The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Four

Episode 489: This Time We'll Get It Right

The Flying Cloud en route to Singapore

Captain Ray seemed amused by his experience. It seemed that his career as a merchant skipper in the South Pacific had taught him to take such things in stride. "A funny thing happened on the way to Singapore," he told Everett and Aunt Prodigia. "We were three days out, passing the cape at Day Truong Son, when this bonzer armed yacht pulled alongside, fired a warning shot, and ordered us to heave to. We reckoned it was more of those cultists, like the chappies who attacked the old Emma back in `25, so I told my mates to get ready for a blue. It turned out they were just a bunch of toffs, after some shipment of electronic values we picked up in Darwin. What do you make of that!"

Everett declined to answer what was obviously a rhetorical question. "What happened after these gentlemen made their demand?" he asked.

Ray shrugged. "There didn't seem much point in fighting over a crate of vacuum tubes when we were only getting paid for cartage, not when those blokes had a deck gun," he replied cheerfully. "So we dug it out of the holds, handed it over, and bid them on their way."

"Did you happen to get the name of their vessel," Everett asked, though he'd already guessing the answer.

"Dink-di," said Ray. "It was the Make A Good Fist. Bewdy of a name for a pirate ship, eh?"

Aunt Prodigia seemed unimpressed by this observation. "Did you spot two young women being held aboard the yacht?" she demanded. "One would have been blond, the other brunette."

The skipper consulted his memory. "I did see one blond sheila having a chinwag with the officers, but she didn't look like a prisoner. They were all acting like mates."

Another one of the Warfields' minions, thought Everett. He filed this information away, bid the man adieu, and gestured for his companions to follow him back to the lorry they'd hired for the trip to the harbor. Thety clamberd aboard, waited for Aberctrombuie to crank the engine, then settled down for the ride back to the air station.

"That wasn't very helpful," Aunt Prodigia grumbled. "My nieces are still missing, and now that bloke's lost your vacuum tubes."

"Perhaps," mused Everett. "I have begun to wonder about our Captain Ray. He showed up at the White Russian's secret lab after the German nationalists attacked to salvage that load of barbed wire, returned to make off with their abandoned steam tractor, arrived at Serua just in time to pick up Fleming, and has made several other appearances at places connected with our elusive friend Karlov."

"Do you think he might be working for the fellow?" asked Iverson. "Could he have surrendered the vacuum tubes deliberatly?"

"We must consider the possibility," said Everett. "According to Howard Phillips, Karlov used to take passage with aboard his freighter. He would have needed some other way of getting about after the Germans sank Phillip's vessel off Timor, and the Tranquility has been in the right places at the right times."

"Then why didn't you confront the bloke?" asked Aunt Prodigia.

"That would only reveal our suspicions," said Everett. "I believe it would be better to pretend disinterest, provide him with a suitable length of rope, and see what use he puts this to."

"And how will this help us find my nieces?" growled the matron.

"I don't believe they could be in any immediate danger," Everett replied, quite truthfully. "They've shown considerable ability to look after themselves. And we have a mission to locate those vacuum tubes and retrieve them from the hands of the nationalists."

Aunt Prodiga seemed unimpressed by his arguments. "You Royal Navy blokes also have a mission to protect subjects of the Crown. That's why we pay taxes!" she snapped.

Everett had to admit that the matron had a point. Chivalry also demanded they come to the rescue of two young ladies, though he suspected their potential captors might be the ones in need of rescue. "There's little we can do in pursuit of either mission until we know where Miss Wilcox, Miss Blaine, and the vacuum tubes might be bound," he replied diplomatically. "Fortunately, we are not without resources. There is reason to believe your nieces took passage from Manila to French Indochina. We'll send queries to British commercial agents the various ports to learn if they've been sighted. We'll also ask Mister Fuller to forward any communications he might receive regarding the Make A Good Fist's destination."

"Are we sure we can trust the man?" asked Iverson.

"To some extent," said Everett. "It would be premature to take his claim to be working for Naval Intelligence at face value, and he almost certainly has some agenda of his own, but he had no reason to reveal himself to us here in Danang when he could just as easily have slipped away when he got word of our arrival. I will take this as evidence intends to cooperate with us, at least for the moment."

The cooperation, if that's what Fuller intended, was not notably productive. Three days passed with no word from his submarine other than routine position reports. Then, on the evening of the fourth, Jenkins emerged from the Flying Cloud's radio shack wearing a perplexed expression.

"Sir," he told Everett. "We've received a coded message from Miss Wilcox and Miss Blaine, transmited from some unidentified station in Singapore."

"In Singapore?" marveled Everett. "However did they end up there?"

"They offer what I'd sure they imagine is an explanation," said the signalman, "but this raises as many questions as it answers."

Everett studied the plain text and raised an eyebrow.


"We're quite certain they're the ones who sent this?" he asked.

"It was in the cipher Miss Blaine and I arranged," said Jenkins. "Also, this does seem to be the sort of exploit in which the two young ladies revel."

"So it does," sighed Everett. "I suppose we'd better take steps to rescue them from the consequences of their initiative. Mister Iverson, prepare to lift ship. Jenkins, send word to the Stalking Herring and inform Aunt Prodigia of this development. I imagine she'll wish to accompany us."

Next week: More Fun In The Straits Settlements...

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