austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Give me a trail to blaze / For the rest of my days

Ace Drummond Chapter Eleven, ``The Dragon Commands'', opens with the discovery that Ace Drummond is not dead.

That thing where he fell down the cliff? Don't worry, the vine that gave way got caught on some rocks, and Henry Kee grabbed hold to anchor it, and Drummond climbs back up. They figure to return to the Hall of Dead Kings and use the plane to the Trainors (who chased Wyckoff off with their shrieking). But The Dragon's men have had enough with being trapped, so they take the grated bars off their pit and climb out, which I would've thought they'd do before waiting for The Dragon to come back and free them. I guess The Dragon commands them to fail their initiative rolls. It sets them up well for a shootout with Drummond and Kee.

Drummond and Kee get to the plane, but Kee is shot --- or at least very, very disappointed --- and The Dragon's men pause shooting so Drummond can pull Kee into the plane. The Dragon's men manage to fail to hit Drummond or the plane as it taxis for takeoff whole dozens of feet away from them, too; apparently The Dragon hired people who failed Imperial Stormtrooper shooting school.

Back at Bai-Tal the administrators of International Airways are shocked to hear that Henry Kee is dead. They marvel at first Bauer, then Kee, and how The Dragon will get them all before he's through with International Airways, even though Bauer had nothing to do with International Airways that I noticed and Kee was killed because he was helping Drummond investigate.

Anyway, back at the log cabin Wyckoff is getting all gunny as Drummond storms in, but claims he doesn't know anything about the Trainors. There's a fistfight since it's important the audience believe deep down that Wyckoff is The Dragon, at least until The Dragon breaks in with the urgent radio bulletin that Wyckoff Is Not The Dragon, The Dragon Commands. Oh, uh, and he insists that Wyckoff has to die for impersonating The Dragon, with such unrealistic commands as stopping Drummond.

Comic Relief Mechanic Jerry lands at the log cabin and helps Drummond up, but Wyckoff makes off in The Dragon's plane that Drummond had been flying. The Dragon is outraged by this and uses the radio thing he intermittently remembers to explode the engine.

Meanwhile, Doctor and Peggy Trainor have caught a horse-drawn cart back to the monastery, of course, and the High Lama is happy, of course, to take them in and care for Doctor Trainor, who's injured from, ah, being old, I guess. The Dragon tells everyone, including the eavesdropping Drummond and Jerry, that the Trainors are at the monastery and people converge on that. Chang Ho tries to shoo angry people out of the courtyard, but Kai Shek is having none of it, angry that foreigners are being allowed into the monastery when the locals are not permitted. He starts raising the rabble, and the High Lama has to come out to explain to Kai Shek that it's absurd to think that white folks are going to go stomping all over ethnically Chinese territories for their own benefit while oppressing the locals. He sends Kai Shek to the prayer wheel for penance and to remind the audience that he's our best red herring for The Dragon now.

Drummond, Jerry, Peggy, and the Lama overhear The Dragon threatening Dr Trainor for the secret of the jade mountain, and break in, where we see Kai Shek jumping down the secret door and running through the corridor, in case anyone didn't know he was the new red herring for The Dragon. Chased out into the courtyard Kai Shek yells something in those weird foreigny languages and the locals start throwing rocks at Jerry and and Drummond, who fall beneath their assaults, and there's the cliffhanger this installment.

I cannot here dispute the title; The Dragon certainly commands here, although he does some commanding in every other installment too.

Trivia: Major Ivan Gates of Rockford, Michigan, organized the Gates Flying Circus in the 1920s, drew crowds of thirty thousand spectators to see ``the greatest aviators in the world'', and sold rides to as many as 100,000 passengers a year by 1927. Source: Mastering The Sky: A History Of Aviation From Ancient Times To The Present, James P Harrison.

Currently Reading: Great Science Fiction Stories, Editor Cordelia Titcomb Smith.


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