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Title: The Suicide Squad and the Murder Bund
Author: Emile C. Tepperman
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0603891.txt
Edition: 1
Language: English
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Date first posted: July 2006
Date most recently updated: July 2006

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The Suicide Squad and the Murder Bund
Emile C. Tepperman



CHAPTER ONE

A Woman Dies


A KEEN October wind was cutting across the Drive from the Hudson when
Stephen Klaw came out of the side street. He stopped in the lee of the
corner apartment building, and lit a cigarette. He did not at once put
out the match, but held it cupped in front of his face so that his
clean-cut though rugged features were illuminated.

Almost at once, a woman came darting from the shadows of the park
across the street. She was dressed in a black rain coat, and wore no
hat. Her dark hair streamed out behind her as she ran, in zig-zag
fashion, as if wounded. And the great spreading stain of crimson upon
the black background of the raincoat, just underneath the heart,
testified to the wound.

Under her right arm she was clutching a small black leather brief
case, which seemed to be more precious to her than the life blood
which was pouring from her body.

Before she had taken half a dozen steps across the wide expanse of
Riverside Drive toward Stephen Klaw, a man's voice rose in a
triumphant shout, hoarse and vindictive: "There she is!"

The man came tearing out from the park, a little farther down the
block. At the same time, two other men broke from cover, at other
points along the Drive. They had evidently been combing the park for
her. All three of them converged upon her. They had peculiar
weapons--the stocks resembled those of Thompson sub-machine guns, but
the barrels were sawed-off so that they were only about six inches
long.

Stephen Klaw's lips pursed tightly when he saw those guns in the hands
of the three men. He spat the cigarette from his lips, and thrust his
hands down into his jacket pockets. They emerged almost at once, each
gripping an automatic.

The first of those three pursuing men dropped to one knee, and aimed
his sawed-off machine gun, while the other two raised their weapons to
their shoulders to fire as they ran. All three muzzles were
concentrated upon the back of the staggering woman. Either they had
not seen the slim, almost boyish figure of Stephen Klaw, or else they
did not connect him with their quarry.

Klaw's eyes were cold and hard as he fired both automatics from the
hip. The men on the extreme right and left of the running woman fell
as those two automatics began their spiteful, deadly barking. They
never even fired their weapons.

But the third, directly behind the woman, was shielded from Klaw by
her staggering body.

The fellow saw his advantage at once, and dropped flat on the ground,
raising his sawed-off machine gun and pulling the trip at the same
time. A burst of scattering lead belched from the mouth of the vicious
weapon, spreading over a radius of twenty feet, something like the
buckshot from a small gauge shotgun.

Stephen Klaw had anticipated this tactic. There was only one thing he
could do, and he did it without reflection or hesitation. Almost
before his two automatics had ceased thundering, he launched himself
in a flying tackle, straight at the running woman. He reached her a
split instant before the sawed-off machine gun belched forth its lead.

KLAW'S shoulder struck the woman's legs and she fell over him, landing
so that his body was between her and the machine-gunner. The spray of
lead whistled through the air, just above their heads. The man had
fired high, evidently hoping to riddle the woman's body from the waist
up. Only a few of the pellets arced low enough to strike Klaw, and he
barely felt them as he fired his right-hand automatic from his prone
position on the ground. His slug took the machine-gunner square in the
forehead, and the man just relaxed and lay still.

Stephen sprang to one knee and knelt beside the dark-haired woman. She
was trying feebly to stir. A moan escaped from her lips. The wound in
her breast was bleeding profusely, and though she had escaped the
leaden hail from the machine gun, Klaw could see at a glance that she
had not long to live. She raised a haggard face to his.

"Did--did they get you--too?"

He put a hand on her shoulder. "No. Only a few little nicks. I'll be
able to pluck them out, easily."

"Thank...God...you're safe. I knew...they were looking...for
me...in the park. But I had to...keep the appointment
with you. They got me...with a lucky shot when I escaped with the
brief case. I wouldn't have lasted...much longer..."

"I got the three of them," Stephen Klaw said grimly. "If that's any
consolation. Now, I'm going to call an ambulance--"

"No, no. I'm...through--done for. Take the brief case. It
contains the list...I promised to get for you. All the names of
the Executive Council...of ... Skull and Swastika Corps!"

Klaw took the black leather case. He did not open it. He bent low over
the dying woman.

"You've done a great service for your country, Mary Watson--"

"No, no. It's only...small part. You...must do the...rest.
I got all names except the...leader's. His name was...Franz
Trebizond...in Germany. I don't know...what name he uses in this
country. That is for you...to find..."

The blood was pumping out of her body at an appalling rate. She should
have been dead, but she was clinging to life by a terrible effort of
naked will power.

"Look out for...Franz Trebizond. He is clever, ruthless--a blond
beast without mercy or heart. And watch for the woman, Lisa Monterey.
She is...bad as he..."

Mary Watson gasped, and a spasm went through her body. But she held on
to life for another moment, with a grim purposeful effort.

"You must promise me...one thing more..."

"Anything you ask," Steve said.

"Promise to look after my daughter, Sue. They--the Skull and Swastika
Corps--will try to hurt her because of what I did to them." She
shuddered, and pressed a hand against her breast as if to stem the
tide of spilling blood for one instant more. "I--I can't bear to
think of Sue in the hands of those monsters. They...know dreadful
tortures...they know where to find every living nerve in a girl's
body. They would keep her in agony for days and days--"

"No, they won't," Stephen Klaw said grimly. He took a deep breath. "I
give you my word, Mary Watson," he said solemnly, "and I give you the
word of Kerrigan and Murdoch too. The three of us will see to it that
nothing happens to Sue Watson--while we're alive!"

A look of ineffable happiness came into the swiftly-dimming eyes of
Mary Watson, erasing the mask of pain from her features. Her body
relaxed, giving way at last to the sweet, blank nothingness of death.

She lay still...



CHAPTER TWO

Code for Killers


STEPHEN KLAW put a finger upon the artery in her throat. There was no
pulse, no life. Slowly, he picked up the brief case, and rose to his
feet. As he looked down upon the still body of Mary Watson, there was
a tight gray bleakness in his face, which had not been there before.

Sounds arose about him, in the quiet night air. Fifty heads were poked
out of apartment house windows, and voices called out in fright and in
execration.

"There's the murderer... He killed the woman... It's the Skull and
Swastika again--I recognize those machine guns! Call the police!
Catch him! Catch the murderer!"

Men were running out of the corner house, others were coming from up
and down the street. From a ground floor window a man's voice came
clearly, high-pitched and keen: "Operator! Operator! Get police
headquarters! It's a killing! The Skull and Swastika..."

Stephen Klaw paid no attention to the shouts, to the people who stared
out of the window, or to those who were in the street. His lips moved
faintly as he stood over the body of the dark-haired woman.

"I don't like leaving you here, Mary Watson, dead in the gutter. But
you were a brave woman. You would understand."

Instinctively, his right hand, holding the still-hot automatic, rose
to his forehead in mute salute. Then, with the brief-case under his
left arm, and an automatic in each hand, he turned and strode away
down the same side-street from which he had come. He looked neither to
the right nor to the left, walking as if all those shouting,
gesticulating, threatening people did not even exist.

They kept their distance, too, for the sight of those dead bodies on
the ground, and of the automatics in his hands, was enough to deter
the boldest of them from attempting to stop him.

But they yelled and they screamed, and they blasphemed against him.

"Dammed Nazi," he heard. And, "He's a Skull and Swastika gunman. Get
the yellow rat!"

A grim smile of irony tugged at Stephen Klaw's lips, at the thought
that be should be reviled as a member of the vicious Fifth Column
organization which he was fighting to the death. But he couldn't stop
and explain to these people that he was an agent of the F. B. I.,
acting sub rosa, and without official commission. That was a secret
between himself and his Chief. Yet he liked the sound of those
epithets which were flung at him, because it reflected the temper of
the American people. Americans were not ones to accept the activities
of such an organization, as people of other countries had done, to
their own cost.

These were the men and the descendants of men who had made America
great and strong. These were men who had fought in the last world war,
and who wanted only peace for this generation of their sons. Yet they
were ready and willing to hurl themselves unarmed, against an armed
enemy who was boring from within to destroy their cherished
institutions and their cherished liberty.

Klaw smiled, like a fond elder brother. He fired twice into the air,
then turned and took to his heels. It was the first time in recorded
history that Stephen Klaw had run from danger!

As police sirens shrilled in the distance, the pursuing crowd raised a
great shout. They had their man trapped. Steve knew well enough, that
once he were caught now, even those blue coats in the police car would
not be able to keep him from being battered to a pulp by the fierce
revengeful fists of his pursuers. There had been too many hideous
tortures and wanton killings in recent weeks on the part of the Skull
and Swastika Corps, and the citizens were out for blood. He must
escape quickly. He must reach the place where he had left his car in
the next side street.

Steve swung into an open lot, as he had previously planned. But before
he was halfway across the lot, a bullet whined past his head, followed
by another and another. The stentorian voice of one of the blue coats
in the police car bellowed after him. "Stop! Or we'll shoot to kill!"

STEPHEN KLAW kept on running. He bent low from the waist, holding
tight to the brief case which Mary Watson had bequeathed to him. He
heard the police officer curse behind him, and shout, "All right, you
asked for it!"

Only then did Klaw throw himself forward at full length on the ground.
The policeman's gun bellowed, and a bullet screamed through the air,
followed by another and another in quick succession.

"He's down!" some one shouted. "You got him--"

"Naw!" yelled the cop. "He dropped before I fired."

Klaw jumped up, and started to run once more. He was almost into the
mouth of the alley now, with only a low fence intervening. He hurdled
the fence on the run, just as the cop fired again. He almost felt the
tug of that bullet against his coat as he went over the fence into the
alley beyond.

Now he raced through the alley out into the street beyond, with the
hue and cry rising behind him to a shrilling crescendo of fury. His
margin of safety was small, but it was enough for him. He was in his
car, and had it started before the first of the pursuing throng came
out into the street after him.

Without putting on his lights, he sent the car roaring away, and
turned the far corner on two wheels. A couple of desultory shots
followed him, but they were ineffective. In a moment he was away from
all pursuit.

He switched on his radio, and drove south on Broadway, listening to
the short wave alarms which were being broadcast for him. The police
were still under the impression that he was an operative of the Skull
and Swastika Corps, and they were instituting a thorough man-hunt. But
they didn't have the license of his car, nor the make, for it had been
too dark back there on that side street. Neither did they have a good
description of him.

Grimly he opened the briefcase as he drove. He was surprised to find
that it contained only a single sheet of paper, with a series of
hieroglyphics written in vertical columns, as the Chinese write.

There were nine of these vertical lines, each containing from fifteen
to thirty characters. Glancing at it swiftly as he drove, Klaw was
unable to decide whether the characters were Chinese, or some less
known alphabet of Indo-China or Malaysia. But there was no time to
waste in deciphering this puzzle now. Mary Watson had said that this
paper contained the names of the Executive Council of the Skull and
Swastika, but not the present identity of Franz Trebizond, which Klaw
wanted more than anything else. But first, there was one other thing
which he must make sure of--a thing for which he had pledged his
word, and the word of his two partners, Kerrigan and Murdoch.

When he reached the Eighties, he turned off and drove half way down
the block until he reached a small apartment house set between a
garage and a public playground. The playground was dark and deserted
now, but the garage was busy.

Klaw did not stop in front of the apartment house. He merely glanced
at it as he drove past, and swung his car into the garage. A sign on
the outside said, PARKING--50 cents.

He left his car here, paid the fee and got a parking ticket. Then he
walked out, stood at the curb for a moment while he lit a cigarette.
He glanced up at the facade of the apartment house next door, fixing
his glance for an instant on the first-floor window nearest the
garage. There was a light in that window. He waited at the curb,
smoking the cigarette slowly. A minute passed. Then the light was
suddenly extinguished. It remained out for another full minute, then
went on again.

STEVE threw away his cigarette, and entered the apartment house. He
avoided the elevator and went up the single flight of stairs to the
first floor. At the door of Apartment IA he pressed the button three
times quickly, then twice, then once. The door was opened immediately,
and he stepped inside.

The girl who met him in the foyer was so breathtakingly lovely that
anyone who saw her once could never forget her. She was little more
than nineteen. The white oval of her face was set off by dark, silky
soft hair. And her resemblance to Mary Watson was so marked that there
could be no doubt she was the daughter of the woman who had died on
Riverside Drive a few minutes ago.

Sue Watson said nothing as she closed the door behind Stephen Klaw.
She just stood in the foyer, her slim and graceful body taut, her
lower lip trembling. Her eyes bored deep into Steve's, as if she would
delve into his very soul.

Suddenly, she closed her eyes, and a little moan escaped from her
lips.

"Dead?" she asked. She opened her eyes and waited for the answer.

Stephen Klaw gulped, and bowed his head.

Sue Watson did not burst into tears. Her face became white, and her
bands clenched at her sides. She swayed just a little, and Steve put
forth a hand, then quickly withdrew it.

Silently, Sue Watson turned and led him into the living room. She went
to the window, pulled the blind all the way down. Then she came and
seated herself in a straight-backed chair facing Klaw.

"Tell me all about it, Steve," she said in a tight little voice. "I
want to know how she died."

"She was a very brave woman, Sue," he told her. "She was mortally
wounded, yet she managed to make her way to the place where she was to
meet me. She brought the list of names--all but Trebizond's. We still
don't know what name Trebizond adopted since coming to the United
States."

Sue Watson's eyes widened. "Then--then she threw away her life. She
died in vain?"

"No!" Steve told her grimly. "Your mother did not die in vain. We'll
use that list to bring Trebizond out in the open. As soon as Kerrigan
and Murdoch get here, we'll go into action. Have they called yet?"

"Yes. They called fifteen minutes ago from the airport. They'll be
here any minute. But--but how can just the three of you fight the
whole Skull and Swastika Corps? Won't the government help you at all?"

"No. We're on our own. We're acting as private citizens. Whatever we
do is outside the law. There would be very little chance of getting
enough evidence against the S. S. Corps to convict them in court. And
even if we did, we couldn't afford to reveal our methods and our
information at a public trial."

"I see," she said slowly. "So you three are going to stick your heads
in the jackal's mouth--as usual!"

Klaw shrugged. "Your mother did it."

Twenty years ago, Mary Watson had been married to Franz Trebizond, who
had even then been a member of the Nazi minority party in Germany.
They had been divorced within a year, and Mary Watson had married
again, and forgotten that nightmare year, during which she had learned
just how much of a beast a man can be. When her second husband was
killed in an airplane accident, Mary Watson had devoted her life to
her two daughters, Sue and Eve. She had relegated Franz Trebizond to
the limbo of forgotten things, had made a full life for herself in the
busy duties of a mother.

But Franz Trebizond was not so easily disposed. In the intervening
years he had risen to power with the Nazi party, and had become chief
of the Bureau of Foreign Activity, directing Nazi spies and saboteurs
from his headquarters in Berlin. Unfortunately, Mary Watson had not
kept track of him. She had permitted Sue's elder sister, Eve, to make
a vacation trip across Europe, just before the war broke out. Eve's
itinerary had carried her through Berlin. And there, Eve had
disappeared.

A WEEK later, Eve's body was found in the Danube River. Mary Watson,
desperate with grief, began to pull wires and to seek information from
friends in Europe. Little by little, she learned the story. Franz
Trebizond had never forgotten her, never forgiven her for marrying
another man and having two beautiful daughters by that other man. He
had waited, and bided his time. It was he who had ordered Eve Watson's
murder. And he had made sure that Mary Watson would hear of the
circumstances.

There was nothing that Mary could do about it, until a few weeks ago.
She learned that Franz Trebizond, who had directed Fifth Column
activities in Holland, Belgium and South America, had come at last to
the United States to take over the active direction of the Skull and
Swastika Corps. She remembered that Trebizond had owned an old house
in New York, and guessed that he might use it as headquarters. She had
phoned Stephen Klaw, who was an old friend, that she would make an
attempt to enter that house and obtain evidence. She had insisted, in
spite of Steve's protests, that she wanted to do the job alone--as a
gesture of vengeance for the murder of her daughter, Eve. And she had
made the appointment to meet him at the spot where she had died
tonight.

Now, looking at Sue Watson sitting straight and taut, Stephen Klaw
remembered his promise to see that no harm came to this beautiful
girl. There would be a double reason why the Skull and Swastika should
go after her. The S. S. Corps was known for its ruthless acts of
vengeance, even unto the second generation. And besides, the
vindictiveness of Franz Trebizond would never be satisfied until he
had wiped out the entire family of Mary Watson.

"You're sure," he asked her, "that this house is not being watched?"

"Quite sure," she told him, bitterly. "I've learned how to check on
things like that. I wouldn't have given you the signal with the light
if there had been any doubt. Mother and I have moved many times in the
last years--always a little ahead of Trebizond. We cover our tracks."

Steve nodded. "Good. Then we can make our headquarters here--if you
don't mind."

"If I don't mind!" Her eyes flashed. "Of course I don't! I want to
help in the fight!" her voice broke--"for Eve's and Mother's sake!"

The telephone rang, and she sprang up to answer it. She spoke for a
moment, then hung up and turned to Klaw.

"It's Johnny Kerrigan and Dan Murdoch. They're in the drug store
around the corner. They're coming right up."

In less than five minutes, the bell rang, with the same signal that
Klaw had used. Sue Watson went to the door and admitted Kerrigan and
Murdoch.

They stepped swiftly inside, and grinned at Klaw. Klaw grinned back at
them.

"Hello, mopes," he said. "Hello, Shrimp," said Johnny Kerrigan. "Hiya,
Shrimp?" said Dan Murdoch. These three had worked together for so long
that they could almost read each other's minds. Long ago, they had
found that they had one thing in common--a deliberate, willful,
daredevil recklessness which made them always seek the longest odds
and the most dangerous tasks. As Special Agents of the F. B. I., they
were never assigned to routine jobs, but got only those assignments
from which there was little chance of returning alive.

Stephen Klaw had once told the chairman of a senate investigating
committee to go to hell when he had been asked why he shot to kill in
a battle with a criminal gang. Johnny Kerrigan had once punched a
senator's son in the nose. And Dan Murdoch had shot a crooked croupier
to death in a gambling dive.

For such acts, any other agents would have been summarily dismissed
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But the records of those
three were so outstanding that they were allowed to retain their
jobs--with this proviso: that they were never to be assigned to
ordinary duty where there might be a risk of offending the powers-
that-be. They were kept in reserve for the undertakings for which the
Chief of the F. B. I. would hesitate to order a man.

THAT was the way Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw wanted it. They were
known as the Suicide Squad. Originally, there had been five of them.
Then four. Now there were but three, and tomorrow there might be only
two, one--or none. Only one thing was certain. If the Suicide Squad
died, they would die fighting to the last gasp.

"You get all the breaks, Shrimp!" Johnny Kerrigan growled. "Dan and I
were tied up in Washington, working on a secret code book that was
found on a dead guy last week, while you had the excitement."

"How do you know I had excitement?" Steve demanded.

"I can see it in your eyes. And there are holes in your coat. They
weren't made by moths!"

"Nice work," said Steve. "Keep at it, and you'll make a first-class
detective some day."

Dan Murdoch came around and examined the holes in Steve's coat. Some
of them were darkly flecked with congealed blood.

"Buckshot!" said Murdoch. "Take off your coat, Shrimp. We'll take out
the pieces, and cauterize the holes. Do you want to get tetanus?"

Kerrigan chuckled. "The buckshot is more likely to get tetanus, if you
ask me!"

Steve stripped off his coat and shirt and Sue Watson went into the
kitchen and boiled up a pot of water for sterilizing, and brought in
gauze and scissors and a knife.

There were seven pellets in Klaw's body, and it was painful work
removing them and cauterizing the small wounds. Kerrigan, for all his
bulk, had marvelously sensitive fingers. It was he who did the work of
extracting the lead, while Murdoch cauterized and bandaged.

While they labored over him, Steve told them swiftly what had happened
on Riverside Drive, never even stopping to gasp when Dan applied a
red-hot knife to the wounds.

He finished his story, and showed them the paper he had taken from
Mary Watson's brief-case.

"If we could only work out this code," he said. "We'd have the names
of the Executive Council. It wouldn't give us Trebizond by a long
shot, because I'm sure that even the Executive Council doesn't know
the identity he's working under. But we could make use of those
names--"

He stopped, seeing Kerrigan and Murdoch grinning at each other.

"What's the joke, mopes?"

"Oh, nothing," said Murdoch. He took the paper and went to a desk in
the corner, turned on the light, and took a small notebook from his
pocket. He began working with pencil and paper while Kerrigan finished
up dressing Klaw's wounds.

In five minutes, Murdoch got up from the desk and came over with a
sheet of paper upon which he had written nine names.

"Johnny told you we were working on a code book, didn't he? Well, we
couldn't figure out which espionage organization was using that code.
Now we know. The characters on this paper you got, are the same as the
code book. It's the Skull and Swastika Code Book, and here's the list
of names of their Executive Council!"

Steve took the paper eagerly. Kerrigan looked at the names over his
shoulder, and whistled.

"Good Lord! They've got themselves in--solid!"

TWO of the names were those of political bosses who controlled a large
foreign vote. Four were city and state officials. The other three were
fairly well known business men of foreign extraction.

"We could arrest them all, tonight!" exclaimed Kerrigan.

"Sure!" Stephen Klaw barked. "And they'd be released in the morning
for lack of evidence. This list wouldn't convict them in court. We'd
only be putting Trebizond on guard!"

"Also," Murdoch added, "it is to be remembered that we are acting as
private citizens, and not as Federal Agents." He grimaced. "No, my
dear Mr. Kerrigan, your idea is putrid!"

"How'll we handle it then?" Johnny growled.

Stephen Klaw put his shirt and coat on, over his bandages.

"Watch me, mopes," he said. He turned to

Sue Watson. "Is your phone on the dial system?"

She nodded. "Yes. Why--"

"Then they won't be able to trace the call back here."

He ran his finger down the list of names, and stopped at that of
Sylvester Grner.

"I've heard of him," Murdoch said. "He runs a travel bureau. Used to
book personally conducted tours through Germany before the war."

"He'll do!" said Klaw. He went over to the telephone stand, looked up
Grner's home phone number, then dialed it.

Sue Watson looked blank and uncomprehending. But Kerrigan and Murdoch,
after glancing at each other, nodded approval.

"Maybe you've got something there, Shrimp!" Dan Murdoch said.

Just then, Klaw got his connection. "Let me talk to Mr. Grner,
please," he said. "My name? Just tell him it's Mr. Black--Mr. James
Black... No, Mr. Grner doesn't know me. But he'll certainly be glad
to talk to me."

Steve held the phone for a moment, winking at the others. Then he
nodded as Sylvester Grner's voice came over the wire.

"Yes?" they heard faintly. "What can I do for you?"

"Mr. Grner," Steve said swiftly, "I know where to lay my hands on a
certain list of names which was stolen from a certain place tonight.
The government would give a handsome reward for that list, but I
figure it's worth more to you. Say, a hundred thousand dollars."

There was a moment's silence, and they thought that Grner had hung
up. But then his voice was heard once more.

"Who are you?"

"You may call me Mr. Black. You can see I'm not bluffing, when I tell
you that your name is number seven on the list."

"I don't know what you're talking about--"

"Suit yourself, Mr. Grner. I'd just as soon turn the list over to the
Government unless I can make some money out of it. If you won't pay,
why I'll just say good-by--"

"Wait!"

Steve held the wire, while there was another long pause. Then, "Just
who are you, Mr. Black?"

"Let us say," Steve said into the phone, "that I represent an
independent syndicate."

"International spies, eh?"

"Perhaps. Does it matter? Do you want to do business with me or not?"

"You say you have this list in your possession?"

"No. But I will get it tomorrow afternoon. I must know now whether you
want to buy it. Otherwise, I will make other arrangements."

Grner's voice was hesitant. "I must consult someone else. Give me an
hour. Where can I get in touch with you?"

"You can't. But tomorrow, at exactly three-thirty in the afternoon,
I'll register at the Groton Hotel. You can contact me there."

"You'll have the list with you?"

"No. But I'll be able to lay my hands on it, if you're ready to do
business. And now--good-by, Mr. Grner!"

He hung up swiftly, and turned to face the others. "Think he'll
nibble, mopes?"

"Boy!" said Kerrigan. "I can just imagine how Grner is burning up the
wires right now, to get in touch with Franz Trebizond! Too bad we
can't tap his wire!"

"Naughty, naughty!" said Dan Murdoch; "Mustn't do anything against the
law!"



CHAPTER THREE

Aliases Can't Fool Death


AT EXACTLY three-twenty the next afternoon, Stephen Klaw entered the
lobby of the Groton Hotel. He had no baggage.

The lobby was busy, with people moving in and out of the cocktail
lounge at the left. Klaw paid no attention to those who watched him as
he passed. To all outward appearance, he might have been totally
unaware that his every move was observed from the moment he stepped
inside the door.

At the desk, he handed the clerk a ten dollar bill.

"Bath or shower, sir?" asked the clerk.

"Shower," said Steve. "And I want a room on an upper floor. Anything
from the fifteenth up."

"So you can enjoy the view of Central Park, sir?"

"No," Steve told him. "I may have to throw someone out the window. I
want him to have a long fall."

"Ha, ha," the clerk said nervously. "That's a good joke, sir." He took
a key from the rack. "I can give you Room one-nine-one-o--"

"Okay." Klaw picked up the pen, and signed the register: "James Black,
Washington, D. C."

While he was doing this, a woman in a black cloth coat with a
chinchilla collar came over to the desk and idly picked a travel
folder from the rack. She was a beautiful woman, with features so
sharp and perfect that they might have been chiseled from Carrara
marble by a master sculptor. Her gleaming yellow hair was arranged in
a halo around her head, beneath a small chinchilla hat which matched
the coat collar.

As she took the travel folder, her eyes darted across to the register,
and rested for a fleeting instant upon the name which Stephen Klaw had
signed. Then they flicked to the room number stamped upon the key,
which the clerk was handing to a bellhop.

A faint smile, tinged with irony, tugged at her full red lips. She
turned away from the desk and looked across the lobby, toward two men
who were standing near the elevator. Her fingers appeared to be toying
idly with the pearl necklace at her throat. In reality, they were
moving in the swift gestures of the deaf-and-dumb sign language.

Stephen Klaw, alias Mr. James Black, seemed to be busy lighting a
cigarette. But he did not miss the woman's actions, nor did he fail to
take note of the two men to whom she was signaling. His face remained
expressionless. Except for the sudden flicker of his slate-gray eyes,
he gave no sign that he had noticed anything. But he saw those two men
hurry into the elevator.

Without haste, he got his cigarette lit, accepted his change from the
clerk, and then proceeded to compare his wrist watch with the electric
clock over the desk. All this took only a couple of minutes. But it
was long enough for the elevator cage containing those two men to
reach its destination. Glancing at the indicator Steve saw that it had
stopped at nineteen. The woman with the chinchilla collar moved across
the lobby to the row of telephone booths alongside the entrance to the
cocktail lounge. She entered one of them, and dialed a number, turning
frequently to look back toward Steve.

Steve grinned. He glanced at the bellhop, who was waiting impatiently
to take him upstairs.

"Just a minute, sonny," Steve said, and took the key out of the boy's
hand. He put it down on the desk. "I've changed my mind," he told the
clerk. "The nineteenth floor is a little too high. Have you got
anything on the eighteenth?"

The clerk sighed. "Well, sir, there's nothing wrong with the
nineteenth, but if you insist--" he replaced the key, and took
another from the rack--"here's the corresponding room on the
eighteenth floor.

"That's much better," Steve approved. Now he followed the boy over to
the elevators. The cage which had taken the two men up was already
descending, but there was another one waiting, and they entered it. As
the operator slid the door shut, Steve got a quick, fleeting glimpse
of the woman in the chinchilla-collared coat. She was hurrying out of
the phone booth, and making a bee line for the desk, evidently in
great excitement. She had left the telephone receiver dangling by the
cord in the booth, indicating that she had not yet finished her
conversation with whomever she had called. She must have sensed that
Stephen Klaw had pulled a fast one at the desk, and she was losing no
time in checking up.

KLAW chuckled. He saw the bellhop watching him, and he winked. The boy
grinned, and winked back. Stephen Klaw was not the type to inspire
fear or respect at first glance. He was so slim and wiry that he
looked hardly older than the bellboy. It was only when one saw the
cold glint in those slate-gray eyes of his that one must instantly
realize he was no kid.

The elevator reached the eighteenth floor, and Klaw followed the
uniformed lad down the carpeted hallway to 1810. The boy opened the
door, and they went in. Klaw took out a five dollar bill and gave it
to the lad.

"Gee, thanks, mister!" the kid gulped.

Klaw smiled. "This is just to show you who's your friend, sonny. Now
scram. Things will be getting hot here pretty soon."

He fairly thrust the lad out of the room, and shut the door. But he
was careful not to lock it.

He glanced at his wrist watch, and saw that it was exactly three
o'clock. Almost at once, the telephone rang. He went to the night
table and picked it up.

"James Black speaking," He said.

A familiar voice answered. "Hello, Mr. Black. This is Mr. White."

Steve grinned. Nobody who had ever heard that deep, stentorian voice
of big Johnny Kerrigan could ever mistake it again for another.
Kerrigan was the second of that triumvirate of daredevils who had come
to be known in the F. B. I. as the Suicide Squad. The third was Dan
Murdoch. Where one of them appeared, the other two were sure to be
somewhere in the offing. They worked together like the well-oiled
mechanism of a precision machine. The combination of Kerrigan, Murdoch
and Klaw was one which the mightiest of felons had grown to fear.

Stephen Klaw chuckled into the phone. "How are you doing, Mr. White?"

"Not so bad, Mr. Black. I was behind that newspaper in the corner of
the lobby when you came in. I watched the dame go in to phone. When
she came dashing out, I stepped into the next booth, and traced the
call. So now I know to whom she is reporting."

"Excellent work, Mr. White. Anything else?"

"Yeah. She scrammed back into her booth and finished up her
conversation in a hurry, and then she phoned up to Room One-nine-one-
o. She was so excited that I could hear what she said. She told the
two bozos in there that you had switched rooms, and that they should
go to Room Eighteen-ten and tackle you at once. They must be on the
way down right now."

"Thanks, Mr. White. I've left my door unlocked for them."

"Watch yourself, Shrimp--"

"Nuts to you, Mr. White. Hang up, please. I expect a call from Mr.
Green."

"Okay, Shrimp. Good-by."

Klaw put the phone down, glanced at his wrist watch, and waited at the
telephone stand, with his back to the door. He kept his right hand dug
deep down in his coat pocket, and his left was on the phone. His wrist
watch showed four minutes after three.

He heard his doorknob creak slightly as it was tried from outside, but
he did not turn around. He kept his eyes on the second-hand of his
watch. When it had made a complete revolution, bringing the time to
three-five, the phone rang once more. He picked it up and said, "Mr.
Black speaking."

"Hello, Mr. Black," came Dan Murdoch's voice. "This is Mr. Green. I
have those papers for you. Will you meet me at the usual place?"

"Louder," said Stephen Klaw.

HE KNEW that the door was opening behind him, because he was standing
in such a way that he could see the dresser mirror out of the corner
of his eye. He glimpsed a long thin face, with a small moustache. It
was the face of one of the two men who had been in the lobby and who
had hurried up to Room 1910. The man was pushing the door carefully,
squeezing his body through the opening. He had a small Smith & Wesson
automatic pistol in his hand.

Steve took no notice. He held the French phone at his ear, and
repeated, "Louder, Mr. Green."

Over the wire, Dan Murdoch's voice whispered, "Did they rise to the
bait, Shrimp?"

"Yes."

"Are they in the room?"

"Yes."

"Okay, Shrimp, here goes." Murdoch raised his voice.

"THIS IS MR. GREEN," he shouted. "I HAVE THOSE PAPERS FOR YOU. IF YOU WILL
MEET ME AT THE USUAL PLACE, I'LL DELIVER THEM TO YOU!"

"All right, Mr. Green. I'll meet you there in fifteen minutes. Good-
by."

Stephen Klaw put the phone down, still with his right hand in his coat
pocket. As if casually, he put his left hand in his other pocket. He
turned around and faced the two men who had come into the room.
Neither of them looked dangerous, except for the weapons in their
hands. The first, with his small, well-kept moustache and thin, almost
aristocratic face, might have been a banker or a director of a large
corporation. The second was soft, and a bit paunchy, with a round,
good-natured face, and could have passed for a genial neighborhood
doctor.

The stout man pushed the door shut behind him with a poke of his
elbow, while the one with the moustache bowed from the hips.

"Mr. Black," he said, in faultless, painstaking English which betrayed
the fact that he was a foreigner of excellent education. "I must beg
your pardon for this unceremonious entrance. But the urgency of our
business with you must serve as an excuse. In our profession--" he
jerked his head toward his stout companion, who beamed--"and in
yours, there is a motto to the effect that the end justifies the
means."

"I see," Stephen Klaw said dryly. "And what is it you want?"

"I am so glad to see that you are a reasonable man, Mr. Black. Permit
me to introduce myself. I am--Mr. Smith. And this--" nodding in the
direction of the stout man--"is Mr. Jones."

"Very interesting," said Steve.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones both kept their automatics carefully pointed
at Klaw's stomach.

"We just heard you making an appointment over the phone with a certain
Mr. Green. You are going to meet him, and he is going to turn over to
you a certain list of names. Not so?"

"You're doing the talking," Steve said noncommittally.

Mr. Smith shrugged. "Please do not make it hard for us. We know that
your name is not Black, and that your friend's name is not Green, just
as you know that our names are not Smith and Jones. Let us not beat
around the bush. Mr. Jones and I are members of the S. S. Corps. You
know, naturally, what the S. S. Corps represents?"

"Never heard of it," Steve lied, with a straight face.

Mr. Smith sighed. He looked sideways at Mr. Jones, taking care not to
let his gun muzzle waver from Stephen Klaw's stomach.

"Show him just who we are, Mr. Jones."

The stout Mr. Jones showed all his teeth in a hearty, genial smile.
"It will be a pleasure, indeed!"

Keeping his gun trained on Steve, he used his left hand to turn back
the lapel of his coat. A glittering button was fastened to it.

"You will recognize this emblem, Mr. Black," he said, and moved up
closer, thrusting the lapel out to bring the button nearer to Steve's
eyes.

It was about the size of a quarter, and made of some sort of black,
polished onyx. Upon its surface was carved a gleaming silver skull,
and super imposed upon the skull there was a golden swastika.

"Ah," said Steve, acting as if a great light had just dawned upon him.
"S. S.--Skull and Swastika. I recognize it now!"

"Exactly!" beamed Mr. Jones.

MR. SMITH stepped forward so that he was alongside of Mr. Jones. He
pushed the muzzle of his gun up against Steve's diaphragm.

"It will do you no good to pretend ignorance, Mr. Black. We of the
Skull and Swastika Corps are not fools. We know that you belong to the
government, and that your real name is Stephen Klaw. We know that you
have come here to contact a certain Mr. Green, whose real name is
Murdoch. He is to turn over to you a list of the Executive Council of
the S. S. Corps. We just heard you making an appointment to meet him."

Stephen Klaw kept his hands in his pockets, and gazed bleakly at those
two.

"You're pretty well-informed, aren't you?"

"Extremely so. And we might as well tell you that we are prepared to
go to any lengths to keep that list of names from falling into the
hands of the United States Government."

"How far?"

Mr. Smith wiggled his gun, and shrugged. "Murder and further!"

Steve raised his eyebrows. "What's further than murder?"

Mr. Smith gestured impatiently with his automatic. "Please don't waste
time. Surely you remember the newspaper stories of the girl who was
found last week with her tongue cut out, and--"

"I remember," Steve said hastily. There was a queer, flickering light
in his eyes "That was Estelle Frazer. She had just come back from
Germany, and she was scheduled to appear before a Senate Investigating
Committee, to tell certain secrets she had learned there."

"Quite so," said Mr. Smith. "But she never talked. She begged to be
killed quickly, Mr. Black. There have been others, too."

Stephen Klaw's eyes were no longer flickering. They were cold and
hard. His hands, still dug deep in his pockets, were motionless. He
asked quietly--almost too quietly: "So it was you two gentlemen who
tortured her, and then left her mutilated body to be found?"

Mr. Jones beamed. "Exactly, exactly. It served as an example of the
power of the Skull and Swastika Corps. Now you, Mr. Klaw, can save
yourself a great deal of bodily pain by disclosing to us the place
where you were to meet Mr. Green. We will go instead, and relieve him
of the list."

"And what happens to me?" Klaw asked.

"As soon as we have the list safe," Mr. Jones promised unctuously, "we
will let you go."

"You lie," said Stephen Klaw. "You've just confessed to me that you
tortured and murdered Estelle Frazer. You can't afford to let me
live."

Mr. Jones was about to protest, but Mr. Smith stopped him. He nodded
sympathetically at Steve.

"That is true. The best we can promise you is a quick death. Speak
now, and tell us where you are to meet Murdoch, and we will kill you
mercifully with a bullet. If you refuse, we will have to--ah--make
your last hours on earth a nightmare of agony. Do not doubt that we
can do it. We have already told you about Estelle Frazer. There have
been others. We have men downstairs in the lobby, whom we can bring
up. They have all the necessary paraphernalia. We will hang out a 'Do
Not Disturb' sign, and proceed to work on you at our leisure."

"That," said Stephen Klaw, "is all I wanted to know!"

"What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Smith. "Do you mean that you will
talk--"

"No," said Steve. "I mean that I will shoot!"

He fired both automatics in his coat pockets, without removing them.
He merely thrust the muzzles up as far as they would go, and pulled
the triggers. The bullets scorched the cloth of his coat. The
explosions were low, muffled. The slugs--one from each gun--struck
Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones as accurately as if he had aimed carefully and
painstakingly. He got each of them in the right arm, just above the
elbow.

And then, a very curious thing happened. Steve had aimed deliberately
at the gun arm of both men, because he knew that they would pull the
triggers of their own weapons, even if only by reflex action. He had
hoped that the driving force of his own shots would swing them around,
so that he would not be hit.

IN THIS he was correct. But Mr. Smith who was standing at the right of
Mr. Jones, was whirled around in such fashion that his back was turned
to the stout and genial Mr. Jones.

Both guns went off at almost the same instant, echoing Steve's two
shots. Mr. Smith's shot went harmlessly into the wall, but Mr. Jones's
slug smashed squarely into Mr. Smith's back.

Mr. Smith toppled forward, blood gushing from his mouth. He fell
against the wall, then slid to the floor, and remained there,
motionless.

Mr. Jones gazed at his dead confrere, as if spellbound. His right arm
hung limp at his side, and the automatic which had driven and killed
Smith fell from his numbed hand. He uttered a choked cry of rage, and
stopped to pick up the gun with his left hand.

Stephen Klaw sighed, and hit him once behind the ear with the butt of
his reversed automatic.

The stout Mr. Jones fell across the body of Mr. Smith.

Steve bent and pulled the unconscious Jones off the body of Smith, and
maneuvered around till he got the man's coat off. Jones's arm was
bleeding profusely. Steve didn't bother to stop and examine it. He
went to the bed and yanked a sheet off, tore it into strips, and tied
it as tightly as he could around Jones's arm, above the wound, in the
form of a rough tourniquet. Then, to make sure that Mr. Jones would
not wake up and go away from there, Steve handcuffed him to the bed.

He went methodically through the pockets of both men, removing
everything he found, including the black-lacquered Skull-and-Swastika
buttons. He had just about finished, when the telephone rang again. He
picked it up, and was greeted by Johnny Kerrigan's voice.

"Hello, Mr. Black, how you doing?"

"I'm doing all right, Mr. White. I had two visitors."

"How do they feel now?"

"One of them is past all feeling. The other isn't interested. I have
two of the buttons."

"Very nice work, Mr. Black. Come on down. The lady with the yellow
hair and the chinchilla collar is getting restless. I can see her from
the phone booth here, and she's biting her fingernails."

"Is she alone?"

"Not much. There's at least half a dozen bozos in here that are taking
orders from her. Those two you interviewed upstairs were only a
scouting force."

Steve grinned. "I'll be right down!"

He hung up and hurried out of the room. On the way he picked up the
"Do Not Disturb" sign, and hung it on the knob. He made sure the door
was locked and went down the hall to the elevator. Once more he
slipped both hands into his coat pockets...



CHAPTER FOUR

Broken Promise


THE lobby was just as busy as it had been ten minutes ago, but with
this difference--there was an air of tense expectancy which somehow
seemed to charge the atmosphere with latent dynamite.

Stepping out of the elevator, Stephen Klaw threw a swift,
comprehensive glance around, seeking to orientate himself to all the
focal points of danger. He spotted Johnny Kerrigan, still in the
telephone booth, engrossed in a mythical conversation over the wire.
Johnny had his lips close to the mouthpiece, with the receiver at his
ear, and was going through all the motions of talking, but he was in
reality keeping a sharp weather eye out on the occupants of the lobby.

Johnny nodded almost imperceptibly in the direction of the cocktail
lounge, and Steve looked in that direction and saw the tall, slender
figure of Dan Murdoch, seated at the bar in there and sipping his
inevitable Scotch-and-soda. From where Murdoch sat he had a clear view
of the lobby, and there was nothing between him and the hotel foyer to
obstruct the possible line of fire in the event of trouble.

Murdoch winked over his highball glass, but Steve Klaw did not return
the wink.

Steve got that much of the picture as he stepped out of the elevator
cage. Next, he switched to the lobby itself.

The yellow-haired woman with the chinchilla collar was seated in an
easy chair, with her long silk-stockinged legs crossed, smoking a
cigarette through a thin ivory holder. When she saw Steve, she almost
dropped the holder. She started to get up. Then she let herself sink
back into the chair as she saw Stephen Klaw coming straight across the
lobby toward her.

Steve had his hands in his pockets. He was walking slowly,
deliberately. He had spotted at least a half dozen men in the lobby,
who looked as if they might be the ones to whom Kerrigan had referred
when he said that the woman had more help at hand. There were two near
the cigar counter, two at the desk, and one apiece at the elevator
doors and at the street entrance. Whether or not there were more, he
could not tell. But after the first quick glance of reconnaissance, he
did not look again in the direction of those men. His whole attention
was centered upon the woman, for he was sure that nothing would happen
here until she gave the signal.

He stopped squarely in front of her and looked down, smiling. For a
brief, fleeting moment, he glimpsed a flicker of emotion in her eyes.
Whether it was fear, hate or consternation, he could not tell. Then
she dropped long-lashed lids to veil her eyes. She returned his smile.
She took a long puff of the cigarette through the ivory holder, and
allowed the smoke to trickle out through pursed lips.

"How do you do, Mr.--er--Black?" she said in a low, throaty voice.

"Good afternoon, Lisa Monterey," Stephen Klaw said Ievelly.

A quick spasm of surprise passed across her cameo features. The long
fingers on the ivory cigarette holder tautened.

"You know my name?"

"Of course. We've known for a long time that you were an agent of the
Skull and Swastika Corps. In fact, the F. B. I. knows almost as much
about you as you do, yourself. For instance, we know that you worked
for two years in the Balkans as an agent of the Nazis, under the
notorious Franz Trebizond. Then, when Trebizond went to South America,
you accompanied him. Now that Trebizond has been ordered to the United
States to direct Fifth Column activities, you are his chief
lieutenant. We even have a list of all the aliases you've used. In
Rumania, you were Dora Caminescu. In Holland, you were Maria Nordlung.
In Paraguay, you were Lisa Monterey. You kept that last name when you
came here, because it was too difficult to get another passport."

She was leaning forward in her chair now, staring at him. "Do you know
the name my chief is using in America?"

"Franz Trebizond? No. We don't know yet. But give us a little more
time. We've just started to work on the Skull and Swastika Corps."

Her lips curled scornfully. "You are a fool for telling me all this,
Mr.--er--Black. If I am really in the employ of Franz Trebizond, as
you imply, what is to prevent me from warning him at once?"

"Nothing," Steve told her grimly. "In fact, I want you to warn him. I
want you to give him a message from me--Stephen Klaw."

SLOWLY, she arose from the chair. Standing, she was almost regal in
carriage and manner. But there was a certain nervous tension about her
which Steve detected from the rapid heaving of her breast.

"I admit nothing. You are only talking for the purpose of trapping me
into an admission. Then you would arrest me."

"On the contrary," Steve said, grinning. "I could arrest you now, upon
the evidence I have. It was you who sent those two pleasant gentlemen
up to interview me in Room Eighteen-ten. That's enough to hold you on.
But it isn't you I want. It's Franz Trebizond. Go and tell him that
Stephen Klaw gives him twenty four hours to get out of the country!"

Lisa Monterey laughed. "You talk very big, Mr. Stephen Klaw. But what
can you do? You don't even know where Franz Trebizond is to be found.
You don't know what name he uses in this country."

"I'll know all that before midnight," he told her. "One of the two
kind gentlemen who visited me upstairs, is still alive. He told me how
he intended to make me talk. I'll use the same method with him. And it
will work!"

The woman's eyes flashed. "You are wrong, Mr. Stephen Klaw," she
murmured. "Oh, you are very wrong. You will make no one talk. You are
practically a dead man now!"

As she finished talking, she sprang away from Klaw, and began to run
toward the street entrance. At the same time she did something with
her finger to the ivory cigarette holder, and then applied it to her
lips. She blew a great gust of breath into it, and the shrill note of
a whistle emanated from the holder.

That whistle was the signal for which her men had been waiting. As if
magically, guns appeared in their hands, the muzzles swinging with
murderous certainty to center upon the slim figure of Stephen Klaw.

He did not turn to run, neither did he seek cover.

There was a faint smile upon his lips as both his hands came out of
the jacket pockets, the two automatics barking in a rhythmic melody of
doom. He held them close to his hips, firing from that position. He
did not shoot with frantic speed or with jerky desperation, as a man
might be expected to do when he is attacked by superior numbers.
Instead, he fired each shot deliberately, carefully, never missing. He
swiveled slowly, as lead whined past his head. His first two shots
caught the two men at the desk, and then he turned his fire on those
at the cigar counter. He paid no attention to the one at the street
entrance or to the one at the elevator doors.

He had no need to, for they were being well taken care of by Dan
Murdoch, who had come out of the cocktail lounge with both his heavy
revolvers spitting and roaring.

The hotel lobby reverberated to the thunder of deadly gunfire, and the
rolling clouds of sound echoed back from the walls and ceiling with
the shattering force of a volcanic eruption.

Screams of frightened women, and the hoarse shouts of frantic men
formed a ghastly chorus to the deep-throated roar of the guns. Patrons
ran about blindly, seeking safety from the whistling, shrieking leaden
bolts of death. A man, nicked in the ear by a stray bullet, clapped
both hands to his head and shouted that he was dying.

In a matter of moments, the bustling, peaceful lobby was transformed
into an inferno of terror and panic. Those six gunmen of the Skull and
Swastika Corps lay dead on the floor. The shooting was over, but the
panic grew. A milling, seething throng of men and women fought to gain
the exits.

Stephen Klaw remained standing for a moment in the middle of the
lobby, watchful for the appearance of other gunmen. Dan Murdoch, tall
and lithe, stood poised in the doorway of the cocktail lounge, a
smoking revolver in each hand. The two of them glanced across at each
other, and they both nodded. The battle was over. Murdoch sheathed his
revolvers; Klaw slipped his hot automatics back into his coat pockets.
They both turned to look for Kerrigan.

In that shouting, stampeding throng, they could not find him. He was
no longer in the telephone booth. There was no sign of him anywhere.

Neither was there any sign of Lisa Monterey!

POLICE whistles were keening shrilly, outside. A siren was shrieking
somewhere, and rapidly approaching.

Klaw slid through the throng, and reached Murdoch's side.

"Let's go, mope," he said. "We don't want to answer any police
questions now!" "What about Johnny?" Murdoch asked.

"He must have tailed the Monterey woman out of here. That was his end
of the job. Let's move fast. We have a little job of our own to attend
to upstairs!" Dan Murdoch followed him through the lobby to the rear,
then down a flight of stairs to the service basement. They found an
elevator here, deserted by its operator who had no doubt left his post
to see the excitement upstairs.

Klaw and Murdoch got into it, and Steve sent the cage scooting up to
the eighteenth floor. He unlocked the door of 1810, and pointed
silently to the prostrate form of the stout Mr. Jones, who was just
recovering consciousness from the blow on the head. Jones was still
groggy, and hardly knew what was happening to him as Klaw unlocked the
handcuffs fastening him to the bed.

It was mute testimony to the efficiency with which the Suicide Squad
worked together, that no word of explanation or instruction was
necessary between Klaw and Murdoch now. Murdoch knelt and slung the
stout man over his shoulder, and then followed Steve out of the room.
Steve closed the door once more, leaving the "Do Not Disturb" sign on
the knob, so that the body of Mr. Smith would not be found for a
while. Then they made their way down the corridor back to the service
elevator.

Down in the basement, Klaw went out first, reconnoitering the lay of
the land. There was no one down here, but they could hear the shouts
of the police up above, trying to quiet the panic-stricken crowd in
the lobby, and find out just what had happened.

Steve whistled for Murdoch to follow him, and made his way to the back
of the basement where there was a loading platform for trunks and
baggage. Outside the platform stood a hotel station wagon, empty.

Murdoch dumped the stout Mr. Jones into the rear, and cuffed him to
the doorframe. Then he and Klaw climbed into the cab, with Klaw behind
the wheel. The key was in the switch, ready for the next trip, and
Klaw grinned as he turned it on.

"It's nice of the Hotel Groton to provide an easy getaway like this
for us!"

"Lay off the jabber and get going, Shrimp," Dan Murdoch growled. "The
police will be around here in a minute." Klaw nodded and stepped on
the starter. He gave her the gas, and they rolled out of the alley
into the street.

A great crowd was collected fifty feet up the block, in front of the
hotel entrance. No one even noticed the station wagon as it turned
left to the corner and swung north on Broadway.

Klaw drove slowly, without making any effort to throw off possible
pursuit.

"The bird in back," he told Murdoch, "gave the name of Jones. He's an
agent of the Skull and Swastika Corps, and he's one of the devils who
tortured poor Estelle Frazer before they killed her."

"Ah!" said Dan Murdoch.

"Our job," Klaw went on, "is to get the Skull and Swastika Corps to
come out in the open. So far, we've done pretty good. They fell hook,
line and sinker, for the story that I was to pick up a list of the
names of their executive council. But this is only the beginning. If
we can't bring Franz Trebizond out into the open, we fail. I figure
that by holding on to Mr. Jones, we can do it."

Murdoch nodded. "Trebizond will be afraid that Jones may talk. And
he'll try to get him out of our hands."

"Or knock him off. Either way, it's Trebizond's move next."

"Unless my eyesight fails me," Dan Murdoch said, looking to the left,
past Steve, "Trebizond is making his next move already!"

Steve glanced out of his window, and saw what Murdoch meant.

A long, two-toned town car had drawn abreast of them. The lower part
of the body was black, the upper, maroon. A uniformed chauffeur was at
the wheel, and a second man in uniform sat beside him. In the rear of
the car were two more men, and a woman.

A SINGLE glance was enough to tell Steve Klaw that the woman was Lisa
Monterey. Though he was not able to distinguish her features in the
interior of the car, he spotted the light chinchilla collar and the
silver chinchilla hat. She was sitting on the far side of the seat.
One of the men was seated beside her, and the other occupied a folding
seat just in front of her. This latter one was holding a small, sawed-
off sub-machine gun, with the foreshortened muzzle poking out of the
window straight at Klaw. His face was down low, sighting along the
barrel, and his finger was on the trip.

Those particular weapons had never been used in the United States
until introduced by the Skull and Swastika Corps. The infernal Franz
Trebizond had brought them over with him, and they proved a most
effective means of terrorization. Anyone who was inclined to inform
against the Skull and Swastika was sure to change his mind when he
read how the victims of those sawed-off shotguns lived for two or
three days, enduring the most agonizing of torture from the
multitudinous wounds, and then dying.

The second man, seated beside Lisa Monterey, had another of the
vicious weapons, which he was aiming from inside the car. The careful
planning which had gone into this attack was evident--for the two
machine-gunners were so placed that it was almost impossible to shoot
them both at the same time. If, by some miracle, Klaw or Murdoch
should succeed in hitting one of them, the other could pull the
trigger of his machine gun, riddling them both with the same burst.

Klaw took in the situation at a glance as Murdoch whispered fiercely,
"They've got us cold, Shrimp. But Johnny's supposed to be tailing that
dame."

Klaw nodded, gripping the wheel. The limousine was swiftly pulling
ahead of them, bringing the two machine-gunners directly abreast of
Klaw and Murdoch. In another moment, they would be in position to
fire.

Stephen Klaw stepped all the way down on the gas, and the station
wagon spurted forward. Luckily, there wasn't much traffic on Broadway
at this time of the afternoon, and there was a clear lane ahead. But
the chauffeur of the limousine had been watching for just such a move,
and he matched Steve's effort. The limousine thrust forward, and
started to gain on the station wagon. The two cars sped up Broadway
with roaring exhausts, in a death-race. There was hardly twelve inches
of space between them as the long snout of the limousine began to edge
out in front of the station wagon, bringing the machine-gunners slowly
and surely into firing position. Ahead glowed a red traffic light, and
a police officer at the corner was madly waving a hand to them to
stop, while he tugged his revolver out with the other.

Dan Murdoch had a gun in each hand now, but he couldn't get in
position to fire past Steve at the machine-gunners. Everything
depended now on whether Klaw could keep the station wagon from falling
another foot behind the limousine. He was keeping his eyes fixed on
the street ahead, driving with every faculty alert and feeding her
every ounce of gas that she would take. They flashed past the corner,
and the cop jumped out of the way just in the nick of time. Then the
two cars were racing up toward Columbus Circle, neck-and-neck, but
with the limousine gaining by inches--and inches were all it needed.

Murdoch's dark and handsome face was set and grim. He swung around in
the seat, and leaned far back, stretching his left arm out behind
Steve's head to aim at one of the machine-gunners. But the wooden
paneling of the station wagon was so high that it shut off his view of
those two. There was no way for him to get at them until they came up
abreast of the cab, and by then it would be too late.

Quietly he said, "I'm stymied, Shrimp. You'll have to crash them."

IT WAS typical of the utter confidence they had in each other, that
Klaw asked no further questions, taking it for granted that what
Murdoch said was so. Crashing that other car was the last thing in the
world they wanted. It would mean surrendering their prisoner to the
police, for they could never hope to spirit him away from an accident
on Broadway, as they had from the Groton Hotel.

Their orders from Washington had been strict. They must operate as an
independent army of three, a sort of private Blitzkrieg against the
Skull and Swastika Corps. They must not seek the help of the local
police, or of the local FBI office. Nothing they did could be
official, for the diplomatic repercussions would be beyond
calculation.

Besides, the Skull and Swastika Corps was known to have tentacles
reaching into many key posts in the police and judiciary. Not so long
ago, an important public servant had felt impelled to go on the radio
to deny rumors that he was sympathetic to the S. S. Corps. As a matter
of fact, that official was a loyal American of French extraction, who
hated the Skull and Swastika, and everything it stood for. But he had
a father, mother, two sisters and a brother in occupied France, and he
knew that if he did not obey orders from Franz Trebizond, his
relatives would be tortured mercilessly. So, once the stout Mr. Jones
fell into the hands of the police, there was a good chance that
Trebizond might get him out of custody.

That was why the Suicide Squad had been assigned to this job. If they
came to grief on this assignment, there would be no support for them
from the Department of Justice. They would be disowned, and they would
swear up and down that they had been acting in a private capacity, and
not as agents of the United States Government.

All this was in the mind of Stephen Klaw as he twisted the wheel to
crash the station wagon into the limousine. And he knew that it was
also in the mind of Dan Murdoch. But he knew too, that Murdoch would
never have ordered it unless it were supremely necessary. Therefore,
he complied without question.

The two cars met with a crashing, rending sound of tearing metal as
the left front fender of the station wagon tore into the right fender
of the limousine. Both cars swerved out over to the southbound lane,
but neither stopped. The chauffeur of the limousine was pouring gas
into his motor, just as Stephen Klaw was doing, each making a supreme
effort to pull ahead of the other The purpose of the limousine was to
bring those sawed-off machine guns abreast of Klaw and Murdoch, while
Steve's purpose was to get as far ahead as possible, to be out of
range of the vicious weapons, and to give Murdoch a chance to use his
revolvers.

The Broadway crowd, rendered blas by years of stunt attractions
calculated to pry it loose from its money, was treated to the free
spectacle of a tug-of-war between two automobiles, with death as the
prize for the loser.

The cars were locked together inextricably by their fenders, and it
became evident in a moment that neither could pull ahead of the other.
Klaw and Murdoch realized this at the same moment as the killers in
the limousine. The yellow-haired Lisa Monterey screamed to her two
gunners to shoot, and the men thrust their murderous machine guns far
out of the window, with their fingers on the trips. They were going to
blast through the partition of the station wagon.

Dan Murdoch smashed the glass behind the driver's seat, and literally
leaped through into the tonneau, landing on hands and knees. Then he
was up in a split-second, both his revolvers thundering.

He fired six times swiftly with each gun at point-blank range into the
faces of the two machine-gunners, at the same time that Steve Klaw,
abandoning the wheel leaned far out of his window and began to pump
both his automatics.

It is doubtful whose slugs killed those machine-gunners first. Klaw
had inserted new clips in his automatics, and he emptied nine shots
from each into the killers, while Murdoch fired twelve times with his
two revolvers. And neither of them missed with a single shot.

THE faces of the two machine-gunners disintegrated under that blasting
barrage. And at the same time, Lisa Monterey opened the far door of
the limousine and stepped out into the street. She lifted up her dress
and dashed away. Her chauffeur and footman also took to their heels.

Klaw and Murdoch saw her go, but they were unable to stop her. Their
guns were empty, and by the time they could get out of the station
wagon and take after her, she would have plenty of time to disappear
in the crowd. Lisa Monterey was making good her escape!

But now, another factor entered the picture. The big, hulking figure
of Johnny Kerrigan came leaping out of a taxicab fifty feet behind,
and made after the yellow-haired woman. He overtook her in a half
dozen strides.

That was all Klaw and Murdoch had a chance to see. Their own position
was precarious. The traffic cop was running up from the corner, and a
crowd was beginning to form, which would cut off all escape for them.
The prisoner could no longer be kept. They must leave him to the
police.

"I say we scram out of here, Shrimp!" Murdoch yelled, above the clamor
of the throng and the eddying echo of the gunfire.

Steve nodded. They both leaped out of the station wagon, and ran
headlong into the gathering crowd, away from the approaching cop.

The crowd melted away from them at sight of their guns. Klaw and
Murdoch were the only ones who knew that those guns were empty.

They reached the opposite sidewalk with the cop shouting behind them,
and afraid to shoot lest he hit an innocent bystander.

"Down there!" shouted Steve, pointing to the subway kiosk at the
corner.

They both dived down the stairs as the thunderous rumble of a local
subway train sounded, rolling into the station below. Klaw, in the
lead, hurdled the turnstiles without paying his nickel, and Dan
Murdoch followed at his heels. They made the train by a half second,
and heard the door slam shut behind them. The train started to move,
and they turned and looked out at the sweating, cursing cop who came
tearing into the station after them.

At the next local station they got out and raced up the stairs to the
street, hailing a taxicab and pulling away only a moment before the
siren of an approaching police car sounded, a block away. The alarm
had gone out fast, but they had beaten it by the margin of a matter of
seconds.

They left their cab after riding it three or four blocks, and took
another. They changed cabs three times before they ventured to
approach the neighborhood of Sue Watson's apartment house. In the last
cab they reloaded their guns, then dismissed the taxi two blocks away
and walked the rest of the distance.

The light was on in the first floor window, and the blind was down.

Steve nudged Dan Murdoch, and they kept on walking past the house,
without displaying any interest.

"I don't like it, Dan," Steve Klaw said.

"She's supposed to keep her shade up--except when one of us is up
there."

"We better snap it up then!" Murdoch barked.

They turned into the garage next door, and Steve waved the attendant
away.

"I just want to get something out of my car," he said. They went all
the way to the rear of the garage, found the back exit, and stepped
out into the concrete yard. From there they made their way into the
yard of the apartment house, and went down to the basement.

THEY took the back stairs up to the first floor, and Murdoch tried the
door while Stephen Klaw waited, pressing his body against the corridor
wall.

The door opened under Murdoch's touch, revealing the foyer. A man with
a sawed-off machine gun was standing in the foyer, with the muzzle of
the deadly weapon trained upon the doorway.

"Good afternoon!" the man said to Murdoch, leering over the muzzle of
the machine gun. "We thought that some of the girl's friends would be
coming to visit her. Put your hands up, and come right in!"

Dan Murdoch stood stiffly in the doorway, without moving. Steve Klaw
was almost at his elbow, but was standing in such a way that he was
not visible to the man with the gun. Murdoch smiled genially, but did
not raise his hands. For the benefit of Klaw, he described the
situation as best he could.

"So you're a Skull and Swastika man, eh? Waiting to shoot me down, eh?
What did you do with Sue Watson?"

"She's been taken away, my friend," the gunman said. "She'll be well
taken care of. As for you, come right in. We want to talk to you."

A second gunman appeared from the interior of the apartment, at the
first one's elbow.

"See what I have caught, Hans!" the first one said over his shoulder
to the second. "A nice big fish for our net!"

That was all he said. Stephen Klaw, at the first hint of trouble, had
dropped to his knees and drawn both his automatics. He swung around on
his knees, in front of the doorway, and peered up at the two gunmen in
the foyer from between Murdoch's legs.

"You guys talk too much!" he said disgustedly.

The gunmen, startled, glanced down, swinging the muzzles of their
machine guns down to bear upon Klaw.

And Klaw fired from the ground, once with each automatic. He shot at
an upward angle of about thirty degrees, but his aim was just as good
as in level shooting. His slugs got both killers square in the throat,
and sent them crashing back into the apartment with their machine guns
unfired.

The two explosions of his automatics sounded more like the backfire of
an automobile than like pistol shots.

"Nice work, Shrimp!" Murdoch said, and sprang forward into the
apartment, drawing both his revolvers. He leaped over the still-
thrashing bodies of the gun-men, into the living room. A third man was
in there methodically searching the place with all the thoroughness of
the Gestapo. The sofa had been ripped apart, the disemboweled cushions
lay on the floor. The drawers of the desk had been pulled out and
ransacked.

The man uttered a guttural curse and yanked out a pistol. Murdoch
coolly shot him through the heart. Then he turned and looked at
Stephen Klaw.

"Well, Shrimp," he said. "It looks like we didn't keep your promise to
Mary Watson!"

Stephen Klaw's face was white. He gripped those two automatics
tightly, as if he wished to beat someone's brains out with them.

"We've got to find her, Dan," he whispered. "We've got to find her--
before they go to work on her!"

"Let's get out then," said Murdoch. "We'll never find her here!"



CHAPTER FIVE

The Lair of Trebizond


STIFFLY, they walked out of the apartment, never looking at the dead
men they left behind. They walked down the stairs and out into the
street, like two automatons. They were both thinking of Sue Watson in
the hands of Franz Trebizond. And they were remembering the things
that had been done to Estelle Frazer, and to others who had fallen
into those hands.

"Maybe," Dan Murdoch said hopefully, "maybe they left other men
outside, to watch for us. Maybe they'll try to get us--

"We've got to take the next one alive," Steve murmured. "We've got to
make him tell us where to find Sue!"

He stopped as an automobile horn sounded across the street.

Both of them swiveled to face that sound, going for their guns. But
they didn't draw them.

Murdoch said, "Ah!" and Klaw exhaled a great gust of breath.

It was a taxicab horn which was being blown across the street. The
driver was using it to signal them, at the order of one of the
occupants.

The occupants were Johnny Kerrigan and Lisa Monterey.

Swiftly they crossed the street and climbed into the cab.

Lisa Monterey's wrists were handcuffed behind her. She was sitting
silent and sullen, next to Kerrigan, who was grinning. The taxicab
driver turned around and winked as Murdoch and Klaw got in.

"Boys," said Kerrigan, nodding in the direction of the driver, "I want
you to meet Sam Meyers, who hates the Skull and Swastika Corps as much
as we do. I caught up with Miss Monterey here, and gave her the choice
of coming along with me, or of being turned in to the police on a
murder rap. P.S! she preferred to come with me. Then I explained to
Sam what it was all about, and he offered the use of his cab. So here
we are."

"That's right, gents," Sam Meyers said eagerly. "Anything I can do to
keep the Nazis outta this country--I'll do it. And I ain't afraid o'
no fast action, neither. I was a corp'ral in the last war, an' seen
plenty o' action--an' mud!"

"Glad to know you, Sam," said Dan Murdoch.

Steve Klaw turned to Kerrigan and said flatly, "Johnny, the skunks
have got Sue!"

Kerrigan scowled, and nodded. "I thought so, when we drove up and saw
the shade down."

Lisa Monterey smiled thinly. "You three men are fools. You can never
beat the Skull and Swastika. Franz Trebizond will get you, as he has
gotten all of the enemies of our Fuehrer."

Steve Klaw, sitting backward on one of the folding chairs next to
Murdoch, looked at her speculatively.

"You could tell us where they've got Sue Watson, couldn't you?"

She threw him a glance of vicious spite. "I will tell you nothing!"

Steve looked at Kerrigan. "When this dame phoned in to her
headquarters from the lobby of the Hotel Groton, Johnny, you checked
on the call?"

"I did," said Johnny. "I got the number, and traced the address
through the telephone company. But it was a blind lead, Steve. That
address is the home of Judge Hinchley. There must be some mistake.
Judge Hinchley was a Congressman before he was appointed Judge, and he
introduced a bill in Congress to force the deportation of every alien
member of the Skull and Swastika Corps."

"I see," Steve said thoughtfully. He had been watching Lisa Monterey
keenly as Johnny spoke, and he saw the sudden involuntary jerk of her
shoulders at the mention of Judge Hinchley. Her eyes widened almost
imperceptibly, and then were immediately veiled.

"Suppose we go see Judge Hinchley," he said. "Perhaps some servant in
the Judge's home is acting as intermediary for Trebizond. The servant
may be a clearing house for messages between agents of the Skull and
Swastika."

"Let's go!" said Johnny Kerrigan.

THE Judge's home was a low, rambling Colonial, built on a large,
landscaped plot of ground in Riverdale, just within the city limits.
It was a good forty minute drive from where they started, but Sam
Meyer made it in twenty minutes flat.

They parked a hundred feet away, and left Lisa Monterey handcuffed to
the door-frame of the cab, in charge of Sam Meyer.

Stephen Klaw went up the flower-bordered walk to the front door, while
Kerrigan and Murdoch faded into the shrubbery surrounding the house.

A burly manservant answered the bell, and scowled at Steve.

"May I see Judge Hinchley?" Steve asked mildly.

The manservant filled the doorway, towering above Klaw.

"I'm sorry," he said gruffly. "Judge Hinchley has been ill with a
heart attack, for the past month. He can see no one."

"I'm sure he'll want to see me," Steve said, "if you'll take my name
in to him. The name is--Black."

He watched the man's face, but caught no reaction. He went on swiftly,
stabbing in the dark. "It's all right, you can take me in to the
Chief. I was sent here by Lisa Monterey."

Now he saw the man's eyes flicker. But he recovered his stolid pose at
once. "I don't know that name. But step in. I'll tell Mr. Belding, the
Judge's secretary."

The man moved aside, and Steve stepped inside, sliding his hands into
his coat pockets.

The servant led him into a waiting room at the side of the foyer, and
left him there. Steve did not sit down. He stood with his back to the
window, and tapped gently upon the pane with his fingernail. An
answering tap sounded from outside. It was either Johnny Kerrigan or
Dan Murdoch.

Steve ran his fingertips along the window sash and found the wire of a
burglar alarm system. Swiftly he felt along the wire, until he came to
a spot where the wire had been spliced into the main burglar alarm
line. He twisted at the tape, ripped it off, and separated the two
wires. He tapped once again on the pane, and stepped away from the
window just as the door opened and a stocky, bald-headed man entered
the room.

"I am Mr. Belding," said the bald-headed man. "Judge Hinchley's
secretary. What can I do for you?"

Steve's hands were back in his pockets. "I've got to see the Judge,"
Steve said. "I have reason to believe that someone in this house is
connected with the Skull and Swastika Corps."

Belding almost jumped under the sudden impact of that bleak statement.

"Impossible!" he exclaimed. "We are all loyal Americans in this
house!"

"Nevertheless," Steve persisted, "there is at least one Skull and
Swastika member here. Maybe more. I insist on seeing the Judge."

Belding looked at him queerly. "You said something to the butler about
having been sent here by a woman named Lisa Monterey?"

"Yes."

"Who is this woman?"

"I'll tell the Judge when I see him." Belding smiled thinly. "I'm sure
you will. Follow me."

He turned and opened the door by which he had entered, and led the way
through into the next room. Stephen Klaw entered, and stopped short on
the threshold. His eyes widened momentarily.

This room was a library. But it was immense. The ceiling had been
removed, making the room the height of the house, with a balcony
running around all four sides. There were bookshelves both below and
above the balcony. And hanging from the opposite was a great purple
banner with the ghastly insignia of the Skull and Swastika. Standing
up there on the balcony, in front of the banner, were four men in the
natty uniform of the S. S. Corps. Each of them had a sawed-off machine
gun, which was trained upon Klaw. Steve gave them only one glance,
then centered his attention upon the long table at the other end of
the room.

Sue Watson was seated at that table. Her wrists were handcuffed to the
chair. A few feet away, there was another chair, in which was seated
Judge Hinchley. Steve recognized him at once, but was startled by the
change in the man. The Judge's face was haggard and pinched, and his
eyes were deep-sunken wells of misery and shame. He sat half slumped
in the chair in an attitude which bespoke utter hopelessness.

Behind the chair in which Sue Watson was handcuffed, stood Franz
Trebizond.

STEPHEN KLAW had never seen the man, but he had gotten a good
description from Mary Watson. Even without the description, however,
he would have known that this was Trebizond.

The man was lean and gaunt, like the carcass of Death itself. His lips
were so thin and bloodless that his mouth seemed to be nothing but a
straight line drawn in crayon across his face. His eyes were coal-
black, and protruded so far that they seemed about to leap out and
strike at one. He was standing in such a way that most of his
cadaverous body was protected by the chair. He had one of Sue's ears
gripped between two of his bony, bloodless fingers. In his other hand
a handle to which was affixed a razor blade. He was holding the blade
idly in the air above Sue's head.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Klaw," he said. "Let us do away with all
pretense. I know that you are Stephen Klaw, one of those three devils
who are called the Suicide Squad. And you know that I am Franz
Trebizond. I am the one for whom you have been searching. You have
found me only because I wanted you to find me. I expected that you
would come here to investigate, when I learned that Lisa Monterey had
phoned this number from the Groton Hotel. You see, I did not
underestimate you."

"Thank you," said Stephen Klaw, bowing graciously. He still had his
hands in his pockets.

"You see," Trebizond went on smoothly, "I have been using the home of
my good friend, Judge Hinchley, who was once such a violent enemy of
the Skull and Swastika. I enjoy converting my enemies into friends--
and servants. The Fuehrer gave us an example when he converted France
into a servant of his purposes. Just so, I have done with Judge
Hinchley...and others."

Judge Hinchley stirred in his seat. "Damn you!" he grated in a hoarse
voice. "Damn you for the devil himself!"

Trebizond laughed. "You see, Mr. Klaw, how my friends love me? Judge
Hinchley will do whatever I ask of him, because his nineteen year old
son volunteered to fight in Loyalist Spain, and escaped in France
after the collapse of the Spanish Republican Army. The boy was
interned. But when the armies of our glorious Fuehrer conquered
France, young Hinchley became our prisoner. Now, the good judge must
serve us well, for we have his son as our hostage."

"I see," said Stephen Klaw. His eyes were on the razor blade Trebizond
held in one hand, and on the pink ear of Sue Watson which he held with
the other. "And now you expect to convert me into the same kind of
'friend'."

"Exactly. First, let me warn you that at the least suspicious move you
make, my bodyguard on the balcony will let fire with four guns, and
turn your body into a sieve. For instance, if you should attempt to
draw those two automatics you are holding in your pockets, my guards
would shoot before you could draw."

A twisted smile tugged at Steve's lips. "I thank you for the warning.
Let's hear what you have to say."

"What I have to say is easily understood. This girl--Sue Watson--is
a very beautiful and delicate creature, whom it would be a pity to
disfigure. I understand you are interested in her. I, too, am
interested in her. Because I hated her mother, I should like to
dismember her, bit by bit. You see how easily I could slice off her
ear. There is so much I could do to her--and enjoy it. Yet I am
willing to forego this pleasure--in exchange for a very small favor
which you can do for me."

Steve nodded. "I know what you want--the list of the Executive Council
of the Skull and Swastika."

"Exactly. You will give up the list. And you will give up your
persecution of the S. S. Corps. You will turn your talents to other
endeavors. So long as you do not molest us, Mr. Klaw, Sue Watson will
remain unharmed."

Sue's face was white and tense. "No, no, Steve!" she cried out. "Don't
give him the list. I don't care what he does to me!"

Trebizond yanked hard at her ear, so that she gasped and bit her lip
with pain.

"I want your answer now, Klaw. Or else you will see this girl die
slowly!"

"I haven't got the list with me," Steve said huskily.

"Perhaps one of your partners has it then? Kerrigan or Murdoch? They
came along with you, I'm sure. No doubt they are trying to get into
the house by a window or a back door. I must tell you that it would be
very regrettable if they broke in. My burglar alarm system is not the
ordinary kind. It doesn't ring a bell. Instead, it releases a flood of
deadly gas which kills the intruder as soon as he puts his head inside
the window--"

He was interrupted by a voice from the balcony, directly across from
where the four guards stood with the machine guns.

"My, my!" said the voice. "You certainly are very thorough, Mr.
Trebizond! It was a good thing that Steve Klaw unhooked the burglar
alarm for us!"

STEVE threw a quick glance up at the balcony, and grinned. Kerrigan
and Murdoch had come out of a doorway up there. They must have climbed
in through the window in the waiting room, and made their way up
through the house. The guards had certainly seen them come out on the
balcony, but must have thought at first that they were members of the
household, not dreaming that anyone could enter from the outside.

Kerrigan and Murdoch were standing shoulder to shoulder up there, guns
in hand, and facing those four machine guns at the opposite side of
the room.

"Shoot! Shoot!" screamed Trebizond.

But it was Kerrigan and Murdoch who started shooting first. Their four
heavy revolvers began to blast in a synchronized, thrumming fandango
of death. The slugs from their heavy revolvers smashed at the machine-
gunners before those killers could recover sufficiently from their
surprise to raise their sights from Stephen Klaw on the floor below.
The bodies of those gunmen were smashed back against the wall.

And at the same time, Stephen Klaw began to fire his two automatics
from his pockets, through the cloth. His left hand gun lanced three
shots quickly at the bald-headed Belding, who had been standing over
to one side. With his right hand gun he fired up at the balcony, to
help Kerrigan and Murdoch. He dared not shoot at Trebizond, who,
ducking down behind Sue Watson's chair, had drawn a gun.

Klaw leaped forward, across the vast floor toward the chair where Sue
sat handcuffed, and behind which Trebizond had taken refuge. He had
his automatics out now, but held his fire. He raced forward, hoping to
reach Trebizond before the spy-master could harm Sue.

But Trebizond had forgotten about the girl. Snarling with rage, he
thrust out his revolver.

Steve saw the muzzle, but kept on coming in at a run. The gun rose,
the black hole of the muzzle staring him in the face. In another
fraction of a second Trebizond would fire, at almost point blank
range, into Klaw's face... And then, a hurtling body threw itself
headlong into the line of fire just as Trebizond's gun exploded!

It was Judge Hinchley!

The Judge had leaped out of his chair with a hoarse cry, and virtually
flung himself upon the bullet earmarked for Steve!

Hinchley fell, the blood gushing from a wound in his chest. And in
that instant Stephen Klaw leaped over the desk and sprang around
behind the chair. Trebizond uttered a squeal of fright, and raised his
revolver.

Stephen Klaw's gray eyes flickered for a moment, and his lips were
tight and grim. He thrust his automatic out at arm's length into
Trebizond's face, and pulled the trigger.

The blasting of gunfire was echoing and re-echoing from every nook and
cranny of the great old house. Kerrigan and Murdoch leaped down from
the balcony to join Steve Klaw on the main floor. Klaw went swiftly
through the pockets of the dead Trebizond and found the keys to the
handcuffs which bound Sue's wrists to the chair. He freed her, and
raised her to her feet.

The Judge was dying fast. But that look of utter hopelessness which
Klaw had seen in his eyes before was no longer there. And his lips
were smiling. Klaw bent low over him, thinking as he did so of that
moment last night when he had bent low over a dying woman. She had
given up her life, too.

"I've...paid my...debt. Not ashamed...any more! My son--
they'll kill him now..."

Stephen Klaw clasped the old man's hand tightly. "I'm sure your son
would rather have it this way, Judge."

"Yes...yes. Thank God I had...the courage..." A gush of blood
filled the old man's throat, and he died.

Stephen Klaw got to his feet, and put an arm around the shoulders of
Sue Watson, who was sobbing quietly. He looked over at the grim, bleak
faces of Kerrigan and Murdoch. The three of them were thinking of the
same thing--of the hard days ahead, when they would have to round up
all the hundreds of members of the Skull and Swastika--many of them
honest Americans like Judge Hinchley, who had come against their will,
under the thumb of the merciless organization. They were thinking of
the heartbreak and the sorrow that would come to many American homes
where a son or a daughter or a father had been led into disloyalty by
the vile tenets of the S. S. Corps. But they were also thinking that
the heartbreak and the sorrow would be a small price to pay to keep
America free!



THE END





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