Episode 415: Interview Strategies
Back at the R-46, MacKiernan and Miss Perkins met to discuss the attacks.
Of particular concern was the possible allegiance of the attackers, for this
could have profound implications.
to determine if these fellows were working for the nationalists," said
MacKiernen. "If they were, that would mean our `cover has been blown',
as they would say in the radio dramas."
"I've spoken with the constabulary here in Rabaul," said Miss Perkins. "As
far as they know, none of these fellows had any connection with the Fat Man.
Abercrombie and Wilcox's assailants had a record as petty thieves, and the
chap Smade dealt with was of a similar stamp. This suggests these were
ordinary criminal assaults."
"What about other nationalist groups?" asked MacKiernan.
"It's unlikely those could operate freely in a German possession," Miss
Perkins observed. "His Imperial Highness' gendarmerie takes a dim view of
such things. Did you learn anything new from the Administrator?"
MacKiernan gestured at the chart spread out before him, which he'd marked
with a collection of overlapping circles. "German Naval Intelligence
believes the Fat Man's people maintained a base in the Northern
Pacific prior to their falling out with the Japanese. They weren't able to
determine its location, but they did record sightings of agents known to
have visited the place. By plotting when and where these occurred and
estimating travel times, I've been able to identify several possibilities.
It seems those hours I spent making inventories of old navigational
records back in Cairns didn't entirely go to waste."
"Perhaps that was why Michaelson sent you to the archives."
MacKiernan's eyes widened. "You think he arranged all this
"The Captain works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform," Miss
Perkins said dryly. "What are these possibilities you've identified?"
"The most promising candidates are the Northern Mariana Islands, the
Okinawas, the Volcano Island chain, and the Bonin Islands.
belong to Germany, the others belong to Japan, and all are remarkable
for their obscurity."
His companion frowned. "They're also spread over a sizeable area," she
observed. "We can't possibly examine them all with this ship."
MacKiernan began to protest in defense of his command, then reconsidered.
It seemed more strategic to save his resources for a contest he could win.
"Then it may be time to talk with our guest and see if she can shed more
light on the physical geography of the place," he said. "Unfortunately,
she's been rather close with her knowledge."
"She's keeping it for bargaining purposes," said Miss Perkins. "In a land
of strangers, it's the only coin she has. We need to prompt a revelation.
Do we have one of the cufflinks she was carrying?"
"Why?" MacKiernan asked in bewilderment.
Miss Perkins glanced at the Irishman as if amused by his naivety. "There are
only a limited number of reasons a woman would have one of a man's personal
belongings in her possession," she observed.
"You think there's some association between her and Lieutenant Commander
"It might explain some of her reserve," said Miss Perkins. "It's been said
that Koreans are the Irish of Asia, but even so, theirs is not a
demonstrative culture. If you introduce the matter into conversation, it
might throw her off balance."
MacKiernan did his best to hide his thoughts.
Has she always been this Machiavellian? he wondered.
That time on the Viking Girl II, did she actually have feelings for me
or was that just an act?
He sighed, unsure he would ever know the answer. "We'll give this a try,"
MacKiernan decided to conduct the interview in the R-46's mess hall. Its
austere functionality would establish the atmosphere he wanted. If Miss Kim
was intimidated by his choice of venue, she gave no sign of this. She
seated herself across from him and Miss Perkins as if she was taking a seat
on a bus. MacKiernan couldn't help but admire her sang-froid.
This was the first chance he'd had to take a close look at their passenger.
She was short and reserved, with pronounced East Asian features, and dark
hair done up in the oddly-placed pony-tail that seemed de rigueur for women
from her part of the world. Her expression was more than usually enigmatic.
If Koreans were the Irish of Asia, she didn't seem a particularly
"Good afternoon, Miss Kim," he said politely. "I trust you're finding your
"I have no complaints," she replied, with only a slight trace of an accent
on the last word.
MacKiernan nodded to himself. This would be a tough nut to crack. "We've
made some progress in determining the location of the German nationalists
base where you were held, but we need more information."
"I will tell you what I can," she said. Once again, her accent was barely
"Thank you," MacKiernan replied. "Before we begin, I have an unrelated
question. Where did you obtain this cufflink?"
The woman stared at the item in his hand. Was it his imagination, or did
he sense a flicker of emotion? "From man name Forsythe," she replied
hesitantly. "He held at Japan base. He give them as proof I there." Her
expression remained unchanged, but her accent, vocabulary, and grammar
seemed to have deteriorated markedly.
"What was your association with him?" asked MacKiernan.
MacKiernan tapped the cufflink against the table, then put it back in his
pocket. The woman watched the movement like a castaway watching a ship
steam toward the horizon.
Beside him, Miss Perkins cleared her throat.
"He's our friend too," the secretary said with a gentleness MacKiernan
could have sworn was genuine. "If you can help us, we might be able to
rescue him. What can you tell us about the landscape surrounding the
"It was jungle. We not have jungle Korea. It much unfamiliar..."
"That seemed fairly productive," Miss Perkins remarked to MacKiernan after
they'd sent Miss Kim back to her quarters. "I trust you'll be able
to make something of this material."
The Irishman glanced down at their notes and reflected on the means that
had been used to collect them.
Was it right to pry into someone's personal life and take advantage of
their vulnerability in this way?
He supposed that all might be fair in love and war, but why did he feel
such a cad?
Miss Perkins touched his shoulder. He looked up to see concern in her eyes.
"I know what you're thinking, Fergus," she said softly. "Your scruples do
you credit, but I'm afraid that's the way the game is played. And remember,
our adversaries have no scruples at all."
The man touched his forelock before he delivered his report.
"Baroness, we have news from our agent in Borneo. It seems inspector Scott
was asking questions at the oil company offices."
Lady Warfield's chuckle was not the sort one used to reassure young children.
"Then I believe we can conclude who sent him," she remarked lightly.
"He won't learn anything in Kuching. The Baron was careful to take care of
that connection. What has Everett been up to?"
"He doesn't appear to have left the ship, but our agent reports that our new
associates made an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap one of his officers."
"Interesting," said the baroness. "I see Michaelson's hand in this. He
will be using Everett as a stalking horse to make our Japanese friends reveal
themselves. Do we have any idea where they took the professor?"
"We'll let Michaelson find the man for us. Then we'll take him for ourselves."
Next week: ...Find An Archaeologist...
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