The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Four

Episode 360: It's A Popular Destination This Time Of Year

Three frustrated would-be assassins

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 tomorrow?"

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 protested.

"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 dryly.

"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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