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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/59

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swering pressure of her warm fingers gave Kenworth the message, "I understand."

Now they were far into the Night Side, racing through the blackness from the Patrol Ship. Another screen had been put into operation, for the Raider did not care to crash blindly upon an uncharted mountain peak. But at this height there was little danger of such an accident.

Kenworth watched the Raider, and took the opportunity to send another message to Thona.

"Now!" the Raider said, the word coldly metallic. He touched a lever, flung over a switch.

Arn growled, "Good! Then we can get out of this—darkness."

The Raider said nothing. On the screen the Patrol ship grew larger. Rays leaped out—invisible, detectable only by the reactions of delicate indicating instruments. The Raider's face grew intent, like a mask cut out of black stone.

The Martian's eyes flickered toward the screen.

Kenworth moved. Like an uncoiling spring he shot toward Vakko, smashing against the Martian's pipe-stem legs. Vakko toppled. The ray-tube was jerked from his hand, went spinning across the room. He screamed in an oddly piercing, shrill voice.

Thona was running across the room. The Raider swung about, and as he moved a grinding crash rasped through the ship. The pirate wheeled, his fingers darting lightning-like over the controls. His momentary inattention had almost lost him the battle with the Patrol ship.

"Arn!" His command stopped the big lieutenant, brought him, too, back to the controls. "Get the Patrol ship!" he snapped. "Quick! Then——"

Kenworth had counted on this. In the crisis, the final battle between the two ships, the Raider would need both Arn and himself at the controls—would not dare turn to face a lesser peril, knowing that a moment's inattention would mean disaster. Already there was a warning tingling shuddering through Kenworth's body—the first taste of the Patrol ship's paralyzing rays, lancing through the protecting armor!

He snapped a vicious blow at the Martian's pouchy chest, and Vakko shrieked his pain. But the deceptively slender arms did not relax, and, cursing, Kenworth drove blow after blow into the Martian's body. He heard a shrill piping, and felt something whip across his eyes. Tentacles wound about his head, and a vicious beak stabbed at his face. The octan!

He put all his strength into a sledgehammer blow that smashed bones in the Martian's chest. The binding arms relaxed, and Kenworth leaped to his feet, tore away the octan's tentacles. The parrot-like beak snapped viciously at his hand, and the thing squealed in futile rage. He flung it from him, turned.

He had a flashing glimpse of a maelstrom of titanic forces racing across the televisor screen. The Raider was still at the control board, his fingers darting to and fro. Arn was on his feet, plunging toward him, gas-gun leveled.

Thona was gone. Kenworth spun, leaped for the doorway. Something popped near his head, and a cloud of greenish gas sprang into existence, writhing as though alive. He got through the door, holding his breath, and swung it shut. A precious moment was wasted while he searched for a bolt that was not there. Then he turned and went racing along the corridor.

"Dal!" It was Thona's voice. "Dal—-here!"

She was standing by an open oval of emptiness through which a blast of rac-