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Zeppelins Vanish!


By Arch Whitehouse

Author of "Death Spans the Pacific," "Sky Gun Snare," etc.

The world was utterly dumfounded! First the majestic Brandenburg, queen of the skies— then the Navy dirigible San Diego—and finally the great airship Ludendorff! Every one of those stately Zeppelins had disappeared behind some sinister veil which no man seemed able to pierce. There was a single hope—Kerry Keen must be questioned. But now a new headline blazed from the newspapers. It read:

HUGO STAARK sat huddled in his office staring into space. His great desk was strewn with papers, blueprints, and graph charts. Abruptly, he swept them to one side and listened to the compact radio set before him. An announcer chanted—

We interrupt at this time, ladies and gentlemen, to present a Trans-radio flash. It reads: 'The giant airship, Brandenburg, has just left its German hangar for its fifth trans-Atlantic trip to Lakehurst. A full load of passengers is aboard and her commander, Captain Rolf Stresser, predicts a routine crossing.' 

Hugo Staark sneered. He glanced up at a map hung on the wall. The Trans-radio flash continued:

For the benefit of the thousands who have made inquiries, we beg to state that there is no further news of the United States Navy dirigible, San Diego, since it so mysteriously left its mooring mast at Lakehurst more than forty-eight hours ago. No information regarding this flight can be obtained, and the Navy Department has shut down on all news concerning it. Relatives of the crew are advised to make inquiries only through the proper government channels. We return you again to the studio.

Hugo Staark chuckled under his breath, glanced at his wrist watch. It was exactly 11:42— and by midnight he was to leave. They would come for him on the dot of midnight. They said they would.

"So the Brandenburg left Frankfort-On-Main, eh?" he chuckled to himself. "A routine crossing.... Very good, von Braun. Very good!"

Then Staark twirled in his seat, listened. There was the sound of motors. He snapped the wave- length lever of another radio set—one built into a bakelite panel behind him. He listened a minute, then took down the transmitter and spoke into it quietly in German. His smile indicated that all was well. Yes, they were coming for him. He could hear the purr of the engine.

He turned to scrape up a few articles from his desk and stuff them into a small leather case. Then suddenly he looked up—and almost leaped out of his seat.

"Himmel! Who are you? Are you Strauben's man?" he gasped. "Where did you come from?"

"Sit down, Staark!" the man before him ordered. "I am not Strauben's man."

Staark had started to rise from his big chair, but now he sat back bewildered. He tried to fathom the strange metallic tone of the voice and the weird costume worn by the man who stood before him.

"Who are you?" demanded Staark again in a huskier voice.

"Don't move, Staark," the man in the flying helmet, goggles and black coverall snapped. There was still that strange tonal sound to his voice and Staark stared about hardly certain where it came from. He clutched at the arms of his chair, stared at the piercing eyes behind the goggle lenses.

The tall man in the black coverall and the scarlet mask flipped a small white card onto the desk. Hugo Staark picked it up, stared at the name scrawled upon it.

"The Griffon? What is this business, the Griffon?" the German scientist demanded.

"That's all—just the Griffon," the strange voice said quietly. Then, in a sterner tone: "Where's the San Diego, Staark?"

"The San Diego? Now that is very funny—the San Diego? What do I know about the San Diego? I am only the frame specialist here. I am not the U. S. Navy. I supervise the repairs and decide which structural members shall be replaced. But I do not know where the San Diego is now. You should ask the government men."

"You lie, Staark!" the voice snapped. "You lie, and you know it! I give you one more chance. Where's the San Diego?"

"She took off under sealed orders. I know no more than that."

"But yet you are sitting here waiting for someone to come and pick you up in a plane. Where were you going, Staark?"

"You are interfering with my personal business, and I beg of you to refer your questions to the station commander," Staark snorted.

"Okay, Staark. You asked for this. I'll let you pick your own way out. Here's a gun."

THE man in black laid a heavy Luger pistol on the table. Hugo Staark stared at it, his great face going the color of dusty parchment.

"What is that?" he asked hollowly.

"For you, Staark. I don't like cold murder. It's for you to do the job yourself. Go ahead, I'll see that it looks like suicide."

"Suicide? Me? What for?"

"Because you were in on the San Diego business, Staark. And you can't get away now. You can save yourself and the United States government an awful lot of trouble by taking that way out. It's not a bad way, from all accounts."

"You mean.... you ask that I should kill myself?" squealed Staark. "Kill myself.... what for?"

"Because you know where the San Diego is and why she was taken away. Because she's the clue to a plot of some sort. Now, it's either the gun—or the information."

"But.... but I do not know where she is, I tell you. I can't tell you what I do not know."

"All right; then, it's the gun. Let's get it over with quickly!" snapped the man in the black coverall.

"All right. Then it's the gun, eh? The gun it shall be.... Mister.... Mister Griffon. The gun it shall be."

Hugo Staark reached over, carefully picked up the black weapon. He thumbed the catch, stared down at its machined breech.

"The Griffon, eh? I think I have heard about you. You're quite a character in your way. I was advised to be on the watch for you, but I never thought it would be as easy as this."

And with that Hugo Staark quickly levelled the gun at the man in black and pulled the trigger twice. He would have pulled it three times—only Hugo Staark was dead by that time. A low plop followed the first pull and a small jet of vapor spat out of the rear of the breech. The second pull was nothing more than muscular reaction.

Hugo Staark lay back in his chair, a strange smile across his face. His fingers still clutched the white card.

The man known as The Griffon stepped up with a cold smirk, carefully removed the weapon from Staark's fingers, and stepped back.

"Another man who thought all guns fire forward," he said quietly. He then scooped up a few papers, ripped a small map off the wall, jotted down the wave-length registered on the dials of the transmitting set behind Staark's chair, and disappeared into the night outside.

He made his way cautiously across the open space before the big Lakehurst hangar, skirted the rails of the mobile mooring mast, and hurried to a black, low-wing amphibian snuggled in the shadows.

"That you, Ginsberg?" a voice came from the cockpit.

"Okay, Pulski," the man in black answered, running up. "Let's be moving."

"How'd it work?"

"How has it always worked?" the man in black said.

"Swell—the louse!"

"And now we're going to have some fun, if I know my onions," the man in black smirked. "And I'll say I'm glad to get that gas-mask attachment off. Damned helmet is heavy enough as it is."

"All serene back here," the man known as Pulski reported.

The man in black took the pilot's cockpit, snapped the switch, and depressed the starter. The big 1,000 h.p. Avia motor opened up with a dull purr. The pilot had seen to it that the Skoda mufflers were cut in before he started her and now she was ticking over no louder than an expensive motor car. He checked everything, then gave the motor the gun. The ship raced away and climbed with a low wailing moan toward Toms River and Barnegat Bay. In a few minutes they were at 6,000 racing along toward the long gnarled finger of Sandy Hook.

The man in black turned once, snapped on the radio set, then carefully set the wave-length lever to a number he had taken from Hugo Staark's set. Now he took the hand mike and began calling in a guttural tone:

"You, Strauben.... You, Strauben. Where are you? I can't wait much longer. Where are you? Give me your map position."

In a moment came a reply:

"Hold on, Herr Staark. We are coming fast. We are now over position.... er.... over W-16-1. Got that, W-16-1?"

"All right, I'll give you ten minutes more. W- 16-1, eh? That's good."

The man in black plucked up the small map he had taken from Staark's desk, glanced at it carefully. It was an ordinary Hammond auto map—but it had been squared off with a ruling pen with the squares carefully marked in much the same manner as war-time ordinance-survey maps. It was a clever idea, for it allowed the open transmission of map points without actually allowing accidental hearers to know just what point was being mentioned. The man in black was glad he had picked that small road map up.

He glanced at it again and decided that the man who had answered to the name of Strauben was somewhere over New Brunswick.

He shoved the map over to the man in the rear portion of the pit and said: "Look for a guy over there— and don't miss!"

THEY swerved sharply to the left, shot across Monmouth Beach, and cut in again at high speed. They sat tense and scoured the sky above and the ground below for traces of their prey. They reached Keyport and then the man in the rear slapped the pilot on the shoulder and yelled:

"Over there toward the river. I just saw him slash through the light that flickers up off the water. Go get him!"/p>

The black pilot swung over hard and hoiked the speed to more than 300 m.p.h. The black amphibian, its pontoons folded snug into slots in the deep body, was "all out" now both flyers tensed in readiness to nail their unknown enemy.

"What's she like?" the Griffon asked.

"Low-wing job, something like a Junkers bomber-fighter. You'll have to hit hard and snappy. They're probably loaded down with guns."

"How the deuce did they expect to get into Lakehurst with that?"

"You can do anything—if you do it fast enough. What have they got to lose? There ain't a real service plane within a hundred miles of Lakehurst. A few old National Guard crocks at Newark, but that's about all."

"Guess you're right. Hell-l-l-l-o! Good night!"

Before the Griffon could realize what he was up against, the Black Bullet had hurled them into the range of the mysterious silver monoplane fighter below them. From three turrets spurts of fire slapped up at them and the Black Bullet resounded with the thumping.

Like a shot, the Griffon wheeled over and slipped clear just as three low coughing bursts splashed shrapnel across the sky. The shots were from the muzzle of a quick-firing 37 mm. gun mounted somewhere in the nose of the two-engine Junkers.

"Whew! We certainly picked one this time," the Griffon yelled. "You'd better do something fast, Pulski."

But the man in the back was already doing plenty. He unshipped a set of double, high-speed Brownings and was snapping short bursts at the silver Junkers below and making the pilot swing his ship about so madly that it was almost impossible for his own gunners to draw a clean bead. The man in the back of the Griffon's bus kept this up for several minutes until the Griffon was ready for his thrust. The enemy plane tried to hold off the inevitable with frantic bursts from the heavy air cannon, but they were all off balance and their shots were futile, going far wide of their mark.

Then with a sudden lurch, the Griffon feinted a dive at the Junkers' tail. His gunner played a merry staccato tune on the Brownings and made the Junkers twist off. Then the Griffon hammered a terrific blast full broadside into the Junkers.

They saw the pilot frantically attempt to jerk her clear. Then a burst from the Black Bullet's rear guns cut him down with deadly precision. His hands came up and he twisted in agony as another charge from the Griffon's front guns bashed into his side.

A man abruptly clambered up over the gun mounting of the Junkers and hurled himself clear. Pulski took aim—then withheld his fire. The man disappeared for a moment, then they saw his white silken canopy blossom out below.

Some one was still sticking to the ship in spite of the hopelessness of the task. But Pulski picked him off with a short burst as the Griffon swept over the floundering ship. There came a loud report, a puff of smoke, and a belch of flame—and the massive Junkers was finished. They watched it curl over, then spin, and finally wind up in a plume of flame.

The Black Bullet turned away and headed for Staten Island.

WELL after midnight, a long black car crept down 54th Street twenty-four hours after the silver Junkers had been shot down over South River. The driver's long face and deep upper lip indicated his Celtic background. He eased to a stop, and his passenger slipped out of the rear door, darted up a grubby set of front steps, knocked once, and twisted the knob. Inside, a man hurried forward from a dimly-lit room, holding a scraggy corn-cob pipe in one hand. He peered anxiously at the newcomer and then grinned broadly. He then took a shapeless parcel from the visitor in trim dinner clothes who faced him.

"All right, Pat," the man in the dinner coat nodded. "Keep your eyes and ears open for about fifteen minutes—and then go back to sleep. You'll be able to read all about it in the morning."

And with that the man in the dinner coat darted up the building's four flights of stairs. He came to a slim ladder that reached up to the skylight. Now he took more care. The skylight opened easily. He stepped out onto the roof and hurried behind some sooty chimneys.

Now he glanced across the space that separated the old tenement upon which he stood from the more modern apartment building on 55 th Street. He listened carefully again, then hurried along the buttress of the roof, finally coming to a halt near one corner.

His hands fumbled in the shadows for several seconds, then came out with what appeared to be the stranded wire of a radio aerial lead-in wire. He loosened it from a white porcelain, then took out a pair of soft leather gloves.

He pulled on the gloves, gripped the steel wire at a point carefully marked with a dab of white paint, then casually climbed up on the roof buttress and placed his toes carefully on a black mark that had been painted there. He drew the pseudo lead-in wire tight and assured himself that it was strongly connected with a heavier steel cable above him that stretched between the two buildings to simulate an aerial wire. Now he drew the wire tight and swished off into space, the steel wire above him twanging under his weight. His body swung down, then up again, landing him on a comer of the building which faced on 55th Street. Here, after steadying himself, he fastened the swing wire to another inoffensive white porcelain. Then slipping the gloves into a depression between the wall and the fire escape. he carefully climbed some steel fire-escape steps until he reached the main roof from where he could inspect the penthouse apartment.

From there he tiptoed across the pebbled roofing, fitting a mask to the upper portion of his face as he walked. Then, tugging the snap brim of his black felt hat down a trifle, he selected a window.

He raised it without difficulty, threw his foot over the sill, and slipped through into a neat and comfortable bedroom. He moved like a panther. His hand soon found a door-knob. He held it for a few seconds, listening intently. Then drawing a small black pistol from his inside pocket he drew the door open carefully and hurried along the narrow corridor beyond.

Coming to the studio and noticing a light within, the man with the gun peered through and saw a man in dinner clothes with a scarlet mask over his face. The man sat at a desk, facing a door on the opposite side of the room. In his hand he had a gun.

His hand twitched. He appeared to be listening intently. His eyes drew into narrow slits as he peered about the room through the openings in his mask. Then suddenly he stiffened—but before he could make a full turn, a shot cracked out from the narrow corridor behind him. He let out a gasp, fired twice, then felt his gun being knocked out of his hand. He tried to get to his feet but only let out a choking gasp and fell with a smash on his face.

The man in the black felt hat had darted into the light, had knocked the gun from the man's trembling fingers, and had swiftly placed it on two prongs that protruded from a velvet covered panel over the desk. It fitted in perfectly with the general arrangement of modern and ancient weapons. Then with a quick movement he went through the dead man's pockets and extracted several papers and notebooks. Finally, he swiftly darted back into the bedroom, and slipped out of the window. In three minutes he was swinging back to the dingy tenement on 54th Street.

And he was right, the old bewhiskered caretaker did read all about it the next morning.

IT was 9 o'clock and Drury Lang was mighty tired. He had been up all night on the 55th Street case. Outside, the newsies were still screaming their wares. There was much in the news!

There was still no trace of the San Diego, and the great German airship, Brandenburg, which had left Frankfort-On-Main thirty-six hours before, had not been heard of since she had passed over the English Channel a few hours after she had left her German base.

Then there was the murder of Hugo Staark, the noted German scientist who had been working with the U. S. Navy lighter-than-air experts in the refitting of the San Diego and in planning of the two new naval dirigibles that were being assembled in the new Lakehurst hangar. The only clue they had to that murder was the Griffon card found clutched in Staark's fingers.

They had never seen a man who had died exactly like that. He apparently had been strangled—but there were no bruises or other marks on his throat. A superficial autopsy had not disclosed the cause of death although the Ocean County-Coroner was convinced that the German scientist had met his end by foul play. Federal investigators were of the opinion that he had met his end while experimenting with some sort of a lifting gas. It was known that he had had some such idea previous to his sudden end.

Only John Scott and Drury Lang realized what that Griffon card meant.

But they had not expected the 55th Street affair. That went off in their faces and they were both still trying to figure it out.

"I can't believe it," John Scott argued for the tenth time.

"I bin expectin' it for months," Lang growled, "but I didn't figure he'd get it that way."

"Do you mean to sit there and try to tell me that you believe Kerry Keen was the Griffon?" demanded Scott with righteous indignation.

"What was he wearing when we found him?"

"A scarlet mask. But what of it?"

"What did this Griffon guy wear every time he appeared—a scarlet mask!" snarled Drury Lang.

"I know. But it don't make sense. The Griffon might have killed him and planted that mask," John Scott fumbled.

"The Griffon did that Staark guy in the night before, didn't he?"

"Sure—as far as we know. But you can't tie these two things up like that."

"I figure that this guy Staark had found out something about the Griffon—maybe about that airship, eh?"

"Say," gasped John Scott, grabbing a husky cigar and stuffing it in his face. "Wait a minute. You got something there, Lang!"

"Okay, chief. I get it like this: Maybe this Dutch guy, Staark, has something good in this new gas he has in mind. Maybe they are using it aboard the San Diego. Maybe it ain't gas for lifting or blowing up the bag. Maybe it's compressed gas for the engines. I read something about something like that once."

"Go on. Keep talking," snapped John Scott blowing a plume straight into Lang's face.

"All right. They know about this gas at Lakehurst, but they don't say nothing, see. They decide to try it out. Maybe it will give them a longer range— you know, stay up in the air longer. So just in case it don't work the way they figure, they say nothing about the flight and just go. If it works, they'll radio back from Alaska, or maybe Hong Kong, or one of them places, and say: 'The stuff works. Here we are!' Get it?"

"Keep talking!" growled Scott.

"All right, but someone else finds out that this stuff is the goods, get it? They blow in on old Staark that night and say: 'Look here, brother. You got something there and we want it—back in Germany. Come clean!'. But old Staark, says: 'Like hell, you can't rough me around. I'm an American citizen now and you can't do a thing about it or I'll call out the U. S. Navy. They gave me the run-around in Germany and I got out and got myself in okay with Uncle Sam. You clear out before I call a sentry.' So they gets rough and bop him off, and...."

"....and the Griffon sticks a card in his fingers, eh?" growled Scott.

"Maybe.... Well, maybe the Griffon got the formula for the stuff and clears out, and when he gets home—to Keen's place on 55th Street— someone slips in and shoots Mister Kerry Keen, the dashing young man about town who was the Griffon all the time!"

"Bah!" snorted John Scott. "You should be writing Silly Symphonies for Walt Disney. What about that German plane they found?"

"All right, you talk!"

"Sure I will," shouted Scott. "I'll talk and I'll tell you something that will make you hair curl. Get this and keep it under your hat! The San Diego really is missing!"


"She was actually stolen from the mooring mast at Lakehurst. Only a skeleton crew was aboard, and the rest who were on the ground have been rounded up and stuck away somewhere, where they can't talk. How do you like that?"


"Add to that the fact that the German airship, Brandenburg, is also missing, as far as the German airship people are concerned. No one knows where she is."


"I don't know why Staark was killed," continued Scott, "but if the Griffon did it, Staark's was a bad 'un!"

"Are you falling for that Griffon guy now— now that he's dead?"

"The Griffon isn't dead, Lang. Maybe Kerry Keen is—but the Griffon is still alive. Look!"

HE flipped a square sheet of paper across the desk. Lang picked it up and frowned. He stuck his dreary-looking tortoise-shell glasses on the end of his nose, peered over the top of the lenses, and read:

Check Heinrich von Braun. Have American Ambassador to Germany report on dirigible hangars in Black Forest. Brandenburg must not fly over city of New York.
The Griffon.

Lang read it over twice. "When did this arrive?" he asked suddenly.

"Early this morning—about seven o'clock. A taxi-driver delivered it downstairs. Said he had been paid to bring it by a man in a black hat, a dinner jacket, and patent leather shoes. He said he had left him at the 33rd Street subway station at 6:30."

"But Keen was killed about midnight," Lang argued. "He was also dressed in a black dinner coat and patent leather slippers. A black felt hat was on the table. The elevator operator said he was wearing one when he went up about eleven."

"Sure, but the Griffon sent me a message at 6:30."

"Was that Keen up there?"

"Looked like him, didn't it? The apartment officials identified him—but what makes me mad is that we have no fingerprints of Keen anywhere. None anywhere about the house, either."

"What about that driver guy of his. That Irishman, O'Dare, or something like that."

"No trace of him anywhere."

Lang wagged his head, stared at the card again.

"Who's Heinrich von Braun?"

"He's another German dirigible expert. He was aboard the Macon when she went down on the West coast. They say his skill saved her from a bad crack-up. He disappeared after that because of some sort of a row with the Navy Department, and...."

"....and Hugo Staark got his job, eh?"

"Right! Cripes, you're getting hot, Lang. That's exactly what did happen."

"And so Heinrich von Braun bopped off Mr. Staark. Well, that's one way to get your job back."

"No, you're wrong. Heinrich von Braun is dead! Committed suicide in Germany about six months ago."

"But this Griffon guy says for us to check on him. He must have something."

"Sure, and we think we got Kerry Keen on a slab down at the morgue— but maybe we ain't."

"Cable the Ambassador!" said Lang suddenly.

"Think I'm that crazy? The Ambassador would reply: 'Things are bad enough over here now without trying to dig up any more dirt.' And I wouldn't blame him. Dirigible hangars in the Black Forest—why there's about four million tourists rambling through the Black Forest every summer. They'd have a swell time trying to hide some dirigible hangars in there."

"I wonder how big the Black Forest is," said Lang with commendable curiosity. "Gimme that encyclopedia—that No. 3 volume."

He flipped the pages until he came to the subject he sought: "Say! Listen to this: 'The Black Forest covers a mountain range in southwest Germany. It has an area of about 1,800 square miles.' Golly, I never realized it was that big."

"Gosh, then the term 'Black Forest' actually means that the mountains there are covered with heavy timbered areas," gulped John Scott. "Gimme a cable form. We might as well try everything."

When he turned back, Lang was again staring at the Griffon note. "But what the hell does he mean by saying that the Brandenburg must not fly over the city of New York?"

"That's what has me. How can we stop her?"

ALL that took place on Wednesday morning. Then at noon more startling news broke. The Ludendorff, an earlier edition of the new German airships, was reported missing, according to a news flash from Reuters' London office. This story had it that Ludendorff had taken off from the Lake Constance sheds after a complete engine overhaul with only a small test crew aboard. She had reported once over Frankfort—but from that time on she'd completely disappeared.

That left three massive dirigibles unaccounted for in the last 48 hours!

The Griffon's note was secretly forwarded to the United States War Department, but the only result it accomplished was a cryptic answer which read: "Very interesting, but where is the Brandenburg?" That left John Scott and Drury Lang further up the pole than ever. They both swore, lit bigger and blacker cigars, and waited for word from the American Ambassador in Berlin.

Meanwhile at Graylands, Kerry Keen's Long Island estate, two men huddled over the short-wave radio set in Keen's library. They had been at it for what seemed hours. They had scrawled down message after message picked up on a certain wave-length. But in spite of every known decoding device they could make little out of it.

"It all keeps going back to one word, Barney," Kerry Keen said, his eyes haggard and tired. "It keeps coding out only this word 'Miquelon'. For the life of me, I can't figure out what it means."

"Miquelon?... Miquelon?" the deep lipped Barney muttered. "Miquelon.... we've had that word .... a name somewhere. We've been to a place named Miquelon..."

He grabbed the bottle of O'Doul's Dew again, poured himself another snort of Highland nectar. "Miquelon!" he gagged, smacking his lips.

"California?... No. Would it be along the Texas border?" muttered Keen, fingering his pencil again.

"I got it! I got it!" Barney bellowed now. "Remember when we went up to Canada........... Newfoundland? That little island off the southern coast. It belongs to the French, I think."

"Miquelon! Right! Right, Barney!" beamed Keen. "A small French fishing station ten miles off the southern coast of Newfoundland. Whew!... Perfect! I remember the place now—only a few hundred people on the whole island which has an area of more than eighty miles. Perfect, Barney, perfect! Pour yourself another drink."

He snatched at a chart, made a hurried calculation.

"About 900 miles.... about five hours flying time," Keen said. "If we leave here at 9:30 or 10:00 tonight, we can make Miquelon by 3 o'clock."

"Who can?" demanded Barney.

"We can—you and I!" Keen explained. "Besides, we can't sit about here doing nothing. I'm supposed to be dead. They'll be coming out here soon to make a search, once they find out that the guy they found in my apartment was not me, but.."

"Well, who was he, anyway?" demanded Barney, putting his bottle down./p>

"His real name, I believe, was Franz Bleccer. They evidently selected him to do his stuff because he looked startlingly like me. Same height, same color hair, and not unlike me as to profile. In clothing like mine he could have passed for me anywhere."

"And did," added Barney.

"Apparently. That's why I became suspicious about the San Diego business," Keen went on, making up a chart for an air trip to Miquelon. "Had I not run across Commander Grosset when I was making that inquiry concerning helium gas down at Lakehurst, I would never have learned about Franz Bleccer. You see, this Bleccer chap had appeared two days before and had asked permission to make a trip aboard the San Diego in my name. Grosset was unable to give him permission, owing to the fact that the San Diego was going on a secret test flight and no civilians were to be taken aboard. Then when I went down a few days ago and inquired about the helium, Commander Grosset was under the impression that I was still putting in a bid for a flight, and he reminded me that his refusal was final."

"That must have been funny," said Barney.

"At first, I thought he was kidding me about something—and then got the whole story. Grosset realized at once that something was up and advised me to watch out. But it was not until last night that we spotted him entering our apartment. I didn't intend to kill him, but he was dangerous. And when I realized what a startling resemblance he had to me, I decided that I'd let them think he had bumped me off. And, here we are."

"And here we go—Miquelon, next stop! I wonder if that little Fisherman's Inn is still open on that island—the one near the wharf."

"It won't matter, Barney. This is a business trip. And if I know anything about Miquelon, you'll never see that wharf. We'll be miles inland looking for a postage stamp to land on."

"Oh, that's it. Then I'd better go below, eh? You'll be wantin' all the juice you can carry. Right?"

"And all the ammunition, too, Barney. This will be a beaut, if I'm any judge."

And with that the two parted. Barney went downstairs to the underground hangar and Kerry Keen, whose face was now gracing the front pages of most newspapers in the country, went to bed. He needed all the rest he could get—for he sensed they were in for a tall evening.

AS soon as it was reasonably safe to make a move, Keen and O'Dare drew their Black Bullet amphibian out of the underground hangar and ran it into the clear between the sheltering foliage of the grape arbor.

The big 1,000 h.p. Avia motor was ticking over gently, muffled beautifully by the Skoda silencers. Barney clicked the switch that drew the camouflaged hangar doors back. To the casual eye, they now presented nothing more than a colorless, country estate rock garden.

Both men were dressed in black coveralls and wore black parachute equipment. In addition, each was heavily armed with a brace of automatics. The cockpits of the Black Bullet had been stuffed with full equipment necessary for the long flight ahead of them. Nothing had been left unchecked.

Barney swung the wings out and locked the king-pins. Then almost silently they rolled down the slipway toward the hard packed sands of the shore, dropped quietly into the water, and eased clear.

Keen took the controls, and with the big Avia purring gently, they headed well off shore before opening up and climbing into the star-flecked sky. With altitude gained, they swept off to the north like a wicked black projectile. Keen, peering at his compass course card, kept the ship on her line—for Miquelon.

They cleared the tip of Cape Cod and headed for Cape Sable on the southern end of Nova Scotia. They flew on for hours with Keen and Barney taking turns at the controls, but they gave as much attention to their radio receiver as they did to their throttle and compass. Hour after hour went on, with one intent on the compass card, the other on the radio.

"I don't know where we're going, Barney," Keen finally muttered, "but something tells me we can make an awful mess of this if things don't work out with half a break on our side."

"Half a break, half a break, half a break onward," paraphrased Barney. "Into the Fisherman's Inn, crashed Pulski and Ginsberg!"

"There'll be no Fisherman's Inn, warned Keen.

"Then it's gonner be an awful dry show!" moaned the Celt. "But say, we're dead over the Strait of Canso now. Cape Breton Island ahead."

"I thought so. And look down there! Over to the right!"

"Yep, another Junkers," snapped Barney. "What the devil!"

"Do you get the connection?" cracked Keen.

"Sure.... Canso.... the cable station."

"Right! He's going to try to smash it! growled Keen. "I knew there was something big about all this. Well, do your stuff, Barney! And make it fast! I want to make them talk, if possible."

Below them lay the small buildings of the Western Union cable station where the all- important trans-oceanic cables connecting the North American continent with Europe were anchored. It was evident that the sleek, silver Junkers was heading for the series of buildings that housed the valuable instruments, cable terminal connections, and other complicated apparatus of a trans-oceanic cable station.

They watched the Junkers curl around carefully and shoot for the wind to steady herself and to give her gunners and bomb-release men their steadiest platforms. Barney held his time until the absolute last second, then he whipped up, rolled over, and went down like a bat out of Hades. The Black Bullet raced at the silver Junkers with two gun flaming. Barney was "on" tonight. His first burst smashed into the starboard engine of the Junkers and battered the steel prop to stubby arms which swung aimlessly. His second slashed through the metal cabin with a wild whip-like lashing. The Junkers seemed to constrict under the lacing; it whipped up hard. A few black bombs now spurted down from her cabin racks. But they missed the station by many yards. Barney wheeling hard, swerved back fast, and poured a broadside into the bandit ship.

Behind, Keen sat listening intently to his radio set. He did not put his hand to a weapon, but held his fingers lightly on the wave-length lever of the Marconi outfit. As Barney ripped in a second broadside, Keen stiffened. His eyes stared at the cross-webbing of Barney's pack chute harness and his ears strained to get what was coming over the air.

The men in the Junkers had now thrown all caution to the winds. They had been cruelly betrayed, waylaid. Death faced them.

Keen then caught the words: must be the same machine that got Strauben.... a black monoplane that might be an amphibian. Tell Furst at Miquelon to get away fast and pick up the others over the Great Circle.... Gott!... we're in flames!... Good-bye, Schlecken...."

The words ended with a scream which in turn was drowned out by an ear-splitting explosion. Keen peered forward and saw the Junkers disintegrate amid a splatter of flame, sparks, smoke and twisted dural. The debris swept out across the sky in a crazy design, hung there for what seemed seconds, then fell away, a wild flame-embroidered curtain, that dipped tassels of death into the sea.

BARNEY whipped his machine out, cleared a shower of splintered wreckage, and wheeled clear. He turned and grinned at Keen.

"Well, they won't bother the Canso station any more, eh?" said the Mick. "How'm I doin'?"

"You did pretty good. You banged a message out of those guys that was worth all the cable stations on the East coast!"

Keen jotted down some notes, then moved up front and let Barney take a rest. They were not molested further and by the time the first faint tinge of dawn began to draw a dusty line across the eastern horizon, they had shut off the Avia and were gliding in toward Miquelon Island.

They swerved to the east once, circled, then cut back across the little nub of ground below. They studied it closely with their night glasses but could find very little that gave them any indication of the island's secret.

"We're wasting time," Keen growled. "Let's get down and see what we can do there. I'm getting fed up with working at 6,000 feet."

"Well, it's a little early for the Fisherman's Inn," argued Barney.

"Forget the Fisherman's Inn," snapped Keen. "Sit steady, I'm going down to that spit of land to the right."

"Which reminds me, I'm so dry I couldn't spit," Barney jogged.

"Bum joke! Sit tight and keep your eyes open."

Keen put the purring Black Bullet down on the water and eased it up to the sand. His chart was true and he found his wheels taking hold once the pontoons were clear of the water. He waited a moment or two, then eased the machine up across the hard packed sands and let Barney slip out and fold her wings back. In this way it was no trouble to run the black amphibian up well out of sight amid the heavy vine foliage that interlaced between the stubby, weather-beaten trees.

Carefully, they checked everything again, then made themselves comfortable at a light breakfast from their small hamper of food.

Keen lay back, pondered on their strange situation, and tried to figure its solution.

He was more certain than ever that Miquelon held the secret of the San Diego, but so far they had been unable to fathom any of it. If the San Diego was up here, how had they managed to bring it safely to earth? That meant, for one thing, a full and skilled ground crew, and since Miquelon was a French possession, it was not likely that anyone connected with the island would assist such a mad intrigue.

Then there was that Great Circle business.

All liners took the Great Circle route during the summer months and the new German passenger airship, Brandenburg, had been using it extensively. Someone aboard the Junkers bomber had advised a man named Schlecken to advise another man named Furst to get away from Miquelon and join the others over the Great Circle. That was it. He had said "over" the Great Circle, not "on" the Great Circle. They must have meant that "the others" were flying—and the only thing capable of flying the Atlantic with any degree of studied planning were the German dirigibles!

Keen racked his brain.

He knew the Brandenburg and the Ludendorff were missing—as far as the German officials were concerned. In addition, the American Navy dirigible, San Diego, was nowhere to be found. Now, if the San Diego were here at Miquelon, it was more than likely that the operator aboard that Junkers bomber referred to her when he said, "Tell Furst at Miquelon to get away fast and pick up the others over the Great Circle! There was no question but that all three intended to rendezvous somewhere off the east coast, and....

"And what?" Keen asked himself, pausing.

Why would three dirigibles converge on one point, surreptitiously? Certainly they were not coming for a routine commercial trip. All the evidence pointed to something menacing. Why had that Junkers attempted to destroy the cable station? Only to prevent messages from going across the ocean. Of course, radio could be employed if a real emergency arose, but who could tell how far they had gone along that line? There would be a delay if the cable stations were put out of operation. Only a short one. But in a case of this kind, things would no doubt happen fast, and a short delay was probably all they desired.

"I think the Brandenburg and the Ludendorff are up to no good," Keen said aloud. "I think they plan to meet the San Diego somewhere out at sea late today, so that they'll reach New York City late tonight. What's your opinion, Barney?"

But there was no Barney anywhere near.

Keen sat up, caught the outline of the Irishman's footsteps in the sand. He had slipped away while Keen lay back with his eyes closed.

Keen kicked sand over the smouldering fire, slipped out of his coveralls, and smiled grimly.

"I guess he was really sincere about the Fisherman's Inn!"

DAWN was just breaking when Kerry Keen wandered in past the stringy lines of drying nets near the island village. There were several small fishing boats drawn up clear of the tide and somewhere off in the distance a moaning buoy wailed as it swung from its chain.

Keen now remembered the quaint little community. Both he and Barney had once cruised in these waters. Off to his left, standing on stilt-like piles, a line of weather-beaten cottages and shacks rested wearily against each other. A dog barked. Keen tramped past lobster traps, decayed boats, and swirls of crusted seaweed, then finally spotted a dull gleam of a light ahead.

He smiled. He realized that Barney had aroused the inn-keeper with his demands for liquid sustenance. He hadn't realized how near to the old village they had landed.

The Fisherman's Inn was a frowning, low- eaved affair built on an elevated mound of earth and rock. One portion of the structure was given over to the alleged comforts of a tavern. The remainder, dotted with small windows, was apparently divided up into small lodging rooms.

Keen made his way along a boarded walk that led up to the heavy timbered doorway. He went in and found Barney in jovial conversation with the bar keeper. The man had evidently been rudely aroused from his bed.

His face was still creased with sleep, but he was accommodating in spite of the hour. Barney swung around when Keen walked in, and holding up a dingy goblet that glinted with a liquor of some description.

"Just in time for a cup, boss," Barney brayed.

"You half-wit, slipping off like that!" Keen frowned. "Give me a milk punch, landlord," he added with a sly grin.

"You gentlemen stopped here some years ago, I remember," the former sea-dog opened, once he caught the drift of the conversation.

"Once," said Keen, not any too anxious to completely identify himself. "We have a schooner on the other side of the island, and we have been tramping across as a change from the vessel." Then he added under his breath to Barney: "I hope that jibes with anything you said, you mutt!"

"All I did was holler for him to open up," Barney replied while the man measured out a jigger of St. Pierre rum.

"Good! Now I'll do the talking. Why didn't you tell me you were heading this way?"

"You looked too quiet and peaceful, laying back there thinking," Barney muttered under his breath.

"Many visitors on the island this year, Pierre?" Keen asked.

"A few. But we do not see many things of interest—except the airships."

Both Barney and Keen tensed.

"Airships? What airships?" Keen asked, trying to be casual.

"The German airships. They are flying across every week now," added the French innkeeper putting Keen's punch before him.

"Oh, those airships. You mean they fly near and you see them inbound and outbound?"

"They pass very close to Miquelon when they take the northern route. We see them often."

"Of course. When did you see them last?"

"One went directly over two nights ago," Pierre said with unconcern, as he poured himself a noggin of rum.

"Two nights ago?" Keen questioned suddenly. "You must have made a mistake. Was it a German airship?"

"Ah, yes. A German airship. You think I do not know the German.... what you call emblem.... swastika. It was very plain on the stern.... on the rudders."

BOTH Keen and Barney went back to their drinks, but they exchanged glances in the dirty mirror over the bar. They both were certain that neither of the German airships could have been over Miquelon at that time—and yet this unimaginative French innkeeper had said he had seen the markings on the rudder.

"You're sure it was not the American dirigible, the Naval airship San Diego?" Keen asked after a minute.

"Would the San Diego, what you say have the German swastika on it? If not, it was not the San Diego, my friend. I saw it with my own eyes. It was a German emblem."

Pierre spat defiantly. He was a true Frenchman.

"Well that about snubs it," said Keen to Barney out of the side of his mouth. "If what he says is true, we're both nuts."

"Wuz that airship going back, or coming in, Pierre?" Barney asked to switch the conversation.

"I do not know. He was not going, and he was not coming—he was standing still, up above. Then he went off toward the west. I went to bed. It was late to be up, anyway. Besides, have I not seen it already many times?"

Again Barney and Keen exchanged glances.

"Suppose, for instance," Keen broke in, "that one of those airships got into trouble. Suppose it made a landing on Miquelon, Pierre. What would happen?"

"I do not know, my friend. Pierre, you remember, is French—and the airship is Boche. People of Miquelon are French, and the airship is Boche. I have no love for the Boche. My three sons were fishermen here until 1914. They are dead now... the Boche..."

"I'm very sorry, Pierre. I was just trying to figure something out. Do you think there is any place on Miquelon where an airship could be landed successfully and hidden away for a few days?"

"You think the airship I saw the other night is on Miquelon?" Pierre hissed, gripping his glass until his great hand threatened to crush it. "What for on Miquelon?"

"Do you think they could?" persisted Keen.

"On Miquelon? We are but a few miles wide, five at the most and less than twenty miles long. Very little vegetation and .... well, there are many rocky places off Platte Point a couple of miles north of here. They might.... I would not know how big is this airship you talk of. Some say as big as the Normandie, but of course I laugh at that.

"Well, not quite that big but almost," said Keen reflectively. "You have not seen any strange characters about have you? I mean men who might have arrived here recently?"

"Only you.... and the Coast Guardsmen who put in here regularly.... from the ice patrol, you know."

"Oh, U. S. Coastguardsmen?" asked Barney.

"Well, they wear U. S. Navy uniforms. They don't come in here much. Their officers are pretty strict with them, and they're still on duty in these waters, you know."

"How many of these Coastguardsmen have you seen in the past—let's say, the past week?"

"I saw about a dozen or so yesterday. They were on the road.... Mon Dieu. They were on the road that leads from the Devil's Drydock...."

"The Devil's Drydock? What's that?"

"It is a rocky depression about four miles north of here. It is all whitish granite. It looks like a dockyard.... or more like a dry-dock. It has been there for ages, I suppose. Once, the French and the English fought in there —in 1803, I believe. Inside it is very level and very hot in the summer because no wind or breeze gets in."

"That sounds like it," muttered Barney.

"You are a good Frenchman, eh, Pierre?" Keen said with a smile.

"I'm a good Frenchman, sir. A very good Frenchman!"

"Then if you still are none too friendly with the Boche, as you call him, you will forget you ever saw us. You never spoke to anyone about the Devil's Drydock, and you'll mix up another round, eh?"

"Bien," beamed the French innkeeper. "It shall be so." and he swished his tassled cap, collected the glasses, and started to mix another round.

In payment, Keen rewarded the innkeeper with sufficient to purchase several demijohns of St. Pierre rum. Several? .... Well, he handed him a crisp one hundred dollar bill.

"Thank you, sir," Pierre said again, bowing profusely.

"Thank you, Pierre," Keen said.

But before either Keen or Barney could raise their refilled glasses, the door crashed open and a man staggered inside.

"Mon Dieu!" gasped Pierre.

Barney gulped.

But Keen leaped forward and caught the newcomer just as he sank to his knees.

THE man was in an undershirt and a pair of dirty pants. His bare feet were dirty and bleeding. His wrists were raw as though they had been cruelly bound with harsh thongs. It was evident he had escaped from somewhere.

Keen dragged him across the floor, laid him carefully on a table. Barney rammed Keen's milk punch at his lips, made him drink. The man stirred.

"What happened?" Keen asked. "Where did you come from?"

Then he caught the stenciled name and number on the man's waistband. They were U. S. Navy pants!

"I.... I got away!" the man husked. "Got away."

"Where from?"

"Up.... up there in the rocks."

"Are you a coastguardsman?"

"No.... Naval Aviation.... I was on board the San Diego. They got her up there in the hills. A crazy mob with a guy named—"

"A man named Furst?" broke in Keen.

"How.... how did you know?" demanded the man, trying to get up on his elbow. "How the hell.... Sorry, I guess, you must be an American, eh?"

"We're both Americans," soothed Keen. "Tell us about it—fast. You say they've got the San Diego hidden away up there?"

"Yeh. Furst, you know, was a technical expert on Maybachs.... the engines. We were at the mast on a night mooring detail with only a skeleton crew aboard. Then suddenly we were overrun with guys who came up out of nowhere and were all tied up along the catwalk. They threatened to throw us over board if we tried anything funny. Then they took off and brought us up here."

"But she had German markings when she arrived up here. Pierre saw her and thought she was a German Zep."

"Yeh. Don't ask me how they did it, but they did. This guy Furst knows his Zeps! They landed her on the water— landed her so she just floated— and they put guys over on special steeple-jack rigs, lowered them from the upper girders, and they painted out the Navy markings and pasted German markings over them. That's all I know."

"That's plenty! Now where's the rest of the Navy men?"

"Tied up in a cave off on one side of that big place up there."

"But how did you get out?"

"I cleared my hands somehow. Then I went down a long part of the cave, found a stream, and followed it. I found that it came out on the other side of the hill. I had to swim out and it was pretty low in spots."

"Say, you certainly took a chance!" gagged Barney.

"You mean you came out of a subterranean stream—through the rock?" asked Keen.

"Yeh. I swam out.... nearly a quarter of a mile, I guess. But I got out. Boy, I'm bushed!"

"Where is this stream? I mean where does it come out?" Keen continued.

"Where? Well, it's up the road that runs down to here about four or five miles. It comes out of an almost square opening, runs across a scrubby field to the road, and then it runs under a culvert, I think. You can't miss it. There's three scraggy pine trees on one side standing together all alone to mark the place."

"Swell! If you got out, we should be able to get back in."

"Sure—if you don't like life. You see, there are sentries in there. They ain't taking any chances. The rest of the mob will be asleep because they're clearing out tonight and they'll need rest."

"We'll take care of the sentries. But do you know where they're going?"

"No, not for sure. But they loaded the San Diego with bombs, and I ain't never seen bombs in them racks before."

"Do you know that the Brandenburg and the Ludendorff are missing from their German hangars?"

"Good Lord, no!"

"Well they are and the San Diego is supposed to meet them somewhere over the Great Circle— probably tonight," explained Keen.

"Cripes! Then they.... all three of 'em are going to bomb something, eh?"

"That's what we figure. Hear anything up there that would give us an idea?"

THE man lay back, weary and worn. He closed his eyes and tried to think, but his body writhed in pain. Barney and Pierre were busy getting him warm milk and wrapping him up in warm blankets. Keen still pursued his topic.

"Look here," he jerked, rousing the Navy man again. "You've got to think. It's terribly important. They may be heading for New York."

"That's it.... That's it!" the Navy man suddenly gulped out. "I remember now. They said they wanted to be sure that the Mitchel Field squadrons were taken care of before they started."

"They realized that those outfits were the only tough ones anywhere near New York that might be able to intercept them. Yes, they are heading for New York!"

"So what? Can we wire through to stop them?"

"We can, but can they stop them?" asked Keen. "You're an airship man. You should know."

"I don't think they could stop the San Diego if we got a break in the weather. And there's no pursuit outfits at Mitchel now. They're all heavy bombers and observation crates."

"But, suppose we sent the San Diego out to meet these two German ships and they received her still believing she was with them? Couldn't the gunners aboard the San Diego stop them by surprise methods?"

"I'd like the chance—but how are you gonner do it? Say, who are you two guys, anyway?"

"A fair question. We're Pulski and Ginsberg," smiled Keen. "Just a couple of globe-trotters trying to get along."

"Pulski and Ginsberg?" frowned the Navy man. "You don't look like guys with names like that."

"Ask Pierre here. He has known us for years." Pierre folded his hands across his belly and nodded.

"Okay. Now what's your idea?" the Navy man said faintly.

"How many Navy men are tied up over there?" asked Keen.

"Twenty-four—twenty-three with me out."

"Can they handle that ship and fly her out to contact the two German airships?"

"Sure. That's one watch. They'll have to stay awake longer, that's all. But they can fly her."

"Swell! Then if Pulski and I get in there and release them so that they can overcome the German mob they can get her out of there and make the contact?"

"Sure. There's some swell guys up there. Smart guys, too."

"All right. You're sure the German mob will be asleep?"

"Yes—except the sentries. I heard them say that. But where do I come in?"

"You're resting here until tonight. Then you can go back and join the Navy men. I'll see that they wait for you. Here take another swig of this rum and milk and then cork off for a few hours."

"You won't let me down, will you....?"

"The name's Ginsberg," Keen replied, "and neither I nor Pulski will let you down, so get in a good nap."

Then Keen and Barney slipped away, after giving Pierre orders to take care of the Navy man whose name they had not even bothered to learn.

"I hope you can swim," said Keen with a grin, as they hurried along.

"I hope you can shoot!"

"We'll have to, I'm afraid."

Together they cut through the furze and scraggy trees and made their way to the side of their black amphibian. There they changed back into their black coveralls and masks and buckled on their guns. They took extra knives, flashlights, and short sections of stout cord.

They agreed on certain signals, then started through the rest of the furze checking their time and direction. They came to the straggling gash that went for a road on Miquelon and using extreme care they kept under cover until they reached the three pine trees described by the Navy man.

Finally they found the square opening in the rock out of which streamed the snaky black river— and splashed in.

KEEN led the way with his flashlight focussed down to a mere pencil of light. From the start they checked their steps as they plunged through the swirling waters in order to get some idea of the distance they covered.

"Strike me blue, but it's cold," Barney growled.

"Good thing you were 'fortified' back there at Pierre's, eh?"

"An' you were against me goin' weren't you?"

"I didn't like the idea at all. I expected we'd run into some of this airship mob. I wonder what they do up here."

"Sleep and eat, I suppose."

"I hope they're sleeping now."

Barney slipped over a greasy stone and the conversation ceased as they picked their way carefully through the water. It became deeper as they trudged off the yards, and finally it was far easier to swim than to risk the treacherous footing. It was colder as they advanced, and they had to cling to the dank walls now and then to get their breath and prepare for the next splashing rush.

"We ought to be gettin' there soon," Barney protested, shoving his mask high on his head. "I thought we were supposed to be bold, intrepid knights of the sky. Here we are scrambling through puddles like a couple of otters."

"This is nothing. You wait until tonight. You'll get all the bold, bad knight of the sky stuff you want," growled Keen. "Come on!"

They plunged on again. Soon they sensed that the stream was becoming shallow once more. In a few yards they were able to stagger on with the water up to their knees. Suddenly Barney let out a warning. Keen stopped and felt for his gun.

He could see Barney standing with his hands on a shelf of rock that lipped out over the stream. He raised himself gently, looked about with his small flash.

"This is it," he whispered. "Look, there's the footprint of that Navy guy. He had no shoes on, remember."

"Right! Go ahead."

They crawled along carefully, then doused their lights; for ahead of them they caught the low glow of diffused daylight. They let the water run out of their clothing, checked their equipment again, then drew their close-fitting waterproof masks down.

"I do all the talking, remember," Keen snapped.

"An I do all the fightin', I suppose," Barney muttered. "Okay Ginsberg."

They crept on and finally caught the dim outline of a blackish cave. The ceiling was high. It gleamed with wet inverted spires of stone. They halted and allowed their eyes to become accustomed to the change in light. Then they saw what they had come for!

"There's the Zep—out there through that gash in the doorway."

"See that sentry there?" Keen whispered. "He's all yours. Get it?"

"I knew all the fightin' was for me."

"Get him cold and without a sound when I give you the signal."

"Okay! let's go."

They crept along and saw the men of the emprisoned skeleton crew sitting and lying about in small groups. Keen dropped to his stomach and began crawling. Barney was near him as they approached the first group.

Keen threw a light pebble first and got a growl from one of the prisoners. That is, he started to growl, but caught himself just in time. He saw Keen's hand held up and he nudged the rest around him.

They eased in on their stomachs and called: "Keep quiet. Are you bound?"

"Sure.... our hands. Who the hell...?"

Keen slithered around and cut the first man's bonds. Then he rammed a gun in his back and snapped: "Now get this, sailor. We're helping you get out, but no questions and no monkey business. We're giving the orders and we don't want our names in the papers. Get it?"

"Sure. Cut these guys loose. We'll show you."

"Okay. But wait until Pulski—my companion's name—gets that sentry."

"I get it. They just changed the guard, so we get a break, eh?"

"Here take this knife. Cut the rest of these guys loose, but tell each one to obey me. Where's your officers?"

"Look! Over there. Each one is tied up to a post so that they can't talk to anyone."

"Right. I'll get them out," said Keen.

THERE was a short scuffle near the opening of the cave. They saw Barney ram a gun into the sentry's stomach with his right hand and then almost take his head off with a short curling left hook. Barney then caught the man carefully and grabbed his rifle before it fell.

A barefoot sailor rushed up, took the rifle, ammunition belt, and the man's hat and took over his post as though nothing had happened. Barney tied the man up, gagged him securely, and gave his Colt to a young Petty Officer.

In ten minutes they had completely consolidated their position. Three men of the pirate group who came in had been quickly overcome. Keen, still wearing his mask, held a hurried council of war with the four officers.

"All right," he said. "You guys play the game, and we'll give you a chance to get back."

They all nodded and fondled the guns in their palms.

"My name is Ginsberg and my mate here is Pulski. We ran into your man down in the village and got the drift of what is going on. Now you know what these guys are up to, and you've got to play this game right or New York will be in ruins by early morning."

The four nodded.

"Now you say the rest of these swine are sleeping. We probably have nailed most of the guards. What we have to do now is to overcome the rest—either tie them up here or take them aboard the San Diego as hostages."

"We're taking them along. They can take the same chances as us, the rats!" a young Lieutenant snapped.

"Okay! After that you must find out the call letters and code they were using, and contact the Brandenburg and the Ludendorff."

"I got that. I saw the book they were using. I'll contact 'em, all right!"

"Fine. Who's gunnery officer here?"

"I am," said one. "And believe me you'll see a fight. The first time in the history of the world that dirigibles engage in aerial combat! We'll give those guys the surprise of their lives."

"Fine. Now for the raid on the rest of them. Where are they?"

"A few are quartered aboard. The rest are in tents. Most of them are asleep."

"All right. Organize the men into two groups. Distribute the guns available, and clean up the job."

"Wait a minute," a heavy man broke in. "We do all this, contact these other ships, destroy them, return to Lakehurst, and get all the plums—if we get away with it. But where do you come in?"

"We don't—that is, we just fade out of the picture; and if anyone asks you about all this, just say that a couple of guys named Pulski and Ginsberg helped you out."

"That doesn't make sense," spoke another.

"Your job is to regain control of your vessel, isn't it?" Keen argued. "After that, you are supposed to defend your country. A couple of guys like us don't count in a thing as big as this. Of course, you may need a little help later on, taking on two Zeppelins. Perhaps we can do something. But don't worry about us, we're just a couple of guys having a good time. The rum and milk at Pierre's is very good, you know, and we'll always be able to hear about what happened later."

"Why don't you come along with us. We could use you," the heavy man said. "We'll see that your identity is kept secret."

"Nothing doing. We don't like flying; we get airsick," Keen replied, his eyes shining through the slits of his mask. "You carry on, and we'll see that you get home Okay. And one more thing. We could use some petrol.... er, gasoline. We're a little low and if you could leave us a hundred gallons or so, we'd be glad to drop by later on and pick it up."

"Where you anchored?" "Oh, off shore a mile or so down the beach."

"You'll get all you want. We'll leave it in here. How's that?"

"Fine. Now get going!"

THE clean-up of the mob in the Devil's Drydock was something that will go down in Naval history. It was a combination Donnybrook, bar-brawl, and boarding action all rolled into one.

Even Barney took time out once to stand off and watch those Navy men "work." They were upon their victims before the mob could figure out what had exploded in their faces. The enemy crew went down like ninepins under the battering of husky Navy fists. One or two tried to shoot it out but were nailed cold. The Navy men climbed into the San Diego before the outlaws aboard could make a move to cast off.

The big dirigible had been landed with the aid of a special crew manning two light winches and she was now held down by cables that were anchored to heavy rocks. The Navy guys went up those cables like monkeys and nailed sleeping engineers, radio men, and mere guards from every available point on the ship. It took less than ten minutes to complete the job and take over full control.

The bandit crew, dressed in motley garments composed of U. S. Navy stuff, mercantile marine dress, and common overalls, were soon lined up. They were marched aboard as prisoners and carefully "ironed-up" along the main girder.

Alert guards took charge of them.

"Now remember," Keen warned. "You can't advise your base that you are Okay. You've got to play your part now and tag those two Zeps. If you try to advise Lakehurst that you are on your way back, those babies out there somewhere over the Atlantic may intercept the message and sheer off. And you can't take chances like that."

"I get it," the young Lieutenant-Commander in charge said. "What time should we push off from here?"

"That will all depend on what time you are due to contact the others."

"Well, let's see what Gregory says. He's down in the radio compartment. Perhaps he's figured it out by now."

They hurried along the catwalk, then descended the gleaming companionway to the control car. There they came upon the control crew gloating over a small chart.

"Perfect! The whole thing's lined up swell for us! Look, they're to meet over this point here. They must have made this map up this morning."

Keen studied it carefully, then frowned.

"That's bad," he said. "They are to rendezvous twenty-five miles due east of Montauk Light on the dot of midnight. It's too close to New York to be safe."

"You're right," the commander said. "That's too close to be funny. It means we have to contact them, and then in the space of time it takes to cover about fifty miles, we have to stop those two Zeps. Not so good, if we get pinged and slowed up."

"And not only that," Keen reminded. "That point is about 900 miles from here. What can you do with this craft with the load you have?"

"About seventy. That's an average, of course. She'll do more, but we can't keep it up for any length of time."

"Seventy! Then you'll be all of thirteen hours making that point. Say! You'd better be moving; it's almost noon now."

"Get everyone aboard. You won't come then?"

"Not us," said Keen. "But we'll be seeing you one of these days—at Lakehurst. And say," he said to change the subject, "can you arrange to pick up that guy at the village?"

"Sure thing! We'll drop him a loop and pull him aboard. You take these axes and cut us clear. Understand."

"I get it. Now get going!"

The weighing-off call was sounded and the air gobs scampered to their posts. Keen and Barney, ducking the drenching ballast spume, ran along the floor of the Devil's Drydock and chopped away at the heavy manila guys.

One by one they were severed with a twang, and the big ship lurched to free herself. Then finally they slashed the last and the big silver bag bearing the fake insignia arose clear of the natural bowl and steadied herself as the propellers bit in and guided her clear into the wind.

"So long, and the best of luck," Keen yelled up to the men in the control car.

"So long, Ginsberg! So long, Pulski! And thanks for the assistance!"

And with that the San Diego cleared the granite walls that had sheltered her and headed slowly for the little fishing village less than four miles away. Barney and Keen watched her with no little regret. They knew down in their hearts that the San Diego stood little chance of stopping one, let alone two German dirigibles.

"Well, what now?" said Barney.

"You know what now, you faker," Keen grinned. "We have to hump it back, get the Bullet out of her nest, put her in here, and load up with gasoline. By the way, there's really some here?"

"Sure. It's good stuff, too. They must have used it for the Junkers ships. It's over in this cave."

"Great! Let's get going back."

"Yeh. Back to the Fisherman's Inn first. I want to make sure they took that guy off," Barney said with rare seriousness.

"Don't worry, Pulski," said Keen, seeing through the gag. "There's plenty of that stuff left and we don't have to get out of here until about seven o'clock. We'll catch up with them somewhere off Cape Cod."

BUT while they were not due to leave until 7 o'clock that night both Keen and Barney knew they had plenty of work ahead of them before they could get off. For one thing, there were several bodies to be buried and a general inspection of the Devil's Drydock before they could get away. They checked everything; and Keen scribbled a few notes to add to his report, which he hoped to slip into John Scott's safe with little or no trouble—just to keep the record clean.

Then they had to get back to the Black Bullet via the overland route this time. They divested themselves of their still-wet coveralls and masks, climbed the steep rock wall, then slowly made their way down the hills, basking in the sunshine which completed the general drying-out process.

Back at the beach they went over the amphibian, checked her carefully, then took off. Keen handled her. He swung out to sea for a distance, then returned by another route, and finally dropped down to a landing inside the great natural bowl.

They ran her into one of the open caves and went to work refuelling. They took on plenty of gas—for they realized they faced another long flight, a flight that had to be made and completed.

Keen checked the guns, then found a few light fragmentation bombs that could be fitted to his own machine. They finally stowed their tools away, then made themselves comfortable in the sunshine.

By late afternoon, both were rested and refreshed, and then Barney volunteered to walk back to the village and get some grub—and beverages. Keen smiled, but allowed him to go. Barney returned shortly after 6 o'clock loaded down.

"What happened to the Navy man?" demanded Keen.

"Nothing much, I guess. They just floated out over the place and dropped a rope ladder attached to a cable. Pierre got the guy up on his feet, stuck his legs through the rungs, and they hauled away."

"Simple, eh?"

"You can't beat the Navy," grinned Barney, opening up his parcel.

"You can't beat Pierre, either. What did he say?"

"Say? Nothing. Acted as though he had never seen me before. You sure greased that baby into silence. Why, the bum even made me pay for this."

"Good old Pierre! Who told you about the dirigible picking that guy up?"

"Oh, Pierre sang that—to the tune of Madelon!"

Keen laughed and dug into the grub.

They made sure everything was trim before they climbed in and started the Avia. Keen was particular about their parachutes and kapok jackets.

"Never mind the guns and belts this time. We may have to take to the silk before the night's over, and I want to be sure we can float—if we have to."

"Oh, it's gonner be one of those nights, eh? There are times when I think we ought to use a submarine. I'm getting web-footed now."

But Barney made certain his 'chute was Okay and he, too, laced on a kapok jacket—just in case.

They climbed in and warmed the Avia carefully. Then Keen ran her well down the depression. He wheeled her carefully around and pointed her projectile-like nose down the clearing between the two walls of rock. He cut out the mufflers to kill the back-pressure and to get every ounce of power available. Then he gave her the gun.

The Black Bullet shot down the clearing like a mad thing. Keen let her get her tail up, but he held her wheels down until the last possible second. Then with a quick easy movement he hoiked her up with a roar, curled around in a climbing turn, and swept clear of a menacing pinnacle of rock.

They eased off and slammed out to sea. Keen held her steady and finally allowed her to climb gently. Then Keen swept the mufflers back in while he eased her up to the 11,000 foot level and headed for Cape Breton Island.

They settled back for the five hour flight, pondering on what lay ahead. Darkness settled gradually and the Bullet raced south with easy swiftness.

Cape Breton came and disappeared behind them. Then Nova Scotia threw up her lights and they headed for Yarmouth, listening in turn for any unusual radio signal. But tonight the ether was strangely silent and they knew the skulking raiders were taking no more chances.

KEEN wondered what the captured mob would say when they were taken to Lakehurst. Would Furst tell his story straight? Would they explain that they were bribed into the mad campaign by a crazed scientist who believed he had been unfairly treated? Would they tell of Staark's part in the plot? Would they uncover the tie-up between Staark and Heinrich von Braun?

There was nothing to do but wait and see what the night would bring forth, so Keen went back to his dials and instruments.

At last they were racing down the coastline with the lights of Boston under their starboard wing-tip. Below them coursed coastal trade vessels, gay excursion boats, and jaunty cruise ships bearing happy people who knew nothing of the grim menace that was hurtling through the skies toward New York City.

Keen took another glance at his map, checked his time, and peered about with his night glasses. Then suddenly he caught the outline of the San Diego cruising toward that rendezvous point twenty-five miles off Montauk. In the distance he could see the sweeping arm of light from the Long Island beam. He turned and took over from Barney.

"Okay, Mick! You'll see some fun soon. Get the hardware loosened up."

Barney slipped back with enthusiasm, broke out the high-speed Brownings, and loaded them carefully. Keen drew a lever up which elevated the hidden 37 mm. cannon from its trough in the side of the port pontoon.

Keen held his height and watched the San Diego cruising about for position. Then, Barney caught the bark of guttural German voices over the radio set and slapped Keen's shoulder.

"Something slipped!" he barked. "Don't know what they're saying, but they're damned mad about something."

Keen plugged in his phone jack, listened. He caught the tail end of a German order.

"Quick!" he yelled. "They're switching something on the San Diego. We've got to get them."

But before he could dive and send the Black Bullet after the Navy Zep, Barney was engaged in a mad set-to with a Junkers fighter. They swept through a curtain of streaked fire and lead, while the Mick answered the charge with two tubes of Browning blast. Ahead, Keen could see flashes spurting from the upper gun turret of the San Diego.

The Battle of the Behemoths was on!

KEEN could not see what the gunners aboard the San Diego were firing at, but he had an idea the enemy airships had been sighted. Barney continued to hammer away at the wild diving Junkers that had attacked them. Lead spattered all about them.

Then Keen saw another broad-winged Junkers slam out of nowhere and dive for the San Diego. This was an angle they had not expected.

He rammed his throttle forward, raced at the silver bomber plane. His guns rattled as he pressed every trigger on his stick. Behind, Barney was finishing off the first Junkers with a long, terrible burst of lead. The ill-fated ship swished off sideways, threw a section of its tail away, then rolled over on its back and nosed down in flames.

Keen spat a short burst at the Junker bomber and made it turn away from the Navy dirigible. That gave Barney a shot at an acute angle and the Mick spat a load at the bomber's tail. She swung just as the other had and rolled away. Keen then slammed across the top of the San Diego and finished it off with a short barking burst from the 37 mm. gun. The shells bit out a motor, and they saw the plane spin out, flicker in the gleam of the starry night, then plummet down toward the sea with a flame streamer fluttering behind.

Then Keen sighted the Brandenburg. It was painted dead black and carried no insignia. But she did carry guns— several mounted in movable turrets along the upper girders. These guns barked and the Bullet jerked under the concussion. Light shells slammed shrapnel toward them. And now Barney was pecking away at another Junkers that was nosing down at the San Diego. Where were they all coming from?

Keen swore and rushed at the Brandenburg with his cannon firing. He swept up and over, allowing Barney to duel it with the gunners mounted on top. Keen now snatched at the bomb toggles and felt the ship jerk as two fell. There was a dull plop, a strange ripping sound! Then below they saw a horrible trickle of flame run like a golden serpent along a girder of the Brandenburg.

Barney shouted and belted away at the gunners again. The Black Bullet staggered under a burst that went through the port wing and almost ripped the aileron out. Keen drew clear quickly, nosed up, poured a long burst at the Junkers, and made it clear the San Diego.

Then from below came a great boom. The Brandenburg seemed to belch in the middle and show a series of jagged steel ribs. Then the Bullet, caught on the boom of concussion, was lifted hard and flipped over on her back. Barney slipped the sleek ship clear but he hit the cowling with a crash and rolled across Keen's shoulders.

They came out finally and saw the flaming ruins of the Brandenburg tumbling into the sea below. A few men had taken to parachutes—white carnations which blossomed amid the streaks of burning debris.

The San Diego swerved left and nosed out of the smoke, her gunners still holding the Junkers off. Keen trimmed his ship, yelled at Barney, slammed at the monoplane, pressing his triggers as he came. The silver bomber folded up and exploded above the San Diego and Keen shut his eyes. When he opened them a second or so later, the smashed Junkers was just slipping past the Navy dirigible with only inches to spare.

The Navy gunners pounded it into her all the way down, then turned back to watch the Brandenburg hit 6,000 feet below.

"But where's the Ludendorff?" Keen yelled.

"Haven't seen her," Barney replied. "They must have cleared and headed west to do the New York job alone!"

"Lord!" gasped Keen. "That's right. They must have found out somehow that the San Diego was not in their hands after all. They must have figured something was wrong. But we've got to beat the Ludendorff to it."

And so they hurried to the Long Island coast over the flashing light blade of Montauk. They gave the Avia all she had. But it seemed hopeless; for the Bullet was slowed from the wicked battering it had taken from the Brandenburg gunners. The left aileron was flapping badly.

"Wait!" screamed Barney. "There she is."

GLANCING down the Mick's finger, Keen saw a dull, silver something creeping along about a mile or so off the Long Island shore line. He whipped over sharply—only to complete the write- off of the left aileron. It whistled away, making the Bullet jerk madly.

They saw the Ludendorff skulking onward, trying to sneak over New York to deliver her terrible blow. Keen nosed down, pressed his triggers—but nothing happened!

They now came up over the big dirigible and tried to plant the last two bombs on her broad back, but the Bullet jerked so badly due to the lost aileron, that the bombs widely missed their marks.

Barney tried a long burst as they flat-turned over the Ludendorff, but the gunners on top easily routed him. They pasted the Black Bullet with plenty and one of Barney's guns went out with a scream of wrenched steel.

Keen drew clear, hoiked up, and climbed.

"What's the idea, now?" bellowed Barney.

"Good we brought those 'chutes and kapok jackets. We're going for a swim."

Barney sat back, tried to figure it all out. Keen grinned over his shoulder and climbed still higher over the silver Ludendorff.

"Get ready, Barney," he yelled. "We're going clean through her!"


"Get set for action. When I ram you with my knee, pull the wing-spar releases down there!"

"Holy blitherin' Mother o' Mackerel!" gasped Barney. "What the hell next? How you gonner get the wings folded back again."

"We're not. We're going to say goodbye to the old boiler, Barney."

"An' I'm supposed to be the booze hound," moaned Barney. "You're crazy!"

"Sure! But it's more fun than being sane.... now."

"Let's go, then," replied Barney with resignation.

He crawled down, lay on his side", and grabbed the bright steel wing-spar release handles which held the airfoil in position when it was folded out.

The Black Bullet poised over the Ludendorff for several seconds, then nosed down slowly. As Keen aimed her dead at the big dirigible, they met a storm of shrapnel and tracer. But he held her in the dive nevertheless, using rudder and elevators until the last moment.

Then he jabbed Barney with his knee!

Barney twisted, tugged the pins clear. There was a loud crack as the wings folded back.

Keen held his position for the last few feet, then ducked.

Amid a thunderous cacophony of ripping fabric and dural, the Black Bullet went into the Ludendorff like a monster vaned projectile! She crashed through like a bomb. There was blackness for a second, a screech of broken metal—then a puff of flame.

Keen drew back on the stick, but she came out clean and continued her dive toward the water. He shoved the cowling clear, yanked Barney up, and rammed him over the side. He pulled a folding life raft clear as he went out himself, then yanked the ring. Above them, the hopeless Ludendorff rolled helplessly. Her nose was tilted badly and smoke was pouring out of the great hole made by the Black Bullet.

Keen looked about for Barney's parachute and eased his risers to drop as close to his as possible.

They both hit near a stake buoy not three hundred yards off the Long Island shore. It required but a minute for Keen to inflate the folding rubber raft, climb aboard, and paddle over to where Barney was floating happily in his kapok jacket watching the great Ludendorff stagger off toward the open sea.

They both watched it for several minutes, their hands clasped. Then they heard an ominous crunch. The Ludendorff folded in the middle, heaved two sections away, and burst into flame. The shapeless tangle of dural hit the water three miles away and sent up a visible plume of steam as the red hot girders sank into the sea.

"Home James!" muttered Barney.

"I'll paddle part of the way, but you've got to do your share," growled Keen.

"Where are we?"

"Believe it or not, we're not three-hundred yards from home!"

"Gimme that paddle!" gloated Barney.

AT noon next day, John Scott and Drury Lang sat in their paper-strewn office, trying to make either head or tail of things. Nothing seemed to fit. Lang had chewed more than half way down a black stogie, and Scott was perspiring like a miner.

"But I tell you, I called Keen's apartment early this morning, and he said he had been there all night," Lang argued. "He said he had not answered the phone because he figured it was only the news hawks. He said he wanted some sleep."

"But where has he been for the last twenty- four hours?" John Scott demanded.

"He says he was on a short cruise with that guy, Barney, of his. You can't argue with them. One will lie and the other will swear to it."

"But didn't he see the papers and hear that he was supposed to have been murdered in his own studio?"

"He says no. He says he was on his boat out on the Sound and didn't see any papers. He says he has no radio."

"Okay! then if he was there all night like he says, he couldn't have broken in here sometime after midnight and left this stuff in my safe, eh?"

"What? Did he.... did some one leave something?"

"Everything. Here's the whole idea all typed out with the names and everything—and it's signed by the Griffon again."

"What's it say?"

"Plenty. For one thing it explains how the San Diego was captured and how the whole plot was the idea of this guy Heinrich von Braun who worked in cahoots with Staark. It was a plot backed by von Braun. But he must have been insane. He wanted revenge because he blamed the United States for letting him out of this new dirigible airlines company. He 'used' all the smart dirigible men he could find in this country to do it."

"What else does it say?"

"Well, it seems that von Braun first faked a suicide in Germany, and then when that died down he planned these hangars in the Black Forest where the Brandenburg and the Ludendorff were first taken and refitted for bombing. They also had a pirate crew ready to take over, once the regular crew was overcome by the thugs. The passengers and loyal crew members were imprisoned in the Black Forest hangars and were to be kept there for about two weeks, then gradually released."

"What about those Junkers ships we found strewn all over the place?" asked Lang.

"They were part of the high-speed section of the plot. Most of them were being catapulted off a mother ship anchored off Cape Sable. Those that did land worked either from this Miquelon place or from a jerkwater private drome back of Hartford. Oh, they had it all planned out swell."

"But I don't see what they could get out of bombing New York," Lang argued.

"No one has been able to figure out why they fought the World War either—but they managed to kill a lot of people. No telling what they might have done, if it hadn't been for that—"

"That Griffon guy," snapped Lang. "Yep, I'd give plenty to know who the hell he is."

"That reminds me. I got a special reward for someone. The Navy Department offered fifty grand for information on the San Diego. As far as I can make out from talking to those Navy birds on board, these guys Pulski and Ginsberg are the ones entitled to it."

"Pulski and Ginsberg?" gasped Lang. "Say, chief, take a look and make sure that dough's there, will you?"

"It was last night. In a Navy envelope. Ill see."

He reached in, pulled out the envelope. It was empty, except for a card which said: "Thanks, we can use it—The Griffon."

"Well, I'll be damned!" puffed John Scott.

"Fifty grand!" gagged Lang. "Golly a guy could buy a dirigible for that, couldn't he?"

"No, but he could get himself a nice plane—if he cared to fly," muttered Scott staring off into space.