Episode 293: The Next Time We Practice To Deceive, Results Might Not Be Quite As Satisfactory
It was obvious from Wasserman's grin that the Dutchman was delighted by
some news. A poacher would have worn much the same smile after he'd
discovered a rabbit in one of his snares.
"We have a message from Kwajelein," he told the Governor. "A Wolesely
called at their station this morning, then lifted ship for Ujelang."
"I assume this was Michaelson's vessel?"
The Dutchman's grin widened. "How many other Wolesleys can there be in the
Marshall Islands? We have him!"
"It was incautious of him to venture so far from Australia," the Governor
observed. "We shall inform our friends. They will be happy to collect
Everett watched as the Flying Cloud finished her turn to the west.
The maneuver had been cautious, diffident, and conspicuously lacking in
flair. This was hardly surprising given the circumstances. After two
long flights without resupply, the airship was perilously low on
"Do you think MacKiernan will have any difficulty making the rendezvous?"
"I'm sure he'll rise to the occasion," Everett replied, doing his best to
hide his concern,. "Let us hope the fueler is on station when he arrives."
"We can rely on Commander Williamson," said Michaelson, in a tone of voice
that suggested it really didn't matter if they couldn't. "When you're done
with this idle chatter, would you care to get us underway? We have work to
Stifling a sigh, Everett seated himself behind the wheel of the launch.
Experience had taught him not to argue with Michaelson -- the senior
captain laid conversational traps the way modern navies laid mines.
Instead he fired up the engine and spun the craft toward the east. Soon
they were pounding their way into the westerly swell. Michaelson ignored
the battering, as if unconcerned with mere physical discomfort, and Everett
had faced much worse when he was stationed in the North Sea, but the others
were not as stoic.
"How long will it take us to reach Bikini?" Pierre asked between impacts.
"At this pace, about four hours," Everett replied sympathetically. For all
of its merits in commando operations, the launch had never been intended for
open ocean passages.
"Si longtemps," mourned the Frenchman. "Could we not have deployed
closer to the island?"
Michaelson glanced at him with impatience. "There was no help for the
matter. We had to stay offshore to prevent anyone from spotting the
"What are our plans after we arrive?"
The senior captain sneered, as if amused by this attempt to pump him for
information. "We will go ashore, posing as yachtsmen, and wait for our
quarry to arrive," he announced. "The British Union almost certainly has a
presence on Kwajelein, given its strategic location, but they are unlikely
to maintain agents in a place as insignificant as Bikini. This should give
us an opportunity to ambush the fellows when they arrive hoping to ambush
Everett hid his reservations. Michaelson's plan seemed reasonable as far
as it went. The timing was impeccable, and they should have no problem
playing the part of tourists. But how would they fare if it came to a
struggle? He hadn't dared bring along anyone essential to working the
airship -- not with the vessel so low on supply. In particular, he'd had to
leave Jenkins behind to manage communications. This left them with Davies,
Pierre, and Rashid. Would this be enough to deal with whatever they might
find on the island?
The best word Everett could think of to describe Bikini Island was
`skimpy'. It was a low arc of sand, never more than eight feet above the
surrounding waves, covered with groves of palms. The solitary village -- an
unremarkable cluster of huts, accompanied by the usual store, copra
warehouse, and Lutheran mission -- could not have held more than 200
Like many German possessions, its public works seemed entirely out of
proportion to the community they served. The wharf was a massive concrete
edifice, suitable for a small European seaport, the mooring mast looked
adequate to handle a liner, and some distant bureaucrat had seen fit to
furnish the place with a wholly unnecessary post office.
Inquiries at the latter sufficed to establish that they were the only
Europeans apart from the clerk, who doubled as the shopkeeper, his family,
and the mandatory beachcomber -- a young wandervogel who'd come
searching for the romance of the Pacific, and was now doubtless trying to
find his way back to Germany. Even the missionaries were away on some other
island, and Agent White, the Naval Intelligence operative who'd tried to
betray Jenkins and Emily to the Fat Man's people the year before, had long
Michaelson seemed satisfied with this situation. "Matters are proceeding
according to plan," he told the others. "Have you manr Pierre engage these
villagers to watch for approaching vessels. Then we'll find a place to
They didn't have to wait for long...
"Malihini ho'okokoke," said the islander.
"Quel 'ao'ao?" asked Pierre.
The islander was not troubled by this unlikely combination of languages.
"Komohama," he replied, pointing to the west, where the sun was
sinking toward the horizon. Less than a day had passed since the party had
"That was quicker than I expected," Michaelson observed. "We must give this
woman's people some credit. Shall we go and apprehend the fellows?"
The others nodded assent, and soon they were making their way through the
palms. In a matter of moments, they'd reached the other side of the
island. Across the lagoon, a small motorized skiff, such as a yacht might
carry as a tender, was making its way toward shore.
"That will be our agents," said Michaeson. "I can't imagine who else would
choose just this moment to visit Bikini," said Michaelson.
"Take your places, please."
"Do you think this 'She' will be with them?" asked Pierre, as they
concealed themselves among the trees.
"I rather doubt it," said Michelson. "She would have had to be within two
days' travel of the Marshalls. But given the bait, we can expect to bag some
highly-placed minion -- a station chief, perhaps -- who can help us roll up
Everett studied the approaching craft. It was too small to hold any
substantial force, and its occupants cannot have had any suspicion of the
ambush that awaited them. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. Why did
he feel this twinge of apprehension?
A voice chuckled behind them. It was a voice he remembered all too well.
"Gentlemen, there was no need for you to go to so much trouble on my
He turned to see a slender dark-haired woman standing on the path behind
them, accompanied by a party of gunmen, trimming her nails with a
"Lady Warfield!" cried Michaelson. The senior captain seemed appalled by
this turn of events. As well he might be.
"Tenera," said Everett. Somehow, he was not surprised.
The woman smiled. "Lawrence, Roland, how good of you to come."
Next week: It's All Fun And Games Until Someone Hijacks an Airship...
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