The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Eleven

Episode 572: Preparing For The Contest


Manfred studied the aerial torpedo, then turned to his hosts. "This is most certainly a German machine," he informed them. "It resembles one of Robert Thelan's designs. I assume it is directed by some system of wireless control."

"You are correct," Jenkins replied. "The receiving apparatus is located in the aft section of the machine, behind the bomb itself. We did not recover a transmitter, but we were able to reconstruct one by studying the circuitry."

"And you recovered this machine from der Dicke Mann's people?" said the German.

"This was the work of our two young Australian friends," Everett confessed. "When they discovered the nationalist depot on Gilolo, its occupants fled in haste, leaving several crates of weapons behind."

This prompted a chuckle. "The Frauleins are a strong-minded pair. Should they ever chose to marry, their husbands can anticipate eventful lives."

Everett nodded ruefully. He'd come to the same conclusion himself. But this wasn't the time to reflect upon its implications.

The airmen stood in the guarded warehouse where Michaelson stored all the material they'd recovered from different nationalist groups over the past two years. Around them, crates from the German arms depot shared space with equipment from the Japanese laboratory in Burmah, Karlov's papers, Fuller's `automatic motorboat' and the mock-up of the Ujelang Device. They'd invited Manfred to attend. Rather than try to conceal his arrival in Cairns -- it being difficult to hide something as large as an airship -- the Commodore had represented the Geschwader's visit as an ordinary commercial flight. This might not fool any spies, but it would confuse them.

Now the Commodore turned to his aide. "What is our present inventory?" he asked.

Fenwick consulted his notes. "In addition to the aerial torpedo we have four of the gliding bombs."

"It would seem a pity to let them go to waste," Michaelson observed. "The time has come to use them."

Everett raised an eyebrow. "You propose an attack, sir?"

"It's difficult to imagine what else this material might be good for," the Commodore replied sardonically. "Your Airman Fleming has some skill as a glider pilot. I trust he can use this to direct the bombs."

"He may welcome the challenge," said Everett, familiar with Australian temperament. "We'd also need someone knowledgeable in the operation of aeroplanes to manage the aerial torpedo."

Manfred smiled at what might have been some memory. "This will not be a problem," he said quietly.

"Do you propose to attack the Germans and Japanese, the British Union, or both?" asked Jenkins.

"That remains to be determined," Michaelson replied, "Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the Device doesn't fall into the hands of enemies of the Crown. To this end, we need to learn something of their intentions."

One didn't become a member of the RNAS Signal Corps without being quick on the uptake. "You propose some campaign of disinformation?"

"This would seem indicated," said Michaelson. "We've discovered that the Germans, Japanese, and British Union all maintain agents in Saigon. We shall instruct the attache there to ask permission from the the French authorities for three warships to overfly their territory heading north, as if we intend some action against the no-longer-quite-so-secret Japanese nationalist base in Southern China. We should learn something from our adversaries' reaction."

Everett was unconvinced by every aspect pf this plan. "What if this reaction takes place here in Cairns?"

Michaelson made a dismissive gesture. "We will be prepared for this eventuality."

Clarice and Emily strolled along Sheridan Street, en route back to what passed Cairns for a shopping district. They had little hope of finding shoes, having exhausted these possibilities before the White Russians swept in to abduct them, but they had high hopes of finding something to entertain them.

"Do you reckon anyone will try to kidnap us again?" Emily asked hopefully.

"No," sighed Clarice. "The White Russians' failure will have frightened them off, more's the pity. But perhaps we'll spot some secret agents and stumble upon some desperate plot."

No sooner had these words left the brunette's mouth when a black DAT Gorham braked to a halt some distance ahead of them. As they watched, doors slammed upon and three thugs leapt out to intercept them. One was quite obviously German -- a massive figure, built like a troll only somewhat less svelte. The others must have been Japanese. One of the latter addressed them.

"You come with us!" he ordered in a voice that brooked no argument.

"I can not allow this," came a soft voice behind them. They turned to see Iwamoto standing relaxed, hands loosely at his sides.

Their assailant laughed, then drew a long sword a scabbard at his side and raised it in a two-handed grip. "I know of you renegade from Iga Clan," he announced scornfully. "Leave now or I will strike you down."

Iwamoto seemed unconvinced by this threat. From somewhere he'd produced two sticks, which he held before him. "You cannot defeat me," he replied.

Clarice and Emily stared at the engineer aghast. How could he hope to ward off a sword with two lengths of wood? They weren't even intact -- it seemed each had been broken in half and the pieces crudely linked together with short links of chain.

The German didn't give them time to wonder but dragged them away, only to be brought up short by what might as well have been a wall. He glanced up to see Abercrombie gazing down at him with an expression of amusement.

"And where d'ye ken yer goin'?" demanded the Scotsman.

"I go where I will," said the German. "Do you think you can stop me?"

The second Japanese reached into his jacket to draw a new Nambu Type 14 pistol. "Enough, Becker!" he began. "This waste our time! Step aside so I can shoot this..." Before he could finish, he crumpled to the ground, struck in the head by a pellet of clay. On the far side of the street, Rashid was already fitting another pellet to his sling.

"Do you want any help with yours?"asked the Persian.

Across from the German, Abercrombie flexed his knuckles. "I dinnae ken I'll need it. Iwamoto, what about you?"

"Iye," said the engineer from beside the body of his opponent, who had unaccountably managed to become unconscious. "He is done fighting."

Michaelson studied the report, then leaned back in his chair. Is that a smile? thought Fenwick. From Michaelson? Surely not!

"Well," said the Commodore, "that was even easier than I expected."

Next week: A Few More Answers...

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