Before Strong could issue an order countering the enemy move, the voice of the commander of the Pleiades came in over the audioceiver, "Our meat, Strong, you take care of the big baby!" On the scanner screen Strong saw the trails of two space torpedoes erupt from the side of the Pleiades, followed immediately by two more from its flanking ship, the Regulus.

Astro and Roger could hardly believe their luck. They returned to their posts and took up guard duty again with light hearts. In his small private office, Barret watched them through the open door to the hangar and then turned to his desk, to pick up the recently installed private audioceiver.

Should an emergency arise, you will call for assistance on the special teleceiver and audioceiver circuits open to you, numbers seventeen and eighty-three. You are to circle each fueling stop three times before making a touchdown, and make a final circle around Titan when you arrive. "Stand by to raise ship! And spaceman's luck!" Strong turned and flipped on the intercom to the control tower.

He flipped the audioceiver off and grinned at his brother. "When Walters comes aboard, he's going to get a nice surprise." "Like what?" demanded Tom. Ross grinned wickedly, looking very much like the devil incarnate. "You heard Walters' order to open fire, didn't you?" he said. "It seems that Space Cadets aren't worth much as hostages.

The secretary looked down at his feet and mumbled, "I don't know where the base is, and I don't know how many ships there are." "Then what does this list we found in your tunic mean?" snapped Strong. "These are the names of ships that have been lost in space." "I don't know. That list was sent to me over the audioceiver by my superior.

Abrupt acknowledgment came over the audioceiver as the cruisers deployed for the attack. "Twenty-three thousand yards, holding course." The range-finder's voice was a steady monotone. "Stand by to fire!" snapped Strong. "Two bandits at nine o'clock on level plane of ecliptic!" came the warning from the radar bridge.

Tom Corbett sat bound and gagged in the copilot's chair of the black ship, listening to Miles call again and again over the audioceiver. The fact that Miles was identifying himself as Ross puzzled the young cadet and he wondered if it was an alias. Tom was even more puzzled when Miles addressed the person he was calling as Quent. "This is Ross! Acknowledge, Quent! Come in!"

As soon as we get aboard, spread out and search the ship. Find Tom and Roger if you can and then come up to the control deck." "Aye, aye, sir," acknowledged Strong. Walters turned to the audioceiver and spoke sharply into the microphone. "This is Walters, Miles. We're alongside and preparing to board your ship. I warn you not to try any tricks.

Ross Miles rose up and snapped off the audioceiver. "Come on. We've got to get out of here!" "What about them?" asked Quent, pointing to Roger and Tom. "Will we have time to ?" "Plenty of time," said Ross coldly. "Blast 'em now." "With pleasure," replied Quent Miles, taking his gun from his holster. "Jump, Roger!" shouted Tom. Both boys threw themselves sideways as Miles leveled his gun.

There was a pause, and then Astro's blood ran cold as he heard the words, "and if necessary open fire!" On the control deck, Captain Strong turned to Walters quickly. "But Tom and Roger, sir," he protested. Commander Walters glared at Strong and turned back to the audioceiver. "Proceed to quadrant four," he said coldly. "Seize the vessel Space Knight, and if there is any resistance, open fire!"