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First episode taken from The Skipper No. 162 - October 7th 1933.


An Eye That Steals Men’s Strength



The boy ran wildly through the quiet Turkestan town which lay in the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains. Sweat covered his terror stricken face, and he staggered as he ran. “Chang the killer is coming!” he screamed. “I saw them from the ridge. The Death Riders of Chang are coming!” Men and women came running from the rude houses, clustering round the boy and bringing him to a halt. Fear showed in their eyes. Women shrank behind their menfolk, and children clutched their mothers. The chief man of the town grasped the lad by the shoulder and shook him. “What is this boy?” he snapped. “Are you fooling?” The boy did not need to answer. The drumming of hooves could be heard up the valley coming down towards the town. With one accord the tribesmen ran to the outskirts of the village, pulling out their weapons, although the hopeless looks on their faces showed that they knew only too well what the result of the approaching clash would be. Thundering towards the town was a party of horsemen, and the chief shuddered as he watched their approach. These were the fiends known far and wide as Chang’s Death Riders. Nobody knew just who they were or where they came from, but already they had a reputation for ruthless ferocity. No man could stand against them; they had some mysterious power which sapped an enemy’s strength and robbed him of the power to use his weapons. On came the Death Riders, led by a gigantic warrior of ferocious aspect, and instinctively the chief knew this was Chang the Killer himself. Desperately the chieftain grasped his sword the tighter and turned to rally his men. They must do what they could, and die bravely in the defence of their families and their homes. Chang the Killer was smiling evilly as he thundered along at the head of his warriors. He was a huge man, a Mongol, and possessed tremendous physical strength. Two big teeth, curved like dogs’ fangs, lay over his lower lip, giving his face a perpetual snarl. The upper part of his features was hidden, for Chang and all his men wore a queer type of helmets which helped to increase the terror of their appearance. The helmet was silver. The front of the head-piece came down over the nose, and strong glass could be lowered over the eyes. The queerest feature of all about the helmet was a large eye-shaped object in the centre of the forehead. It stuck out from the surface of the metal and looked rather like a human eye.

The horrified defenders of the little town bunched together for self-defence. They stood there as men stand watching their approaching doom once they know it to be inevitable. Fifty yards from the edge of the town Chang suddenly raised his arm, and at that signal each warrior touched a spring in the side of the helmet. The eye in each forehead opened, and a strong red beam of light shot out. Chang had done the same, and a weird ray from the ghastly eye shone straight on the waiting townsmen. The effect was amazing. All those men were strong, fearless warriors trained by a life time of skirmishing and fighting in a troublesome country, but as soon as the red eye struck them their bodies became limp, their knees trembled, and their arms did not seem to have the strength even to raise their weapons. A moment later Chang and his Death Riders were amongst them, and the slaughter had begun. For the tribesman and their village it was the end. They merely formed another batch of victims for the insatiable Death Riders. Chang never met with much opposition. The Red Eye was the secret of his power. He was a man of brain as well as brawn, one of the most dangerous characters in all Asia. He had discovered a certain curious red stone from which shone a piercing ray after the surface had been chipped. Chang had learned that if this ray or emanation struck directly into the eyes of any one his strength seemed to drain away and he became as helpless as a child. Back in the mountains, in the secret valley of Ghat, Chang had built himself a stronghold. Realising the power the mysterious red ray could give him, he had worked to discover and use all its secrets. He had devised the metal helmets for his warriors. Not only did they give his men a fearsome appearance, but the type of glass in the eye holes which was dropped over the eyes when the ray was functioning was of a special design which protected the Death Riders themselves from the power of the ray. Armed with this deadly weapon, Chang was all-powerful. Nothing could stand against him. These raids on unprotected townships were merely tests of his power. They caused his name to become a thing to inspire terror, but Chang was not really very interested in such raids. He was out for far bigger spoils.


Not many miles away, whilst this raid was going on, a white man was standing in the inner courtyard of the Dalai monastery. Bert Kerrigan was scratching the back of his head as he stared at a huge golden image fashioned in the likeness of a horse. Standing fifteen feet high, it was a wonderful piece of work, the finest ever made by the Dalai monks, who were famed far and wide for their craftsmanship in metal and wood. “Worth a fortune,” said Kerrigan, “but I reckon the trouble of sticking to it in this wild country would be more than it’s worth. What do you think, Kong?” The massive Chinaman at his side was unimpressed. “Of what use is a charger which cannot gallop?” he grunted. “Far more to my liking is your fighting chariot on wheels.” Kong’s thoughts were usually of fighting, for he had spent a lifetime at it. His first means of earning his living had been as a professional wrestler. He had then served a Chinese mandarin as his personal bodyguard and headsman. For years he had been the official executioner, but now his one aim in life was to serve his master, Kerrigan, although his naked chest still showed the tattooed emblem of his grim trade. His favourite weapon was the huge curved sword with which he had once silenced the mandarin’s enemies. Kerrigan laughed and slapped his retainer on his broad shoulder with a force that made even Kong wince. For Kerrigan was a giant of a man himself, and a lifetime of adventuring had toughened him until he was like steel and whipcord. For some years now the faithful Kong and he had been exploring Tibet and Turkestan. The light armoured car in which they travelled had become famous. The wild tribesmen of the country had learned to respect the Britisher’s courage and daring, and they had given him the name of White Warrior. The “fighting chariot,” as Kong called it, was standing in a corner of the courtyard, and Kerrigan shifted his gaze from the glittering golden statue to the shining steel car. “I don’t suppose our friend the Lama would make an exchange,” he grinned. It was the old Lama, head of the monastery who had invited them to come and look at the wonder horse. He was a friend of Kerrigan’s and allowed him to keep petrol and other stores in the monastery. Knowing that the Englishman was joking, he gave an answering smile and a shake of the head. “It is not mine to give. My monks and I have built it at the desire of Prince Lun of Pahlev.

The Golden Horse has been modeled to the likeness of his favourite charger. It is made entirely of gold, but it is hollow. You may not notice, but there is a trapdoor in the underside of the body. I am glad the task is finished, and even now a regiment of the Prince’s warriors are waiting to take the Golden Horse back to their master.” “We saw their camp as we neared the monastery,” said the White Warrior. “I’ve heard of the prince. Where’s his country?” “Far away in the north. I shall be glad when the Golden Horse has gone. As you say, it will be a magnet to robbers and brigands, and I would not like to be responsible for its loss.” Kerrigan shot a keen glance at the old man. He could see the Lama was genuinely troubled. “But surely nobody would attack the monastery?” he asked. The anxious look deepened in the Lama’s eyes. “There is one man in this country who would do anything that is evil,” he said. “Have you ever heard the name of Chang the Killer?” At the words Kong seemed to prick up his ears, and a gleam appeared in Burt Kerrigan’s eyes. “That name seems to be on everyone’s lips these days,” he growled. “I would like to meet this Chang.” “It is not wise to look for death,” murmured the Lama. “I do not believe in magic, but they say Chang the Killer has the power to paralyse men. And it is rumoured that he means to take the Golden Horse.” Kong spat, and rattled his big headsman’s sword. “Then let us wait here until this Chang comes to take it, master,” he growled. “Maybe there will be the chance of a real fight. My sword gets rusty with disuse.” As though in answer to his spoken wish there came a scurrying of feet as a monk ran into the courtyard. “Master, master!” he called to the Lama, sweat running down his face as he stammered in his fright. “There is fighting outside. They have attacked the soldiers of Prince Lun. It is Chang and his Death Riders.” The old Lama did not lose his head. “Come!” he cried to Kerrigan and led the way to a small tower which stood at the corner of the courtyard. The White Warrior and his retainer had passed him before the tower was reached. Up the steps they bounded, out on to the little balcony from where they could see over the monastery walls. Kerrigan got his first sight of the Death Riders! In the nearby camp of Prince Lun’s men, pandemonium was let loose. The Death Riders had taken them by surprise, and although far fewer in numbers than the soldiers they were sweeping through their ranks like an avalanche. Ruthlessly Chang’s men hacked and slashed with their heavy sabres. Bodies piled upon the ground. Panting with his exertions, the Lama reached Kerrigan’s side and pointed with trembling hand. “Kong!” Burt snapped, and leapt for the stairs. “Make for the armoured tank and tell the monks to open the gates.”


Down to the courtyard he clattered, past the Golden Horse that was already causing bloodshed and slaughter, to the armoured car which was his most treasured possession. In a moment he was inside the steel plated body and had pressed the starter. Swinging the car round, he roared for the gates to be opened. After a moment’s hesitation, two trembling monks obeyed. The car shot into the open; the gates clanged behind it. The monks were taking no chances. Peering grimly through the bullet proof glass slit in the front of the car, Kerrigan saw that the rout of the Prince’s camp was complete. The one-sided fight was still going on, and it seemed as if Prince Lun’s regiment would be annihilated. The mysterious Chang was mustering his men for a final attack, the red eyes gleaming evilly from each helmet. Kerrigan knew there was a great risk of himself being overcome by the red ray, but he hoped the bullet-proof glass, tinted to protect the driver’s eyes from the intense sun, would also protect him from the ray. In any case the White Warrior was going to chance it. Like a thunderbolt, the armoured car came hurtling straight at the Death Riders, and it was Chang’s turn to be surprised. Above the roar of the motor, Kerrigan could hear the death rattle of Kong’s machine-gun spitting leaden bullets, and he smiled with satisfaction as several of the Death Riders swayed and toppled from their saddles. Then the car was on them, and went through their ranks as the Death Riders had a few minutes before gone through the camp. Slowing up, Kerrigan swung the car round to repeat the attack. Suddenly he became aware of a red glow inside the car. The rattle of the machine-gun had stopped. “What’s the matter, Kong?” There was no reply. The White Warrior glanced over his shoulder. With a shock he saw that the big Chinaman’s arms were hanging limp. In a flash Kerrigan realised what was happening. One of the Death Riders, maybe Chang himself, was galloping along beside the car, through the loopholes; Kong had gazed into the fascinating ray. With an effort, he forced himself to reach up and jerk Kong down into the body of the car. Then he stabbed on the accelerator and shot out of range of the deadly red stone. Pulling up at a safe distance, Kerrigan looked back over the plain. The Death Riders, on a compact orderly body, were galloping away. Apparently Chang was too wise to try conclusions again with the armoured car so soon after it had caused him losses.

The White Warrior turned to Kong, and with relief saw that the Chinaman was sitting up and rubbing his limbs. “So the power of the Red Eye is real!” drawled Kerrigan. “How did it feel when you looked into it, Kong?” The ex-headsman growled and shook himself angrily. “My joints turned to butter and my muscles to water,” he said. “But it took me by surprise. The next time I shall cut him to ribbons.” Kerrigan grunted. A new idea had come to him, and he drove swiftly back to the scene of their recent encounter. Those strange silver helmets seemed to give immunity. If he could get possession of one or two of those! Half a dozen of the Death Riders lay dead, but none of them wore his strange helmet. Chang had made sure they had been collected before he left the scene of battle. He was making sure that only he should profit by the power of the red stone. “The wily skunk!” murmured the Britisher, gazing at the evil, swarthy faces now uncovered. “He has brain as well as courage. Maybe the Lama was right when he said there was no wickedness that Chang the Killer would not undertake. But we’ve saved the Golden Horse this time, Kong. I’d hate to see that pass into the hands of a fiend like Chang and be melted down to fill his coffers.” He drove slowly back to the monastery, where the monks cheered from the walls. They had seen the Death Riders leave, and took it as a victory for the White Warrior.


It was the following day, and a strange procession wound down into a deep valley some distance north of the old Lama’s sanctuary. In the middle of the troop was the Golden Horse. Surrounding it were the survivors of Prince Lun’s regiment, some with their horses hitched to the low, wheeled platform of the statue. At the head of the column drove Kerrigan in his armoured car. He had taken on the task of delivering the Golden Horse to its master. The escort had been helpless and leaderless after Chang’s attack; the old Lama was glad to get the image of doom out of the monastery; and the White Warrior knew that Chang was not beaten. More than anything, he wanted to meet Chang again, for he had determined to rid the country of the menace of the Red Eye. The horses were getting weary, for the way was rough. Kerrigan presently stopped the car and Kong descended. “We’ll make camp here,” the Britisher ordered. “See that double guards are posted, Kong. I’ll sleep under the Golden Horse on the wheeled platform.” For an hour the bustle of camp life continued, with its savoury odours of cooking round the fires, and the subdued murmur of conversation amongst the men. At the end of that time silence had settled over the camp as the tired warriors settled down for the night. Stretched on the platform between the Golden legs of the statue, Burt Kerrigan slept soundly in his blankets. The moon filtered wanly through the clouds. Ten men kept watch around the sleepers. Kerrigan had himself visited and warned all the sentries before he had turned in. Now he was confident they would have good warning of any impending attack. Particularly had he told his sentries to listen for the sound of approaching hooves. Time passed, and Kerrigan did not stir. Then a strange thing happened. Above the sleeper there came a movement in the belly of the Golden Horse. A trapdoor swung softly open. A man’s head appeared, wearing a weird, metal helmet which shone dully in the dim light. For two minutes he stared at the sleeper and the surrounding soldiers, then came a slight click and a beam of red light shot downwards until it rested on Kerrigan’s face. Something like a chuckle came from Chang the Killer as he saw the sleeper twitch and stir. All those sentries and precautions had been unable to keep him away from the object he desired.

Overnight, whilst the monks were celebrating Kerrigan’s victory, the Killer had caused himself to be smuggled into the monastery by one of the kitchen staff, who was his spy. Terrible was the death of any poor wretch who once gave allegiance to Chang and then tried to withdraw it. Chang the Killer had ridden all day most uncomfortably in the stomach of the Golden Horse, but now his patience was to be rewarded. He had at his mercy the one man who had so far been able to beat him in fair fight. The red eye continued to gleam, and Burt Kerrigan stirred again. Something was troubling his sleep, although he did not feel altogether like waking. A strange limpness was coming over his powerful limbs. He felt as though he was sinking deeper and deeper into a feather mattress. He yawned, opened his eyes wearily, and stiffened. He had recognised the Red Eye! Kerrigan was one of those men who are either asleep or awake. Never between the two. There were no waking moments of his when he was not conscious of what was happening around him. From sleep he always leapt to instant wakefulness, like the beasts of the jungle.

The paralysing eye! It was shining straight upon his face, and he was unable to take his eyes from it. The red gleam fascinated him as the eyes of a snake are said to fascinate their victims. He lay perfectly still, and from behind the Red Eye came the evil chuckle of Chang. “So, White Warrior, you would pit your strength against mine!” he murmured, not loud enough for the sentries to hear. “Feel my power. Feel your limbs turning to water, and your heart melting like butter in the sun. Feel your courage oozing away beneath the glare of the Red Eye. I could strike you dead at any minute now, but I prefer to let you live and give you another and worse end.” Burt tried to move his limbs, and found that he could still control them, although he felt remote and weak as though with fever. Mentally, he measured the distance to the door in the underside of the Golden Horse. Chang was leaning out the better to concentrate the red glow on its victim. Now he had dropped lightly beside the Britisher and leaned over his victim. Kerrigan set his teeth, gave a jerk, and shot his arms up suddenly. His powerful hands closed round the thick throat of the Killer and a second later he had hauled the surprised man down. The impact of the man’s fall had nearly winded Kerrigan. Coming on top of that insidious sapping of his strength by the power of the Red Eye, it gave him very little chance to put out his best, but it so happened that they rolled sideways from the platform on which the Golden Horse was mounted, and this time it was the Britisher who was on top. “Crash! He found himself sprawling full-length across the Killer’s chest, his head close to the side of the silver helmet. Right close to his eyes was a protruding knob which seemed to control a spring, and he guessed what it was for. He reached up and turned it. Click! A snarl came from Chang as the Red Eye closed. The camp was in uproar. A roar came from the other side of the camp, where the Chinaman had been assuring himself that the sentries were still wakeful. Over and over rolled the pair on the ground, and the soldiers of Lun scattered out of their way when they saw the metal helmet of their leader’s adversary. They had not forgotten the massacre of the previous day, and the mere sight of that head-piece was enough to strike terror to their hearts. Chang was undoubtedly the most powerful man Kerrigan had ever grappled with. Even at the best of times, he would have found it hard to hold his own with him. Now he found himself being slowly mastered. The powerful arms were forcing his grip aside; he could see Chang’s eyes gleaming viciously under the metal helmet. The Mongol giant’s breath came hot on his face. But someone was running madly to the Britisher’s aid. Kong was making his huge curved sword whistle as he came, and out of the corner of his eye Chang must have seen his impending doom. He made a superhuman effort to break loose, and for a moment they actually staggered to their feet locked in each other’s arms.

Then Kerrigan remembered a wrestling trick, and back-heeled the giant into the dirt. Chang fell face down on the loose earth, and came up spluttering and spitting out dust and loam. A roar of rage escaped him; he expanded his huge chest and tore himself loose. The almost exhausted White Warrior was sent reeling backwards, and with a howl of triumph the Killer switched open the Red Eye once more. Once again he directed it straight at his enemy, but this time no powerful red beam shot out. There was a faint red flicker in his helmet, that was all. In falling, he had driven the protruding eye into the earth, and dirt had for the moment clogged the delicate mechanism which opened the shutter over the stone. Chang did not know this. He did not realise that he only had to wipe his hand across the Eye in order to clean it. He thought that the power had failed him, and panic seized him. Almost on top of him was Kong, lips parted from his even yellow teeth, the huge headsman’s sword whistling in readiness. Kong had never needed more than one swing in his life to behead a man, and it is certain that had Chang the Killer remained on that spot his head would presently have rolled in the dust. Wisely he turned and ran, ran, in great, leaping bounds which carried him swiftly out of the camp. Kerrigan started after him, remembered his revolver holster lay somewhere under the Golden Horse, and went back for it. Kong had in his hand the only weapon he needed, and he raced after the redoubtable brigand with a gleeful chuckle. Most of the other men stood around helplessly until roused by Kerrigan’s roar—“After him! It’s Chang, and the Red Eye is not working.”


Reassured by his shout, about a score of them grabbed their weapons and started off rather belatedly. Burt Kerrigan himself was well on Kong’s heels, and he noticed that Chang was leading the way towards a dark forest at the southern side of the valley. Chang knew the White Warrior would have firearms, and he was making it his business to get out of the way of them. In and out the thickets he raced, always bearing southwards, and suddenly they heard him giving a loud blast on a horn. It rang out through the darkness, an eerie sound which echoed away for a mile or so. The pursuers glanced at each other. “He’s got his killers somewhere in the neighbourhood. If we don’t get him in the next few minutes it may be too late.” Kong sliced in two a sapling which obstructed his path. His teeth gleamed in the pale light. “Let them all come, master. The more the merrier. We will make their heads dance like pine cones in the autumn. “Fool!” snarled Kerrigan. “The others will have Red Eyes that are not out of order.” To blow the horn Chang had lost a few seconds of his lead. Burt Kerrigan was blazing away at him with his revolver, and the Mongol was zig-zagging amongst the trees to offer as poor a target as possible. No more than twenty yards separated them, but already the Britisher could hear the clatter of the oncoming hoofs. He suddenly remembered his charge, the Golden Horse. If the Death Riders arrived, and found the escort scattered and without a leader there would be nothing to prevent them taking the golden statue. So Kerrigan swung round on Kong. “Go back, Kong! Take the men back with you and guard the horse as you would your own life. For the moment you are in charge.” Kong stopped, his face twisting in bewilderment. “But you, O master, what of you?” “I am going to try and get Chang as he rides past. Nothing can stop him reaching his men now, but if I am hidden here in one of these trees he may ride within range. Turkestan will be the better for his death.”

Kong obviously did not like the orders he had received, but orders were orders, and he turned and raced back the way he had come. He could be trusted to round up the escort and take them to the Golden Horse. Kerrigan slowed down and crept forward through the forest until he heard many voices just ahead. Chang had met his Death Riders, and was evidently in a fury at what had happened. Parting the bushes, the White Warrior saw the whole band around him. His charger was there, and in the half-light the helmeted Death Riders looked more hideous than ever. Then Chang was in the saddle, manipulating the switch which controlled his Eye. Not for five minutes did he discover the cause of the trouble, and then when he had scraped out the dirt from the Red Eye it functioned perfectly. It maddened him more than ever to think how easily he had been misled about the Eye. Waving his sword in the air, he commanded—“Forward, you fighting hounds, and let us make an end of this business! The White Warrior is too strong for one Red Eye, but even he will not be able to stand before two or more. As soon as he is sighted let every man shine the Eye upon him. Forward!” They surged forward with deep-throated growls. The Golden Horse was a prize worth taking back to Ghat, and they were ready to follow their dread leader anywhere in order to get it. That his ruse in riding in the Golden Horse had failed only stirred them to greater efforts. Behind a tree, Burt Kerrigan raised his revolver and waited. He was a dead, and he knew just where he was going to aim. The Red Eye in the middle of the Killer’s helmet offered a good target in the dark, for Chang had left it blazing. The bullet would pass into his brain, and then the scourge of Turkestan would be no more. The Death Riders thundered by. Kerrigan let them pass, for it was Chang he wanted, and the Killer was somewhat in the rear. Now he was riding hard to catch up, and was going to pass not six paces from the tree where the White Warrior crouched. It seemed impossible to miss. Nearer and nearer, and Kerrigan’s finger tightened on the trigger. But as he was about to squeeze, the Killer’s head turned more squarely in his direction, and the full glare of the Red Eye accidently fell upon the Britisher. He braced himself to stand it. He stiffened his weakening knees, forced his arm to remain outstretched, but he could not altogether ignore the sinister influence of that strange ray. It made him tremble as though with weakness, and even as he pressed the trigger he knew he had missed. Crack! He saw a chip of silver fly from the side of the Killer’s helmet, saw him reel in the saddle, and then heard him give a bellow. The horse had plunged on without stopping, but the voice of the Killer rang out above the general din. “Turn about, you hounds of death, turn about. The man we want is here. Get him!” Burt Kerrigan expelled the empty cartridge case with a grunt of disgust. He had missed. The glare of the Red Eye had shaken his aim, and now in perfect military formation the wearers of the horned helmets were closing round him on all sides. A cordon had been made, and through the bushes he could see them closing in. He was completely surrounded. He was in the middle of a circle of red lights. Red Eyes gleamed on all sides. Kong and the soldiers might be grimly determined to defend the Golden Horse from attacks, but it was their leader they should have been with just then.

The White Warrior was in mortal danger. The Red Eyes came closer and closer.

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd

Vic Whittle 2007