The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Four

Episode 325: An Airship Pirate's Work Is Never Done

Pirates and groupies

Jake dropped to the ground, flung aside the abseil line, and raised his submachine gun. In front of him, the resort staff recoiled in alarm. He grinned at the hapless domestics. "This is a heist!" he announced. "We don't want no trouble. Do what we say and no one gets hurt."

"Quite," said the head butler. "We can see that the balance of power may not lie entirely in our favor."

There was considerable truth to the man's observation. Behind Jake, the other gangsters had fanned out, weapons at ready. Above them, the airship was a looming threat. This was the third resort Marty and his boys had raided, and by now the procedure had become routine... but the reaction of some of their supposed victims was still disconcerting.

"Are you sure you don't want any trouble?" suggested one of the guests, a willowy blonde whose low-cut tropical dress revealed far more than it concealed.

"We'll do anything you say," added the sultry redhead next to her.

"So will we!" agreed several of their companions.

Books made some attempt to regain control of the situation. "That's fine," he growled, "but don't you try radioing for the coppers."

A slender brunette in a tight-fitting resort uniform reached into her purse to produce a handful of vacuum tubes. "There won't be any transmissions," she assured him. "I removed these valves from the wireless when I saw you coming. But you're welcome to... test my reception."

Books glanced at Jake helplessly. "What d'we do now?" he asked.

Jake shrugged in resignation. "Same as last time, I suppose."

"Did you find everything you were looking for?" murmured the blonde.

Jake glanced back from the edge of the bed, where he was fumbling to button his shirt in the dim light of the bungalow. "You bet!" he assured her. "That was all the loot I could handle!"

"Really?" She smiled. "A man like you must find plenty of booty. What other loot have you collected?"

"Not much," he replied bashfully. "Just some pieces of jewelry, some artwork, and a bit of cash."

The woman's smile brightened several notches. "Artwork!" she gushed. "How exciting! Do you have any silver keys? I just love silver keys!"

"Huh?" Jake said suspiciously. "What makes you think we mighta found..." But before he could finish his sentence, the blonde had reached out to pat the muzzle of his Thompson.

"That's a very big gun," she said coyly. "Do you handle it was well as you handle..."

Jake felt his face turning red. He grabbed the weapon, tugged on his jacket, and leapt to his feet. "I... uh... gotta go see how the rest of the boys are doing."

She blew him a kiss as he beat a path for the door. "Let me know when you want to raid us again."

It was a disheveled group of gangsters that gathered at the extraction point. Craig was still wiping lipstick from his face when Jake arrived. His tie was missing, along with one of his socks. Beside him, Finnegan was posing for photographs and signing autographs. The Irishman's hair was uncombed and he seemed to have a garter looped around one wrist. Books appeared, followed by the girl from the radio station. She handed him his money bags, leaned forward, and planted a big kiss on his cheek.

Jake tapped his feet impatiently, then gestured toward the hoist that was descending from the airship. "All right you three," he told them. "Straighten up before the Transporter gets here. We're gangsters, not movie stars. Books, make sure we's got all we came for. Finn, quit the clowning and help carry the take. And Craig, clean that makeup off your heater."

The gunman looked down, reddened, and pulled out a rag to scrub off the heart some admirer had scrawled on the magazine of his submachine gun.

"This ain't like it was back in the States," he remarked.

"Yeah," muttered Jake. "I know."

Marty was waiting in the cabin they'd pressed into service as a strong room. Around him, the shelves were laden with plunder they'd taken in the previous raids. He grinned as his men entered.

"How'd it go, boys?" he asked.

"Same as last time," said Jake. "Books, Finnegan, show him what we got."

The mobsters emptied their loot onto the table. Marty examined the pile and whistled. "Not bad. What's it all come to?"

"About twenty grand, near as I can guess," said Books. "I'll know more after I've counted it all. These resorts are easy pickings."

"Too easy," grumbled Jake. "It's making us soft."

Marty laughed. "It's better than the stuff we was getting off those liners." He reached for a box labelled `SS Orsova', picked out a crudely-fashioned key, shook his head, and tossed the thing back. Jake felt something nagging at his memory, but other concerns seemed more important.

"I guess yer right," he conceded. "Where are we gonna go next?"

Marty fanned out the brochures they'd collected in Port Moresby, pushed three to the side, and tapped the one that was left.

"We got one more of these places to hit," he said cheerfully. "Then we'll find something new."

Michaelson was standing at the window, lost in thought, when Stancomb arrived with a report. "Excuse me, sir," said the aide, "but we've received word that the pirates have attacked another resort."

Michaelson glanced at the message flimsy and nodded to himself. It held no surprises. "That would be the third one so far," he mused.

"I believe this is correct, sir. Do you have any idea why the Admiral's office hasn't ordered the fleet to take action?"

The senior captain began to speak, then thought better of it. Lady Warfield was almost certainly involved, and he'd learned to his sorrow how dangerous confidences could be in a game where the baroness was a player.

"We must assume they have other concerns," he observed quite truthfully. "You may go."

After Stancomb had left, Michaelson turned back to the window and gazed out at the field. Russian exiles, German nationalists, the British Union, the governor of Sarah's island, the masters of the mysterious cruiser, a Korean agent, and now this `Rabbit' -- the number of pieces might be growing, but he was fitting the puzzle together.

Was it worth the cost? he wondered. Was it ever worth the cost?

Next week: I Suppose We Should Ask Those Fellows To Stop...

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