Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/55

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53
RAIDER OF THE SPACEWAYS

He pivoted very slowly, keeping his weapons aimed at Arn and the Raider. He caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye—and leaped back, swinging the ray-tube.

He was too late. A paralyzing shock went through him—the half-strength energy of the ray-tube—and the weapons dropped from his nerveless hands. He crumpled, fully conscious, but unable to co-ordinate his movements—suffering, actually, from a severe electric shock. Arn sprang forward, snatched up the gas-pistol and the tube.

The Raider chuckled. Another man came into view—a Martian, seven feet tall, huge-chested, with arms and legs thin as pipe-stems, his round face, with its tiny mouth and bulging eyes, like some ludicrous mask.

"Good!" the Raider said. "Good, Vakko. As for you, Arn—you would do well to learn from Vakko."

The Martian giggled shrilly, apparently delighted. He piped something Kenworth could not understand, and at the Raider's nod lifted Kenworth easily and laid him on a leather couch. There was surprizing strength in those slender, brittle-seeming arms, with their thick growth of red fur.

The Raider gave a command, and Arn hurried away. Kenworth tried to move, but there was no feeling in his body. The effects of the ray, he knew, took some time to wear off. The Raider came close, staring down into Kenworth's eyes.

He said slowly, "You should be thankful I told Vakko—half-strength!"

Arn returned, and at his side was a girl—gray-eyed, dark-haired, whose beauty was scarcely marred by the traces tears had left on her cheeks. As Kenworth recognized Thona Trenton he made an effort to speak, managed only an inarticulate croak. The girl flew to his side.

"Dal! What's—are you——"

"A little ray treatment," the Raider said gently.

Thona flashed a furious glance at him, looked down again at Kenworth. She said, choking back a sob: "They've killed Jene, Dal!"

Kenworth managed to nod. Too late he saw his mistake. The Raider's eyes narrowed, and he exchanged a quick glance with Arn.

"How did you know that?" he asked quietly.

Then, realizing that Kenworth could not answer, he spoke to the Martian, who knelt by Kenworth and began to massage his body with his slender, powerful fingers. Life began to flow back into Kenworth's veins, hastened by Vakko's ministrations. After one or two attempts he found his voice.

"It's all right, Thona," he told the girl, with an assurance he did not feel. "There's no danger."

"And how does he know that?" the Raider asked, apparently of the bare wall.

He snapped his fingers suddenly, sprang to the televisor. As he clicked it on, Kenworth's face appeared on the screen, and his voice rang through the room.

"——farm. He has a hostage on board. Send fighting-ships at once. I'll try to hold him here." There was a pause, in which the harsh breathing of Arn was plainly audible. Then the voice from the transmitter resumed. "Emergency ether-call! This is Dal Kenworth, son of President Kenworth of the Americas——"

The Raider waited for no more. He leaped for the control board, barking orders at Arn, who raced from the room. The ship quivered, lifted. The Raider fingered buttons, swung a lever. Abruptly the televisor screen went blank. Kenworth knew that the space pirate had rayed the house, destroying the televisor.