Episode 326: I Suppose We Should Ask Those Fellows To Stop
Captain Everett stood at the aft windows of the Flying Cloud's control car
gazing west. To his left, the mountains of New Guinea rolled past like the
work of some over-enthusiastic artist who was obsessed by the concept of
`green'. Astern of the airship, the village of Tufi receded into the
distance. It hadn't been a remarkable settlement -- just a few huts and
bungalows clustered around a store, a mission, and the inevitable copra
warehouse -- but some quixotic entrepreneur had decided to build a
bathing resort there.
Who would have imagined there could be so many resorts in New
Guinea? marveled Everett. And whatever possessed these people to
build the things in such out-of-the-way locations? They'd spent more
than a week trying to guess where Marty and his boys would strike next, and
this proliferation of potential targets had complicated their task
enormously. As had the targets' casual attitude toward communications.
Behind him, Jenkins emerged from the radio shack. "Sir," said the
signalman, "We've received word of another attack. This would be the
third so far."
"When and where did it occur?" asked Everett.
"On the island of Guadalcanal, thirty-six hours ago."
The captain suppressed a frown. "And they only just saw fit to report it?"
"So it would seem. Why do these people wait so long?"
"I imagine it will be the same reason as last time," said Everett.
"Still, we must go through the motions of an investigation."
The resort on Guadalcanal was only slightly larger than the one at Tufi. Its
mast might have been sufficient to moor an island blimp, but a three million
cubic foot rigid airship was another matter entirely, so Everett and Jenkins
descended by Transporter. They reached the ground to find the resort staff
waiting with cups of tea. In their neatly-pressed tropical suits, they did
not look like the victims of marauders.
"Thank you for coming so quickly in answer to our call," said the head butler.
"Would you care for some fresh oolong?"
"Thank you," said Everett. "I understand you were attacked by..." he sighed,
"...airship pirates. You're quite sure about this?"
"Quite," said butler. "They struck yesterday morning, as we were laying out
the service for lunch. It wreaked havoc on the day's schedule."
"May I ask why you didn't radio for help when they struck?"
"We had our guests' welfare to consider," explained the butler. "Nothing
this exciting has happened here before, and we wanted to make sure none of
them missed the opportunity to... uh... none of them suffered at the hands
of the pirates." Like the officers of every previous ship and resort Marty
and his boys had attacked, the man seemed overjoyed by his good fortune. An
event like this could put his establishment on the map.
Everett did his best not to sigh again. "My aide will wish to examine your
records," he told the butler. "While he's at this task, I would like to
speak with some of your guests to obtain their accounts of the event."
The interviews were not particularly informative. By now, Everett had
learned to expect a particular set of reactions from victims of the pirate
attacks, and the guests at the resort on Guadalcanal were no exception.
"It was all quite exciting!" said one -- a young Englishwoman with striking
red hair and an even more striking taste in beachwear. "Nothing like
that ever happens back in Sheffield!"
"Can you tell me what they looked like?" he asked.
"They were gorgeous, in a rugged and masculine sort of way," she replied.
"It's a pity there were only four of them."
"And these four marauders were able to overcome an entire resort?"
"Oh, no one put up much resistance," she admitted. "We all wanted to hear
about their adventures. And Katherine had one all to herself. She probably
spent the time asking about that silver key she's been going on about."
Everett raised an eyebrow. Hadn't some of their previous interviewees
mentioned something about a key? "I would like to learn what she
discovered," he said. "Could you introduce me to this Miss Katherine?"
The redhead hissed. Everett was reminded of a cat he'd known as a child.
"She left yesterday to pick up the airship to Sydney."
"I checked the guest list," said Jenkins, after they'd returned to the
Flying Cloud's mess hall to review their findings so far. "This
Miss Katherine appears to have many interests. She's an avid tennis
player, she enjoys swimming, and she's also a member of the British Union of
"She mentioned this on the guest list?" Iverson asked incredulously.
"It's not as if it was a secret organization devoted to world conquest,"
said the signalman. "Some of our adversaries may be numbered among its
leaders, but it remains a minor political party that has never stood in a
General Election, and the vast majority of its members seem to be harmless
enthusiasts, such as that Blakeney fellow we met on New Guinea."
"If the British Union believes they possess something of value, that
might explain how this She Who Must Be Obeyed became involved," mused
Everett. "This gives us yet another reason to warn Marty and his 'boys'
off. We need some way to predict the site of their next attack."
On the other side of the table, Murdock fidgeted uncomfortably. "Uh, sir,"
he said. "It slipped my mind in the press of our departure from Port
Moresby, but I learned from the staff at the library there that the
Americans had collected advertising brochures for several beach resorts."
Everett suppressed a sigh. He had once been a lieutenant himself. "Would
you happen to have copies of these brochures?" he asked kindly.
"They're in my quarters."
A short time later, Everett was examining four brightly-colored flyers.
Their implications did not come as a surprise. "These would seem to be the
source of our would-be pirates' intelligence," he observed. "They've
attacked three of these places. This suggests we can anticipate an attack
on the fourth."
"Where would this be?" asked Jenkins.
Everett studied the brochure for a moment. "Interesting," he said at last.
"It's our old friends at the Romantischer Badekurort in the Bismark
Archipalago. This may require some thought."
Next week: The Rabbit Supremacy...
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