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|Chapter 310: The Death Mist||Chapter 312: Doom of the Dictator|
As gas bombs land around them, Dale and Sonja collapse unconscious, but Flash and Captain Torch continue to fight on the roof of the tower. In their struggle against one another they topple off the edge and plunge a long distance down, landing safely in the moat below.
Prince Barin, Dr Zarkov and Roka hurry to the laboratory where the gas control valves are situated.
One of the attacking Ming ships lands. The soldiers aboard it venture out, wearing gas masks, retrieve the unconscious Sonja, Dale, and Ronal from the tower roof, and take them away in the rocket ship. On board Lieutenant Thong gives them an antidote which revives them from the effects of the gas.
In the radio room of Barin's castle, the operator has already opened the gas control valves to disperse the deadly fumes, and made repairs to the communications equipment previously damaged by Torch. He broadcasts a warning to the patrols. The patrol ships then round on the Ming bombers. Two of the bombers are shot down, leaving the others to flee at full speed.
On their return to the palace, Thong and Sonja report to Ming that Dale Arden and Captain Ronal are now his prisoners. In spite of this, Ming is furious that two of his ships have been lost while his best officer and counselor Captain Torch remains in the hands of his enemies. The wily Sonja proposes that Prince Barin would likely trade Torch for Dale, that is if Ming values his Captain over his intended bride.
In Barin's castle, Turan reports that there is no sign anywhere of Sonja, Dale, or Ronal but has confirmed reports that one of the Ming ships did land in the castle grounds during the raid. Realizing Dale's fate, Flash is determined to go after Ming at once but then a message comes in from Ming over the Televisor. Ming gloats that he now has Ronal and Dale prisoner, but agrees to hand over both of them for the safe return of Captain Torch. Knowing that Flash's party would be suspicious of his sincerity, Ming even agrees to an arrangement of their own choosing to make the exchange, so long as they make the arrangement there and then. Although they still sense treachery, Zarkov says they are in no position to refuse such an offer, and gives Ming his terms.
Ming tells Sonja to ensure that Dale is provided with suitable refreshments before she leaves. Then, bidding Dale farewell, the evil dictator tells her he's sure they'll meet again. Dale shudders.
At a remote deserted spot, 2 rocket ships land and their occupants venture out. Flash and Zarkov have brought Captain Torch and hold on to him until they see Dale and Ronal released by the Ming party, headed by Thong. The exchange is made and all seems well, but Thong hurries Torch aboard their ship and makes a hasty exit. Dale, clearly unwell, passes out, collapsing in Flash's arms. She has been drugged. Ronal passes Zarkov a scroll from Ming he was given by Thong. It tells Zarkov that he will have no antidote to the drug and that his only chance of saving Dale's life is if he personally brings her to Ming's palace. Any delay would be fatal. The grim Zarkov tells Flash that he has no choice. He drops Flash and Ronal off at Barin's castle then continues on to Ming's palace with the sick Dale.
Flash, Barin, and friends discuss their next move following this downturn in events. Flash says they need to find a way of getting into Ming's palace undetected. Barin knows of an old abandoned tunnel that leads through the tombs below the caverns. Ronal and Turan are eager to help the cause but a grateful Flash tells them that this time, stealth rather than numbers are required. He sets off with just Barin and Roka for company.
Meanwhile, in his laboratory, Ming has given Dale the antidote and she is slowly recovering. He tells Zarkov that he was wise to bring her. Dale is now to be taken to be kept with Princess Aura. Zarkov is warned in no uncertain terms that any attempt at escape will end disastrously for both Dale and himself. Once Ming has taken Dale away, one of the other captive scientists, Druk, quietly introduces himself to Zarkov and tells him of Karm's recent death. Druk says he knows many of the secrets which Karm learned, and agrees to help Zarkov find a way to defeat Ming.
Dale is taken to the chamber where Aura remains a prisoner. The women warmly greet one another, but Ming gloats that their rescue is impossible even if their friends were able to infiltrate his palace. He explains that the rug, which lies just in front of the doorway and stretches the entire width of the room, is rigged to discharge 4000 volts of electricity to anyone who steps on it. Aura thinks it is just a bluff, but Dale isn't so sure. She tries it out by throwing the gauntlet from a suit of armor onto the rug. The gauntlet is instantly destroyed by a crackling explosion.
En route to the palace, Barin remains confident that Captain Sudan, the Captain of the Palace Guard who is still loyal to him, will assist them in any way he can to facilitate their entry into the palace.
Ming orders Sudan to have guards placed in the abandoned tunnel. He also instructs Sonja to be ready in the morning to prepare Dale for her wedding.
Flash, Barin, and Roka reach the tunnel entrance. It is guarded, but the guards turn out to be Kroad and another soldier who are loyal to Barin, having been picked by Sudan. Kroad tells Barin that Dale and Aura are being held in Ming's private sanctum in the North Wing. He allows Barin's party entry into the tunnel and also gives them his uniform to use as a disguise.
The men slip into the palace and soon locate the room where Dale and Aura are held. Sensing danger, Flash enters alone. Dale stirs from her sleep and sees Flash entering. She quickly cries out a warning to him but Flash is already advancing onto the rug. There is a sudden explosion.
MING'S air attack on Barin's palace is beaten off and Torch recaptured by Flash Gordon, but the escaping enemy ships carry off Dale Arden.
Zarkov is tricked into Ming's power and, with Dale and Princess Aura already his prisoners, Ming now holds the whip hand over Flash and Barin.
FLASH leads a rescue party into Ming's palace, by means of an abandoned tunnel, and locates the room where Dale and Aura are held. Unaware that the room is protected by a death-dealing electrical trap, Flash, sword in hand......
- When a bomb explodes close by, Zarkov warns: "Poison gas! Cover your mouths!" How would he know what type of gas it is before he has inhaled it?
- Zarkov suspected that Ming would use poison.
- The model shot shows the Ming bomber landing nowhere near Barin's castle, which makes it rather implausible that its crew would climb all the way to the roof of the tower, and carry the unconscious Dale, Ronal, and Sonja all the way back down again.
- Bizarrely, the Ming bomber suddenly has a bed with a mattress aboard it, conveniently ready to rest the unconscious women on it. Perhaps a bed is standard equipment on rocket ships, since later on in the chapter, Zarkov's ship is also seen to have a bed aboard it, on which the drugged Dale is placed.
- Sonja puts an idea into Ming's head when she suggests that "...There's only one Dale Arden. No doubt Prince Barin would be glad to exchange Captain Torch for her." This all sounds perfectly clear, yet Ming is a little slow on the uptake, as he replies, "What do you mean?"
- Zarkov shows considerable confidence when Dale's fate lies in his hands. Having read Ming's warnings that "delay would be fatal", he decides to take Flash and Ronal back to Barin's palace before taking Dale to Ming. (Perhaps Barin's castle is on the way to Ming's palace?)
- Ming's flippant riposte to Flash Gordon's angry threats: "I'm not interested or disturbed by the rantings of a madman."