Episode 423: Meanwhile, Back In The Hidden Lairs
Michaelson was making his way through a thick stack of RNC-4921 forms when he
heard a timid knock. He looked up to see Willard, the trainee who handling the
communications while Fletcher was away, standing at the door.
"What is it?" he asked.
The radioman held out a set of message forms as if he hoped these could offer
him some protection. "We've received a communication from Captain Everett
in the standard cipher," he said. "I have the plain text here." The youth
seemed unduly impressed by this unremarkable exercise in cryptography.
Michaelson read the message and allowed himself a smile. It was much as
In Rangoon continuing investigations to assist S. Found evidence British
Union arranged deal between Burmah Oil and Divine Thunder Corporation. No
sign of American chemist but archaeologists visited en route Bhamo. Will
fwd this info to S.
He noted what was left unsaid. In particular, there was no mention of what
Scott had actually been doing in Rangoon, though the last sentence implied
this hadn't involved tracking down the kidnapped archaeologist who'd
provided the pretext for the inspector's mission.
"It seems Everett is learning to play the game," he remarked. "That is
obliging of him."
Willard seemed perplexed by this observation. As well he might be. "Sir?"
Michaelson shrugged to himself. He was prepared to reveal some of his
thoughts. This too was part of the game. "Everett wanted the contents of
this message to get out." he replied. "That's why he used the ordinary
cipher. This is hardly secure."
"It isn't?" Willard squeaked in surprise.
Michaelson shook his head inwardly.
"Not to a sufficient degree. We can be certain that all of our adversaries
have access to the code. The German nationalists and the British Union will
have obtained it from their agents here in Cairns, the Japanese will have
obtained it from the Germans while they were still allies, and the Russians
are very good at breaking these sort of things."
"Why would Everett want them to have this information?"
"To force my hand," said Michaelson. "He wonders what I was trying to
accomplish when I ordered him to play host to this Inspector Scott. He has
provoked our adversaries so he can infer this from my response. He hopes
this will put me under pressure, forcing me to make some move that will
reveal my purpose. It will not have occurred to him that I might be
acting on orders from Sydney."
That is how the game is played, thought Michaelson. The last
statement may not have been strictly false, but it was entirely irrelevant.
If Willard should happen to be captured and interrogated, it should send the
enemy on a false trail. He considered arranging this himself, then
discarded it as not worth the effort. "Is there anything else?" he asked.
"There was also this personal message from what I assume is a member of
your family," said Willard. "It was unsigned."
Michaelson frowned, then took the flimsy from the radioman's hand. It would
have seemed quite innocent to anyone who happened on it by chance.
Dear Lawrence, I trust you are well. Your brother-in-law has finished his
business here and contemplates a vacation in the Pacific.
"Sir? asked Willard. "Is anything wrong?"
Michaelson brought his expression back under control, cursing himself for
the lapse. "Of course not," he said calmly. "You can go about your
The Commander glanced out the window and allowed himself a frown. This
unruly combination of jungle and mountains was quite unlike the Land Of The
Gods. He turned back to the message intercept. This too was worthy of a
"It seems Captain Everett has found out about the Burmah Oil transaction,"
he said to his aide. "The man is getting too close."
"It would be easy enough to intercept and destroy him," his aide suggested.
"That would lead the Royal Navy here," said the Commander. "Our
adversaries will be hoping for us to make such a mistake. We need to find
some way to lead him astray. Everett could never have gotten this far on
his own. He's just an ordinary airship captain. He must be receiving
information from the Royal Navy's intelligence service. We know they don't
have any significant resources in Cairns, so this must be coming from
"There is a man from Sydney aboard his vessel," said the aide, "this
inspector named Scott."
The Commander nodded. "He will be the link. We will take this man and
blame it on the Germans."
The aide watched cautiously as the Fat Man read the report. By now he'd
learned to read his superior's expression, and this one suggested
The Fat Man set the paper down. "According to this,
Everett has only gotten as far as Rangoon," he growled. "I expected more
"He may not have enough information to work with," suggested the aide.
"We've been intercepting of all the Japanese attempts to interfere with
him. Perhaps we should allow one to reach him so that he can take some
"They would die before they talked," the Fat Man said dismissively.
"It's what they do. We need to prompt Everett to take a greater interest
Fortunately, those fools in Sydney have provided us with the means. We
will take that passenger of his -- this inept inspector -- and blame it on
The Baroness looked up from inspecting the edge of a poignard and smiled
when she recognized the massive figure who'd knocked on the door. There
was a lot of mass to recognize.
"Bludge!" she said delightedly. "When did you arrive?"
"Just this morning, milady, on the packet from Ceylon," said the butler.
"The route was sufficiently obscure that it should escape notice of the
authorities, and the vessel seemed large enough that her crew wouldn't
comment on my weight."
The Baroness nodded. This had always posed something of a challenge for
their servant, who was built along the lines of a gorilla who'd pursued
an aggressive program of physical development. "I trust the Baron has
resolved the situation in England," she remarked.
"Yes, milady," said Bludge. "The Milbridges' snare was quite extensive,
but milord was able to call in some favors. We've been asked to perform a
favor in return."
"What form does this favor take?" asked the Baroness.
The butler produced an envelope from wherever it is butlers produce such
things. "It seems there is an inspector: a man named Scott..."
Next week: Some Historical Research...
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