Episode 297: Not Mad Scientists, Perhaps, But They May Be Slightly Annoyed
The Flying Cloud maintained station above the Todstalker,
breasting the trade wind with engines at quarter power. With hydrogen
cells at 85% capacity, bunkers full, and ballast tanks topped to the brim,
the cost was inconsequential. Inside her mess hall, her officers and
section chiefs gathered to discuss their next move.
As senior person present, Michaelson took charge. "As I'm sure you've
guessed by now, your movements for the past several weeks were part of a
plan to capture this She Who Must Be Obeyed," he told the others.
"We would have apprehended her if one of her men hadn't intervened. Who
would have imagined she could command such loyalty?"
Everett reserved comment. They both knew the answer to this question.
"Where is this She now, sir?" asked Iverson.
"I would not care to hazard a guess," said Michaelson. "Let us hope the
lady has slunk off to nurse her metaphorical wounds. Our concern becomes
the Fat Man's people: Sigmund and his lot. We allowed them to escape so
they could serve as a stalking horse. It's time to return them to durance
vile. To this end, we will wish to conduct a reconnaissance of Ujelang to
evaluate their position."
"I assume that's why we held onto their vessel," said MacKiernan. "Surely
they'll recognize it if they see it again."
"Not necessarily," said Everett. "These people appear to have a substantial
supply of the craft, and one fast motor torpedo boat looks much like another.
But we will also need their watch words, identification codes, and the like.
How will we obtain these?"
"By taking advantage of some earlier foresight," said Michaelson. "Would
you be kind enough to summon your guest?"
Everett nodded to himself. After all of the recent revelations, this one
was hardly a surprise. He gave the necessary order to Lieutenant Murdock.
When the lieutenant returned with his charge, Michaelson did not mince
words. "Miss Kim," he told the woman. "I know that your command of English
is greater than you would lead us to suppose. I also know you're working
for the German nationalists."
"How you..." the Korean hesitated for a moment, then realized
the game was up. "How did you find out?"
"By process of elimination," Michaelson said dryly. "You could hardly have
been working for the Japanese, given the relationship between your two
nations, the Red Russians would have no plausible reason to send you, the
White Russians lack the resources, and the British Union already had an
agent in Cairns in the form of Phelps. The Germans would have wanted
someone to keep an eye on him."
Her shoulders slumped in resignation. "What will you do with me now?" she
"That is up to you," Michaelson told her. "Until now, you have merely been
an observer. You have not taken sides, either for or against us. This is a
luxury you can no longer afford."
They'd sent down a new wireless to replace the equipment the Germans had
disabled. They'd also sent down a box of spare light bulbs. Now Michaelson
and Everett stood in the Transporter Room, waiting for the hoist to return.
"Are you quite sure about this, sir?" asked Everett. "Given who's
If Michaelson noticed the other man's concern, he gave no sign. "Someone
has to command the operation, and you can hardly leave your ship at this
juncture," he replied curtly. "I will be taking Miss Perkins, of course,
and I'll have the two Germans to help manage the vessel. I will want your
Lieutenant Murdock to keep an eye on Miss Kim. I'll also need a navigator,
a competent boat-handler, and a skilled rigger."
"I could give you MacKiernan, Loris, and Abercrombie," Everett suggested.
"The latter may come in handy if you need to lift heavy things."
The senior captain's expression might just possibly have been a smile.
"You realize they will be under my orders," he announced. "I will not
tolerate any `special instructions'."
"Of course, sir," said Everett.
MacKiernan glanced at Miss Perkins as the Transporter began its descent.
The secretary looked troubled. It wasn't hard for him to guess her
"Do you think Michaelson planned all this?" he asked.
"For the most part, I imagine he did," she replied. "The captain is very
good at keeping secrets. But I doubt that he and Everett expected to see
Lady Warfield again."
"Just what is their relationship with the baroness?" asked MacKiernan. "I
take it they're more than casual acquaintances."
"You didn't know?" Miss Perkins said in surprise. "She was Captain
Everett's fiancé during the War, but then she left him for the baron."
"Good lord! She was the one? I'd heard some rumors about a broken
engagement, but I never dreamed... What about Captain Michaelson? Were
the two men rivals?"
The secretary shook her head. It seemed she'd given this matter some
thought. "I doubt things are that simple," she replied bleakly, "but the
captain is very good at keeping secrets. "
The passage to Ujelang was uneventful. They used the time to good effect,
moving stanchions, changing rigging, and rearranging ventilators to alter
the schnellboot's appearance. A search of the holds disclosed an
impressive collection of armaments, which they mounted to improve the
disguise. They also changed the vessel's name to
Krieg Mädchen -- this seemed appropriately martial.
They arrived to find a familiar shape riding from a temporary mooring
mast where the German nationalists' laboratory had once stood. "That's
the N-187," Miss Perkins said in relief. "We've caught up with them."
"And they can hardly have failed to spot us if they're keeping a good
watch," Michaelson observed. "Now we shall test Miss Kim's reliability.
Mister Murdock, send the challenge."
The lieutenant worked the signal lamp. A reply winked back from the
airship's control car.
"That's today's countersign," Kim told them. "They want to know our
"Tell them we'll anchor in the lagoon and send a party ashore to receive
their report. That should keep them from asking too many questions."
The Korean began jotting down a string of characters. Miss Perkins
watched her for a moment, then turned to Michaelson.
"What are your plans now, sir?" she asked quietly.
The senior captain frowned. "These remain to be determined. First we need
to learn just who's on that island."
Professor Nakamura was an elderly gentleman with a faint American accent.
He gave the impression of a man who'd witnessed a significant amount of
history. Clarice wondered at this. Like many Australians, her knowledge
of the outside world was somewhat less than complete, but she understood
that Japan might have experienced some changes between the middle of the
19th Century and the dawn of the 20th.
"I take it these Germans are not friends of yours," he told Mister
"No," said the industrialist. "I take it they aren't friends of yours
The professor studied the small warship that was threading its way through
the channel to the lagoon, then shook his head. "There are some people like
them back home, who feel that Japan was cheated by the terms of the Peace,
but they are..." he struggled for a word, "...ijōna.
We are peaceful scientists."
"What brought you to Ujelang?" asked Mister Cartwell.
"We've been trying determine what happened here. We still have no idea what
caused this destruction."
"It was a volcano, which sank back into the sea after eruption!" said one of
"It was tsunami... followed by a forest fire!" said another.
"It was an earthquake! An extremely localized earthquake!"
"It was a large bolide that exploded above the island with the force of ten
thousand tons of TNT."
"It was an alien ether-flier, which crashed before its crew could carry out
their plans for world conquest. This would explain those strange creatures
"Strange creatures?" asked Mister Cartwell.
Professor Nakamura glanced at the last man who'd spoken and sighed.
"Come to the laboratory tent and I'll show you."
Next week: Ia, Look at That...
Comments about Episode 297? Start a new topic on the