Episode 481: It's Up To The Royal Navy Again
Everett and his officers met in the mess hall to discuss what the
shore party had discovered. Spirits were mixed, for its inquiries
had not been uniformly successful. Abercrombie and MacKiernan in
particular seemed perplexed by some issue they didn't see fit to
"We tracked down the fellows who purchased the Adler," MacKiernan
reported. "Unfortunately, they had no connection with the British
Union of Fascists. They turned out to be members of an entirely
different secret organization, the Esoteric Order of Dagon, that
worships elder gods who came to Earth in the dawn of time, sank
beneath the waves, and will rise again when the stars are right to
sweep the world clean of humanity."
"Wouldn't this constitute a plot against the Crown?" asked Murdock.
"I imagine it would be more a matter for the Church of England,"
said Everett. "Were you able to determine how the motorcar reached
"It arrived aboard the Tranquility, as we suspected," said
MacKiernan. "The freighter called here two days ago, then departed
for parts unknown."
"This suggests that Singapore doesn't lie too far off their route to
wherever they're delivering the vacuum tubes," mused Everett. "Let's
have a look at the possibilities."
MacKiernan unrolled the relevant chart. After a moment, he shook his
head. "Singapore is too centrally located to pin down a route," he
observed. "From here they could have headed west into the Indian Ocean,
or east into the South China Sea, which would allow them to call
anywhere between Ceylon and Japan."
"That doesn't seem to narrow things down," Miss Perkins said sourly.
"No, I suppose it doesn't," sighed Everett. "But we don't have to reach
a decision immediately. Even if we make some charitable assumptions about
the freighter's performance, they can't have travelled more than 500 miles
since they left on Saturday. They're unlikely to reach their destination
for several more days. We will hope that new information arrives while we
The captain's optimism proved justified. He was completing the day's entry
in the log when Miss Perkins knocked on the door to his stateroom. He looked
up and offered her a seat.
"I take it we've received a communication," he said, gesturing at the
papers she was carrying.
"Jenkins sent a rather substantial message from Manila," she replied. "He
and Aunt Prodigia called there, and discovered that your lady friends have
Everett raised an eyebrow, but decided not to correct what seemed to be a
profound misapprehension regarding his relationship with the ladies in
question. `Friends' wasn't quite the term he would have chosen to describe
it. "What have those two been up to?" he asked apprehensively.
"It seems they arrived shortly before the Stalking Herring, then
contrived to discover and destroy the secret headquarters of the British
Union, Germans, and Japanese. They have since vanished."
"That was quite the ambitious program," Everett observed. "I wonder that
anything remained of the town."
"They did give the White Russians a miss."
"Perhaps those fellows don't have a presence in the Philippines," said
Everett. "Was Jenkins able to extract any information from the debris
we can assume Miss Clarice and Miss Blaine left behind?"
Miss Perkins gestured as if to suggest such things were expected from
members of the Royal Navy Airship Service's Signal Corps. "The British were
recent arrivals, more in the nature of hobbyists than serious conspirators.
The German mission was established to keep an eye on the Japanese. The
latter claim ignorance -- it's possible that the actual nationalist agents
all made their escape before the authorities could arrive -- but it
appears they were building an air station at the site."
"So close to Manilia?" marveled Iverson. "How did they propose to explain
this to the Americans?"
"Jenkins found documents that suggest they planned to pose as specialty
seafood suppliers, shipping freshly-caught fish back to Japan."
"I suppose that fish story is more believable than the truth," mused
MacKiernan. "The Americans would never guess they were renegade militarists
in a race with their German and British counterparts to gain control of some
terrible weapon that can destroy entire cities."
"Quite," Everett said dryly. He rose, moved to the window, and gazed out
into the night. The clouds had cleared away, but the moon had yet to rise,
and the lights of the town glimmered to the west. On the field below,
maintenance crews were overhauling one of the handling trolleys.
"Sir?" asked MacKiernan, sensing his captain's mood.
Everett shook his head. "I wonder at the events of the last two weeks," he
observed. "They seem too fortuitous to have happened by chance."
"You suspect that some unknown party is responsible?" asked Miss Perkins.
"We must consider the possibility," said Everett. "The woman who helped
Professor Koshino escape from the Japanese was certainly the one we know of
as Natasha. She seems to be at odds with the mysterious Karlov, and both
of them have shown a willingness to manipulate events."
"To what end?" asked MacKiernan.
"I wish I knew," said Everett. "Still, there's no profit in trying to
outwit them when we're ignorant of their plans. We'll have to continue as
if they weren't a factor. We wish to intercept the vacuum tubes, thwart the
nationalists, and rescue Miss Blaine and Miss Wilcox. Some of these goals
may coincide, since the two young ladies have shown a talent for ending up
in the thick of things.
"I believe we should focus our efforts on Indochina. The Japanese
nationalist's new secret laboratory must lie somewhere to the north, since
we know they moved it east from Burmah. Also, Captain Michaelson's
intelligence indicates that the British Union maintains agents in Saigon,
Danang, and Haiphong. If Aunt Prodigia investigates the former, we can
take advantage of our superior speed to investigate the latter, then
converge upon the third."
"What do you think we'll find, sir?" asked Iverson.
Everett thought for a moment, then smiled. "It would be premature to
speculate," he replied. "Much depends on what our adversaries have been
Next week: A Second, Third, and Fourth Opinion...
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