The Metal Tower
Yozmodius, Alex, Zeus, Jack, Helene and Sarah have crash-landed on an unknown island somewhere in the South Pacific.
Yoz glanced around and noted the absence of Zeus. He handed over both his 1911’s.
“Can I retain my top hat? A gentleman is never fully dressed without his hat.” The soldiers glanced at each other; then the leader barked “March!” “How far are we going?” asked Yoz. “No questions. You walk.”
“Another adventure”, sighed Sarah. “Say, where did Doctor Freeze go?”
After a few hours of trekking through the jungle; following a faintly discernible path; they topped a low rise. Yoz let out a low whistle; Sarah said “Now, will you look at that.” They were looking east, out over the ocean. The ground sloped away from them, down to a large metal fence enclosing a set of buildings. They could make out a gravel airstrip and a hangar building, several stone and wood buildings grouped around a guard tower; a wooded jetty with an attached boathouse and a large windowless building made of concrete. A smaller building next to this had several exhaust stacks and from inside came the heavy throb of diesel engines. The most striking thing was about 400 yards offshore was an artificial island with a tall metal lattice tower on it. Atop of the tower was a large metal ball. As they watched, the pitch of the diesels increased.
“Move. Walk down slope to fence” said the soldier next to Yoz. Yoz took the time to study the man. He was obviously Asian, but Yoz could not place his nationality. He didn’t ask, somehow he doubted the man would tell him.
Reaching the fence they saw there was a gate; guarded by another soldier. Looking up, the guard tower had a searchlight, two Tannoy speakers and a machine gun. There were two guards on duty.
“ATTENTION. TEST WILL COMMENCE IN FIVE MINUTES”
The voice over the Tannoy was harsh and guttural. The soldiers took Yoz and the girls to a large building; a barracks. Yoz was intrigued to see a screen and film projector, plus a stack of Western films starring famous stars like Buzz Barton, Bill Cody and Hopalong Cassidy.
“ATTENTION. TEST WILL COMMENCE IN THREE MINUTES. LAUNCH THE BOAT”
“What test?” said Yoz and Sarah simultaneously. “No questions”, was the reply. “Doctor speak to you later”.
The door opened and Jack and Alex were ushered in at gunpoint.
On the beach, the machine gunner on the boat had got the drop on Alex and Jack. Jack held up his gun and made a show of ejecting the magazine; a burst of bullets around him from the machine gunner convinced him to drop the gun. “After all,” he thought, “I can always come back and get it. If they take it and drop it in the lagoon then it’s gone for good.” On the boat, the gunner moved to cover them as they sat in the stern; whilst the boat heeled round and headed north-east.
Approaching the Village from the north, they saw the Metal Tower first, and then the boat nosed into the jetty and ran down into the boathouse. Out on the jetty, some soldiers were preparing a motor boat; there were three passengers in the boat.
“ATTENTION. TEST WILL COMMENCE IN TWO MINUTES. CHARGE CAPACITORS TO FULL POWER.”
Jack and Alex were taken to the barracks where Yoz, Sarah and Helene were. From outside the roar of the diesels rose to a deafening pitch.
“Where’s Zeus?” “I don’t know; he’s out in the jungle somewhere.” “Well, I hope he’s got a plan to rescue us.”
“ATTENTION. TEST WILL COMMENCE IN ONE MINUTE. ALL NON-ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL TO TAKE SHELTER”
Zeus was hiding up on the ridge; observing what was going on and waiting for nightfall. He saw his friends being taken to the guards barracks and, lifting his eyes out to sea, the motor boat and three passengers heading out to sea. Suddenly, the world exploded! A massive purple-blue electric bolt erupted from the Metal Tower and struck the boat; there was a huge explosion as the boat disintegrated.
Sometime later, they were escorted by a group of guards to the concrete blockhouse and placed in a room with a table and a few chairs. The walls were concrete and there were no windows.
“That’s obviously a new weapon of some kind. It’s like a bigger version of Zeus’ lightning gun. I wonder if he saw it; I bet he’ll be interested.”
Zeus got to his feet; his eyes had purple retinal afterimages and his ears were ringing from the tremendous clap of thunder that had followed the discharge. He checked his Belt; it was not quite recharged. He made his way down the ridge, aiming for the south side of the village by the airstrip. He noted that the centre guard tower had a commanding view of the whole camp. It was dusk when he reached the fence.
Inside the room, Yoz calmly sat down and produced his tea-making equipment from inside his top hat and brewed a cup of tea.*
“You are American and drink ze tea? You not drink coffee after your Boston Tea Party?”
“No,” replied Yoz. “I was the one fishing the tea back out of the opposite side of the harbour.”
Alex was all for waiting in ambush when the door opened; this was still being discussed when the door opened. Two guards entered, followed by a balding middle-aged man with gold-rimmed glasses, wearing a business suit. He spoke with an American accent.
“I am Dr Allenbrook. Do any of you smoke?” He lit a cigarette and leaned back in the chair. “This is rather unfortunate, you turning up like this. Tell me, were you shipwrecked or did you arrive by boat? This is a secret project being run by the US Government and you shouldn’t be here.”
Sarah spoke up excitedly. “What are you doing here? What’s the tower for and what was the clap of thunder we heard?”
Dr Allenbrook looked thoughtful. “We are working on a way to detect ships and aircraft by using sound waves. We make it sound like thunder so that any potential enemies cannot determine what we are doing or that they have been detected.”
Yoz and Jack spoke up together. “We were on an aircraft that developed engine trouble of the bullet-related kind and we crashed on the beach. You’ve got an airstrip; if you could lend us a plane then we’ll fly out of here and be out of your way.”
“Regrettably, I must say no. Our supply plane is not due yet and we do not have any other aircraft. I think you will have to stay here for some time as guests until I can arrange for a boat to take you to the mainland.”
He stubbed out his cigarette and rose. “I have other things to do now. Sergeant Fujimo and his men will look after you.”
Into the room came the biggest man they had ever seen. He was Japanese; he wore a soldier’s uniform; a gun belt with a Colt six-shooter, a Sheriffs star and a large ten-gallon hat. His hands were the size of dinner plates and his moon face had a big beaming grin. “Yee-Haw Americans. I am big fan of your dynasty. I Sergeant Fujimo; I also Sheriff Tex. You like Western films? I have all your culture films and watch it all; Tom Mix, Bill Cody, Hopalong Cassidy. One day I meet them all and have shootout like in Western. I win and become new Big Bronco.”
They were led across the Village and locked into a bare basement with a few inches of water covering the floor.
Zeus waited until nightfall; then crept closer to the fence. A tell-tale humming alerted him to the fact that the upper strands of wire were electrified; although the whole fence was not. The airstrip was gravel; opposite was a hangar. He could make out two aircraft; a biplane similar to the one that had attacked them on the beach, and a twin-engine silver monoplane with a distinctive twin tail. Next to the hangar was a fuel dump; drums of fuel covered by a tarpaulin. Zeus moved round to the northern section of the fence; aimed and fired a full power Lightning bolt into the fuel dump. The results were spectacular; the dump erupted into a mass of flame. Panic ensued in the Village; several troops tried to fight the fire; some went on patrol; most panicked. He made his way to the barracks; found some uniform items that fitted. He also found Yoz’s guns and a rifle.
Yoz produced lock picks from his hat and set to work on the basement door lock. A scream came from the lower cellar
Helene – “It was a rat, Cherie. Rats are not good for me”.
Yoz got the door open and peered out. There were no guards outside the door; there was a strong flickering glow through the windows. Outside, pandemonium reigned; there were further explosions. It appeared that the fuel dump had gone up in flames. The quickly made their way to the boathouse and boarded the patrol boat.
“Wait,” said Sarah. “We can’t just leave. We need to find out what’s going on here.” She spun round, pulling an automatic from somewhere under her skirt, only to lower the gun as Zeus faded into view.
“Who are you Sarah, if that’s really your name?”
“My name is Sarah and I work for the US Government. I guess you could call me a secret agent. Listen, war is coming; maybe not this year or even next year, but it is coming and the USA needs to be ready. That tower is a weapon of some kind and I need to investigate it more, as well as who Dr Allenbrook is.”
They all looked at each other and sighed. “Okay, let’s go and look at the tower.”
Stay Tuned for the next issue of Thrilling Adventure Stories – The Tunnel of Death
Again, another fun-filled Game; the players are really getting into the genre.
* Yes, he really does carry portable tea making equipment in his top hat. He also carries a set of lock picks.
** Sarah told them she worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a slight anachronism as this wasn’t set up until 1942. Still, this is Pulp.