Cave of the Criss-Cross Knives can be found in






"And one of you will die!" — A command of doom, that cast them on the forbidden island. An island of purple gods and weird, savage customs—Captured as soon as they landed! The queer knives had not helped them....

Cave of the Criss-Cross Knives

By C. C. Spruce

LEGEND

"And one time, two of the lesser ones (deities) of the sunset, by a trick did imprison the Sun, the Flaming One himself, in order to carry out their plans. In his rage and in his captivity the Sun bellowed like the mad bull of Wahini. Then faithful followers gathered and released their Master, holding him until the act was completed. After which they released him and carried out his commands to cast the offending one into the sea, so that there might be no more than one of that race. . . .

"Thus shall his power be maintained and his followers find peace!"

"T-4, MEET R-8."

The Chief of Secret Service in Manila introduced the two operatives standing before his desk. T-4, the woman, nodded her blonde head with a curt jerk. R-8, the man, was equally uninterested in the introduction. He merely grunted. Both returned their stare to the Chief.

Chief Walters produced a large scale map of a section of the Pacific Ocean. He pointed to a mere speck inked in on its surface,

He said, "The island of Perambi has never been officially charted. It is small, jungle covered and fever ridden. Decidedly volcanic, we have only the assurance of our scientists that it will not lose itself in the depth of the Pacific at any time. That, however, is beside the point for the present. You will notice its strategic position."

T-4's blonde head bumped with R-8's red thatch as both bent forward. Neither noticed.

Walters noticed, and chuckled. He leaned back in his chair. "I've chosen you two for reasons I'll divulge later. The existing situation at Perambi is this: Our government has, for some little time, maintained a fueling station on that island. Other powers doubtless knew of that, but by the right of first come first served, our two men had not been molested. That has changed. The bi-yearly cutter which took them supplies returned here some time ago. Both men are dead. The supply of gasoline and oil is gone. Some coal remains. There was no sign of any of the two dozen or so natives which had inhabited this island. The bodies of the two men remained. The commander of the cutter took photographs, left two more men and returned for orders. Pleasant pictures they were too. Here, look." He pushed photographs across the desk.

The two operatives did as they were bid. The photographs were clear, all too clear. The bodies of the two white men, nude, were stretched across a pile of coal. Their torsos had almost been severed from their legs. Through the gaping wound which stretched across their abdomens could be seen, the gleam of white bone. The back bone. The only thing which still held the bodies together.

"Those were the first two. There have been others. One man only has managed to survive between visits of the cutter, which by the way has been changed to bi-monthly."

T-4 and R-8 bent forward again.

Walters went on. "But that man was insane. His hair had turned white. His talk was for the most part gibberish. Yet every word was taken down. From those fragments we have pieced together a plan of action—your orders!"

The man and woman picked up the two sealed envelopes Walters pushed across to them.

THE Secret Service chief went on, "We have studied every inch of that island by airplane. When you read your orders, please remember that they are the result of careful study and deduction. Here are two more packets for you. They contain dyes with which to stain your bodies. Here are the only weapons you will be able to take with you."

T-4 and R-8 stared at the two razor sharp wavy blades. The knives were about fourteen inches long and all but two inches of that was blade. The handle of each was only a circular band of metal, resembling the thumb hole on a pair of scissors.

Walters stood up. "I suggest that you two read your orders together. I don't think I need tell you about the danger of your mission." The Chief held out both hands. The operatives each placed a palm in his. Walters shook those hands. "The only way I can express what I am thinking is to say—that right at this moment I am shaking hands with at least one person—who will soon be dead!"

ONCE outside and on the street the two operatives underwent a distinct change. R-8, the red-headed man, slouched along as if he had no cares in the world.

The competent woman T-4 changed into a clinging vine, as far as outward appearances were concerned.

The man said, "Pleasant sort of chap—the chief. So cheerful." He kept his voice low. "Shall we go to my room?"

"Why not?" T-4 replied. "And by the way— you might tell me your name. If we have to work together—" She didn't finish the sentence but the man got the impression that she disliked the idea of working with anyone.

"And here I was just beginning to like you! Oh, a...

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