DO WITH TELEPORTATION VEHICLE GOING TO
HAPPEN SOON. MIGHT BE BANK ROBBERY. THEY HAVE US IN THEIR UNDERGROUND BASE
UNDER LAKE NEWCOMB UPSTATE. JOHN
SUNLIGHT INVOLVED. YOU HAVE TO STOP HIM. DON”T WORRY ABOUT US. M & H
Doc Savage grabbed the paper and crunched it up into a tight ball. Then he threw it against the corner nearby.
“ Doc, how can that be? Sunlight’s been dead for over forty years hasn’t he?” Johnny asked in horror and desperation.
Savage replied grimly,” Apparently that isn’t the case.”
While Savage was in deep thought for a while, Johnny explained as he left the dark room,” I’ll go up front and make sure no one sneaks up on us this time. Maybe I’ll find something to drink around here. I think I need one.”
Doc Savage stirred long enough to reply,” That’s fine, just make sure you’ve got your weapon and also be sure the airlock is shut tight behind you.”
” Ok Doc.”
Then he slowly made his way to the front thinking all the while that this couldn’t be happening. It was like a flashback of the old nightmare. Someone yelling in the hall brought him back to reality. Johnny ran as best he could toward the front doorway because he had recognized one of the voices.
“ Billy, is that you out there?” Johnny shouted as he crossed the middle of the reception room. Just as Johnny reached the doorway, Billy stuck his head
in and said,” So here you are Pops. Good, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
“ Where in the hell have you been son?”
Billy stepped in to answer,” You probably won’t believe it, but I got curious about a ball of light I saw. Believing Renny was safe enough out of sight in his car, I slipped in our building through the front and found Tom dead as a doornail. That’s when Marlyn got off the elevator.”
Marlyn chose that time to run in between them out of breath interrupting their conversation only to add to what Billy was explaining to his father,” And that’s when the cops arrived too. Guess who was in the lead?”
A voice further inside the reception room spoke up making everyone practically jump out of their skins.” That could only have been Captain Mc Gregor.”
Marlyn smiled as she found Doc Savage was the speaker in question.
“ Doc, I am sure glad to see you. Everyone’s after us. The whole town has gone crazy.” Marlyn said first with relief then alarm,” When the Captain started to ask us questions at least a dozen tough looking creeps busted in with guns blazing. Most of the cops were shot down after a brief gun battle, yet Captain McGregor I think escaped out the back. I didn’t have time to warn them of the attack, but I did manage to make them miss us long enough to make it to the elevator.”
“ I don’t need your telepathic powers to predict where those men are headed now.” Said Savage,” They are on their way here and that German doctor leading them will be in no mood to talk.”
Johnny commented,” A most disquieting thought. May I suggest we vacate these premises with great haste.”
Billy agreed,” I think that’s an awesome idea Pops.”
Doc Savage looked at everyone,” First, let us get this door back up so that will slow them down a bit. While you three pack what is necessary in weapons and supplies; I will rig something up that’ll slow them up a bit.”
Billy laughed,” I think I know what that means.”
As they started to place the door back in position, Marlyn looked at Doc Savage thoughtfully and wondered to herself how he had known it had been a German Doctor that had been leading this latest attack.
Doctor Eric Wolfgang was mad enough to be on the border of insanity when he found that they couldn’t get the speed elevator to operate for them.
When they found that the other elevator would only hold eight out of a
dozen men and it stopped several floors from reaching the top to Doc Savage’s apartment; the Doctor was ready to tear his hair out. They took to the stairwell after someone busted the door lock off. When Eric and his men reached Doc Savage’s floor they found no resistance, reaching the man of bronze’s door within seconds.
Eric Wolfgang motioned to a rather large brute of a man named Drege to hit the propped up door with his shoulder. He did and to his surprise, it easily fell in. His momentum sent him tumbling into the room and he fell over a couch. In all their excitement they never noticed that Drege had never bothered to get up off the floor.
All seven men stormed the penthouse with the Doctor leading the way. One by one his thugs fell over as if they had gone to sleep on their feet. It didn’t take long for their leader to see that they had tripped some kind of sleeping gas trap.
Realizing this, he quickly raced for the glass doors beyond with the hope of reaching fresh air. It was a reasonable intelligent move, one that is expected of a genius who thinks fast on his feet. After all, he was closer to the floor than his men. He just didn’t take in to account, that the glass doors were locked and drowsiness set in before he could make another move to safety. Finally, his eyes closed and his little fingers made squeaking sounds as his body slid down the glassy surface of the sliding doors.
He snored loudly as Doc Savage and his group entered the reception room a few moments later from the laboratory. Everyone wore miniature gas masks even Renny when Savage and Billy were carrying him between them on a blanket stretcher.
Johnny peered at the bodies lying all over the reception room asking, “Your antiseptic gas bobby trap worked great Doc. Are we going to dispose of these ruffians the usual way?”
“ Yes, I’ve called already. The moving van will be here with our men from the upstate Hospital soon.”
Marlyn spoke up, “ Oh yeah, the place you have where you operate on a criminal’s brain to correct the portion of it that causes most of their type of antisocial attitudes. And I suppose that is where they’ll end up.”
As they filed out of the front entrance, Doc added,” Not all of them. The police can handle all but Doctor Eric Wolfgang. He is a special case and may not even need to go to our hospital upstate or to the police.”
“ Treatment of a Physiological nature I presume.” Quipped Johnny while
trying to adjust his monocle out of habit.
Doc Savage suddenly stopped and motioned with his finger to his mouth for everyone to be quiet. After a moment they could clearly hear footsteps echoing in the stairwell by the elevator shaft.
Billy whispered,” More of them?”
Doc nodded an affirmative. He quickly sat his side of the stretcher down and reached in his vest pocket to pull out several thin glass globes with a clear liquid inside. He handed them to Johnny and instructed him,” Throw these gas ones down the stairwell now.”
Johnny knew that no matter whom it was coming up those stairs, Doc Savage wasn’t about to take any chances. When Johnny reached the doorway of the stairwell, he threw them as hard as he could down the stairs.
After a few seconds he heard someone groan loudly and also the sound someone would make falling down a couple of the steps. Since he had donned a gas mask and still had it on, he was able to check on whom it was that he had taken by surprise. Soon, he joined the others confirming Savage’s suspicions.
Johnny told Savage,” That was the rest of them. They’re out like the proverbial lights.”
“ Ok Marlyn, grab the elevator then help Johnny with the supplies we will take.”
Marlyn did her share without a word of complaint. She was glad just to be alive. The special elevator dropped at an incredible rate of speed. There was just enough time for Savage to lay out his plans to his s.
“ Father and son will team up and travel upstate to lake Newcomb and see what you can find out there. Monk and Ham are alive, but the longer it takes to rescue them, the worse the chance that they’ll still be alive when we find them. It looks like Nancy and Nick have been kidnapped too. I can’t impress on you enough their situation is critical also.”
“ Don’t you fret Doc. We’ll try like hell to find them.” Billy tried to assure the man of bronze.
“ Just try to keep in mind not to take on John Sunlight’s entire army trying to get them out.” Doc warned Johnny and Billy.
Everyone laughed knowing very well that no one would do such a thing unless Doc Savage was involved also. It was probably suicide anyway. The laughter froze as Marlyn suddenly closed her eyes and exclaimed out loud,
She paused then continued,” Nancy and Nick are on their way to Sunlight’s stronghold. Nancy is trying to let me know this and about something very important…” She hesitated then frowned as if puzzled about what she was sensing.
“ What is it Marlyn?” asked Johnny concerned by Marlyn’s reaction, but also fascinated by the way she used telepathy to pick up on thoughts so far away. After a moment, she opened her eyes as the elevator came to a stop and the doors automatically opened.
She seemed deeply disturbed as she explained,” It was something about a trap and the rest was blocked by a stronger mind than Nancy’s. I think it was John Sunlight’s.
That was a sobering thought to everyone there as they left the elevator to find themselves in Savage’s basement garage. Though it was evening it was impossible to tell since there were no windows around. It looked the same as it had when Savage and Marlyn had been there that morning.
Doc Savage explained to Billy and Johnny that the girls had been experimenting around with thought communication for some time.
“ We’ve been successful at short distances. This is the first time we’ve tried it at a distance as great as this. This Sunlight character must know some of this science to be able to block her thoughts as effectively as he did.” Marlyn explained,” We really should hurry Doc. That madman’s going to make his move soon. He’ll use his hostages to keep us clear of him or destroy us all.”
Doc Savage seemed unaffected by this news as he continued to explain his plans,” Ok, marlin and I shall pay a night visit to Trent Carol Electronics while Johnny, you and Billy will take one of the hover jets and drop off Renny first to the upstate Hospital. Then you two can head for Sunlight’s stronghold.”
“ What are we going to use for transportation, Doc?” Marlyn asked who still seemed shaken by the incredible message she had received a moment ago.
“ We’ll take the mercury vehicle. It is armored with a new light-weight armor plating.” Doc stated.
They wished each other luck and departed for their separate destinations. As the man of bronze expertly drove up the concrete ramp that led to the surface; Marlyn voiced her thoughts to him.
“ I don’t like this at all, Doc. We didn’t even bother to stop and pick up a gun or two. You know, like as in defense for one’s own self from bodily harm.”
Savage patiently explained to marlin,” I try to avoid carrying one on my person if at all possible. I did bring us some against my better judgment. They’re in the suitcase in back.”
Marlyn remained quiet for a time immersed in deep thought as Doc drove the sporty looking Mercury through the secret entrance of his garage basement to a city street above. The door disguised cleverly to look like part of the skyscraper’s wall was already open as they drove through rather quickly. As soon as they were outside, the secret wall door slid to close off the entrance.
A light spring shower had moved into the city making the night a bit chilly compared to what it had been so many nights before. Eventually Doc Savage had to turn on his car heater for Marlyn’s sake. The quiet in the Mercury was finally broken when they were almost upon the electronics building. Marlyn asked Doc a question that she really didn’t expect to receive an answer.
“ Think they’ll hit a bank or whatever soon?”
“ Yes, and I think I have an idea where,” Doc answered dryly,” I just wish I could see what it is I’m suppose to be fighting.”
Marlyn raised an eyebrow at his unexpected emotional answer and sighed.
“ Yeah, I think I know how you feel. It’s like now you see them, now you don’t.”
When they pulled up to an old gated driveway leading to the electronics building located a hundred yards beyond. A high fence topped with barbed wire surround the electronics company area. Normally the front gate was locked in the evening, but this night it was slightly ajar and unguarded.
“ Looks abandoned to me.” Marlyn whispered.
“ So it does. Marlyn, you stay here in case there’s any trouble.” Instructed the man of bronze.
Marlyn started to protest, but Savage silenced her by saying, “ Drive our car to a spot out of sight yet in a position to where you will still be able to see what is going on around the grounds.”
When she didn’t answer right away Doc Savage looked at her in concern and asked,” Marlyn, is that clear?”
Marlyn reluctantly answered as he quietly slipped out of the Mercury,” Yeah it is crystal clear. Just be careful and would you at least take a gun with you?”
“ No.” Doc Savage replied as he quickly closed the car door shut.
By the time Marlyn had slid over into the driver’s seat to tell him how stubborn she thought he was; Savage had vanished into the rainy night air. He had become just another phantom amongst the shadows of the night.
Altogether five guards dressed in gray and blue-green uniforms accompanied Monk and Ham to their new living quarters that they had prepared for them. The guards were all new faces that had not been on the craft with them. On the way there, they walked through a large tunnel twelve feet in height and ten feet in width; carved out of pure stone. They could only guess what the length had been. It seemed almost the equivalent to two city blocks before there was a split in the tunnel.
As they approached the split, the guards behind them shoved Ham and Monk savagely toward the tunnel to the right. Observing that there was only one guard in front of them and four behind, Ham saw that moment as an opportunity to try an escape. Ham in the character of a great stunt actor, pretended to trip. He fell against the back of the lead guard knocking him flat on his face. In one move he had the guard’s 45 automatic pistol in his hand and he pointed it directly at the surprised guards.
“ Alright, drop your weapons and put your hands on your heads.”
Ham instructed,” Now, head for the wall to your left and turn to face it.”
Grumbling, the four guards complied while Monk picked up the dazed guard off the floor by his belt with one arm and he wasn’t very gentle when he let him down by the other guards. One guard a little braver than the rest, spoke.
“ You guys will never get out of here alive.”
Monk faked a look of shock.
“ Oooh, he’s probably right Ham. Maybe we ought to shoot all these clowns here and now. We don’t have much to lose anyway, since our only way out those what-you-ma-call-its have split.”
Ham grinned,” I think for once we’re in agreement ole chap.”
Both aides acted as if they were about to pull the trigger on their weapons to slaughter the five helpless men; when one of the guards began to tremble with fright. Suddenly, he blurted out some very valuable information to his captors.
“ Wait! I-I know of another way out of here.”
One of the guards tried to kick the one that was giving in, but Monk slapped him in the ear with the side of his pistol he had confiscated, temporarily stunning him.
Monk turned toward the informant and said in a threatening tone,” Well, tell us you dummy. Don’t just stand there!”
“ The tunnel to the left eventually leads to another split and if you take another left you’ll come to the old original entrance that had once been the entrance to an old gold mine. It leads up through a mountain. It’s been blocked and camouflaged, but if…”
The talkative guard never got to finish. There was an eerie thud sound and suddenly a large knife handle was sticking in his scrawny neck. Emitting gurgling sounds he slumped to the tunnel floor, dead before he hit. Then monk and Ham were tackled by at least a dozen men and clubbed senseless. The four who had been temporary hostages swore and kicked the two aides’ bodies for several minutes before a thin man with a long scar down the side of his face spoke up.
“ Alright, that’s enough. Throw them in a cell, tie em up and if you have to, sit on em. Can’t have this stuff happening again or Sunlight’s gonna get mad, and you know what happens when he gets mad.”
That put everyone in an even worse mood. Monk and Ham were literally thrown into their cell, which looked ore like a fifteen foot by eight-foot hole in the rock complete with steel bars blocking the mouth of it. Sunlight’s men had tied the two prisoners up and gagged them, but soon after the guards left they had worked the ropes and gags off. First thing monk said after he pulled his gag off from his wide mouth was,” I think we’re having a run of bad luck.”
Ham retorted as he looked their cell over,” Well, you ape freak wonder, if you would pay attention once and a while you’d know that our luck’s going to change for the better.”
“ What are you talking about shyster?”
Ham moved up close to Monk and whispered,” We’ll have to talk this way because I wouldn’t be surprised if the walls have ears.”
“ Ok then, what’s the latest?”
“ While we waited to land in this God forsaken place, I found a disposal chute of some kind that led to the outside. I made up a hidden message note and shoved it in that chute.”
“ So, you know that it probably doesn’t open to the outside until they are not teleporting.”
“ That’s just it by Jove! Remember for a brief moment they had mechanical difficulties. Remember they had to shut teleportation down and hover over the city for a few seconds?”
Monk’s face brightened and he wasn’t quite so gloomy.
“ Yeah, I remember! So you shoved it through then?”
“ Exactly, and I had the presence of mind to place the note in an empty container they had lying around.”
“ Then there is a chance that someone took the message to doc. Ham!”
Monk slapped Ham on the back hard enough it sent him sprawling to the cell’s floor,” You are a genius!”
Ham looked at what had once been his expensive Italian hand –made suit and uttered a mournful groan. Monk ignored Ham’s despair and began throwing small rocks at what looked to be a small microphone wedged in a corner near where the bars met the ceiling. Two guards walking by their cell threw rocks at Monk and made faces at him until they became bored and moved on. Monk was in the mood to crack some heads by then; while Ham was wondering if he could possibly hang his partner with his own belt.
Both prisoners eventually took a catnap to try to retain some energy. It was obvious that their captors had no real plans to feed them. Several hours later, they were awaken by a resounding boom that echoed and shook the tunnels and all cells of the underground, under lake complex. Monk and Ham moved close to the bars in hopes of finding out what was happening. Guards ran back and forth in their tunnel. A large body of heavily armed men at one time marched by headed in the direction where the phoenix One had landed.
“ Wonder what’s up?” Monk asked Ham.
“ Looks like something big. Sure wish Doc would hurry or that we could find a way out of here now.”
“ Why don’t you just ask for a court order to have us released on our own reconnaissance while you’re at it?”
Ham was about to ask Monk if he had been learning new words from Johnny lately; when they saw Nick and Nancy shoved into a cell across the hall. Nick’s hands and feet were tied, but Nancy was wrapped like a mummy with tape and cord. One of the guards commented about Nancy and the other two guards laughed, but Monk couldn’t quite make out what he had said.
Then Monk made what he later admitted a big mistake.
He shouted to the guards,” You touch her and I’ll break ya in half.”
The one who had made the comment about Nancy turned halfway to see who had yelled and Monk recognized him to be the scar-faced leader he had seen earlier.
Scar-face shouted back,” Why old man, is this your daughter? Na, can’t be. She’s too beautiful to be a daughter of an ape!”
Ham stated to laugh, but froze in shock as he watched the two other guards untie Nancy’s legs; rip her dress and underwear off. Then they pulled her legs open. Scar face smiled at Monk whose knuckles had turned white from holding onto the bars so tight. Then Scar face dropped his pants and mounted his helpless victim.
Nick yelled,” No! “ and tried to crawl toward Nancy only to be kicked savagely in the ribs, knocking the wind out of him. Seconds later, Nancy awoke and tried to scream, but it only sounded like a muffled buzz from under the gag she still wore.
Monk could only stare in rage and shock. He began to shake the bars violently until suddenly by some miracle two of the bars pulled away from the ceiling a fraction of an inch. Monk and Ham both peered up at the ceiling. Monk grunted with the strain as he pushed with all his might at the same two bars. Then he pulled back again and slowly they bent inward until there was just enough room for Monk to squeeze his bulky frame through.
His rage was so great that he didn’t even roar as he customarily would.
He made not a sound as he rushed Scar face from behind; and cleared the distance between him and his pray in three long strides.
Monk’s right arm was around Scar face’s neck and pulling him backwards so quickly that the motion literally lifted him off of Nancy’s body. Scar face gagged and his face turned gray as Monk applied more pressure on his neck. With his hands free, Scar face tried freeing a large hunting knife from its scabbard. Unfortunately for his sake, since Nancy’s legs were not tied up she was able to kick him right between the legs.
Scar face yelled out in pain, but monk never let go. Instead, he lifted him now by two hands about the neck off the floor. One of the guards tried to help Scar face, but Nick tripped him up and he fell head long into the cell wall knocking him out cold. The other made his getaway and ran down the tunnel yelling for help. Ham had managed to squeeze out of the prison by then and had tried to give chase after the remaining guard, but he had too
good of a head start on him.
Finally convinced that Scar face had little if any fight remaining in him; Monk slammed his victim down to the cell floor face first. Then while Ham yelled at Monk to stop, he straddled Scar face’s back. In one swift move, he grabbed Scar face by the hair and pulled his head back. With the would be Rapist’s own hunting knife, he slashed his throat open from ear to ear. Nick had untied Nancy’s ropes and gag by then; and had to go over in a corner to be sick. Nick turned away from the brutal scene in shock as Ham pulled Monk to his feet.
He asked him quietly,” Monk, do you know what you have done?”
Monk sobbing, shook his head yes. Ham, in a rare display of the real friendship that has spanned over all those years placed his hands on Monk’s broad shoulders.
“ They could very well get you for murder for that one monk, but due to the circumstances involved; no one can really blame you. Anyway, we’ll keep it a secret just between the four of us. Right Nancy?”
Nancy could only nod in agreement then her eyes filled with tears and she ran to hug Monk.”
“ Oh Dad, I’m so happy to see you!”
Monk held his daughter while she cried softly. Without another word spoken to the two, Ham and Nick gathered what weapons were at hand. At length Nick thanked his father.
“ For what?” Ham asked.
“ For being here when we needed you the most.”
They left the prison cell area jut in time because as they listened from further up the tunnel’ they could hear shouts of alarm and the sounds of pursuit quickly approaching.
“ What do you suggest we do next Monk?” Nancy asked quite on edge.
Monk looked about as they started to trot down the tunnel the opposite direction they had been. Then Monk remembered what one guard had said when questioned.
“ Remember Ham? One of the men we questioned told us about an old gold mine that was another entrance into this stronghold. Only thing is I didn’t find out whether we can really get out that way or whether it is blocked.”
Ham replied,” Well, do you think you know the way?”
To Ham the under lake stronghold was beginning to look more like a maze of tunnels.
“ I think so.” Monk replied.
“ Then may I suggest we move our tails now. They’re almost upon us.” Nancy suggested showing signs of recovering some from her ordeal. Then they heard shouting down the tunnel. They had been discovered. They realized it would be only seconds before more guards would be on to them.
Starting from Doc Savage’s garage basement to a warehouse type building along the Hudson River is a tunnel with an electric track that runs from one end to the other. A bullet shaped car which can hold up to eight passengers is used sometimes on that track traveling at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour. Doc Savage and his aides use that tunnel to get to his warehouse or headquarters in a hurry. It was one of those times when Johnny and Billy needed to do just that. The father and son team had only traveled a few seconds in that underground craft when Johnny turned to Billy who was controlling it.
“ I’m telling you now son, without prevarication I still have misconceptions of this new tunnel bullet contraption.”
“ What’s to fret over Pops?”
Johnny pretended to peer out of his Monocle and replied,” Quit calling me Pops! Just because I’m in my early 70’s doesn’t give you the right to address my person in such an ineloquent manner.”
“ You are in your late 70’s Pops.”
“ Be that as it may, I don’t like the way we just rocket our way through the Terra Firma and granite. Certainly this is a prodigious machine, but do we have to get there so blasted fast?”
Billy asked his father while he turned his attention once again to the control panel before him, which had stopped flashing yellow and was now flashing a reddish hue.
“ Say what Pops?”
Johnny sighed,” Ah Billy my boy, sometimes you can be so ingratiating. Why is that panel flashing red now?”
“ It means we’re almost there. It is warning of our impending stop.”
“ Ah, soon we will be in the interpenetration stage into the warehouse.”
Billy observed the tunnel lights were passing overhead more slowly as he absentmindedly asked,” What was that?”
“ I said..”
Johnny was interrupted by the abrupt lurch of their bullet car as it stopped
inside their destination, Doc Savage’s warehouse storage facility. His
storage facility was indeed the size of a large warehouse for it needed to be. Inside was a collection of old and new traveling machines the likes of which only a few have ever seen. There were several cars and vans, but mostly boats and airships of every description.
Both men piled out of the bullet car and carried Renny with them. They made their way through a pair of large steel doors, which had slid open as they approached. Lights throughout the storage facility automatically switched on row by row. They placed their load down carefully on the concrete floor.
Johnny stretching remarked,” I still can’t get over how fantastic this place really is. You have an old propeller driven Bi-plane over here, and an old cargo plane over there. There’s a small submarine over in that corner and a deep water diving bell resting by it. Hey boy, I remember that old Gyrocopter from way back when! Gosh, and I still haven’t been in his new jet helicopter.”
Billy yawned,” Come on, we don’t have much of the night left you big kid you.”
Johnny realized suddenly how carried away he had been,” So, where have you got the hover fighters parked now?”
Billy pointed to the other side of the building facing the bay.
“ Just over there, ready to go.”
“ Can you put it on autopilot Son, I think I’ll take a cat nap while on the way. I need some rehabilitating respite.”
“ Doubt it. We’ll be at the Hospital in…oh twenty minutes at the outside. Then another fifteen minutes will see us at lake Newcomb.” Billy explained.
“ Simply brilliantly wonderful.”
The sky was clearing rapidly above the Sertaina Trading Company warehouse. Winds began to blow the clouds revealing a full moon every once and a while. When it did the lunar glow reflected off the glossy black surface of a modernistic super sonic jet fighter, which hovered at least several hundred feet over the warehouse momentarily and then with a muffled boom it shot forward rapidly in a northwesterly direction. As it flew silently across the island city of Manhattan, it picked up speed and altitude, as quickly as perhaps a shooting star would have. Soon, it had disappeared beyond the city’s skyline. Few witnessed the takeoff from the city that never slept.
The Trent Carol Electronics sign on the front gate was old and faded. It looked to Doc Savage as if the place hadn’t been used in several years, but one can never be too careful. After entering the dilapidated gate missing much of it’s paint’ the man of bronze veered quickly to the left and took advantage of shrubbery that grew in a nice neat row all along the front of the dark building. He crouched low and ran along the shrubbery observing each opening such as windows or doors until finally halfway down the warehouse he found what he was looking for. He observed a window almost seven feet from ground level boarded up and the glass pane missing.
The gentle rain showers had stopped and Doc Savage could hear the insect sounds of the night; but little else. Not a sound emitted from that dark warehouse. Not a sign of life animal or human presented itself. The full moon began to show here and there through the passing clouds. The man of bronze waited until the moon had once again disappeared behind the clouds, then he made a rush for the warehouse wall and the window above. When he was just below the window he leapt straight up and with his fingertips he barely caught the window ledge. With a tremendous show of strength he pulled himself up and was son standing on the thin ledge while he held onto the window frame and the boards that were covering it. Little effort was needed to pull several boards loose and throwing them into the shrubbery below and behind him. It was a tight squeeze, but he made it through and silently dropped down to the concrete floor inside.
It just so happen that Doc Savage had entered a large lab within the warehouse, filled with electronic equipment and containers of very dangerous chemicals. Everything was spotless. The floor, the long lab tables and lab utensils were all spotlessly clean. He tried the light switch along the front wall of the lab, but nothing happened. There was probably a blown fuse somewhere Savage surmised, because he observed that a walk-in refrigerator unit located to his right was still running.
Curiosity got the best of him and he approached the unit, carefully watching the entrance door and the window he had entered from. Inside he found a grim scene.
Several bodies were lying face down in the middle of the unit’s floor. The floor was red with the blood of the victims. Savage stepped inside and examined the bodies more closely. Three had been and two had been women all dressed in lab smocks. All were very dead. It looked like all the victims
had been shot in the back of the head and then deposited in the unit in a neat
row several hours before. So the outside had been a ruse to look as if it hadn’t been used in a while when really it had been recently.
After exiting the unit and closing the door, he noticed a faint odor of something burning. The man of bronze burst through the lab door and entered an area beyond. The rest looked a lot like any other warehouse with equipment and supplies stacked to the ceiling in row after row of large shelves. He began to make his way as fast as he could down one aisle at a trot because a thought just occurred to him that made his gut draw up into a knot of fear. The man of bronze rarely shown any emotion; but inside he felt fear. That burning odor had seemed familiar from the start, but it took several minutes before he recognized it for what it meant. He ran to the other side of the warehouse winding through aisle after aisle of equipment both large and small. Several times he stumbled across a body of some warehouse worker who had become victims of either stabbing or gunfire. He found not one survivor among the six bodies that he had discovered.
When he reached the opposite side of the building he found that someone had added a portable building extension which made into a fairly good sized machine shop. By then, smoke began to filter out of the vents which confirmed Doc Savage’s dreadful theory that he had hoped against hope had been wrong. The warehouse apparently had a basement filled with flammable chemicals that were now on fire. Any moment the main warehouse area and lab walls would heat up just so much then all would explode in a gigantic firestorm with him trapped inside.
He had no more stepped inside the shop with its lathes, drill presses, dust and shavings; when the first explosions rumbled through the warehouse’s structure. Doc Savage thought if only he could make it to the back of the shop, he would stand a chance. Not much of one, but still a small chance.
The smoke and heat was unbearable and it was even getting hard to see. His lungs felt on fire, and breathing was becoming more of an effort. Suddenly, the world exploded and the concussion threw the man of bronze twenty feet into one of the sheet metal walls, as if a humongous hand had swept him aside. Somehow, Savage remained conscious and he pulled himself up in time to see a wall of flame barreling down on him at what seemed like a hundred miles an hour.
Marlyn had reluctantly parked the Mercury behind a closed Service Station; and then she returned to watch and wait for Doc Savage behind a stack of
chemical barrels. Something just didn’t feel right about that warehouse.
Nancy mentioned a trap before she was cut off, could this be it? Then Marlyn realized that it must be and that Doc Savage knew it. So why did he go in anyway? The more she thought about it; the more questions kept popping up. A few minutes later, she noticed the smoke and ran toward the gate yelling a warning.
She made it to the gate when suddenly, there was several small explosions followed by a thunderous one that knocked her backward to the ground. The blow to her head and back dazed her and she watched in helpless terror as most of the warehouse disappeared into a huge ball of fire. Flame and debris was sent hundreds of yards in all directions. The roof split in several places and collapsed into the raging inferno. The heat was so intense that it blistered Marlyn’s left arm and the left side of her face. Yet, she didn’t feel it as she pulled herself up. Half in shock and grief; she desperately wandered around the warehouse grounds searching for any trace of Doc Savage. She called to him with her voice and with her mind, but there was no answer. She couldn’t sense him. Nothing.
Finally, as Ambulances and fire trucks arrived on the scene; she slipped away into the darkness before anyone could observe her presence. When she was back inside the parked Mercury, she leaned her head forward to touch the steering wheel and cried for the loss of what she thought to be the greatest human being she’d ever known. Finally, she raised her head and started the car. In her eyes now was a burning hatred.
Murder was in her mind and in her heart. She knew that revenge on the man who caused this terrible loss; was the only thing that would quell it.
She knew that sooner or later John Sunlight would be at his stronghold under that upper New York Lake. And it’s there she would be waiting for him. She put the car in gear and started first for her apartment not far from Savage’s headquarters; where she could attend to her wounds and stock up on the things she would need for the task ahead.
As she drove along a thought occurred to her that if she was feeling the way she was; how would Nancy react when she found out that Doc savage was killed. She shivered involuntarily and decided against telling her as long as possible.
“ Besides, Mr. Sunlight’s mine!” she spoke out loud to herself as if she was
making a proclamation to the world.
It was dawn before Marlyn was able to leave her apartment and take the old highway that would eventually lead her to lake Newcomb and the unknown dangers that lay waiting for her.
Billy was right to the minute on his calculation. They did arrive at the Hospital grounds in twenty minutes. Calling up ahead had paid off for a special medical team was out on the front grounds waiting for them as their sleek craft landed vertically. The nurses and orderlies waiting rushed Renny by stretcher to the radiation treatment lab wing while Johnny and Billy took a moment to have a cup of coffee before they continued their journey. In the Hospital cafeteria, Doc Savage’s two aides sat together in silence reflecting on a great many things.
With a visible sigh of regret, Billy mentioned the obvious. “We know that it will be impossible to see Renny until there’s some kind of improvement.”
Johnny only bobbed his head up and down in agreement saying,” Uh huh.”
“ So I guess we ought to hit the dusty trail once again.”
“ I could have prognosticated that superfluous announcement. We certainly can not dawdle around this establishment when our comrades are most likely in deep distress.”
As they rose to leave, Billy commented,” Pops I believe you are getting worse as you get older.”
“ On the contrary son, I’m more intelligible and less capricious than in my younger years.”
“ Can the words would you, Pops? I just had to have a father who thinks he’s a dictionary…”
“ Lucky you.”
“ What is this? You have to have the last word or somethin’?”
“ Of course.”
Billy made a growling noise as he exited the cafeteria door and entered a hall leading to the front lobby and main entrance. Johnny was last to leave and he called out to Billy ahead of him.
“ Are you feeling well Sonny?”
Billy didn’t lose a step as he answered over his shoulder,” Just swell.”
Chapter VII “The Demonstration”
About the same time that Johnny and Billy reached the lake area in their
aircraft, another flying craft of a completely different nature appeared quite suddenly above Manhattan First National Bank. The gigantic shinning metal sphere hovered several hundred feet above the building without a sound. Moments later, there was another flash of light and another sphere appeared above the city and then another after that.
Even though it was six-thirty in the morning; this phenomenon still caused quite a stir. Soon a crowd began to form on the sidewalks that ran along the block where the Manhattan First National Bank was located. Finally, someone called the police and after they arrived, someone must had to push the crowd back across the street and set up road blocks on either end of that city block. Someone in the crowd yelled at the police.
“ What are you gonna do, shoot your popguns at the UFOs?”
S.W.A.T. teams began to arrive and snipers position themselves on every available rooftop around the bank. Authorities had already seen these spheres in action and were taking no chances. Many of the police had donned special fireproof suits as a precaution. Captain McGregor was there across the street from the bank behind his unmarked car pointing his revolver toward the middle-floating sphere. Chief of Police Randy E. Callahan a white headed man in his early fifties still as vigorous as he had been in his prime, was standing beside his captain.
Captain McGregor was trying to explain a point to his chief while their eyes never left the hovering spheres.
“ I’m a tellin’ ya Randy, this Savage fella has a big part in all this. I can smell it. We just arrested part of a rival gang that he ambushed in his crazy penthouse headquarters. They were questioned and we found out that the one that was leading them got away.”
“ Come off it Captain!”
“Every time those Spheres appeared either Doc Savage’s lads or Doc Savage himself was close by. What of all their mysterious comings and goings. Half of his people has disappeared and now the Spheres are here to terrorize the city again.”
“ Captain, you are babbling. Besides, that’s still no proof. I just got word he might have come to an untimely end earlier this morning. Warehouse on 5th street blew up and a witness saw someone fitting his description entered that building a minute before the blasts and firestorm that completely destroyed it
“ Ah hell, that’s just a diversion, a cover to clear his name of any wrong doing sir. Aye, he’s a sly one that Savage gentleman. I’ll wager my bottom dollar that…Ho! Something’s going down.”
“ I’d say that the Spheres certainly are. Get on the horn and tell the men be ready to move in on my word. Make sure the S.W.A.T. snipers hold their ground at all costs.”
“ Yes Chief. Now we got ya Mr. Savage.”
Chief of police Randy E. Callahan rolled his eyes and said more to himself than anyone,” Just wish the National Guard could have made it here before this. I could use helicopter gun ships about now.”
The three spheres were dropping and dropping fast. The center one continued to drop even as it reached the Bank’s flat roof; while the other two stopped only several feet from hitting the top. Steel nor brick could stop the plummeting center metal vehicle which caused ceiling to collapse onto the floor and floor onto ceiling until it all reached ground level where it finally came to dusty rest.
The resting spot was only several yards from the main bank vault. Alarms sounded everywhere throughout the partially destroyed building, while the sprinkler system triggered by the heat emanating from the fallen sphere; soaked everything on the first floor including an unlucky watch dog. It whined in fright and confusion and immediately left the premises as fast as its legs could carry it as soon as the police were able to open the front door.
A hatch fell open simultaneously on each Sphere. Heavily armed men began pouring out of the Spheres onto the roof and inside the ground floor below. This small army was curiously dressed in bright gold and red uniforms, which glistened as if made of some lightweight woven metal. They wore red bulletproof helmet with visors to protect their heads. There was one that didn’t wear any uniform whatsoever who lead the assault on the ground floor of the bank. That particular fellow was John Sunlight. It was pretty obvious that he did wear a bulletproof vest. Several bullets meant for his heart only bounced harmlessly away.
At point blank range John Sunlight, his men and a large detachment of police led by Captain McGregor rushed into the ground floor with guns blazing. Unfortunately for the first rushing detachment of police; they were clearly out numbered and outgunned by the Sphere’s assault forces. Still,
several of John’s men were eliminated before they were able to mow down
the first wave of New York’s finest. Captain McGregor was wounded in the leg, yet found his way to a door leading to a side exit.
All hell broke loose outside as well. S.W.A.T. snipers along with a small army of New York policemen opened fire with everything they had in their arsenal including machineguns of various types. They opened fire from every window, doorway and rooftop, from every building surrounding the bank under siege that they could get into. Captain McGregor nevertheless took a deep breath and made a mad dash for the nearest squad car parked across the street. As soon as he got on the other side of the bullet-riddled vehicle, he borrowed a patrolman’s walkie-talkie and radioed his chief.
“ This is McGregor. Are you there Chief? Come in. Come in.”
A wary voice blared over the radio’s speaker,” This is Chief Callahan speaking. Is that you Captain?”
“ Aye, it is, and I want to tell ya now Randy me lad, we can’t stop ‘em this way. But they’re not wearing any gas masks. Want to make a little wager we can gas them?”
“ Sounds good and I’ll give the order to try just that. By the way, you don’t sound good, over.”
“ Oh, I’ll be alright. Just a nick, chief. Really a wee one. I’ll still be able to drink anyone in Jerry’s bar under the table by tomorrow.”
“ How’s it look in there?”
“ It is a massacre and they’re probably breakin’ into the vault by now, over.”
“ I’ll send somebody over to look at your leg.”
“ Nah, it’s a scratch. I’m staying in this to the end. Over.”
“ No you are not.”
“ Yes I am.”
“ You are not.”
“ I am to.”
The argument might have gone on all afternoon except for a big commotion that had started within the bank. The vault had indeed been forced open and John and his men had robbed it clean. In minutes they were hastily retreating with their loot all they could carry back to their Sphere.
Those of John Sunlight’s army that were on the roof giving tremendous cover fire, began a concerted retreat to the two Spheres above. Several times
the police charged across the rooftops and from all sides of the bank from
the streets below; only to be driven back by the hail of lead and exploding
shrapnel from grenades. No one seemed to notice the furtive figure leap from one roof over to the bank roof amidst one of the police counter attacks.
A good-sized thug dressed on one of John Sunlight’s army uniforms of gold and red. He was hiding behind an air-conditioning unit on the bank roof; taking pot shots at snipers across the street.
He never saw the giant figure slip up behind him. He never knew what hit him as a large sinewy hand clamped around his mouth and fingers as strong as steel kneaded nerve endings on the neck causing instant paralysis throughout his body.
The large man dragged his victim’s body further behind the init. Moments later, he slipped in among a crowd of thugs returning to one of those fantastic Spheres and blended right in despite being a head taller then the rest.
One man was standing by a Sphere trying to un-jam his machinegun. He noticed a giant of a man in the line of men returning to the Sphere’s hatchway. The giant looked part South American with coal black hair, dark tanned skin, and a thin black mustache. He carefully watched the tall one whose suit didn’t quite fit in places; walk by and enter the hatchway finally concluded that the man was probably one of the new recruits they had hired the week before.
When he finally un jammed his gun, he found he was the last one in and after a quick look out, he pressed a button inside to close the hatch door. In a few seconds they would be on their way and they would all be rich beyond their wildest dreams. That was his last thoughts. Silent as a cat, the giant closed in on him and with a precise tap to the jaw, he was knocked unconscious. Quietly he stuffed him in a storage compartment.
The giant roamed through the sphere’s insides as if observing it for the first time. The Sphere’s was lighted by low indirect lighting and the light from viewing screens along the control panels located in several areas around the circular room. It was virtually impossible to investigate everything in that single circular room which made up the entire internal makeup of the floating Sphere he stood in. The reason was obvious. It was so crowded inside with armed uniformed men that the giant could hardly move around to any part of the Sphere without taking some time.
If one observed carefully, they would have noticed that the giant seemed to be preoccupied looking for someone more than something. After a few minutes, he apparently gave up and sat in the last of the empty chairs.
One of Sunlight’s lieutenants a young black man medium built who was working with some kind of slide controls and odd glowing switches; shouted to the group within. In order to hear better, some of the men took off their helmets.
“ Hey, pipe down. Alright. Men we’ve just pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in the state’s history.”
Everyone clapped and cheered until the lieutenant raised his hand to quiet the crowd before he continued,” But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we’ll be paid for these machines. I’m sure today our observers our guests got a good look at what these babies can do. If we sell ‘em, we’ll all be filthy rich!” His last words he raised his voice to emphasize their importance.
There was a loud cheer from every voice within that Sphere’s walls, except for the silent giant. Someone from a control panel leaned over and whispered into the lieutenant’s ear and he waved once more for silence.
When the noise died down he announced,” Ok, our arrival time is in thirty seconds. When you leave the Phoenix III go directly to auditorium 1-B for new instructions. Also the boss wants to talk to everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if we might get the pay off tonight.”
Many of the group cheered again and someone cracked a joke about getting out into the fresh air for a change away from being cooped up with a bunch of bad smelling jerks. Somehow, seconds later, the silent giant had maneuvered his way close to the hatch door ready to be one of the first to leave. As soon as the Sphere appeared in a large room within the under lake stronghold; the hatch door opened and the giant leaped out of it quickly to land on the dirt floor beyond and below. The lighting there wasn’t good and perhaps that had something to do with the fact that no one noticed his quick exit.
Before the first of the passengers of the Sphere Phoenix III had exited the hatchway; the silent giant had disappeared into a storage room off to the side. Perspiring, he leaned back against the storage room wall and let out a sigh of relief. So far his luck was holding. He had infiltrated an organization few if any could have accomplished.
From the first, when the daring bank robbery began several men from a unknown number of notorious foreign countries had watched the whole
escapade with long-range binoculars from a couple of blocks away. All wore
business suits except one and he was dressed to look more the part of the military dictator that he was, complete with all the medals and decorations hanging on his chest. Stone faced they watched the assault and robbery including the desperate battle the police waged to no avail.
One of the Oriental gentlemen smiled contently as he witnessed the Sphere that that had fallen through the center of the bank finally took its leave. With a brilliant flash of golden light, which shone through every hole and window in the half demolished building and an echoing boom, it disappeared as if into thin air. The other two Spheres displaying an even more blinding light shortly followed. A police helicopter was vaporized in mid-air because it happened to fly too close to the departing Spheres. A large fire burned out of control in the center of what once had been one of New York’s finest banks.
There was complete confusion in the streets below as ambulances arrived and departed with wounded and dead. Sirens wailed across town mixing with those of fire trucks that were arriving much too slowly because of all the backed up traffic, mobs of people and the debris that lay all over the streets around the destructed area. New York City lost a lot that day.
The foreign observers seemed satisfied and signaled their various bodyguards and assistants with a wave that they were through. The military man left by helicopter which had been parked on the same roof, while the others left through an entrance door leading to the top floor of that building. These were thorough men for when they had departed; they left not a trace that they had ever been there.
Billy set the sleek black jet down behind some hills several miles west of lake Newcomb. Johnny and Billy cast their headsets off and broke out the weapons from a specially concealed compartment further back in the hovercraft. Both chose machine pistols that Doc Savage had designed years ago. Recently they had been improved enough as of late that they rarely jammed as some of the larger machine guns had in the past. Another feature had been improved as of late and that with a specially designed attachment; they could fire a variety assortment of high explosive, smoke, and gas shells
almost as fast as ordinary ammunition. In addition to these guns, attachments
and ammunition, Billy thought it best to bring along a small brown package. As they exited their hovercraft, Johnny asked Billy a question.
“ I have an aversion to ask, but I must.”
“ What in the hell’s that, lunch?”
“ Detonation material that can be manipulated into any form right?”
“ Yes, except this is five times as powerful as the regular variety. We may need this later.”
“ That’s very possible, but I have some apprehension in using said material because of the unstable properties of the Earth’s crust around this expanse.”
“ Ah, you worry too much old timer.”
“ I liked it better when you called me Pops.”
Billy could only give Johnny a silly grin and ask,” Well, where to from here? You know this area better than I.”
Johnny grabbed his monocle and bent down starring at some stone formations before him. Pointing the opposite direction, he was examining, he answered,” This way.”
Billy looked up at the clear blue sky and muttered,” I just had to have a kook for a father.”
As they stealthily made their way toward the lake Newcomb, Johnny exclaimed,” I heard that. Sometimes my spontaneous response is to question your immutability too.”
“ Shh, you’re giving me a headache.”
Lake Newcomb area is heavily wooded with the exception of scattered spots here and there around the entire lake’s shore. In a clearing not far from the large mountain nearest to the lake; the two aides discovered an abandoned farmhouse and barn. The area around there and the lake had apparently been bought up by the John Sunlight organization. Billy thought he spied movement on the side of the mountain facing the farm. Since the barn was closest to the mountain, they made for it first and soon Johnny and Billy were taking turns staring through high powered binoculars to try to catch a glimpse of movement again or of anything that could give them a clue as to how to get into the under lake fortress of John Sunlight’s.
After a quarter of an hour, Billy who was staring through the glasses exclaimed pointing,” There it is again. I think it’s road on the side of that
mountain, but where it leads to, is anybody’s guess.”
He gave the glasses to his father who brought them up briefly to his eyes only to bring them back down quickly, visibly shocked. He turned to Billy in alarm.
“ I think I just saw a pair of binoculars looking our way from a tree not very far up the mountain!”
“ Damn, they have sentries. I should have known.” After a pause he continued, thinking as quick as possible,” We better blow here as fast as we can.”
“ You’re right son, they’ll have a patrol over here son.”
“ Let’s hope they’re not sure what’s here. That might buy us time.”
Without another word, they abandoned the barn and ran into the trees at the bottom of the mountain. After a few moments they stopped for a breather behind several large bushes.
Billy asked,” Think we better find out what was traveling on that road?”
“ By all means, you don’t need my permission to do so. I’ll just wait here and catch my breath.”
Billy caught his arm saying,” Oh no you don’t. I’m not going up there alone. I’m no Doc Savage.”
“ Well, you won’t get any argument from me on that point Billy.”
“ You’re no inimitable being yourself.”
“ Well, I’ll be damned. You said a word I can understand.”
“ Shhh, I heard something.”
They waited behind the bushes quietly. Every muscle was tense ready to go into action in an instant. After a full minute, they heard the sound again only much closer. It was the sound someone or something makes when crashing through the brush and small trees on the run. Soon their fear was justified as five men and one woman dressed in camouflaged uniforms crashed out of the woods and headed at a run toward the farm below. Each was armed with high-powered rifles and automatic pistols. One had a walkie-talkie radio to his ear and was constantly listening in on something that he couldn’t quite be made out by Johnny and Billy. When they were far enough away that Billy knew they couldn’t possibly be overheard; he informed his father that there must be another patrol somewhere around close that was reporting in to the group that had just missed them.
“ Then we must be extra deliberative in our movements toward our next
destination and remain polygenetic at all costs, agreed?”
Billy began to hike up the wooded mountain with his father as he replied,
“Yeah, and we better remain calm and collected too.”
“ That’s what I said Sonny.”
They weaved their way back and forth through the trees and several times they detoured around large boulders some as large as houses. Twenty minutes later, they found the road, which had been recently graveled and led apparently around to the other side of the mountain. They strolled up the road at an even pace keeping to the outside in case they needed to head for the cover of trees in a hurry.
As they approached the other side which faced lake Newcomb; Johnny quietly voiced his thoughts,” Reminds me so much of the area around my home in Canada. Under different circumstances; I think I’d like to have spent some time hunting and fishing here. Wouldn’t you?”
“ Yeah…Hey, there’s the lake!”
Suddenly they had a prefect view of the lake and the area around it. Lake Newcomb was a beautiful dark shade of blue and with little wind around it. Johnny placed the set of binoculars to his eyes and spotted several fish jump up out of the water to fall back in with a loud splash.
“ Lord. The fish are prodigals in that lake. Observed Johnny who was practically drooling.”
“ Anything else going on around here?”
“ No, wait! Looks like this road eventually runs down there and yes, to several old shacks near an abandoned drilling rig of some type.”
“ Anything else? Wait, let me see too.”
Johnny reluctantly handed over the glasses and Billy took a look-see. He moved the glasses from left to right and back stopping suddenly.
“ looks like the area around those shacks are crawling with guards. Can’t get in that way for sure.” Exclaimed Billy.
Johnny turned and wondered across the road to study some plant life and then the rock layers exposed along the side of the mountain where they had blasted their way through to make that road. Billy chewed on some beef jerky as he continued to study the lake through his glasses. He was hoping against hope that the situation would change down by the lake making the guards leave long enough for them to look around that area up close.
Somewhere down there was a way into the under lake headquarters of John Sunlight’s. He could feel it in his bones. Perhaps a diversion like his plastics exploding somewhere. With his luck only the patrol would investigate. They certainly didn’t have time to wait for the cover of darkness; his friends would be dead and the Spheres might be long gone by then. Time was running out for his friends inside, and he felt helpless. So what else was new?
Suddenly he heard a shout of surprise from his father and he whirled around to see Johnny waving to him to come over to where he stood. Billy was thinking that his old man had found some rare planet or some rock. It was something he wanted to show Billy but, it wasn’t a rock or plant. Instead a piece of metal shone through where it had been exposed along that part of the mountain that was mostly made up of loosened earth and rock.
“ What is it Pops?”
“ I don’t know, but you will get no lamentation from my person and it may be a valuable find.”
They hadn’t brought shovels or tools with them, so they used their hands to dig away and remove the dirk and rock that covered whatever it was. As they hurriedly dug; Johnny commented, “ There must have been a lot of precipitation around this location lately causing a portion of the mountain that had covered this metal surface to wash away. Come on Billy, don’t dig in such a haphazardly fashion. Let us work our way upward first.”
The metal surface grew larger and still larger until they had uncovered what appeared to Billy to be a pair pf large metal doors that when opened would make a doorway twelve foot wide and at least eight foot tall. They couldn’t reach any higher than that, so it could have been taller still. They stepped back and examined the over all shape of what they had unearthed.
“ Well I’m flabbergasted,” Johnny exclaimed. Johnny was excited, but Billy was absolutely dumbfounded.
“ It would seem we have found an old opening of some kind. Could this be a way to the lake stronghold? Can you imagine what the odds were of us finding something like that?”
“ Meager at best.” Johnny slid his hands over the entire surface of the cool metal doors and asked Billy,” Have you noticed there doesn’t appear to be a way to open them?”
Billy smiled,” Oh yes there is.” He reached into a bag he had carried with
him and pulled out a gray slab of plastic explosives,” This ought to do the trick.”
Johnny nervously looked up and down the road nearby; then grabbing his son’s arm he said in a very serious tone,” If you use that then you better hope this is indeed an entrance to it and we better be prepared to move in fast. Because that stuff will have the whole place down around our ears in two minutes.”
Billy could only grin again at his nervous father,” No sweat.”
Before Billy could plant the explosives they had to scamper and hide behind some trees off the road once. Three vehicles tore down the road on their way to the lake Newcomb area. One was an old Cadillac with several military types inside. The other two were late model limousines, one black, one silver. Their windows were tinted so it was impossible to tell who were inside. At that point, Johnny and Billy could have cared less just as long as they weren’t discovered.
Before the dust had settled form the passing caravan of automobiles; Billy was near the doors planting his explosives and a timer. Johnny with machine pistol in hand stood a tense watch.
“ Who do you suppose those people were?” Billy asked without looking up from what he was busy doing.
Johnny looked in the direction the three cars had gone,” My assumption is that they are bidders from the other nations, estranged ones at best.”
“ Then they probably witnessed whatever Mr. Sunlight pulled today. Some demonstration. Possibly dozens were killed and they thought nothing of it. Well, this ought to make em’ think again. We’re ready Pops!”
“ Then let’s depart to safer grounds shall we?”
Yeah, we better make tracks and fast.”
Chapter IX “ Battle at Newcomb Stronghold”
Alarms were sounding off all through the tunnels in the under lake stronghold. The prisoners had escaped and John Sunlight was cursing his men and the escapees. Mr. Sunlight had just discovered the grisly scene where the prisoners had escaped. He turned to one of his new lieutenants, a man by the name of Brody who was in his early twenties and almost as short as the dwarf Wolfgang giving instructions,” Take some men and take the
elevator to the shack entrance and make sure our guests who will be arriving soon, are given a warm reception. Have them placed in the prearranged bidding room where I’ll take their bids very soon. Reassure them that everything’s under control. I’ll be there just as soon as I take care of some unfinished business.”
Brody laughed and replied,” I sure will and please knock off that bitch Nancy Mayfair for me would you? She’s a loudmouthed pain in the ass.”
Expression on Sunlight’s face darkened considerably.
“ They have all been a pain, but it will be the last time they ever were.”
Brody left and Johnny Sunlight turned to his other lieutenants, the black man named Tyrone, and Nat a psycho in his own right.
“ Have either of you heard any reports of anyone else approaching this place? Anything at all?”
Tyrone leaned back against the wall as if bored,” Like I told ya man, not a sign.”
Nat had very little to add,” Oh there’s been reports of some of our men getting glimpses of something here or there, but all of those turned out to be false alarms so far.”
Sunlight looked down toward the dirt floor a moment in reflection and then,” Double the patrols anyway. I expect at least to others of Doc Savage’s group to try something. We don’t need anyone screwing up the deal. Now that we are so close. I want you both to personally lead some of these patrols while I deal with our escapees. You see, the way they’re headed leads to nowhere.”
Tyrone and Nat laughed and hurried on their way to the only elevator in the entire stronghold. It was located only several rooms down from where the Spheres arrived and departed.
Soon, Sunlight had over two dozen heavily armed men following him along the tunnel headed straight for what they were sure was the trapped escapees. One of the men asked Sunlight if they were to be taken alive, and he had an instant reply.
“ Are you kidding? I don’t want even a trace of them left, understand?”
“ Uh, sure, No problem.”
Monk was standing at that moment staring at a caved-in portion of the tunnel which blocked their way completely. Nancy, Ham and Nick were behind by a dozen yards. He shouted back their way, “ Kids, we have a
problem. The damned thing’s blocked.”
“ I’m not really surprised.” It was Nick, who reached Monk’s side first,
“ Looks like tons of debris.”
Ham was next with Nancy trailing right behind him. He jabbed Monk’s side harder than was necessary and pointed toward the ceiling where some metal wall or door was exposed toward the top of that landslide of rubble.
“ Well ape man, you got us close anyway, I’ve got to hand you that. Hey! That looks like some kind of door or doors.”
“ You mean to the outside?” Nancy asked.
“ No, to the sky. Of course it’s to the outside. What else could it be?” Ham replied in frustration.
Nancy’s shoulders visibly sunk and she turned around to leave with the others feeling defeated and without hope. Looking down at the floor she asked Monk and the rest of the gang,” What do we do now smart guys? Got a spare crow bar in one of your pockets somewhere?”
Monk who was still facing the cave-in rubble with his hands on his hips, didn’t answer her, instead he shouted to the obstacle before him,” Blast it!”
Then the world exploded in his face. Several tons of rock, earth and what had once been the double metal doors blew inward down the tunnel with terrific force. Monk was thrown head over heels and bounced off the wall and another; before landing rather roughly on his back onto the dirt floor further down the tunnel.
Still, he wasn’t knocked unconscious and after a moment, he blinked his eyes and sat up trying to regain the wind that had temporarily been squeezed out of his lungs.
Nick, Nancy and Ham had been knocked off their feet again. Nick had to help Ham stay on his feet because he was a little shaky. Dust filled the tunnel and made everyone choke and cough. Monk’s face was bloodied from shrapnel and he was temporarily blinded. You could hardily see a thing in the thick dust anyway. Nancy hailed her father.
“ Father, are you alright?”
“ I-I think so Nancy. What about you guys?”
Ham weakly replied which Monk could barely hear,” Could be better.”
Thick dust gave way to sunlight for the debris and the metal doors had been blasted away from the old mine entrance. Monk had to squint his eyes to see until his eyes cleared and had got use to the sunlight and dust. Before
the dust had settled Johnny and Billy cautiously approached the blasted
entrance. It took a moment before they recognized Monk because of the terrible condition of his face and clothes. Monk, blinded temporarily by the sunlight only recognized his two friends when he heard Johnny speak up.
“ I did have some animadversion about this particular operation before its performance had actually occurred. Monk, is that really you?”
Monk grinned from ear to bloodied ear,” Johnny? Billy? Boy, are you a sight for sore eyes, and I mean sore.” He moaned, stretched and slowly rose to his feet.
Billy spoke as they both approached Monk,” Yeah it’s me. Looks like we got here just in time.”
“ Yeah, well why did you have to blow up in my face for?” Monk asked.
“ Probably to improve your looks oaf.” It was Ham who had spoken only a few feet behind his broad shouldered friend.
“ We thought to rescue Monk. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. ” Billy commented.
Ham got in front of Monk and gazed into his face adding,” Didn’t seem to have worked, I couldn’t have imagine you could look any uglier, but I was wrong.”
Monk pretended to ignore Ham’s comments, but he also pretended to have tripped. With one outstretched hand as if to catch himself; he shoved Ham to the floor to land rather rudely on his back.
Before anyone could move, Nancy stepped in between the two,” That’s enough. Nobody has time for this. You two act more like children everyday.”
Nick placed a hand on Monk’s shoulder,” She’s right you know. We all need to pull together right now.”
Billy and Johnny helped Ham regain his feet.
“ You two can settle your differences after all of this is over as you usually do, ok?” Johnny pleaded more to Monk than Ham.
“ Ah pipe down. I only tripped that’s all. Sorry about that Ham.” Monk finally apologized.
Nancy hugged them both Ham and her father as Ham muttered, “ I’m sorry too Monk ole boy. No hard feelings, for now.
Monk checked himself and let it slide without comment. That is when they heard a very familiar laugh echo eerily throughout the tunnel directly behind
them. The unexpected laughter froze them in their tracks. When the laughter died down, a familiar voice only a few yards away spoke to them in a sarcastic tone.
“ Ah, how touching. Kiss and making up is better I always say.”
Everyone turned in time to watch the tall figure of John Sunlight step out of the shadows along with fully two-dozen uniformed guards with guns nervously trained in their direction. Nancy stamped her foot and blurted out loud,” Oh Hell! The party pooper.”
John Sunlight smiled nastily,” Nancy, I haven’t had the pleasure before, but I must say I think you are simply delightful.”
Nancy placed her hands on her hips,” So you are the sicko behind all this crap. I know someone that can stop you dead in your evil tracks.”
Several of Sunlight’s men chuckled nastily as John Sunlight replied,” Oh my dear, didn’t you know?”
John Sunlight could see the puzzled look on Nancy’s face and he continued,” I guess not. News does travel slowly in a cell doesn’t it? Such a tragic thing. It would appear while your friend Doc Savage was doing some investigating in a warehouse on Fifth Street last night; a mysterious fire broke loose burning the place to the ground. Apparently he died in the inferno. They’ve found a number of bodies burned beyond recognition and authorities believe one of them must be the late Doc Savage. I’m sorry that a man of that caliber had to go, but he messed with my business and life once too often. He paid the ultimate price for his interference.”
The bit about the authorities thinking that the man of bronze had died or not was an exaggeration since they hadn’t even known he had been there; yet it had its desired effect. Nancy hung her head in despair knowing then why Marlyn hadn’t attempted to contact her lately. She must have known and what effect it might have on the others. And now this man more monster than man, was using their friend’s death to try to break them.
Johnny and Billy tried to raise their machine pistols, but were stopped cold when they each had the unpleasant experience of a cold steel rifle barrel touching the back of each of their heads. Billy turned enough that he could see behind him at least a dozen guards with their weapons trained on Johnny and himself.
John Sunlight enjoyed every minute of what was happening yet he still noticed the two stopped trying to leave and his voice rose as he addressed
“ Do come in Johnny, Billy. Join this little party. It will be your last I assure you.”
Monk had recovered from the shock of hearing about Savage’s death and with a guttural sound he tried to rush John Sunlight. It took Ham, Nick and Nancy to hold him back. As they held him struggling to get free; Ham whispered,” Don’t try it, they’ll cut you down before you get within six feet of him.”
Monk finally stopped struggling and Nancy held him crying. Ham whirled around to face Mr. Sunlight and several nervous gunmen.
“ I hope you’re satisfied you fiend! You’ve finally got us on our knees like you always wanted to. So what now?”
“ Now, the gentlemen representing certain countries should be arriving any time to try to bid for my teleporting Spheres. I should get an excellent price for them and their secrets. And now that Doc Savage is out of the picture, I have no further use for you people.”
Turning to his men he instructs them,” Line them up against the wall and shoot them. Then return to the main building above where the bidding will get under way soon. I think we’ll be leaving this place for good tonight, rich men!”
He spread his long arms out from him for effect. There were whoops of joy from his men. One of the thugs commented out loud.
“ That is great! I’m sure sick of being underground all the time or stuffed in a metal ball.” Many of the other men acknowledged that opinion.
Billy muttered,” I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Sunlight addressed Savage’s group for the last time,” I bid you goodbye and perhaps we shall meet again in the next life. Of course, you shall get there before I. In the next life people, in the next life.” His high-pitched laughter sent chills through Nancy as he turned to leave. That is when they heard the first explosions and felt the tunnels shake and rattle. John Sunlight’s face fell and he said to himself,” Damn. Savage. I should have known he’d escape somehow.”
Suddenly he turned to one of his men and with one hand he grabbed the unfortunate fellow by the front of his uniform. In a deadly tone that one could not miss the meaning, he told him,” Don’t let them leave here alive. I’ll take care of the other problem. We’ll still meet as planned, but have
some men get the Phoenix I ready to leave. Just in case.”
“ In case of what? The unfortunate fellow managed to speak out.
“ Never mind, just do it!”
“ Right! Ok!”
Sunlight picked out five of his best men to follow him and they quickly left in the general direction of where the explosions seem to be coming from. Another still larger explosion rocked the entire under lake stronghold. The madman and his men were temporarily knocked off their feet. Alarms sounded off everywhere raising such clamor that one could hardly hear each other speak. Uniformed men and women were running everywhere; some trying to find the source of the explosions. Others had panicked and were trying to find a way out any way they could.
John Sunlight yelled to one of his men as they turned down a tunnel leading still another direction.
“ I think I know exactly where those explosions are coming from.”
He grinned and said under his breath,” We got you now, you bastard!”
Eric Wolfgang had been waiting in the main Auditorium for over a half hour and was already losing his patients.
“ Where is that crazy man? I haven’t all day.” Eric asked a big young guard with long blond hair standing by the entrance.
“ He’ll be here anytime now, sir.” The young guard replied.
With the first explosions, the dwarf man knew there was something wrong and yelled at his nervous guard,” Well, find out what it is then report back to me.”
“ Yes sir, I’ll be right back as quick as I can.” The guard replied.
Then as he was almost out the door, he added,” Oh, stay put and lock the door behind me.” He drew his pistol out of his holster and vanished from view.
Eric Wolfgang said to himself as he exited the Auditorium at a run,” Stay put and lock the door, Ha! Idiot! Sure I will dog. I’m getting out of here while the getting is good, ya!” Cursing, he ran toward John Sunlight’s room office several doors down. He checked his luger pistol before he quietly slipped through the door leading into the madman’s room.
John Sunlight and his men reached the main lab located almost on the opposite side of the stronghold from where they started, only to find the door blown off and the place a complete shambles. A small fire in one corner was throwing out a volatile vapor. The air inside was filed with light gray smog
making it extremely hard to see a few feet in front of you.
Sunlight signaled his men to enter and spread out. He entered last pointing a large machine pistol straight in front of him. After a few paces he lost sight of several of his men. Seconds later, he heard a gasp and something falling to the floor. His men lost their nerve and began firing wildly throughout the demolished lab. He yelled for quiet and his men immediately held their fire.
“ Savage.” Sunlight yelled,” I know you’re in here. I know you are still alive. You might have fooled the cops, my men and even your friends; but you can’t fool me. Oh no I’m not that easily fooled, mister.” He stopped long enough to signal to one of his cohorts to hug the wall and follow it around to the right.
“ You know it is a shame that we must meet once again and part this way. We are alike you and me in many ways, strong, powerful and of an order of intelligence hard for our fellow humans to even comprehend.”
Sunlight heard a strangled cry to the right and he decided to gamble a bit as he addressed his adversary once again.
“ How did you do it? Through a window? Door?”
When there was no answer he began slowly backing toward the only doorway out and continued,” Did you slip aboard one of my Spheres during my brilliant assault on that bank? Is that how you infiltrated my stronghold?”
John Sunlight grabbed the only one of his men he could still see and instructed him,” Since Savage wants to destroy our laboratory so bad, help him out with your incendiary grenades. Throw them as far as you can toward the back of the lab five seconds from now.” With those instructions he addressed Savage once more.
“ Your times run out Mr. Savage and now I bid you farewell and may you finally rot in hell!”
Sunlight did not wait around for an answer. He fled quickly down the tunnel, in the direction of his office and living quarters room and the hugh Sphere room beyond. He heard the thud of the incendiary grenades, but didn’t flinch or turn around as he ran on.
It might have been better for him if he had. The man he had to deal the deathblow for him, saw a tall man in one of their uniforms appear out of the smoke. He realized too late that this man wasn’t one of them. It might have been the bronze skin and swirling golden-flecked eyes that told him that
much. In panic he threw the grenade he had in his hand point blank at this approaching menace. With speed hard to imagine; the man of bronze dodged the tossed grenade and it exploded harmlessly deep within the shattered lab. This didn’t even slow his stride and the young man only had time to draw his dagger and lunge for the bronze man’s head since he reasoned that he was probably wearing a bulletproof vest. His dagger struck at empty air as the big man dodged once again; but this time he struck back with a tremendous right cross to the jaw. The blow sent the youth out into the hallway behind him where he landed like an old pile of rags. The bronze man checked his pulse and seemed satisfied. He knew what his hands were capable of doing if he were to use them in an emergency. The young guard was only unconscious. He removed the uniform and the black wig he had been wearing.
Earlier he had removed most of his brown makeup he had needed to descize the hue of his face and hands. With the descize gone Doc Savage felt more like himself. The descize served its purpose well. Without it he wouldn’t have accomplished the feat of infiltrating Sunlight’s stronghold like he had. Doc Savage peered in all directions, but Sunlight was nowhere in sight. The man of bronze knew that the stronghold’s tunnels network was built like the spokes of a wagon wheel running in all directions with the room that the Spheres landed as the center.
Doc Savage took the first tunnel because it looked as if the tracks in the dirt in that tunnel he followed were Sunlight’s tracks. Characteristics a person’s shoe tracks differ from one another like tire tracks or fingerprints.
Each individual were different in minute detail few people could distinguish as Doc Savage could. In this particular tunnel some of the lights overhead had been shot out. Savage almost stepped on a body lying in the middle of the darkened tunnel before he saw it.
It was laying face down, but was still stirring. Gently Savage rolled the body over to reveal the East German scientist Eric Wolfgang. He was shot twice in the chest and the whole front of his shirt and pants were soaked with blood. His eyes were closed, but opened when he realized someone must have turned him over. After a moment, he must have realized who was kneeling over him because he tried to talk. Instead he coughed and wheezed
finally he spit out some blood.
“ Don’t talk. Look into my eyes and nod yes or no when I ask you a
question.” Savage in a hypnotic voice instructed the dying dwarf. The little man stared into Savage’s swirling eyes and finally nodded an affirmative.
“ Did John Sunlight do this?” Savage asked.
The dwarf nodded his head violently up and down for yes.
“ Did he head for the Spheres?”
Again the answer was yes, but then Eric grabbed a hold of Savage’s arm and drew him near. He could no longer hold his tongue, and in a weak voice he informed Savage,” He has double crossed me the Bastard, and he’s not going to stop there.”
He stopped in a fit of coughing. The man of bronze tried to reason with him but the wounded midget was stubborn.
“ Don’t talk anymore. You’ll only make it worse.”
“ No, it’s too late…I am finished. I must tell you that John Sunlight plans to have those representatives from other countries bid for its secrets. Whoever buys it, he will double cross and get the money, machines and secrets all. With those things he will start his new Empire to spread over the entire globe if he can. Stop him Savage I’ve lost my taste for all this.”
He went into convulsions for a moment then he continued,” I only was in for the money, not to appease a mad man. Only you have a chance to do it. Stop him before…” The dwarf scientist shuddered and laid still, his arms dropped to his sides.
Doc Savage closed the dead man’s eyes with his fingers and then rose to his feet. He stared down the tunnel leading to the Spheres and knew that he had to stop him no matter what the cost.
Johnny and his son were herded together with their friends and were about to be lined up against the wall for what they knew was the final count. Suddenly, Monk leaned close to Ham’s ear and whispered,” Pass it around if you can, get ready to make a break for it. I’ve got a plan.”
Ham rolled his eyes,” Oh no he’s got a plan.”
Monk maneuvered between two guards as they approached the tunnel rock wall. Then he started to stare up toward the ceiling, and then he yelled as if startled,” What in the hell’s that?”
Almost everyone craned their necks to get a look up, fooled temporarily by Monk’s simple deception. In that instant Monk grabbed the guards on either side of him by their necks and brought their heads violently together. Their
heads bounced off each other so hard it sent them reeling into other guards
knocking them off balance as well. The scene for a moment reminded Ham of a row of dominos falling, like one big chain reaction.
All hell broke loose. Sunlight’s thugs couldn’t use their guns without running the risk of shooting their own; so they tried to subdue their captives by sheer numbers. After all, they outnumbered them five to one. It proved to be a fatal mistake. Ham dodged a fist flying his way and got in a punch of his own into a guard’s rib cage and then an uppercut to the jaw, which laid out his assailant cold.
Ham yelled at Monk,” Have you seen my cane anywhere?”
“ How the hell should I know? Maybe you swallowed it when you opened your mouth once too often.” Monk bellowed back and gave Ham a big silly grin which he almost had wiped off his face rather rudely when a guard barely missed hitting his head with a large plank of wood. This unfortunate fellow suddenly found that he had a misshaped jaw. The shock of pain that hit him drove the thug to his knees and he proceeded to be sick. Ham yelled out to Monk,” Ah that was just a lucky punch!”
Ham was too busy to continue, for as one went down, two would take his place. Billy was wounded in the arm by a knife welding bearded man and would have been knifed seriously if it hadn’t been for someone looping a wire around his assailants neck and chocking him until he turned gray in the face and stopped breathing. Nick let go of the wire and let his victim fall face first to the floor.
“ Nick! Thanks man. I owe you one.” Billy exclaimed ever so relieved that his friend had rescued him when he did.
“ Come on Billy, let’s get them.” Nick said excited by the heat of battle.
Above the clamor of battle and yelling, Monk could be heard bellowing, roaring at the top of his lungs. He loves it most when he’s in the thick of battle. In his situation he looked more like a battling ape than a human. Half a dozen guards had surrounded him, but were making little progress. Every time a guard would rush him; he would either end up sailing head over heels into the wall beside them or lay out onto the floor with his jaw reshaped of his neck snapped. There was so much blood on the floor that it mixed with the dirt and formed a slimy slippery mud substance, which made treacherous footing. Monk slipped and fell quite rudely on his backside.
Three men and one tall tough looking woman immediately fell upon him swinging small clubs and their fists as fast as they could. He could only
cover his face with his big arms and curse his luck. In a couple of seconds it would be all over for him. Then the attack dropped off and he braved a peek to see what had happened.
What happened was Nick and Billy had started pulling assailants off him one by one by the uniform, neck or whatever they could grab and then punching them unconscious. The woman proved to be the worst for as Billy lifted her to her feet; she bit down on his arm and then tried to kick him between the legs. Instead, she got a kick in the buttocks by Monk who had regained his own footing. He was one mad fellow. The female lay clutching her behind in pain and cursing them all in language that burned even Monk’s ears.
“ Well. If that wasn’t a kick in the pants.” Johnny said almost out of breath. All three laughed at the remark until Billy suddenly exclaimed,” Look. They’re going to rush us!”
It was true; most of the surviving guards who were not busy fighting hand to hand, had amassed on one side of the area near the very wall their captives were to have been executed. Many of them had picked up knives and several had even recovered guns. It looked like this time they wouldn’t
Be a bit hesitant about using them, even if it meant killing some of their own in the process. After a terrible row of cursing and threatening gestures; they seemed to have made a decision and rushed together in a concerted effort to rid themselves of this nuisance. There were at least twenty of them, three to one odds. The odds were getting better.
“ People, I think we just ran out of luck!” Ham said ominously.
“ The hell we have.” They heard Nancy growl and everyone’s heads turned to see what she was talking about. Somehow she had found one submachine gun belonging to a guard. Before they or the thugs could make a move, she had raised it and squeezed the trigger on automatic. Five, then ten of John Sunlight’s men did a weird jerky sort of dance as their bodies were riddled with bullets, and then they slumped to the floor. The other guards scattered in all directions for cover or to escape the slaughter altogether.
After a brief gun battle with Doc’s aides, the surviving guards surrendered. With set jaw, Nancy led the prisoners to a large Auditorium. It was with great difficulty that Monk and Ham were able to prevent her from executing the prisoners then and there. Nancy stood there shaking with anger as she
quietly protested,” But these people killed Clark Savage.”
Monk placed an arm around his daughter’s shoulders and reasoned,” Maybe so, but killing them is not gonna bring him back. Know what I mean?”
Monk could feel Nancy’s shoulders slump as she finally replied,” Yeah, you’re right of course.”
“ You know I’m right and besides we don’t take a life unless we have no choice, remember? That’s the code Doc lives, I mean lived by and that’s the one we stick by too from now on. Right?”
Nancy swallowed hard and shook her head in the affirmative.
“ Now let’s go get those bastards!” yelled Monk.
Billy whooped with joy and everyone rushed out the doorway, with Ham being the last to leave shook his head baffled.
“ That guy gives me a headache worse than a jackhammer.” Ham reflected.
Ham caught up with them and convinced his friends that they should head for the edge of the lake where Sunlight’s meeting with the representatives was to take place.
“ I think it best to leave this stronghold by way of the blasted area that Johnny and Billy had entered from. That way we can avoid the wandering around through the tunnels and save some precious time.” Ham suggested.
“ That is an excellent strategy my dear colleague, but let me stay by the road somewhere around; because of my age I seem to wear out easily and I dare say I might lose my placidity at an awkward moment and complicate what is already a complex situation.” Explained Johnny rather reluctantly.
Ham held out his hands toward Johnny who was trying his hardest to stand on his own, not without his every muscle aching.
“ Ok, Ok! Just keep low and Billy let him use your binoculars to watch for anyone that might sneak up on us.”
Billy said,” Sure thing.” Then he handed Johnny the glasses.
Ham added,” And Johnny?”
“ Yeah Ham?”
“ Signal us with two short bursts from your machine pistol if you spot any trouble.”
“ Don’t worry Ham, I shall not let you down. I wish you all success.”
Nancy jammed another clip into her submachine gun while trying to make a point to Johnny,” Luck’s not gonna have much to do with this. Come on, let’s get a move on.”
I-It’s hard to believe, I mean that Clark is gone.”
Nancy swallowed hard and her eyes got watery for a moment. She had to stop and wipe away the tears from her face. As she did so Nick tried to comfort her.
“ It’s not your fault you know and by the way; that madman character acted as if he wasn’t so sure he was dead after all. Remember the explosions?”
Nancy’s face brightened,” Hey! You are right. Who could have set off those explosions but Doc?”
It was then that they were rudely interrupted by a familiar booming sound that echoed across the lake, giving birds of all kinds a scare and sending them flying in all directions. Everyone looked in the direction of the sound to find one of the large metal Spheres hovering several feet above the area where several shacks were standing and a number of expensive official looking automobiles were parked nearby.
Monk growled,” That’s got to be him folks. What say we crash this party fellas?”
Everyone cheered except Nancy who asked,” Fellas?”
Monk groaned,” Ok, and ladies. Give me a break.”
Ham laughed,” Better include apes too.”
Monk once more growled,” Don’t push it shyster.”
They fanned out and at a trot they wound their way through the forest in the direction of the lake rendezvous. It was darker in that forest and they could feel the evening air grow cooler way before they reached Sunlight and his guests. They stopped to catch their breath behind some bushes where the forest ended and a small grassy clearing began. Beyond the grass was the lake shore area and of course the shacks. Even from where they were, they could tell the meeting had already commenced.
Chapter X “ Flight to the finish”
When John Sunlight and several henchmen had entered the Sphere room, they immediately noticed that a tremendous explosion had destroyed Phoenix Sphere III.
“ Damn him! Sunlight cursed,” Apparently, the lab wasn’t the first place he
hit. No matter, we’ll take Phoenix I to show our friends above. Jerry?”
A slight built man he had addressed stepped up closer to Sunlight,” Yes sir?”
“ Sabotage Phoenix II so that no one can follow. Make sure you do a good job of it.”
“ But, I thought you said Savage’s finished.”
“ Shut up and do as I say or you’ll get nothing out of this, but a hole between your eyes.”
Jerry shivered because he knew Sunlight enough to know that what he said usually he meant.
“ Sure Boss man.”
Jerry ran off to Phoenix II whose hatch was already left open and he entered it. Sunlight and two others opened the hatch to Phoenix I and walked up the ramp leading inside. John Sunlight left the hatch open because at that angle he could observe whether his man did the job or not. A minute later, Jerry burst into view and ran down the ramp to the floor below.
Sunlight called to him as he approached the remaining Teleporting Sphere,” Is it disabled?”
Jerry called back with a wide grin,” You bet, it’s a mess. Let’s get out of here.”
Sunlight said,” Right.” And slammed the hatch door shut in Jerry’s face. Jerry screamed at the madman half in terror, half in rage to let him in., but to no avail. Jerry knowing very well what was about to happen to him; turned around quickly and ran for the nearest exit. He only transversed a couple of yards when there was a tremendous flash of light where the Phoenix I had been. The light swallowed up Jerry in an instant. The booming sound that accompanies the teleportation of a Sphere followed and then the light was gone.
There was a smoking empty spot where the Sphere had been seconds before. One object was left lying sprawled on the floor of the launch room. It was the blackened skeleton remains of Jerry, another victim of the madman Sunlight’s greed.
John Sunlight at the main controls, watched through a screen monitor outside the ship as the Sphere Phoenix I suddenly appeared above a shore of the lake area where was to rendezvous with the representatives. He laughed with pure joy as he caught sight of more of his men and the representatives waiting patiently for him by one of the shacks near the same shore he was
hovering. In seconds the Sphere cooled off and John Sunlight instructed the two thugs that had accompanied him, to open the hatch and go inform his men and guests that he would be out to greet them in a second. After they had exited the Phoenix I he slipped a flat automatic pistol behind him tucked into his belt. Then he slipped on a small jacket for the sun was about to set on the horizon and the air was turning chilly. He looked around to make sure he had the supplies he needed, and then he was ready. Taking long strides, Sunlight left the safety of his Sphere to stroll down the ramp with an air of confidence to what he had always known to be his destiny of greatness as it should be.
Tyrone, Nat, and twenty of his best men were anxiously waiting for John Sunlight’s entrance. He addressed them first.
“ People, our moment is at hand. Some of you guard the vehicle a while the rest the perimeter around the shack four, where I will have my talk with the representatives. If all goes well, we will leave this place tonight, rich men!”
Many of his men whooped and hollered with joy. Some shook their weapons above their heads and shouted,” Alright!”
John Sunlight pulled Nat and Tyrone to his side and discussed something with them and pointed to the Phoenix I. You couldn’t hear what their boss told them above the clamor, but by Nat and Tyrone’s reactions, it must have been something devious. The two killers left in the direction of the Phoenix I while John Sunlight continued to address his men. His voice carried as well as the best orators, which added an even more dramatic effect to his speech. Still most of his men listened more out of greed than any political loyalty that they might have had.
“ This will be a history making event. The road to riches and untold power begins here today.” Sunlight continued his speech,” You may leave after this transaction is finished or you may continue to follow me and help stat an empire the likes of which the world has never known. That I leave up to you. All I have to say is this. It’ll be tough finding replacements for people such as yourselves, I will always be proud to lead you no matter where we are. Now, to your positions. I think we’ve kept our guests waiting long enough.”
The small crowd cheered and John Sunlight had an evil smile appear on his long face. Wile his small army position themselves, the madman and two guards approached a large shack with a door marked in black lettering the
Two bodyguards in business suits blocked the door entrance, but stepped aside as Sunlight’s party approached them. Sunlight was almost a head taller than anyone there, but that wasn’t the real reason the bodyguards feared him. It was the look in his eyes. The look of mad obsession. Inside the shack a variety of characters were waiting for Sunlight. Two men were obviously from the Middle East with the flowing robes and head coverings that they wore proudly. The pair stood near the entrance patiently waiting while an oriental man in his fifties sat at one end of several card tables that had been set up end to end for the occasion. A blond haired middle-aged man in a military uniform quietly stood in a corner observing every move John Sunlight made. His eyes were as cold as ice. As soon as John Sunlight entered, the oriental stood and bowed low to him as he spoke.
“ After observing your wonderful machines in action; it will be a very high honor to purchase them and the secret to their process of teleportation.”
Mr. Sunlight smiled and bowed in return, then he said,” Gentlemen, you may start the bidding. Now we shall see who wants the Phoenix Spheres the most. Do I hear three-hundred million?”
No one flinched at the opening amount suggested. Instead. One of the Middle Eastern men held up four fingers in the air and nodded. John liked the way this was starting.
Doc Savage made it a point to look for his friends. He found the prison cells in one hall and they were all empty. The man of bronze searched in several other areas before he decided he was running out of time. Next door to the Sphere room was a combination generator boiler room, where the bronze giant planted magnetized plastic explosive time bombs. They looked like small matchboxes with a digital counter window on the front of each. He carefully placed the explosives one on several generators each time pressing a small button twice to activate the time counter. Also he placed one on the large boiler nearby. Finally, he left for the Sphere room. He could only hope that he was right in his assumption that his friends had escaped the stronghold somehow.
When he first entered the Sphere room his hopes faltered, but then he realized that his quarry would not dare leave without meeting and finalizing some kind of transaction with whoever he was suppose to meet above his under lake stronghold.
He raced up the remaining Sphere’s ramp and entered the Sphere called
Phoenix II. After a few initial tests he found that though they had sabotaged the craft, they had done a rush job on it. Therefore Phoenix II was still able to run. But only a short time. It would be difficult for one to run the teleportation machine alone, but he had no choice. This was the only way to get up above fast enough to stop whatever was happening up there. Knowing his aides as he did he knew they would be in the thick of things and could very well be in great danger at this moment. Of course if he were to stay or try to escape another way he would be in even greater danger still. In ten minutes John Sunlight’s under lake stronghold would be buried under tons of rock, silt, and water and it would take more than ten minutes to escape any other way. This way would take seconds or he would be vaporized if something went wrong. Some choices.
Savage sat in a chair in front of the main control panel with his hand poised over a lever. In any case he would know soon. He pulled the lever down and the next instant every light inside dimmed considerably. Then everything began to shake violently. All the view screens on the panels shut off so it was impossible to tell whether he had made it or not. His ears were filled with a roaring sound and he felt queasy. The shaking became worse and worse and small chunks of the walls around him began to disappear. He waited no longer. The man of bronze knew that his Sphere was breaking up and if he didn’t evacuate it right then he would cease to exist also. He leapt to the hatchway and pulled open the hatch door in an instant. One look told him to hold his breath. The Sphere had somehow appeared twenty feet above the lake not far from the very shore where Sunlight was holding his auction.
He leapt clear of the doomed Phoenix II Sphere and accomplished a prefect head first dive into the cold waters in a way that it made very little splash; and therefore making it harder for those on shore to notice him. Doc Savage sank at least a dozen feet under the water before pointing himself upward to swim back to the surface of the lake.
When he broke surface of the lake, it just so happen that he surfaced facing the shore and could tell right away that no one even noticed his dive or the appearance of his Sphere. Then there was a deafening explosion above him. Without a glance upward he knew what had transpired and he quickly dived under the cold waters of the lake, to escape any debris that should fall his way. Stripping off his torn shirt and trousers; he swam as fast as he could for the shore underwater in only his specially designed swimming trunks. He
dared not break the surface of the water until he hit land.
Savage estimated he was thirty yards off shore and very little time to swim it in; for his explosives were set to go off within minutes from then. He noted with great disappointment, that his watch communicator was missing. Savage cut through the water like a seal, yet he imagined that he still didn’t have enough time. What was worse, he could now see bullets hitting the surface of the water all around him. Somehow, John Sunlight’s men had spotted him and were trying to cut him down in the water. He immediately veered to the left and tried to swim ashore further down, but they began throwing grenades into the water.
With each explosion they threatened to destroy him by their concussions as they exploded in the churning waters. His ears rang and it was only a matter of time when he would either be caught in a grenade explosion or be forced to surface and shot by Sunlight’s men. Then when he felt he was at his last strength, the barrage stopped and he surfaced soon after. The camp was under attack and suddenly Sunlight’s people were too busy to bother or had forgotten him as he silently slipped out of the water. Two thugs remained standing near the edge of the water with their backs to him.. They were firing their weapons in the direction of the mountain. Many others were firing in the same direction. All hell had broken loose; with men running in all directions for any cover they could find, a rock, a tree, or a car. Then he heard the familiar sound of machine pistols firing from a distance and then he knew that his friends were still alive and kicking. They were trying to pull off the impossible.
Silently he leapt into the air and hit the two guards squarely with his body knocking them face first to the sandy beach. With his mighty arms wrapped around one guard and his legs around another, he choked them into unconsciousness within seconds of contact. Jumping to his feet like a jungle cat, Doc Savage ran for a large shack, which he knew, had to be the meeting place between John Sunlight and the foreign representatives.
A rather brute of a fellow of middle-eastern decent jumped out at him along the way from behind one of the smaller shacks nearby. This assailant had one of those large daggers of his region that one never drew unless there is to be the spilling of blood; and he had it already swinging down with terrible force toward the man of bronze’s head. Doc Savage dodged the
deadly blow and then jumped straight up performing a perfect roundhouse
kick to the unlucky fellow’s chin. The blow was so great that the brute spun around several times, and hit face first into the shack’s wall.
Savage didn’t stop to see the results, but he was pretty sure that blows of that nature usually put a man out for quite a while. Besides others of Sunlight’s men were beginning to notice him and train their sights on the man of bronze. Several bullets came close to hitting Savage. In fact, just as he reached the larger shack, a bullet grazed his left leg.
Ignoring the sting the bullet had made he entered the shack and found it empty. He turned around just in time to see why there hadn’t been a soul there. Most of the representatives had retreated to their vehicles and were driving like mad toward the lone road leading out as fast as possible. Not far behind stood a tall figure that was unmistakable in appearance. Even from one hundred yards away he could hear him curse the retreating frightened representatives while he fired short bursts from an Uzi machine pistol at them in frustration and anger. Doc could tell that were already out of range, but it didn’t matter to Sunlight. After the Uzi ran out of ammo he simply drew a 45 automatic and emptied it’s clip at the retreating vehicles too.
It was at that moment that two men jumped him from one side knocking his large frame heavily to the ground. The force of the landing and their combined weight almost knocked the breath out of him. A stiletto knife plunged toward his chest only to bounce off harmlessly off his bulletproof vest. He didn’t realize it then, but the two that were desperately trying to hold him down were Tyrone and Nat, Sunlight’s two favorite killer lieutenants. The black one was the strongest and was trying to choke Savage with one hand while trying to gouge his left eye out with the other. Nat, the white killer had rose to his feet and was kicking at the man of bronze ribs.
Tyrone had managed to position himself on top of the man of bronze and he began to laugh madly as he continued to try to throttle him.
Nat yelled,” Kill that son of a bitch, Tyrone!”
Tyrone tried to reply, but was interrupted when he felt something warm and wet soaking his uniform in front. He glanced down to find to his horror, blood spewing from an opening in his throat where a bullet had pierced through and through.
He tried to say something, but only gagged on his blood.
Savage pushed him off as Tyrone ‘s eyes rolled up into the back of his head
and in his last thrones of death he still was trying to scream. Nat tried to face the man of bronze one on one, face to face; but quickly found he had a broken jaw and fainted from the shock.
The bronze giant stood there and smiled as Nancy, Monk, Billy and Ham approached him on the run.
“ Doc, you’re alive!” Nancy yelled.
Doc Savage could only reply,” Yeah, last time I looked I was.”
Monk laughed,” You sure are a sight for sore eyes even though you look like you’ve gone through a meat grinder.”
Nancy threw out her arms and as she hugged Doc Savage’s hugh frame, she cried with relief and joy. Monk grabbed one of the man of bronze’s arms and shook it.
“ Doc, think you’re up to mopping this mess up?” asked Monk.
Doc suddenly pulled away from Nancy and her father,” You guys can handle that. Have you seen John Sunlight sneaking around here lately?”
“ no not a sign of him, but I knew he’d have to be here somewhere. He just couldn’t have disappeared into thin air.” Replied Billy rather puzzled.
Suddenly, Doc slammed his right fist into the palm of his left.
“ That’s it! He exclaimed to no one in particular. “ I should have realized that before.”
Then the man of bronze with blinding speed whirled around and ran toward the lake beach area where the other Sphere rested. As he appeared in Phoenix II he had had a brief glimpse of the other Sphere parked in the sands nearby. Billy looked at Nancy and asked her,” What’d I say?”
“ I don’t know Billy.” Nancy exclaimed,” But I think we better follow him don’t you?”
Monk checked his machine pistol, looked up at his daughter and smiled,” I second that.”
Ham who had mysteriously acquired his sword cane, looked around the battle scene,” I quite agree, the others can handle this mess.”
The three ran as fast as their legs could carry them and were about to catch up to the bronze man, when he yelled over his shoulder.
“ Don’t follow, I’ll take care of this. This area will become very unstable in a minute. I’ve planted explosives in the heart of the stronghold which should be-.”
He was cut off as a low rumbling started deep under their feet and grew
with each passing second. The ground began to shake violently and a shack that hid the elevator leading to Sunlight’s stronghold collapsed, and was swallowed up by the rumbling ground. Doc Savage was knocked off his feet landing on his back as he reached within twenty yards of the Sphere called Phoenix I.
Trees were swaying back and forth and what was left of the madman’s army ran off toward the forest to save their necks. That was the last straw; all the flight had gone out of them. As a large force of police vehicles and S.W.A.T. vans began to arrive on the scene, they were more than willing to surrender.
The violent tremors had stopped almost as quickly as they had begun, and large whirlpools were forming in the lake. The lake water drained through cracks in the earth and poured into the stronghold tunnels below effectively sealing its secrets forever. A large crack had opened in the ground between where Monk, Ham, Billy, and Nancy stood; and where Doc Savage and the Sphere was located. Savage noticed as he rose to his feet that by some miracle the Phoenix I was relatively undamaged. Suddenly Monk yelled out to Savage,” Look out Doc!”
Doc Savage turned to his left in time to see a large figure of a man baring down on him with a fire ax in one hand and a small brief case in the other. The bizarre figure was John Sunlight and he was half crazed with fear and hatred. Salvia ran down from the corner of his mouth. He had a nasty wound on his right leg, which bled profusely. Sunlight stopped several feet from the man of bronze and glared at him.
Finally he spoke in a high-pitched voice to his archenemy, “ You’re the one that’s responsible for all this. Just stand still a moment so that I can cut you in two and you will no longer be in my way. I can still get away with a considerable amount of money and the Phoenix One despite all your efforts.”
It was Doc Savage’s turn to talk,” One question before you uh, go. How did you stay so young as if it were only yesterday; when we had met last and not some forty years ago? ”
John raised the ax higher laughing hysterically,” You fool, don’t you see? Years ago when I broke into your North Pole Fortress of Solitude and stole many of your secret invention plans; I also acquired your formula using a certain rare plant which combined made an eternal youth solution. Granted it
wasn’t perfect, but it was enough for our purposes. Your own colleagues used it much later and that is why they remained fairly young looking and strong for their age.”
“ Ah, I should have guess as much as far as your well being. Doc pondered as he braced himself for the attack that was sure to follow their conversation.
“ And now, I have little else to say to you except, Goodbye. It has been interesting.”
The ax-toting madman swung his ax down with astonishing speed, but only grazed Doc Savage’s shoulders. The man of bronze had astonishing speed of his own. Before Sunlight could bring the ax up once more, Savage swung his right fist punching him a little above the stomach area just hard enough to temporarily knock the wind out of him. Sunlight dropped the brief case as he fell over. The man of bronze closed in to finish him while he was on his back, but Sunlight was a good actor and wasn’t as hurt or out of commission as it seemed. He swiftly kicked Doc’s legs out from under him and now it was the bronze man’s turn to be on his back. John found his ax. Monk and the others were desperately trying to find a way over to where Doc Savage lay in order to help; but they knew it wound be too late. They shouted warnings to Doc Savage, but he didn’t hear their cries.
The madman picked up his ax and he quickly advanced on a stunned bronze giant. Monk nor the others could find their weapons right away; and a wide crack in the ground separated them from reaching their friend in time. Sunlight’s laughter echoed across the now shrunken lake as he closed in with ax upraised.
Next there was an echo of a single shot fired across the lake. The madman’s laughter was cut off and he gazed down in total disbelief at a large ragged hole that had appeared in his chest. A large caliber bullet had entered his back and had exited out the front. There was another shot and another the last of which sent Sunlight flying forward several feet from the concussion. He fell face first not a foot from Doc Savage. His legs jerked once then he lay still.
Savage was dazed but mostly unscathed. Then he heard a voice as he lay there trying to shake the cobwebs out of his brain. It was Marlyn’s voice, but there was a deadly difference in its tone as she screamed at what now appeared to be a very dead madman.
“ That’s for killing Doc Savage you bastard! You let him fry like you would
millions of us, but you won’t ever again. I hop you rot in hell.”
Then Doc Savage caught sight of Marlyn standing not far from Monk and the rest of his gang. She was pointing a large caliber rifle rather shakily at Sunlight’s body. She pulled the trigger again, but her shot went wide and hit some sand further along the beach.
Monk rushed in on her and grabbed the gun out of her hands, before she could pull the trigger once more. Monk breathed a sigh of relief,” Hey girl, you almost saved Doc and killed him in the same breath! Whew, women!”
Nancy approached Marlyn and hugged her saying,” God, you gave me a scare.”
Marlyn stared straight ahead toward Doc Savage who was slowly rising to his feet. She said in total disbelief,” My God! He’s alive.”
Nancy shook her head and in a scolding tone exclaimed,” If you had bothered to use your telepathic abilities and contacted me; you’d known it already. What am I going to do with you?”
Then they heard Savage’s commanding voice carry to them from across the giant crack in the ground forcing the two to turn to hear exactly what he was saying.
“ I said I’m sorry that I made you go through what you did lately, but I had to trick Sunlight into thinking I was dead to infiltrate his organization. I knew I’d have to face him one on one someday. I want to thank you for saving my life. It’s a good thing you intervened when you did, as it turned out he was more than a match for me.”
Monk yelled,” Oh shut up and come over here. I’m tired of all this yelling.”
“ Oh Doc, I’m glad you are ok after all. Marlyn shouted.
Doc Savage smiled and replied,” So am I.”
The man of bronze began to look for a way around the crack in the ground. The police had rounded up what was left of John Sunlight’s gang. With nothing left to do, the police made their way toward where Monk, Nancy, Ham, Billy and Marlyn stood curiosity getting the better of them.
Ham greatly relieved that everyone was alive and accounted for, commented to Doc Savage,” By Jove, we really thought you were a goner for a while until the fireworks started. Then we knew of only one person in the whole world that could have pulled that kind of stunt off.”
Then Monk noticed something that alarmed him greatly. Pointing in the direction where Sunlight’s body had lain, he exclaimed,” Look, he’s gone.”
Doc Savage whirled around knowing not what to expect only to find that indeed John Sunlight’s body had disappeared. Something told him, call it a hunch; to look further toward the lake’s beach where the Phoenix I lay. He looked just in time to see Sunlight half bent over stumbling up the ramp and falling through inside the open hatchway of the Sphere. The others had witnessed the same incredible scene and Nancy screamed,” God, he’s gonna get away yet!”
The Sphere started to glow faintly and instantly it rose a few feet off the sand.
Monk yelled as he ran toward Doc Savage and the floating Sphere,” I’ll stop that fiend!”
Doc realized something that everyone had missed and he yelled an urgent warning,” No, stay where you are and lie face down now!”
No one questioned a warning from the man of bronze. Everyone including the police within earshot obeyed immediately. Savage risked a glance and saw that the Sphere had not left as of yet, and it was giving off a rather odd greenish glow. Savage turned his head to the sandy ground and then there was a brilliant flash of light more brilliant than any that even a Sphere would usually produce by teleportation. The flash and the booming sound seemed to last forever.
Every second that ticked by the booming sound increased in volume and as soon more of a roar. Above the roar, incredibly someone was screaming on and on. The screams became inhuman sounding before they were finally cut off. Just as soon as the screaming stopped, so did the blinding flash.
Seconds later Doc Savage risked another peak and found that the Sphere Phoenix I had vanished. This time though it had left a crater. Doc’s friends and a large contingent of state troopers mixed with local police arrived about then. Doc Savage and the others rose to their feet shaken, scorched, but basically intact.
Marlyn watched the man of bronze make his way around the torn earth and decided to follow. The crack was some four hundred yards long small in comparison to others caused by earthquakes in the past. Still, it took a number of minutes just to get around to the other side where the crater was located.
Curious, Savage and Marlyn inspected the insides of the crater. Marlyn’s
eyes grew wide with terror and she placed both hands over her mouth. Then
she turned away feeling nauseated and weak. Savage caught her as she stumbled and almost fell into the scorched crater of death.
Doc Savage had a protective arm around her as he ventured another look. The heat inside the crater was terrific. Down in the bottom lay burnt skeleton remains still smoking. Still facing away from that ghastly scene, Marlyn asked,” Could t-that be…?”
“ Johnny Sunlight?” Savage said more than asked.
Marlyn closed her eyes and shook her head the affirmative.
“ Yes, it’s a good assumption that it is. We’ll know for sure upon closer examination.” Doc Savage replied.
Doc Savage then turned painfully and helped her back to their friends.” Come on Marlyn, it’s all over.”
Once Marlyn stopped along the way and looked up into the eyes of the man of bronze quietly explaining,” I’m sorry Doc. It is just well, when I saw him and thought you were dead, I snapped. I simply snapped. All I could think of…” Her sentence trailed off and she began to cry again softly on his shoulder. She looked up at him after a moment,” Promise me you will never do that sort of thing again.”
Doc Savage looked perplexed and very uncomfortable. He hugged her a moment longer and explained,” Marlyn, you know when you got mixed up with us what we might be facing everyday of our lives. I’ll tell you now that at first I was really reluctant to let you girls in. Before, with the exception of Patricia my cousin, I had never let women into my life at any level; because I knew eventually someday, evil people would use that against me.”
“ I knew how my mother was and how she forced her way into your adventures from time to time.”
“ Yes, that’s why I did my best to keep her out of this mess. Sunlight almost killed her the last time we met. Sometimes, emotions can be a person’s downfall.”
“ Doc, how on Earth did you escape that inferno in the warehouse?”
That brought a rare smile to the man of bronze’s face,” There was a metal shop attached to the warehouse. I happen to be in that area when the firestorm started to engulf the whole place. It just so happen that the metal shop’s walls were prefabricated and I was able to bust a hole large enough to get out in time.”
“ Why couldn’t I sense that?”
“ Emotions controlled all your senses at the time. It seemed an impossibility that anyone could have survived, and so you believed your eyes. From then on you never used your telepathy again. It almost cost your life and your friends lives. We were lucky.” Doc Savage turned his head and looked at the crater,” Others were not. Don’t let it get you down marlin. You did great under the circumstances. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Marlyn nodded and wiped away the tears as they walked back together. Everyone was overjoyed to see them in one piece. Nancy was hugging them both when Ham spotted someone walking their way.
“ Uh oh people, we’ve got trouble.”
Everyone turned to see Captain McGregor and several state troopers approaching the man of bronze. The troopers stayed back a few feet, but the Captain kept coming until he was face to face with Doc Savage. A quiet tense moment prevailed then suddenly Captain McGregor in a gruff voice addressed the man of bronze.
“ Mr. Savage.” Then he raised his arm and held out his big hand,” I want to shake your hand lad. That was a job well done and I was wrong about you. Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Doc Savage shook his hand and returned the compliment, in the old language of the Irish that only the Captain could understand. The Captain astonished, grinned a wide grin speechless until they stopped shaking hands.
“ You helped us stop one of the greatest threats to our town and country there ever was and as sure as my name is what it is; I’m gonna make sure you are reinstated with a police commission at the very least.”
“ Thank you, Captain McGregor.” Doc Savage replied touched by the Captains offer.
Everyone was stunned and Johnny best voiced it, ”Well call me a lunatic, but I think I’ve seen it all now.”
Doc, his aides and the Captain, remained together in a close group silently reflecting on recent events and how it affected their lives; while facing the west observing what little light was left in the sky. Soon, there were only the stars and the full moon to light their way back. Slowly one by one; they dispersed and began to start the long walk back to their various vehicles. As Monk started to leave he took one last look at the western horizon and quietly remarked,” Huh. Sunlight’s gone.”
A voice from the dark that was unmistakably Ham’s said,” Come on
Monk. What are you doing out there anyway? Baying at the moon?”
Monk turned and faded into the night with thoughts of giving his friend a good thrashing. Doc Savage, a bronze giant of a man with his fists on his hips, silently watched the last of his friends leave. He stood there alone for a while reflecting how proud he was to work with fine people, that he could truly call friends. And also how lucky they had been, this time.