“ The Return “ by Mace Draper
All characters are a registered trademark of the
Conde Nast Company
This work intended for fans and may not be sold or altered.
All monetary rights reserved by the original copyright
holder of Doc Savage Magazine
Electronically Published </pre>
Who is Doc Savage?
To the world at large, Doc Savage is a strange, mysterious
figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes. To his
amazing co-adventurers - - the five greatest brains ever
assembled into one group - - he is a man of superhuman strength
and protean genius, whose life is dedicated to the
destruction of evil-doers. To his fans he is the greatest
adventure hero of all time, whose fantastic exploits are
unequalled for hair-raising thrills, breathtaking escapes
and blood-curdling excitement
Eskimo native Nanook who went by the nickname of “ Cookie “ to his
Friends, was a valuable man to the various science stations around a large
area of the Artic circle. Nanook was well aware of this and was very proud that he had the privilege to trade and consort with such fine hard working people especially the Americans and Soviets.
They always looked forward to his arrivals because of the game meat he would bring to trade with them. He knew they had plenty of food supplies including meat flown in by plane, but he also knew his meat was fresh. That, he was sure was why they welcomed him so warmly into their stone and metal buildings. Sometimes he would even wash under one of their bath showers.
On their holidays the Americans would give him very wonderful and sometimes curious gifts, many of which he could never find any use for, except to decorate his igloo walls. The Russians sometimes would trade for his meat some American trinkets with various weapons they possessed. The only weapon he had any use for and kept around was a large hunting rifle.
Last year he finally saved enough to but himself one of those large Russian enclosed cabin snowmobiles. It actually cost a lot more than what he gave for it, but the Russians were so fond of him that they practically gave it to him. In many ways the Russians and Americans were so alike. He couldn’t understand their suspicion and mistrust of one another. Ah, but he was getting to be an old man and perhaps feeble-minded as well.
Of course most of his contact with them took place in the short season of the Artic summers. It was on one such summer day in 1989 where temperatures were reaching a scorching five above zero, Nanook was driving his snowmobile thinking about his experiences with the Americans and Russians while heading out on his daily hunt for game; when he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. To his right about fifty yards ahead stood a large ridge of ice running in either direction for at least a quarter of a mile. During the summer, this particular area of the ice, some ten miles from the American station Alpha, changed from day to day from the heat of the sun.
Nanook stopped his vehicle momentarily and surveyed the length of the ice ridge with his Russian made binoculars. He was thinking about how he was sure that that ridge hadn’t been there two days ago, when something he spotted along the ridge made him stop his panning of the glasses and swear under his breath.
“ What in the name of all the snow devils is that?”
He adjusted the focus on his glasses and what revealed made him swear once more. The without hesitation he shifts his snowmobile into gear and turning it to the right, Nanook slams the gas pedal almost to the floor. His vehicle lurched forward and soon it was moving at full speed toward the ice ridge.
He could have sworn he spotted a shadow in the ice ridge wall in the shape of a human. He wasn’t sure until he spotted only a dozen feet from the ridge wall. After grabbing his rifle as a precausion and zipped up his artic parka, he quickly exited his vehicle cabin. He stood still for a moment gazing up at the bluish wall of ice, desperately trying to make out with his old eyes just what he was really seeing.
Finally there was no doubt, a large form shape like a man was trapped frozen in the ice ridge wall only a foot above the surface where Nanook stood in awe. The frozen man was in a standing position with his legs slightly spread apart and there appeared to be no clothing on his person except boxing shorts.
Nanook realized by some instinct that he had to act quickly if he were to save this extraordinary looking man. Running to the back of his mobile, he pulled out a hatchet and a pick from a large toolbox attached to the rear panel of his vehicle.
He chipped away at the ice like a man possessed until he had the form pulled free from the frigid wall and had lain it down in front of him. The endeavor left him tired and sweaty under his Artic clothing, but there was always time to rest later. So, with a grunt, Nanook lifted the feet end of the body and proceeded to drag his load toward the vehicle’s cabin. It felt as though it weighed at least several hundred pounds and it was no wonder that it did because the giant figure of a man was close to seven feet tall and there was several inches of ice surrounding his body. Nanook dared not chip closer for fear of damaging this giant’s body.
Even after he finally managed to drag and pull the body inside the back seat of his snowmobile, he still didn’t know why he was doing such a laborious task. Something beyond his desires drove him on. It wasn’t long before he had his snowmobile turned in the direction of the American science station Alpha, plowing through the snow and ice as fast as she could go through such treacherous landscape as this. Nanook left his heater off for fear of thawing out his find too quickly. He reasoned it was just like the meat he would bring sometimes to trade with. Thawing it out before time could spoil it.
Once he ventured a glance back at his fantastic find and he couldn’t help but shake all over at the sight of this bronze giant’s face. The man’s body was like looking at a perfectly sculptured statue of a man of bronze, but that wasn’t what alarmed the old Eskimo. It was the golden-flaked eyes that had frozen open.
“ Those eyes! They are uncanny. It is as if he were alive.” Nanook exclaimed to himself in his native language as he desperately drove the snowmobile through broken landscape of ice.
The Eskimo had a long range CB radio on his mobile and soon he was hailing anyone that could answer for Station Alpha. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for someone to respond.
“ Nanook to Station Alpha. Nanook to station Alpha. Can anyone out there hear me? ”
Nanook chanced a glance over his shoulder and could see water beginning to steadily drip off the body forming little pools on the mobile floor underneath. He moaned at the sight and started to hail the station again when he received an answer over the speaker.
“ This is Station Alpha. Why are you calling ahead Cookie? Is it really you? You know you are always welcome to drop in whenever….”
Cookie interrupted the Station speaker,” This is an emergency. I found more than game this time. I’ve found a frozen man in the ice and am bringing him in. Ok? Over.”
“ Bring him in, but there is to be no more communication between us from now on understood? Over.”
Puzzled, Nanook answered anyway,” I understand, but please have someone there ready to take him off my hands. This man gives Nanook the willies.”
Nanook shut off the radio not waiting for a reply.
Once Nanook almost hit a Polar bear with his snowmobile, missing the animal by inches. The Polar bear was just as frightened by the near miss as Nanook, for the big furry brute in excess of a thousand pounds ran off as fast as it’s legs could carry him to several large clumps of ice and snow some distance from the station whining all the way.
As he reached the outskirts of Alpha Station, he shut his motor down and was climbing out of his cab. Two men in all white parkas and insulated pant uniforms with United States flag emblems sewn to their chests and armed with M-16 rifles quickly approached Nanook and his vehicle on a run.
Nanook grinned and waved to the guards,” Hiya, guys.”
One of the men in white responded,” Hi Nanook. Heard you brought us somethin’ special today. Can we have a look?”
Nanook nervously pointed to his mobile,” Of course guys, he’s in there and you better hurry. He’s thawing out.”
Two additional guards in white uniforms joined the others carrying a stretcher along with them. The one guard in white who had spoken to him, patted Nanook’s shoulder and exclaimed, “ Thanks man, we’ll take it from here. Why don’t you go to the mess and get a bite to eat? Rest up some.”
Nanook’s voice was full of fear as he replied,” Thanks, I take a rain check. Too much to do today. Just get body out of my truck and I’ll be on my way. Man giant is too creepy for Nanook. Might be demon in descize.”
It took all four Alpha men to lift it out Nanook’s snowmobile. It was indeed the body of a giant man that they placed on a stretcher as the old Eskimo watched in superstitious fear. As soon as they were clear and before anyone could react Nanook jumped into his mobile and shouted to them as he started his engine,” I am glad I am rid of it. I will see you later. Nanook is out of here.”
The guard in charge a sergeant watched the old Eskimo that he had known only as Cookie, drive his snowmobile off into the Artic wasteland like a madman. Several times it actually leapt over a mound of hard backed snow causing wheels and tracks to leave the ground momentarily. He shook his head and remarked to no one in particular, “ Well, it sure got him spooked. I wish he’d stayed for a debriefing. Guess I should have insisted that he stay.”
Shrugging his shoulders, the sergeant turned and faced his men, two of which kept staring at the strange subject on the stretcher. The wind was picking up, gathering strength, for one of the first storms of the winter for the North Pole was coming. He had to yell to the others to make himself heard over the wind and the snowmobile.
“ Alright, let’s get this guy into the infirmary fast. Sagger will want to start on him as soon as possible. This wind might thaw him out too quickly if we leave him out in this, so let’s move it.”
Placing the stretcher on a nearby cart similar to a golf cart, three of the guards hopped on board, one an officer, and they drove on an unseen ramp that led down to a sliding door below a short squat building of stone.
Later, in a special surgical room full of the latest in modern electrical and chemical apparatus, the frozen body of the bronze giant had been carefully placed on a large metallic table with a half cylinder shaped glass top covering the entire surface. Six men and one woman dressed in white surgical masks and gowns hovered over the table and pulsating equipment. One man in his late forties with thick glasses and a short beard commented to his five colleagues.
“ An excellent specimen. Notice his clothes were burned almost completely off his person except for his underwear, yet his body remains untouched.”
“ I’ll say!” exclaimed the only woman member of the team, a tall sandy haired beauty. Everyone stared at her in shock while one young male team member snickered. The older man who was the leader cleared his throat in irritation,” That’ll be enough Miss Mayfair. You have seen bodies before and this one’s no different. If we are not careful it may be a dead one…Has his heart rate changed at all?”
The one that snickered now serious immediately replied,” Yes Doctor Sagger. Twice the beat from when we first started the procedure.”
The middle-aged man named Sagger seemed very pleased so far. “ Good, we may be over the hump soon. Let me know the very instant his heart rate is ten beats from becoming normal. Timing’s everything. We’re going to try to use mild electric shock into his heart to revive him out of his coma. At the same time, Miss Mayfair will inject my serum into his system. You see as well as I that even though his vital signs are almost normal and the ice has left his system entirely, his brain is still sending it’s electrical impulses much too slowly.”
“ The Doctor attached electrodes of some type never seen before in the medical world and moved some instruments around closer to the head of the giant. He leaned over a small tape recorder and spoke again,” His body has been saturated with a special chemical and the electrical charge will be applied to the brain instead of the heart area.”
At that moment the younger man whom had been watching an E.K.G. machine suddenly announced,” Doctor , he’s there.”
Doctor Sagger getting more excited by the minute slapped his hands together,” Ok then, Miss Mayfair, Jerry, open the lid and attach the final wires now.”
The two lifted the table lid and attached a red and yellow wire on each temple of the giant’s head. The Doctor observed the completion of the task and then warned his team,” Ok, stand back after the lid is secured.”
The Doctor walked to a control panel on the side of the table near the once frozen man and flipped a switch. A faint humming sound could be heard and for a moment the lights in the building flickered until they all observed the giant man’s body jerk once and after a moment his eyes opened wide. Doctor Sagger flipped the switch off immediately and the body relaxed.
“ Wonderful! It worked.” Doctor Sagger exclaimed happily. The giants eyes were a brilliant golden hue and had a swirling hypnotic effect on the Doctor since he regained consciousness. The giant man’s brain began to function again. Suddenly, he sat up and everyone except the Doctor unconsciously took a step back. Stepping close beside the giant completely unafraid almost completely relaxed, Doctor Sagger asked him,” Hello. Are you alright? Can you hear me ok?”
The giant turned his head and with a grimace of pain he replied in a low commanding voice,” Yes, just a little stiff is all. Where am I?”
Doctor Sagger laughed and placed his hand on the giant’s back,” Why my boy, you’re in Station Alpha an American government research base at the North Pole. Looks like you’re going to make it just fine, considering you have been frozen for around forty years.”
Everyone in that room looked at one another in astonishment for that was news to them all. It was the first time they had heard anything of that nature about their patient. Miss Mayfair couldn’t help but gasp at that unexpected and certainly astonishing news. Even the patient had to lie back down in shock and bewilderment. After a moment of silence, the giant asked Doctor Sagger,” What’s the date?”
“ Brace yourself,” It is September 6th, 1989.”
Immediately everyone noticed a trilling sound in the air like an exotic bird in the distance. The sound seemed to come from everywhere not just one particular place. After a moment, it died out.
“ Last time I remember anything it was September 20th, 1949.” The giant man of bronze shin said in a soft tone as if he was talking to himself and there was clearly a puzzled look on his face. Miss Mayfair gasped and exclaimed,” That’s not possible.”
“ Oh yes it is even though this is the first successful freezing and thawing process in history that I know of.” Doctor Sagger explained, “ Never mind how or why, it is successful and that is what counts.” He then stared full into the giant man’s face and asked,” By the way, what should we call you? Mister..?”
Frowning, the mysterious bronze skinned man replied with a shrug,” I don’t know.”
“ What do you mean, you don’t know? Wait! You mean to tell me you don’t remember?”
“ Not a thing except that I was in the North Pole and the exact date that I was still conscious.”
One of the other men in the lab team in his late fifties dropped an instrument, which clattered onto the floor loudly, causing Miss Mayfair to about jump out of her skin. The rest turned around quickly to see what it was.
The older team member explained quickly, “ Uh, excuse me Doctor Sagger, but I’m not feeling well. Mind if I leave the room and get some fresh air? This has been too much for me.”
Doctor Sagger observed the man up and down and grimly answered,” Sure, but stay within this area, is that clear?”
“ Yes Doctor, it is.” With a nervous glance at the mysterious giant who was staring at him intently, he quickly left the room through double doors at the other side. The doctor muttered under his breath”, Screwed up son of a bitch.” Then turned to the giant smiling.
“ Well, we will worry about your identity and further examinations later. For now son, you get some rest yourself. Collect your thoughts. Guess I don’t have to ask you if you need some shuteye. Hmmm?”
Several in the room chuckled about that line somewhat relieved. The doctor explained further,” Miss Mayfair will show you your room. I will talk to you more about the whole situation in a little while. First I must talk with my colleagues and with the base commander about all that’s happened. Do you need a wheel chair or something to help you walk?”
The bronze giant smiled at Miss Mayfair whose face blushed brightly as he replied,” No, I think I can make it on my own two feet alright. Miss Mayfair can help me if I need help that is.”
“ I see…good. Well, Don’t let her talk your ears of anyway.”
The giant nodded his head and smiled at the others in the infirmary room. He rose to his feet a little unsteady at first, and then he turned in the direction of Miss Mayfair.
“ Shall we go, Miss Mayfair?”
Miss Mayfair swallowed hard and replied,” O-Oh, of course.”
Side by side they walked out of the double doors and into a well-lighted hallway. As they made their way down the hall, Miss Mayfair got up courage finally and commented,” You know, I didn’t realize how large a man you really were until now. I’ve always seen you lying down.”
The giant smiled at her,” It is a pleasure to be escorted by a lovely woman as yourself. By the way, what is your first name?”
“ Nancy.” The beautiful blonde replied,” I hope you will remember your name soon.”
He didn’t answer as if he hadn’t heard what she said. It was at that moment they arrived at their destination the designated room for the giant patient in uncomfortable silence. Nancy opened the door with a round disk shaped key and they stepped in. Still silence. Nancy made directly for the chest of drawers located near a bed in the opposite corner from the door, of the small fifteen by fifteen foot room. She turned to the quiet giant and handed him some briefs and a blue zip up suit made of a kind of thick padded material.
“ These should fit,” Nancy Mayfair informed coyly. The giant patient couldn’t help but notice her eyes looking up and down his entire frame like she was sizing him up for something. Something he couldn’t quite fathom at first, but after a moment he began to understand.
“ Thank you…Am I to change in front of you?”
Nancy blushing once more nervously replied,” Uh, I’ll just leave you and see you later after you and Doctor Sagger have had your chat.”
“ Ok Nancy. Oh yes, the man who first left the infirmary about the doctor’s age give or take a few years, who is he?”
Nancy stopped midway from going out the door and suddenly it seemed she had the chills for she shook all over before replying,” he is one of our better technicians. Name’s Vance Folgar. He’s weird, when he’s not working; he stays pretty mush to himself. Why you ask?”
The giant shrugged his massive shoulders,’ Oh, just curious I guess. See you later.”
When Nancy closed the door she stopped for a moment puzzled and in awe of this big mystery man. She muttered to herself wonderingly, “ Where the hell did he get that bronze tan around here? Where is he really from?”
Shrugging her shoulders after the fashion of the giant bronze man, she trotted down the hallway toward the double doors leading to the infirmary. Even with a lab coat and pants to match on with no makeup, it couldn’t hide the fact that she could easily have been a model with the figure nature had given her.
He rarely paid attention to a woman’s good looks, but the giant noticed, alarmingly so. He must be careful. He thought the women in his time looked great, but now they were even better somehow. He quickly dressed and left the room as silently as a cat of the jungle. For one so muscle bound and large framed as himself, he was remarkably light on his feet. The long sleep did little to slow his quick reflexes. This bronze giant headed the opposite direction that Nancy had gone. It lead to an elevator which could possibly lead to the outside of this facility.
Vance the technician slipped off an elevator into a different hallway lit only with red lights recessed into the walls. Two doors down the hallway there was a room with the door ajar. A yellow light lit the room within. Inside the room was filled with radio equipment and a modern computer station. Entering quietly, Vance knocked out the radio operator who was manning it at the time, with the butt of an automatic pistol. Vance sat in the swivel chair in front of the radio, pulling off the headset that was on the former radio operator’s head, he placed them on his own. Quickly he turned to certain settings on the radio frequency dials. Speaking low into the microphone as he could, but loud enough for whoever was listening to hear him.
“ Code four one come in. Code four one come in.”
There was static for a moment then a voice from the radio speaker replied, “ This is code four one, who is this? Over”
“ This is Alpha’s grocery, I’ve got a problem with our frozen section over here. Over.”
A different and eerie voice answered him,” What seems to be the problem Alpha’s grocery? Over.”
“ A carrot’s been found in the frozen department and it may thaw out everything. Over.”
“ That serious, eh?”
“ You bet! The one they thawed…I.. he, I mean I know this can’t be possible, but he looks like a man I use to hear about as a boy..”
“ Well, spit it out. You’ve already forgotten about the code system.”
“ Uh, he looks like a man called Doc Savage, a big investigator back in the thirties and forties.”
“ So, that’s not all! He also was a crime fighter. He never lost a case. People that crossed him disappeared. Disappeared, understand?!” Vance’s voice was shaking by then.
“ Hold on a moment. He’s just an old timer that can’t harm a fly by now.”
“ You forgot. He’s been frozen in the ice all of forty years and hasn’t aged. Even though he has lost his memory, it’s only a memory, it is only a matter of time before he regains it. Then all hell’s gonna break loose.”
There was a long silence then the voice returned deadly serious,” Alpha grocery, calm down. Eliminate him immediately. Make it look like an accident. Use your imagination if you have any.”
“Yes, but how? With what?”
“ As I said, I leave that to you. If you fail, you had better hope he kills you. Over and out.”
The signal went dead and Vance dropped headset and microphone in shock. He dropped his head down in thought and after a moment he suddenly lifted his head as an idea hit him. He laughed with glee and relief as he started to rise from his seat. Whatever he had been thinking or planning was forever lost, as he felt a hand of iron grip him from the back of the neck and squeeze with tremendous pressure. He squawked and tried to struggle, but slowly he was turned around to face his assailant. It was the giant with a very grim look on his face.
Vance threw a good right cross to the giant’s face, but with the other hand the giant was able to stop his fist in mid-air. It was impossible, but the feat was done as if the giant bronze man was toying with a child. With a twist, he snapped Vance’s wrist like a twig, and at the same time with the other hand he squeezed Vance’s throat once more. That way the scream that was to surely follow would come out only as a loud gurgle. Vance tried to kick, but the giant simply raised him bodily by the throat and slammed his head roughly into a metal support beam above.
“ Now perhaps if you are through could you please tell me all you know?” the giant asked in a patient voice hardly showing any strain at all. Vance coughed and held his arm in pain after he was lowered none too gently to the chair near the radio. He glared up at the giant whom he called Doc Savage and defiantly said,” You can go to hell!”
The giant, without a word tied Vance’s feet and hands together with an antenna wire he found in a toolbox on the floor. Vance groaned a little from the pain shooting through his wrist and arm. Suddenly the man of bronze took Vance’s gun and forced it into Vance’s bloodied mouth. Holding it there he explained grimly to the would be assassin,” Your mouth will act as a natural silencer so no one is likely to hear it when it goes off. If you don’t tell me all you know starting in five seconds, I shall pull the trigger, accidentally. Understand?”
Vance tried to talk around the barrel of the pistol then he shook his head as if in agreement. The bronze giant pulled the gun out and after Vance moved his mouth around some, he spoke reluctantly.
“ Well, all I know is I was hired to keep a close watch on Doctor Sagger’s research he is working on here and if he discovers anything of significance, to report to a certain radio frequency all about the details. Then I am to kidnap him if need be and meet my employer at a certain location, where I hand him over and my job is finished.”
Savage leaned closer to his captive,” What is going on that is so important to kidnap Doctor Sagger?” he asked.”
Vance only smiled and laughing in an ominous voice he replied,” That Mister Savage, you will never know.”
An instant later, Savage heard a small sound like a crunch if one were biting down on a small hard candy, and immediately Vance’s eyes rolled back into his head, and his body slumped quietly to the floor. Savage checked his pulse by the neck and after a moment, he rose muttering to himself in disgust,” Cyanide, I should have known.”
That is when alarms all over the station’s complex began to sound off. They sounded more like a scream than a siren. Nancy ran down the hall toward the radio room, a guard with pistol in hand was close on her heels. Nancy was carrying a thirty-eight revolver as she entered the radio room which she immediately noticed was in shambles. Vance’s body lay sprawled at one end while the radio operator lay at the other. Nancy’s accompanying guard never knew what hit him as he was suddenly knocked to the floor, his pistol flying off the wall and further down the hallway.
Savage had appeared as if from the shadows and knocked out the guard with a single tap to the man’s temple. Savage knelt on one knee and checked the guard’s pulse and found that he was still alive but out cold. As he rose he heard a click and knew a revolver hammer had been pulled back. Slowly he looked up into the sights of Nancy’s revolver. Nancy was standing at the radio room’s doorway pointing her gun right between his eyes.
“ Hold it right there mister whoever you are. I don’t know what you have in mind, but you can sure cause a lot of havoc in a hurry. Now, I want you to carefully raise those large hands of yours and stand up slowly. And I do mean slowly.” Nancy nervously explained to Doc Savage. The giant ignored her instructions even though she sounded very determined and asked her a question.
“ quickly, answer one question for me. Is that alarm for me or something else entirely?” Savage rose to his feet slowly. Nancy shifted from one foot to the other nervously,” As a matter of fact, it is something else. A dozen heavily armed maniacs are attacking our base and we don’t have the personnel or firepower to stop them. I couldn’t reach the radio room by intercom so I came down here to radio help myself.”
The mystery giant with an edge of excitement in his voice, quickly explained,” There is no time to use the radio, for if those men are here for what I think they are, I must get you and Doctor Sagger off this base now.”
Nancy paused a moment in thought and then she relented,” Ok, but remember, I’ve got this gun on you every step of the way.”
Savage ignored her threat and asked her,” Are they attacking from the front?”
“ As far as I know, they are.”
“ Then we’ll try a back exit.”
Nancy pointed down the hallway opposite the way to the elevator.
“ There’s a stairwell behind the infirmary room we could use. Doctor Sagger may still be in that area too.”
“ Good. Let’s take that stairwell to the infirmary floor and work our way to them then.”
Nancy and the bronze man ran side by side down the hall and as they passed through the door leading to the first stairwell, three men in full white Artic parkas with goggles on their eyes burst from the opening elevator doors. One brought up a Russian made AK47 assault rifle and sprayed a deadly line of lead toward the stairwell entrance, but by that time, no one was there to hit.
The taller of the three remarked,” Damn! You sure are trigger-happy at times. What if that’d been Doctor Sagger and you killed him, huh?”
The one that fired his gun hastily, displaying a short red beard and bad teeth, laughed, turned and grimly replied,” Then that’d be my business right?” he paused and when he didn’t get a response immediately he repeated,” Right?”
The other two said nothing and they continued down the hallway cautiously checking each door along the way.
Down the stairwell one flight of stairs and inside the lower infirmary room there was no one to be found. The giant pulled Nancy by the arm even though she still held the revolver, as he spotted a door at the other side of the infirmary.
Nancy pulled away as she yelled,” Wait! He’s got to be here somewhere.”
“ No, there isn’t time. He might be outside by now.” The giant could see the desperation in Nancy’s face and stopped her from searching further by grabbing her arm once again.
“ He’s probably safe for now. First, we must save ourselves. Come.” The man of bronze tried to coax her as calmly as he could.
Something about the reassuring look and tone of voice convinced Nancy that he was probably right, and so together they ran out still another exit door leading into the cold Artic air as a small explosion rocked the building. Outside they found everywhere evidence of extensive destruction throughout the base. Explosives and machineguns must have been used in a lightning like raid to overwhelm the place. By the looks of the burned out buildings and at least a dozen dead bodies lying scattered in the snow, it had been most successful.
Nancy quietly said in horror, “ Oh my God!” Savage could only watch as Nancy stumbled over to a nearby wall of the building they had just exited and leaning against it with her gun arm she vomited several times in snow. After a moment, she stumbled back toward the awaiting bronze man. Nancy breathing hard and coughing for a little while managed finally to speak.
“ I’ll make it, It’s just… I mean I‘ve never seen death like this before.”
Savage placed his arm around her shoulder to give her support while she recovered saying,” And you think Doctor Sagger may be one of them lying out there. I really doubt that Nancy. Whoever attacked this base will probably want him alive at all costs. I think you know the reasons better than I…”
Nancy was startled a moment, but quickly regained some of her composure.
“ What do you mean, I should know better than you? About what?”
The giant acted as though he hadn’t heard her question and in the next moment he motioned for her to be quiet. Then grabbing her arm, he dashed out and away from the base toward the north. Struggling against such strength, as this man possessed proved to be useless so Nancy resigned to her fate for then. As they left, she discovered she had dropped her revolver somewhere in the snow.
Moments later, the three heavily armed men who had been scouring the building; burst through the exit door and immediately one of them spotted the retreating pair running toward the endless wastelands beyond Alpha base. They fired several rounds at them, but they were already too far away to get a clear shot. It didn’t take them long to decide to give chase.
“ Perils of the Wastelands”
Soon, they were running as fast as the snow and ice would permit in hopes of catching up to the fleeing pair close enough to bring them down. They cursed all the way because if they weren’t falling flat on their faces, their legs were slipping and sliding all over the place. These were men that were definitely not use to this kind of environment or climate.
Nancy was proud of her athletic ability and thought she was a fair runner, yet she found herself falling behind this bronze man. The going wasn’t easy with the terrain so uneven. Successive ten to forty foot walls of ice separated by snow filled troughs that ran like moats between them hindered their way greatly. Finally, they found a corridor just wide enough for a human to squeeze through back and forth until what seemed like miles later it opened into a weird broken frozen landscape. Still, it was an open field compared to what they had transverse before. Pieces of ice as large as houses stuck out everywhere in weird angles mixed with small areas of frozen mist that hung in the air like impossibly thick fog.
Nancy shivered all over at the aspect of hiking through it and every bone in her body was aching from the incredible strain that she had endured so far. She was not use to such an excursion through an artic environment for any length of time. A girl could get a cold out here.
After another mile or so the man of bronze suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. For a moment, Nancy could have sworn she heard that bird trilling noise once again. Then as she caught up with him, it was gone and the giant had wheeled around to face her. In a urgent voice he instructed,” Get behind that chunk of ice on that hill to your left as quick as you can. There is a polar bear that has caught our scent and he’s headed this way.”
The man needn’t have to explain further. Nancy and her giant companion bolted for the hill and jumped behind the ice just in time. A large polar bear, one of the biggest Nancy had seen in a long time, came charging around a mound of ice only twenty yards away from her. At the same time, as if on cue, their three pursuers ran out into the small clearing from the opposite direction, face to face with the growling snarling thousand pounder. One man managed only to scream once before the bear, with a terrific roar, hit him with one of his powerful paws a terrible blow across the side of his head. The blow sent him flying ten feet through the air hitting a large block of ice. The impact killed him instantly, his head flattened like a pancake, blood and brains spewing everywhere.
It would have ended for the bear then, except the two remaining men wildly opened fire, which only sent him into a rage. With teeth and razor sharp claws he tore the second man the taller of the two, to pieces all over the snow. The third man was wounded in the leg and barely escaped with his life by running between two large chunks of ice; an opening much too small for the polar bear to pass through. It clawed at the ice in frustration for a moment, but soon it lost the man’s scent and gave up.
The bear wandered around for a while bleeding from a score of wounds profusely and sniffing at the two corpses. Then he slowly began to head toward the giant and Nancy. Nancy was practically in shock from the carnage of that terrible scene she had just witnessed. Yet she was still able to react fast enough to get up when the man of bronze did. They ran as fast as they could to the North until they reached a very deep chasm in the ice running to the east and west as far as the eye could see.
Nancy turned, looked behind them and yelled to Savage,” Oh damn! Here he comes and is he ever mad. What’ll we do? That crack is too wide to jump across.”
The polar bear caught sight of them and began running faster and faster as he closed in. He was bleeding from at least a half dozen wounds altogether, but it did little to slow him down. Any second the beast would be upon them to rip them to shreds. Suddenly, the man of bronze touched Nancy on the arm,” Over there.” He pointed to a lone bridge of ice that had formed across the chasm only twenty yards away to their left. Without hesitation, they made a run for the frozen bridge not daring to look back at what might be almost upon them. It was a life or death race for a bridge that might not hold their weight. As they reached the beginning of the ice bridge, the man of bronze spoke to Nancy of their situation.
“ There’s no time to test it. Just hold my hand and we’ll cross it together. I believe it’s wide enough.”
“ Whatever you say.” Nancy said as she grabbed a hold of the giant’s hand praying for a miracle.
Rearing up on his hind legs, the polar bear was gaining on them every second. The pair ran across and immediately they began to have thoughts that maybe it had been a mistake. Midway they heard a distinct sharp crack, but they did not stop nor slow down. It was a good thing too, because the maddened bear attempted to follow them across the bridge. His weight was too much and as the giant and his companion reached the other side of the bridge they heard a second cracking sound and the bridge gave way all at once. The polar bear screamed a few seconds before he was heard to finally crash to the bottom of the deep chasm.
Nancy screamed as she almost fell with it, but somehow she caught the edge of the broken bridge still connected to the cliff with her freezing fingers. The man of bronze standing like a mythical giant of ancient legend above her pulled her form up and out right into his arms as if she weighed ten pounds. He almost forgot himself holding her so close, looking into her big green eyes as she gazed into his. She shivered and laid her head down onto his muscular chest.
“ If it wasn’t for Jim I’d fallen for you in a second, but him and me go a long way back. I mean, I’ve known him six years and yet in the past few months it’s like I don’t know him any longer. You know what I mean? Oh, I’m so confused anymore.” Nancy softly confessed to this extraordinary entity who was beginning to seem bigger then life in her eyes.
The man of bronze with great reluctance, pushed her back at arms length and asked a question,” You are speaking of Doctor Sagger aren’t you?”
Nancy lowered her head in thought,” Yeah, he was my professor at one time in upstate New York. He’s brilliant , secretive almost as much as Vance.” Nancy raised her head to look once more into the eyes of the giant as a thought suddenly occurred to her,” Hey! Whatever happened to Vance?”
“ He killed himself.”
“ Oh, so he had something to do with whatever that was about back there. Do you think they really have Jim captured alive?”
The giant acted as if he hadn’t heard instead, he changed the subject.
“ You must be pretty cold by now Nancy, and without coats we could easily die of exposure out here. May I suggest we push on?”
Nancy only mumbled,” Sure.” In disappointment. This guy she thought mustn’t feel anything for her besides simple protectiveness possibly friendship. They traveled several miles before anything else was said between the two. It was Nancy that tried to start a conversation again.
“ I know Jim’s twice my age and lately it’s been bothering me. I mean, I’ve only been living with him. I’m not his wife and it looks like I’ll never be. I know I care for him, but as far as love goes… Well, I do, but now more like one loves their father or a brother. I…”
Nancy had to stop quite suddenly to keep from running right into the giant’s back. They were standing at what looked like the beginning of a long slope down to a lower flat area of smooth ice, and the giant of bronze was gazing at something to the North.
Next thing Nancy knew the giant remarked,” It’s still here!” and then he charged across a large slopping field of ice before Nancy could even ask him what was it that was still there. Nancy squinted her eyes straining to see beyond the bronze giant and she almost fell down the hill. To the North even though it was a mile away, she still observed a large blue dome-like structure in the distance.
She ran down the slope as best she could as she muttered to herself between painful breaths of cold frigid air,” Nah, that can’t be a hill of ice. Ice ain’t blue. It kind of looks like a building of some kind.” Her heart began to pond wildly against her chest with an almost uncontrollable excitement that she could not explain. Several times upon trekking the incredibly slippery slope of ice, Nancy fell flat on her bottom. Then all of a sudden the surface became as coarse and abrasive as sandpaper as she reached a more even surface to travel on. The man of bronze was waiting for her near a wall of the mysterious dome structure when she finally arrived.
“ We are safe for the moment.” He remarked calmly.
Nancy breathing a little hard and coughing occasionally managed to ask,” How’s that?”
“ This building I know quite well, it was dubbed the fortress of solitude.”
It was a fantastically large dome shaped structure some three hundred feet in diameter and thirty feet high. It was covered in ice and snow yet the bluish tint still had shown through. Apparently, the walls under the ice were made of some kind of special metal resistant to weather and time! Nancy looked up toward the top and said,” That’s nice.”
She then quietly passed out. The man of bronze who now realized his identity was indeed Doc Savage, managed to catch Nancy and gently lowered her body to the ground. He walked a few feet to his right, whereupon finding a certain location, he started to place his right hand palm first against the metal wall of the dome at about eye level. Inches away he stopped and reached into his pocket. Ripping the pocket out, he wrapped that piece of material around his hand carefully and proceeded to place his palm onto the wall once again. After pressing through an inch or two of snow, there was a whirring sound and a loud click.
At first, nothing happened, then with a grinding sound and a loud screech of hidden gears within the dome structure, a section of the wall suddenly slid up. The ten foot door only opened four feet and then stopped, for ice had built up over the years and was clogging part of the apparatus. Still, Doc Savage smiled to himself with satisfaction in knowing that he was beginning to regain all of his memory and knowledge temporarily lost from the awakening.
Savage peered in but could only see a few feet; the rest was pitch black. The lights were out, yet warm air hit Savage in the face, which made him smile again with relief. The light problem might just be a blown fuse. Savage returned to the woman and picked her up as if she were a delicate fragile thing. Placing her form down again near the entrance, he slid himself in first and jumped down to land squarely on his feet. A wooden ramp leading up to that entrance on the inside, had apparently crumbled to dust from decay. He was at a loss for the cause of it except aging or perhaps a biological experiment of his might have escape that affected wood. In any case, all of his senses were alert, but they detected no motion or unusual sounds.
Grabbing her legs he pulled Nancy through until she fell in his awaiting arms. After he carefully placed her on the floor, he reached and found a light switch, but nothing happened. It remained dark and what little light they had from outside was quickly fading. It was sunset in the Artic.
In seconds Savage’s eyes became somewhat accustomed to the dark and he was able to walk a few paces more. Feeling along the wall he found what he was searching for. Just barely in reach even for a man as tall as the man of bronze, was a small round flat case magnetized to the inner metal wall. He pulled it off and opening it he pulled out a transparent looking key from inside. A few feet further was a round shaped fuse box which he opened with the unusual key. With a flip of a switch, the lights snapped on showing that the hallway they were in was a short one ending in another metal door. Snow had already piled up in that hallway from blowing in that short space of time it took to reach that next door.
Finding Nancy still unconscious, he lifted her over his shoulder and carried her to the outside doorway. Pushing a flat plate located inside the door which lead outside with his palm it noisily slid shut. Then all was quiet as a tomb within those mysterious metal walls. Doc Savage carried Nancy down the hallway and through the second door, which only slid open after he said out loud a single word in the ancient language of the Mayan. It roughly translated to the equivalent of the word “ Open “.
In side was a laboratory, which took up a large part of the dome and was the most complete and ultra-modern of its time. In fact, some of the apparatus here and there were well ahead of its time. Savage carried his burgeon to a door on the other side of the lab leading into a luxuriously furnished room, a living, kitchen, and bedroom all rolled up in one combination. He placed her on a couch and hurried back to the lab leaving the door between the two rooms open.
Off to a corner of the lab, was a computer almost as up to date as our most modern models. One exception was the screen was a little larger than normal. Turning it on and punching out a certain question in Mayan computer language that he had designed himself years before, Savage soon received an answer in the form of a list vividly displayed on the screen in deep red letters and numbers. To another viewer even with programming experience, it would have been unintelligible because it also was in Mayan. Four times more he punched out questions on his key board and each time he was rewarded with a red lettered and numbered list for an answer; some shorter than others. After he shut the computer down, he sat back a moment to reflect and for a brief moment and soon a faint trilling sound echoed against the fortresses’ walls.
It wasn’t long before he was back inside the room where he left Nancy out cold. The man of bronze spread a blanket on her motionless form and took vital signs. Her blood pressure was up some, but he was relieve to see that her temperature was close to normal. He left the room once more and returned a little while later in time to see Nancy awaken from her unexpected nap. She blinked her eyes a few times and then shook her head to get the cobwebs out of it. That is when she noticed Savage standing over her with unmistakable concern written all over his face.
“ Well, don’t just stand there.” Nancy said weakly,” I need some coffee.”
Savage relieved replied,” Don’t have coffee at the moment…here, take this.” He handed Nancy an orange pill, which made her look up questionably into his face.
“ Purely a stimulate, non-addictive.” Savage explained briefly.
“ Poor substitute for coffee, but I guess it will have to do. Uh, I sure hate to act dumb, but where the hell are we?”
Nancy gave Doc Savage a sour expression as she asked him patiently, “ Where’s inside?”
“ The fortress of solitude dome that we were standing near when you passed out. Any dizziness?” Nancy shook her head yes, “ A little.”
“ Feeling a little weak too?”
“ Sure, why?”
“ You are probably suffering from mild exposure and trauma.”
Nancy laughed and said sarcasm in her voice,” Wouldn’t you? After all we’ve been through?”
Immediately she was sorry she laughed at him because for the first time he did look tired.
“ Nancy, your father’s name is Monk Mayfair right?” The man of bronze said matter-of-factly more than asking.
Nancy became excited,” Yeah, how’d you know that?”
“ In the lab in the next room I have a storage computing device which has kept in touch with the outside world up until the early nineteen-sixties. It has recorded your name under Mister Monk and Glenda Mayfair, born 1959 in a hospital near Long Island. How am I doing so far?”
Nancy stood to face Savage only a foot or two away,” Beautifully so far. Anything else?”
“ Just some of the schools that you attended when you were a kid. Then information was cut off to the computer after that.”
“ Probably didn’t pay your phone bill.” Nancy mused in fun Nancy moved closer to Savage all the time they talked.
“ I never did thank you for saving my life back there. Several times as a matter of fact.”
“ Ah, that’s quite all right.”
“ Since we may be staying here for a while, this would be a great time for us to get to know each other better, don’t you think?” Nancy reached up to place her arms around his neck, but Savage quickly blocked them with one of his powerful arms.
“ Actually this is the worst time, and we won’t be staying here, but an hour or two longer. I can’t believe how aggressive women are now.”
“ Times have changed babe. Hey, an hour or two is plenty of time.”
Nancy attempted to hug him again with the same results. Nancy confused and frustrated asked,” What’s with you? Can’t you see I’ve fallen for you?”
Doc Savage turned and walked a few steps away from Nancy toward the bed, before he suddenly realized where he was headed. He stopped, turned and explained with embarrassment and conviction in his voice at the same time,” I have most of my memory back now. It is all coming back to me.”
Nancy hurt and a tear in her eye for she sensed what was coming, asked Savage,” So? What does that mean?”
“ Since my life has been dedicated to what it is, I never had room for love. Nor can I afford it now. Don’t you see Nancy? My enemies would use it to get to me and sooner or later it would be not only the death of myself, but ones close to me.”
Nancy practically shouted,” That is a bunch of bull. What enemies? They are all dead and gone. It’s been forty years! Forty damn years! You’ve got a fresh start now; that’s more than most ever get. Forget the past and we could run off together. It’d be so easy.”
Savage took a deep breath and let it out,” Yes, it has been a long time. Where could we run to rid ourselves of the guilt we would feel? What would your boy friend think? Your relatives?”
Nancy tried to reach for him, but he pulled away,” I doubt Jim would miss me much. He would miss his research; not me. As for my relatives, they would love you and besides I’ve been my own woman for a while now. And j-just exactly what would we be guilty of? I doubt if my father would be hurt by it.” Tears streamed down her face and she sat down as she began to realize the hopelessness of convincing this stubborn man.
“ There’s one more thing.” Savage mentioned.
“ I knew your father.”
“ You did?”
“ Yes, we fought World War one together. After the war, Monk as well as others helped me wage war against crime for almost two decades. Hasn’t he ever mentioned my name?”
Nancy now lost in thought about this new puzzle temporarily forgot her personal problems. After a moment in thought she replied,” Well, now that I think about it on that line; the name sounds familiar. He never talked much of his part except about his buddies. You could say they’re my adopted uncles. I saw a lot of them when I was young. Anyway, as a teenager one time I accidentally overheard them talking about you I guess, out on my father’s patio by the pool in the nice home we once owned.”
Savage muttered almost under his breath as he briefly smiled,” That’s Monk alright.”
“Oh nothing. Please continue.”
“ For a moment they seemed very sad, and wished that Doc was still with them. One would ask remember this incident and that and the others would laugh or just sit there and say ”yeah”. It was weird, but I could never get any of them or their families to tell me who this Doc was.”
“ I knew them all Nancy. They were all my aides in crime fighting, monk, Long Tom, Ham, Johnny and Renny.”
“ Wow, that is wild.” Why would they not let me in on it?”
“ To protect you and all their families. The less that was known, the less the possibility that anyone could use it against you and the others.”
“ So they must have had a code to live by similar to your own?”
“ Yes, to right wrongs where ever they may be and to fight crime no matter the odds. Now it is imperative that I contact them for I feel that all their lives may be in great danger.”
“ Uh, I think you better brace yourself before we go roving blindly all over, and before I tell you the bad news. A lot has changed. This may come as quite a shock to you.”
“ Happy Returns “
The man of bronze unconsciously sat beside Nancy on the bed,” I was expecting this and for some reason that I can not defy, avoiding it until now.”
Nancy took a deep breath before going on,” Johnny and Renny are the only ones that have their own homes. Two of them are in a veteran’s retirement facility somewhere in New York City. Monk, my father is one of the two. They get the best care since they are all still financially well off.”
“ I think you left out one.” Savage pointed out.”
“ I can’t remember where the fifth one is now…”
Savage with as much emotion in his voice as Nancy had ever heard explained a point,” That can be determined in due time. There are billions in gold stored away in a secret place in another part of the world for all of us to use as we choose, present company accepted.”
Nancy smiled warmly,” Thank you but we’re well off as it is.”
Savage continued as if he had never heard her comment at all,” Tens of millions of it appeared in a certain account of ours every six months, unless we requested otherwise. If there is any still left I shouldn’t be surprised at their wealth. There isn’t any time for more details as to what or how; for I must reach New York as soon as possible.”
Nancy had a look of concern as she tried to read Doc Savage’s bronze face to find exactly what emotions he was going through just then. Savage stood up and pulled Nancy’s hand so that she had to stand also. He spoke again this time with more authority in his voice.
“ Your news was shocking, but now there is no time for reflecting on the past or what could have been; it is our future that is at stake now. Come, I have something to show you.”
Doc Savage let her go and walked in long strides through the door to the lab beyond. Nancy followed, but she had to stop several times a second here or there to marvel at the extraordinary devices Savage had in his unique laboratory. They entered a door to the left on one side of the lab, which led into what Nancy recognized as a hanger type room with a ceiling height of at least twenty-five feet. Well that it was too, for inside this high ceiling room stood three vehicles, two for flying and one was a motorized snow crawler built like a small tank, complete with armor and machine cannons. One flying vehicle was an old helicopter, the likes of which Nancy had never seen. The other flying craft was a small twin-engine airplane common of the forties era, but there was nothing common about the two engines. They looked altered, perhaps souped up. Both the plane and helicopter were a bronze color; while the snowmobile tank was white.
Without turning Savage remarked,” I know these are not the best, but they’ll have to do. I may need some help in starting the plane.”
As they walked toward the old bronze twin engine, Nancy had a thought,” Have you tried to radio ahead to let someone know you ‘re coming?”
Savage looked over the structure of the old plane and particularly the engines while he replied,” I tried to, but could reach no one. I expected that and later upon reflection, it probably was a good thing I hadn’t.”
“ How’s that?”
“ One is that they wouldn’t believe me, would think it was a crank call. Another is there could be someone listening in who could track us down by our radio signals; someone who we don’t want to come in contact with in the least right now. Also, I want the location of this hideout kept a secret.”
Savage had to give the hatch door leading into the insides of the airplane a hard yank to open it. Nancy could tell this giant man of bronze had a great deal of piloting experience because in a few minutes after checking the instrument panel and starter switch, he seemed sure it would run. First, they had to drain the fuel tanks and refuel it with fresh fuel. There just so happened to be some stored and sealed up in containers off to the corner of the hanger room.
With Nancy’s help, Doc Savage had the process finished by a clever hand pump device in no time. After checking the engines outside once again and the ski assemblies on each landing wheel, he motioned to Nancy who was in the cockpit to turn the starter on. After a few tries, it caught hold with a roar and the sound it made was like music to their ears. Savage gave thumbs up sign to his friend’s daughter and she laughed marveling at their success.
While Nancy let the engines warm up Savage stepped into his laboratory a moment and returned soon carrying several bronze colored cases in each hand. After throwing them into the back of the plane; he made his way to the front of part of the room near what looked like an outline of a gigantic door in the wall in front of the twin engine antique. Savage touched a button on the wall at eye level with himself and with a screech of gears long neglected, a large door part of the dome’s outside wall slid open.
After Doc Savage entered the cockpit he took over the controls commenting,” Better buckle up, this is going to be a little tricky. We’ve got a strong wind blowing east to west and we’re headed south.”
“ Ok, I’m strapped in. Ready for anything!” Nancy peered into the blowing snow that was being blown around by ever increasing winds and added miserably,” Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”
Savage opened the throttle and across the ice they sped. The motors blew snow back behind them into the hanger room more than even the wind could. As the plane leapt forward and cleared the dome door, it shut closed behind them. There was only a short distance to take off from; because blocking their way to the south was a long clump of ice blocks twice as high as the fortress running from east to west several miles in each direction. To the north was an even shorter distance to work . Only a fourth a mile away from the dome was the polar sea made up mostly of great floating pieces of ice that drifted back and forth continuously.
The man of bronze chose the south way even though a slight miscalculation could cause their plane to dash to pieces into the great ice wall not a half a mile away. Due to the great piloting skill and long history of experiences of this kind; Savage was able to pull the unusual aircraft up into the frigid air high enough to clear the obstacle with a few feet to spare. Nancy’s impression of the great wall as she watched it being rapidly left behind, was its awesome beauty. What sunlight there was absorbed by the chaotically piled ice blocks was reflected in varying wavelengths, creating emerald greens, baby blues and indigos. Compared with the massive wall of ice aligned in mute defiance across the route to the south, Savage’s plane of bronze seemed minuscule. Nancy had to hold back a gasp of fright and wonder at that fantastic scene of the Arctic’s primitive beauty.
“ Tell you one thing Doc,” Nancy finally found strength to speak,” Being around you certainly isn’t boring.”
After a few anxious moments fighting the wind, the twin engine plane leveled out, and Savage set a course for Canada on an automatic device that he developed before anyone had ever heard of such a thing.
Doc Savage pulled out a map of Canada from a drawer under the control panel. The map pulled out, still attached to the back of the drawer, like one of those old sunshades used on windows. He looked up at Nancy,” Canada is where we will fuel up next,” he informed her.
“ While you’re at it, you could look up my uncle, I mean your aide Johnny.” Nancy suggested leaning back in her bronze cushioned cockpit seat,” You’ll probably think he hasn’t aged a bit. That’s because he doesn’t really seem to age a much. Billy his son, may be with him.”
“ What province does he live in? Or do you know?”
“ You know, pulling out that map jogged my memory and now I seem to remember Renny mentioning that Johnny moved to the province of Saskatchewan in the main city of Saskatoon. Well, not exactly in the city limits, for I think he said he has a cabin at the base of some mountains near lake Big Quill. I’ve been there once when I was a little tyke in fact, but not with Johnny. It was with my father Monk Mayfair.”
“ I’ve been there also.”
“ Oh? Were you on a case or something?”
“ Something like that, yes.”
Savage moved to the back of the plane and began opening cases lined up along one wall.
“ What’s that?” Nancy pointed at a strange pistol looking gun that Savage had just pulled from one of the numbered compartments to the first case he opened.
“ It’s a machine pistol. Twenty-four caliber, 786 rounds per minute, sixty-six in a magazine. Stay cool and hardly ever jams. I use to use these some. My aides used them more than I.”
Nancy obviously surprised, picked up one and examined it like an expert,” Why I’ve heard of these babies, but you say you used these way back then?”
“ Yes, it was a little ahead of it’s time.”
Nancy looked at the bronze giant with renewed wonder,” I’ll say. God, it’s as if you never were frozen at all.”
“ Hardly…Now tell me since no one has had a chance to yet, what has happened since 1949?”
Nancy looked thoughtful before she replied,” That is a loaded question, and I thought I got away from history.” She rolled her eyes and sighed in resignation.
As the bronze man’s plane winged it’s way south across the artic and eventually the great northern frontier of Canada, Nancy gave Doc Savage a long briefing in world events lost to him by a quirk of fate. Below somewhere in the artic wastelands, an old Eskimo named Nanook who some called Cookie watched Savage’s twin engine craft fly over as he danced near his igloo in a circle wearing only a shirt made of feathers. It was a dance of his ancestors to keep the sun up in the Artic sky longer and a dance to the spirits for good luck. Somehow Nanook sensed that in that plane that had past overhead carried the great bronze giant with the strange eyes; and somehow he also knew that it also carried the only hope for the survival of his world and that of all the peoples of the Earth. In silent concentration Nanook returned to his dance. The sun disappeared beyond the horizon anyway.
A man in his late seventies who’s hair was just beginning to show signs of graying was sitting in a small blue fishing boat on a beautifully calm lake. The lake was surrounded almost entirely by good sized mountains which reflections shown clear as a photograph across the crystal clear surface of the water. It was obvious there was little wind that early afternoon near the Big Quill Lake; which was unusual for that time of the year.
The old man had a monocle on one eye though he no longer needed it; since the successful surgery had restored sight long ago. He wore it just out of habit and also maybe for the fact that some people thought it made him look distinguished somehow. Someone in the distance was calling his name. At first, he smiled to himself thinking it was part of some dream he was having. Then he thought, hey I must be asleep and here I was supposed to be fishing. He awoke with a start and almost dropped his fishing pole into the mirror like surface of the lake.
“ Johnny! How much longer you going to be out there?”
There was that accursed voice again. He turned his wrinkled, but distinguished looking face and glanced toward the cabin near the shore behind him. The cabin was actually closer to the base of a small mountain than the beach. On it’s porch stood a thin man in his late thirties. Johnny reluctantly shouted back an answer,” I’ll be in a moment, that is if I’m inclined to do so or speculate the positive, negative sides of determining the outcome of a definite decision to do so or not to.”
The younger man threw up his hands and remarked,” Whatever you say Pops.” Then something caught his eye flying in from the northwestern sky barely clearing the mountain peaks nearby.
“ Hey.” He yelled in excitement and pointed in that direction,” Look at that. A plane and it’s headed this way!”
Johnny turned to look, and in a moment he saw the plane too. His eyes were not what they use to be or he would have noticed that the plane approaching their lake was bronze in color.
“ Well son.” The old man replied,” I can not postulate what he is doing up here in our locale, but he does not have the equipment to land on water, therefore an equitable guess is that he is passing through.”
“ Passing through like Hell.” Yelled the younger man,” He’s going to land on the shore across our lake over there I bet.” He pointed to the northwestern part of the Big Quill Lake.” The old man’s mouth dropped open in amazement and surprise,” Well, I’ll be supermalmegated. He’s going to land on land with ski landing gear?” This old man was to his friends simply Johnny, but to the world he was known as William Harper Littlejohn who was not only an expert in Archaeology, Geology and Stratigraphy, but he also knew Linguistics as well as Doc Savage. This thin old man six feet in height with a high forehead and intelligent brown eyes when excited or tired spoke like anyone else; yet give him time, and Johnny became an oral dictionary that only Doc Savage could understand what he was saying.
The bronze twin engine soon dove for the shore and landed miraculously on the small space that was available on that side of the lake. Johnny in his excitement, rose up in the boat and it came very close to capsizing.
“ Pops, did you see that?” Billy yelled as he ran toward the shore near his father.
“ Yeah Billy. The only son of a bitch I knew that could have pulled that off…” Johnny never finished his sentence, for he began to paddle madly for shore. By the time he reached shore, his son Billy was waiting for him and proceeded to try to help his father out of the boat. Johnny pushed Billy’s arm away and stiffly remarked,” Let go of me. I am not that prehistorically antiquarian yet.”
Then he promptly fell into the shallow water of the cold-water lake. Johnny pulled himself out of the water quickly as if he meant to do it that way, only to find his son doubled over laughing at him. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted several people approaching them from the recently beached aircraft.
Savage landed the twin engine plane on Big Quill’s narrow shore as if it were routine, breaking only a couple of feet from the water. Nancy wondered if there was anything this man couldn’t do. As they hiked their way along the sandy shore line toward Johnny’s cabin; Savage asked,” Why haven’t you talked more of your father?”
Nancy in a strained voice replied,” Ever since he was admitted into that World War I veterans ward at Brooklyn’s Veterans Administration Hospital last year, he’s lost interest in life outside. The only time he seems halfway like his old self is when Ham and him get together out of their rooms.”
“ What of Long Tom?”
Nancy couldn’t look Savage’s way as she replied,” Not good I’m afraid. They think he is dying.”
Savage stopped dead in his tracks and with urgent voice he asked,” Tell me, how long does he have?”
“ They’re not sure, maybe three months, could be less.” Nancy still couldn’t look Doc Savage in his face as she replied. Savage and Nancy began to walk once again, but a bit more slowly.
“ What is he dying of?”
“ A cancer of some incurable form.”
“ Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“ I was hoping to avoid it because frankly Doc, I had no idea how I was going to break that kind of news to you.”
There was a moment of silence in which they could only hear the birds calling in the distance across the lake and the forest surrounding it. Finally, Savage spoke unusually determined,” First thing’s first. We will see Johnny then Long Tom as soon as possible.”
Nancy took a deep breath and looked up into the man of bronze’s golden flaked eyes,” Sorry about Long Tom. It’s just over the months I’ve gotten use to the situation. I had a feeling before that there was something seriously wrong with him when he started having trouble getting around very well. He even reached the point of avoiding us as much as possible.”
It’s understandable, I just wish you wouldn’t hold back information like that.” Savage remarked.
“ Hey, look who’s talking.”
Savage ignored her comment,” Better run ahead to Johnny, and prepare him. He’ll keel over if you are not there to let him know before he recognizes me.”
“ Yeah, you are right.” Nancy ran toward Johnny and hugged him and his son Billy.
“ Nancy? Is that really you?” Johnny held Nancy out at arms length from him,” I haven’t seen you in ages. It is good to see my Nancy all grown up.”
“ I’ll say.” Billy exclaimed obviously impressed with the beautiful blonde that his father always talked about as if she had been five years old. She wasn’t,” And a damn sight better looking than what my father had let on.”
Nancy blushed a little and said thanks.
“ Who’s the big guy with you, Nancy?” Billy asked looking past Nancy and his father.
Nancy blinked then she remembered why she was there,” Oh, uncle Johnny. I’ve got the most incredible news you will ever hear. There’s somebody with me you know…”
Billy was obviously jealous and he had read a lot in her voice,” Looks to me like you might know him pretty well already.”
“ What? Ah shut your face you..” Nancy never got to finish or introduce Savage. Johnny suddenly gasped and his eyes got as big as half dollars, for he had recognized this bronze giant of a man that was approaching him with a knowing smile on his handsome face.
“ Well I’ll be supermelamegated! It can’t be!” Johnny squinted then rubbed his monocle before placing it back on,” Doc, is that really you? By heaven, of course it is none other.”
There was no hint of his age when he ran to Doc Savage, and wrapped his slender arms around him as best he could. Johnny cried openly and talked at the same time, mostly in shorter words. He forgot all about long words or fish, or anything.
“ It’s good to see you again Johnny,” There still remained the biggest smile playing across Savage’s face that Nancy had ever seen from him. Nancy pulled Billy off to the side and made a suggestion,” What say we leave those two alone for a while, since they’ve got a lot to catch up on? Forty years worth.”
Billy glanced at Savage and then his eyes narrowed as he looked Nancy’s way,” Just who the hell is he? What do you mean forty years? He don’t look a day over thirty-five.”
Nancy pulled her frame up to full height proudly,” That man my friend, is Clark Savage Jr. otherwise known as Doc Savage. Your father and his friends all knew him. They had thought him dead for forty years give or take a year.”
Billy sighed,” I feel like the least informed guy in the world. Well, let’s go to the cabin. You look pretty tired.”
“ Pooped is more the word. You will promise to be a good boy?”
Billy with fingers crossed behind him as they walked toward the cabin replied,” Scouts’ honor.”
While Billy and Nancy moved on, Johnny and his long lost friend sat down a couple of large stones by the lake’s edge and talked quite a while. By the time Doc and Johnny entered the cabin, the last red sliver of the sun was slipping behind the mountains that surrounded most of the Big Quill Lake area. Granted, they weren’t by the largest mountains Savage had ever seen, but they were some of the prettiest. A fried fish and vegetables dinner were waiting for them when the two arrived. Not only was Nancy tired, but ever bit as starved as Savage. As they sat down to dinner, Savage commented, “ looks to me like the stimulate I gave Nancy earlier has wore off.”
Nancy, despite her hunger could barely eat or even keep her eyes open, for the drowsiness she felt,” Yeah, you must be right,” She didn’t bother to hide her mouth as she yawned long and hard.
“ From the accurate description you gave me of her outstanding ordeal; rest and relaxation would be highly recommended.” Johnny just had to get in his two cents worth.
After dinner, the four sat in the dark around a roaring fire in the cabin’s fifty-year-old fireplace making small talk for some time before the conversation became interesting and to the point. Several of the burning logs collapsed with a crackling and sparks showering the entire insides of the old stone fireplace.
“ Hey Doc, what do you think of 1989?” Johnny finally ventured to ask him.
Savage thoughtfully replied as he leaned casually against the side of the warm stones of the fireplace,” Technology has changed, advanced but man is basically the same. Always at war with their fellow man.”
“ Yeah, same old crap. Maybe even worse now.” Billy remarked as he examined his shoes for the moment.
“ Not necessarily.” Johnny had to disagree with his son,” Communication has reached a point where it makes our world seem smaller, therefore it makes for more understanding of a people and their cultures that was practically impossible before.”
“ Some understanding.” Nancy remarked sleepily,” We’ve had two wars since World War II, both of which were undecided.”
“ We might be on the verge of another world war.” Billy added.
“ Yes, and from what Nancy has told me so far, it may be man’s last. It would seem someone is trying to solve the problem with mankind, but they are going about it the wrong way. How they plan to is a mystery to me.”
It was a rare thing when Savage revealed to anyone some of his thoughts and theories on any mystery prematurely.
“ Well, it isn’t to me,” Nancy stated matter-of fact.
“ How’s that?” Johnny surprised, asked her.
“ Enlighten us.” Savage added more than lightly intrigued, but not surprised.
“ Jim, I mean Doctor Sagger gave me a general idea of just what an impact his field of research could have on the world, both for the good or bad. Nancy informed them.
“ I thought he might have told you a bit of what he knew; that is precisely
why I knew we were all in danger.” Savage said as he leaned closer to his friends.
“ Does that include all our families as well?” Johnny asked in alarm.
“ I’m afraid so.” Savage replied dryly.
“ Nancy, I’m curious. What did doctor Sagger tell you?” Savage asked.
Nancy licked her lips nervously and replied,” He has developed a process of suspended animation and thawing technology that could be used to control the weather throughout the world. You could even thaw out the Earth’s polar caps if you wanted to.” There was a pause, a moment of silence while those facts sunk in on the little group. The logs popped under the fury of the blaze in the fireplace causing Billy and Nancy to involuntarily jump.
Doc Savage dead serious, looked the group over before him,” Now we all know and so we should take extra precautions for our safety.”
Johnny nodded in agreement, while Nancy almost nodded off to sleep.
“ Listen you two, it’s getting late and I know we’re suppose to be in a hurry for several reasons; but why don’t you guys stay the night here. Then first thing in the morning, we can leave with a fresh start.” Billy suggested.
“ Yes, indubitably so.” Johnny agreed.
Savage noticed Nancy nodding of,” Looks like we have no choice. I’ll need someone to relieve me as pilot once in a while.” Both Johnny and Billy knowingly chuckled.
“ I doubt that it would do any eruptible harm. Her exhaustion is very evident and enhanced.” Johnny observed.
“ More good than harm.” Billy added.
“ Ok Johnny.” Savage rose off the floor with little effort even as tired as he felt,” Show us where we can sleep before I have to carry her to bed.”
Johnny couldn’t help but grin as he exclaimed,” That should prove to be interesting.”
Savage gave Johnny an exasperated look that was unmistakable. Nancy took little notice of the remark or anything she was so weak from exhaustion.
Everyone was soon sleeping like a baby except Doc Savage, who lay there half asleep for quite some time. His eyes were close for only a moment when he heard what sounded like the drone of an airplane engine in the distance. Soon, the sound died away and he relaxed as best he could. Still, he couldn’t sleep with so much on his mind. Finally, he decided to get up and check his plane’s cargo one more time. Perhaps he could get things more organized and lined up for the rest of the trip. Anything to keep that unsettling woman off his mind.
Noiselessly, Savage slipped out the front cabin door as if he were a spirit and was soon trotting along the shores toward the beached aircraft. A full moon shone enough light to illuminate the scene that lay before him. A slight breeze blew through his close crop of dark bronze hair. It felt good to Savage to be alive and in the thick of things again. He hoped he wasn’t getting too thick on Nancy’s mind. One can only hope.
Ten yards from his plane Savage heard the drone of a aircraft engine again, only closer this time. He could barely make out the shape of the new arrival, for it was painted a dark shade of blue or green he wasn’t sure. It was headed toward his plane, that much he was sure of.
Savage moved as fast as he had ever moved in his life. He reached his destination and was in and out just as the incoming craft started it’s dive. The dark plane strafed Savage’s plane with machinegun fire briefly, then strafed the beach Savage was running on his way back toward the cabin. The tracer bullets lighting up the sky began to catch up with him, when he suddenly dived into the cold waters of the lake Quill as far as he could.
Without hesitation, the attacking mystery plane headed on for Johnny’s cabin. Savage was up and out of the water in a flash shouting to the people inside the cabin to get out pronto. As he ran he pulled a machine pistol from the large compartment in his vest type jacket and fired in the direction of the plane in short bursts of rapid fire. Billy and Nancy pulled, half dragged Johnny from the old cabin out the back door just as the first bomb fell form the dark plane.
Doc Savage shouted a warning,” Drop everybody.” as he quickly fell flat onto the beach nearby. The very second they dropped to the ground, the cabin exploded into fragments that landed as far as halfway across Big Quill. A sheet of boiling flame shot fifty feet into the air, and Billy was thrown against a large pine tree knocking him temporarily senseless.
Savage was experiencing a loud ringing in his ears, still he managed to get up on the run, and throwing Billy over his shoulder. He helped Nancy drag Johnny away from the light of the fire of the burning debris that had once been a cabin. The four made it to the safety of the forest nearby before the dark plane could come in for another dive. On it’s next dive, it dropped yet another bomb and strafed the area around the burning wreckage. Meanwhile, the man of bronze had been fitting a three-inch cylinder type object on the end of his machine pistol. As the mystery bomber made a low pass by the group on what was apparently a third dive, Savage carefully aimed his machine pistol up toward the back of it’s tail section and pulled the trigger. There was a single sharp report and the tail end of the plane disappeared in an orange flame of an explosion.
Billy began to stir as Savage and friends watched the dark plane plunge into the middle of the lake and quickly submerged below the surface. Johnny and Nancy cheered the second they saw it go under. No survivors were found. After Billy regained his senses, everyone followed Doc Savage back to his plane, there was nothing left to go back to the cabin anyway. Doc Savage examined his plane for damage while the others stood look out for any possible future attacks.
As Savage examined the engines he said over his shoulder to everyone there,” I suggest we keep moving tonight until we reach Long Tom. We can sleep in shifts on the plane.”
“ This plane? Nancy asked unbelieving,” You mean to tell me it’s still in flying condition?”
Doc Savage turned to face the wary but excited group before him,” Yes in their haste to attack our cabin, they didn’t do a good job on the plane. There’s very little damage to hold us up.”
Billy smiled and exclaimed as he patted the side of the bronze skinned twin engine,” Now this is what I call a beauty. What are we waiting for, let’s get going. I want those bastards who are responsible for this.”
“First things first.” Doc savage said,” Johnny, you and Billy, try to find us enough fuel around to get us as far as Saskatoon, where we’ll refuel and head for New York immediately.”
“ Yeah you know, I think we have some large drums of fuel stored back there in our storage shack. That is if it’s still standing.” Johnny offered.
They did find a shack still standing despite a charred roof. While they gathered fuel, Nancy asked Savage if she could help in any way.
Doc replied,” Come with me and help sift through the equipment in my plane.”
As they climbed into the aircraft, Doc Savage noticed out of the corner of his eye a flash of light made by moonlight reflecting off metal further up a nearby mountain to the west. He gave no indication that he had noticed anything; instead when they were inside, he turned to Nancy and calmly explained,” We must hurry for even as I speak, we are being watched.”
Nancy in alarm asked,” By whom?”
“ By someone that is doubtlessly reporting his or her failure to assassinate us.”
“ So there were survivors.”
“ Savage grimly answered,” So it would seem.”
If Savage could have had some special powers to see up the mountain close, he would have found the source of reflective light to be a young extraordinary muscular man with special night vision binoculars to his eyes. He was talking in a low voice into a powerful headset radio. Even at that distance the spy took no chances and had crouched behind several large stones, some as big as a man. The pine trees were thick around him, but he didn’t trust that cover alone.
At that very moment that savage was explaining to Nancy about the possibility of being watched, the young spy was replying to an inquiry over the radio.
“ Yep, that’s right. He shot our plane right out from under us, and now they are preparing to take off in his flying piece of junk.” He paused to listen then answered the voice on the radio,” Headed southeast I imagine.” He lowered his glasses and began to climb down, and one time while he started to say something over the radio, it fell out of his hands to land on the rocks. He had an anxious moment when he yelled into the radio’s microphone and didn’t get a response until a minute later. Not sure if the radio would work much longer, the young spy made his message short and to the point,” I’ll find a way to follow them somehow. Don’t worry. No sweat.” He listened for a moment and replied in a terse manner,” I know what I’m doing.”
His bright red hair and mustache glistening in the moonlight, the young man angrily shut off his headset. Throwing it to the ground angrily he cursed
Whoever it was on the other side of the transmission in Scottish Gaelic,”
Nayinde mone!” which translated meant, “son of a bitch”. He then proceeded to make his way gingerly down from his hide away.
Somehow it wasn’t fun anymore.
The man of bronze’s plane took off without a hitch and banked its way toward the southeast as the spy had predicted. The view from the air of lake Big Quill, the mountains and the surrounding countryside as far as the eye could see was breathtaking; so much so that all four passengers were left speechless for some time after takeoff.
Doc Savage and Johnny sat in the pilot and co-pilot seats while Billy and Nancy sat in back. Soon, Savage called them to the front and after they unbuckled their seatbelts, Nancy and Billy were leaning inside the cockpit to listen in on what Savage had to say.
“ Now that it’s set on automatic pilot, let’s talk.”
Doc savage began,” Nancy, Billy, you have both been filled in on how we lived and what we dedicated our lives to. Do you want in on this? If you do you won’t have to worry about financial matters again.”
“ And there will be an excellent potential for excitement.” Johnny had to add grinning like the cat that ate the canary.
Nancy interrupted,” I’ll say.”
“ If you don’t want in, then we’ll gladly drop you off at a location that will be safe.” Doc continued,” We can pick you up after all of this has blown over, hopefully.”
Nancy and Billy looked at each other and laughed,” Are you kidding?” Billy exclaimed,” We’re already involved up to our eyeballs. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
“ Hell, you can count us in Clark.” Nancy added excitedly.
Johnny looked at Doc inquisitively,” Clark?” Seeing that his friend chose to ignore his questioning remark about Nancy calling him by his first name, Johnny slapped his knee and said out loud,” Alright! Just like the old days.”
Doc Savage soberly replied,” Not exactly. This time we’re up against someone whom I must admit may have the odds weighing heavily in his favor.”
Johnny muttered,” You always were a party pooper.”
As their twin engine plane winged its way to who knows what fate, little was said for a time. They stared ahead reflecting on all that had happened and what could in the future. After they refueled, they debated on calling another aide, Renny who owned a house outside of Salt Lake city, Utah. Finally, they decided to risk it and contacted him by their radio using a little known frequency that Doc and his aides used long ago. Nothing was mentioned of Doc Savage, only for Renny to meet Johnny, Nancy, and Billy at the old German café in the Bronx, New York City, two days from then. They did mention about the danger, and that was all it took.
“ Holy Cow!” Renny exclaimed loudly over the radio.” That big huh? You better believe I’ll be there, and I might bring us a little help too. Hot Dog! See you guys later!”
Doc Savage asked Johnny,” What did he mean, a little help?”
Johnny cleared his throat,” You don’t excogitate you can keep his sons out of this escapade do you?”
“ Sons.” Savage repeated.
“ Yes.” Johnny explained,” Thomas and Gregory have families, but even they won’t be able to hold them back from getting entangled in this perilous enterprise.”
Savage could only sigh,” This could get a little complicated.” After a pause he continued,” Alright, spit it out all of you. Whatever you’re holding back, I want to know now.” They could tell he meant it.
Nancy spoke first as if it was confession time,” Uh, it is like this, my mother Glenda Mayfair had been dead three years now, a car accident.”
“ I’m sorry to hear this.” Savage commented.
Nancy looked away for a moment, but continued when Billy squeezed her hand,” Let’s see….Uncle Ham has a son whose a lawyer for a big firm in Manhattan. I’ve only seen him once. Name’s Nick.”
“ We can get in touch with him, his father and your father when we arrive in New York city.”
“ That should be interesting, a crook and two nitwits.” Nancy wisecracked, then she remembered something,” Long Tom has one daughter, Marilyn. I haven’t heard about her in a long time.”
“ She’s with her dad at the Hospital in upstate New York.” Johnny informed the group.
“ Our Hospital?” Doc asked.
“Right you are and its been remodeled with more security in the essential locations.” Johnny replied not without enthusiasm.
“ Then our next stop will be Albany New York. Now, as much as I hate to ask this; I know I have to sooner or later. What of my cousin Patricia?”
Everyone but Savage looked down or away in embarrassment.
“ So what of her?” Billy asked nervously.
“ Billy!” Johnny admonished his son,” Uh, Pat took it awfully hard when you mysteriously disappeared back in ’49, Doc. She married twice, but neither worked out to her satisfaction. Then she….” Johnny couldn’t finish, he could only swallow hard and stare at the cockpit floor.
Billy impatiently finished it for him rudely,” What my dad’s trying to say is the old lady’s become a drunk and a crazy loon to boot.”
“ Billy you moron!” It was Nancy’s turn to admonish Johnny’s son. “ Is there any truth to this Johnny?” Savage sounded anxious as he spoke. The way the bronze giant stared at him, Johnny knew he couldn’t get around it so he simply answered,” Yes, I’m afraid it is so.”
Where is she now?” Doc Savage seemed to be on the verge of losing his cool.
“ Same hospital as Long Tom, in the dry out ward, the last I heard.”
Johnny quietly replied,” I’m sorry to have to tell you this bit of terrible news Doc.”
“ Looks like we’re in a mess.” Doc stated dryly and for a moment he turned and stared out the cockpit side window toward the heavens. He barely even noticed that his plane was now flying at top speed at an elevation near 20,000 feet, and that a storm of boiling black cloud were brewing in the distance. Without turning, Savage asked as if to himself out loud,” What kind of world have I awoke up in?”
In a jet powered helicopter trailing at a discreet distance behind Doc Savage’s group was the same red haired man that had survived the crash into lake Big Quill. An evil grin played across his face as he remarked to himself,” This is going to be a piece of cake.”
Soon after, he made a call over his headset phone in which only he could have heard what was said by the other party. After a moment, he shut off the radio phone and chuckling he remarked to himself once again,” This’ll please the main guy to no end.”
Late the next morning, Savage’s plane arrived in Albany airport, which is actually located in Latham New York, six miles from Albany. The hospital of which they spoke earlier was located in the hills north of that town. They took an old ford rental car from the airport without incident.
A single dirt road wound from the distant country highway through heavy timber following creeks and passed through many small valleys. Finally the road terminated at the massive gates of steel in front of their destination, the Upstate New York Hospital once known as Doc Savage’s Criminal College. They drove through the gates with Johnny at the wheel after they received clearance to do so by camera surveillance and two well-armed guards in light blue uniforms, gold identity badges on their shirts.
What was noticed right away was that those heavily guarded fence topped by barbed wire, circled an area many acres around the institution.
As they pulled into the main drive to the front, Nancy leaned over toward Doc Savage who was sitting beside her in the back seat, and whispered a question to him before they arrived at the tall front doors to the main building.
“ Are we still being followed?”
Savage without turning, exclaimed in a low voice that only Nancy could hear,” This person must be good, for I haven’t seen a trace of him since he followed us by helicopter all the way to Albany.”
“ You mean you knew he was following our plane all along?” Nancy questioned out loud amazement written on her features.
The man of bronze ignored her outburst and stated,” Look, we’re here. I remember this place well.”
Johnny looked back at Doc and Nancy and grinned, then he slowly stopped the ford in front of the front doors. “ I think you’ll be ecstatic with the changes, Doc.”
The Criminal College, which is called Upstate New York Hospital, looked much as it had in the forties. There were three buildings four stories high built so close together that later an enclosed walkway was built from the second floor of each one and lead into the building next door.
That was so that no one had to get out in the weather to travel from one building to another. The building in the middle, the largest of the three, contained the main administration offices and alcoholic wards.
Savage’s rented car was parked in front of the middle building and several husky security guards greeted Johnny and his friends as they climbed the front steps of the main building and entered the front double doors.
Johnny explained to one of the guards,” We’re here to see Long Tom and Patricia Savage. These are mutual friends of the patients. Johnny pointed Nancy, Billy and Doc Savage with a wave of his hand.
One of the guards looked them up and down,” Well mister little John, Long Tom is still in I.C>U> while Patricia has been moved to the east building ward eight.”
“ A padded cell? Why?” Johnny was shocked by the news.
“ This morning she began to laugh hysterically and attacked a male aide.” One of the guards patiently explained.
Doc Savage interrupted concern in his voice,” Have they given her a sedative?”
Both guards looked up startled by the incredible controlled voice that commanded attention wherever it was heard.
“ Yeah, Hey!” the spokesman of the two guards asked,” Who are you?” the guard continued as he glanced back at the other guard,” Sure looks familiar doesn’t he Jack?”
“ Yeah, I’ve seen his picture somewhere.” Jack the older of the two, replied curiosity eating away at him by the minute. Neither thought to look back at a painting a good likeness of the man of bronze hanging on a wall behind them. The other guard narrowed his eyes getting more suspicious with each passing moment until Nancy pushed Doc and Johnny aside which took everyone by surprise,” Why don’t you two big strong men show me around this interesting place.” Nancy purred in her most voluptuous voice, and batted her eyes at them innocently.
The guards if you can call them that, took one look at her and grinned like a pair of wolves. The unnamed guard was all the gracious host,” Sure we can young lady. You can go on, you don’t look like a security risk to me. Right Jack?” He looked Jack’s way and had to punch him in the shoulder to get his attention,” I said right?”
“ Uh, right. Besides we’re gonna be busy. Now miss, where do you want to start?”
Arm in arm the three strolled down a hallway as Johnny, Billy, and Doc breathed a sigh of relief.
“ That was exceptionally quick thinking of Nancy to construct that ruse.”” Johnny remarked,” Let us ask this receptionist over at the desk over there if she has the knowledge of the room number where Long Tom is presiding now.”
The petite blonde receptionist after checking their identification thoroughly, told the trio his room was on the second floor, in the I.C>U> area, room 210. After, the receptionist gave an unmistakable look Savage’s way with brilliant green eyes that told a lot more than what she would ever have said in front of the other people, Billy asked his father,” Did you see the look she gave Doc?”
“ Better get use to it Sonny, that use to happen all the time.” Johnny stated,” I have always been mystified by the sometimes most irritating fixations that the opposite gender has for this Herculean.”
Billy rolled his eyes,” A simple yeah would have been sufficient.”
They rode the elevator to the second floor and as they stepped off Savage asked Johnny,” How is the electronic surveillance here?”
“ Tops. The latest in the state of art electronic video and sound, plus an electronic outside motion intruder warning system with thermal sensing…”
Savage interrupted Johnny,” Good, then Pat will certainly be safe enough here.” Then he paused for complete attention and effect before continuing,” Pat must not know that I’m alive for now.”
Johnny stopped walking and his monocle fell from his eye. As he picked it up he asked,” What did you say?”
“ You heard me right. We must not visit her, or at least I shouldn’t. It is for her own protection. We’ll let her in on this secret later.”
“ Ok, if you insist.” Johnny sighed,” But when she finds out about all this…Hoooa! I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.” Just for a split second Johnny could have sworn he saw Savage look very uncomfortable.
Soon, they slipped into the I.C.U. area only to be stopped and checked for identification again before they were allowed to continue to room 210. When they reached Long Tom’s room, Doc Savage was the last to enter. Long Tom was inside awake and cheerfully greeted Johnny and Billy. He was about to ask what the hell they were doing up there besides seeing an old man in a dirty bed or a dirty man in an old bed; when he espied Savage’s gigantic frame standing just inside the door. A very familiar voice from the distant past spoke to him.
“ long Tom, you look as cranky as ever.”
Long Tom’s dry parched mouth fell open in amazement,” Doc? I-It can’t be possible! Tell me someone that I’m dreaming.”
Major Thomas J. Roberts, “ Long Tom” to his friends, looked almost the same as Savage remembered him, perhaps even paler than before. He had always been the physical weakling of all the aides, standing only five feet six inches tall and weighing in a t a thin 140 lbs, one could imagine that it was true. Yet, he could have licked any nine out of ten men on the streets. Though he always looked sick, he had never been a single day of his life. Nor did he drink or smoke. Long Tom got his nickname during World War I when he stopped a German infantry attack in a village in France by loading up an old “Long Tom”, a seventeenth-century cannon standing in the towns square, with scrap metal; and firing it off. Now his pale blonde hair had given way to white. Still his pale blue eyes were the same even if they didn’t shine with the life that they had in the past.
That was all that was said. It was indeed a tearful reunion as Savage and Long Tom hugged each other. Nancy entered the room to sit in a cushioned chair. Soon a tear welled up in Nancy’s eye as she watched the emotional scene.
“ Now I believe it Clark. You are everything to them,” Nancy’s voice wavered as she wiped her wet cheek. Everyone joked and laughed amongst themselves a moment until they heard a new voice address them from a shadowy corner of the room,” Am I going to be introduced or what?”
Long Tom turned toward the voice, but explained to the man of bronze, Forgive me Doc, this is my daughter, Marlyn. Marlyn, this is the famous Doc Savage, a wizard not only in my field electricity, but in every field of science and medicine. Also, he was my dearest long-time friend.”
A very tall slender woman in her mid-thirties with long coal black hair flowing down her back, stepped into the light. Her features were almost too perfect to believe; a raving beauty. She was dressed in a very expensive slim no-waist black leather shirt and a black and white houndstooth checked buster coat that buttoned down the front and padded shoulder, mid-calf length hem. A fringed wool scarf black and white print was wrapped around her shapely neck.
Marlyn had a strange sort of smile on her full red lips as she continued to approach a surprised Doc Savage. The man of bronze had for the first time been completely unaware of a presence that close to him in a room, or anywhere for that matter. She was only five feet away before she spoke again,” So, I finally meet the famous Doctor Clarke Savage Jr… You’re in pretty good shape for an eighty-four year old man.”
Marlyn shook Savage’s hand and by then she was close enough he noticed her gold-flaked eyes like his own. A brief trilling sound like an exotic bird filled the air for a few seconds and then quickly faded. Marlyn seemed to be totally unaffected or unaware of this strange sound. Savage turned to Long Tom who by now had sat up on the edge of the hospital bed.
Long Tom found it hard to meet Savage’s gaze as he confessed,” I know what you are thinking and you’re right. I was Pat’s second husband. I don’t know what to say.” Long Tom lowered his face in shame.
Doc Savage placed his hand on Long Tom’s shoulder and quietly reassured him,” It is quite alright. After what I’ve seen so far, I shouldn’t be surprised of anything. You were there to comfort her, I understand that.”
Suddenly, Savage heard Marlyn’s voice rise excitedly as she shouted, Then I guess you shouldn’t be surprised at this!” Marlyn had drawn a small caliber pistol out from her coat pocket and aimed the cold steel barrel right at the bronze giant’s midriff.
“ Well I’ll be supermalgamated!” Johnny breathed.
Before she could pull the trigger, Marlyn was suddenly knocked to the floor with a perfect below the waist tackle. The gun slid across the slick surface of the floor and into Billy’s waiting hands. Nancy helped Marlyn to her feet, but continued to hold onto her by her arms at her sides as everyone crowded around the two. Nancy half turned to Savage and asked,” Clark, are you ok?”
Doc Savage stepped closer to examine both women to make sure they were ok before he replied,” I’m ok.”
“ Marlyn, what in the hell were trying to pull anyway?” Nancy asked of Long Tom’s daughter who was more than a little shaken.
Marlyn wiped the tears away and stammered,” I-It is his entire fault t-that my mother’s gone crazy. Why did you have to leave? Why?” she began to cry again, while Long Tom took her gently away from Nancy and held her comforting her the best he could even though it was obvious he was in great deal of pain.
After a quiet moment, the man of bronze spoke,” People, I think all our nerves are strained to their limits. Some good advice would be for all of us to get a good night’s sleep before we try to accomplish any more.”
Everyone seemed pleased with the aspect of sleep or at least some rest. Marlyn apologized to Savage and the others there for her behavior,” It was indeed my nerves that had been bothering me and I must confess that I’m at a loss as to why. It must have looked like I went off the deep end.”
Savage smiled and sighed a deep sigh of relief. It had been a near brush with death at the end of a long day. He said nothing to Marlyn at that moment.
Johnny arranged for some unoccupied rooms for everyone to stay the night in which were next to each other for their added safety. Johnny elected to stay with the ailing Long Tom in his room, while Nancy and Marlyn stayed together in a room down the hall. Doc and Billy took up residence next door. Before they retired to their rooms, Savage motioned Billy, Nancy and Marlyn into his room.
Thirty minutes later, Marlyn popped into Long Tom’s room to say goodnight. As she appeared in the room, Johnny asked her,” What in the devil are you doing there?”
Marlyn smiled saying excitedly,” He wants us to help him, you know, join his organization! Goodnight everybody.”
Johnny started to ask what organization, but she was out the door with a giggle before the two older aides could comment.
“ Holy smokes! Just like Pat use to be, ready to jump into anything as long as there was danger and Doc involved.” Long Tom remarked.
“ Indubitably so.” Johnny agreed,“ I hope Doc knows what he’s doing.”
After Doc Savage and Billy were settled in their room, the bronze giant started a grueling one and one half hour session of exercises that made an aerobic instructor look sick. Only toward the end of the session did Savage break out in sweat. After he took one cold then a hot shower, he told Billy that he was going to take a peek at Patricia,” So go ahead and get some sleep and I’ll be back before you know it.”
“ I don’t think I’ll have much trouble going to sleep tonight, you wore me out just watching you go through your exercise thing.”
With a smile, the man of bronze was out the door.
When he was gone, Billy asked himself if this man of bronze ever took the time to rest. Then he wondered if he was really human. He decided to ponder no more about such things; it was giving him a headache.
Six o’clock the next morning, Marlyn slipped quietly out of her room and made her way for the east building ward eighteen. The ward was locked tight, but when the guard observed who wanted in; he quickly let Marlyn in with an apology. The room where her mother was staying was special because it had a two-way mirror window to watch patients’ behavior inside without them becoming aware of being observed. There was no chance of being seen outside of the room for the mirror was made of a newly developed glass. It had one more property; it was almost indestructible to any impact and heat resistant.
The first thing Marlyn noticed, was the bronze giant was in the room standing in front of the two way mirror staring directly into it. Without turning, Savage addressed Marlyn in a unusually controlled voice,” Come here Marlyn, you might find this interesting.”
When Marlyn stepped beside the man of bronze, she wasn’t in the least prepared for what she saw before her. Doc Savage’s cousin and Marlyn’s mother Patricia was pressing her face to the mirror window and was staring right at them as if she could really see them as well as they could observe her. Suddenly, Patricia began yelling something to them, which Marlyn couldn’t hear.
“ What is going on?” Marlyn a bit shaken asked Savage.
“ I’ll turn the speaker on and turn up the volume.” Savage announced as he turned a small knob on a control panel located just to the right of the mirror. Immediately sound impregnated the room with startling clarity.
Patricia, almost six foot with golden hair disheveled and frayed took a deep breath and yelled once more,” Doc! I know you are there.” She giggled happily and then after a pause,” God! He’s alive and I see him in my head, not my eyes.”
Then with a short scream of surprise, Patricia as mad as could be; ran at full speed toward the wall to their left, and hit it with a smack. Giggling uncontrollably, Patricia slid down to the padded floor. Her straight jacket lay over in a corner torn to shreds.
Marlyn looked away for she had had enough. She turned to Savage and asked desperately,” How does she know Mister Savage? She’s never seen you has she? No one has talked to her about you as far as I know.”
“ Yes, as far as we know.” Doc said thoughtfully,” I think we are witnessing perhaps an actual telepathic event. She has sensed that I am here or at least that I am alive, but there is something else. I think she is also talking about another person.”
“ Another? Who would that be?”
“ I do not know.”
God, will this ever end for her?” Marlyn asked as she laid her head on the man of bronze’s chest and softly cried.
“ For now, but I promise you that I will do everything in my power to help her.” Doc Savage answered uncomfortably.
Someone cleared their throat. Both Marlyn and Doc Savage turned around toward the entrance to find all of the rest of the group except Long Tom; standing there staring at them in disbelief. Nancy with hands on hips asked,” What’s all the racket?”
“ Somehow Pat knows I am alive.” Savage warily replied.
“ Any guess as to who tipped her off?” Billy questioned as he and the others approached the padded cell observance area.
“ No one did according to mister wizard over here. He thinks she may be telepathic.” Marlyn tried to wisecrack, but wasn’t very convincing.
Savage explained what they had witnessed and Johnny blurted out,” But that is impossible. They gave her enough sedative to knock out a rogue elephant.”
“ Never-the-less, she did all I described.”
“ What can we do?” Nancy asked feeling a little helpless.
Savage started for the door as he explained,” For the time being, nothing. We will alert the staff to make sure she doesn’t bite open her wrists or something as desperate. It is imperative that we move on and meet Renny at the café.”
Marlyn started to protest as well as Nancy, but Johnny interrupted them,” Forget it girls. Once he has made up his mind, you might as well let it go. Just maintain a perspective on the ability to produce a positive response on your opinions later.”
Nancy said,” Right.” As she shoved Johnny out of the way to follow the man of bronze.
Billy rolled his eyes and commented as they left the room,” I thought I cured you of that habit Pops.”
“ What habit?” Johnny asked innocent as a child. Billy groaned and as they left the ward, Doc Savage gave instructions to his people.
“ Johnny, you stay and help Long Tom watch Pat.”
Johnny hesitated for a second, but realized the futility of questioning Doc Savage’s orders,” Ok by me, can’t handle much effervescence anymore.”
“ The rest of you come with me. Next stop, the Bronx.”
Nancy gave a whoop of excitement, while Marlyn was torn between two emotions; sadness for her mother and the torturous hell she was suffering and eagerness for the excitement that lay before them. Billy was too busy trying to get close to Nancy to think of anything else.
An hour later, they were packed and said their goodbyes to Johnny and Long Tom. The last words Doc Savage heard from his old electrical expert as he lay in his bed were,” Doc, if we never see each other again and you survive this crazy escapade of yours, promise you will take care of my daughter and Pat for me.”
“ That’s crazy talk Long Tom.” Savage smiling assured him,” We’re tough ole cookies remember?”
Long Tom grinned in pain, but insisted,” Please promise me alright?”
Doc Savage held up his hands in defense,” Ok, Ok. I promise. Satisfied?”
“ Yes.” Long Tom quietly rasped,” Somehow it makes a whole world of difference, a big relief. Anyway, good luck Doc.”
Doc Savage shook his hand firmly saying,” I’ll be seeing you later.”
Long Tom never spoke another word until his friends had all left the room. Then he looked toward his window and quietly remarked to himself, “ Good-bye my friends.” and closed his eyes for a long awaited rest.
Johnny explained to Doc Savage as they were leaving the front doors,” I’ve made arrangements for a different rental car than the one you arrived in. One of the finest young detectives in our organization descised as your personage will drive the other vehicle out. Hopefully whoever was following you will continue to follow the other car and not your new one.”
“They probably will, long enough to make our getaway. A good plan of deception, thanks Johnny.” Doc Savage shook his hand,” Hope to see you in a few days.”
Johnny sadly waved goodbye to his friends even when their car was far away, wishing very much to go with them; but realizing that another friend needed him even more.
“ What a complicated situation I am embroiled within. Am I being pretentious to eliminate this suppurated predicament monomaniacal and undeviating beyond calculable presumption.” Johnny found himself asking out loud to the hills around the institution.
A guard behind him that he hadn’t noticed retorted,” Big words make bigger turds.” Johnny knew of just the fellow that this idiot should have met.
Savage and party took off in the second car, an old black Lincoln Continental as planned. They took route eighty-seven which lead directly to New York city, one-hundred and forty-nine miles away. As soon as Billy noticed that they were not headed for the airport, he asked the man of bronze,” Why aren’t we headed for your plane?”
Doc Savage without turning for he was driving answered patiently,” Because no doubt by now they have either planted a bomb on board it or sabotaged it in some way.”
“ Gee.” Nancy sarcastically remarked,” I never thought of that.”
Billy gave her a dirty look at first, but ended up smiling because he just couldn’t stay mad at this knockout before him for any length of time.
“From now on, everyone stay alert. We may still be followed.” Savage warned them. Quiet prevailed among his group for a while. One hour later, just as everyone began to relax, Billy sitting in front with Savage at the wheel suddenly commented,: Doc, is it raining or hailing out there?”
Savage leaned near the windshield and glanced upward,” No, but I do see a helicopter flying above us. Looks as though he’s trying to strafe our car with a machinegun.”
“ Oh no!” Marlyn screamed.
“ Where the hell is my gun?” Nancy shouted as she searched her pale blue jacket.
“ Everyone remain calm.” Savage half turned to look behind him and tried to assure his friends,” This car is armor plated throughout.” He turned around and commented as he observed something through the windshield.
“ Looks like they’re trying to stop us or at least slow us down.”
A hundred yards ahead, a large semi-rig was jack-knifed across the highway, its load of crates scattered across the pavement and a plowed field nearby. Seconds later a dozen men with shotguns and automatic rifles began pouring out from behind the truck and some of the crates. They lined up in a single line and opened fire toward the oncoming Continental. Doc Savage and his friends could hear the impacts of many bullets as they glanced off the body and window shield.
“ That much fire power will eventually penetrate the bullet proof windows. They are not entirely indestructible you know.” Doc Savage stated matter-of-factly as he swerved the long Lincoln back and forth from the left lane to the right and back again.
“ Yeah, they may have armor piercing bullets too. Yikes!” Nancy exclaimed as it dawned on her what that would mean.
“ Hold on,” Doc Savage yelled, as he slammed down hard on the brakes and yanked the steering wheel sharply to the left. The old Continental had surprisingly good maneuverability. Savage swerved the vehicle around 180 degrees, and then with tires spinning and squealing; they took off back the way they had come. Men from the truck and elsewhere chased after the car shooting as they ran, but soon most of them realized that it was useless and slowed to a walk.
In the getaway car Savage was about to breath a sigh of relief from their close call; when he caught sight of the helicopter again. Then the world seems to explode around them. A missile from the pursuing helicopter had fired almost point blank range and hit on the right side of their Continental, flipping it through the air to land on its side some fifty feet from impact. Doc Savage was thrown clear of the crash; but with his superb physical conditioning; he was able to land agilely onto his feet at a run.
In the pursuing helicopter the pilot was the same muscular red haired man that had followed them before. He cursed when he witness Savage surviving the wreck running through tall brush as fleet as a dear.
“ I’ll get that bastard.”
He spun the helicopter around and down toward the running bronze man. The pilot threw down his sunglasses, whirling around and grabbing the controls more firmly he yelled,” Bye bye, sucker.”
Diving at a dangerous speed, the helicopter’s machineguns blazed away at the landscape below. Bullets buzzed all around Savage, nicking him in the arm.
Suddenly, Savage fell down into the thick brush and tall grass apparently seriously hurt. The pilot lifted back on the stick quickly and his helicopter soon hovered swaying gently back and forth over the area Savage had last been seen. The pilot laughed with glee and switched on his radio headset,” Little bird to nest come in.” A few seconds later an eerie voice ranging from a high pitch to a low pitch in tone answered,” What is cooking little bird?”
“ Jack’s got the giant and he’s burning in Purgatory by now.”
“ Good, your reward will be very big chunk of bird seed, fifty thousand chunks of bird seed.”
Red hair’s laugh ended in a gasp in the next instant. If he hadn’t of seen it he wouldn’t have believed it. A large bronze figure appeared out of the brush and jumped straight up to catch a hold of the helicopter’s landing gear. It had been at least a six-foot jump straight up to accomplish that feat. The extra weight threw the helicopter off balance momentarily. By the time the pilot had straightened out his controls, Savage was climbing into the cockpit. A voice from the radio could be heard yelling questions and cursing as a terrific battle ensued between the two big men.
The red haired pilot threw a good right punch first into the bronze man’s chest knocking him almost out of the cockpit backwards. Quickly, he caught hold of the sides of the doorway of the helicopter just in time to prevent himself from falling right on out. His attacker tried to follow it up with a vicious kick to the head of the bronze man; but incredibly, Savage grabbed the pilot’s boot in mid-air and drove him backwards into his seat. Doc Savage jumped into the cockpit again and both men traded a series of expert karate blows before Savage finally hit red hair with an upper cut to the jaw. The blow sent him flying unconious into the control panel and stick.
As the helicopter began to spin out of control, Doc Savage jumped out of the cockpit as far away as he could, and as he hit the high brush below; the out of control helicopter smashed into the ground exploding and bursting into flames. Several large burning pieces of material, metal and flesh fell around Savage who rolled through the brush several yards before he stopped. The act helped to put out the fire that had caught a part of his clothing on fire from the burning shrapnel that had fallen on his person.
The bushwhackers from the jackknifed semi-truck finally caught up with the wreckage of the Continental. They were so caught up in the excitement watching the fight on board the helicopter; that they failed to notice the three people piling out of the wracked car.
Billy, Nancy and Marlyn got out of the wreck with only bruises, and they quickly armed themselves with Savage’s small machine pistols which they located in a compartment in the back seat of the Continental. Nancy and Billy came out shooting while Marlyn unfamiliar with those kinds of pistols almost shot her own foot. After a moment or two, she got use to the extreme rapid-fire capabilities of her weapon and proved to be an excellent marksman.
The first burst of gunfire from those most efficient weapons cut down seven of the dozen heavily armed men before they knew what hit them. After that the remaining five took cover behind trees or simply flattened out on the ground. A furious firefight commenced, but within moments after it started Nancy noticed no one was firing back at her or her friends.
Nancy turned to Billy as they stopped their fire and asked,” Hey, what gives?”
“ I’m not sure…” Billy replied in a hushed voice.
It was as silent as a graveyard. They looked at each other in amazement as the dust and smoke cleared from the wreck and following gun battle; for they could see that all twelve men who had been shooting at them like mad before were lying silently scattered throughout the area of battle. They spotted one body draped over a low limb of a tree nearby as if in the middle of the firefight he decided to take a nap. Some of the others were curled up on the ground as though asleep. One was even snoring.
Marlyn crouched behind the wreck, stood up straight commenting,” Hey, I’m a good shot, but not that good.”
Then a voice that was only a few yards away from the three spoke,” No one’s that good, but it does help to have a few gas grenades on your person.” Directly behind them stood a figure that could very well have been a giant statue sculptured from bronze. Nancy’s eyes widened in excitement much to Billy’s woe.
“ Clark, you’re alright.” Nancy didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“ I should hope so.” Savage said jokingly,” I think these jokers have probably had enough.”
Savage’s clothes were torn to shreds, and sweat glistened off his exposed muscles. The scene of this bronze giant gave Billy and Marlyn courage enough to laugh with relief, while this same scene was giving Nancy a heart attack.
Marlyn whispered in Billy’s ear a moment later,” I wish Nancy would quit drooling over Doc all the time.”
“ Can it!” Billy said,” She can do whatever she wants. I don’t give a damn and neither should you.”
Marlyn saw the anger that flashed in Billy’s eyes. Taken aback by his reaction, she said under her breath,” Well, excuse me.”
Doc Savage looked their car over then he addressed everyone,” I suggest we upright this vehicle, it still looks drivable.”
Billy couldn’t hide his unmistakable amazement,” How do you suppose we accomplish that? It weighs a ton or two.”
“ Let’s all stand on one side and give it a try anyway.” The man of bronze replied.
“ Yeah sure.” Billy commented as all four of them lined up on one side and with much grunting and groaning; they finally up righted the armored Continental.
“I don’t believe it!” Marlyn breathed heavily,” We actually did it.”
“ Yeah, but we never could have without you know who. Right Clark?”
Nancy turned at that moment to say something else to the man of bronze, but he wasn’t beside her,” Clark? Now where in the devil?”
Billy groaned,” Here he goes again with another disappearing act.”
Then they heard Savage shout to them to come over to where the ambushers had been gassed. When they got there, they found Savage had revived two of the ambushers who had been sleeping like babies. The two knew little except they were hired for the job only, and many were from the New York City area. There were some from Canada and one of the two who was Canadian knew plenty about the pilot of the wrecked helicopter. Before the two were put to sleep once more by Savage applying pressure with several of his fingers to the base of their skulls; the Canadian named Ned desperately explained what he knew.
“ The man’s name was Jack Hopper. Flew a lot in the Vietnam conflict. Hired mercenary ever since. H-He’s been hiring a bunch of us around here and in my country for two weeks now. Something big is going down, really big. But what, none of us have a clue. Honest!”
Ned continued,” Please, can you let me go now. I want no part of this no more. No more.”
After he was put to sleep, Doc Savage reflected out loud to his friends,” This has been hushed up better than I’ve ever seen, so we’ve got to be more careful from here on out. Somehow, whoever is behind this, knows almost every step I take…”
The man of bronze began moving briskly toward the Continental as he continued,” We must contact Renny as quickly as we can.”
As they moved out, Savage at the wheel contacted his hospital and made arrangements to have the surviving ambushers picked up. They would be given special mental treatments, such as certain parts of their memories would be erased. Then after they are taught new skills, they would be released eventually into the outside world with a fresh start in life.
Savage tried to reach Renny at the café in the Bronx by radio also, but no one there had seen anyone of that description. Doc Savage tried in vain to control his brief trilling sound that followed, but he failed.
“ Looks like we need to break some speed limits folks.” Savage calmly commented after the radio call attempt. Savage’s face was expressionless as they sped down the old highway. No one could see the anxiety that Savage was feeling at the moment for Renny’s safety.
They continued on highway eighty-seven until it turned into 287 as they reached the outer limits of New York City. Soon, after they crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spanned the Hudson River; Doc Savage pulled his car over to the shoulder to a stop. Turning to Nancy he sheepishly admitted,” I hate to admit it, but one of you will have to take over driving. I am not able to recognize anything from the bridge on. In other words, I’m lost.”
Billy in the back seat with marlin, had to stifle a laugh. Nancy, in the front with Savage gave encouragement,” Hell, I know these streets like the back of my hand.”
The two switched places so that Nancy could drive. Nancy flashed a triumph smile at Savage,” Pay close attention and you will learn something.”
The Continental drove through Yonkers and then finally the Bronx on the same 287 route. From there they took an exit toward the heart of the Bronx as a light rain fell. From what Savage had seen so far, the city had changed beyond his wildest dreams; some for the good and some for the bad. Mostly bad. Part of the Bronx was a burnt out shell, which greatly puzzled him. He made a mental note to check out that strange situation later.
Nancy drove a few blocks then,” Say, aren’t you going to give me even a small hint what café we’re suppose to meet Renny?”
“ Yes, Baron’s place.’ Doc Savage matter-of-factly replied.
“ Lovely.” Nancy commented,” That’s near the park. You sure pick them Clark.”
“ I heard about this place on the radio.” Savage attempted to explain; “It was a very nice restaurant under another name several years ago.”
“ Yeah, right.” Nancy shook her head amazed at the bronze man’s naivety. Marlyn looked out the back window after a while and exclaimed,” You know, I could swear that that green station wagon had been following us for at least a mile or so.”
Billy started to blow it off,” Ah, you’re getting paranoid…”
“ She’s right.” Savage agreed with Long Tom’s daughter,” So has that van and red car behind the wagon.”
“ So why don’t we lose them?” Billy half in panic asked the man of bronze who was using the rear view mirror to continue to watch their unknown tail. Savage never answered Billy’s question; instead he simply stated,” Looks like we’ve found our café.”
Nancy sarcastically remarked,” Yeah, aren’t we the lucky ones. Maybe it is a good bit of news. I am famished!”
Nancy brought their car to a stop in front of the café Baron, and the red car, wagon and van sped by to disappear around the next corner. Everyone waited in the car for a few minutes, and when nothing of significance happened; they stepped out cautiously onto the wet pavement and walked briskly to the front windows of the café. Peering inside, Savage noticed that no one appeared to be in the now run down café even though it was still early in the evening.
He returned to the Continental and pulled out a tight pullover shirt from a clothes bag in the trunk and put it on. He then returned to his friends and was still the first to step into Baron’s café with the others close behind. To the right of Savage was a long counter running almost the length of the café with green cushioned bar stools permanently attached to it. They had taken several steps inside before they noticed a nervous bald headed counterman standing behind the middle of the counter. A open doorway leading to the back was directly behind him. Sweat poured off the counterman’s forehead even though the temperature in the café was rather cool.
“ What will y-you have folks?” the counterman addressed Savage and his aides,” We’re a little slow tonight.” He nervously smiled a false smile, which didn’t go unnoticed by the man of bronze.
“ So we’ve noticed.” Doc Savage replied dryly. As they began to sit at one of the café’s dilapidated booths across and opposite from the long counter
Marlyn noticed the counterman reaching for something under his counter bar. In an instant, she reached behind her and drew her machine pistol.
“ Alright, drop it.” Marlyn yelled at the bald bartender. She had her powerful little gun pointed at the man’s sweaty head. You could have only counted to three and you would have heard something heavy drop to the wood floor. Baldhead turned white as a sheet, when Savage approached him. Losing his nerve entirely, he ran out the open doorway behind.
Savage spun around and shouted to his friends,” Hit the floor. It’s a trap.” As they fell to the grimy floor, the café windows in front shattered inward from a hail of bullets. At least twenty or thirty rounds were fired. The silence. Savage directed Marlyn to crawl over to the back door and keep watch out, then he, Billy and Nancy crawled closer to the front windows. As they carefully peered outside, in the streets a voice rang out like a promised death.
“ Welcome to the Bronx. You know, you shouldn’t keep me out in the rain like this.” There was laughter from several different sources then the voice continued,” I think we need to rap man, and you better hurry. I don’t have all night and neither does your friend out here. He’s been a little rough on some of my soldiers and they’d like nothing better than to off him right now.”
Savage, Billy and Nancy gazed upon a bizarre scene. A small army of heavily armed thugs ranging from sixteen to their late twenties stood surrounding the front of Baron’s place. All wore jackets with insignia signifying members of a gang of one type or another. Race hindered them not for there was a mixture of black, white, Spanish and some Chinese that made up the army. Most of them were armed with clubs, chains, and/or knives; yet some were also armed with handguns and shotguns. A few had assault rifles of various kinds in their possession. More and more of their numbers poured in from the park across the street. Some were even on the tops of nearby buildings.
Nancy exclaimed as she intently watched,” God, there must be six or seven different gangs combined into one. How’s that possible?”
“ Who cares?” Billy shrugged,” How are we going to get out of this is what I’d like to know.”
Savage ignored them and hailed the speaker outside,” Who are you and what is this about?”
The speaker who was standing in front of the army was a man in his early twenties, medium built, with a horribly scarred face. He half turned to gang members behind him and commented,” You hear that? Must be a half-wit or something. He doesn’t even know what this is about.”
Almost all the thugs laughed or made animal sounds with deadly
meaning. As the laughter died out the leader turned back and patiently
” Most people call me Mr. Rage. What ought to be more of a concern to you right now man, is your friend over there.”
He smiled an evil smile and gestured over to the right and behind him; to a red sedan parked near a telephone unit on a pole. On a red sedan a large man almost as large as Savage, lay spread eagled on its hood. Two men were standing on either side holding him down, and even from there Doc Savage could make out the big man’s protest. He suddenly began to struggle violently. Savage could hear the big man from a distance yelling,” Let go of me you punks! When I get loose, I’ll tear you limb from limb. Doc! If that really is you in that café, don’t listen to them. They’re going to kill us anyway. Holy Cow! Let go!”
Several other members of the gang army rushed in and beat him until he lost consciousness. Mr. Rage spoke then for effect, “You see, every time he wakes up this crap happens. He’s not gonna have much of a head left if he keeps this up.”
Nancy screamed something unintelligentable and then began to frantically climb out of the window. It happened so fast, Savage was barely able to grab her in time and pull her in. Nancy screamed something that made sense,” Let go of me. Let me kill that bastard! They can’t do that to uncle Renny.”
Meanwhile, Rage finding the scene humorous, shouted to the man of bronze,” Now you wouldn’t sic that wildcat on us would you?” Rage looked down at an open billfold in his hand and continued,” Says here this man’s Colonel John Renny, I mean Renwick. Renny for short. I’m positive we have the right man. Of course we could make a more positive identification by sending say…. Some of his fingers to you for finger prints comparison.” He tilted his head back and laughed. Then he asked Savage,” Now seriously, what do you say? Will you some on out Mr. Savage and save your friends?”
Billy turned to Savage whispering,” We’ve got to give up. They’ve got us between a rock and a hard place.”
“ Calm down Billy.” Savage assured him,” All is not lost yet.”
Nancy started to ask him what he meant, but never got to, neither did Mr. Rage, for at that moment, one of the gang near the park yelled a curse and then yelled to the others,” Hey! Someone’s driving a truck as big as shit down this way ninety to nothing. Looks like he’s not stopping for nothin’.”
Rage started running and shouted,” Everybody take cover. We’ll take care of this little interruption real quick, then we’ll deal with you, Savage.”
All the gang army ran for alleyways, behind parked cars, or into doorways of nearby buildings for cover. While they took cover, everyone could plainly hear the roar of a large truck engine and horn above the city noise. It sounded as if it were just around the corner.
“ They got Renny, but they haven’t got his sons, look.” Nancy exclaimed pointing in the general direction from wince they had come.
“ Now how did they manage that?” Billy asked.
A large eighteen-wheeler truck barreled around the corner knocking a van into a nearby storefront. The van exploded in a bright ball of flame. Inside the large truck sat two men in their thirties who were identical in appearance; so much so that you could barely tell them apart. Both were muscle bound, and both had that same soured expression on their faces as their father Renny did, when he was thoroughly enjoying himself. The one driving was using one hand to drive and shooting a machine pistol with the other.
The passenger his twin brother, held a Russian made machine gun out the truck’s window shooting toward the opposite side of the street from the café.
Members of the gang army in the park, in an alley and behind some of the cars, were dropped by the score from this deadly rain of lead. As the truck shuttered to a tire skidding halt in the middle of the street; gang members returned gunfire sending bullets ratcheting everywhere. Some bullets hitting metal like the body of the semi, caused sparks to fly.
Then several things happened next so fast it was like a blur to Nancy and Billy. Marlyn ran to the front all excited and yelled,” Doc, they’re breaking down the back door!”
“ Doc Savage rose and replied,” Then let’s try to make it to the truck.”
“ What?” Nancy was stunned,” It’ll be suicide out there.”
“ No, their strength is cut in half and they won’t be expecting us to rush them. Let’s go get them people, now.”
In one motion, as if the front door was never even attached to the door frame, Savage smashed through it and ran out into the middle of the raging firefight.
Nancy pushed splintered wood out of the way as she struggled to pass through the doorframe,” What the hell. We can only die once.”
Marlyn was not too far behind her,” Guess he knows what he’s doing.” She muttered stumbling into the street.
“ This is nuts, plain nuts.” Billy was heard to shout as he also entered the embattled street. First thing he noticed was that their Continental had bullet impact cracks all along the windows facing the firefight now in full swing. Another was at that particular moment, Renny staggered out to the alley on the other side of the eighteen-wheeler, and he made his way to the cab of the bullet-riddled truck. Two men ran out of the alley to grab him, but a blow to the head of each from Renny’s large pail sized fists dropped both of them in their tracks.
A voice from a doorway was heard above the shouting and sporadic gunfire. It was the leader of the gang army, named Rage,” Stop them, they’re making a break for it.” That was Rage’s last words. Suddenly, he made strangling sounds and he was lifted off his feet by the neck by a sinewy hand of bronze, and then thrown face first into the grillwork of the parked eighteen-wheeler. Rage never moved again and the bronze man was immediately off to the next visible target. Men with clubs, knives, and chains poured out into the street once again. The twins couldn’t use their guns at such close quarters, for fear of hitting their father; so they too joined into what was quickly developing into a full-fledged brawl, a miniature war in the heart of New York City. It was a rumble the likes of which no one around there had ever seen before.
Time and time again four or five men would rush Doc Savage only to be knocked out or thrown back. Billy, Marlyn and Nancy fought like a small army. A black youth barely seventeen, good at the martial arts style of street fighting; blackened Nancy’s eye and the blow sent her spinning around. When she recovered, her assailant lay sprawled out on the rain soaked pavement.
Nancy wiped her eyes and looked up straight into the man of bronze’s face,” Jesus, that kid had a punch.”
Savage smiled,” I know. I’ve seen that style in North China…best you head for cover. You won’t be able to see out of the eye very well for a while.”
“ I-I think you’re right. Suddenly I don’t feel so hot.” Nancy turned, stumbled, and then she recovered and made her way to the truck.
The man of bronze turned and disappeared into the thick of the fight. While Billy was being clubbed almost senseless to the ground; Marlyn was on top of one young man strangling him until an older gang member pulled her off by her hair. Like a wildcat, she screamed and sent a foot flying between his legs, which made her attacker groan and fall to the street in agony. Another kid lunged at her with a switchblade, but his arm was caught in mid-lunge by a hand of incredible strength. Then he heard his own wrist bone snap and he screamed. When he saw it was Savage who had hit him, he tried to pull away, but his arm was jerked in such a way that it dislocated from the shoulder causing the youth to blackout and slump to the street to lay silently among some garbage cans and empty wooden crates.
Marlyn patted Savage’s shoulder,” Thanks.”
Savage leaned closer to her,” Count to five then hold your breath for a minute.”
“ Why?” Marlyn asked Savage but was asking empty air by the time she could mouth that one word. She shrugged her shoulders and began to count silently. Savage ran toward the eighteen wheeler and shouted in the ancient language of the Mayans,” Renny! Hold your breath!”
Renny still in a daze, pulled himself up from the truck cab seat where he had been lying down to recover from his ordeal, and looked out the truck’s side window on the driver’s side.
“ Hey! What do you mean hold my…” Suddenly, something dawned in Renny’s brain and his eyes widened in astonishment. With his face pressed heavily to the window glass, he practically yelled,” Holy Cow! They must have given me drugs or something. You are alive you son of a gun!” Renny grinned from ear to ear then slumped over asleep in an instant. The big man in his excitement forgot to hold his breath.
One by one the street army gang and Savage’s aides mysteriously dropped in their tracks; as if some unknown force had put them fast to sleep. It was like a giant sandman had traveled amongst their numbers. Soon, all had fallen to the street pavement except Savage and Marlyn.
Marlyn strolled over to Savage who held his finger up; then after a moment, he announced to her,” Ok, it’s safe to breath.”
“ How was that done?” Marlyn asked as she examined first her bruises and then surveyed her dead quiet surroundings.
“ Simple enough,” Savage explained,” I have small breakable glass globules filled with a liquid that turns to an anesthetic gas when exposed to air. After a minute it dissipates enough to breath safely.”
Marlyn gabbed the front of Savage’s shirt and asked,” Why in heavens name didn’t you use that before?”
“ It works only in a limited amount of space. They were to scattered for it to be effective until a minute ago. It has its limits.”
Savage looked down at her hand and Marlyn quickly let go of his shirt. “ Still you are a genius, Mister Savage. Who else could have pulled off something of…” Marlyn didn’t get to finish her compliments of Savage; for that is when they began to hear sirens, hundreds of them. The man of bronze quickly picked up Billy with one arm and carried him to the truck. Marlyn found Nancy slumped against the back of that same truck. She pulled Nancy up to her feet and opened the doors to the back, with the intention of placing her body inside the empty trailer, but Savage shouted over the sirens which were becoming louder every second,” Forget it. We’re not going to get away this time.”
Marlyn walked around the truck to face Savage,” Let me talk to them then. I have friends on the police force and city hall.”
Savage eyed Marlyn a moment obviously impressed and conceded,” Ok, but don’t mention my true name. Make up a name if you have to, I’ll get the twins and we’ll revive everybody as quickly as possible.”
“ Don’t worry, I can handle it.” Marlyn assured the man of bronze.
As Savage revived some of his friends, the first squad cars arrived. Several taxi cabs and news trucks full of newspaper reporters came to a screeching halt behind them. A burly policeman of Irish descent in his forties along with two young officers were the first to arrive on the battle scene.
The burly Irishman looked Marlyn up and down and asked her roughly, “ Lady, can you tell me what the hell happened here?”
“ There’s been a terrible fight.” Marlyn replied.
The burly policeman eyes narrowed,” No kidding! Could you possibly be more specific lass? Like your name for starters.”
Marlyn smiled innocently,” My name is Maryln Roberts. What’s yours?”
The burly officer took in a deep breath and mentally counted to ten while he answered,” Sergeant John McGregor at your service mamma. Are you the daughter of Patricia Roberts?”
“ Why yes I am.”
Upon hearing that piece of news, Sergeant McGregor’s surliness was instantly replaced with awe, and respect,” Are you all right Miss Roberts? Can we help in anyway?”
“Yes.” Marlyn mentally breathed a small sigh of relief,” As a matter of fact you can. Help us revive our friends, and while you are at it, you could really earn your pay by carting off what’s left of these hoodlums to jail.”
Sergeant McGregor stuck out his chest proudly,” Be my pleasure mamma.”
He turned and addressed one of his men,” Burt, get some lads together and lets see if we can assist them in cleaning up these streets.”
One of the younger officers accompanying the sergeant replied,” Yes sir!”
Then he ran off to get help from the other policemen parked further down the street along the park and the street running the opposite direction.
Sergeant McGregor asked Marlyn,” Uh, by the way Miss Roberts, who’s the giant brigand helping you in the first place?”
Marlyn tried not to show that she was uneasy and very tense on this question,” Oh he’s my bodyguard; I hired him a few days ago. Name’s Mike Burhill.”
The ruse apparently wasn’t working for the sergeant eyed Savage suspiciously while he asked Marlyn another question,” Could you tell me what started all this mayhem?”
Marlyn watched a fire engine and several ambulances with horns and sirens blaring drive up as she answered as convincingly as she could, “ They were trying to rob the Baron’s café, while we were in it. The guys in the truck were friends we were suppose to meet here, and I guess seeing us in trouble, they rammed their truck through the middle of them.”
Sergeant McGregor rubbed his chin in thought; then as he turned to leave, he said over his broad shoulder,” Stick around a moment Miss Roberts, I need to talk to some people.”
Marlyn watched silently, policemen all around searching and helping carry off bodies to ambulances and patrol cars as Sergeant McGregor walked away. Then she turned her back on the sergeant and searched for Savage as calmly as she could. After an anxious moment, she finally spotted him by the twins’ truck a dozen feet down the wet street.
When Marlyn reached Doc Savage she found he had already revived Billy, Nancy and the twins. He had some difficulty reviving Renny. The minute he opened his eyes, Savage had to clamp a hand over Renny’s mouth. Renny mumbled loudly under Doc’s hand, and his eyes widened again as Savage gazed into them.
“ Renny.” Savage calmly addressed him,” Calm down. It is I and I’m indeed alive. I don’t exactly know how yet or why I can’t remember what happened
to me all those years ago, but I’m here. Now I’ll remove my hand from your mouth if you will promise to talk softly. I don’t want the police to know I’m alive. No one else is to know except those few directly involved.”
Savage removed his hand and Renny sat up in the truck cab. He rubbed his eyes as he spoke,” Yeap, it is you all right. If someone had just told me you were alive, I’d never had believed it. Sure good to see ya, Doc.” The two big men shook hands and Renny continued,” If there’s anything I can do to help further, just say the word brother.”
Savage lowered his voice,” Well, yes there is. First, we’ve got to slip away from the authorities. My eighty-sixth floor penthouse no longer exists right?”
Renny blinked,” Right you are, we moved all your things to storage long ago, except for your lab equipment. Ham’s son Nick has a lab located near an apartment building where he lives. He has your lab equipment in his lab.”
“ Then not only is Nick a Lawyer, but a Chemist too?”
Savage asked in awe, impressed with ham’s son already, even before he had had a chance to meet him.
“ Yeah, it drives Monk up the wall.” Renny laughed.
“ Yes, I can imagine.” Savage replied. He reflected a moment then continued,” Then next we need to see Monk, Ham and his son. We’ll worry about a location for our headquarters later.”
Nancy ran up to Savage, Renny, and Marlyn excited,” Hey you guys. Lets scoot on out of here. That sergeant’s getting suspicious I think.”
The man of bronze observed someone headed their way,” Looks like we are not going to get to leave just yet.”
Renny looked over to where Savage was looking and said,” Uh oh.”
Sergeant McGregor walked up and drew his revolver,” Miss Roberts, I’m afraid you and your friends are gonna have to go downtown with me. All this is beginning to look bogus to me. Now, pull your weapons out real slow and ease ‘em to the ground. Then I want you to spread ‘em against the side of this truck.”
Marlyn and Nancy started to protest, but Savage cautioned them both and so everyone did as the sergeant ordered. While Sergeant McGregor searched them, a voice in the distance attracted his attention.
“ Sergeant sir, come over here quick. I’ve found something.”
Sergeant McGregor, in aggravation turned and stared down the street from wince the voice seemed to originate.
“ Now what? Who is that? Well, answer me.” When there was no answer, Sergeant McGragor turned his attention back to what he was doing. He mumbled under his breath,” Can’t they see I’m in the middle of something?”
Then he noticed Mike Burnhill and the other large suspect were both missing. There had been no sound and even the other suspects seemed just as surprised. Nancy chided the baffled sergeant,” Tisk, tisk. You better be more alert then that sergeant.”
The twins strolled up to the lineup about that time having shaken off the effects of the sleep gas. Pat, one of the twins asked,” Hey, did we miss something?”
McGragor was beside himself for letting two suspects get away so easily and showed it. His face was livid as he shouted,” Shut up. Now somebody better tell me where they’re headed or you’ll be up to your necks in trouble!”
Larry the other twin, shrugged his shoulders,” Why should we tell you anything? We seem to be up to our necks in trouble anyway.”
Marlyn added,” Besides, we’re in the dark about that as much as you. Those two are liable to do anything. Maybe they know magic.”
Nancy’s remark didn’t help things,” Billy, you got some gum? Let the sergeant chew on that for a while.”
“ One more word Miss Mayfair.” Sergeant McGregor warned,” And I’ll be tempted to have you gagged.”
After Sergeant McGregor had Doc Savage’s entire group and the surviving gang members sent downtown, he immediately placed an all points bulletin around New York area for the two escapees, but he had little hope of finding them soon. His hunch was right; those two were like ghosts.
The very second the sergeant had turned his back on the group to investigate the mysterious voice from the dark; Savage grabbed Renny by the arm and motioned him to follow. Quietly they backed into the dark alley nearby. As soon as they were out of sight, they scaled a fire escape ladder to the top of a four-story building. Renny was nearly out of breath, but managed to keep up with his old friend.
Down below they could hear a commotion and observed police officers were beginning to search doorways, alleys and parked vehicles along the battle-scarred streets.
“ Looks like they discovered we’re missing.” Renny observed,” I guess we rained on their parade.” The former engineer and aide to Doc Savage laughed with glee, yet he still kept some of a sour expression on his face. Savage ignored it and surveyed the skyline of the Bronx and beyond.
“ What veterans hospital is Monk and Ham staying?” Savage asked.
“It’s in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Queens right by the Gravesend Bay area over there.” Renny pointed,” South of here, a good three miles of city between us and them.”
Savage looked into Renny’s face,” I’m glad you know your way around. Everything has changed so much.”
Renny ginned and assured him,” Don’t worry, we’ll make it. Boy, I sure got a kick out of using that art of ventriloquism on Sergeant McGregor.” Renny chuckled again as Savage gently slapped him once on the back.
“ We better get a move on.” Savage suggested.
Many of the older buildings including apartment complexes around there were built close together, is it was fairly simple for the two large men to jump from roof top to roof top. In that way, they made pretty good time and very few people noticed them, except for ones who lived part of the time on the roofs. Most of those were too busy to care, asleep or didn’t want to get involved. After a while they ventured down to the streets below, in the Queens area.
Renny, after catching his breath explained,” Here’s where we can catch the train the rest of the way.”
Savage looked up at the inner city train tracks that ran nearby. A train was approaching slowly from where they had just been. Abruptly, the surrounding night air seemed to give birth to an eerie sound. The note was a trilling, mellow, low like the song of some strange exotic bird, or the noise of wind filtering through a naked rain forest. It was Doc Savage’s unconscious sound that he made when surprised, puzzled, or in moments of utter concentration. In a moment he regained his composure and as they hurried up the stairway to the train, he asked Renny,” What on earth does all that lettering written all over the train cars mean?”
Renny laughed as they approached a waiting train,” That’s graffiti. That’s what you might call a local form of art that the youth produce here. Some of those kids are quite good at using spray cans of paint.”
Savage shook his head as they entered a rear car of the train. Lettering was all over the inside of the car too, except most of it was profanity. Doc asked,” Is that also art?” Renny‘s face reddened with embarrassment, “ Uh, No that is not.”
The smell inside was horrendous; a mixture of urine, stale cigarettes and marijuana prevailed throughout the car. As they sat down, the man of bronze noticed two youths, fifteen or sixteen years old, were standing toward the front of their car. One was black, the other white. Both wore jean jackets with emblems of some kind on their backs. They spoke in a low tone to one another and would glance their way often.
Presently, the train lurched forward, and after a while the two jacketed youths laughing approached Renny and Savage with a swagger in their step. The black youth spoke first.
“ Hey old man, the big dude can stay and pay, but you have got to go away.” Then the youth produced what is called a butterfly knife and held it out toward Renny,” Well, get out that door now old man.” The knife welding youth turned the knife on Doc Savage,” A-and you, give me your bread man. I need it like yesterday.”
The white teen behind him laughed and added,” Better do it, dude. Blade gets crazy if he don’t get his way, man.”
Goaded by the white youth’s statement, the black teen named Blade, with a blood-curdling yell, flashed the knife back and forth only inches from Renny and Savage. Neither moved which began to infuriate Blade, What I gotta do anyway? Cut ears off so you get it? Wake up!”
An amused look appeared on Renny’s face. Suddenly, Savage reached out with blinding speed and snatched the knife out of Blade’s hand as if it was handed to him. Blade stared at his hand in shock. He had never witnessed speed like that from anyone. He could only say,” What?”
Savage explained in a calm monotone voice as he examined the knife, “ let me see your knife a moment. H-m-m-m, very poor construction, therefore will bake on contact, with a little pressure like so.” With little effort, Savage snapped the steel blade of the butterfly knife as if it were a twig. The white youth had been backing up all this time in utter terror. When he saw this feat of strength he exclaimed,” Shit.”
Then he promptly broke into a run for the front of the train car. Slamming the outer door open, he yelled back at his partner,” Come on Blade, the dude’s not human.”
The youth named Blade, eyes wide as silver dollars turned without a word and rushed out the same door close on the heels of the white youth.
Renny laughed in relief,” Holy Cow!” Sometimes they’re scarier than the professionals; you never know what they’ll do next. You sure gave them something to talk about for a long time; then again it might be best for them if they didn’t mention this incident to their friends. It could be embarrassing for them.”
Savage only frowned, something Renny had rarely seen him do,” Is it like this all over?”
Renny hung his head and whispered,” Yeah, afraid so.”
“ This has got to be stopped.”
“ How?” Renny let out his frustrations,” It is too complicated, Doc. No home, despair from their surroundings, no education, no jobs, and nothing to do. There’s a lot of anger building up in these kids; and then there’s the drug abuse…”
“ Renny.” Savage looked his old engineer friend right in the eyes,” there is a way. There is always hope.”
“ Sure wish I had your confidence sometimes.” Renny sounded unsure than ever.
That left a lot for two men to think over, while they sped along in a train bound for an unknown destiny. They remained silent the entire trip hardly noticing the rain had started again and was beating upon their windows. Savage tried to catch a few minutes of sleep, but was haunted by weird dreams about a man without a face that was falling and falling.
Queen’s Veterans Administration Hospital recently remodeled, faced Gravesend bay, not far from Coney Island. On the second floor a thin dapper man in his late seventies stared out a large seven-foot window facing the bay. It had begun raining again, which clearly disgusted this brooding individual.
After some dismal moments that he forced himself to stare out into the rainy night, he exclaimed,” Damn rain! Can hardly see a bloody thing out there. Reminds me of the bloody fog back in London.” His voice still had a controlled crisp quality of a seasoned lawyer, but the voice that answered behind him had a high tenor quality of perhaps a boy of eleven,” Ah shut up you shyster. There’s nothin’ to look at out there anyway. Let’s watch this old lady lose her pants on this game show on the TV.”
The thin man rolled his eyes in disgust and distain. He turned in the direction of this tiny voice,” How can you stand to watch those moronic shows day in and day out? Oh, I forgot. Apes are easily entertained.”
There was a growling sound and then an ashtray quickly followed, sailing through the air barely missing the thin man by inches. It hit the wall above him with a resounding crash, shattering it to pieces, which showered down on the once prominent lawyer’s gray three-piece suit. He quickly dusted off his suit in annoyance and glared at his antagonist. The one with the gray three piece suit which now had strips of rust color through it; was former Brigadier General Theodore Manly Brooks known to his friends as “ Ham”.
Even in his seventies he was as slender and waspy as he had been in his twenties. He also still carried his favorite ominous, black sword cane. The tip of that sword inside was usually tipped with a sleeping liquid. He was now pointing his cane with menace at a man sitting in an easy chair across the room, watching an old RCA color television.
Ham addressed the other man threateningly,” You thick headed brute! I warned you about using violence on my person or even the threat of it.”
The one in an easy chair snorted and half rose out of it threateningly. This one that Ham had been quarreling with was only a few inches over five feet tall, and yet weighed 260 pounds. Covered with reddish hair from the top of his head to his toes and fully wide as tall; he appeared to be just as Ham had described him, but his brutish exterior concealed the mind of a great chemist. This chemist retired was Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair known for obvious reasons as “ monk” to those that knew him well.
Monk sat back in his black leather easy chair and replied like he was letting out a deep sigh,” Well, Oink, oink to you.”
Ham’s face turned red with rage and he stepped closer toward monk,” Don’t you ever say anything about that again.”
Monk suddenly got this innocent look on his face homely as it was,” About what?”
Ham clenched his fists at his sides,” Gods, you’re driving me crazy these last couple of days.”
Monk left his easy chair and approached Ham, sympathy in his tiny voice, as if their quarrel was entirely forgotten,” Yeah, so I’ve noticed old man. What’s with you? I mean, usually you just throw an insult back. I haven’t seen you this near to violence in years.”
Ham turned and walked slowly back in the direction of the large window,” I’m sorry Monk, its just lately, I’ve been having this odd feeling..”
“ Uh, like something’s going to happen?” Monk asked hesitantly.
“ Exactly ole man.” Ham explained,” A premonition of sorts. Bad vibes, as the kids sometimes put it.”
As Monk puzzled over this, Ham watched out the rain-covered window again. What was that flash he saw? Ham suddenly started violently and jumped backwards at least several feet. Then he turned and ran for Monk.
Monk startled, rooted to the spot, could only say,” Now what did I do?”
Ham shouted as he knocked the shocked Monk to the floor,” Hit the floor nitwit! There’s a boat out there, shooting at…”
That was the last Monk heard of what Ham was saying, for the next instant, the world was filled with a loud explosion and a brilliant flash of light. One wall and the ceiling disappeared into fragments, which covered the two men; Monk thought it was never going to end. It seemed as though things kept falling on their heads for some time. Smoke and dust made them cough continuously as they clawed their way out. Then they saw a flashlight and felt hands helping them out of the rubble and pulled them on through a door leading out the opposite side of the wrecked room.
Monk and Ham’s ears were ringing as they ran down the hall to a maintenance room. As a second explosion rocked the hospital setting off an alarm bell somewhere, they switched on a light inside. A sight greeted Monk and Ham eyes, that made them both breath a sigh of relief. It was their mutual friend Colonel John Renwick, “Renny”, standing facing them. He smiled which looked like it might crack his face, and asked,” You guys gonna be able to make it ok? Cause we’ve got to leave this building in a hurry. Things are gonna be getting even hotter here pretty soon.”
Ham coughed,” Sure, but what’s this about?”
Monk asked,” Yeah, why us?”
Renny opened the maintenance door and peered out into the hallway as he answered,” It’s a long story. Tell you later. Let’s scram.”
“ Brother, you don’t have to say that twice.” Monk cheerfully agreed. All three piled out into the hall and ran for the end stairwell. A male nurse shouted for them to stop, but soon he was running right behind their heels. Part of the ceiling behind them had fallen in from a third detonation, scaring the male nurse enough to put wings to his feet. The first floor was already in the process of a mass evacuation, for more patients stayed on the first floor then the other floors all put together. The trio flew down the stairs and out through the crowd into the street where confusion reigned.
Renny commented as they ran on a street which traveled along the bay,” Boy, we were almost too late. If we had arrived a few minutes later; I’d have to pick up your pieces.”
“ Hey.” Monk had a thought,” What do you mean by we? Nick’s not around is he?”
“ Nope. We’ve got to find him next.” Renny cautiously replied.
“ Then who else is here with you?” Ham inquired.
Renny ignored the question; instead he drew their attention back to the hospital that was now on their left because they had to run down a winding road toward the bay,” Look, a fourth shell has hit the hospital.”
“ I hope everyone was able to make it out, by Jove.” Ham commented between his huffing and puffing.
Soon, they stopped by a small warehouse near the beach by the bay. The three were almost out of breath, but Renny managed to say,” We wait here.”
Monk was bent over trying to catch his breath when he said,” I must be getting too old for this.”
The boat that had fired on Veterans Administration Hospital which was anchored dead center in the bay, had been a fine luxury yacht in it’s day, but was now used more often than not for smuggling and the like. Anything to make a fast buck. Most of the paint was peeling off and the deck was almost as oily looking as the rat faced man laughing and patted the canon affectionately,” Like ducks in a shooting gallery I tell ya. They didn’t have a chance.”
The one rat face addressed was the driver of the gunboat, and he didn’t seem at all amused or impressed. He voiced it as he tinkered with something down on the engine below.
“ We’re not going to have a chance if you don’t come down here and help me get this piece of junk started.”
Rat face snorted and said sarcastically,” Ahhha! What’s the matter George? Do I detect a little case of the nerves? Not so perfect after all, are ya? Well.” He sighed,” Let me cover this baby of mine and…”
Rat face was cut off in mid-sentence by a hand, which clamped over his mouth from behind. Then a split second later, though he struggled violently; fingers from still another powerful hand found his nerve centers on his scrawny neck, and applied a certain amount of pressure on them. Instantly, Rat face lost consciousness; totally paralyzed. Not a sound had been made to arouse suspicion.
When the one called George became curious that his accomplice hadn’t shown his face down below, he stuck his head out the cabin door. Hands with the strength of many grabbed him by the head and lifted him to the deck above. Then he was thrown bodily over the side into the cool waters of the bay, as if he had been a mere toy doll.
Doc Savage stood on the deck of the yacht briefly gazing into the water to make sure that the one he threw overboard was all right. George was slowly swimming away from the old yacht in the direction of the beaches. The man of bronze never saw the swimmer suddenly sink below the surface of the water, after he had turned his attention elsewhere; satisfied that the man would swim safely to shore.
He explored the yacht turned gunboat further and found no one else aboard. Snatching up the unconious Rat faced gunman under one arm like so much groceries; he quietly dove into the churning water, and swam for the shore as fast as his load would allow him.
Ham paced back and forth along the beach as Monk continued to grill Renny for more information. He felt frustrated and confused, but he still got the information straight,” Now let’s get this straight. Some one’s been trying to kill us, all because of some process of suspended animation developed by some quack up in the North Pole, who’s now disappeared without a trace.”
“ That’s right, except he has probably been kidnapped by the ones who attacked the base.” Renny agreed,” See that boat over there?”
Monk peered a moment through some night vision glasses that Renny handed him. In a moment Monk had it in sight,” Yeah, so what. Hey! That boat has a cannon on its deck. That means…”
“ Right you are. They’re the one’s that fired on you two as part a plan no doubt to get rid of us all. Renny explained.
Monk had to be restrained by Renny as he exclaimed,” Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s cream those jerks.” Monk pounded his fist in the palm of his other hairy hand several times.
‘ no need. It’s being taken care of right about now.” Renny looked at his night lit watch. No sooner did he have the words out of his mouth; then there was another much larger explosion, which rocked the entire bay area. This time, it had come from where the yacht had been. A fireball fifty feet high, lit up the sky and afterwards debris pelted the water for a hundred yards in all directions.
Ham, who was closest to the water, exclaimed excitedly,” Scratch that boat Monk. Somebody did a number on…on..aaagh!” Ham suddenly stumbled backwards managing to catch himself with his sword cane; which he had somehow held onto throughout all that had happened recently. It was his turn to be rooted to the spot as Monk and Renny ran up beside him to investigate his strange behavior. Twenty yards ahead of them, a figure of a large man carrying a much smaller one, strolled out of the cool water of the bay. In a moment, Renny’s face became a sour picture of glee.
He hailed the newcomer,” Hi Doc. Had a nice swim?”
Ham made a gurgling sound and fainted dead away on the beach. Monk grabbed Renny by the neck as he watched Doc Savage in all his Herculean form steadily approach them.
“ If this is some kind of sick joke of yours Renny, it ain’t funny!” Monk growled.
Then Savage spoke,” Hold on monk. It’s really me.”
“ Looks like you got someone to interrogate.” Renny gleefully observed.
“ Indeed, but first check his teeth carefully while he is unconscious. There may be a false tooth filled with cyanide among his real teeth.” Savage answered as he dropped the rat faced man at Monk and Renny’s feet. Monk, who had been silent throughout this conversation, blurted out a very obvious statement.
“ Doc, its really you.”
Monk grabbed one of the man of bronze’s hands and shook it then he hugged him. After a moment, still in tears; he shook Savage with both his big hairy hands on his forearms saying,” Damn you. What’s the big deal of disappearing for all those years? Do you know what you have put us through?”
“ Please Monk.” Savage pulled away gently,” Let me explain.”
After a few minutes more, Monk calmed down. Ham was reviving by Renny, and their leader filled them in on most of what he knew, skipping much of the details of course. It took Ham the longest to recover from the initial shock. He sat on the beach speechless, staring out at the gentle waves that lapped at his high priced shoes and eventually his trousers on the beach, while Savage questioned the prisoner.
Rat face was slapped in the face until he awoke with a start. After taking in his situation at a glance; he apparently thought it best to just sit where he was.
“ Where am I? Who are you dudes?” Rat face gruffly asked.
Monk leaned close to Rat face and yelled,” Lighten up. We’re asking the questions around here, not you.”
Savage was sitting on the beach, facing Rat face. After a minute or two, Savage’s swirling golden-flaked eyes staring down into his face began to have a desired effect on him.
“ Hey! Who’s this weirdo?” Rat face asked,” Tell him to get those peepers of his out of my face…Huh?”
Suddenly, the prisoner’s whole body relaxed and he forgot his fear and suspicion.
In a calm tranquil voice Savage stated,” It’s all right, we’re actually here to help you.” Savage glanced up at Renny standing over them and asked quietly,” Is he clean, no poisons?”
Renny nodded yes. Monk who had been witnessing the questioning so far, whispered in amazement,” Still has the touch.”
“ Yes, and you are still touched I think.” Monk turned to find Ham standing by him.
“ So you have decided to join the living have you?” Monk asked Ham sarcastically.
“ Speaking of the living.” Ham commented,” Isn’t it simply marvelous that he is with us again?”
“ Yeah, like I feel someone should be pinching me.”
“ No luck there.” Ham replied,” You’ve never been awake in your life.”
Monk ignored Ham’s remark for the moment.
The man of bronze placed a hand on Rat face’s neck and messaged it as he spoke to him in a soothing reassuring voice,” Now let’s think it out together what has happened so far…”
The form of hypnosis that Savage was applying to his subject was one of the simplest forms and the most effective. He had hoped that his prisoner would lead in as if thinking it out to himself.
“ I was contacted a week ago in Jersey city.” Rat face began to lead,” Special hit man he said. Meet the boss in a few days. I-I took a jet from Kennedy Airport…(pause) somewhere in, uh…Canada I think…. Then, to the North pole.” He stopped a moment to catch his breath, he was breathing much too hard. He was puzzled for an instant then frowning, he continued with ever increasing panic in his voice.
“ Lots of snow and a mountain of some kind. Wolves and bears everywhere. Our dog sled made slow progress. We reached the top and..”
Suddenly, Rat face screamed out at the top of his lungs ending in a weird wailing sound,” My guide has no face! He’s a damn robot.”
Startled, Doc Savage and his aides looked at each other. Rat face then stood up and shouted,” Things big as a city. Jesus. He has no soul, no soul.” Rat face cried uncontrollably. Covering his face with his hands, he fell to his knees and then laid down face first in the sand.
This gave everyone quite a scare. The faint trilling sound that the man of bronze emitted unconsciously was heard and it quickly faded away in the night air. Momentarily, Savage spoke,” I must have broken a mental block placed in him, yet it was almost too easy.”
That was when the sirens could be heard in the distance, which seemed to be converging on their location from every part of the city. Doc Savage turned to his aides,” Gentlemen, I suggest we cut this short and move on. Renny, did you acquire transportation for us?”
“ Sure did,” Renny replied excitedly,” It’s in that warehouse. Not the best.”
Renny lead the way at a fast walk as he commented on the transportation, which as of yet only he knew what he was talking about.
Ham stared at Rat face and asked Savage,” Doc, what about our crazy man here?”
“ Leave him, he’s harmless now. We’ll tip off the police about him and his whereabouts later.”
When they pushed the front garage door to the old warehouse up, there stood a 1935 Roadster in perfect condition just inside. Renny was the first to enter. He walked right up to the antique, honked the horn once; and grinned at Savage,” Kinda takes you back don’t it?”
“ Yes it does.” Replied Savage.
“ Whew, like how.” Monk exclaimed.
Ham reminded everyone,” Uh, oh, remember these are toys to Monk.”
Renny chuckled,” That’s alright, Monk can drive.”
“There was a gleam in Monk’s eye and his voice became almost a squeak,” Really? Me? You mean it?”
“ No.” Savage interrupted,” Ham will drive.”
“ By Jove, that’s an excellent idea.” Ham exclaimed with relief. Monk’s face fell as he realized he had lost his chance,” Ahh, I’m surrounded by party poopers.”
Doc Savage inquired as they piled into the front and back seats of the Roadster,” Do you know where your son lives, Ham?”
“ Why of course I do but…Oh, I get your drift. All your lab equipment and special weapons are there. Let’s see…he lives on 57th Ave, on Manhattan Island. We can be there in twenty minute or less, depending on the traffic around that area.”
“ That’s fine.” Doc Savage was thankful that at least some things were going right for them,” No one has an idea what kind of transportation we have, so we’re safe enough for now.”
As the roadster sped away from the little warehouse, the one called George had just finished strangling Rat face with one hand; while his other hand covered his mouth to prevent any unwanted noise. Then he stood upright in the light of the moon that briefly peeked out between the heavily clouded sky. He was still soaking wet from the drenching he received after being thrown into the bay earlier. Something was wrong. George was missing a face. George/it apparently watched the roadster as it left with some kind of sensor device implanted within his head.
When the roadster was out of sight; George/it turned and strolled back into the water dragging the corpse of Rat face behind him. He did not stop; instead he continued until he silently sank below the cool waters of Gravesend Bay.
At that very moment, one of the busiest police headquarters in the Bronx was alive with activity, even more than usual. Rumors traveled through the building about suspects brought in for questioning involved in a small war with a large street gang. In several rooms suspects were being questioned with little results. Oddly enough, none of those questioned had anything to do with a street gang.
Five people occupied one such cramped room filled with a smoky haze from many cigarettes smoked in a short time. Nancy and Marlyn were sitting at the long table at one end, while Sergeant McGregor and one detective sat at the other. A sleepy-eyed man in a gray pinstriped suit without a tie was leaning lazily against the wall behind McGregor and the detective.
Sergeant McGregor had lost his temper and slammed a folder down in front of the two women who were irritated and tired. The man in the gray suit cleared his throat,” Now Sergeant, that won’t do.”
Without turning, McGregor replied,” Oh shut your trap.” He then addressed the two female suspects,” I’ve had it with you two. You haven’t said so much as a sentence since we got here.”
Nancy yawned,” Excuse me Sergeant. Morning.”
The detective sitting by the sergeant looked Marlyn straight in the eye and explained as the sergeant frowned,” As Sergeant McGregor was about to explain, that folder is full of information on all of you and others not present for the moment. All of this information centers on one man whom was thought to have died about 40 years ago. I have the testimony of many reliable witnesses who claimed to have seen all of you at one time or another in the company of a man who fits this individual’s descriptions. Can you explain it? Do you have any idea the serious charges we could slap on you right now?”
Nancy, who was visibly shaken, quickly regained her composure,” Maybe the Bronx is haunted.”
Marlyn chuckled, but she had to stifle it when she saw the look McGregor was giving her. Then the door near the man in the gray suit suddenly opened and a young officer stuck his blond head into the smoke filled room.
McGregor turned in his chair,” Now What?”
The officer hesitated then,” None in the other room are talking.”
McGregor swore,” Thanks for letting our suspects in on it. All right, I’m ready to throw the book at ‘em if you lads don’t mind. Put ‘em behind bars where they belong and throw away the keys.”
The detective shifted his eyes to Sergeant McGregor,” Not yet, I need to call Washington. They may want them at the Federal office in D.C.”
“ At least that would be an improvement.” The man in the gray suit admitted.”
McGregor slapped his hand flat down on the table top hard,” Now hold on. There are serious charges involved here in this precinct. I’m satisfied that we have the right people so…”
The blonde haired officer interrupted him,” Excuse me sir, but there is one more thing, I don’t think it’s going to matter one way or another. Someone’s put up their bail.”
“ For all of them?” McGregor asked incredulously.
“ You got it.” The young officer replied.
McGregor’s mouth fell open in amazement. Marlyn whooped for joy while the detective slowly and deliberatively picked up his folder of files in disgust.
“ Well, it’s been…What’s the word for it, Nancy?” Marlyn asked.
“ Shitty.” Nancy bluntly answered.
“ Yeah, so if you don’t mind. Marlyn explained,” We’ll be on our little way. Marlyn was obviously relieved and amused at the sergeant and detective’s reactions.
The man in gray smiled and explained to McGregor,” Fraid you can’t hold them, you have a whole lot of circumstantial evidence and that’s it.”
It was as silent as a tomb as Marlyn and Nancy filed out the door past the young officer. Both girls could hear McGregor shout after them.
“ Better stick around town for a while. This ain’t over yet.”
They waved to him cheerfully and left. Nancy and Marlyn met Billy and the twins, Thomas and Gregory waiting for them in the front waiting room.
“ How’d it go?” Billy started to ask,” Why did I ask that? It must have gone great cause you’re out already.”
They didn’t get a chance to react, for the man in the gray suit following close behind the two women spoke up,” I wish all of you luck.”
Marlyn smiled at this handsome middle-aged looking man, “ Thanks for your support in there, uh, I didn’t get your name.”
Once again he leaned against the wall,” Ah, I didn’t do much. Name’s Bob Carlos, Lawyer for the defense. I know your friend Nick Brooks.”
Marlyn was not only impressed by this bit of surprising information; but by the looks of this man. She had taken an instant liking to him.
“ Is that so?” Marlyn questioned.
Bob beamed a smile at Marlyn that was unmistakable to the rest of the group,” Yes, we go way back to our college days.”
“ Do you know if ht might be home now?” Nancy asked not at all impressed with this well dressed stranger.
“ He might be in at that. I don’t think he had anything scheduled this morning. At least not first thing in the morning.”
“ Good, I think we better go see him.” Nancy suggested.
Marlyn asked,” Why?”
“ It’s just a hunch that’s all. Come on.”
As they started to leave, Marlyn asked one last question to Bob, but loud enough for the whole group to overhear,” One thing is puzzling me now. Do you have any idea who might have put up our bail?”
“ No, but if you could hum a few bars.” Bob said,” Seriously though, I could check if you’d like.”
Then the front door to the lobby opened and a tall thin man in his early thirties entered. He was dressed to perfection, the latest in fashion wear, a navy/vanilla Bainbridge striped shirt with a pair of pleated-front brushed twill pants and a matching sport jacket to boot. Even though dampened by rainy weather, it still looked impressive. The fancy dresser strolled straight for the group who were gawking at him. He could have been almost an exact duplicate of Ham Brooks when he was that age.
“ Well, is anybody going to thank me?” the thin man asked.
Marlyn and Nancy said,” Nick “ in unison.
‘ I might have known it was you.” Nancy twirled a key chain around her finger,” Thanks. Now, have you seen Doc Savage?”
Nick answered as he hugged each of the girls and shook hands with the twins, Billy and Bob,” Say what? I’ve seen a picture of him. He’s been dead over 30 years hasn’t he?”
“ So everybody thought.” Billy placed an arm around Nancy’s waist, which only made her pull away in irritation. Nancy grabbed Nick’s arm,” Nick, he is very much alive.”
Nick sat down on a stiff looking wooden bench nearby. He was shocked at the news,” But that’s impossible!”
“ Wrong Babe, remember when I told you I was working with a Doctor Sagger in a research station in the North Pole?”
“ Yes, I do remember you mentioning something about that in a letter of yours.”
“ Six days ago, not far from the station, he was found frozen solid in a cliff of ice recently exposed by a small earthquake. We revived him successfully as part of an experiment that just happened to be part of Sagger’s research at the time. Then unknown assailants attacked our place not long after that. They may have kidnapped Sagger as far as we could tell, and they have been trying to do us all in ever since, I think you may be in danger too.”
“ Where is he now?” Marlyn asked.
“ I have a pretty good idea if he has connected with my father and yours.” Nancy stated.
“ Nick’s place?” Marlyn guessed.
“ You guessed it.”
It dawned on Nick,” That’s logical, I have his things. My father gave me instructions to store them in my place on Fifth Street. It’s as if he knew that Doc Savage lived after all these years.”
“ People, I suggest we better get moving cause when those jerks that are trying to kill us find out that we’ve been released…” Billy made a throat cutting gesture and approximate noise. Nancy rolled her eyes and looked away,” We get the message, Billy.”
“ May I suggest we take my limo there?” Nick inquired.
“ Sounds great to me.” Billy said,” I’ll lead the way.” It wasn’t often that he had a chance to ride in that kind of luxury since his father saw little use in indulgences such as those. As they walked out the front door and down the old steps of the police station, Nancy asked Nick,” One thing bothers me. How did you know about us getting busted?”
“ Easy, one of my friends and best informants gave me a ring earlier this morning. I just couldn’t let you guys down nor pass up the excitement.”
Nancy smiled knowingly,” Haven’t changed a bit have you? Uh, who is your informant anyway?”
Nick glanced around,” He was standing right there in the room with us.”
“ You mean Bob?”
“ Yeap, but don’t let it out.” Nick warned.
One of the twins trailing behind them spoke up,” Now that’s funny. He’s not with us now.”
Everyone stopped and turned to find that indeed it was true. Bob had disappeared.
“ Maybe he’s on his way out Thomas.” Marlyn hinted to Thomas to take a peek inside the station.
“ Yes, you could be…” Thomas was suddenly interrupted by a bullet hitting his shoulder, which sent him spinning around to fall against a light pole to his left. There had been no sound of any gunshot, which could only mean one thing to the group of sitting ducks; that was that someone was shooting at them with a gun equipped with a silencer.
Nick hastily said,” To hell with my limo, it’s parked too far away. Grab Thomas and lets take the subway.”
Gregory, Thomas’ twin brother helped him up and then everyone made a dash for it. Nick led them at a run across the street to a subway entrance located there. Several bullets followed them closely, sending pieces of the pavement flying. They reached the stairs leading down to the subway system without another casualty. As they descended the stairs Marlyn commented to Nick,” Too bad we didn’t get our weapons back.”
“Wouldn’t have helped anyway.” Nick informed her,” There could be one sniper out there or ten. Best we get to my penthouse. If anyone tries to get us there they’ll be in for a few surprises. Some friend he turned out to be,” Nick felt let down.
Marlyn curious, asked,” What do you mean Nick?”
“ Doesn’t it strike you as too much of a coincidence? First, Bob suddenly has secret information about your bust this morning. Then, his disappearance right before we’re out of the building. Now snipers try to pick us off. I’ll fix his little wagon sometime.”
A subway train was waiting as they entered the turnstile. Soon, they found themselves well on their way to Washington Bridge. They made it there without incident and then they took a cab across to Manhattan Island. Dawn was breaking as they took the subway to continue on their journey. First thing they noticed was two young men were already in the subway car they had chosen. Both wore gang jackets quite familiar for the area, One youth was black, the other white. The black one laughed out loud when Nick and the others seated themselves toward the back of the car instead of where the two youths were.
The black youth commented loudly,” Hey, who invited you to my party?”
The white youth laughed,” Party crashers. Why don’t you straighten them out Blade!”
Both were obviously high on one of the drugs cocaine or crack. Blade strolled in a cocky manner, toward the new arrivals. When he noticed Thomas’s eyes close in pain leaning against his brother Gregory, he remarked matter-of-factly,” Huh! Nobody likes you assholes do they? Now it’s simple dudes. Each of you hand over a percentage of what you have, say…ninety percent.” He laughed and almost fell over when he thrust his hand out toward Nick. The white youth advanced until he was standing a few feet behind Blade. He pulled out a martial arts stick and chain weapon commonly referred to as Nanchuks. It was a tense moment. The group was tired and caught off guard, except Nancy who reacted with blinding speed. She pointed a finger at the two young gang members,” Naughty boys.”
With the other hand she reached up above her as she began to stood up and pulled an emergency cord. In subway trains such as this one; pulling an emergency cord will usually cause the train to come to a sudden halt, if it should work at all. And it did, with a screech of grinding brakes. Everyone was thrown to the floor, except Nancy who had thrown herself on top of Blade.
Blade grunted in exertion and yelled in a high voice,” Hey, are you crazy woman?”
Nancy pulled herself up and started kicking Blade in the head. Blade tried to cover his head with his arms, but it was too late. Another kick and he was knocked senseless.
Marlyn shouted a warning,” Look out Nancy!”
The stick and chain weapon missed hitting Nancy’s head by a little less than an inch. Nancy quickly went into a stance that shown she had had karate training at one time or another, and the white youth did as well; but with less experience behind him. He swung the weapon and she faded back. Then she tried to kick him, but he was able to block most of the blow of her low kick. Yet, the fight was over in a few seconds when she faked another kick and suddenly spun around to give him a lightning quick roundhouse kick to the chest. In seconds he too lay unconscious by his fallen partner, Blade.
Nancy’s friends gave her a standing ovation and Nancy said,” That takes care of those little bastards. Billy, you want to give me a hand with these two? I think their ride is over.”
Billy rushed over to help,” You bet I do.”
The two gang members woke up in time to see the subway train leaving them behind in the tunnel. The white youth stared after the departing subway in amazement as he quietly remarked,” This ain’t workin’ out so hot tonight.”
Blade rubbed his head,” Oh Mama, that was some wildcat. Come on, I think I need an aspirin or something. We’ll go east side where its safer.”
There are of course tall skyscrapers by the score on Manhattan Island, but none are more beautiful as the seventy-story skyscraper that was recently built on Fifth Avenue. An architect’s dream come true. It was the beginning of another summer day, not a cloud in the New York sky. The summer sun was beginning to reflect its rays of light off that unique tower of steel and glass. Since it was still early morning, there were very few people on the streets milling about in that area.
When Ham pulled the roadster he was driving up in front of the skyscraper; he found it was very quiet. Even the front lobby was quiet, too quiet. Only the night clerk who was about to get off work and an elderly gentleman sitting in a leather cushioned chair watching television was around. Monk and Renny were right behind Ham.
Ham explained as they crossed the lobby in a rush to the elevator,” I had a high-speed elevator installed by the regular service one. But it really wasn’t my idea. I’d rather do without them if I could, but my son said we had to have one so…I guess we can take the special one and lock it off from the top if we need to.”
“Well smarty pants, you have a key to it?” Monk asked.
Ham smugly replied,” I have a copy. The fact that I am Nick’s father gives me certain privileges that…”
Renny impatiently shoved past Monk and Ham saying,” Come on. Cut the bull will ya? Doc will be waiting for us and probably fall asleep by the time we get up there.”
“ Well excuse me for breathin’.” Monk acted like he was insulted which was a fake. They entered the elevator marked” Private”. No one noticed the elderly gentleman carefully watching the trio enter the elevator. He was good at it. He was careful to keep his eyes straight ahead as if watching the TV set. The second the elevator doors closed, he rose from the chair and strolled casually to the clerk’s desk very carefully as if it was hard for him to walk even that small distance. The elderly gentleman cleared his throat,” Excuse me sir, but who were those gentlemen?”
The clerk looked to be from somewhere in the Middle East and he had an accent to match. He yawned and answered without thinking probably because of fatigue,” The finely dressed one, they call him Ham. He and his son Nick own the entire building. Isn’t that fascinating? Anyway, the other two, I haven’t seen before. In fact, I am surprised to see Mr. Ham here at all. I thought he was staying in a Veterans ward somewhere. Nick is the one I expected to see by this time.”
The elderly gentleman inquired further,” Uh, I don’t suppose you could give me the number of the room they are going to?”
“ No sir, that’s confidential.”
“ Does that other elevator go to the top story?”
“ No, I mean yes it does.”
“ Ah, too late. You gave me what I need to know. Good day.”
As the elderly man made his way to the other elevator, the clerk noticed a curious thing. The old fellow was suddenly walking with a spring in his step like that of a man one-third his age. Soon after, the night clerk was relieved of his duty by the day clerk. The night clerk was very glad to get away. He wasn’t about to take responsibility of what might happen up there.
Hanging by your fingers from thirty-five stories up is a unique experience no doubt, but not to Doc Savage who has practiced the human fly technique of climbing since he was a little boy. Scientists whom helped raise him were astounded by his ability to learn the feat in so short of time.
This particular skyscraper he was scaling was very difficult compared to the older ones that he had been use to. It afforded little if any edges to grab hold of, yet he made progress. For Savage, this was the only way up to Nick’s penthouse without being detected. One thing he could never get use to was wherever he traveled; he would attract undo attention (according to him). It might have been different if he could have had something to discize himself with. No chance of that now.
When he thought he could give out and lose his grip; he’d say to himself just one more story, one more story. Once a helicopter buzzed by close enough that he was almost torn from the skyscraper wall; but for his incredible strength, he would have been. He never explained to the others why he wanted them to let him out of the roadster two blocks away from Ham and Nick’s skyscraper. If they had known what feat he was planning to attempt; they would have refused to let him out at all. Anyway, they were use to his habit of seemingly not hearing their questions and then disappearing.
Not far from 57th street is the Hudson River. What appeared out of the water and onto the piers made little sense to the dockworkers that were just arriving that morning to their shift. Four men who were not really men walked together eyes straight ahead out of the waters of that river. All headed for the downtown area at an even measured pace. They wore ordinary street clothes and had no unusual characteristics about them except they were soaking wet from head to toe.
Several workers around the warehouse tried to strike up a conversation with the four; but they acted as if the workers didn’t exist. After a bit, the workers gave up and the four soaked strangers walked on. Half a block away, the four stopped together and stood there stock still while their minds were filled by an eerie voice in their heads commanding instructions to them all.
“ Follow the signal of the tracer that was placed on one of Doc Savage’s friends. It shall lead you to where the targets are. Kill all of them except the girl that I had informed you about earlier into your memories. Then make it look like an accident. The blame will fall on a lab explosion. Your self- destruction equipment shall make enough an explosion to annihilate them successfully. Now go.”
With the one called George leading the way; the others followed close behind. Soon, the four with a deadly mission blended in with the now ever growing crowd of pedestrians on the streets of “the big apple”.
Renny and Monk had to help Ham off the elevator. The first words he uttered after the ride were,” Remind me never to ride that rocket again.”
Monk laughed so hard that he almost caused Ham to fall to the carpeted floor for he nearly let go of him. Renny cautioned,” Come on Monk, have a heart. We’re not as fit as we use to be,”
Monk said,” Speak for yourself.” Then he tripped and fell flat on his face with Ham falling in turn on top of him. Now it was Renny’s turn to laugh.
“ You guys better stay in a Vet home; you got where you can’t keep on your feet.”
Monk and Ham speechless could only glare at Renny from the floor. When they were on their feet again; they found themselves in a short hallway leading to a large door at the end. Ham unlocked the door and lead the way into a penthouse that had no rival in the world. It consisted of six large rooms and a large terrace, which could be seen from the front room only. Most of the back of the front room was a large glass storm windows and glass swinging doors. It was very plush in the front room and had one of the most expensive and fully equipped wet bars in the world.
A circular staircase wound its way to the bedrooms above, it reminded Renny more of a townhouse on a giant scale than a penthouse. A hallway lead to laboratories beyond the front room A wide screen television the size of an eight millimeter projector screen affair stood in the opposite corner from the fabulous bar.
Ham made his way directly for the bar, while Renny locked the door, but decided against locking the elevator after all. Monk stood and gawked at the penthouse. Soon he found the power of speech had not permanently left him.
“ Like father like son I always say,” Monk cut his eyes to see what Ham’s reaction would be, but Renny could see what was coming and headed them off by changing the topic of conversation,” Savage should be here any minute.” He commented as nonchalantly as possible.
Ham had fixed himself a strong drink and with cane in the one hand and his drink in the other, he strolled casually toward the plush off white couch nearby. As he dropped down on the couch he asked,” He will I wonder how? He said he won’t come through the front where it is so obvious.”
“ Maybe the stairs.” Monk ventured.
“ No.” Renny said thoughtfully,” There’s always a chance someone will see him that way too.”
“ Wait.” Ham spilling his drink on the couch,” You don’t suppose…”
All three men thought of it at the same time and in a mad rush, they raced for the glass doors to the terrace beyond. Renny yelled as they mad their way quickly to the terrace’s edge,” Holy Cow! If he fell, I’d never forgive myself.”
“ I’ll never forgive ya either.” Monk said.
“ And I’ll never forgive Monk for never forgiving you, Renny.” Ham added maliciously.
Monk nervously retorted,” Ah, can your nonsense.”
They were soon anxiously peering over the edge of the building. It was hard to hear anything that might be happening below, what traffic that was already on the streets and the swirling city winds; was more than enough to cover up other sounds.
“ Winds are terrific up here.” Renny observed. Anxiety plainly shown on his face as he desperately looked to the left and to the right on the surface of the building for his long time friend.
Monk grimly added,” Yeah, he could have already fallen by now.”
Ham closed his eyes in horror until a voice to their right not ten feet away said in a matter-of-fact tone,” Yes, but I didn’t.”
The three men whirled around in the direction of the voice; to find the man of bronze bigger than life was standing by the edge of the seventy-story skyscraper. He couldn’t help a grin that briefly appeared on his bronzed face at their reactions.
“ You alright?” Monk with some difficulty found his voice.
“ Can’t believe what you just pulled.” Renny was relieved how anything could be worth the risk the man of bronze just took.
Ham turned and made his way to the glass doors and the bar. In a shaky voice over his shoulder he exclaimed,” I think need a double.”
“ Sorry men, I had no other choices to gain access into the building. Hopefully I won’t be attempting that again for some time. Let’s go inside.”
When they were back into the front living room, Savage turned to Renny,” Renny, in the fight in the Bronx, did anyone happen to place their hands on your person as if searching for something at any time?”
“ Well, I’m not sure…” Renny thought a moment, “ Uh, I was out for a minute or two, and that gang or whatever they were had me for a while, but I changed clothes.”
“ Did you change shoes?” Savage asked.
Renny’s eyes widened,” Uh, Oh. Hey, just what are you looking for?”
“ Hand me your shoes and I’ll show you.” Savage requested. Ham and Monk curious stepped closer. Renny took off his slip-on shoes and nervously handed them to the man of bronze. In a moment, Doc savage had Renny’s shoes torn apart. In the heel of one they found a small cylinder shaper object with a hair thin rod sticking out of one end of the object.
Ham whistled,” Tracer of some kind I’ll bet,”
Monk whistled in awe,” Now ain’t that somethin’!”
“ Exactly.” Savage pointed out the obvious and ominous fact,” They’ve known our every move.”
“ Boy, have I been made the fool.” Renny felt miserable and embarrassed, feeling suddenly old.
“ It’s not your fault Renny .” Savage assured him,” We’ve got to be more careful…”
A small sound outside the front door interrupted his sentence. He pointed in the direction of the door and placed a finger to his lips for silence. Everyone turned to watch the door while Ham nearly fell into a glass coffee table.
Savage motioned to Renny and Ham in the sign language of the deaf to hide where they could quickly and then everyone did hide. Doc Savage and Ham ended up behind the fancy bar.
The man of bronze in whispered to Ham,” Are there any weapons at our disposal near?”
“ Yes by Jove, in this secret panel here. It was my son Nick’s idea. He has shown me this.” Ham replied. Pressing a stud to the right on the bar table wall, Ham pulled open a panel to reveal a small shelf filled with several machine pistols and a heavy caliber automatic weapon. A moment later, the front door slowly opened. Everyone inside tensed for an appending fight; then a voice on the other side of the door spoke,” Hey, that’s funny. The lights are on.”
Nick stepped in with Renny’s sons Thomas and Gregory and the girls Nancy and Marlyn following close behind. After a couple of seconds, Billy entered the room cautiously last. When Monk a half second after that, jumped out from behind a large easy chair and bellowed a loud,” Boo”; everyone jumped and quickly drew out their knives or whatever they had handy for weapons. Except Nancy who yelled,” Hey, alright! You’re here.”
She practically ran in Monk’s direction. Monk had a grin from ear to ear when he threw out his arms to give his daughter a big hug hello. Monk started to tell Nancy how much he missed her when she ran past him and gave Doc Savage a big hug much to the bronze giant’s embarrassment.
“ Man. Do I miss you.” Nancy said in a husky voice as she continued to hold on to the man of bronze.
Monk simply dropped down in the easy chair flabbergasted, while Ham doubled over in laughter.
“ That’s a fine how do you do.” Monk pouted. Several people made noises or cleared their throats. Nick and Marlyn looked at each other knowingly. Finally Savage managed to pry Nancy’s arms away from him.
Savage made it a point to look over the entire group when he announced,” It’s good to see all of you even though not all of us have been introduced.”
Renny and Ham took the hint and introductions were made all around. The look Savage threw Nancy’s way gave her a chill. She knew then that she had little hope of ever having any kind of romantic relationship with this giant of a man she worshiped so. With a sigh, she finally gave Monk a hug of greeting which cheered him up considerably. Everyone started to talk at once until it made Savage’s ears ring. The voice of Doc Savage could be heard over everyone as he tried to bring order to the room.
“ Listen everyone.” Savage announced,” Take a seat, we have a lot of facts to discuss and trade with each other. We need to try to make sense of all that has happened so far.”
When everyone had taken a seat, Nick started,” Some of us are still in the dark about you, at least half that has happened.”
Doc savage, in a few minutes narrated from his new beginning to the present time.
Thomas asked,” So all of this has something to do with the kidnapping of Doctor Sagger and his knowledge of suspended animation?”
“ As far as I can tell, yes.” Savage replied, then he saw Thomas wince in pain,” What is wrong Thomas?”
Nick answered for him,” He was wounded by a sniper, fortunately the bullet passed through cleanly. We bandaged him up fairly well, but he’ll need some rest.” Thomas was shaking his head no in disagreement.
Savage made an announcement,” It is just as well, I’m sending Thomas and Gregory to our Hospital upstate as soon as it is possible. They have families to go back to, therefore I do not wish to endanger the lives of their families as well.”
Thomas and Gregory started to protest, but the man of bronze cut them off,” So far they know little of your identities, but it won’t take them long to find out if you stick around. Monk, Ham, and Renny will escort you to the Hospital as soon as it is time to separate.”
Those of savage’s former aides named protested, but Savage once again cut them off,” All of you have been lucky so far. Even though all of us have taken a large quantity of the herb Silphium, time has caught up with you. In a pinch, your mind and body would probably not react quickly enough to cover the situation.”
Nancy interrupted with a question directed to Savage,” Excuse me, but what’s this herb Silphium?”
Monk answered for him,” Oh, that is a herb which was grown by an ancient tribe the Cyrenes of North Africa. The tea prepared from it gave people long life and health.”
Ham finished the explanation before Monk could get out another word; “ We gave ourselves direct doses of it in concentrated form through injections as part of a long term experiment to see if it indeed did as described. You have probably wondered why we have been able to keep in such perfect health even in our later years.”
Nancy thoughtfully said,” Why…yes, come to think of it. I have.”
“ Well, that’s the herb’s effects, babe.” Monk eyed Ham as he added,” For some the effects wore off earlier than the rest. Brain deterioration, you know.”
Ham gave Monk a look as if he wanted to kill him. Monk innocently smiled back at Ham.
Savage continued,” In any case, I have been given a second chance. Yet, I have paid a heavy price. I’m a man behind the times, battling as of yet an unknown and very powerful foe. His allies are legion. My only consolation is by some twist of fate; I still retain my brain and my body as they were before I was frozen. Your consolation is that you will still be in the organization, and your replacements will be your sons and daughters who have already proven themselves in tough situations many times. I suggest we retire soon and get some rest even though it is the middle of the day. Some of us must be on watch at all times. Since we were most likely followed; they could strike against us at any time.”
Everyone wandered off to find where he or she could sleep or at least rest in Nick’s penthouse later that night. Nancy, Billy, Marlyn and Nick chose not to look for the moment. Billy talked in a low voice too low to be overheard to Nancy while he placed his arm around her waist. This time she didn’t pull away. Doc Savage breathed a sigh of relief.
Nick standing by him said,” Guess she’s finally noticing Billy. Must be a relief for you. I saw how she threw herself on you as we came in.”
Savage said nothing, he watched Marlyn walk out onto the terrace. Something was on Marlyn’s mind. Finally he paid attention to Nick,” Would you show me where my equipment is?”
“ Yes sure, but first I have something of my own to show you.” Nick replied.
By the fancy bar, near an elaborate and complicated looking control box was another secret panel. Inside was a very detailed miniature control panel with digital readouts and a long row of buttons. Each were clearly marked above for what they controlled.
“ This is our defense, a complete surveillance and protection package. Programmable for any contingency.” Nick explained, “ Once I flip this master switch, the entire hall outside of the penthouse will be armed and scanned by cameras. There are screens over there to watch all areas inside and out. In each room the same setup and even in the high-speed elevator too. What do you think of my baby, Doc? Fool proof don’t you think?”
“ No system is fool proof, but I must admit that that is as close as you can come to it.” the man of bronze admitted as he examined the digital control panel closely. Nick beamed with pride to be complemented by a genius of Savage’s caliber. Nick was about to turn on the system, but Doc Savage interrupted him,” Wait! Let me get Marlyn back inside.”
Marlyn was staring out at the city near the edge of the building when Savage silently stepped up beside her,” Worried about your father?”
Marlyn quietly answered,” Yes, and Mother.”
“ Why don’t you come inside and we’ll talk of their future and yours.”
Savage suggested,” Nick’s about to turn on the protection system. It would be healthier if we were inside when it is activated. We might even get some sleep tonight.”
Marlyn hugged Savage saying happily,” Doc, you are the best uncle a girl could ever adopt.”
Renny approached the two in the terrace slowly as if his feet were made of lead. He had a sour expression on his weather beaten face, but this time it was different some how than his usual sour look.
Doc Savage asked,” What’s wrong Renny?”
Marlyn exclaimed in alarm,” Renny!”
Renny was several yards away from them before Doc and Marlyn could see his eyes were filled with tears. A trilling sound briefly rose and died; the man of bronze somehow knew what was coming; and the thought made him numb all over. Renny remained silent.
Savage grabbed Renny by the sleeve,” It’s about Long Tom isn’t it?”
Renny mustered what courage he could, blurted out the terrible news,” Long Tom died Doc. He’s…dead! W-we got the report by radio just a moment ago from the Hospital.” Renny balled like a baby.
Marlyn in a small voice cried,” Oh dear God, no.”
Then she tilted her head down on Doc Savage’s chest and quietly sobbed for her lost father. As the city’s sun beat down on Doc Savage’s face of bronze; a single tear streamed down it to fall on the terrace tiled floor. The shock was even too much for the mighty man of bronze. The worst was he felt that he hadn’t been there when Long Tom might have needed him most. The signs were there, if only he had seen them. Now one of his closest friends and colleagues was dead and he realized that it was mostly his fault. He cursed himself for being blinded so by the lure of adventure and abandoning one of his main code of ethics, to help ones in need.
The events that took place next gave them no time to mourn further. Ham shouted to the three on the terrace,” Hey, there’s more from the Hospital. All hell broke loose. Somebody let Patricia out and then kidnapped her. There was a gun battle between security forces and her abductors. Three security guards were killed and two wounded. Two of the kidnappers were killed, but the rest got away with Pat as a hostage.”
Someone inside was relaying information to Ham because he stopped a moment and listened inside, then turned back to the three on the terrace,” Get this, one of the kidnappers killed was that man named Bob Carlos that you talked about earlier Marlyn.”
“ That’s enough Ham.” Renny yelled in despair. It was all too much for Marlyn, for she collapsed in a faint. Savage eased her to the tiled floor. While Savage tried to revive Marlyn he couldn’t help notice how quiet it had become in the penthouse. He heard someone ask if they had heard the elevator coming up again, then in the next instant; there was a loud crash as of shattering wood. Doc Savage had a direct view of the front doorway to the front door leading to the hallway. There was no longer a door there. The door had come flying off its reinforced hinges as if it had been as light as balsa wood. In the doorway stood the one called George that Doc Savage had thrown overboard, off the makeshift gunboat in Gravesend Bay.
No human could have done what George had just accomplished. When George stepped into the penthouse over the shattered remains of the door, his face accidentally fell off. Now Savage was sure he wasn’t human. Nick was crawling away from the wreckage of the door and making his way to the protection control panel. Nick yelled out,” That’s what I get for trying to answer the door. Must be some kind of androids, Doc.”
“ Don’t fight them with your bare hands.” Savage instructed,” Use your machine pistols with explosive bullets if you have them.”
Monk, Thomas, and Nancy grabbed guns and fired wildly at the doorway. The George android was cut in half by the explosive impacts of those special bullets of the man of bronze. Then another android stepped in and another. Finally, a fourth one charged into the room. Thomas and Gregory got too close to one android and were both knocked completely across the room with one blow. Explosive bullets were taking their toll, but the three remaining androids determinedly advanced with their powerful arms of artificial muscle and metal frame swinging.
One android took a swing at Renny, but he ducked and literally knocked the head off its shoulders with a blow from one of his large over-sized fists. The headless android wandered through the open glass doors onto the terrace and eventually fell off the side of the building. Marlyn found a fire axe and planted it squarely between the shoulders of another android. It tried to reach around to pull it out. That was its undoing.
Suddenly, a bronze whirlwind was in the thick of this strange battle. Savage reached out and with a terrific jerk; pulled an arm off the troubled android. With deft fingers, he tied two wires together at the socket where the arm had joined with the body. Seconds later, that android was one big short circuit. It tried to pull a knob on its head, but it exploded into pieces before it could reach it.
Monk roared a warning,” Hey, who are they?” He was gawking at the doorway as figures dressed in black outfits that covered everything but their eyes and hands; were pouring through the destroyed doorway. All were armed with various kinds of automatic weapons. Monk, realizing these were human opponents; bellowed like a rouge ape, a roar of delight and charged into the middle of them. Renny, looking as long faced as ever joined in the charge. With those two sets of mighty arms swinging and punching; they were a force to be reckoned with.
For a moment the assailants in black were actually repelled back, but their sheer numbers soon had Monk and Renny slowly retreating. There must have been at least thirty of the enemy men in black in the front room alone. Ham calmly put his attackers to sleep with a quick jab of his sword from his sword cane that looked like an ordinary walking cane. He poked them left and right until no sleeping potion remained on the tip of the sword. He retreated right into the arms of one of the larger assailants, who without a word punched Ham out cold. He pulled out a wicked looking dagger with the intention of slitting Ham’s throat. In an instant, a wildcat jumped him from behind. It was Nancy and she was one very mad lady.
She hissed,” Take that creep.”
With a quick upward motion, she shoved a large switchblade into his stomach area. He gave a gurgling sound and fell over on his side, his legs thrashing about as he slowly died.
Billy gave a good account for himself. He immobilized the remaining android. It stood there buzzing with several large wounds in its middle section. Fire and sparks flew out of those nasty looking holes.
Many of the attackers began firing their automatic weapons indiscriminately, for they had become desperate with the battle taking a much heavier toll on their numbers than they had planned. The barrage of fire forced Doc Savage and his friends that were still on their feet to retreat toward the terrace.
Savage barely heard Nick above the noise,” I’ve reached the defense controls, watch this.”
There was a whine and then a sound very similar to someone’s fingers rubbing against slick glass. Incredibly, several of the men in black in the forefront were suddenly pinned under something invisible to the naked eye. Those directly behind the ones pinned, ran into something so hard and unexpected that it knock some of them unconscious.
After a moment or two, Doc Savage understood the nature of this latest mystery,” That was an excellent move, Nick.”
Billy who joined Savage at his side asked,” What in the world was that, magic?”
Savage explained with relief,” No, not really. It is a strong glass wall that is practically invisible, bullet proof and could take an impact of a small missile or canon. I had such a device in my old headquarters.”
Monk stepping on a head of a screaming figure in black on the floor,” Yeah, can’t saw through it either.”
“ Monk, cut that out now.” Savage chided his brutal friend.”
Monk quickly jumped away with a hurt expression on his homely face. Savage detested unnecessary violence and had held reign over his bullish aide most of the time, but sometimes even he found it hard to keep him under control. Sometimes in the heat of battle, Monk would go berserk and actually become more like a wild animal than human.
“ Now, here’s the icing on the cake.” Nick explained proudly as he flipped yet another switch on the panel. A steady pulsating and buzzing sound started ever so faintly in the ceiling over the mysterious invaders on their side of the invisible wall of glass. Seconds later, a circular opening appeared in the ceiling, and out dropped a blue glowing apparatus which immediately pointed its crystal tube barrel down toward the invaders below. Then another appeared out from the ceiling in the hallway. In rapid succession blue beams of light began to burst forth creating total havoc among the black uniformed figures; who fell right and left under the barrage of those deadly burning slicing beams of laser light. Many screamed and cursed, while some ran only to be shot down by what appeared to be their leader. This fellow was dressed the same as the others except he had a red triangle shaped patch on his chest; which must have signified a higher rank.
He yelled orders which Savage couldn’t quite make out and some of the invaders in black managed to get their hands under the glass wall for it couldn’t quite close all the way to the floor; because several bodies lay underneath it. They tried to lift it up, but it proved to be impossible to even budge it an inch. Others had retreated back into the hallway beyond to help two that were straining to carry a cylinder shaped object into the front room of the penthouse. The moment Doc Savage laid eyes on the device they were carrying; he knew it would be bad news.
It was a cylinder tube device very similar to the lasers that were still firing on them, yet it was larger and heavier. Doc Savage grabbed Nick and pulled him by the shirt over the bar. He half dragged him toward the terrace doors that were mostly shot out. At the same time, he yelled in the ancient language of the Mayans to his people that could still hear and understand,” Everyone get out to the terrace and lay face down, quickly.”
He repeated it as he shoved Nick out the terrace doorway. Those that understood the language herded those that couldn’t out the back doorways right behind Nick. Nancy protested as Monk shoved her on,” Hey Dad. What gives?”
Monk shouted,” He means that all hell’s gonna break loose now.”
Monk returned to lift Ham bodily out to the terrace, dropping him once seemingly by accident,” Whoops.” He chuckled to himself.
The last android still stood sputtering and staring stupidly toward the glass shield and the struggling figures behind it. In one swift motion, Savage slipped behind the wrecked android and had reached up to pull on the destruct knob attached to the android’s head. Then, with a mighty shove, Savage sent the doomed android stumbling toward the invisible glass wall. He whirled without so much as a glance and ran as fast as his athletic legs could move him, out the glass doorway.
Several of the unfortunate invaders had just enough time to point their weapon directly at the shield and screamed in terror as they saw what terrible catastrophe was to befall them. There was a large report not unlike a bolt of lightning would make striking only several feet away. Savage was sent flying through the terrace as well as all the glass and half the surrounding wall. The echoing roar of the powerful explosion was deafening as the entire building rocked on its foundation; while parts of the roof shot many feet straight up, followed by white hot flames. Everyone was showered with debris to the point of suffocation as it pelted them.
Fro blocks around almost all windows were shattered in buildings surrounding the new skyscraper. For a full minute after, it was dead quiet except for a distant alarm. When Doc Savage came to, Nick was shaking him frantically,” Wake up! Doc, you alright?”
Slowly Savage rose to his feet as he dusted off his torn clothing. Nick said,” Man, that was terrific. I’ve never seen anyone do a stunt like that.”
Savage swayed with dizziness from the concussion he had received,” How is everyone?”
Nick glanced around as he answered,” Oh, it could’ve been worse. Actually, no one was killed on our side. Thomas’s wound seemed to hurt him worse than before. Gregory suffered a bruised arm. Ham and Billy are still out. Nancy’s attending to Marlyn who suffered quite a few cuts and by the way; you have got some shrapnel in the back of one of your legs.”
Doc Savage examined his right leg that was beginning to give him some pain as he agreed with Nick,” Looks like it can easily be removed, but I may need your help to do it.”
“ Sure I..” Monk bellowing about something inside what had once been a penthouse interrupted Nick. They rushed inside almost tripping several times over the tremendous amount of debris and bodies lying all around. What they found was Monk and Renny leaning over someone behind a toppled smoldering couch. Monk turned his head in their direction as they got within a dozen feet,” Guy’s a mess, but its still hard to keep him from trying to sit up. He wants to talk anyway.”
Monk then shouted in Nancy’s direction,” Nancy. This guy says he knows you and needs to talk to you too. Think you better hurry, he is almost a goner.”
Nancy dropped a fire extinguisher that she had been using against what little fire was still going scattered around the scene of devastation and came running. Monk and Renny were leaning over what had been the leader of the assault on their penthouse. Monk pulled off the leader’s face hood just as Nancy arrived on the scene. What she saw beneath the hood, made her start violently. A trilling filled the smoky air momentarily. Soon it faded away. Monk glanced at Nancy’s face then at Doc Savage’s and back to the leader’s pain racked face again,” You two know him or somethin’?”
Doc Savage answered dryly,” You could say that, yes.”
Then the leader spoke in a hoarse whisper,” Nancy, I’m sorry all of this had to happen.” He coughed and closed his eyes with pain. Finally, he opened his eyes again, but had a hard time focusing them as he continued,” I tried to spare you as long as I could from the truth.” His body shook with a coughing fit once again. Nancy leaned over quickly and hugged this man for dear life.
“ Will somebody tell me who he is?” Monk asked nervously.
Nancy ignored her father’s inquiring voice,” Jim. Jim, why you? What could be worth all this?” Nancy cried softly as she listened to the dying man.
“ I never had a choice.” Doctor Sager explained,” Because my mind had been under another’s control from the beginning of our research.”
“ Holy Cow Doc! Is this the Doctor Sagger you were telling us about earlier?” Renny asked in amazement.
“ Yes, this is the very man who revived me.” Doc replied.
Monk was so astounded; he could only give a whistle.
Doctor Sagger winced with pain and continued as Marlyn wandered in,” A device has been surgically planted next to my brain to control me by a being so diabolical he staggers the imagination.”
Monk was all ears,” Huh? You mean you are not the main man?”
Nick sneered at Monk and replied,” Give the guy a break will you? He’s trying to tell us just that.”
Monk grumbled, but kept quiet.
Doctor Sagger coughed and then revealed even more,” The world is in grave danger. Soon, he will be able to control the Earth’s climates. There will be terrible storms, droughts, or maybe an ice age that spans the globe overnight. Anything you can imagine. Civilization, as we know it, will probably cease to exist in less than six weeks, unless he can be stopped soon.” Doctor Sagger momentarily forgot Nancy and grabbed Doc Savage’s by the front part of his shirt what was left of it,” You are the only man that has a chance to do it. We don’t know what he is, we only know he isn’t human.” Sagger had another bout of coughing.
Monk swore under his breath. In a calm soothing voice, the man of bronze asked the dying man,” Where is he now Doctor Sagger?”
“ His fortress is in the North Pole…”
“ Doc, you just came from there.” Renny pointed out to the man of bronze.
Savage ignored Renny’s statement for Doctor Sagger was trying to tell him something. He had to lean down closer to the doctor to hear his weakened voice,” Reverse the components on the tracer that you have probably discovered by now.”
“ Why?” Savage had a strong urge to stop this conversation because it might save the dying man a lot of unnecessary pain, but he was giving them vital information that might save countless lives.
“ When you are near the North Pole, you will be in range of his fortress. It will act as a tracking device or sensor to the tremendous electromagnetic energy that his fortress generates.” He coughed up some blood but other than that he didn’t seem to be in a great deal of pain.
“ Thank you Doctor, I think you have been forgiven.” Savage said.
Doctor Sagger smiled and then his eyes found Nancy’s and a very sad expression appeared on his burned face. Tears streamed down Nancy’s face as with his last breath he spoke his last words to Nancy.
“ Some things can never be forgiven.”
“ Yes it can!” Nancy cried out to him. It was like a desperate cry out to this insanity that was happening to her and her former friend and lover. The dying man tried to find the words,” Nancy, I wish it had been different.”
Nancy tried to reassure him and herself,” It will, you’ll see.”
Doctor Sagger smiled weakly and reached for her. Nancy held him tightly to her breast as if to ward off the approaching death, but soon all life left his body. Doc Savage checked his pulse and then shook his head at Nancy to her pleading look.
The man of bronze slowly rose to his feet and placed a hand on Nancy’s shoulder as she cried for her lost love. Then he addressed his friends who were all awake by then. Sirens could be heard from down below in the streets, so his voice rose in volume as the sirens grew louder. It sounded as though the entire New York City police and fire units were converging on the skyscraper of disaster.
“ We have all suffered losses this day.” Savage stated,” But for now we must not let this sway us from our mission. Everyone will follow my original instructions as to who will go and who will stay.”
“ You mean, I’ve got to baby sit this ape again?” Ham thumbed his thumb at Monk as he spoke.
“ Hey, it won’t be so bad.” Monk said,” We’ll go shopping sometime.”
“ You mean that?” Ham asked taken somewhat by surprise at Monk’s offer,” That is great by Jove. A capitol idea.”
Monk suddenly had a mischievous look on his face,” Yeah, I know this jeans store in Queens that’ll knock your eyes out.”
Ham groaned and rolled his eyes not believing that he had actually fallen for that primitive ruse.
“ Orange and green checkered jeans.” Monk continued to torture Ham,” Bright yellow overalls.”
Nick interrupted them because he felt their attitude was so childish and callous toward what had just happened to Nancy,” Monk, why don’t you help me dress Thomas and Gregory’s wounds.”
Monk, not in the least disturbed by the interruption replied,” Oh, sure.”
Savage turned to Nancy and long Tom’s daughter,” Nancy, marlin. Do you two still feel like going on with us? Things aren’t going to get any better you know.”
Nancy wiped the tears from her face. She stolidly stood up.” Yeah, and I want to find the bastard who was responsible for destroying Jim.”
“ Count me in too.” Marlyn grimly added.
“ In an indirect way, I’m responsible for all that has happened,” Doc added,” Though I know that the world would have been better off if this evil being had never existed. So, I’m determined now to stop him with my last breath if need be.”
Someone clapped his hands together in response. An elderly gentleman was standing in what was left of the front doorway.
“ Who the hell are you? Renny asked as he pointed a machine pistol at this new and unexpected arrival. Even the keen ears of the man of bronze hadn’t picked up a single sound that would have alerted him of this man’s approach.
The elderly gentleman pulled off his rubber discized face as he answered Renny’s nervous inquiry,” Special agent Derek Blackwinder at your service. So Clark Savage jr., you are alive and living in Manhattan.”
The smiling face under the rubber make-up revealed a dark complicted man in his early thirties. His clothes were burned in a number of places. Derek walked boldly up to the man of bronze and firmly shook his powerful hand,” Finally get to meet you. I must say I have the greatest respect for you and your remarkable career. Been following your boys for some time now. Uh, no need for introductions. I know almost all of you. Besides knowing Sergeant McGregor he’ll probably be one of the first cops to get up here, especially when he finds out the location of the trouble call. So we have very little time…”
Marlyn pointed at Derek as it suddenly dawned on her where she had seen him before,” He is the one that sit right beside Sergeant McGregor that interrogated us.”
Doc Savage’s eyes narrowed,” What agency did you say you worked for?”
Derek not in the least bit ruffled answered,” I didn’t, but if you must know, well let’s say it is a secret department that only a few in the government are even aware of. Eight is its name. Espionage Intelligence Gathering and Hit Team.”
“ Oh brother!” Monk had shouted in response from the other side of the wrecked living room where they had just finished dressing Thomas and Gregory’s wounds.
“ Did you know where we’re headed next?” Savage asked the agent.
“ Yep, and I know why too.” Derek took out a cigar and lit it.
“ A real brain this one.” Nancy retorted as she surveyed him up and down.
“ For the moment, we will trust you and you can even go along with us.”
Savage declared reluctantly,” We’ll need as much help as we can muster Renny, you can lower your weapon now.”
Derek suggested as he puffed away at his cigar,” I’ll do better than that, I can muster my whole team together to meet us near the target sight. That is, once we locate the place in question.”
We’ll find it alright.” Savage said dryly; do you think you can get the Canadian government’s support on this endeavor while you’re at it?”
Savage wasn’t quite convinced that the man had that sort of power.
Derek looked up toward the charred hole that had once been a specious ceiling in thought and puffed once on his cigar,” Could be, but it’ll have to be unofficial and unassigned. The public…”
“ I know.” Savage interjected quickly,” They need not know of this. It’s best we clear out of here as quickly as we can.”
Derek smiled,” I quite agree. Think I hear the pitter patter of New York’s finest charging up the stairwell.”
Savage coldly ignored his theatrical antics,” Ham, you, Monk and Renny along with Thomas and his brother head for the Hospital upstate as soon as we can get a chance to split up.”
“Ah, come on Doc. I’m fit. Let me go too.” Monk pleaded in his best tenor voice like a kid for a candy bar.
“ Yeah, let me go too.” Ham remarked half pleading,” He’ll scare them to death. One look at that face…”
Monk started looking for something to hit Ham with.
“ No.” Savage said sternly,” That is an order. Go there and see if you can find any leads on Patricia’s disappearance if you must.”
Monk finally gave in with a sigh and he slapped the sides of his legs.
“ Ah, ok. If you put it that way. At least we’ll be doing something besides sitting on our hands.”
Doc Savage looked into the face of each of his friends as he suggested to the group as a whole,” If anyone wants to back out now I’ll understand, but please indicate so now.”
Derek stepped forward to address everyone in the war torn room,” Listen to the man cause believe you me; it’ll be no picnic out there.”
The set expressions on everyone’s face and the stone silence was answer enough; yet Savage was bothered by the expression on Nancy’s face in particular, which revealed more than simple dedication or excitement.
Soon as everyone headed for the hallway and the elevator beyond, Doc Savage, Nick, and Derek gathered all the weapons and ammunition that could be salvaged. They held their breath as the doors were opened to the elevator. It was still there and everyone piled in risking overloading it. As the doors closed they could hear the footsteps of many and the voice of Sergeant McGregor whose language consisted mainly of obscenities for the moment. He was not having a good day.
“ Ok Monk.” Nick said,” You can hit the button for the basement any time now.”
“ Is this the high speed one?” Monk asked innocently.
Nick smiled,” Now you know it is Monk, you have disgraced my place with your presence before.”
“ Well, I guess you’ve seen through me.” Monk’s eyes twinkled with mischief.
Doc Savage gave a questioning glance Nick’s way. The confidence that Nick shown convinced the man of bronze to accept that he knew what he was doing.
“ There’s always the speed control setting switch if you want it to go a bit slower.” Ham suggested nervously.
Monk made a face at the ex-lawyer and then commented out loud,” This is what I like.” With a hardy laugh, Monk pressed the basement button and instantly, the elevator plunged at an incredible rate of speed.
“ Hoooa! This is better than riding a roller coaster.” Nancy remarked excitedly.
Ham held onto the elevator chrome hand holds so hard his knuckles turned white. He glared at Monk saying,” Like father, like daughter.” Monk laughed so hard he got the hiccups.
Seconds later, the speeding elevator began to slow down to make a safe stop. When it reached B level, the doors opened to a garage type basement. Several unusual automobiles and an armored truck were parked on the opposite side of the elevator. Nick pulled a key from his pocket, and locked off the speed elevator from a small panel just outside of the doors, then he lead the way.
As they walked across the incredible basement, Nick hinted,” You know Doc, I really think you should consider making this your next headquarters right within this building.”
“ Later, I shall give it some thought, ”Savage assured him.”
Nick stopped a moment and turned to face the group,” As some of you remember, at one time Doc had a private subway like shuttle running underground from his headquarters of old, to his Hudson river warehouse….”
Those that knew did show in one-way or another that they had indeed remembered.
“ So, big deal!” Nancy exclaimed.
“ I’ll come to the point. Over to the right is an entrance to a shuttle rail tunnel I had built, myself. It leads to an old warehouse location too. Now of course a new building stands in its place. Also the shuttle car and tunnel is three times as large as the old one which fell apart from disuse some years ago.”
“ That is fantastic.” Ham remarked in surprise,” I knew nothing of this myself.”
“ Yeah? Sure you didn’t.” Monk remarked.
“ Then may I suggest we hop aboard it and make our getaway while we can?” Savage patiently suggested.
“ No need to worry, the elevator has been locked down here, and besides every entrance into this place is locked and impregnable.”
“ Just the same, I agree with Mr. Savage. From now on, every moment is precious, besides from what I witnessed, the attacks on you and your people are getting worse, more desperate. They know we know.”
“ Exactly. Nick lead the way.” Savage instructed.
A twenty-five foot bullet shaped cylinder of smooth metal rest just inside a lighted tunnel that seemed to go on forever; was the new shuttle. As they climbed in the shuttle entrance, an oval hatchway on the side of it; Nick explained to Savage,” It works similar to some of the magnetic trains that they have developed lately. Hugh magnets all along the tunnel turn on and off as the shuttle car passes by. Little fuel is used only for the booster to start and the boosters to stop. It uses a small amount of electricity for lighting and the control board in front.”
There were three rows of blue cushioned seats to sit in, and three larger seats toward the front were directly in line with the main controls. The control board panel was simple enough and built sturdy to withstand almost any kind of impact. There were no windows except for a small oval one in front; which was composed of glass several inches thick.
When everyone was seated, Nick explained,” Alright everyone. Strap yourselves in with your seatbelts.”
After everyone was strapped in, Nick yelled,” Ok, here goes.”
Billy turned to Gregory and asked,” What does he mean by here goes?”
Gregory shrugged his shoulders, but Nick overhearing the question explained,” This is the first time I’ve tried this baby out.”
As the shuttle jumped forward silently building its speed more every second, Marlyn commented,” Now he tells us.”
The lights from the tunnel’s ceiling flashed by in a blur through the oval window. Ham moaned, while Monk laughed like a child on Christmas morning. Nick quickly explained to the man of bronze about the controls. Savage was impressed with Ham’s son more and more as time went on. In certain fields he was equivalent to a genius.
Soon, a turn of a knob and a button pushed made the bullet shaped craft gradually slow down. As it came to a halt, Nick announced, “ Ok kids, end of the ride.”
Monk whined,” Heck, I was just beginning to enjoy it too.”
One by one the group climbed out of the humming shuttle and into a lighted area bright enough to make them squint their eyes in order to get them use to it. Nick was the last to pile out. When they were able to look around clearly, they found themselves inside a large warehouse. Only two dust covered jet craft stood alone inside this vast area. Both were a dark blue, so dark it looked black and they had no markings on their bodies whatsoever.
“ What are these?” Savage asked obviously impressed by their futuristic wind swept design.
Nancy said it right when she said,” They look real bad..”
Nick walked toward the two craft and explained once more to the rest who followed him,” Theses I had especially custom built for just such an occasion as this.”
He ran his hand along one of the sides of the crafts, Both have an air speed of mach four, yet can land and take off unless overloaded, vertically. They’re both fighter-bombers several years ahead of their time. They have tail and nose machine cannons with two turret laser cannons located top and bottom. There are fourteen heat-seeking air-to-air missiles and a small capacity hold for bombs on each craft. Each can hold six maybe squeeze in eight passengers.”
Monk whistled as he ran his hand along the fuselage of one jet fighter bomber in an exact imitation of Ham’s son,” What kind of bombs will fit into these?”
Nick hesitated then,” Anything including a Hydrogen bomb.”
Savage turned to Derek suddenly and asked,” Do you think you could get permission from the government to load one of these things with a Hydrogen bomb?”
Derek moved his cigar around in his mouth and finally replied,” Uh, that’s a tall order mister. When I get a chance to contact them, I’ll see what can be done.”
“ Good.” Savage replied.
“ If that doesn’t work out maybe Johnny has connections in Canada.”
Derek’s face brightened in sudden thought,” Hey, now that’s an idea. Less likely to be discovered that way until it is too late.”
“ Why do we have to keep everything so secret all the time?” Billy asked,” Couldn’t we get help if more people knew what was going on?”
“ No, simply because the enemy would then know our actions at all times,” Derek explained patiently.
Nick said,” Enough of that. Got one more thing to show you before we’re airborne. Since these babies take off vertically, we won’t have to mess with the river.”
He strolled to a wall nearby, flipped a switch and instantly the ceiling above the two jets opened up to the sky above. As two gigantic panels that made up the ceiling slid back, Doc savage could see the blue sky and feel the late morning heat beating down from the mid-summer sun. Sirens could still be heard in the distance. Closer were the sounds of river traffic. He could even smell the river smells he had been away from for so long.
“ That’s amazing, I hope we’re not seen.” Thomas commented.
“ Most likely we will be, but the police have nothing that can catch theses fighters.” Derek said,” Once I get clearance with the government by radio on one of these jets, we’ll be on our way scot-free.”
“ Almost.” Savage corrected the government agent,” Remember, this enemy still has an uncanny ability to find us no matter where we go. We must be prepared to fight our way there.”
“ I’m ready.” Nancy stated matter-of-factly,” I’m tired of running. Let’s take the fight to ‘em. She brought her fist down hard on the palm of her other hand.
“ Now you’re talking!” Monk exclaimed.
“ Ok, lets get a move on.” Savage instructed,” The ones going to the hospital, get in the first fighter, the rest board the second.”
Monk pretended not to hear and began to board the fighter that wasn’t headed for upstate hospital, when the man of bronze noticed him. Savage tapped his shoulder,” The first fighter, Monk.”
“ Jeeze, give me a break.” Monk said miserably. Savage could tell that Monk was miserable. He knew why. Monk had to face the fact he was going to miss some action for a change.
Monk resignedly turned around and boarded the first fighter-bomber. When all were aboard the two fighters, engines were started. The engines were amazingly quiet even when extra power was needed as the fighters soon began to slowly rise straight up through the large opening in the ceiling.
In the second craft, Nick and Doc Savage sat in the front pilot and co-pilot seats. Normally a co-pilot wasn’t required, but this time Nick had an eager student aboard that insisted that he should sit up front.
Nick joked,” Ok, now do you think you could handle it until I get through with the radio?”
Doc Savage smiled and replied as serious as he could,” I suppose so. Don’t be too long.” Then the man of bronze calmly took over the controls of the fighter-bomber like he could have done it in his sleep.
Nick made contact with the local air authority and then the Federal authorities and explained the situation patiently each time. Then while he handed the headset he had been wearing to Derek to make his special contacts, Savage let Nick take control of the fighter.
“ While you two handle it from here, I shall check on our passengers.”
Savage said as he moved toward the back.
“ Right.” Nick acknowledged.
“ Hey, that Monk fellow has interrupted my contact from the other plane.” Derek protested to Savage.
Savage asked,” What does he want?”
“ Just wished us luck in behalf of the others.”
“ Tell him thanks.” Savage answered dryly,” And for him to get his tail to the Hospital. Also from now on unless an emergency, radio silence between us is imperative.”
“ Ok, anything you say.” Derek replied.
When Savage was out of the front, Derek asked Nick,” Sure is uptight isn’t he? Is he always like that?”
“ Wouldn’t you be if you awoke up in a world gone mad around you?” Nick found himself defending the man of bronze without really knowing exactly why. Derek turned and stared toward the control panel,” Yeah, see what you mean.”
Savage sat down in the remaining empty seat in the front row with the passengers. There were no windows and the interior was anything but plush or entertaining. It was no wonder that everyone was bored and irritable after a little while.
Doc Savage turned to the group and explained,” It’s going to be a long trip even as fast as Nick will push this thing. You will probably have the same thing on your minds, and that is what is waiting out there for us. I have no sure answer to that, but I do know one thing. It’ll do no good to worry about it, so I suggest that you either get some long needed sleep or at least keep yourselves busy until we reach Canada. From then on you will have plenty to do.”
Billy exclaimed,” Bravo! I second that. I could sleep till next Tuesday the way I feel.”
“ Guess I could check the weapons we have on board.” Marlyn offered.
“ I could make a suggestion as to what we could do together Clark, but I guess I’ll help Marlyn instead.” Laughing mischievously, Nancy followed Marlyn toward the weapons containers in the back hold.
Billy fumed,” I wish she would make up her mind.”
There was clearly the red of embarrassment in the face of the man of bronze.
The gigantic doors to Nick’s new warehouse silently closed as the two hover bombers rose a thousand feet into the air in a matter of a couple of seconds. Then, with a muffled roar of power that rattled the waterfront, they leapt forward at an ever-increasing rate of speed to the North. Pigeons flew in all directions trying to avoid being hit by those two sleek looking craft. Crews on boats on the Hudson curious to see what was causing all the uproar; craned their necks upward toward the Northern sky.
Doc Savage, who had climbed back to the cockpit during takeoff asked Nick,” Didn’t you tell us that these jet bombers were suppose to be silent?”
“ They’re supposed to be.” Nick replied rather sheepishly,” I’ve been having a lot of problems with the muffler systems on these babies lately. Nobody’s perfect.” Nick looked pretty embarrassed.
“ That’s alright Nick.” Savage tried to reassure him,” We’ll work on that problem later. Right now we’ve got other matters at hand. For one, I think I’ll get some sleep while there is time.”
“ We’ll let you know if anything crops up Doc.” Derek offered.
An hour and a half later, Derek who had bloodshot eyes shook Doc Savage awake.
“ Good news Doc.” Derek exclaimed as he leaned over the reclined form of the man of bronze who had slept on the floor behind the cockpit. Doc Savage sat up,” What’s the news?”
“ Canada has given permission to use their airspace and facilities for whatever we want. They’re concerned about the situation as much as anyone else. Maybe more, it is in they’re back yard. My organization has sent a hydrogen bomb on its way to be picked up by us in Toronto Canada in a secret location known only to them and of course myself.”
“ When is our arrival time?”
Derek checked his watch,” About…twenty minutes from now. We’re taking it slow so as to bring as little attention to ourselves as possible as we near the destination. Oh, and the other fighter just landed near your Hospital.”
Doc Savage stated,” They disobeyed radio silence.”
“ Monk did.”
Doc sighed,” Anything else?”
“ my men shall meet us at a certain location in the Artic circle. Their submarine will surface there, but will not wait so long. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you a question that’s been bothering me for a while.”
“ What is it?” Savage asked as he rose to his feet to take a passenger seat.
“ How did you know about the Hydrogen bomb?” Derek asked quietly.
“ Simple, forty years ago I knew it was just a matter of time before I could develop the hydrogen process which could develop an even greater bomb than the Atom bomb.” Savage replied nonchalantly.
“ Amazing. Why didn’t you go ahead and develop it?” Derek was fascinated by the history and mind of this modern day Rip Van Winkle.
“ I had, but I saw the great danger it posed to all of mankind.”
Derek decided to change the subject,” Have any theories on why you were frozen the way you were?”
Savage seemed not to have heard Derek’s last question, for he suddenly excused himself,” Excuse me a moment, I need to see the girls and Billy.”
This sudden cold shoulder treatment puzzled Derek to no end. He was left sitting there with a very puzzled expression on his face, secretly wondering to himself if the man he was assigned to work with wasn’t playing with a full deck.
Marlyn walked by as if to check on something in the front of the plane and said to him as if she had read his mind,” Nah, he’s just eccentric. Likes to work it all out in his head before revealing much to anyone. If I were you to get on his good side I’d avoid the subject about his past for now. When he has an answer, you will know. Then again, I could be wrong.” She giggled at him and headed back toward the back hold area. Derek thought to himself, now how did she know I was thinking about that?
Ontario’s first city Toronto is the Dominion’s center of commerce, industry, and finance. The city has played the dominant role in Upper Canada for over a century. A great part of Ontario’s population resided in Toronto. Visitors go to the top of the Canadian Bank of Commerce for a view of skyscraper peaks, the port, and the wooded residential districts. Historic Toronto is the home of William Lyon Mackenzie at 82 Boyd street, old Fort York, and the ruined Mills on the Don River. It was picturesque Casa Lama, a huge castle on Davenport Rd.
That afternoon the Casa Lama was shaken on its foundation from the roar of Nick’s hover fighter as it began its descent for a landing near the very walls of Fort York. The prearranged landing sight was an empty parking lot behind an old abandon Cannery near the ruined mills. Everything, the parking lot, was bone dry. There hadn’t been near the rainfall that they usually received every year.
As their craft with the engines off silently descended, Derek pointed out the window in the direction of the lot below,” See that meat van parked over there?”
Nick leaned toward the window and answered,” Yeah.”
“ Park this baby as close as you can to it.”
“ Will do.”
Nick grasping the control wheel, pushed a button with his other hand. Then he let the control wheel move forward a little faster and to the right and then to the left a little. He pulled the dark hover fighter its small engines for landing hissing away toward the van as Doc Savage cautioned everyone in the back,” Everyone take your seats. Have your weapons ready just in case we run into any trouble.”
Billy asked,” Is that possible?”
“ Anything is possible.” Savage pointed out to Billy. The engines were whining down as Doc Savage and company filled out the hatch. Three men dressed as meat deliverymen stood near the red and white meat head van. They quietly slipped on shinny silver suits that covered them from head to toe. The last one to get his suit on shook hands with Doc Savage and Derek before he lowered the headgear over his face.
“ Agent Samuel at your service.” He introduced himself first,” Hear you need some beef delivered.”
“ We do. Well, where’s the beef?” Derek asked without a trace of humor. Friendliness yes, but no mirth. Samuel pointed to the van.
“ “ It’s in back. Sure will be glad to get rid of it too. A whole lot of people would like to get their hands on this good of quality. “
Everyone, with the exception of Nancy, walked around the back of the van. Nancy carefully watched in all directions as she held on tightly to her machine pistol. She was having an uneasy feeling about this deserted place, which seemed as silent as the inside of a tomb.
One of the men in the silver suits opened the back doors to the van. There, just inside lay a silver and white cylinder shaped object three feet long and one foot wide. The digital readout window and some timer code buttons were located on the end facing them.
Derek eyed the cylinder,” Yeap, that’s the real McCoy.”
“ Is it armed?” Savage asked.
“ Yes sir. Where do you want her? Samuel inquired.
Doc Savage turned to Nick,” Nick, you show them, for you know this craft better than anyone here.”
“ Sure.” Derek and the others watched the three silver men lift the bomb up and out the van. The bomb was strapped onto the stretcher like affair that had legs with wheels, which unfolded as they pulled it out from the meat van, very similar to a modern ambulance stretcher.
When it was wheeled up close to the fighter’s underbelly, Nick reached up and pressed a secret button. Silently a steel cylinder shaped compartment like a barrel of a canon, dropped out from the bottom of the fighter through a small hidden hatch door. The cavity was a lot bigger than the bomb they had hauled there. That of course made it a lot simpler than they had first imagined lifting the bomb right up into it. The button was pressed again and the compartment and its devastating load slid silently again up into the awaiting fighter craft.
Derek and Savage thanked Samuel and his fellow agents all Canadians while the rest boarded the hover fighter once more. As Savage and Derek watched the three agents drive away, Derek explained,” I’ve made arrangements to refill our tanks in midair.”
Doc Savage half turned to Derek,” Oh? How is that done?”
“ Easy, Nick pointed it out that we have a front fuel hose located near the nose of the plane. When we’re almost to the Artic circle, an American fuel plane will hook up with the hose and their own.
“ Very good. Then we won’t have to land until we reach our rendezvous.” Savage stated more than asked him.
“ That’s affirmative.” Derek agreed.
“ Then let us proceed. We haven’t much time.”
As they board the hover craft, Derek pondered on that statement of the man of bronze, but thought better in asking Savage about it until another time. Something was bothering him there was no doubt about it in Derek’s mind.
Soon, the hover fighter was on its way with a familiar blast of its main engines. A fisherman on the bank of Don River nearly jumped into the water; he was so startled by the sudden roaring noise made by the strange looking jet plane that streaked across the crystal clear sky.
No one on board noticed two smaller jet fighters rising into the air from behind the old Mills. Nick’s craft headed due north and two followed at a discreet distance.
As they flew over Northern Canada later, Doc Savage, Derek and Nick watched a colorful sunset of red, pinks, and orange shades. They were quickly moving into a colder cloudier climate. For now, summer was over as far as Doc Savage was concerned. Marlyn felt a chill pass over her that she expected. But she also felt something else. A foreboding. A feeling she should turn back before it was too late. She shrunk down in her seat under a light blanket and shut her eyes hoping to shut out that terrible feeling, but it did little good.
An hour later, Savage broke the silence when he asked Nick while he stood watching a red lenses radar screen,” Have either of you noticed a distant signal on the radar lately?”
Nick flashed a smile toward the control panel and without so much as turning his head he replied,” Yes, I have. I believe there are actually two objects on the screen. Computer sensors indicate craft of a smaller model, but are at least as fast as our own.”
“ Well, if it comes to a fight can we out gun them?” Derek asked hopefully.
Nick frowned at the question,” Can’t make out what weapons they have. They do have missiles but there is no way of knowing what else.”
“ So we won’t know until they make a move.” Savage speculated.
“ If they make a move.” Nick corrected.
Derek threw up his hands,” Great! Fearless leader over there wants to fight unknown odds and flyboy over here can’t find out his behind from a hole in the ground.”
“ What’s eating you?” Nick asked Derek,” You’re the one that volunteered so bravely knowing full well that…”
Nancy interrupted raising her voice above the others,” What the hell’s going on up there?”
Suddenly Savage turned to Nancy,” Better have everybody strap in. Two unidentified craft that have been following us for some time are beginning to close distance between us. I believe we are in for a fight again.”
Without a word, Nancy rushed to the back to inform the others.
Nick asked Savage,” Should we try to make radio contact with them first?”
“ No, if they were anyone other than the enemy they wouldn’t have followed us like they did.” Savage suggested,” Let them think they can take us by surprise.”
“ Yeah, then we’ll deck ‘em!’ Derek pounded his fist once onto the top of the control dash for emphasis.
The man of bronze ignored Derek’s enthusiastic display,” Nick let me take the control, you control the weapons while I pilot this thing.”
Derek cleared his voice and Savage and Nick looked at him.
“ Well? What do you want me to do? Fire my pistol out the window at those birds back there?”
Doc Savage without so much as a smile replied,” You are to go back where the others are and keep them calm. Show them what to do in case we have to make a emergency landing.”
Derek lit up another cigar and said out of the side of his mouth, “ Fine!” Rising out of his chair, Derek quickly made his way to the back. Nick took the chair that Derek had occupied while Doc Savage sat in Nick’s pilot seat.
Savage pushed several buttons to one of the inboard computers and a lot of date began to appear on a monitor near him and on the side of the radar screen. Then a moment later, he commented loud enough for everyone to hear,” Looks like they are about to close in.”
Nick addressed the plane as he pats the firing switch panels beside him,” Ok baby, lets show your stuff.”
He looked to the ceiling and whispered,” And please stay together will you?”
Doc Savage’s voice rose in volume above all other noise as he addressed his friends,” Hold on everybody. I’m about to hand the enemy our first surprise.”
In one motion he pushed the thrust lever at full speed and pulled back hard on the control wheel. Marlyn screamed as the fighter shot straight up for what seemed an eternity. Just when it looked like they might break through the Earth’s atmosphere layer, the sleek fighter slid down almost sideways still at full speed.
Nick exclaimed as the fighter continued its dangerous dive toward two distant objects in the sky,” Damn, what a ride! Hey, are those the targets?”
Savage at that very moment ordered Nick,” Send four air to air missiles now.”
Nick punched the firing buttons in proper sequence as rapidly as possible. Then the man of bronze made a mistake, an almost fatal one. Not use to the kind of lightning quick warfare a dog fight with jet fighters require, he slowed down their craft to see the results. The two enemy craft following Savage and company were far from the best of pilots. But when two of the missiles found their target and the one of the fighter’s disintegrated in a ball of flame and shards of metal; the other reacted quick enough to bank his fighter away from the explosion. Then four missiles of his own sped on their way toward Nick’s hover bomber almost before they knew what was happening.
“ Hey, what happened to our other two missiles?” Nick anxiously asked.
Doc Savage answered in disgust,: Malfunctioned.” Quickly he brought the fighter into a steep dive right for two forest-covered mountains.
“ Whooaaa.” Nick managed to yell.
Suddenly, there was a dull thump of a noise, which made the entire craft shake for a second.
“ Two of the missiles hit a mountain nearby.” Savage informed his crew, “More on the way.”
Closer and closer two mountains loomed. Just as it seemed they were going to smash head on into those mountains, Savage pulled up sharply on the control wheel again. The wings of their fighter skimmed across treetops and barely passed over a power line tower.
Two missiles were right on their tail, but didn’t make it through the trees and tower. Both missiles were damaged and slammed into another mountain wall on the left, exploding just as the remaining fighter approached the area every bit as fast as Nick’s fighter. Rock fragments showered the fighter’s body, but did little damage. It passed between the mountains with a roar. Large trees bent under the terrific strain caused by the following concussion
of a sonic boom of the passing jets.
Savage glanced at the instruments,” Still with us. Nick, get ready the lasers turret guns, and point then both behind us. Fire when you’re sure he’s in your sites.”
“ No problem.” Nick replied as he peered over a small screen as he typed in on a keyboard the targets coordinates. Seconds later he remarked,” Got to make this one count. Not going to get a second chance.”
With his thumb he flipped open a lid on a small compartment by the keyboard and pushed an orange glowing button.
In a twinkling of an eye, two bright white beams of light flashed from the craft to the one following a mile back. One of the beams must have hit the fighter’s missiles, for there followed several large explosions, which rocked the mountainous terrain below. All that remained was burning debris raining down on the pine tree covered mountains.
Everyone cheered but Savage who simply commented,” That was regrettable. I was hoping that he would have time to bail out.”
Nancy who had freed herself from her seatbelt hugged Billy in her excitement and relief saying,” Oh Doc, you’re just too nice.”
Doc Savage ignored the statement, but found it harder to ignore what Nancy was doing to Billy. Billy could only grin with satisfaction.
Nick shouted,” Hey, we’ve got several trouble lights on Doc.”
That made everyone sit back down and strap their seatbelts back on in a hurry. Then Savage added,” Yes, I see…one of them is the landing gear.”
Nick turned to the man of bronze wide eyed and exclaimed in a hoarse voice,” The other is a fuel leak. At the rate its leaking out, we’ve only a minute or two flying time left. The hole must be hugh.”
Doc Savage informed everyone of the rest of the bad news,” If I try to climb to an altitude high enough to bail out, we’ll not have enough fuel to accomplish it. Nor can I land vertically.”
Nick said,” Yeah, I know. The vertical jets take too much fuel to use those either.”
Derek was overheard saying,” That’s just great.”
“ What next?” Nick asked as calm as he could.
“ We’re going to have to belly land her.” Savage grimly answered.
“ What? How is that possible? We’ll never get her down to a safe enough speed without dropping.” Nick was baffled.
“ If we land in a body of water we can. Look.” Savage pointed out the front window to something outside below. He had banked the dark fighter at an angle so that he could get a better view. Nick could see fairly well from where he sat also.
“ A river. Land in a river? Nick could barely make out a long slow running river amongst the trees every once and awhile.
“ I know that river.” Savage revealed,” I have been in this area before, long ago. Granted it was forty years, but little has probably changed. It should at least lead to a lake.”
“ That’s nice except for one small thing.” Nick started to mention.
“ We’re out of fuel.” Savage guessed.
A deadly silence fell over the fighter. Only the wind could be heard whistling by the fighter’s body as it began its decent. The engines had cut out dry as a bone.
Doc Savage half turned and explained to the crew,” Ok, brace yourselves. I’m going to try to land her in the river. It’s our only chance.”
Derek yelled to Marlyn, Nancy and Billy,” Remember what I instructed. When we’re about to hit the water; put your heads down between your knees with your hands covering your heads as well.”
Marlin in a trembling voice said,” I know, I know.”
The wind rushing by became louder and louder until it was more of a muffled roar.
“ We’re going too fast.” Nick shouted to be heard.
“ I’ll lift her up a bit.” Savage was heard to say under obvious great strain. “It should slow us…down…That ought to do it.”
Seconds later, the hover fighter bounced along the river surface like a skipping stone across the cold water. There was a series of jolts as it did. Supplies, weapons and the like flew all around the cabin of the fighter. A box of supplies smashed into Billy’s head, knocking him out cold in his seat.
“ Billy!” Nancy screamed as she saw it happen and witnessed their world shaking to pieces before her eyes.
Derek cursed up a storm when he saw one of the wings tear off the fighter’s fuselage. With one wing gone, the fighter spun around and then flipped over, finally coming to a halt half in and half out of the churning water of the river. The front part of the craft was on the bank of the river, while the rest was in the water, upside down.
A moment of terrible silence. Nancy was the first to return to consciousness. She found herself still trapped to her seat hanging upside down.
“ Oh God!” Nancy yelled,” Got to get out of here. The whole damn plane may go up in flames any second. Billy? Marlyn? Where are they?”
She struggled with the strap device until finally it unbuckled all at once dumping her head first down onto what once been the hover craft’s ceiling.
“ Ouch! Damn’t.” Nancy swore rubbing her head,” It’s all that Clark’s fault. Where are you, you…”As she got up off the ceiling/floor, Nancy sighted someone lying near a corner among various debris. She made her way to the spot she thought she had seen someone. What she saw made her involuntarily place her hand to her mouth in terror.
Billy was lying face down in a pool of blood that ran out from beneath where his head lay to mix with the ever so slowly increasing amount of river water that was leaking inside. She quickly got a grip of herself and turned him over. She sobbed uncontrollably as she tried to find a vital sign of life. A pulse, anything. After what seemed ages she sobbed with relief and blew her nose.
‘There, he’s still alive.” Nancy laughed,” His pulse is weak, but there. Hope its not shock, naw, it can’t be.”
As she wiped the blood away from Billy’s face, she tried not to look too long at the ugly gash that traveled from his right ear to the top of his skull.
Then a voice from the darkened front of the wreckage spoke,” You’re probably right, but we might check just in case.” The voice made Nancy about jump out of her skin. When she saw a giant man of bronze skin emerge from the shadows in front of her, fear turned to anger.
She trembled as she spoke to the man of bronze, “ Damn your hide. You about got us killed. We should have tried to outrun them. Instead your ego got the best of you. You had to show off, big man. Are you proud of yourself now?”
Doc Savage softly explained,” There’s no time for that. We’ll talk of it later. Right now we’ve got to get everyone out of this wreck, for it could fill up with ice-cold water soon. Or the enemy may come this way looking for us. Help me drag everybody out that are not conscious yet.”
After gazing at Savage’s face for a moment, Nancy finally gave in and agreed to a temporary truce.
“ No one was killed?” Nancy asked incredulously.
“ As far as I can tell…” Savage let the sentence go unfinished. He wasn’t sure of anyone’s chances right then. Carefully as they could, they lifted Billy by the arms and legs carrying him out a large gaping hole in the side of the fuselage. When they were outside and had walked some distance down the bank, they gently lowered him to the rocky river shore.
“ He shouldn’t be moved, but we had no choice…Ok, lets get the others.” Savage suggested.
The bronze giant and Nancy made their way back running. They arrived at the wreck site in time to see Nick and Marlyn struggling out of the front of the craft through the broken main window. Marlyn had to have Nick support her for she had twisted an ankle and she also had a badly bruised leg.
“ Hurry!” Nancy warned,” Get the hell away from there. It may blow.”
They found no trace of Derek in the craft or out, so they waited for a while at a safe distance, but the fighter never caught fire or explode.
When Savage thought it was safe he approached the wreckage cautiously at first. After closer inspection, he found that the aircraft had not a drop of fuel left to explode with, and all the explosives were still enclosed safely in their containers even though those said containers were scattered everywhere.
Doc Savage’s group looked for Derek everywhere shouting his name this way and that, but still they found no trace of him. It was though he vanished off the face of the Earth. Finally Savage called off the search,” We’ll look for Derek along the way to the North Pole. Now we must salvage what we can, and press on as quickly…”
“ As possible, I know.” Nancy finished his sentence,” What are we going to do? Walk all the way?”
“ Hopefully we might be rescued or at least find some kind of transportation along the way.” Savage assured them.
Nancy muttered,” Dream on.”
They salvaged what they could from the wreckage. Billy’s cut turned out to be better then it had first appeared, thanks to Savage’s work with a first aid kit and some needle and thread. Nick had pulled a radio from the plane. It was light enough to carry and ran on solar batteries and a large regular battery within.
In the late afternoon a terrible storm hit the forest they had been hiking through, with the force of a hurricane. Hail fell on Savage’s party, and lightning struck with a vengeance all around them as they desperately sought shelter. Winds in access of eighty miles per hour blew them around until bruised and battered they fortunately found a cave, which they decided was suitable to stay the night.
That night as the wind howled outside, everyone gathered around the small fire Savage made out of wood found in the cave. Over the radio they found out through a Canadian broadcast that someone had given the world an ultimatum. The message had interrupted all other radio broadcasts throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. He never identified himself , but the voice was one that sounded as though it was not to be taken lightly.
The ultimatum was either the governments of the world resign full control to him as sole ruler of the Earth, or he would unleash worldwide catastrophes such as man has not seen since the dawn of time. It would eventually destroy all civilization, as we know it. Whoever he was, claimed to be able to control the weather around the globe. His biggest threat was he could possibly cause the North and South poles to melt and flood most of our world’s shorelines and beyond. As an example of his power he was, at that moment, causing terrible storms in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, North Russia, and the Northern part of Europe.
According to comments made by various government officials throughout the world, they were not about to give in so easily. Many did not believe the threats even though the threatening voice appeared on radio all frequencies at the same time. That was what the storm had been about. And the storms were at such an unbelievable magnitude, that thousands had died already and many more were homeless. They were sure to hear from the voice of doom again.
By the campfire that night, Nancy became hysterical after she had an argument with Doc Savage. The argument was over who was to blame for the crash, and who was to blame for Derek’s disappearance.
“ No one is to blame for Derek’s disappearance, Nancy.” Savage tried to explain.” He could have had a concussion and wondered off before we had awakened.”
Nancy began to scream at him, babbling about things that frankly didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Finally, Doc Savage gripped her by her shoulders and shook her several times,” Stop. You are becoming hysterical. Get control of yourself Nancy, before you have a mental breakdown. Don’t worry; we’ll be rescued soon. I’ve got a good feeling about it.”
To reassure her he hugged her to him for a long time. Most all the others were asleep so Doc Savage resigned himself to her persistence for the time being. Later that night, while Nancy lay in a troubled sleep; Nick was sitting by the man of bronze. He turned to ask the giant about something and found he had quietly vanished into the stormy night. Nick shrugged his shoulders and laid down to get some sleep. Though the storm raged to some degree, the man of bronze, like a shadowy ghost in the dead of night, prowled cautiously around the rain swept forest. He looked high and low, but still found no trace of the agent called Derek. At least the hail had stopped.
Several hours passed before he returned to the cave and its sleeping occupants. As soon as he arrived, Billy regained consciousness. He was still weak, but was able to walk with a walking cane. Doc Savage had trouble getting to sleep even though he felt very tired. Doubts about their mission and suspicions about their latest addition to their party Derek nagged at his troubled mind. There was something else. In his mind crept the laughter of madness from a mind other than his own. Finally he relaxed through a meditation technique he learned from the Orient that drove all such thoughts from his consciousness and he was able to sleep at last.
By early morning they struck out once more. Doc Savage revealed that he knew the location that Derek was suppose to meet his team called Eight.
Marlyn groaned and stretched,” Then all is not lost.”
“ Right you are kid.” Nancy tried to sound cheerful as she glanced up at the boiling sky above. Even though the storm had subsided, the sky remained threatening.
Still the location was too far away to try it on foot, especially with little food or supplies, and there was a considerable amount of water to cross. So it was decided to try for the closest village or mining camp. Nick pulled out a crumpled map he had and after a moment of scrutinizing it, he declared,” According to this map Doc, if we follow the river North for forty miles, we will reach a village. Whether it is inhabited or not is unknown.”
Nancy laughed,” Oh, only forty miles. Hell, we’ll make that by lunch.”
Billy groaned and held his head. Nancy looked Billy’s way with concern,” I wonder how he’s going to make it?”
No one could venture an answer except Doc savage. He simply picked Billy up like a sack of potatoes and carried him in his arms in front of his person. It was unbelievable how long he could carry the wounded Billy that way.
They had traveled several miles when suddenly; they had to hurry for cover from a mean looking black helicopter gunship that made a couple of passes over them, as if searching for someone. The, from a clump of bushes near the very rocks they hid behind, a timber wolf bolted across a clearing by the river. He never made it; for the helicopter hovering some forty feet over the river immediately cut loose a hail of bullets from its heavy caliber machine guns mounted on the sides. The timber wolf was cold-bloodedly cut to pieces before their eyes.
“ Sure trigger happy aren’t they?” Billy weakly commented.
“ It’s a cinch they’re not here to take pictures, ‘ Nancy quickly added finding that she had been holding her breath all the while.
Doc Savage glanced at the helicopter’s position and back to his aides,” Does anyone have their weapons still on them?” Check to see what we do have, fast!”
Everyone did and Nick was the first to offer anything,” I have a machine pistol with half a clip in it.”
“ I have one too, with two clips to my name.” Nancy said in disappointment.
Marlyn with trembling hands held up a machine pistol and three clips.
The man of bronze pulled out several small round grenades that were only an inch in diameter, but were a high explosive. He turned to the others once more after checking,” I’ve got these and an idea.
When I jump out into the open, you give me as much cover fire as you can muster, understood?” Everyone shook their heads affirmative.
Suddenly the helicopter decided to make the first move for it started firing indiscriminately among the tall trees and rocks where they hid. Several times it came close to hitting them. Nick prayed that the helicopter would soon give his bronze friend a break. Sure enough, it stopped firing momentarily and Savage bolted from the rocks.
Just as Savage started to throw a grenade of his at the hovering helicopter whose bullets were kicking up little rocks and sand in a trail slowly finding its way to him, when a bright beam of white hot light hit the top of the gunship. It’s whirling blades were neatly sheared off at its hinges. Everyone whooped for joy except Savage, as they watched the smoking helicopter helplessly smash into some trees on the other side of the river.
Seconds later a dark hover bomber jet like their own roared by along the river, barely clearing the tops of the trees. It rocked its wings back and forth as if to say hello.
Nick yelled,” Ten to one Monk is piloting it.”
As it turned out, after it had landed in the clearing further up the river, they saw Monk, Ham, and Renny and even Johnny step out of the fighter’s hatchway. The hover engines were left on at a low idling hum. Monk yelled as he reached them first,” Hi! Everybody ok down in the boon docks?”
Doc Savage was beside himself,” Monk, you disobeyed a direct order. Not only have you possibly jeopardized Patricia’s life, but also you’re own as well as your friends. You’re getting too old to get mixed up in something as dangerous as this.”
Monk fumed but refrained from saying anything. Nancy came to the rescue,” Clark Savage Jr., you’re suppose to be so fair about everything, where’s that fairness now? Do these guys really seem like senile old men to you?”
“ Well, no…” Savage began to see the folly of his thinking.
“ Then I see no reason why my father and the others have to remain listless in some hospital. And you know if it weren’t for them disobeying your order we might not be alive right now.”
Marlyn chuckled,” She’s got you there Doc.”
Doc Savage surveyed the anxious faces, and reluctantly agreed,” Ok, you win. I’ll tell all of you now that if any of you should lag behind; you will have to remain behind.”
Marlyn folded her arms over her chest,” How do we lag behind? We’re going by plane.”
Monk changed the subject in a hurry,” Think we better get aboard pretty quick, for I saw lots more of those gun ships all around these mountains. Saw larger choppers unloading more and more of those creeps in black everywhere. I even saw what looked like some more of those androids, like we ran into in Manhattan, only these babies looked bigger and meaner.”
Without another word, everyone boarded the hover bomber. It was decided to risk it and backtrack to the crash site.
“ We’ll try to recover the Hydrogen bomb.” Savage said.” Maybe we’ll find some trace of Derek along the way.”
Marlyn pushed Billy through the door,” Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s make tracks.”
When they flew over the crash site, they found more than a trace of Derek. Derek was behind a section of the torn body of the wrecked fighter having a shootout with at least ten heavily armed men. He was about to lose for several of the gunmen dressed in black ninja suits were circling around to jump him from behind. Derek’s attackers never knew what hit them when Monk opened up on them with the fighter’s machineguns, while the craft hovered above. Machineguns roared and it rained bullets down on them riddling them, their bodies dancing the dance of death. Derek picked off the last two that tried to ambush him from behind.
Upon landing, Derek greeted them just outside the exit hatch,” Hey, what took you guys so long? Sure glad to see a friendly face.”
Monk grinned,” Likewise. What ever happened to you? I heard you had mysteriously disappeared.”
Derek shrugged his shoulders and explained the best he could,” When the fighter flipped I guess I was thrown into the river. I floated down it on a log until I could gather enough strength to swim ashore. As it turned out, I had floated down the river further than I imagined, and it took a good while to make it back. By that time the wreck site was deserted. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get in touch with anyone, when these goons in black outfits jumped me.”
Ham concluded,” Then it was a lucky thing we decided to turn back to recover the bomb.”
Savage stepped out of the doorway,” Come on Derek. Help me with that bomb. You know more about it then anyone here.”
As Derek began to follow the man of bronze, he nudged Monk with his elbow and whispered, “ Ain’t he glad to see me?”
Monk answered matter-of-factly,” Yeah, but you’ll never get him to admit it.” He winked.
The Hydrogen bomb was loaded aboard the other craft without incident. They took off for the North again within minutes. Several Helicopter gun ships tried desperately to give chase, but when Nick who had taken over piloting pushed the fighter to greater speeds, they left their pursuers behind like they were standing still.
Savage declared as he watched the radar screen,” Now we can head for the rendezvous point.”
“ Yeah, but first I have got to radio that fuel plane. We’re close to the empty mark now.”
After fueling in mid-air, they continued on for another hour, when Nick got a call from Derek’s men from their submarine. Nick pulled off the headset that he had been wearing,” Derek, can you talk to your men? They seem to be a bit worried. It appears we’re a little late.”
Derek rose from his seat in the back and replied,” I’ll straighten it out with them.” He took the headset from Nick and asked before he placed them on his head,” Are we near the location that I previously mentioned?”
Savage answered without his eyes ever leaving the instruments in front of him except to occasionally glance out the front window,” Yes, only an hour away, maybe less. They may have to break through plenty thick ice to surface in that area. It never melts enough to get very thin there. Of course, recent climate changes might have changed the situation.”
Derek relayed that tidbit of information to his men, and then explained to them that they will land when they see their submarine surface. Derek made absolutely sure that his men understood his last instructions,” Use a laser to break the ice if you have to. Explosives must not be used. Repeat, explosives must not be used. It may give us away, understood?”
A voice from the submarine replied,” Message understood. We will comply immediately. Over and out.” Derek shut the radio off and looked at the man of bronze,” This is going to be tricky, but I think we’ll pull it off alright. Personally, I hope it doesn’t come down to using the hydrogen bomb.”
“ You and me both, Derek.” Savage agreed as he constantly searched the skies for enemy aircraft.
After a short time, Doc Savage noticed there was no longer land below, but an ocean of broken ice constantly moving and reshaping itself, rolling up and down in waves much like an ocean of water only at a slower pace; almost like a slow motion scene in a movie. Savage made himself heard over the rolling and crashing noises of the ocean ice below and the aircraft’s engines,” Folks, looks like we’re near the continent of ice.”
Later, Nick spotted the sub nosing a way through the thicker more stable ice. Like a giant gliding bird, the dark blue colored hover bomber landed not far from the surfaced submarine. Derek’s men from E.I.G.H.T. were soon climbing aboard Nick’s craft one by one unzipping their parkas and shaking the snow off themselves. Derek himself introduced Savage and the others to Derek’s men. They were a hardy lot, rugged, in excellent shape and keenly alert. They took turns shaking hands and small talk with one another. Savage was impressed with these agents. One of the agents from EIGHT was named Jake, a black man in his late twenties, with dark short hair, and brown eyes who was the first to report to Derek their squad leader.
“ The Canadians, Americans, and Russians have small well-equipped armies waiting and ready to storm the enemy from three sides.” Jake rattled off the information like a machine,” But the location is still unknown to them.” He smiled because he knew as well as everyone there that that would work to their advantage for a possible surprise attack on the enemy.
“ Great.” Derek said,” Let’s hope it stays that way and that the enemy doesn’t find out our location before our assault.”
” My sentiments exactly.” Savage added.
Nick turned to the man of bronze,” Well, I guess its time to use the ole tracer homing device trick.”
“ You must have read my mind Nick.” Savage pulled out the small tracer from his pants pocket. There was a small beeping sound emanating form the tracer every few seconds,” I’ve rigged this ordinary tracer to act as a homing device, which should home in on electromagnetic energy waves. It has to be an energy source of a large magnitude for it sounds like one long tone. Then we’ll be right on or very near to its location.”
The hover fighter’s fuelsage was buzzing with conversation from Savage’s people and Derek’s agents. Savage could feel the excitement and tension building amongst the crowd that stood or sat around him. The man of bronze decided to accompany Derek and his men in the sub. He took the tracer with him, as he explained his move,” We’ll try to surprise them from behind and below. There’s no telling what we’ll run into so wish us luck, we’ll need it.”
Monk blurted out at that moment,” There he goes, leaving me out of a fight again.”
Ham retort,” It’s a fight to keep you quiet.”
“ Oh, he’ll change his mind. Leave it to me.” With a wink, Nancy strolled up to Savage like a sly cat and whispered something in his ear. Startled, Savage pulled away from her as if electrocuted. Reluctantly, he agreed to let Monk and Ham tag along.
As they board the submarine, Doc Savage half turned to his two aides,” One thing we better get straight. I don’t want you taking unnecessary risks, you let these men and myself lead the way. If there’s trouble, we will be at the forefront of the battle. Not you two. Is that clear?”
They agreed of course, and boarded the sub amid goodbyes. On board, Doc Savage immediately got on the radio,” Nick, keep in close touch so that when the fortress location is found they can attack from the air while we surface somewhere from the opposite side, hopefully.”
“ What do you mean, hopefully?” Nick’s voice sounded concerned. Savage wouldn’t elaborate. Instead he signed off.
“ Dive! Dive!” One of Derek’s men shouted as the submarine quietly slipped beneath the ice. The fighter took off vertically and headed straight for the North at the same time.
Minute later, Nick called Savage,” What about the H bomb we have aboard?”
After a moment’s hesitation, Savage grimly replied,” We will use it only as a last resort.” In Savage’s bronze hand lay the tiny tracer homer its signal increased in speed and strength every second. Finally, Doc Savage raised his head and nodded to the navigator to slow down the submarine’s speed. Savage commented out loud, “ The signal has converted to a single tone.”
“ Should we turn on the outside underwater cameras and take a peak at what’s out there?” Derek offered.
“ Yes Derek.” Savage agreed,” I believe that that might be a good idea.”
One of the crew who was operating the sonar equipment exclaimed,” Looks like we won’t have to go much further. There’s something enormous just ahead. By the signal its shaped like no mountain or ice I ever seen before.”
Derek directed his attention to another one of his men,” Quick, turn our cameras on it.”
Everyone turned their attention to a series of video screens set up in the front part of the control room of the sub as the cameras were switched on. The cameras revealed a large metal ball shaped object sitting on the bottom of the ice ocean on a plateau of ice. It was so large that a fourth of its structure stuck through the ice and couldn’t be seen unless you happen to be on the surface of the frozen wastes of the North Pole.
Everyone in the sub that was able to see the spectacular sight ohh and ahh in amazement. In the excitement of this discovery the man of bronze unconsciously emitted his trilling sound. Derek and some of the others looked for the source of this mysterious sound, but Savage quickly stifled it in time.
The navigator voiced an obvious conclusion,” Looks like we’re gonna have to maneuver our way around it. No way under that thing.”
Savage shook his head,” Yes, we must go around. Derek, tell Nick to fly to our present location and weather permitting they should see a most unusual sight. Nick has a tracer homing device similar to mine so he’ll be able to do that with little problem. Tell him to hover out of sight and wait my signal. He’ll know what the signal will be.”
As Derek started to carry out his orders he pondered on how Savage had time to make another homing device and inform Nick about some signal he had in mind. Doc Savage carefully watched the instruments that shown what longitude and latitude they were located, while Derek radioed his message to the hover fighter. Twenty minutes ticked by before Savage spoke again,” On the other side of this thing is a place I would very much like you to surface the submarine, and let me out for a bit.”
Derek was intrigued,” Whatever for?”
“ I know some friends around here that might help us. By coincidence they are located not far from here in an American research base. Here are the coordinates where you can let me out.” He pointed to a location on a televised map near Derek. Savage began slipping into a specially designed white Artic one piece suit as Derek reluctantly agreed,” Well, ok, but be back soon, we don’t have much time you know.” Derek kept curiosity in check as best he could. Suspicions he had none because Savage’s past record and how he had performed almost miracles in the last twenty-four hours; he felt for the first time complete trust in a fellow human being.
Monk punched Ham in the side almost knocking the wind out of him and Whispered,” You know where he’s goin’ don’t ya?”
Ham paused a moment to think up some smart remark and then his eyes widened as the though dawned on him as it had Monk.
“ By Jove! I get you of course. The fortress of solitude! Oh boy, this is rich. Quick, see if you can see the location.”
Monk tried to look over Savage’s shoulder, but the man of bronze sensed him and turned around to face Monk. Doc Savage looked at the man that looked more Neanderthal man than modern man and commented to Derek,” Oh yes, these two men of mine must accompany me there.”
“ Sure if you think they’ll be of some help.” Derek agreed.
Monk couldn’t believe his ears and asked in an excited high voice,” You mean it Doc?”
Savage looked up at the ceiling at first wondering if he was going to regret this move as much as he always thought he would. Then he gazed at his aide as he confirmed what Monk had thought he had heard,” Yes, you could say I’ve had a change of heart, and besides my” Friends” may give us enough supplies that I’ll need help carrying it back.” Doc Savage winked at Monk. Ham and Monk could hardly contain themselves when the time came to surface. They departed in full Artic clothing and gear from the submarine through one of the top hatches that ran along the body instead of the conning tower.
The man of bronze was the last to leave the sub, and Derek could barely hear his voice above the wind howling through the hatch,” We’ll be back within two hours at the outside. If not, then start the operations without us.”
“ Ok, you guys be careful out there.” Derek shouted,” Looks like you’re in for a storm and a half.” Derek grinned and Doc Savage gave him a reassuring smile back. He spoke to Derek as best he could once more,” If we have to, we’ll build an igloo. See you soon.”
Derek commented to his crew as they closed the hatch and dived,” You know, if it’d been anyone else I’d say they didn’t have a chance in hell out there.” He gazed at the top hatch,” But this Savage is not just anyone. No sir.”
First thing Monk said to the man of bronze as they began to trek across the icy landscape that was being swept by ever increasing winds, “ Sure is a warmer wind blowing.”
Savage quickened his pace,” Hurry, we have less time than I had thought.’
Ham asked,” Where to Doc?” Ham had a knowing smile on his alert face.
“ As if we didn’t know.” Monk added.
Savage turned to them and explained in a very serious manner,” What I am about to let you in on must remain a secret. Up till now only one other person on this planet knew of its existence and that identity shall remain secret.”
Ham absent-mindedly drew a round shape in the snow with his sword cane,” Am I to perceive correctly Mr. Savage that which you are about to lead us to is none other than the fortress of solitude?”
Savage impatiently replied,” Correct, now lets not waste anymore valuable time.”
Ham under his breath remarked,” By all means.”
As they made their way over the difficult icy Artic terrain, Monk yelled,” After all, its about time we got a peep at it.”
“ I’m still not sure if this was such a god…” Savage trailed off as he got his first good look at the other fourth of the gigantic golden metal sphere that protruded from the icy depths; not unlike his fortress except much larger scale.
It was funny how he had never noticed it before. Perhaps it was covered by a large mountain of ice at one time that might have recently crumbled away from it or, melted away from it. But that would be impossible even under the best of Artic summers suns unless…unless the North Pole was melting! Savage decided not to think of it anymore than he had to. They already had enough worries as it was.
Though everything was ice and blowing snow as far as the eye could see, Savage found himself sweating under his Parks. Yet, he thought it best to leave it on and play it safe. Soon, they ran into ice cliffs, which were too impregnable to scale so they were forced to circle around.
“ These are the cliffs I believe they had found my body buried in the wall of ice.” Savage pointed to a particularly light blue area of the cliffs. Monk whistled in amazement.
Ham frowned,” Curious that the side which they must have found you happens to face the enemy fortress.”
Doc Savage didn’t reply to that observant remark, instead he exclaimed a few minutes later,” Look!”
Monk and Ham’s eyes followed the man of bronze’s gaze. In the distance through the blowing snow they could barely make out a large blue metallic dome structure. It was more noticeable than ever before because most of the Artic ice and snow had melted away from its slick surface.
Monk beamed at the sight. The Fortress of Solitude. Looks as good as new, Doc.”
“ So it does.” Savage said almost under his breath as he began to trot down an icy slope toward the fortress. Monk and Ham followed with some difficulty cursing all the way down. Ham almost fell once,” Hey, it is getting very slippery around here.”
“ Now that sounds catchy.” Monk began with a smirk. He waved one hand across the sky as if he were reading a sign,” Ham the slippery shyster slides to home safely.”
Ham took a swing with his sword cane at Monk who easily ducked out of the way. The momentum of his swing caused him to lose balance, falling and sliding the rest of the way down the slope on his back. Monk laughed all the more.
When they reached the fortress dome, without hesitation, Doc Savage placed the palm of his right hand on a hand depression in the dome’s wall. As if from nowhere, a ten foot by three-foot section of the wall nearby slid up silently to reveal a secret entrance. This time it was well lighted. The air inside was a little warm but fresh.
Monk eyes widened as he observed all the wonders of Savage’s dome laboratory as they followed the man of bronze.
“ Golly, ain’t this fun?” Monk announced as he picked up several unusual lab tools to observe and then carefully placed them back.
“ More fun than a barrel of monkeys.” Ham retorted as he read several titles of books displayed along the wall of that fantastic room. Monk glanced sharply Ham’s way, but said nothing in retaliation as they followed their leader deeper into his secret fortress. Doc Savage didn’t bother with giving them a tour, instead he pulled out some pieces of paper out of one of his suit pockets. Unfolding them on a table in the lab room he instructed Monk and Ham,” Monk, you mix these elements together and in correct step-by-step application only. One wrong step could result in serious consequences.”
That made Monk’s eyebrows raise a trifle.
Doc Savage continued,” In the meantime Ham will help construct the device we will need.”
“ What’s it suppose to do? Monk asked as he looked at all the notes and diagrams Savage had written down on some crumpled pieces of paper spread across the main lad table.
“ Hopefully, it should reverse the electromagnetic energy flow into itself.” Savage explained as he arranged the notes in order.
“ You mean to tell me that any weapon or gizmo that emits this energy will be reversed by this device and. ……Bloowie?” Monk clenched his hairy fist in front of him as a demonstration.
“ Exactly.” Savage replied with not much as a glance Monk’s way, “ It will implode…or so the theory goes.”
Ham was impressed,” An explosion turned inward into itself. Amazing. By Jove, I hope you are right.”
Savage finally looked up from his notes,” If it doesn’t, the first time we use the device and it increases the energy instead…then we might as well have used the hydrogen bomb.”
Monk wasn’t too busy trying to step on Ham’s feet that he hadn’t kept up,” We’ll never know what hit us. Uh, maybe we should just go in shooting.”
“ I wish it were that simple, but it won’t be. I believe part of the interior of that fortress is exposed to large doses of that type of energy. I’m puzzled as to why, but I haven’t the time to study or do any detail research. We’ll have to accept that mystery for now. Besides Patricia may be a prisoner inside that fortress as we speak.”
That last fact was a good motivator for Monk and Ham. They worked feverishly until after much tool and chemistry work, they had finally constructed the device they needed. Quickly, they packed the device as well as some extra weapons, ammo, and general supplies. Before leaving, Savage had to hunt for Monk and finally found him tinkering around in the vehicle storage and launching room. Monk grinned quilt written all over his homely
face; when he noticed Doc Savage watching him,” Just curious. Can I have one of these for Christmas?” He pointed to a large armored snowmobile with a heated cab.
“ Do I look like Santa Claus?” Savage asked.
“ No, but we’re at the North Pole. Ahhh, I already knew the answer anyway. Just thought I’d give it a whirl.” Monk shrugged his shoulders in resignation. Still Doc Savage filed it away silently in his memory for future reference.
Then they left the way they had entered through the large secret door. Out side the entrance, ten faceless androids in white plastic suits and several men in snowsuits were waiting for the trio. No words were exchanged. None were needed. The hand-to-hand fighting was fought bravely by Savage and his two aides, but after several minutes those tireless machines beat them one by one to the ground. Exhausted, the three were captured easily. Still, the man of bronze had to be held by three androids while a red haired man in a snowsuit handcuffed his wrists and ankles together. After they were handcuffed, the red head who was the obviously group leader commented,” Can’t take any chances, this bastard’s trickier than anyone we’ve seen. At least according to the master.”
The man of bronze glanced at Monk and Ham who were similarly handcuffed and rapidly told them in the ancient language of the Mayans,” Let them think that we were here only to save that device that we had built. Remember, it is now a device to produce a force field.”
Monk scratched his head and replied,” Gotcha Doc.”
The red head thug that handcuffed Savage; suddenly slapped the man of bronze hard across the face with the side of a pistol he carried.
“ Shut up.” Red head was hot under the collar,” You’re not to say a thing until you are before the master. You got that clear now?”
Savage stared up at his face with those swirling gold flaked eyes and replied grimly,” Yes, I do. Its clear what I have to do.”
The red headed leader didn’t like his tone and slapped him again knocking him over into the slushy snow. Another android and still another had to help restrain Monk as he struggled to get free from his captors. Monk as he struggled, “ Damn you. You touch him again and I’ll snuff you out.”
Ham yelled to the leader then, “ Gods man! He was only telling us to hide the device over there.”
The leader turned and looked at the device, which had fallen out onto the snow, and he picked it up. Walking over to Ham he asked,” What is it?”
“ It is one of a kind that Doc had developed a few years ago. It’s supposed to be able to produce a force field. Don’t ask me how it works. I’m not a scientist.” Ham answered.
The leader pushed Ham in the face sending him sprawling to the snowy surface. Then he told Ham,” I know, you are just a retired Lawyer.” He laughed and continued,” Well, the master will be pleased indeed. Do you know a new day is coming? Our master shall bring order to this chaotic world. You may even live to see it.” He then planted his foot into Savage’s back and kicked him over again.
Then one of the androids distracted him as he realized it was pounding on the wall of the large blue dome of the fortress of solitude. He stared down at Doc Savage,” You wait right there. I have to see what it is with android.”
Red head walked briskly up to the side of the busy android and tapped on the side of its head.
“ What do you think you are doing? You can’t get in there by knocking. We get in later. There is a better way, but now we must return to master.”
The android responded by following its leader toward Doc Savage.
Monk had to be tied up with chains besides the ropes. His mouth was taped before they were ably to leave. Doc savage, Monk, and Ham were literally carried by the faceless androids. Savage cringed as he watched the red head leader up in front of the curious caravan, toss the device up in the air and catch it over and over. Once and a while red head would pause and chuckle to himself.
The red head leader’s constant tossing of Savage’s device was getting on Ham’s nerves too and after a while, Ham yelled,” Watch it will you.”
The leader asked over his shoulder,” What’s the matter Mr. Voice? Getting nervous?” He laughed out loud and acted as if he was going to drop it,” Opps! Almost lost it that time.”
Savage patiently reminded him,” If your master were to find out that that device was broken because you played silly games…”
He didn’t have to explain further, for the red head got the message. Next thing Savage knew the leader had looped a cord of rope around his neck and had throttled him for what seemed forever. Red head had a menacing quality to his voice,” Don’t you threaten me you, you freak! If you tell any of this to the master, I’ll kill you slowly understand?”
Slowly he relaxed the hold and let go. The man of bronze had fortunately tightened his neck muscles as he felt pressure on them, so that he was able to recover from the strangling sooner than his attacker could have imagined. Still, he coughed some before he spoke, “ Know this and understand well. If I ever get loose I’ll make sure that the law never gets a chance to lay their hands on you alive.”
It was a lie. Savage left out the little fact about his criminal treatment program he had set up at his upstate New York Hospital for many special hard cases that he had brought there in the past. Red head didn’t know that, instead it sounded more of a personal threat of bodily harm, permanent bodily harm. It did have the desired effect.
“ I’m not afraid of you. I’ve killed men for less. You’re not so hot.”
Red head leader bragged. His eyes shone something else…fear.
Doc Savage stared with those golden-flaked eyes into the eyes of the red head leader, those eyes always swirling around and around. For a moment, the leader almost blacked out and he involuntarily took a step backward swaying. He grabbed an android’s shoulder to help hold himself up and catch his breath.
Doc Savage grimly commented,” Let me loose, and we can go behind that hill over there. We’ll find out how brave you are.”
After a moment, the leader had calmed down and managed to explain in haste,” For now I cannot do that. The master wants you alive though I can’t imagine why. After your little visit with him, and you survive; then we shall see.” He turned to the android he had used as a prop to and gave an order,” Better blindfold him, he has tricky eyes too.”
Then the red head commanded the group to push forward. Ham yelled back their way,” See, you are not the only one that people call freak.” Then he laughed grimly realizing for the first time their dire situation. Monk could only make sounds from his gagged mouth. Soon they gagged Ham’s mouth, tiring of his voice also.
The clock in the submarine’s control room was showing thirty minutes over the time that Savage had instructed to wait. Derek was plenty worried; he glanced up at the clock and then at his watch tapping it as if that would keep it ticking. Nick from the hovercraft had given Derek a call every thirty minutes. By the sound of Nick’s voice he sounded just as concerned. Finally Nick had to land the hovercraft not far away to conserve fuel.
A few minute later, Derek addressed his crew,” That’s it men. Let’s surface near the fortress or whatever it is and see if we can’t get a closer look.”
Most of the crew were relieved enough to either cheer or at least laugh and talk among each other with enthusiasm. Operations were started to surface as fast as possible. Morale was higher than it had been in a long time. Jake, who had been standing next to Derek asked,” What do you think happened to them sir?”
Derek shrugged his shoulders,” They could have been captured or even killed. Hell, how do I know? Maybe by taking some kind of action now we’ll find out soon.”
Jake voiced something that sobered everyone aboard,” Maybe we’ll wish we hadn’t found out.”
Derek looked down at the charts that were spread out before him on a smooth metallic table,” If the worst were to happen, there’s still us and by far we’re no pushovers. If I knew they didn’t have Doc Savage’s cousin in there I’d simply torpedo it to pieces right now.”
Patricia found herself locked inside a dimly lit room with no windows and no furniture; not even a bed to lie on. How long she had been lying on the bare floor she did not know, but it must had been a long time. She found it extremely difficult to pick herself up off the floor to stand. The first thing she heard was a distant voice, which grew louder as she slowly regained her senses. They must have drugged her with some powerful drug to have that effect on her. The voice had a very shrill quality to it; which was without question the most unusual voice she had ever heard.
She examined her surroundings at a glance for she just had to give all her attention that she could to that amazing voice. She knew that she was in a large room made of some unusual material. It looked as gloomy as a dungeon because of the indirect lighting. The voice had become much louder clearer, and it startled her,” Patricia…Patricia.” It called,” Ah, you are awake now. Good. Your time has come. Our time has come Patricia. Your mind is unique my love. Open it to me now.”
A pain appeared throbbing in the middle of Patricia’s forehead,” Ouch, it hurts.” She said,” Who are you? Where am I? Last thing I knew I was in an insane ward at the Hospital! I don’t understand. I want to go home.”
The voice became louder and louder and lower in tone as the pain increased in her head,” Do not resist Patricia. I have brought you here. It is a place of safety, warmth and comfort, only if you can come to me Patricia. Our density lies with each other.”
Patricia paced the strange room in fear and confusion,” What? I don’t even know you…I demand to know who…who..” Then her eyes glazed over, for her mind had slowly gone blank of all thought except one, and that was to find this voice to embrace it with love.
For a moment, she paused to think how odd it was that this young man wanted her, as old as she was. Then all thoughts disappeared and slowly she walked as if in a trance to one wall. It silently opened as she approached within a foot of its strange surface. She stepped through the dark opening as the voice spoke again.
“ Soon, we will be together forever loved one…” High-pitched laughter rang through the large room, echoing and reechoing off the gloomy walls dying off into a strange wheezing sound. Then, everything became dark and silent as the tomb.
Doc Savage, his two aides a gagged Monk, Ham and their capturers traveled on foot for a good twenty minutes without an obstruction. Then they had to wine their way through a maze of ice boulders as large as houses until at last they were nearing the mysterious fortress. Sticking out of the barren wastelands of the Artic in the distance was a large dome like the Fortress of solitude only ten times greater in size. The Aroei Bori Allis lights were reflecting off of its surface.
It was getting dark quickly as the caravan approached a tunnel in the ice and snow. They had progressed a score of yards into the tunnel, when the red headed leader stopped and turned to his prisoners.
“This leads to our base and Master,” Red head swept his arm in the general location further down that icy tunnel. Around this corner is the very wall of our base and before we approach it, all humans must don these red lenses visors that I will provide you. Make sure they are securely over the eyes so that you will be protected from the tremendous energies inside.”
After he passed them out to everyone and had personally placed them on his captive’s eyes, they continued until a golden metal wall was blocking their way. Instantly there was a blurring effect before their eyes and the wall disappeared to reveal a long metal hallway.
Monk looked at the hallway and chuckled under his gag for it reminded him of a scene in the old classic movie, “ The Wizard of Oz” and he hummed,” We’re off to see the wizard ” song as they were carried down that strange similar hallway to the old classic movie scene. His humming echoed faintly down the hallway.
As they walked on through a circular shaped room and down a long ramp, red head explained a point,” Several parts of this place you’ll notice is off limits to all except androids, for a simple reason that there is a danger of exposure to electromagnetic radiation and cosmic rays in this area.”
Doc Savage noticed two things as they traveled through and across the ramp. The hallway inclined rather sharply and the further they progressed the harder it was to breath. They removed the gags from Monk and Ham. The first thing Monk did was gaze at Ham and exclaimed, “ look Mr. wizard, it’s the scarecrow.” Ham looked for something to throw at his apish partner.
Nancy squeezed Nick’s shoulder saying,” Any word?”
Nick looked up and pulled off his headset,” Yes, they’ve surfaced. We’re to land and cause as much of a diversion as we can.”
Nancy anxiously asked,” Do we try to get in too?”
Nick smiled,” That’s an affirmative. Kids, we’re going in.”
Marlyn, Billy, , Johnny and Renny braced themselves as Nancy took a seat. She leaned over to Billy,” You alright now?”
Billy’s face was white, but he replied,” Yeah, feel much better.”
Nancy smiled at him and Billy winked. Johnny’s monocle fell from his eye into his lap as he cleared his voice,” I have the profound perturbation with Nancy’s capriciousness manipulations. Billy should come out either completely unscathed or unmercifully disconsolate.”
As soon as the hover fighter dropped and began to land, a tremendous barrage of small laser and automatic weapons fire was directed their way.
The minute they touched the icy surface, everyone bailed out and took cover behind their craft while the engines were still winding down. Renny and Johnny remained onboard to cover the others outside with the fighter’s machine guns and laser cannons. Bullets and laser beams were so thick that the very air around the battle was heating up.
Billy, Nick, Marlyn, and Nancy braced themselves behind the fighter’s body; their nerves on edge from all the gunfire they had attracted. Bullets were hitting all around them and bouncing off the fighter’s body harmlessly. Laser fire melted holes in the ice and snow. Beams of deadly came very close to hitting them and their hover fighter a few times.
“ What’s next Nick?” Billy asked weakly.
Nick wiped snow from his eyes and frowned as he tried to get a peak around the other side of the hover craft’s body,” Didn’t expect this big of reception.”
“ I see they’re mostly firing from that large tunnel near the dome fortress wall. I’ve got a feeling that is where we need to go to bust into that fortress.
Nancy observed the same tunnel as she got off several rounds from her machine pistol at several armed thugs. One fell to the ground shot through the legs; the other retreated behind a jagged block of ice.
Marlyn was firing her weapon at the tunnels entrance too as she agreed,” Hey, I bet she’s right…I…Oh my God!” Marlyn’s whole body suddenly stiffened and her eyes became glazed as she stared off into apparently nothing. Then she shouted,” My mother. She’s with it. She with it!”
Everyone behind the hovercraft couldn’t believe what they were seeing or hearing and their hair on the backs of their necks stood on end in terror at Marlyn’s sudden weird behavior and what she was shouting.
Marlyn continued,” H-He’s using her to get to me. I’ve got to…” Suddenly she screamed and collapsed in Nancy’s arms. Nancy looked up at Billy and Nick,” For the love of…Billy, help me with her will you?” As she lowered her to the snow, Nick asked,” What on Earth happened to her?”
“ Doc said she could have telepathic abilities.” Nancy answered plainly upset,” Especially when it concerns her mother or someone as close.”
Billy peered at the dome and quickly drew away as a bullet ricocheted several inches from his head. He asked Nancy,” You mean to tell me Patricia’s in there with some monster or something?”
Nick took in a shuddered breath,” All evidence points to that…”
“ Now we’ve got to get in…Nancy brushed back Marlyn’s hair from her forehead, and then she stood up and started to make her way around the hover craft. Nick had to hold Nancy back,” No, we’re just the diversion, leave it to the others. They’ll find a way.”
Billy offered,” Maybe Savage will find her.”
Nancy finally gave in and quit struggling,” If he’s able he’ll find her.” Then under her breath,” I hope.”
“ So little one…. are you happy now?” Patricia looked upward at the sound of the voice of her father, Carl Savage. She was a little girl of five years old again, holding her fathers’ large hand tightly. Yes, it is her father. He had the biggest smile on his face as he gazed down upon her trusting face. In a moment, he magically turned into a tall handsome prince of the knights of shinning armor era, and she had become a young woman still holding his gloved hand. As they stood side by side she noticed two things right away.
One, they were in a gigantic metal room in which the ceiling was made of blood red reflecting crystal of some unknown origin. The metal walls were perforated with hundreds of blue glowing holes, which practically pulsated.
It was these holes that were most of the lighting source for the hugh eerie room, another thing, she was wearing a beautiful long white evening gown of some shinning light weight metallic material. After a while, deep inside her she began to hear a tiny voice.
Then the prince spoke ever so gently,” That must be your daughter, my princess. Call to her so that we may start the royal ceremony and at last be one happy family.”
In her mind she could see her daughter running toward an entrance leading to the castle’s opened drawbridge. Some very familiar people were running after close behind. She had seen their faces before, but where?”
Patricia finally got up the courage to speak to her prince who was soon to be king,” My lord, tell your men to hold fire until she is safely inside.”
The prince paused then agreed,” As you wish my lady, but after she is in we must destroy those that follow her. They are traitors and followers of the Saxons.”
“ No, my lord.” Patricia firmly said,” They must be captured. I wish to question them. They seem so familiar…I must know why.” Patricia shook her head a few times and the prince quickly agreed,” Very well, I will do as you wish.”
“ Then, I will call my daughter.” Patricia graciously replied.
Nick, Billy and Nancy ran as fast as they could, but marlin was as fast as a dear, and she began to leave them behind almost right away. Nancy shouted after her,” Marlyn, come back you’ll be killed.”
“ What got into her Nick?” Billy asked.
“ No idea, but have you noticed that those goons aren’t shooting at us anymore?” nick stopped and bent over a moment to catch his breath.
“ Yeah, that’s funny. Hey, she’s gone into the tunnel.” Nancy observed while she breath hard from the running and the Artic air.
Nick commented,” Looks like we haven’t any choice, but to go in too. Check your weapons, cause this smells like a trap to me. Here we go!”
As soon as the three entered the tunnel, they were grabbed and held fast by a dozen pairs of incredibly strong hands. Faceless androids had been quietly waiting for their arrival.
As she struggled in vain, Nancy exclaimed in a miserable tone,” There we went.”
Their weapons were unceremoniously striped from them, and they were searched thoroughly by men in white radiation suits. Billy, Nancy and Nick were roughly pushed ahead, while marlin was left to walk alone. There was no need to help her, for she was obviously heading toward the same destination as the others were. Soon, they stood before a golden door, which shimmered and faded away right before their eyes to leave a hallway before them.
Nick rubbed his eyes and muttered,” Must have been an illusion or something.”
Everyone was forced to don on the same red lenses that covered their eyes before they were herded forward into the hallway. Marlin remained in a trance like state the whole time they traveled through the fantastic fortress. Men in white suits stayed in front of them, while androids traveled silently behind. Occasionally an android would give someone a push who lagged behind or was simply too slow.
Billy whispered to nick,” At least they want us alive.”
“ Yeah, but for what?” Nick gave one of the white suited thugs a dirty look.
“ Wish I knew what’s wrong with Marlyn.” Nancy pondered out loud.
Doc, Monk, and Ham were carried through an area of the mysterious sphere fortress beyond belief. There were large engines and devices, which had little meaning to Ham or monk. Then as they moved further they observed large black boxes suspended in mid-air in one Hugh room where the sliding metal door had been left open. Each box was at least several stories high and had long winding golden tubes running up into the ceiling and down through the floor. After seeing those strange but wonderful tidbits of highly advanced technologies, Doc Savage reached some kind of conclusion. Something began to piece together out of all this mystery.
Suddenly a trilling like sound from exotic bird once more filtered through the air while their captures nervously peered around searching for the source. Engine noise from a nearby room quickly drowned out the mysterious phenomenon. Red head turned to stare furiously at his prisoners.
“ Alright, did one of you make that sound?” Red head asked his three prisoners. When none responded, he raised a small club above his head. He intended to hit a vicious blow to Savage’s head, but he never finished that swing. A small hole appeared right between Red head’s eyes and another in his neck. His eyes rolled up and he fell like a fallen tree to the metal floor.
Then a voice from behind them shouted,” Freeze! All of you. We’ll drop the next one that moves.”
The warning had the opposite effect. All the captives’ guards promptly began to hurriedly scatter, while the three captives were roughly dropped onto the metal floor as many of the androids and men in white began to draw their weapons. Monk managed to slip his gag off and roared with excitement,” Eeeha! It’s heads bustin’ time! Doc it sounded like Derek!”
A deadly gun battle erupted in the large corridor. There were several lasers involved, but mostly automatic weapons exploded in a rain of death. Most of the men in white were shot down before they could get off many shots; but the androids almost completely bullet proof, began to advance back toward their assailants. Indeed the assailants turned out to be Derek and his men.
Savage heard Derek shout,” Doc, you guys alright? Uh Oh, looks like we’re not going to be able to stop these bastards. Have any suggestions?”
Somehow, Savage stood up even though bond from head to foot, and turned around to face the backs of the busy androids. With Herculean effort, he snapped the chains and ropes that held his arms and hands. Several of Derek’s men cheered, as Savage broke the bindings around his legs and around Monk and Ham.
The man of bronze instructed Monk and Ham,” Be on the watch out for any surprises while I take care of these androids.”
Not aware of what was going on behind them, the androids advanced on Derek and his men, firing their weapons repeatedly. Jake and another man of EIGHT already lay dead. The man of bronze quickly ripped off the buttons of his parka and disposed of the garment. Then he yelled a warning to Derek, and his men and his aides as he broke each button in half,” Hit the floor face down when I throw these buttons at them.”
Sensing something amiss, one of the deadly androids started to turn around as Doc Savage threw a button at each android. It was too late for any android to stop him. Each android that was hit by his well-thrown buttons blew apart as if hit by a high explosive grenade. As he threw the last one half, he rushed two of the remaining four androids that were still intact. He slammed their heads together so hard that a balance mechanism in them was damaged and they wandered off confused enough to run into the walls. Two remaining androids attacked the bronze giant of a man from behind; but Derek and his men were able to approach the struggle and shoot and club them out of existence.
Derek dusted off his hands together as if it had been a hard job. He placed one of his hands on Doc Savage’s arm,” Thanks man.”
“ I should be thanking you for finding us in time.” Savage exclaimed.
Then they heard Monk’s roar first of alarm and then glee. Savage whirled around and took off like a shot toward the source of that voice,” Hurry, I think my colleges have just found more trouble.”
Derek and his men ran down the corridor after the man of bronze toward what was beginning to sound like a large melee. As they arrived on the scene, they heard Ham yelling,” You dumb ape! You’ve lost my cane…Argh.”
Monk and Ham had somehow managed to come face to face with a large force of heavily armed men. Fortunately for Monk and Ham, they didn’t use their weapons for fear of hitting their own numbers. One of the guards of higher rank with a red triangle on his white uniform shouted,” Don’t shoot, they are to be taken alive.”
The large brawl continued in which Monk and ham were found to be holding their own fairly well for men in their seventies. Without hesitation, Savage jumped into the middle of the fray, a bronze whirlwind of flying fists and feet.
Doc’s aides had run into at least thirty armed guards. In a flash, eight lay unconious on the floor. Two men from EIGHT stood and watched dumbfounded at that incredible brawl that was taking place. Derek looked at his men,” What the Hell are we waiting for? An invitation?”
Derek and his men with a shout, rushed headlong into the terrific hand-to-hand battle. Savage and Monk mowed down men in white like they were wheat. Ham found his sword cane again and proceeded to use it to its best advantage, knocking out enemies right and left with every jab and thrust. Miraculously, the battle began to turn in Savage and his friends’ favor.
One guard, who could see this, was just outside of the mass of humanity fighting and cursing. Slowly he pulled out a large blue steel revolver from his side holster in desperation and aimed it toward the crowd. A sly smile began to slowly play across his face as he recognized the giant of bronze out of that entire mob. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, Derek yelled a warning,” Look out Doc!”
Then Derek quickly threw himself in front of the man of bronze who had barely heard the warning. There was a report and Derek was pierced through the heart by a bullet meant for Savage. The bullet still grazed his arm, but he barely felt it as he watched Derek slump to the floor. Doc Savage leaned over Derek and heard him say,” I-Its ( cough) been a honor…Doc.” He coughed up blood and became still.
Doc Savage whispered to the dead agent,” I will never forget you Derek. You were a fine agent and more importantly, a good friend.”
He looked up and stared right at the guard who had pulled the trigger that had shot down Derek. The way Savage stared made the assassin tremble with fear as he had never known, but still he held his gun aimed straight for Savage so that he could not make a move against him. The guard started to pull the trigger a second time, but two things happened at that instant so quickly; one would have been hard pressed to have followed them.
A trilling sound rose from Savage’s lips as he rose to his feet. Then there was a single word yelled,” You!”
It sounded more animal than human. It wasn’t Doc Savage’s lips that word was uttered, but from Monk Mayfair who’s form flew through the air toward the guard on a collision course with him. Shaken, the guard jumped back, but not enough. Monk’s fist him squarely in the jaw so hard it sent him spinning violently into the wall behind. Doc Savage yelled for Monk to stop, but he never heard it as he picked up the dazed and bloody face guard around the waist from behind. Monk with a terrific effort and a hair raising yell of rage; pulled back until with a loud snap the guard’s spine broke in two.
When Monk had cooled down he let go of the dead guards body and watched as it fell like a limp rag to the corridor floor. Monk turned to Doc Savage and shamefully explained his reaction,” Doc, I’m sorry, but I really got to like that guy. To see him killed so senselessly and with him in mind of knocking you off next…I…. well I…”
“ I understand your feelings, but pulling something of that nature might have got you killed instead. That wouldn’t exactly help me now would it?” Savage reasoned with Monk.
Monk hung his head down as he replied,” Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Then both Doc and Monk looked around for it had suddenly became quiet.
Monk asked,” Hey! What happened to the rest of ‘em?”
One of the agents of EIGHT explained,” Looks like the rest fled behind those double doors over there.” He pointed to two gigantic metal doors just ahead of them,” Guess we were too much for them.”
Savage eyed the doors and glanced Monk’s way,” So it would appear. Let’s see what’s on the other side of those doors…”
First, everyone made sure they were sufficiently armed; then cautiously with the man of bronze leading the way, they approached the double doors tension mounting with every step. They were within several feet of the doors when they automatically slid open. Much to their dismay, at least a hundred androids and that many heavily armed men were waiting for them, on the other side.
Everyone of the androids and men had their weapons drawn trained on Savage and his friends. They stood in silence knowing it would have been suicide to make a move against that many. When thirty guards armed with lasers and assault rifles rushed up behind their party to block their retreat, they knew it was hopeless to resist.
‘ Guess we better meet our host.” Savage remarked sarcastically.
Ham rolled his eyes,” Can’t believe we fell for this.”
Monk tried to make a break for it anyway and ran head on into two androids even bigger than what they encountered before. One hit him on the side of the head and the other on the top of the head; and he promptly sat down on the metallic floor stunned and moaning.
Savage, Ham and the four agents dropped their weapons and calmly strolled in the large room through the ranks of androids and guards. Monk was dragged by his feet, by the two androids he had run into along with the rest of the group. The way they were pushed and shoved toward the other side of the room was anything but calm.
In the room was a tall black man dressed in a red uniform beckoned them to follow him through a large golden door and into an even larger room. Twenty androids and as many men in red uniforms, who apparently were of a higher rank; escorted the captives in.
The first thing Savage noticed in the strange, wondrous large room was Patricia and her “Prince” standing on a raised platform of some black marble
like material at the other side of the room opposite from the golden door. The next thing was that the room must have been the main control room
opposite from the golden door Computer keyboards, buttons and switches below the monitor screens lined one side of that fantastic environment. Several men with wires attached to their heads in front and back leading to the control banks, were manning these controls.
Next, they noticed something which made Monk who was just recovering from the blows he received swore out loud. Marlyn was walking in a trance toward the round platforms’ steps. Nick, Nancy and Billy were on the other side of the room opposite of the control banks, and they were held fast by fully a dozen androids.
Savage heard Nancy shout,” Doc. Help us, we’re losin’ Marlyn to…to…whoever or whatever he is.”
Doc Savage’s party was headed toward Nancy and the others whereupon all were reunited.
Savage asked Nick as quietly as he could,” Where’s Renny and Johnny?”
Nick had his eyes fixed on the platform as did the rest of the party, but was able to reply,” They’re back in the hovercraft.”
“ Good. Wish I had a way to contact them.” Savage said thoughtfully.
Then he turned toward the scene as he heard Nancy and several others gasp in horror and surprise. What they saw next made him clench his fists until the knuckles turned white with the strain.
The prince on the platform was an illusion, which faded more with every step Marlyn took toward the structure. Suddenly the prince let go of Patricia’s hand and pushed her violently, whereupon she fell off the platform to the floor a half a dozen feet below. The prince roared in a low-pitched voice, which sounded far from being human in nature.
“ Get away from me, you old hag. Your daughter is with me now and she is more powerful and beautiful. I no longer need you.”
With those words the illusion disappeared to reveal the prince’s real appearance. Patricia pulled her bruised self up to ask her prince why he had treated her thus, but what she saw standing before her, made her scream in terror and revulsion.
Monk swore,” Damn, how revolting can you get?”
“ I’ve got to admit Monk, I think I’ve finally found somebody uglier than you.” Ham exclaimed in a half-baked attempt at humor to cover his fright and amazement.
The prince’s image had dissolved, manifesting into a creature that was definitely from another world altogether. His form was not unlike gargoyle images in our legends and those that decorate the roof edges of many old public buildings. Its skin was leather like texture, gray in color. Ivory white spikes ran the length of his scaly back. He had two arms and legs like humans, but there the resemblance ended. Two thin whip like tentacles protruded from his sides just below his two arms. He stood almost twice the height of a normal man and almost as wide.
The head was large in proportion to the body as were his clawed feet and hands. Weirdest of all was his eyes, for they were as large as a man’s fist and glowed red with four black pupils in the center of each. The more emotion the alien shown, the brighter they would glow.
He was showing a lot of emotion as he addressed the captives in English,” Silence puny humans. You cannot stop what is destined to happen. No one on this planet can. I see your thoughts and know you are scheming, planning to trick me.”
“ Oh brother.” Nancy whispered to the man of bronze.
Then the alien’s large head turned to marlin who stood only a step away from his monstrous form,” Marlyn, you shall be my mate and together we will rule this planet. Show them what you can do Marlyn. Show them now!”
Her eyes then glowed a bright bluish hue and seconds later there was this terrific howling wind that seemly appeared from nowhere knocking everyone off their feet. Some were even dashed against the wall behind them. For several minutes it blew which seemed as if an eternity, then as suddenly as it blew in, it died away. Marlin bowed her head and staggered as if from some incredible strain which had drained her of her strength. The monstrous alien tilts back his head and an eerie laugh escaped his lips.
“ You see?” The alien explained,” She has the power as I have. She is not of your kind. Her destiny is my destiny.”
Monk picked himself up and remarked to no one in particular,” Full of surprises ain’t she?”
The alien spoke again as he stroked the entranced Marlyn’s long hair,” Ah, Doctor Clark Savage Jr. so we meet at last. Please come closer, I wish to speak with you…as an equal….” The alien found his own statement amusing, for he chuckled in a weird musical tone to himself in a tone that began very high pitched and ended in a long low tone. Savage boldly approached the platform until he was only several yards away. He stared right into those red glowing inhuman eyes as he spoke,” I have very little to say to you except that you must stop this madness now, before it is too late.”
The Alien let go an ear-piercing roar of laughter. When he regained his composure, he explained,” I have been gathering some information about you and do you know that it is because of I that you were frozen in the first place? So you see, our destinies were tied together too. Why not join forces with me for it could save your miserable life and you might with my guidance, become one of the most powerful men on this planet.”
Savage ignored his offer and asked,” What do you mean I was frozen because of you?”
A brief smile played across that Alien’s face,” First, I will tell you how I came to be here on this tiny speck of dust you call a planet. Forty Earth years ago this fortress as you keep referring it to was a fully operational starship.”
Everyone distinctly heard Nick exclaim his thoughts out loud,” I wondered why it was round. As a fortress it just didn’t make any sense.”
The Alien continued his explanation, ignoring Nick’s comment entirely, “ There was three of us. We were outcasts, renegade criminal scientists in the government’s eyes, banished from our planet’s systems. We were troublemakers in the eyes of our civilization. The fools wasted all their time in idle pleasures or nonsensical scientific endeavors. We were given the latest in designs of their starships, but our planet systems are so far from this one that we lost all sense of time and hope.
After long use over the years that we traveled in space, one by one our control systems on our ship began to shut down, to fail. We drifted in deep space for countless years until finally the gravitational pull of your sun and then your planet brought our ship down with no landing systems in operational condition. Fortunately, our ship crashed into the North Pole region, which saved us from being blown to atoms. Still, the impact killed my two colleagues and unfortunately the resulting reaction of our electromagnetic engines terribly damaged in the impact; reacting to your atmosphere violently created an external explosion with the force of one of your one megaton nuclear bombs.”
“ So that explains how I was knocked unconscious and the ice melted and refroze around my body.” Savage realized it confirmed his suspicions,” The blinding flash I saw was an electromagnetic wave explosion. That would explain why the ice melted in an instant and I was not burned badly. It also explained why there was a lack of any deadly radiation.”
The alien’s eyes flashed a hot red,” Ah, you had hoped to distract me with this conversation so I would not learn of your device to produce a force field. Very ingenious idea…”
Doc Savage glanced back at the others, but the Alien seemed to know his every thought,” It is too late Clark Savage. Ham had indeed regained the device from the man that lead you here who is dead now. But he no longer has the device in his possession. I had it confiscated from his person as soon as you were all brought into this control chamber.”
“ So you have it with you now?” Savage anxiously asked glancing over at Patricia and Marlyn.
Turning his head to the side oddly, the grayish nightmare chuckled,” Of course I do.” His enormous left claw opened to reveal the device in question. As the Alien examined it further for a moment, Doc savage as well as several others slowly began to take a step backwards.
Suddenly, the Alien looked up with anger flashing even brighter in his eyes, disgust in his voice,” You are more foolish than I had thought, Mr. Savage. You are thinking that this bomb device will rid your world of my threats, but you see you are doomed to fail, for my superior brain can read every conscious thought that you have. This is what I think of your silly trick.”
With those words, he tossed the box device into a long tube sticking up out of the floor near him. With blinding speed Savage grabbed Patricia by the arm and whispered to her urgently,” Patricia, run like you’ve never run in your life. It is over for this place.”
Patricia almost went into shock and though she began to run with Savage, she asked anyway,” Clark? Is it really you?”
Doc Savage never answered, instead they heard the Alien’s voice as it yelled in rage and panic,” What have you done?”
It said other things in its own language that no one there could understand. But Marlyn could feel its despair and anger.
A low rumbling began deep within the confines of the ship increased steadily with every passing second. The Alien continued to rant and rave,” You tricked me into throwing that device into the electromagnetic disintegrator tube. And now I see the truth. It is an electromagnetic reversal device instead.” He snarled with rage as it dawned on him,” This place will implode. I will crush all of you for this before that happens. Marlyn, destroy
Them with your power as you see in my thoughts. Now! Do it now my mate.”
But it was to no avail, for the momentary distraction, broke off the mental spell he had over her and she promptly jumped off the shaking platform, screaming with fright. She ran after Patricia and Savage still screaming all the way. When the walls began to crack and sparks began to fly out of most of the computer stations and control panels, everyone that was human broke into a run in a mad stampede for the exits. Doc Savage and his people somehow stayed together in the general evacuation from the doomed crumbling starship. All androids that they bumped into along the way, just stood rooted to the spot where they were. They were as still as statues, no longer functioning.
Nick laughed as he observed while they madly dashed out the weird control room,” Looks like we’re going to have no trouble from those piles of junk.”
Nancy agreed,” Yeah, their history.”
Doc savage explained briefly,” All control has been lost including the humans he had forcefully recruited to help him.”
He was right; for everyone including the Alien’s henchmen were running for their lives toward the exits.
Monk was the last to leave the Alien’s control room. A second he hesitated and stared back at the Alien standing rooted to the spot like his androids in the middle of his crumbling platform.
“ Come back. This isn’t over…” It roared.
Monk raised an arm and pointed it toward the platform. In his hand he held a laser pistol which he aimed squarely at the Alien’s head, but what he saw, the absolute despair that shown clearly on the Alien’s face; made him change his mind.
Monk shook his head,” Ah, what the hell; he’s a goner anyway.” He left the room to catch up with the rest of his friends, while the entire ship shook violently and the crystal ceiling began to shatter and fall around the giant Alien.
The Alien’s last words in what had once been a control room for his ship,” But I am superior. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I can’t.” A large chunk of crystal struck him on the back and he fell off the platform crashing into a control below. Sparks and fire shot out from everywhere blanketing everything.
Savage and friends clawed their way between the evacuating crowd until finally they found the tunnel that Nick had first entered the ship. A terrible screeching of straining metal could be heard over all the shouting and panic. Soon, they found themselves outside of the ice tunnel with fifty or more men and women close on their heels, desperately searching for a way to leave that area of doom. Doc Savage pointed upward suddenly, and shouted to be heard over the horrific den.
“ Look, there they are.” It was the jet hover fighter piloted by Renny and Johnny hovering several hundred feet above them. Renny and Johnny must have spotted them at the same time, for the fighter immediately descended for a vertical landing in front of Savage and his rapidly freezing friends.
Monk yelled as he jumped up and down with excitement,” I could kiss their sweet mugs.”
Ham laughed with relief and also because the sight of Monk acting the way he was reminded him so much of an ape in the wilds,” If you kiss their faces they’ll kick us out of the hovercraft and leave us here.”
Monk ignored him and whooped for joy as the fighter touched down on the ice covered surface ten feet in front of them. The side door opened as they neared the hovercraft. , and out popped Renny’s sober face. Renny yelled to the group” Hiya! We sure were getting worried about you guys. We stayed up for safety’s sake, but with Johnny piloting this crate, I’ll feel a whole lot safer, but with Johnny pilot piloting this craft, I’ll feel a whole lot safer if Doc or Nick took over. What the hell’s going on with the dome anyway? What happened in there?
Doc Savage was the closest to the hatch so he answered, “ Tell you later, right now we have got to get out of here. And fast.”
Everyone of Doc Savage’s group and what was left of the rest of the EIGHT force piled aboard and though it was a tight squeeze, no one cared about the comfort for the moment. Patricia had to be carried aboard, for she was suffering from trauma and a case of mild shock. Marlyn had to be helped also by Nancy. Marlyn weakly asked as they climbed aboard,” Is my mother ok?”
“ Yes, better than ever mentally. “ Nancy replied as she laid Marlyn down on the hover craft’s floor,” But she will need rest and medical care for awhile.”
Monk was last aboard and he quickly swung the door closed giving a thumb up sign to Savage who made his way up front to the cockpit. The man of bronze addressed Nick and Johnny who were waiting up front for him,” I regret that we don’t have room to take some of the other people that happened to escape the collapsing star ship.”
“ Perhaps they’ll discover the submarine or another boat of some kind.” Nick suggested hopefully.
“ Perhaps in any case we shall call in rescue over our radio.”
Monk, whom had been listening intently from behind, commented,” Doubt if they find much of anybody when they do get here, it looks like from the outside temperature gauge that it’s rapidly dropping again. When the dome started breaking up, it must have shut off the device that was causing our weather problems and the poles melting. It won’t take long to make a bunch of human Popsicles out there.”
The man of bronze hesitated a long moment in silence then regretfully he made the difficult decision,” Alright, let’s get out of here.”
Doc Savage took over piloting the hover bomber and with a roar it climbed straight up to an elevation several hundred feet. Everyone braced themselves as Doc Savage pushed the fighter’s engines to their limit. Another deafening roar and it jumped forward like it had been catapulted from a giant slingshot. Billy, Nancy, Nick and Monk pressed their faces to several small windows to watch as the hovercraft made a wide circling pass by the collapsing doomed starship. The top had already disappeared inward and a great column of orange steam rose out of the gaping hole.
Renny peered around Monk’s shoulder and he exclaimed,” Holy Cow! We better move it.”
Doc Savage assured them from the front,” Don’t worry, we’re doing just that. Besides, it won’t explode…”
Suddenly, Marlyn who had been sitting by Nancy, stiffened in her seat and her eyes glazed over. Then she screamed,” He’s here!”
Monk startled, looked in the direction she was and then all around the craft,” Who is here?”
Marlin said in a shaky voice, “ God help us.”
Monk turned to Nancy and asked,” What the hell is she talking about now?”
Nancy shrugged her shoulders and then they heard an awful sound of tearing metal toward the back of the hover fighter’s fuselage. Doc Savage instructed Ham’s son,” Nick, you take over and ease up on the thrust when I leave this seat. Don’t worry about it. We’re far enough away from the imploding dome to be safe.”
Then as he made his way toward the back section he instructed the rest of the people in the hover fighter,” Everyone, brace yourselves. I’m going to open the door to have a look see.”
Monk swore to Ham,” He’s nuts to try it. If the cold doesn’t get him, the winds will.”
“ Yeah, I know. Ham agreed,” Besides, that just might have been a loose sheet of metal flapping in the wind…”
He didn’t get to finish his sentence for there was the tearing sound again only this time it was followed by the fighter receiving a jolt that almost sent everyone to the floor.
Nick commented as he held fast to the sides of his seat,” Well, I think we can rule out the wind.” He glanced up at the ceiling to see if he was going to see open sky next.
When Savage reached the door he hesitated then he twisted the handle to the open position. When he pushed the door outward, it almost whipped out of his hand. With his amazing strength, he held fast and cautiously he peered around the outside hull. A moment later, Doc Savage yelled to the occupants inside,” Can’t see anything. I’m going out and I want you guys to close the door and latch it after me. Don’t open it unless you hear me knock three times, then once. Understand?”
Monk replied,” Ok, we’ll do it, but we ain’t likin’ it.”
Nancy protested grabbing savage’s arm,” Clark, don’t go out there. One false move and you’re gone, fifteen thousand feet. Marlyn began to make weird little whining noises. Savage watched her and he explained to Nancy,” I have no choice Nancy. If the Alien creature is indeed out there, he could take us down with him in a hurry. Just sit tight, it’s probably only shrapnel damage.”
One of Derek’s agents asked Monk,” Is he always this crazy?”
“Yeah, sometimes crazier!” Monk then helped Savage with the door and just before closing it behind him he looked into his old friend’s golden flaked eyes and said,” Watch it out there.”
Savage only nodded and then he was gone.
Doc Savage climbed outside anyway despite protests from inside and slowly but surely climbed to the top of the fighter’s icy cold body.
Several holes ripped into the metal sides of the hover fighter, helped Savage find finger and foot holes to do that most difficult climb. It suddenly occurred to him that the holes looked more like claw marks than shrapnel wounds. He ducked just in time to avoid a foot length piece of metal that flew by where his head had been. The action of ducking as quickly as he did was almost his undoing. At that precise moment the fighter hit some air turbulence and Savage was nearly thrown off. Somehow with great difficulty, he pulled himself up onto the top of the hover fighter. He could hardly hear a thing for the terrific wind that buffeted his giant body and face.
What he saw defied reason, yet he was seeing it with his own two eyes; so it must have been so. There on the back of the hover fighter; stood the Alien’s large form holding onto the bottom of the tail with one of his clawed hands and his feet were dug into the metal body below him. He was proceeding to tear the hover fighter apart. Both caught sight of each other at the same instant.
Neither spoke for there was no need for words. The monstrous Alien roared with terrible rage. Savage launched his body against the Alien’s who was three times his size. The Alien was shaken by the blow, but little else. Savage was hit across the chest with a vicious blow from the Aliens left hand, and the force was such that it knocked him sprawling to the other side of the hover fighter; nearly falling off once more. As the Alien crawled toward Savage, there appeared a terrible grin on his unearthly face. Savage kicked out when he thought he was close enough that he could reach him. His foot landed squarely on the Alien’s face. It knocked the Alien on his back several feet away. Savage crawled toward the creature, but as he started to deliver another blow to the head with his fist, it jumped up in a flash and grabbed Doc Savage with both clawed hands by what was left of his cloths and lifted him up enough that their faces were even to each other. It laughed hideously as its two tentacles wrapped around the man of bronze’s neck and began to slowly squeeze the life out of him.
Through a red haze that was slowly shutting down his senses and gasping for air, it suddenly dawned on Savage that his arms were temporarily free. In one desperate move to save his life; Savage tried a trick he hadn’t used since he was very young. He slapped his hands together over the Alien’s ears as hard as the awkward angle would allow him.
It worked! Howling with pain, it let him go and he dropped away from the suffering creature to land cat-like on his feet. The Alien fell down holding its ears for a moment, but only a moment. Eyes glowing red, the Alien picked himself up and used his claws of his feet, to dig into the metal to brace him. He was going to use his psychokinetic powers to throw Savage off the hover fighter, which would take a moment to prepare. That was all the time Savage needed. He knew that if he didn’t act quickly, he wouldn’t be able to stop the Alien from forcing him to fall to his death thousands of feet below. He noticed that there was water as far as the eye could see all around them, but it did little to comfort him. A fall from that far up would be like hitting concrete.
When the man of bronze launched himself a second time, he landed a blow from his bronze fist with all his might, right between the eyes of that monstrosity. The terrific impact of that blow made the Alien lose his grip and balance; hence he fell screaming over the side. Doc Savage watched as the Alien had somehow managed to grab a handle on his way down which was attached to the side and near the bottom of the hover fighter’s body. Holding on for dear life, the Alien desperately struggled to pull himself up in silence. Savage did not wait to see what would be the outcome; instead he climbed down and pounded on the entrance hatch door according to their previously arranged code.
Immediately, the door swung open and Monk and Renny helped Savage in.
As they struggled to shut the door, Doc Savage shouted to Nick,” Nick, give it all the thrust this baby can handle. We’re in for quite a shock soon.”
Nancy concerned asked the giant of bronze,” What happened out there? We heard a lot of racket.”
“ Yeah, it sounded like World War three out there.” Billy commented.
“ Marlyn was right.” Doc Savage started,” She sensed it. The Alien had somehow survived and was clawing up the back of our plane in an attempt to force us to land or crash.”
“ You mean to tell us he was holding on all this time?” Billy asked in amazement.
“ Yes, and he still is, but not for long.” Savage said as he headed for the cockpit.
Billy turned around to Nancy,” What does he mean by that?”
Nancy was strapping on her seat belt as she replied,” Search me.”
Billy looked Nancy up and down smiling,” If you insist.”
Outside the bottom of the fighter where the Alien was still stubbornly holding on with one hand; he found a button with the other hand. He mistakenly took it to be a hatch entrance release of some kind. Straining in the howling freezing air, he was just able to barely reach and press the button, which caused a hatch to open; but not the kind he imagined. It was the very hatch that he had a hold of. As it swung open, out dropped a cylinder heavy enough that when it hit the Alien, it knocked him free from his hold and he dropped screaming to the icy water far below. So did the canister cylinder.
A second later at full thrust, the hover fighter screamed off into the distant clouds. Inside, Nick yelled,” Hey, somehow the hydrogen bomb has been released and armed.”
Billy said under his breath,” Oh, so that’s what you meant Doc.”
Everyone heard Nancy’s remark,” Jesus, out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
Monk had a painful look on his face as he spoke,” Wish you hadn’t said it quite that way.”
Nick said over his shoulder from the cockpit plainly enough that all in the plane heard,” Everyone brace yourselves or lay on the floor. Whatever you do, don’t look out the windows.”
As Renny and Savage hit the floor, Renny loudly exclaimed,” I wouldn’t on a bet.”
In a moment there was an incredible flash of intense light, which seemed to last an eternity. Then there was a growing rumble in the air, which turned to a roar. A moment later the sleek hover fighter tilted on its end and then it rose several thousand feet pushed by the sheer force of an enormous shock wave. By skill or sheer luck, Nick somehow righted the fighter and when everyone recovered their senses, they cheered. Johnny patted Nick on the shoulder,” I’ll be supermalgamated! That was a nice bit of flying you did there.”
Nick looked up at Johnny and the monocle that hung on a small chain down his chest. The monocle’s glass was cracked,” Thanks…uh, looks like it came just a little close for comfort.”
Johnny held his monocle up to the light in amazement,” Upon examination, we were indeed in a more precarious situation than my perspicacity could detect. I for one an glad that all that vociferous tintinnabulations has stopped its suppurating.”
“ Uh, yeah. Whatever you say Johnny.” Nick then turned to Savage who was still in the back of the craft,” You mean Mr. Nasty accidentally opened that bomb hatch?”
“ Yes, and I’m afraid we’re going to have some explaining to do about that explosion over the Artic waters.”
One of Derek’s fellow agents spoke,” Not really, there’ll be a cover-up and the press will be made to explain it all away with some other possibility. The public will forget all too soon.”
Doc Savage shook his head,” The world hasn’t changed so much after all.”
Monk, already bored, glanced over in Billy’s direction. Billy and Nancy were sitting very close and speaking to each other softly. Monk punched the man of bronze in the side and whispered to him,” Looks like you’re in the clear all the way, Doc. Will ya look at those two?”
Savage quietly commented, “Good.”
Suddenly, it dawned on Monk and he slapped his cheek in dismay, “ Wait a minute! Billy! You like Billy? For the love of…”
Damage received from the hydrogen blast caused then to run out of fuel quickly. Even though the hover fighter was forced down on the northern tip of Canada on one of the deserted islands, they were quickly found and rescued by the Royal Canadian Armed Forces.
E.I.G.H.T. organization explained to the Canadian authorities in secret and then to the American and Russian authorities as well; that Doc Savage and company had little to do with what transpired in the Artic regions and else where. Regretfully, several secret agents lost their lives in the line of duty in a battle with the forces of evil, but in the end E.I.G.H.T. forces won out.
The Russians didn’t buy it and the Canadians and Americans were suspicious of them for a long time. They were released and flown by government helicopters to the nearest major public airport. There they chartered a flight non-stop to New York City.
Two days later, they attended Long Tom’s funeral and Patricia had to be excused from it for it had been too much for her to take. They later attended Derek’s modest funeral. Doc Savage requested and was granted to have a twenty-one-gun salute in honor to one of the bravest friends he had ever known. Dr. Sagger’s funeral was modest and was held in West Virginia. Only Nancy and Sagger’s survivor family attended that one the next day.
Doc Savage had something special in mind for the kids of New York. After witnessing first hand of what drugs can do to children and the neighborhoods they lived in; he implemented a plan for gyms to be designed and constructed throughout the city. These gyms would be a safe place for kids of all ages to go and play basketball, volleyball and weight lifting. Classes to learn self-defense would also be available in the near future.
The man of bronze would personally teach those classes when he was available. Nancy would teach those that learned quickly so that they in turn would become teachers to future students.
Renny was assigned to design the gyms and programs for this citywide project. He and his sons were thrilled to have the chance to help with such a wonderful project. The mayor of New York and Doc Savage led the ground braking ceremony together.
Doc Savage disappeared after that and none of his friends could find a trace of him for several days thereafter. In that time, he had wanted to be alone for a while to reflect on all that had transpired in such a short amount of time that he had been revived. The last day of his solitude he spent doing research in the Manhattan main library with the main memory computer. By late that evening, with a yawn Doc Savage called it quits.
Early the next morning in Manhattan Island, it was the beginning of a typical weekday for most. Boats traveled along the Hudson River beginning their usual morning business; while pigeons flew up through Times Square looking for someone to feed them. They would find more often than not competition in the form of street people, homeless citizens desperately trying to find a morsel themselves. A newspaper boy begins to stand at a street corner preparing to hand out the much needed morning newspaper to the blue and white collar workers that would be passing by soon.
It was still early when Doc Savage was found fast asleep on a couch in the living room of Ham’s newly purchased penthouse. The penthouse was not far from where Nick’s had been in a skyscraper every bit as tall as this one.
Ham smiled and shook the man of bronze awake, who sat up and simply said,” Morning Ham.”
“ Been working late I presume.” Ham folded his arms across his chest in amusement. He had never seen his old friend in this disheveled shape, hair messed up and face unshaven.
Doc Savage stretched and stood up to stretch further,” Yes, but I’ve had enough rest. Slept like a baby.”
Ham suppressed a chuckle and offered,” I’ll fix us some breakfast. We just have enough time before everyone arrives.”
“ Ok, where’s your restroom, I’ve got to take a shower.” Savage inquired of his old lawyer friend.
“ It’s right behind you down that hallway.” Ham said as he headed for the kitchen. Over the years he learned that he loved to cook when he could and even got an occasional compliment from Monk about the quality of his cooking. That of course meant very little to him because everyone knew that monk ate everything cooked or uncooked as long as it wasn’t moving.
Later, Ham greeted everyone at the door as they arrived and instructed them to make themselves at home in the specious living room of bronze, white and black furniture and furnishings. Fatigue was still showing on some of their faces as they found places to sit and wait. Everyone there sat in either plush couches or expensive looking chairs of leather or polished wood with some flexible material, except Ham, Monk, and Doc Savage. Savage was gazing out the vast window overlooking the city from the eightieth floor. Ham and Monk were sitting on bar stools at an Aztec looking designed wet bar, arguing as usual.
Monk was eyeing Ham,” Barrel of monkey’s huh? Place me in a zoo will ya? I ought to ram this stool down your shyster throat.”
Ham slammed down his glass of martini and angrily replied,” If only this brute was mute.”
Marlyn chuckled, as Monk turned red faced with anger. Nancy stormed up to her father and Ham, picked up a bucket of ice off the bar and before anyone knew what was going to take place; promptly dumped it’s contents on both of them. She raised her voice to them,” Ah, chill out. I’m tired of that crap from both of you!”
Both men were dumbfounded, speechless; their heads and shoulders soaking wet. Renny was laughing so hard that he fell off the couch he was sitting in,” That’s telling em’ Nancy. Holy cow! You two look pitiful.”
A long moment and then monk suddenly grinned sheepishly and slapped Ham on the back,” Yeah, I guess we’ve been asking for that.”
Ham chuckled,” You’re so right monk. We carried it a bit too far this time. Let by gones be by gones I always say.”
With those words the two warmly shook hands.
“ Now that is better.” Nancy commented happily as she plopped back in a chair. Ham wiped the smile off Nancy’s face by showing monk something hanging on the wall behind the Aztec bar. It was an old picture blown up several times its original size of Monk’s former pet pig Habeas Corpus superimposed on what looked like a spicket with a blazing fire going underneath. There was even a small spot light from above enhancing it that much more. Monk was livid with anger and was about to draw back his fist to hit Ham, when Doc Savage turned to face his friends and colleagues, his voice silencing all conversation no matter how intense.
“ Now that all of you are here and I have your undivided attention.”
He paused as Nancy looked at Monk and Ham and cleared her throat,” I want to welcome the newcomers, Nancy, Billy, Marlyn, Nick, and the twins Thomas and Gregory into our organization and also to say that I am so glad to see my old friends again. I finally believe that it was fate that brought me back to continue the fight evil and injustice at this particular time in history, but I must admit I’ll need all the help I can get.
All of us have fought and overcame incredible odds these few weeks. I believe it was a test and I further believe that all of you passed with flying colors. From now on, you who are the sons and daughters of my old aides will officially be my new aides.”
Monk asked,” Uh, what does that make us?”
“ As you well know, that even with the drug Silphuim I perfected to help prolong life and health, you eventually become immune to it. Age has begun to affect your reflexes and general health. One of us sadly has already felt the dire effects of time.”
Johnny lowered his head in thought. He of all the ones in the room had been the closest friend to Long Tom. He knew he would miss him very much for a long time to come.
Savage continued,” The next time there is a crisis; you may not be so lucky. That is why I have decided to have Monk, Renny, Johnny and Ham be my information gatherers, specialized detectives of sorts.” He paused to let this sink in,” You will always be my closest of friends and that is why I can’t afford to see you lose your lives because of circumstances beyond your control. You can remain in my organization provided you agree to my conditions.”
Johnny pulled his monocle from his eye and looked at the other’s long faces,” Essentially your arrangement as I recall are…ah hell, I’ve always said I was too old for it anymore so I’ll go along; but by the looks of it you’re going to have a little adversity from the others.”
Ham gave Savage a sour look,” Well, let me say now I don’t like it but facts are facts. I’ll have to concur. I can’t guarantee it’ll stay that way.”
“ It’s just a gentle way of sayin’ we’re retired ain’t it?” Monk asked obviously disgusted. He scratched his head as he spoke once more, “ Alright, but I better not hear of these kids letting you down or something. How about that, I’m retired again!”
Renny was amused,” You’re right Doc as always, but you might end up with four Patricias on your hands. Remember how she couldn’t stand to stay out of our adventures?”
Doc Savage glanced Patricia’s way who stared at him with that knowing smile of hers. She commented,” Hope you know what you are asking of these guys.”
Savage ignored her comment as he spoke to them once more,” Now that that is out of the way, everyone relax and perhaps soon we can talk more of the new organization later.”
Nancy looked the man of bronze up and down and asked,” How come you are all dressed up in that expensive looking suit?”
Savage didn’t show any change in expression, but it did catch him off guard and he quietly replied,” Patricia is supposed to escort me to a reception in my honor. It is being held by an organization of doctors and medical research scientists.”
Patricia interjected,” It’ll be at the fancy clubroom, the Rainbow room. You’ve probably heard of it.”
“ Hey yeah, I’ve heard of it alright. That is the famous one atop the 65-story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center.” Nick informed, “ It was a success just after prohibition in 1934, a high-rise marriage of streamlined modernism and classical grandeur-attracting a clientele that included Noel Coward, Joan Crawford and assorted Vanderbilt’s, Payne’s and Whitney’s.”
Johnny followed on Nick’s comment,” It has just had a face lift in recent years, a great space two stories high, with mirrored columns, circular dance floor and three tiers of tables that step back to wall-length windows that look out on the Manhattan skyline. It has an entrance to stun visitors with a view of the Empire State Building as they step off the elevator and a three-hundred light show from the ceiling that will benumb the guests to this establishment.”
Patricia then added,” Yeah they get the picture. And I won’t be his escort after we arrive there. Cindy will.”
Savage glanced at Patricia completely taken by surprise,” Who?”
Monk about choked on his drink,” A date? Doc’s got a date?”
Renny was beside himself simply amazed,” Holy Cow! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t of heard it.”
Savage resigned himself to his fate knowing well that he probably would never live this incident down; and once again he turned to the vast window. Patricia rose from a couch and approached her bronze cousin. For a moment she stood silently by him gazing at the jungle of steel, concrete and glass of Manhattan.
Patricia placed a hand on Savage’s muscular forearm,” Its still hard to believe you are alive and kicking again. When you were frozen all that time, did you see anything? Did you dream or was it all a blank?”
A strange expression briefly appeared on his face and he looked as if he was staring into space or beyond. Then he quickly regained his composure before Patricia could get a glimpse of something he had to shut within himself ever since he was revived. There were no words to adequately describe what he saw: instead he thought it better to never reveal any of it.
Doc Savage turned to stare this time into her eyes a moment before he replied,” It was all a blank. I am glad you are safe and sane.”
“ Thanks, uh…I think that weirdo might have caused my insanity in the first place. What do you think?” Patricia asked.
“ Yes, in fact he was probably the cause of more than we will ever realize.”
‘ What are your immediate future plans, Clark?”
The man of bronze replied,” I’ve got some catching up to do.”
“ I know, more than forty years worth.” Patricia nodded as she answered.
Nancy asked,” A lot of research? Lab work?”
“ Not exactly, don’t you see?” Savage explained,” Its back to school for me. I’ve got to hit the books.” He smiled and his golden-flecked eyes twinkled with humor as everyone in the room laughed fully realizing the humor in that statement. Doc Savage turned back to the window with a slight smile still on his face. Seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance made him realize how proud he was of his friends both old and new and of living in a country that truly stands for freedom.
Story by : Mace Draper