Episode 537: We Hope That You Enjoyed Your Visit
Iverson stared at trio ahead. "Is that who I think it is?" he asked.
The three women -- a blonde and brunette wearing fashions more suitable for
the dance floor than the jungle, accompanied by a third Iverson remembered
all too well -- turned and stared back. They seemed every bit as surprised
as he was.
"Bonzer!" said Emily. "It's Iverson, Sarah, and Jenkins! What are you
"Captain Everett sent us to find you," said Iverson. "What's Natasha doing
"She was helping us escape... until those nongs started a blue," said
Clarice. "She gestured at the fields to the north and east, where the
British Union was driving the Japanese nationalists back toward the
Governor's mansion. The fighting remained fierce, but the outcome was no
longer in doubt. "How'd you get to the island?" she asked hopefully.
"Can you give us a lift?"
"We deployed on the launch, but it had to return to the ship lest it be
spotted. It will take several hours to call it back."
Beside the two Aussies, Natasha frowned. "We may not have that much time,"
she warned. "The British Union is winning the battle here. They'll have
taken control of the defenses by then."
Iverson noticed the look Sarah was giving Natasha and realized he might
have another battle on his hands if he didn't act quickly. He pointed
north, where the L-103 rode from her mooring mast. "It's a pity we don't
have enough people to crew that ship or we could use it to escape."
Clarice and Emily exchanged glances. "We know where you can find a crew,"
said Emily. "They're in that stockade ahead of us."
Iverson studied the prison camp. It was guarded by a double row of barbed
wire and four watchtowers. The latter were unmanned, their Japanese crews
withdrawn to aid the defense, but three Englishmen guarded the gate with
rifles at port arms.
"It could be a bit of a trick getting past that lot," said Iverson. With
battle still raging to the east, the sentries were on the alert.
"This isn't necessarily the case," Jenkins observed. "They can hardly be
aware of our presence on this island. If they're approached by a party of
their countrymen, they'll naturally assume these to be allies."
Iverson considered this proposal. The Royal Navy had a reputation for
audacity that the Airship Service felt it important to improve upon. "Let's
give it a go."
The guards moved to raise their rifles as Iverson and the others
approached, then relaxed when they saw that two of the newcomers were quite
"'Ey," said one. "What are ye at 'ere?"
"We're taking these ladies to safety until the fighting is over," Iverson
explained. "I trust that this area is secure."
"Aye," said the guard, "but why is that lady carryin' a spear?"
Sarah glanced down at the weapon as if puzzled to find it in her hands, then
rapped the man on the head with the butt. Iverson and Jenkins took this
opportunity to lay their adversaries low as well.
"It's a stroke of luck there were only three of them," Jenkins observed as
they dragged the unconscious bodies out of sight.
"I'll take all the luck I can get," Iverson replied.
"That's a wise attitude," Natasha observed.
Jenkins made short work of the lock on the door to the barracks and soon
they were swinging it open to reveal a long room with a row of bunks down
the center. The occupants were peering out the barred windows to north in
an effort to determine what was going outside. An older man turned to face
them. Stocky and capable-looking, he was every inch the commercial airship
"Why, it is the two frauleins from Australia!" he exclaimed. "But
who are these people with you?"
"G'day Captain Krugman," said Emily. "These are our mates Iverson, Jenkins,
Sarah, and Natasha."
"Gutentag," Krugman said to Iverson. "From your uniform, I see
that you are an airship officer. Is your ship here?"
"Not at the moment," Iverson admitted, "but yours is. We have a
Their luck continued to hold as they crossed the field. Three of the
Germans had taken the guards' uniforms and rifles to maintain the pretense
they were marching the others to some new location, but the British Union's
attention seemed concentrated on the Governor's mansion, where the Japanese
nationalists were making their final stand -- whether to defend the place or
take its occupant as a hostage was impossible to tell from this distance.
A sentry stood at the foot of the mast, but went down before he could finish
his challenge. The small mooring watch the British had placed aboard the
L-103 posed little more difficulty and soon the vessel was theirs. Iverson,
Sarah, and Jenkins squeezed into the control car along with Krugman and his
bridge crew as the Germans prepared to lift ship.
"Our hosts were kind enough to resupply the ship," said Krugman. "They have
left us with 80% hydrogen, 20,300 kg ballast, 6200 litres of fuel."
"They've also left an obstacle," said Sarah, pointing to the gun emplacement
to the north of the field. Now that they were sure of their victory, the
British had sent a crew back to man it.
"Could we use one of your new weapons against it?" Jenkins asked Krugman.
The German shook his head. "This is is a cargo ship, not a warship. Even
if they were unpacked from their crates, we would not have the fittings to
Iverson thought back to a day at Cairns he preferred not to remember. "This
might not be necessary," he said cautiously.
Clement turned in surprise at the sound of the diesels. Behind them, the
captured airship was starting its engines. "What's that all about?" he asked
Peters. "It looks like they're lifting ship."
"I didn't hear anything about that.," said the gun captain. "Get on the
wire to headquarters and find out who gave the order!"
Clement made the call and frowned. "No one did. The Japanese must be
trying to hijack it. We're ordered us to bring the vessel down."
Peters had already given the command. Beside him, his crew loaded a shell
into the 77, closed the breech, and began cranking the the elevation and
train wheels to bring the cannon to bear. By now, the airship had dropped
its mooring and was climbing on a course that would take it directly overhead.
"That was a bad choice of headings," Peters announced smugly. It would
make for an easy shot.
Engines thundered above them as the gunners prepared to fire. Something
else thundered as well. Then a ton of ballast water plummeted onto their
position, sweeping the crew from their stations and knocking the cannon
askew on its mounts.
Clement struggled to his feet in time to see the airship vanish to the
north. That, he thought, was a bad bit of luck.
The L-103 rendezvoused with the Flying Cloud at Norfolk Island.
As soon as she saw Everett, Clarice gave the captain a kiss. "You sent
Iverson to rescue us!" she said witha smile.
For once, Everett was temporarily at a loss for words. "I felt he would
benefit from the experience," he said at last.
She grinned. "Dinki di!"
Seeking safer ground, Everett turned to Captain Krugman. "Thank you for
your assistance in this affair. I understand that you may have other
loyalties, but you are welcome to accompany us to Cairns."
The German met his gaze. "That loyalty was forced upon us by
circumstance. Our circumstances have changed. We will accept your
Next week: Taking Stock...
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