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Hawks of Hate

THRILLING "KERRY KEEN" NOVELETTE

By Arch Whitehouse

Author of "Guns of the Griffon," "The Griffon's Gamble," etc.

THE GRIFFON GAMBLES WITH DEATH!


Against a midnight sky, a sleek, knife-winged amphibian roared over the Atlantic as the Griffon set out again on one of his strange, deadly adventures-his scarlet mask hiding a smile of grim purpose. But this time, the night was to threaten defeat for the man in the red mask, and the great Avia motor was to scream its final battle song. For waiting in the grim shadows over the sea was the Fox-whose vicious fangs were to drag the wings of the Griffon fifteen fathoms down into the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic!


THE sleek, knife-winged amphibian rolled down the runway from the Griffon's secret hangar, which huddled into the south shore of Long Island. It was midnight, and black as the pit. The big Avia motor, muffled through the Skoda silencers, purred contentedly.

The Griffon fed the fuel to the amphibian gently, and let her ease into the lapping waters of the broad Atlantic. He peered down through the glassed-in cockpit and smiled as the phosphorescent waters streamed back from the racing prows of the pontoons.

In the back seat, his gunner slammed his coupe top down and settled himself for a wild flight. The Griffon was out on a test flight. The Avia had been completely overhauled for a job that was due to flare up any day.

"All set?" the Griffon called back.

"Let her go."

The pilot eased around on his rudder, turned the ship more into the wind and waited until the swinging beam from Montauk had swept around to the northeast. Then he gave her the juice.

Like a silent hawk, the black amphibian shot away, fighting suction to get up on her step. The man in the back seat turned and stared over the Griffon's shoulder. His eyes were glued to the airspeed indicator and the rev-meter. The big Avia, with her Skoda silencers in, raced at almost 2,000 r.p.m. The ship slapped her pontoons on the tops of the rollers and finally leaped clear in about nine seconds. The Griffon let her climb until they were somewhere near the 4,000-foot level. Then he cut out the Skodas, and the rev-needle snapped up to 2,400 and stayed there.

The man in the back seat slapped the Griffon across the shoulders and bellowed, "What did I tell you? Perfect, eh?"

The Griffon nodded and grinned over his shoulder. As he turned, however, something caught his eye.

"Look out—behind you!" he roared.

The man in the back seat never saw what was behind him. Something struck him a cruel blow across the temple and he went down in a heap, caught between his folding seat and the intricate piping systems that ran along the side of the fuselage.

A vicious rat-tat-tat battered along the metal top of the ship, and the Griffon had to throw her over, into a sharp sideslip. The something that had scored the first blow followed up with another—a terrific burst from a movable gun in the back seat of a trim-winged biplane.

The Griffon threw the amphibian back into the fray and tried to get his Darn guns on the screeching biplane, but the enemy ship seemed to be flown by a super man. When he stunted, his amazing ship seemed to do everything ten times faster than anything the Griffon had ever seen before.

The strange ship shot in and out, lancing away with short bursts either from her side or from her needle pointed nose, and the Griffon was slowly but surely being battered to bits. Even as he fought for his life, he was studying the enemy ship, a new Fairey Fox, with British markings.

The gleaming plane, in creamy silver paint, with gaudy insignia and undeniably British numerals on the tail-fin, came at him again from a trick angle. Its tunnel guns, set low under the motor, flamed through the troughs depressed in the cowling.

That was the finish. The black amphibian with the Griffon insignia faltered, engine completely washed out. The Griffon fought her madly and turned his full attention to making some sort of a landing.

There was a movement, a struggling movement behind him, and the Griffon shouted back, "Okay, Barney? Get that axe out and inflate that boat! We're going down, and I hate swimming with my clothes on."

He turned back to his controls and saw that the Fox was making another dive on them. He worked his rudder pedals again, and then spun her a few turns. The Fox slammed down under them. The observer poured in another long burst, and then the British-marked ship screamed away out toward the velvety curtain that hung over the Atlantic.

The Griffon watched it as he eased the battered amphibian out of her slow spin. Then he coaxed her into a glide and glanced back to see his man working to get the life-saving equipment out through a panel he had chopped in the side of the body.

"What the devil did you stop back there?" demanded the Griffon.

"A creaser across my dome. Whew! Worse than a cop's billy."

"Never mind, you'll soon be able to cool it off."

"Yeah. And all my work on that boiler for nothing," growled the big Irishman in the back seat. "Put her down. I've got the hot-water bottle all ready."

The Griffon eased the ship down to the water. He watched the rollers and dabbed the pontoons down on top of one. Then he let her slide away to catch the up heaving side of another roller.

The black ship bobbed afloat for several minutes, and the man in the back seat shoved out the rubber lifeboat. He screwed in the carbondioxide bottle and inflated it as he straddled one pontoon. The Griffon reached in for the small oars, drew out two kapok jackets and then coolly chopped great holes in the long, sleek pontoons. They had just enough time to get inside the small rubber boat when the battered ship nosed down, stuck her tail into the air and dived into fifteen fathoms of dark water...

IT was nearly an hour before they reached the concrete runway of Grayfields, the Griffon's Long Island estate. It was lucky that their bad break had occurred so close to the shore. All the way in, taking turns at the small oars, they had talked about the mysterious British Fox. The Griffon read the newspapers closely and knew that the U. S. Navy Air Service officials had purchased one of these crack British two-seater fighters for experimental work. He knew too, that the Navy Air Service had recently established a special experimental base at a place known only as Hurstola, somewhere along the north shore, near Port Jefferson.

When the Griffon and his man floundered up the turfed bank toward the rear entrance of Grayfields, they entered through the service entrance. By mutual consent, they made for the small cocktail bar fitted between the butler's pantry and the dining room.

The Griffon switched on a small, wide-range radio receiver while his man poured in the necessary ingredients for a cocktail. Barney then poured himself a stiff peg of O'Doul's Dew and swallowed it in a gulp.

"Nasty crack you got there, Barney," the Griffon observed as they raised their glasses again. "Lucky! A few more inches and it would have knocked you sensible."

"Sinsible, is it?" growled Barney O'Dare. "Thot would have done me a good turn. I'd have known better than to jine up with a madman like you.

"Oh, stick around. We'll soon have another. As a matter of fact, I have an idea we might pick up a brand new Fairey Fox somewhere, and— what's that?" he snapped quickly.

The radio speaker fitted into the bar was issuing a spoken announcement.

"....believed stolen early this evening from a Navy Air Service hangar at Hurstola. The ship is a regular British Fairey Fox, a two-seater Fleet service machine fitted with pontoons. A report should be made to the nearest police station at once if such a ship is sighted. We also have Special official message for Mr. Kerry Keen, from the office of the Department of Justice in New York City. Mr. Keen is asked to report to Mr. John Scott as soon as possible. That is all, ladies and gentlemen. We will now continue our musical program."

"Quick, Barney," the Griffon broke in. "Dab a pad and gauze on that wound. We've got to get the Dusenberg out fast. We're going to New York. I'll be out in ten minutes."

In ten minutes on the dot, Kerry Keen, the noted ballistics expert, in neat black evening clothes and a turndown black felt hat leaped into the back seat of the glittering Dusenberg. Barney, in regulation chauffeur's uniform, but with a telltale pad of white gauze strapped above his temple, let the gear in. The long car crunched out of the winding driveway and soon was eating up the miles of concrete ribbon at well over sixty miles an hour.

"Stop outside the Comedy Theater, first, Barney," said Keen, settling back. "Got to pick up a program and a theater ticket stub, somehow."

"So you bin to the Comedy tonight, eh? Do better if you'd stop at a bank with a can of soup and get yourself some dough. We're getting low again."<...

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