The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Eleven

Episode 556: Fond Reunions

Japanese and German launches

Everett had ordered Iverson and Sarah to bring Clarice and Emily back to the ship. If the Fat Man's no-longer-quite-as-secret-as-he-might-have-wished base was located near Malunda, it was only a matter of time before his agents recognized the Flying Cloud's launch. Now the two young women faced him in the airship's mess hall, apparently oblivious to the trouble they might have caused.

"Am I to understand you took it upon yourselves to investigate Darwin's chief of police after Commodore Michaelson had departed?" he asked them sternly.

"Dinki di!" Clarice replied. "Someone had to give that drongo a squiz."

Long experience in the Australian Squadron might have accustomed Everett to the Colonials' novel reinterpretation of the English language, but that didn't mean he had to approve of it. "Did it never occur to you that this enterprise might involve an element of risk?"

The brunette seemed mystified by his argument. "That's all the more reason to give it a go, innit?"

Everett exchanged glances with Iverson and Sarah. The former was wise enough to make no reply. The latter seemed all too unlikely to take the matter seriously. "I suppose I should not fault your courage," he told the Aussies, "but you did force Iverson and his party to abandon their mission."

"Which was to find the German nationalist's base," Emily observed. "Clarice and I saved you the trouble. I should think you'd be chuffed."

"Perhaps," said Everett, unwilling to make any concessions. "But we also meant to put the place under observation."

"To learn where their cruiser might be off to, which we also found out for you," said the blonde. "And you did leave Jenkins behind to keep the place under observation."

Years of service in war and diplomacy had taught Everett that there were times one must admit defeat. This was one of them. "Right," he admitted. "What else did you happen to discover?"

"A fair bit!" said Clarice. "It seems Channel nicked some of that Karlov chap's dunnage from the train to Darwin two years ago. He had several crates of swag locked away on his yacht."

"You're quite sure this belonged to Karlov?" asked Everett.

"Have a look!" Clarice replied with a wink. Ignoring her host's reaction, she reached into her blouse to fish out the pendant she'd appropriated from the police chief's luggage. When Everett was sure that it was, in fact, safe to look, he examined the object she held in her hand. It was small -- the size of a pound sterling, perhaps -- and intricately machined. As much work of art as machine, its purpose was entirely impossible to decipher.

"It does seem the sort of thing Karlov seems to favor," he conceded. "Mister Iverson, Miss Sarah, what do you make of it?"

"These engravings remind me of the artifact Lord and Lady Milbridge were searching for -- that so-called Nui Mana," Iverson mused. "I would think this a coincidence were it not for the number of things we've encountered that turned out not to be coincidences at all."

"Such as my thought as well," said Everett "Do you or Miss Wilcox have any idea what it does, Miss Blaine?"

"We reckon it's a lucky charm," Clarice said brightly. "It did bring you and Jenkins here to rescue us!"

This too seemed like a good time to admit defeat. "We must suppose we must acknowledge this possibility," Everett sighed. "Thank you for assistance, ladies. Mister Iverson and Miss Sarah will show you to your quarters.

"Did Miss Blaine wink at the Captain?" Iverson asked Sarah after they'd installed the two young Aussies in their cabin.

Sarah chuckled. "I saw that too. It did seem to catch him off-guard."

"Whatever was she trying to accomplish?"

The island girl seemed amused. "I don't have the slightest idea, and I doubt she does either."

Iverson glanced back toward the accommodation section, then shrugged. "Be this as it may, I imagine we'll have other things to occupy our attention soon."

Lothar rose to his feet as Sigmund brought the launch to a stop. A few meters to starboard, the Japanese nationalists' launch rose and fell to the same gentle swell. The Japanese had deployed first, lowering their craft by hoist. The cruiser had then withdrawn, allowing the Drachen to deploy its party nearby.

A figure on the other vessel rose to face them. Lothar recognized the Japanese captain. "Kaigun-daisa Matome," he said curtly.

"Kapitan Richtofen," the other man replied.

"You wished to parley," said Lothar.

"As did you," said Matome. "That is why you launched your second aerial torpedo without closing the range."

Lothar smiled. He hadn't overestimated his adversary. "We have been at odds because each of us sought the Ujelang Device for our own use. The British Union took advantage of our rivalry to betray both of us and seize the secret of the uraninite refiner for themselves. It would appear we now have interests in common."

The other man was quick to understand his meaning. "You wish to use the weapon to replace your government with one that recognizes your nation's interests. We wish to do the same to ours. These two goals need not be exclusive."

"Ja," said Lothar. "If we knew how to reconstruct the uraninite refiner, we could make two of the weapons as easily as one. I propose that we renew our alliance to extract this information from the Warfields."

The Japanese smiled as well. "I intended to propose the same. I will have to contact the Commander, but we both can guess what his answer will be."

Everett woke to a knock on his cabin door. "Sir, "came Iverson's voice from outside. "We've received a message from Jenkins. I believe you'll want to see it."

Everett had already pulled on his uniform. It was a captain's job to anticipate these things. "You may enter."

The message was brief, and disturbing in its implication.


Iverson looked him in concern "Sir" he asked. "Could this mean what I think it means."

Everett nodded,. It was a captain's job to anticipate these things too. "Our adversaries have resumed their alliance. I feared this might happen. Deploy Loris in the launch to retrieve Jenkins and send a message to Michaelson to inform him of the situation."

Next week: It Has Become A Different Game...

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