Hop Harrigan and his mechanic friend, Tank Tinker, cautiously circled the island to get at the cove Adam Blake had casually mentioned. Harrigan wondered how good the mystery-man’s eyes were, because he had not even noticed the slight indentation of land when the plane had flown over the island.
Standing up close, Harrigan could see two — no, three — camouflaged bunkers surrounding the cove. Short, multiple barrels were aimed out into the ocean.
“Can you tell what kind of armament is set up under those nets?” asked Hop.
“It looks like the same kind that blew the wing off the rental,” said Tank. “We’ll have to do something about ’em before we try to take off.”
“Too bad I left my grenades in my other flight suit,” said Hop, smiling.
“Tell me about it,” Tank said as he examined the stolen equipment belt he wore around his waist. “Maybe one of these things could be useful.”
The two men found that they each had several grenades and a block of plastic explosives with a small detonator, which seemed to be some kind of push-button affair that neither man had ever seen before.
“Let’s set these so we can go about our business,” said Hop.
Cully Morrigan led the way cautiously across the island. Their makeshift disguises had fooled the patrols they had seen on the way. He paused as he took in the operation in front of him. Tons of material was being dumped into the ocean from an outlet overlooking the water.
“What have we here?” Morrigan asked himself.
“Looks like a twin of what we saw at the main facility,” said Professor Carter Nichols. “Should we get closer?”
“We’re going to have to, Professor,” said Alec Swan, “if we are going to try to shut it down.”
“I was afraid of that,” said the academic.
Morrigan eyed the complex. The outlet pipe said something to him. He searched the equipment belt he wore. He took out the explosives he found and weighed them thoughtfully. “I have a plan,” the gunman said as he considered. “Do you guys have any of this plastic stuff?” The other two searched and soon found two similar blocks with their detonator caps.
“What would happen if we blocked that pipe?” Morrigan asked as he joined the three blocks together and began to knead them in his hands.
“They might shut down, depending on whether or not the exhaust would clear any obstruction,” said Nichols. “We would need something big to block that.” The exhaust pipe was as tall as a man, and Nichols had no doubt it would flay any man who stood in front of it.
Morrigan walked forward quietly. He climbed up the side of the hill the pipe was sunk into. Stepping on the narrow lip the metal tube projected, he placed the explosive below the exhaust, pressing it against the hill and tube. He set the detonator and leaped away from the blast zone.
The explosive roared its trapped fury.
Adam Blake surveyed his enemy’s control room with intent eyes as he stepped into the room. He felt Twitch slip in behind him and casually walk away toward the control panels.
A small, thin man held a microphone to his lips, giving instructions to the other people under him on the rest of the isle. “Shoot on sight” was the order of the day, it seemed.
Blake stepped forward. It was time for him to cause a distraction for the stool pigeon. He clouted a man in the jaw, causing the man to fly through the air. That attracted the attention of every man in the room.
“Ryder?” shouted the mastermind. “Get him.”
The hired help fell on Blake, bearing him to the floor. He put up a token fight to buy Twitch time at the controls. The shaky man was pushing every button in sight at the main board.
Hop Harrigan crept closer to the first bunker. He decided where he wanted to place his block of explosive and set the detonator cap with a twist of his fingers. He backed away from the armed charge and moved to a safe distance. Tank was doing the same thing on the other side of the three antiaircraft guns.
The two charges exploded together. Hop covered his head as the missile thrower on his side collapsed inside the concrete. The ground shook as the launch mechanism fell over to one side, fouling the middle one. He was glad none of the ordinance had gone up. The pilot and mechanic raced for the hidden hangar at top speed.
Cully Morrigan surveyed his handiwork with a certain amount of satisfaction. The pipe had been closed and buried from the blast he had set off. Workers had come out to see what was wrong, seeming to be stunned by the destruction. Morrigan led the way into the pump station.
“What have you done, Ryder?” asked the thin mastermind. His eyes were on a huge screen where parts of his facility had been attacked.
Blake seemed passive in the grip of the five men he had been fighting as he kept his gaze on his enemy.
“The name is Blake now, Professor Milo, not Ryder,” he said in his even voice.
The renegade scientist’s troubled gaze swept the room. Professor Hector Milo thought all of his men had nerves of steel, but one of them was shaking very much as he leaned over a console.
“Saboteur!” screamed Milo in fury.
Twitch looked up with a who, me? expression on his face. He saw the man was buying it and headed for the door with Flash-like speed.
“Get him,” ordered Milo.
Two of the men chased after the departing Paul Twitchell. All eyes were on distraction, so no one noticed Blake slip the grip on his arms until it was too late. His hands swept around and slammed his three opponents together. All three went down in a heap.
“Blast your interference!” screamed Milo, and raised a hand in the palm of which was a glowing disk. He squeezed the disk, and a bolt of light erupted at Blake/Ryder.
The mystery-man stepped out of the way as he stepped forward. He dodged two strikes before he was close enough to grab Milo’s hand. He shook the hand, and the disk came apart from the vibration.
Twitch came back into the room, holding a wrench in his hands. “Those mugs weren’t so bright,” he commented idly.
“What now, chief?” Twitch said, ready to bop the head guy if he tried anything funny.
“I think we should leave,” Blake said with his usual calm. “One of the buttons you pushed started a timed explosion.”
“That’s great,” commented Twitch, flinging the wrench aside and heading for the door.
Blake made sure the consoles were destroyed before he also left the room.
Professor Milo ran to a hidden elevator door. He tried to access it, but the door wouldn’t open. He screamed in fury as he reached for an emergency release switch.
Cully Morrigan led the way into the station. His flashing pistols silenced all opposition as the trio made their way to the control room. A rumbling shook the installation as they entered the room.
Professor Nichols examined the controls hastily as the gunman held the room’s occupants at bay. Alec Swan watched the door for anyone who wanted to enter the room.
“If I’m reading this right, there’s a buildup in pressure from the exhaust being closed,” said Nichols. “If the engines were kept turning, they would eventually sieze up.”
“We don’t have the time for that, Professor,” said Swan. “Any other ideas?”
“It looks like a self-destruct device can be activated if I can find the right combination of numbers.”
“Try that,” said Morrigan. “We’re trapped in here if the rats don’t have anything else to worry about.”
Nichols began trying numbers at random, wincing every time the thing beeped at a wrong combination. He felt himself gasping for air, and knew he was starting to hyperventilate. He needed to calm down. He closed his eyes and forced himself to relax.
He began to type dates into the eight-number screen. He had always had a predilection for the past and history; that was the primary reason he had started helping his friends Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson with his pursuits into the time stream by hypnosis. He wanted to know what had been lost in the past. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “It Happened in Rome,” Batman #24 (August-September, 1944).]
Nichols smiled when the thing chirped assent to his command. The date for the Krakatoa explosion had been the key. A timer started.
“I think we should leave, gentlemen,” he said in triumph.
Hop Harrigan and Tank Tinker skirted the approaching patrol coming to inspect the bunkers they had blown up. The antiaircraft guns were silenced for the duration. The earth shook violently as the two made their way into the secret hangar. They saw various planes, but only one fitted their needs.
Hop and Tank quickly did a preflight check. The roof of the cavern was shaking badly, and started to fall in around them as they finished and started the engines. A guard began shouting as the plane coasted out of the hangar. Hop emptied his pistol at him as he sped out into open water.
The pilot scanned the shore as he passed. The mountain in the center of the island had started to vent ashes into the air. Hop knew an eruption could not be far away.
“Where’s everybody?” asked Tank.
“We’ll have to give them time,” said Hop.
The plane coasted along as a guard prepared a rocket to shoot at the two unsuspecting aviators. He settled the launch tube on his shoulder and took aim.
A sudden pressure against his ear made the would-be rocketeer wince.
“I’d suggest you put that thing down, if you know what’s good for you,” said a cold voice behind him. The guard engaged the safety on the launcher gently and placed it slowly on the ground.
“If I were you, I would start looking for a way off this rock,” said the owner of the voice. “It’s about to go up in a ball of fire.”
“What my friend means is that we’ve hit the self-destruct device at the secondary station,” said one of the other men. “The explosives there should be going up any minute now.”
The guard began running toward the concealed hangar. “I think he has the right idea,” said Nichols with a frown.
“Totally agree, Professor,” said Swan. “I think that is our ride home out there. Shall we?”
Morrigan picked up the rocket tube and examined it. He strapped it on his back when he thought he had it figured out. “Right,” the grinning gunman said. “Let’s blow this joint.”
Swan led the way into the water.
“Here come some of our guys now,” said Tank. “I don’t see Blake or that shaky guy.”
“I’ll swing around,” said Hop. “Go ahead and extend the ladder for them.”
Paul Twitchell liked to think he was fast; he wasn’t a Jesse Owens or Will Everett, but he was fast. He silently admitted to himself that he couldn’t hold a candle to his chief. The man was as fast as a ghost. Twitch felt Blake could have just left him in the dust at any time, but chose not to.
A rumbling shook the ground behind the fleeing pair. Twitch almost paused to look back. A hand pulled on his arm to keep him moving.
Explosions rocked the island as the two men ran. Blake never paused in his flight; he knew they couldn’t afford delays. The self-destruct devices Milo had decided to use were more powerful than Blake had believed.
The volcano was awakening with a series of thundering coughs and plumes of smoke. Soon lava would begin running down across the mountain’s side, destroying everything on the place. Blake wanted to be out to sea when that happened. Luckily, Milo had placed the hangar for his supply planes on the side of the island away from the flow. If the two of them could reach that hangar, they might be able to get away without any problems.
Blake reached the hangar with Twitch in tow. He noticed the sea plane drifting out on the sea when he reached the small beach area. Keen eyes spotted Hop Harrigan at the wheel.
“Start swimming,” said the mystery-man, wading into the warming water. “We have to get out of here as soon as possible.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” said Twitchell. He jumped into the water and began paddling for the plane.
A folding ladder descended from the side of the plane. Cully Morrigan and Alec Swan stood in the doorway, ready to help their comrades aboard.
A roar from the volcano lit everything in a dazzling red for a brief second as Blake lifted Twitch out of the water and handed him to the others. One pull at the bottom of the rungs, and Blake was standing on the other side of the hatch.
Harrigan started his takeoff taxi as the island shook behind them. The top of the volcano came apart in a brilliant, flaming spear. Waves began to push the back of the plane as Harrigan fought with the wheel. Then they were in the air, racing away from the sinking mountain.