Episode 544: Let's Have A Look, Shall We?
The winch whined into operation, hauling the Flying Cloud down to
the mast. On the handling platform, the crew chief watched marks on the
cable, then signaled as the nose approached the docking fixture. Gears
slowed and the mooring engaged with a clunk.
"Nose fitting secure," Loris reported to the bridge.
"Acknowledged," said Iverson. "Mister Murdock, give us Finished With
At the helm, the junior lieutenant pulled the telegraph levers back from
Neutral. Bells rang, and the airship's three 12-cylinder diesels fell
silent. Iverson studied the clinometer to check the trim, then glanced at
"Captain, we are on the mast. What are your instructions?"
Everett turned from the window, where he'd been pretending indifference to
the evolution. Iverson was new to his position as Exec. One of a
captain's jobs was to trust his officers to grow into their roles.
"We'll begin by paying our respects to Admiral Wentworth," he said,
gesturing toward the headquarters building on the west side of the field.
"Order the crew to mooring stations. Jenkins, if you'd accompany me."
Admiral Wentworth received them in his office. This was considerably
better appointed than Michaelson's austere room in Cairns -- more proof,
if any was needed, that anyone who acheived command of a squadron must have
some skill at politics. The Admiral's manner was every bit as polished as
he'd been at the hearing two years before. Like many who moved in higher
levels of society, his public persona entirely hid the person within.
"As you know, I've called you here to assist in the investigation of the
kidnapping," he told them. "We believe one of these nationalists groups
you've been dealing with may be responsible."
"Do you have any idea which one, sir?" asked Everett.
"We can exclude some possibilities," said the Admiral. "The Japanese don't
have a community here in Sydney, and the White and Red Russian expatriates
seem to spend most of their resources battling each other."
"That would leave the British Union of Fascists and the Germans," Everett
observed. "What have your intelligence people managed to learn about
The Admiral's eye's narrowed in what was almost certainly a message. "Less
than we might have hoped." he admitted. "Our agents are too well-known to
perform domestic surveillance -- matters could hardly be otherwise, since
they're quartered here at the Station. There may also be some questions
about the... diligence with which some have pursued their inquiries. Your
people might bring a fresh perspective, unhampered by prior perceptions."
Everett nodded, "I understand, sir."
"What did you make of that?" Everett asked Jenkins after they'd left the
"The Admiral seemed to suggest that his intelligence service might have been
infiltrated by at least one our adversaries," said the signalman.
"Such was my thought as well," said Everett. "The British Union would be
the most likely candidate, if they are indeed involved with one of the
factions in Whitehill Karlov spoke of. Given their current leadership..."
a flicker of expression crossed his face, "…we must be aware if our
identifies, so you'll have to handle that aspect of investigation, relying
on your training at dissimulation. We will leave the Germans to Pierre,
trusting in his special skills."
Jenkins drew on his Signal Corps training to disguise himself a man of some
means, then set off in search of the British Union of Fascists' presence in
Sydney. This proved to be a fine house in a better part of town, maintained
to impeccable standards. The same could be said of its occupants. They
seemed the sort of gentlemen who might watch birds, collect stamps, or
construct replicas of St Paul's Cathedral out of matchsticks, had they
chosen some hobby other than comspiring to replace the current government
with an authoritatina regime. They'd made no attempt at secrecy. This was
hardly essential, for the organization was entirely legal, but it didn't
seem promising. A banner by the entrance to the ground read
British Union of Fascists Faro Night
"Britons game with Britons only."
"What's that all about?" Jenkins asked the doorman.
"It's our weekly gathering, open to any true Englishman," the servant
replied. "Would you care to attend, sir? Together in Sydney, we enjoy a
level of play that the ages shall not extinguish!"
Jenkins considered the man's words. They did not seem an invitation to join
some nefarious conspiracy. "This wouldn't happen to have some any
connection with Baron Warfield or a mysterious figure known as She Who Must
Be Obeyed?" he asked.
"Oh no, sir. The Baron and his lady did attend one of our monthly chapter
meetings some time ago, but they excused themselves around the time Master
Sims began a presentation on his Cathedral Project."
"Thank you," said Jenkins. "I believe that answers any questions I might
The German nationalists' safe house in Bondi Beach was long abandoned, but
Pierre had little difficulty locating their new base of operations. The
Germans had chosen a waterfront tavern for this purpose. It was an
excellent site for their purposes, for their agents could come and go
without notice, but it allowed Pierre to slip inside without notice as
The interior offered plenty of shadows in which to hide. This may have
been a German characteristic, inspired by the same cultural traits that
made Teutonic fairy tales so much darker than their Gallic equivalents.
Pierre took advantage of these to creep through the halls behind it in
search of some place he could eavesdrop in his unwitting hosts.
Unfortunately, no suitable spot presented itself. Thick interior walls
that muffled any conversations seemed to be another German cultural trait.
Pierre had abandoned the enterprise and was deciding what to do next when
he heard a voice from the kitchen ahead.
"Rudolph, take this food down to the prisoner."
"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" thought Pierre. Could the Germans have
bought their captive here, and sent the airship off as a false lead?
There was one way to find out.
It was an easy matter to follow the jailer. Predictable, the Germans
had prepared a dungeon -- a basement storeroom that required little
modification to provide the necessary gloom. Pierre waited until the
other man had delivered the food and departed, then emerged from the
shadows to pick the lock. He eased open the door and his eyes widened
"What are you doing here?" he demanded.
Next week: Let's Have An Entirely Different Look Somewhere Else...
Comments about Episode 544? Start a new topic on the