The Solar Magnet Part 4

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The Solar Magnet is a Webnovel created by Sterner St. Paul Meek.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

“He was my twin brother. The peculiar circ.u.mstances you refer to were that you caught him stealing platinum. Instead of turning him over to the police, you asked him why he stole. He told you his wife was dying for lack of things that money would buy and he stole for her. You allowed him to quit his position honorably and you gave him money for his immediate needs. For that act of mercy, I am here to reward you.”

“Bread cast upon the waters,” murmured Carnes. The Russian girl turned on him like a wildcat.

“Unless you wish to deprive yourself and your companions of my help, you will not quote the Bible, that sop thrown by the church to their slaves, to me,” she said venomously. “I am a woman of the proletariat!”

“Respect the lady’s anti-religious prejudices, Carnesy, old dear,” said the doctor with a smile. “How do you propose to aid us, Miss Androvitch?”

“I will give you exactly what you gave my brother, your freedom and money for your immediate needs.”

“Thanks. But, er–haven’t you considered what your position here will be if you aid us to escape? Saranoff doesn’t deal kindly with traitors, I fancy.”

The girl spat on the floor.

“That swine!” she hissed, “I would like to kill him. I would have done so long ago had not the hope of the people rested on his genius. When the people finally triumph, I will feed his heart to my cat.”

“Nice, gentle, loving disposition,” murmured the doctor. “All right, my dear, we’re ready for anything. What’s the first move?”

The girl whisked the covers from the food cart and displayed three pistols and belts of ammunition.

“Put these on,” she said, “and take this food with you. I will take you to a hiding place outside the walls where you may safely stay for a few days. I will bring you fresh supplies of food. As quickly as possible I will arrange for you to escape from Russia. When you have left Russia safely, my debt is paid and you are again my enemies.”

“But, listen here,” said Dr. Bird persuasively, “why don’t you come with us? You know the object of our coming here. We aim to destroy this plant and let the earth take its normal tilt. You hate Saranoff, although I don’t know why. If you’ll help us to destroy him, we’ll guarantee you a welcome in the United States and you can join your brother. I’ll take him back into my laboratory.”

“My brother is dead,” she said bitterly. “After he left you, he fell into more evil times. His wife died and he swore revenge upon the society which had murdered her. An opportunity came to him to join Saranoff, and he did so. Saranoff hated him and distrusted him, although he was the soul of loyalty. As a reward for his genius and aid to Saranoff in constructing the black lamp, Saranoff abandoned him to you.

It was your men who killed him when you blew into nothingness the helicopter he was piloting in your state of Maryland, near Washington.”

“All the more reason why you should revenge yourself upon Saranoff,”

replied the doctor. “We will give you a chance to do so and aid you. We also give you an opportunity to be received in a free country with honor.”

An expression of rage distorted the girl’s features.

“I am a woman of the proletariat!” she cried. “I hate Ivan Saranoff for what he has done but I am loyal to him. He alone will force the bourgeoisie to their knees and establish the rule of the people. I hate your country and your government; yes, and I hate you. I aid you because I must pay my just debts. Come, the way is clear for your escape. Don’t ask how I cleared it.”

“Come on,” said Dr. Bird with a shrug of his shoulders. “There is no arguing with convictions. She must act according to her lights, even as we must act according to ours. Grab your guns and let’s go.”

The three buckled on the weapons and belts of ammunition and followed the girl from the cell. Once outside she touched her lips for silence. A door barred their way but she opened it with a key which she withdrew from her dress. Outside the door, a guard slumbered noisily. At a motion from the girl, Carnes rolled him over on his face to quiet his snoring.

He moved and stirred, but did not wake.

A few feet from the door the girl paused and faced the wall. She manipulated a hidden lever and a panel swung open in the wall. She led the way silently into the dark. As the panel closed behind her, a beam of light from an electric torch stabbed the darkness. Down a sloping tunnel they followed her for half a mile. The tunnel turned at right angles and led upward. At length they paused before another door. The girl opened it and they stepped out into the night. As they did so, a dull booming struck their ears. The girl paused.

“The ship!” she cried. “Your ship! It is attacking Fort Novadwinskaja.

The factory will be awake in a moment! Run for your lives!”

Even as she spoke a pair of twinkling lights appeared far down the tunnel through which they had come. She turned as if to return down the tunnel. Dr. Bird caught her about the waist and clapped his hand over her mouth.

“Quick, Carnes, your belt,” he cried. “Tie her up. She meant to go down that tunnel and give her life to delay them while we escaped. We’ll save her in spite of herself.”

Carnes and McCready quickly bound the struggling girl with their belts.

They laid her on the ground beside the door and watched the oncoming lights.

“You two hold them back for the present,” said the doctor. “I’m going to take Feodrovna away a bit and argue gently with her. If I can make her see the light, we may accomplish our mission yet. If I can’t, I’ll come back and help you.”

He picked up the girl in his arms and disappeared into the darkness.

Pistol in hand, the two men watched the oncoming lights. The men behind the lights could not be seen, but from the sound of their footsteps it was evident that there were quite a few of them.

“Had we better let them emerge from the door and then get them?”

whispered Carnes.

“No. These heavy guns will drive a bullet through three men at short range. Level your gun down the tunnel and fire when I give the word.

Remember, every one is apt to shoot high in the dark.”

The lights approached slowly. When they were twenty-five yards away, Lieutenant McCready spoke. The quiet was shattered by the roar of two Luger pistols. Again and again the guns barked. A volley of fire came from the tunnel, but Carnes and the lieutenant were standing well away from the opening and they escaped unharmed. Their deadly fire poured into the shambles until they were rewarded by the sound of retreating feet.

“So ends round one,” said Carnes with a laugh. “I think we win on points.”

“They won’t try a direct attack again,” replied the lieutenant. “Look out for a flank attack or from some new weapon. I don’t like the way those bombs failed to explode the other day.”

Dr. Bird appeared from the darkness.

“McCready,” he said in a voice vibrant with excitement, “we’re in luck.

We have come out less than a hundred yards from the point where our plane came down. It is still there. If the _Denver_ has approached within shooting range, we will have enough gas to make it. Try to get your motor going.”

“If it isn’t completely washed out I’ll have it going in a few minutes, Doctor,” cried the pilot. “I’m going down the tunnel and get those flash-lights those birds dropped when they pulled out. Where’s the girl?”

“She’s back by the plane,” said the doctor with a chuckle. “She is a spit-fire, all right. I took her gag off and she tried to bite me. I couldn’t get a word of anything but abuse out of her. Go ahead and get the lights and I’ll show you the plane.”

In a few minutes they stood before the ship. It was apparently uninjured, but the spark was dead. Carnes went back to the tunnel mouth to guard against surprise while Dr. Bird and McCready labored over the motor. Despite the best of both of them, no spark could be coaxed from the coil. As a last resort, Dr. Bird short-circuited the cells with a screwdriver blade. No answering spark came from the terminals.

“Dead as a mackerel,” he remarked. “I guess that ends that hope. Let’s get the machine guns out of her. Well have another attack soon and they’ll be more effective than our pistols.”

It was the work of a few minutes to dismount the two Brownings from the plane. Carrying the two guns, Dr. Bird joined Carnes while McCready staggered along laden down with belts of ammunition.

“Do you remember that rocky knoll we pa.s.sed just before we landed?”

asked the lieutenant. “If we can get this stuff there before we are attacked, we’ll have a much better chance than we will in the open.”

“Good idea, Lieutenant. Carnes, connect yourself to one of these guns.

I’ll fasten the other on my back and carry Feodrovna. We can’t leave her here to Saranoff’s tender mercies.”

Through the night the little cavalcade made its way. The thunder of guns from Fort Novadwinskaja kept up and the sky to the north was lighted by their flashes. McCready’s of direction proved to be a good one for the sought-for retreat was soon located. As they deposited their burdens and looked back, the lights of two trucks could be seen approaching across the plain from the factory. Hurriedly they mounted the machine gun. Dr. Bird straightened up and listened carefully.

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