The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Four

SPOILER ALERT --  This summary describes the events of Season Five. If you read it before you've read the episodes themselves, it may give some things away.

Season Five: The Story (Episodes 201-250)

The AT-38 drifting away from the mast

On a warm sumer night on Lifou Island in the New Hebrides, Clement and his henchmen sneak aboard an ancient French airship, the AT-38, intending to steal her for the British Union. Like many ships of her vintage, she's a copy of the German S Class -- a design that dates back to the War. A short time later, they find themselves standing on the mast as the vessel disappears into the darkness, stolen from them by some unknown party. The Englishmen are annoyed. The gendarmes are amused.

At Cairns Royal Air Station, Everett and Michaelson wonder about the mysterious Karlov, who may hold the secret of the process by which uraninite was `concentrated' for use in the innocuously-named `Device' that obliterated the island of Ujelang. This Karlov has a strange way of appearing and disappearing without notice. They have just resolved to look for the man when they learn that the Admiralty has sent a flag officer, one Commodore Clark, aboard the Cottswold, His Majesty's Airship R-382, to take over the investigation of the Ujelang Event. The two rivals greet this development with apprehension.

Their apprehensions prove justified. Clark takes charge in heavy-handed fashion, ignoring their plans, advice, and the dictates of common sense. His expedition to the abandoned Russian lab where the Device was built proves a waste of time, though it does give Everett a chance to leave his crewman Fleming in Darwin to conduct inquiries. At the laboratory, they find an old friend, Captain Ray of the Tranquility, stripping the place for salvage. Unbeknown to them, Ray is working for Karlov. After they return to Cairns, the Commodore takes Everett's exec, MacKiernan, and Michaelson's secretary, Miss Perkins, aboard the Cottswold and charges off to the Dutch East Indies on the long-cold trail of German nationalists who hijacked an S Class packet, the L-137, the previous August. Meanwhile, Everett is to take the Flying Cloud and search for the missing French airship.

These maneuvers leave Fleming stranded in Cairns. Assuming that Captain Everett will investigate the second abandoned Russian lab on Oa Ki, the young Aussie boards a local gunboat, the Thunderbird, and heads to the atoll in an effort to anticipate him. Before he leaves, he asks two friends, Clarice and Emily, to carry word of his plans to Cairns. It is well he that he does, for as it nears its destination, the Thunderbird is torpedoed by Mister Fuller, the British Union's errant technophile, who was lying in wait in his steam-powered submarine. The torpedo does not prove as effective as its creator might have hoped, but the mild explosion is still sufficient to knock Fleming overboard.

He is rescued by Fuller, who fails to recognize him as one of Everett's crewmen. For some reason, the British Union leader does not identify himself or his boat, and poses as 'Captain Omen', commander of the Sulituan. Going along with the game, Fleming claims to be `Starbuck', a lowly seaman in the Commonwealth Naval Reserve. Fuller questions him about the Thunderbird's mission, but Fleming is able to convince the man he knows nothing.

On the obscure island of Aneityum, in a forgotten corner of the New Hebrides, an American gangster, Marty, and his boys admire the airship they've just stolen from Clement and his would-be hijackers. She'll be perfect for running booze past the Feds! But first she needs an overhaul and a false American registration. Their host, a taciturn Russian exile named Vlad who worked as a bookseller in Geneva during the War, offers to provide these if they'll do a bit of extortion for him. The job goes so smoothly that the gangsters decide to linger in the Pacific for more easy pickings. Their ship is now registered as the N-109, and their next job will be a bank robbery.

On another obscure island, the Fat Man, leader of the German nationalists, orders his lieutenant Ernst to take the L-137 in search of Karlov. To keep this mission secret, they'll use a false American registration... N-109.

In Cairns, Michaelson interviews Clement and his henchmen, concludes that they're pawns of some unknown player, and releases them to see who might take an interest in them. Once free, the Englishmen set out to determine who stole the AT-38 from under their noses. This quest takes them to Rabaul, where they learn that an old S Class ship with an American registration, N-109, was here ahead of them. Leaping to the conclusion that this their quarry, they set off in pursuit.

Clarice and Emily make their way to Cairns, where they inform Everett of Fleming's plans. The captain resolves to take the Flying Cloud to Darwin, from which he can nip across to Oa Ki to recover his missing crewman. They arrive to find the Thunderbird in drydock with a hole in her bow. It doesn't take them long to determine who the attacker must have been and guess that Fleming is now his prisoner, but before they can act on this knowledge, they receive orders from Michaelson to proceed to Rabaul to investigate an airship registered as the N-109 that might have been the AT-38.

On the Cottswold, Clark sets out to investigate Kupang, followed by Port Moresby. His inquiries seem naive and his movements pointless, but MacKiernan has begun to wonder if the Commodore's apparent cluelessness is but a pose. Perhaps the man is hiding some deeper purpose. He also wonders about Miss Perkins, who has served as Michaelson's agent in the past. She is almost certainly here on some mission, but what could this be, and what are her feelings for him? For that matter, what are his feelings for her? As he's trying to decide, they learn that the bank in Port Vila was robbed by gangsters who fled aboard an airship. In a somewhat innacurrate exercise of ingenuity, Clark concludes this vessel might have been the L-137 registered as the N-109.

Back in Cairns, Michaelson's aide, Phelps, has begun to wonder about reports they've received of vessels with this registration number. These seem to place the ship at two widely separated locations on the same day. He asks Michaelson if two entirely different ships could be involved and why his superior didn't mention this to Clark and Everett. "They're busy men," Michaelson replies. "We would not want to burden them with unnecessary information."

Two almost-identical airships

On their `N-109', Marty and his boys have returned to Aneityum after the bank heist. Vlad offers them one more job: looking for Karlov. They accept this gladly, lured by the Russian's generous offer of payment. They fly to Guadalcanal to pick up Vlad's associate, an exiled White Russian aristocrat who goes by the name of `Anna', then set course for Hollandia to sign on more crew.

Fuller maroons Fleming on a small volcanic island in the Banda Sea. The Aussie is rescued by Captain Ray and the Tranquility, who happened by for reasons they don't care to explain. They carry him to Hollandia, where he disembarks in search of an airship that can take him back to Cairns. To his surprise, he happens upon Marty and the AT-38, looking for hands. This seems to good an opportunity to miss, so he signs articles under the alias Starbuck.

Following Michaelson's orders, Everett and his men travel to Rabaul, where they discover that this `N-109' was the Fat Man's people aboard the L-137. Jenkins acquires copies of weather forecasts the nationalists purchased before their departure. Meanwhile, Loris braves the attentions of a terrifying laundress to obtain some items the Germans left behind. This evidence suggests the nationalists are bound for Java. Everett concludes they mean to kidnap the Countess Zelle, an acquaintance of his from the War, to learn what she knows of Karlov. He rushes to her defense, and manages to get there first when his adversaries are forced to divert to Hollandia for repairs. Forewarned, the countess is able to disable the Germans' marines using a resource she has employed for similar purposes in the past. Under interrogation, they reveal that Karlov may be on the island of Gilolo in the Moluccas.

As Everett has been pursuing the Fat Man's ship, Clark and his men have followed Marty's vessel, first to Guadalcanal, then to Hollandia. They learn that an `N-109' called there twice, first to sign on crew, then for repairs to an engine. MacKiernan and Miss Perkins realize immediately that two vessels must be involved, but Clark seems oblivious to this possibility.

Forgotten by almost everyone except themselves, Clement and his henchmen from the British Union reach Hollandia after the airships have departed. There they encounter Fuller, who dismisses them as dilettantes. Incensed, they learn that he's bound for Gilolo and resolve to pursue him.

In the Moluccas, Marty and his boys call at Ternate to resupply before they search for Karlov. While they're in port, Fleming rescues Nettie from a pair of thugs. She thanks him by name, making it clear she knows he's one of Everett's crewmen, but doesn't reveal his identity to Marty. The gangsters, impressed by the Aussie's actions, accept him as one of their own.

Following Vlad's directions, Marty and his boys intercept the ship Karlov is supposed to be taking to Gilolo. This turns out to be none other than the Tranquility. But Karlov is no longer aboard, having disembarked in the village of Galela. While the gangsters are deciding on their next move, Nettie uses the threat of exposure to force Fleming to break into Anna's cabin and copy some of her papers. Anna accuses Vlad of the deed and both Russians grow suspicious of the gangsters. Fleming wonders if this was Nettie's plan all along. He also wonders who she really is -- clearly she's something more than the empty-headed moll she's pretending to be.

Clark calls at Ternate, where two thugs attack MacKiernan and Miss Perkins. They're rescued by the Commodore's aide, Aitkins, who produces a flare gun and takes the men prisoner. The thugs reveal that they attacked a couple from a previous airship a few days before. Clark announces that this was the `N-109', bound for Gilolo. MacKiernan and Miss Perkins conclude that has contacts of which they were unaware, and is playing a deeper game than they realized. Everett reaches Ternate a few days later, and learns that an `N-109' and the Cottswold has preceeded him. He resolves to follow. Now everyone is bound for Gililo.

Fuller reaches the island first, at the village of Saketa to the southwest, and waits for word from his contacts. He recognizes that his submarine is no match for an airship and has no intention of risking an engagement.

The L-137 calls at the Lutheran Mission in Dorosago, in the northeast. Shortly after their arrival, the nationalists learn that the Cottswold is in Buli. They depart for Kao, after letting the hosts believe they're heading for Tobelo and warning the missionaries of the consequences should they reveal this information to the Royal Navy.

Clark and the Cottswold call at Buli, in the east. They learn that an S Class airship has visited the Dorosago and proceed to investigate. The missionaries hint that the ship belonged to the Fat Man, and departed for Tobelo. Clark sets off in pursuit.

Marty and his boys call at Galela, in the northwest. They encounter an eccentric group of Libertarian cultists know as the Fellowship of The Old Fellows, from whom they learn that Karlov passed through town on his way south. They pursue his trail to Tobello, where Anna and Nettie abandon the ship to search for Karlov on their own. Fleming follows with Vlad, who seems unduly worried about his compatriot. They travel south to the Lutheran mission in Kao, leaving Marty a message that they're searching for the woman at a 'German Mission'. The gangsters mistake this to mean the mission in Dorosago, and lift ship for the east, with fateful consequences.

Clark in the Cottswold encounters Marty and his boys in the AT-38 over the waters of Kao Bay. The action that follows is entirely one-sided and would have resulted in the annihilation of the gangster's ship if the Commodore hadn't pretended to let them to escape. Asked the reason for his decision, the Clark replies that these were obviously not the German nationalists.

Anna and Nettie reach Kao where they learn that Vlad is in Weda, to the south. Anna takes passage on a blimp, leaving Nettie behind. As she departs, Fleming an Vlad reach town and split up to search for the two women. Fleming encounters Nettie, and is about to ask who she really is when they see an airship call at the station. They hurry back, believing it's Marty, only to discover it's the Germans on the L-137. As Fleming is trying to talk his way out of this situation, Nettie reveals herself to be an ally of the nationalists, and turns him in to them.

Everett and his crew reach Galela and learn that Marty's ship was there earlier. They recognize that this could not have been the L-137, but with no obvious alternatives, they decide to follow. This takes them to Kao, where they arrive just in time to see them L-137 leaving the station. They pursue, and the outcome is in doubt until Nettie sabotages the German's engines, forcing the nationalists to surrender.

Marty and the boys call at Kao, where they encounter Vlad, who asks why they called and left without him. They quickly realize that the earlier ship must have been the Fat Man's people on the L-137. They deduce that the Germans have taken their women prisoner and have just set off in pursuit when they receive a message from Nettie that she's on a German ship heading for Weda.

In Saketa, Fuller learns that Karlov may be in Weda. He arranges a rendezvous with a henchman on a freighter who can carry him and his men to the town undetected. He instructs this ally to bring along 'the equipment'. In Weda, he is pleased to discover Anna, bound on a similar search. He addresses the woman as 'Anastacia' and takes her prisoner.

The German nationalists land the crippled L-137 in the ocean. The ship cannot be saved, so Everett sends Iverson in aboard the launch to take the crew prisoner. The lieutenant is astonished to see Fleming, and recognizes Nettie as Natasha, the mysterious woman who betrayed, then helped them during the destruction of Ujelang. She informs them that Karlov is visiting the mines in Weda. They regard this news with suspicion, but they also need resupply, so they head for Weda's air station, where they find Clark waiting with the Cottswold. As they're comparing notes, they discover some of the 'equipment' Fuller brought: a Mark V tank. Everett recognizes this from a previous encounter, realizes instantly who must be responsible, and they set off for the mines in an effort to reach Karlov first.

When Everett, Clark, MacKiernan, Miss Perkins, Fleming, and Natasha reach the mines, the manager informs them that a 'young Russian scientist' is exploring some ruins to the west. They press on to these ruins and find Karlov, who does not seem surprised to see them. Karlov asks Commodore Clark who sponsored his mission – a question that displays an uncanny knowledge of British politics. Then he confronts Natasha, who accuses him of manipulating events to arrange this encounter. As Everett and Clark try to follow this conversation, an engine roars and Fuller appears on the scene in one of his tanks.

Fuller found out about the mines from Anna, who he brought along as a captive. The party is in no position to fight, so they watch helplessly as he carries Karlov and Natasha – who he addresses as 'Nicki' – away with him. Moments later, another engine roars and Marty, Vlad, and the boys arrive in the tank Fuller left by the docks. Everett and Fleming join them in pursuit of Fuller. After a slow, noisy, and frustrating chase, Vlad manages to leap onto Fuller's tank and smash the exhaust pipe shut. As the machine clanks to a stop and its occupants stumble from the hatch, he jumps to the ground and sweeps Anna up in his arms.

Fuller and Natasha are not among the crew. They left through the other hatch and fled into the jungle. Karlov is missing as well, having disappeared while no one was watching. Commodore Clark is not concerned by these minor setbacks. His real mission, he informs Everett, was to 'skotch' the German and British nationalist movements here in the Pacific. With the L-137 destroyed and many of the Fat Man and Fuller's men taken prisoner, this mission was a resounding success. As for Marty and his boys on the AT-38, they are free to head back to the States, where they are certain to find imaginative uses for their new airship.

R-505 and R-381 leaving Gililo

Comments about Season Five? Visit the Forum!

StumbleUpon        submit to reddit Reedit