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56
WEIRD TALES

he planning? There was no hint of his intentions on that gaunt, immobile face.

The mad spins and lurches of the ship did not discommode the passengers, due to the artificial gravity held existing within the craft. But, watching the madly flaring screen, Kenworth saw the Patrol ship slip aside and vanish, saw the jagged peaks of a mountain range come rushing up, dim in the grayness of the Twilight Zone. The ship was falling!

A voice boomed through the cabin. "Surrender, Raider! Kill your rays!"

A tight smile flickered over the Raider's face. He said in a swift aside, "Arn, keep the interference on."

Arn grunted, little beads of perspiration standing out like jewels on his space-blackened face. Kenworth felt Thona huddle against him. For a moment a thrill of fear went through him, but a glance at the screen was instantly reassuring. The mountains seemed to be stopping their mad march toward the ship, slowing down. The Patrol craft lurched into view. Abruptly it began to recede in a series of curious little jumps.

Kenworth knew that this was illusion. The Raider was fleeing, and the screen darkened steadily, with the pursuing Patrol ship a blade silhouette against the pale gray sky. The titanic mountains of the Twilight Zone dimmed, faded to darkness. They were entering the Night Side.

The Raider clicked over a switch. The dead blackness of the screen lightened, showed the Patrol ship. But there was a curious lack of perspective, of color. It was a shadow-picture, two-dimensional and unreal. Ultra-violet rays were responsible. All space-ships were equipped with them, Kenworth knew. Invisible light, making a strange shadowland of the blackness!

And now Kenworth realized the Raider's plan. The nimbus of light still flickered on the screen, and the Patrol ship could not summon help, for the Raider's interference mechanism blanketed the other ship's signals. The Raider might have destroyed his attacker in the Twilight Zone—but that would have left the Patrol ship's wreck to attract attention, pointing a definite finger of suspicion toward the Night Side. Pretending to be crippled, the Raider was luring his enemy into the hidden blackness of Venus—and there he would strike!

Kenworth began to search the room with his eyes, methodically seeking several devices which he knew should be in the control chamber. A plan was forming in his mind—but he would have to act quickly. Luckily he had been in the collection ship before, and it was not long before he saw a rack of small tubes on the wall, tubes that resembled the paralysis-ray projectors, but which were in reality light-tubes. And light would be vitally necessary on the Night Side—if they could escape from the ship.

Kenworth located, too, a shelf on which a dozen small packages were piled—parachutes, made from the incredibly tough filaments spun by the Cave Spiders of Mars. He put his arm unobtrusively around Thona, drawing her close. She looked up inquiringly.

He prisoned one of her small hands in his big one. Then, his eyes on the Martian, he pressed his thumb against Thona's palm, released it. Vakko did not move. His bulging eyes stared emotionlessly at Kenworth. Using the Interplanetary Code—adapted from the archaic Morse—which every citizen had to learn, Kenworth began to give Thona a message. Dot—a brief pressure—dash—a longer one——

"When I give the word, get light-tubes and parachutes." Swiftly he indicated where they were.

Thona's eyes did not flicker. The an-