Episode 360: It's A Popular Destination This Time Of Year
Marcel was at the kitchen sink, up to his elbows in suds and washing, when
the janitor peeked through the door.
"G'day, Frenchie!" the man exclaimed. "You're here late."
Marcel held up a knife. "There is work to be done," he observed brightly.
"An artiste must take proper care of his instruments if he wishes
to obtain good results."
The janitor glanced at the blade and raised his mop in salute. "Dinkum,"
he agreed. "You cook up some grouse chunder. What's for breakfast
Marcel pretended to grin. "Beets," he replied. "Beets and porridge."
"Bewdy!" said the janitor. "I'll be looking forward to it!"
Marcel frowned after the man had departed. How could anyone look forward to
beets? Cooking for Australians was considered the lowest to which a chef of
his talents could stoop -- worse even than cooking for the English.
Unfortunately, his mission demanded certain sacrifices.
By the time he'd finished washing, the building was empty. He picked up the
cleaver he'd chosen, checked its edge for sharpness, and tucked it behind his
belt. No one accosted him as he left the kitchen and headed toward the
bunkhouses. The Royal Navy didn't see fit to guard against nefarious
catering staff. They would pay for this oversight.
Marcel's path took him past a row of storage sheds. He glanced around to
make sure no one was watching, then ducked between two of them. The duffel
was where he'd left it, hidden beneath a step. It took him but a moment to
replace his white chef's garb with a back shirt and overalls. He checked
his cleaver again, and set off for the administration building.
In his dark clothing, the Frenchman blended into the night. The lone sentry,
posted by the door, didn't notice as he slipped around the corner to the back.
It didn't take him long to find an unlatched window. His hosts felt little
need for security in this out-of-the-way corner of the Pacific. He smiled.
This was going to be easy.
"What have you got for us, mates?" asked the guard.
In the passenger seat, Deitrich rummaged through a folder and handed the man
a bill of lading. "Uniforms, motor oil, small machine parts, and jars of
concentrated yeast extract," he replied.
The guard glanced at the papers, consulted a clipboard, and nodded.
"Dinki-di. Take it up to Warehouse Three. You know where that is?"
"Ja... uh... yes."
With a crunch, the driver put the lorry in gear and they rolled past the gate.
It didn't take long to find Warehouse Three -- the large black `3' painted on
the side was something of a give-away -- and soon they were backing up to the
loading dock. They'd taken care to arrive near the end of a shift, so most
of the workers were gone. The foreman glanced at their load and scowled.
"Give us a hand here chappies," he told them. "We have a schedule to meet."
Dietrich made a show of reluctance. "We're not getting paid for this," he
"And you're not getting paid for spending the night here in your yute, which
is what you'll be doing if we don't get this swag into the shed."
Deitrich hid his smile. "Very well."
In the rush to unload, it was easy for the German to slip off unobserved and
conceal himself behind some crates. No one noticed that he wasn't on the
truck when it departed. Then it was just a matter of patience, and waiting
until darkness fell. These fools are amateurs at the game of war,
he gloated. They don't even know how to count.
Two hours later, he was marching toward to the administration building,
wearing one of the uniforms they'd delivered. A single sentry was on duty
at the door. The man issued a challenge as he approached.
"And chips," said Dietrich. Even without their inside information, it would
have been easy to guess the countersign.
The sentry nodded. "Pass, mate."
At this time of the night, the building was empty. Dietrich made his way
down darkened hallways, past empty rooms and silent offices until he reached
the door he was looking for. It but a moment to jimmy the lock and ease it
open. He smiled and pulled out the length of pipe he'd tucked behind his
belt. This was going to be easy.
The air station loomed ahead: a shadow in the darkness. The moon wouldn't
rise for another two hours, so the only light came from some distant
bunkhouses on the far side of the field. Petrov checked his watch, then
made a dash for the fence. He'd been timing the sentries as they made
their rounds. Their precision might have been a testament to their
discipline, but it compromised their effectiveness as watchmen.
The fence was taller than he'd been informed -- the capitalists must have
found some reason to raise it during the past few months -- but heroes of
the revolution expected to take such things in stride, and soon he was
dropping to the ground on the other side. Another rush took him to the
cover of some bushes, where he paused to listen for alarms. No one called
out a challenge. He'd made it without being seen.
Satisfied, the Russian set off for the administration building, following
the instructions he'd been given. His experiences in the Revolution had
taught him how to hide behind enemy lines, and no one noticed as he slipped
from shadow to shadow. At one point, a guard strolled past whistling the
tune to some popular song. Petrov shook his head in contempt. These
Australians knew nothing of war.
The back door of the administration building was locked, but he had the key.
Moments later he was inside. He smiled. This was going to be easy.
Marcel stepped through the door to the commander's office, then paused in
annoyance. Two other figures, also clad in black, were standing inside,
glaring at each other. They turned as he entered.
"Who are you?" growled one.
Marcel brandished his cleaver. "I'm an assassin, here to strike down the
commander of this station. And you, mon amis, are in the wrong
place at the wrong time."
The man who'd challenged him brandished a length of pipe. "I too am an
assassin, and I cannot allow you to interfere. Prepare to die."
The third man produced a small axe, such as dockworkers might use. "I
came here to dispose of the capitalist tool. You are in my way. You must
suffer the fate of all who oppose the revolution."
"When did this begin?" Michaelson asked the sentry. They stood outside the
door to his office, listening to the sounds from inside. These were
punctuated by the occasional grunt or crash.
"An hour ago, sir," said the sentry, "right after those three crook chappies
snuck into the building."
The senior captain eased open the door, peered inside, then closed it and
shook his head. "I believe we've learned what became of them," he remarked
"Should I call the marines?" asked Fenwick.
Michaelson sighed. "I suppose we should get around to it, but there seems
no particular reason to hurry. These gentlemen appear to be busy."
Next week: Shake Your Tambora...
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