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|Chapter 306: Flaming Death||Chapter 308: The Fiery Abyss|
When Zarkov's Thermal Control device suddenly fails, Dale panics as without its protection, Flash will surely be killed by the searing temperature. Flash stumbles and falls down a fiery hole, but luckily only falls a short distance and lands clear of flames. Dale and Ronal hurry to get the machine working once more and fortunately they quickly succeed in doing so. Flash climbs back up out of the hole and, a little groggy, returns to the safety of the rocket ship. Dale is appalled, however, when Flash insist on going back outside once again to complete his task, and he places another of the special neutralizer units into the ground. The first of Ming's Zoltranilium projectiles has now been successfully extinguished.
Flash reports back to Barin's castle by radiophone and asks for the coordinates where the second projectile landed. Before Zarkov can tell him, a Ming ship attacks the palace, momentarily knocking out communications. The ship, of course, is under the command of Captain Torch, with Sonja and Thong also aboard. Barin's patrol ships drive them off, but Torch fakes a crash to elude them. They report back to Ming on their radiophone. Ming, at that point, is deflated that his projectiles are being extinguished so efficiently and suspects that Karm may have betrayed their secrets to Dr Zarkov. Ming tells Torch to find a way into Barin's castle to learn their plans. Torch and Sonja set off, leaving Thong behind to repair their ship.
In Barin's laboratory, Dr Zarkov has invented a new device, a Nullitrion, with which to attack Ming. It has a powerful magnetic action which will paralyze Ming's power plant so as to render his ships and guns useless. However, the drawback is that in launching its neutralizing catridge, the Nullitrion destroys itself and the resulting explosion will release a toxic gas which would destroy all life over a large area. This means it can't be used in Arboria. Barin suggests that they therefore activate the weapon in the Land of the Dead, an uninhabited desolate stretch of land to the west of Ming's capital. Roka asks about Aura but Barin says she's not in immediate danger. Then Dale runs into the lab to report news that she has just caught the tail-end of a radio transmission from Ming to Captain Torch. It sounds like their enemies are planning some attack.
Sonja distracts the guard at the castle gates, enabling Torch to knock him out, and the pair slip inside the grounds.
In light of Dale's news, Flash proposes that the Nullitrion is transported to the Land of the Dead immediately so as to keep one step ahead of Ming. As the group disperse to prepare for the journey, Roka stays behind to ask Keedish a few questions. Torch, disguised as an Arborian, sneaks into the lab and is about to destroy the Nullitrion but Roka fights him off.
Meanwhile, in Ming's palace, the captive Princess Aura is granted an audience with her father. She demands her immediate release and return to Arboria warning Ming that if he does not comply then Flash Gordon and Dr Zarkov will surely remove him from power as they did once before. Ming points out that he still reigns in spite of all their previous actions, and that even now Gordon and Zarkov are heading straight into a trap he has prepared for them. The shocked Aura is dismissed from the throne room.
Flash and his friends set off for the Land of the Dead in a rocket ship. Dale is concerned that turning the Nullitrion on Ming's palace will endanger Princess Aura, but Flash explains to her that the device will only disable Ming's power plants and weapons of defense, it will not cause harm to any people. Dale asks more about the Land of the Dead. Barin says he's never been there before but has heard tales that it was once inhabited by a race of Rock Men who long ago passed into oblivion.
The rocket ship is engaged by a Ming ship. Once again Captain Torch is on the attack. Flash is eager to fight back but Zarkov warns they must not risk damage to the Nullitrion. Instead, the scientist once again activates the Disappearing Screen and they circle away to approach the Land of the Dead from another direction.
Torch contacts Ming who tells him that their speed ship should get them to the Land of the Dead well in advance of Zarkov's party. He orders Torch to destroy the other ship after it lands and to mine the area of Giant's Dome Rock, as this is the only site from which Zarkov could aim his device at Ming's palace.
Sure enough, Torch's party arrive first and land in a secluded spot so as not to be spotted by the enemy. As Torch and his men set about planting their explosive device, Sonja climbs a ledge to act as a sentry. But once she is separated from the main group she is suddenly set upon by a band of Rock Men armed with spears. They usher her away, pausing when one of the deadly giant Iguanthions that live in this region passes by. Sonja is taken to a cave and made to stand before the king of this primitive tribe, but their language is unintelligible to her. A party of the Rock Men then head back out and capture Torch's party just as they have finished planting their giant time bomb.
Flash's party finally arrive at their destination. With Barin and Ronal waiting on board the ship, Flash leads the others out on a recce as they will first need to find a suitable cave in which to shelter from the poisonous fumes that will be released from the Nullitrion after it is discharged. As they survey the area, they suddenly find themselves attacked by Rock Men. A fight plays out with neither side aware that the timer on Torch's bomb is creeping ever upward. The bomb explodes, right in the area where Flash and his friends are fighting off the Rock Men.
MING's attack on Barin's kingdom prompts Zarkov to perfect an "N" Ray, to be discharged from a powerful Nullitrion, to neutralize and render useless Ming's power plant.
Barin tells Flash the Nullitrion can best be directed against Ming's palace from the Devil's Dome, in the 'Land of The Dead'.
MING learns of their plans, and his soldiers plant a powerful time bomb on the Devil's Dome, but are promptly captured by Rock Men.
FLASH and his party land, unaware of the bomb and the Rock Men who are watching them, and...
- This is a rare serial chapter where Flash actually has very little to do.
- Having created a Nullitrion which can only be activated in an area where it will not endanger any life, Zarkov shows great surprise when Barin mentions there being an uninhabited region which they can use. How else was Zarkov intending to activate his weapon?
- Captain Torch holds his ray gun like a regular pistol. Everybody else throughout this serial (and in the preceding serial, "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars") holds them in a different manner, the barrel of the ray gun sitting above an upturned fist in which the handle is gripped.
- Even Ming's soldiers seem to prefer to bludgeon their enemies rather than simply zap them with a ray gun.
- Dr Zarkov's "Transparency Screen" function is now a feature of Barin's rocket ship. Perhaps it is a portable device which can be fitted to any ship?
- The shots of the giant dragons comprises stock footage lifted from the first Flash Gordon serial.
- Just after the dragon has passed by, the Rock Men move off and one of them slips badly as they descend the slope.
- The strange dialogue for the Rock Men is achieved by playing the actors' speech backwards. The lines spoken by the actors do actually relate to the events that are unfolding, albeit they are crudely-formed sentences and sometimes the order is rearranged. For example, the phrase "We are going to the rocket ship" might be spoken as something like "To the rocket ship we going" (which would then be played backwards on screen).
- Why do Ming and Torch resort to the use of a time bomb in their attempt to disable Zarkov's Nullitrion device? Such a method would rely on considerable fortune in getting the timing exactly right. A remote controlled bomb would be a more reliable weapon.
- For all his scientific brilliance, Zarkov is talking nonsense when he suggests that sheltering in a cave will offer protection from poisonous gas fumes which will destroy all life over a wide area. Why can his party not use gas masks to protect themselves?
- Some poison gas, such as the gas in "Fraulein Doktor", will kill the person if they infect the skin.