Episode 461: Does It Come With Instructions?
"D'ye ken `twas the Fat Man's minions who kidnapped the two lassies?" asked
"I imagine so," said Everett. "There cannot be an unlimited number of
German thugs who drive about the Dutch East Indies in large black
"Shall we give chase?" asked Jenkins.
Everett considered the matter, then shook his head. "The fellows will
almost certainly have made their escape by now," he observed. "They seem
somewhat better organized than our friends in the British Union. We'll
wish to get Professor Koshino to safety in the event they decide to return
No nationalists appeared to contest their passage as they made their way
back to the Flying Cloud. As soon as they were aboard, Jenkins
headed to the radio shack to dispatch the day's position report while
Everett met with his officers to decide on a plan. The airmen faced
something of a dilemma. On the one hand, it seemed imperative to get
Koshino to Cairns as expediently as possible so that the Navy could
benefit from his intelligence. On the other hand, chivalry demanded they
begin some effort to rescue Miss Wilcox and Miss Blaine from the Germans.
They were still debating how to resolve it when Jenkins returned with a
message. Everett read it and frowned.
RETURN CAIRNS WITH COURIER
"It appears the matter has been taken out of our hands," he observed
to the others.
"This mention of a `courier' can only refer to Koshino," marveled
Iverson. "How could Michaelson know we'd found him?"
"He might have learned this from his contacts with German Naval
Intelligence," MacKiernan suggested. "We know they've been watching the
Fat Man and his people, and they knew Koshino was here. Though I suppose
the captain could also have some contact with the Japanese or the
Everett's expression hardened. "I believe we can discount the latter
possibility," he said curtly. The others glanced at him, but he offered
no explanation for his comment.
"What will we do now, sir?" Iverson asked.
"We don't seem to have many alternatives," said Everett. "We must bring the
professor back to Cairns. But can leave a party here to track down the
Germans. This will have to include someone who knows their way around the
islands, and someone who can command cooperation from civil authorities if
"Who do you have in mind?" asked Iverson.
Everett noted the lieutenant's apprehension and allowed himself a smile.
"I will think upon the matter," he replied.
They made the flight back to Cairns with all three engines running at full
power. This might reveal something of their vessel's performance to
Michaelson, but it seemed unlikely the senior captain hadn't gained an
inkling of this by now, and the quicker they made the passage, the less of a
lead their adversaries would gain. Koshino spent most of his time in the
mess hall, enjoying the ever-changing view form the windows. "I didn't get
to see much of my previous two airship rides," he explained. "I was cooped
up in a cabin for the first and hidden in a crate for the second."
"How long did the latter flight take?" Everett asked him, hoping this might
provide some clue as to where the Japanese nationalists' new base was hidden.
"I seem to have slept through the whole thing," Koshino confessed. "It
must have taken several hours. Judging by the position of the Sun, my
captor's secret laboratory was north of the equator at roughly the same
latitude as the base they abandoned in Burmah. I understand Kupang is
some distance to the south."
MacKiernan glanced at the captain. "That's more than two thousand nautical
miles," he whispered. "The flight would have taken at least two days. He
could hardly have remained asleep so long."
Everett nodded. This was hardly the only mystery associated with the
professor's adventures. "How did you contrive your escape?" he asked.
"That was Nadia's doing," said Koshino. "She snuck me into the air station
where I hid inside a crate that was part of an outbound cargo. When I woke
up and kicked my way out of the box, I found myself in a warehouse in
The airmen exchanged another set of glances. "This Miss Nadia," asked
Everett. "Was she a tall slender woman with blond hair and Eastern
"I suppose she was," the professor said in surprise. "Why did you ask?"
The ability to keep one's expression neutral under any and all circumstances
was one of the requirements for command rank. "It's just a routine question,"
Everett explained. "The Royal Navy Airship Service likes to keep track of
They reached Cairns Royal Air Station late the next day. A handling party
waited in the rain to walk them to the Number Two Mast -- an indication of
the importance Michaelson placed on their passenger. When they descended
the lift, a marine driver and a motor were standing ready to take them to
the senior captain's office.
Michaelson seemed in an unusually curt mood. "I see you finally got here,"
he said. "Greetings, Professor Koshino. I am Captain Michaelson, commander
of this station. I understand you were kidnapped by a group of Japanese
nationalists, who wanted you to build a machine to refine a particular type
Everett was disturbed by the implications of this statement. Just what
does Michaelson know, and where did he learn it? he wondered. But the
professor took it in stride.
"It wasn't refining in the conventional sense," he began. "They wanted to
separate something known as isotopes..."
"I am familiar with the concept," the senior captain interrupted. "How
does this machine work?"
Like all professors, Koshino seemed genetically predisposed to lecture.
"It involves a hypothesis hypothesized by a Louis de Broglie. He suggested
that under some conditions, matter will behave as if it was composed of
waves rather than particles. My machine takes advantage of this to
increase the probability that stochastic processes will proceed in a
Everett's ears perked up at the mention of the word `probability'. Hadn't
the Warfields been seeking a device that could influence chance?
Michaelson appeared not to notice. "How long will it take them to
complete it?" he asked.
"The prototype was finished when I left, and only needs to be calibrated,"
said the professor. "But they'll need more machines if they wish to do any
Michaelson smiled, like a chess player who's noted some weakness in
his adversary's position. "Am I correct in assuming this will require
specialized components that might be difficult to acquire in the South
The professor thought this over. This question didn't seem to have
occurred to him. "Why yes," he replied. "I suppose it would."
Michaelson's smile broadened. "Could I trouble you to compile a list for us?"
Next week: We're Making A List...
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