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Lords of the Stratosphere   By: (1898-1974)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Astounding Stories March 1933. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

The Table of Contents is not part of the original magazine.

Lords of the Stratosphere

A Complete Novelette

By Arthur J. Burks


I The Take off II The Ghostly Columns III Strange Levitation IV Frantic Scheming V Into the Void VI Stratosphere Currents VII Invisible Globe VIII Cataclysmic Hunger IX A Scheme Is Described X How It Came About XI To the Rescue

[Sidenote: High into air are the great New York buildings lifted by a ray whose source no telescope can find.]


The Take off

It seemed only fitting and proper that the greatest of all leaps into space should start from Roosevelt Field, where so many great flights had begun and ended. Fliers whose names had rung for a space around the world, had landed here and been received by New York with all the pomp of visiting kings. Fliers had departed here for the lands of kings, to be received by them when their journeys were ended.

Of course Lucian Jeter and Tema Eyer were disappointed that Franz Kress had beaten them out in the race to be first into the stratosphere above fifty five thousand feet. There was a chance that Kress would fail, when it would be the turn of Jeter and Eyer. They didn't wish for his failure, of course. They were sports men as well as scientists; but they were just human enough to anticipate the plaudits of the world which would be showered without stint upon the fliers who succeeded.

[Illustration: The warship simply vanished into the night sky. ]

"At least, Tema," said Jeter quietly, "we can look his ship over and see if there is anything about it that will suggest something to us. Of course, whether he succeeds or fails, we shall make the attempt as soon as we are ready."

"Indeed, yes," replied Eyer. "For no man will ever fly so high that another may not fly even higher. Once planes are constructed of unlimited flying radius ... well, the universe is large and there should be no end of space fights for a long time."

Eyer, the elder of the two partner scientists, was given sometimes to quiet biting sarcasm that almost took the hide off. Jeter never minded greatly, for he knew Eyer thoroughly and liked him immensely. Besides they were complements to each other. The brain of each received from the other exactly that which he needed to supplement his own knowledge of science.

They had one other thing in common. They had been "child prodigies," but contrary to the usual rule, they had both fulfilled their early promise. Their early precocious wisdom had not vanished with the passing of childhood. Each possessed a name with which to conjure in the world of science. And each possessed that name by right of having made it famous. And yet they were under forty.

Jeter was a slender athletic chap with deep blue eyes and brown hair. His forehead was high and unnaturally white. There was always a still sort of tenseness about him when his mind was working with some idea that set him apart from the rest of the world. You felt then that you couldn't have broken his preoccupation in any manner at all but that if by some miracle you did, he would wither you with his wrath.

Tema Eyer was the good nature of the partnership, with a brain no less agile and profound. He was a swart fellow, straight as an arrow, black of eyes the sort which caused both men and women to turn and look after him on the street. Children took to both men on sight.

The crowd which had come out to watch the take off of Franz Kress was a huge one huge and restless. There had been much publicity attendant on this flight, none of it welcome to Kress... Continue reading book >>

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