The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Two

Episode 94: The Perils of Island Vacations

Jenkins, Emily, swimwear, and a coconut

Footsteps sounded on the companionway as Jenkins descended to the control car of the Flying Cloud. "I've finished decoding the message," he said, handing Everett a flimsy. "It's unusually cryptic, even for Michaelson."

The captain read the orders, nodded, and passed them to his bridge crew. On a vessel with a crew of sixteen, there was little point in keeping such things secret.


"Bikini?" asked Abercrombie. "What kind of name is that? Dinnae tell me it's another article of clothing. It sounds like something a clown might wear."

"It's an unremarkable atoll toward the northern side of the Marshall archipelago," said MacKiernan. "`White' must be the agent's code name."

The Scotsman frowned. "I'd wager he'll be the very devil tae find."

The Irishman reached into his pocket and pulled out a shilling. "Would ye care to put some money on that?"

"Yer on!"

Everett cleared his throat. "We'll have to land a party. But they'll have to be circumspect to avoid detection. We will need some kind of cover story."

"How about a married couple, visiting the island on vacation?" suggested Davies from his station at the elevator wheel. "That worked last time. After a fashion."

"They would need some knowledge of German. Jenkins, do think you could manage?"

"Ich werde mein bestes tun," said the signalman.

Everett nodded. "We will also need someone to play the role of your companion."

"Ich kann es," said Emily. "Ich studierte deutsch in der schule."

"Thank you, Miss Wilcox. That should serve nicely."

The insertion took some planning. The couple couldn't just show up on the island with no explanation as to how they'd arrived. After some thought, Everett decided to stand off Bikini until one of the inter-island ferries paid a call, wait until nightfall, then send in the launch under cover of darkness. Natives in this part of the Pacific rarely set sail after sunset, so they'd have little fear of being seen.

A few evenings later, Jenkins and Emily were standing on a beach as MacKiernan drove the motorboat away into the dusk. With the muffler engaged, its engine was barely audible over the sound of the surf.

"That's a nice little vessel," said Emily.

"It has come in handy," admitted Jenkins. "The Captain could have filed a requisition for something better, but a motor launch in the hold is worth two on the RNR-0386B form."

Emily chuckled. "What now?"

"I believe the plan was to don appropriate attire, make our way to the village, and blend in with the new arrivals. You came prepared?"

The brunette hefted her satchel. "If a lady could have some privacy."

Jenkins nodded and stepped behind some trees to change his own garb. He re-emerged wearing a conservatively-cut bathing tunic and trousers that fit well on his unexpectedly athletic physique. Emily appeared a few moments later. She was wearing a skin-tight maillot that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. The skimpy ribbon of fabric that passed for a skirt only made matters worse.

"Is that what I think it is?" asked Jenkins.

The brunette smiled. "Of course! I could hardly let this opportunity go to waste!"

"You look quite striking, Miss Wilcox," he said, offering his arm.

"You look dashing yourself, Mister Jenkins," she replied, accepting it. "Shall we go?"

The celebration to greet the latest boatload of guests was in full swing by the time they reached the village. It was a boisterous affair, lubricated with schnapps and kirschwasser, and the two had no trouble passing themselves off as newcomers. Their caution proved justified. While most of the revelers seemed innocent, Jenkins noticed several hard-faced men studying the new arrivals with calculating eyes. But the signalman was practiced at not being seen, and Emily's disguise was brilliant. No one who saw her could possibly imagine she was here on a mission. Though they might imagine things of a more personal nature.

The two had several days to find the agent before MacKiernan returned with the launch. This was fortunate, for the man seemed determined to remain hidden. Jenkins made the usual recognition signals -- code gestures, phrases, and the like -- and visited the usual message drops, but there was no sign of the fellow. Then, on the morning before they were to leave, a waiter visited their table with an unordered drink. Beneath his glass, the signalman found a tightly folded slip of paper.

cntct palm grove sign 2115

"How are we supposed to find the right palm grove?" asked Emily after they'd left the café . "There must be dozens."

"The word order is intended to be misleading," said Jenkins. "I noticed the offices of a Connecticut Shipping Company on the east end of the island. This would be the rendezvous, while `palm grove' will be the phrase our man uses to identify himself."

"That sounds exciting!"

"Perhaps," said Jenkins, "but there could be an element of risk. It might be best if I visited the agent alone."

"Very well," said Emily. Jenkins glanced at her in surprise. He'd expected an argument.

The agent was a well-dressed gentleman with pale Anglo-Dutch features. White was a good code name for the fellow. After they'd exchanged greetings, he invited Jenkins onto his verandah, produced a cribbage board, and began to deal out a hand. Anyone who saw the two would think they had met for a game.

"I apologize for the delay in arranging this meeting," he said, "but one cannot be too careful. I'm sure you understand my position."

"Of course," said Jenkins. "What can you tell me about Ujelang?"

The agent nodded, as if he'd been expecting this question. "The nationalists established a base there sometime this spring. Their security is extremely tight. They've imported a motor torpedo boat from Germany to guard the place and evacuated the entire native population."

Jenkins raised his eyebrows. "Hasn't the government noticed?"

"The administrator of the chartered company that runs the Marshall Islands is a businessman. He's happy to earn a bit of money on the side, and the nationalists have bribed him to look the other way. As for the Imperial Navy, they're stretched too thin to patrol every island. Also, many of their men are sympathetic to the nationalist cause."

"Do you know what they're up to?"

"No, but I have learned that they're looking for something called the Trapezohedron."

Jenkins nodded to himself. Somehow he was not surprised. "Do you have any idea what this thing might be?"

"It's a geometric solid: a..."

"...dual polyhedron of an n-gonal antiprism."

The agent grimaced. "I see that you've exhausted this line of inquiry as well. I'm afraid that's all I know."

Jenkins rose. "Thank you for your assistance. I believe I'll be going."

"I think not," said his host.

Jenkins looked back and saw that the man had drawn a pistol -- one of the ubiquitous Parabellums they'd been encountering with some frequency.

"You've been turned?" he said.

The agent smiled. "I am a businessman too. And you should be of considerable value to certain parties."

Jenkins calculated his chances. The man was only a few steps away, but he held the weapon like he knew how to use it. He could almost certainly disable the fellow, but he'd have to risk taking a round and hope for the best. He shifted his weight, preparing to charge. Then Emily appeared from the shadows, stepped up behind the agent, and brought a coconut down on his head. The man toppled with a thud.

Jenkins gave her a polite nod. "Thank you, Miss Wilcox."

"It was a pleasure, Mister Jenkins."

"May I ask where you found the coconut?"

She shrugged. "They are native to these lands. What should we do with this chap?"

The signalman glanced around until he spotted a wheelbarrow. "It might be wise to bring him along. We can't risk leaving him behind to talk. If you could take his legs while I get the shoulders."

Next week: Ujelang...

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