The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Eleven

Episode 544: Let's Have A Look, Shall We?

Pierre opens the door to the dungeon

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 Engines."

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 Everett.

"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 them?"

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 office.

"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 of 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 have had."

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 well.

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 in surprise.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

Next week: Let's Have An Entirely Different Look Somewhere Else...

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