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Chapter 306: Flaming Death

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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe


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Chapter 305: The Palace of Horror Chapter 307: The Land of the Dead



Synopsis

Barin's ships open fire with their destructo-rays. Flash's ship takes a direct hit and falls. Roka manages to regain control before they crash, but Dr Zarkov is clear that another hit will mean their doom. Flash has a brainwave. Remembering a dot-and-dash code he and Barin had previously devised between them, he fires shots to spell out that he and Zarkov are in the ship. Luckily Barin understands the message. He gives the order to cease firing and has Flash and his friends safely transferred aboard his own rocket ship. Zarkov then tells Barin that he learned from Karm that Ming is preparing another weapon to destroy the world, and that they must return to Barin's kingdom at once to devise a way to combat this new threat.

Ming has had Karm working on Zoltranilium projectiles, 6 of which have now been completed. The scientists have had to work in total vacuum due to the volatile properties of the substance. Before using them against the Earth, Ming proposes to test them first against Arboria. Captain Torch is concerned as Arboria is the source of all the fine timber on Mongo, but Ming explains that he will only use the projectiles at first on the wasteland areas of the kingdom, to serve as a warning to Barin the fate that will befall his entire kingdom if he continues to defy his Emperor. Reminded by Karm that Princess Aura resides in Arboria, Ming grudgingly accepts that his daughter should be removed prior to the planned attack. Torch is still in communication with Aura's attendant, Lady Sonja, by means of messenger birds. Ming has him send a message to Sonja, to have her lead Aura to the Red Forest where his men will be waiting ready to abduct her.

Aura believes Sonja is taking her to provide aid to a poor family of woodcutters who are in distress and goes willingly. She has already left the palace by the time that Barin returns with the others.

Barin introduces Zarkov to his head scientist, Keedish, an expert in rare metals. Zarkov asks him what he knows about Zoltranilium. Keedish says that it is sometimes called the "Fire Metal" and traces of it have been found with the spectrascope under the dead suns of the Polar Galaxy. When exposed to oxygen, the metal burns with the heat of the sun, and nothing will put it out. Keedish adds that there is no need to be concerned as no Zoltranilium is present on Mongo, but Zarkov tells him that Ming now has a formula for producing unlimited quantities of it. The evil dictator intends to fire it at the Earth, which will be burnt to ashes and all of the oxygen in its atmosphere will be burnt up. As there's no known defense against it, Zarkov says they must hurry and conduct exhaustive experiments to find a solution quickly.

Aura's party reaches the Red Forest. Sure enough, Ming's men are lying in wait and attack. Captain Turan tries valiantly to defend her but he is defeated and the Princess is captured.

Barin receives a message from Ming warning him of the imminent use of deadly projectiles against Arboria's wastelands. Flash asks Zarkov how long before he can come up with a defense. Zarkov says that, thanks to Karm's years of research into contra-thermal defense theory, he is confident he can have a device ready in a day or two. Barin is inclined to think that Ming is bluffing anyway as he would never dare to endanger his daughter, but just then a wounded Captain Turan staggers in with the news that Aura was betrayed by Sonja and has been abducted by Ming's men.

Aura appears before Ming as a prisoner and remonstrates with him, Torch and Sonja over her treatment, but the session is interrupted by news of an intercepted message from Barin to his patrol ships. It says that Dr Zarkov has perfected a means of counteracting the Zoltranilium and that it can be quickly extinguished if the patrols are vigilant as to where the projectiles are landing. A smug Aura boasts that the Earthmen appear to have beaten Ming once again. Enraged, Ming has her taken away to the women's quarters. He then orders Torch and Sonja to go to Arboria and disable Barin's radio communications. This will prevent Barin coordinating any mission to extinguish each projectile as it lands.

In Arboria, all is ready. Dr Zarkov has completed a machine for Dale to operate which will protect Flash from intense heat, which in turn will allow Flash to plant a special unit in the ground to neutralize the Zoltranilium. Turan, expecting trouble, has ordered the patrols to be on the look-out for Ming ships.

From his palace, Ming starts launching the deadly projectiles.

At base, Zarkov uses equipment to pinpoint exactly where the first projectile lands. He alerts Flash, Dale and Ronal who are already flying their rocket ship around the wastelands, and they are quickly on the scene which is already ablaze. When Flash takes his first steps out into the raging inferno, all seems well as Zarkov's machine works as planned, protecting the Earthman from the heat. But then the machine suddenly fails when a connection burns out. Dale panics as without the machine's protection Flash will surely be killed. Flash stumbles as the heat becomes unbearable, and falls into a fiery hole in the ground.

Recap card

MING has his daughter, Princess Aura, removed from Barin's kingdom, which he is going to destroy with a fiery projectile.

FLASH, to defeat Ming's purpose, takes off with Dale and Ronal in a ship equipped with Zarkov's untested Thermal Control, constructed to combat the effects of Ming's fiendish invention.

DALE and Ronal, operating the Control from the ship, watch Flash, in a fireproof uniform, fighting his way into the blazing inferno as the first projectile falls.

THE Thermal Control resists the terrific temperature, but suddenly the intense heat melts a connection, the Control fails and........

Trivia

  • The November 28th 1937 installment of the Flash Gordon (comic strip) was also titled "Flaming Death".
  • If the code, as Flash states, is one that he and Prince Barin previously devised between them, then Barin ought to guess that Flash is aboard the other rocket ship as soon as he sees that it is using this code. Instead he begins deciphering the message, slowly reading out "This-is-Flash-Gordon-and-Doctor..." Only when he gets to the word "Zarkov" at the very end of the message does he realize what it means.
  • Actor Charles Middleton uncharacteristically stumbles over his words when he has to say "six Zoltranilium projectiles".

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