The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Eleven

Episode 513: They Were Both Incomparable Achievements

Schrodinger wave equation

Captain Michaelson glanced up as Everett and his companions entered his office. As usual, the senior captain's expression gave nothing away, but Everett sensed that he every bit as perplexed as they were. This did not bode well.

"I recalled you and MacKiernan back to Cairns to receive your report," Michaelson said, indicating one of the documents on his desk. "I cannot say it's done much to clarify matters."

Everett decided to test the waters. "Lieutenant-Commander MacKiernan did manage to locate the island Karlov used as a refuge."

"This would be the past tense of the verb `use'," Michaelson noted dryly. "We have no idea where the man might be now, and your own expedition wasn't significantly more informative."

So that's how the game's to be played today, Everett told himself. This didn't seem the time to note that they'd rescued three German airmen from the L-147 along the way. "I gather you wish to discuss our findings," he replied.

Michaelson gave a faint nod, as a chess player might make to an opponent who'd avoided a trap. "Let us begin with the apparatus your lieutenant found on Nendo. Mister Iverson, please describe this."

If Iverson was nervous, he hid this well. "It was an electronic device of unknown purpose. Someone had smashed the equipment to prevent it from being reconstructed. Practical considerations prevented us from taking the remains with us, but Jenkins was able to complete detailed sketches of these. He also recorded such part numbers as remained legible."

"You noted that some corresponded to the electronic valves the Japanese nationalists ordered from Melbourne," Michaelson told Everett. "Could this apparatus have been another uraninite refiner?"

"Perhaps," said Everett, "but there was no sign of the centrifuges or chemical apparatus such as we found in the Russian and Japanese laboratories. This suggests the device was intended for some other purpose."

"And you believe it belonged to the mysterious Miss Natasha."

"This seems the most parsimonious assumption," said Everett. "Personal effects found at the site suggest that the owner was a woman, and we recovered several pages of notes written in a feminine hand."

Michaelson didn't deign to nod. "I understand that MacKiernan recovered a similar set of notes from the Karlov site. Jenkins, what have you been able to learn from these two documents?"

"Both consist almost entirely of equations, accompanied by a short descriptive phrases in Cyrillic,' said the signalman. "Neither the equations or phrases are in any way familiar. The former bear some slight resemblance to the formulae for electromagnetism, diffusion, and dynamics of a fluid, but they're significantly more complicated. The latter are impossibly cryptic."

"Do the two documents have any equations in common?"

"Yes and no," said Jenkins. "There equations are never identical, but there are several cases where the left side of some equation is similar and the right side is different."

Michaelson drummed his fingers on the desk as he considered the matter. "This suggests that one set is wrong," he mused.

"That was my conclusion was well," said Jenkins. "This might be the set we've attributed to Natasha. We know she's tried to interfere with the Japanese attempt to reconstruct the Ujelang Device. She might have planted a spurious document in an attempt to interfere with the Germans. It's also possible that both are wrong. There's no reason to believe that either author found the correct solution to whatever problem these equations represent."

"What if both are right?" wondered Murdock.

Michaelson glanced at the junior lieutenant, then seemed to decide he was too small to be worthy prey. "I believe we can dismiss this possibility," he said dryly. "Miss Perkins, what has our forensic laboratory been able to learn from the journals you recovered from the two sites?"

Like Jenkins, Miss Perkins didn't need to consult her notes. "The journal from the Karlov site was a small bound notebook that had been badly burned in a fire. Most of the pages were reduced to ashes, but our laboratory was able to recover a few fragments and tease out several lines of text. The journal from the Natasha site was an pad of notepaper that had been throughly saturated with water. The laboratory used a vacuum chamber in combination with a drying agent, the laboratory to remove most of the moisture, which allowed them to separate a few of the pages, and recover some text from this as well. Here are the translations."

Everett examined the pages she'd displayed. The translation from the Karlov site was every bit as cryptic as he expected.

...never dreamed that two years could make such a difference. But it's too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

...not sufficient by itself. I wonder if the islanders destroyed the other artifacts deliberately...

...could have dreamed both would end up in the Pacific after their Revolution? Perhaps I can take advantage of their alliance...

...ironic that he would also end up in the Pacific. How did his people learn about the White Russian effort...

...I should be able to reconstruct it without either becoming aware of my purpose, but timing will be critical.

...she's who I thought. I should have expected this...

...she was seen with Yakov before his betrayal. So it's to be a game? She cannot hope to succeed.

...the British Union of Fascists, of all people. At least their ignorance takes a different form. Almost tempted to let them have [indecipherable words], if only to draw her out ...

The translation from the Natasha site was equally opaque. many terrible ironies. Not at all what I expected...

...late to put the genie back in the bottle, but perhaps it will grant me some wishes as well... way I could warn them. I make the same excuses I did before, but surely they were just as human as I...

...White Russians have made more progress than I'd have believed possible. It's almost as if..."

" it's the Germans..."

Save us! He's here too!

...too much of a head start, but I cannot sit by idly and allow him to succeed.

...unlikely to know their background. Perhaps I can use his ignorance to my advantage...

The senior captain didn't bother to hide a frown. "It's fair to say these documents raise more questions than they answer, but they are most certainly suggestive," he said. "Are we certain they weren't left behind to mislead us?"

"This seems unlikely," Everett replied. "The authors could have had no reason to believe we'd even find them, let alone be able to recover some of the contents."

"Then it would seem that Karlov and Natasha were privy to some special knowledge related to what can only be the White Russians and their infamous weapon. Both express some apprehension regarding this knowledge. They also seem to have known about the Germans. Sometime after the Germans appeared, each author seems to become aware of an adversary of the opposite gender -- presumably each other."

Everett nodded. "One wonders what their contest could be about."

"So one does," said Michaelson. "We will wish to continue our attempts to find and ask them."

Next week: You Leave Them Alone For A Minute And Look What Happens!...

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