Episode 513: They Were Both Incomparable Achievements
Captain Michaelson glanced up as Everett and his companions entered his
office. As usual, the senior captain's expression gave nothing away, but
Everett sensed that he every bit as perplexed as they were. This did not
"I recalled you and MacKiernan back to Cairns to receive your report,"
Michaelson said, indicating one of the documents on his desk. "I cannot
say it's done much to clarify matters."
Everett decided to test the waters. "Lieutenant-Commander MacKiernan did
manage to locate the island Karlov used as a refuge."
"This would be the past tense of the verb `use'," Michaelson noted dryly.
"We have no idea where the man might be now, and your own expedition wasn't
significantly more informative."
So that's how the game's to be played today, Everett told himself.
This didn't seem the time to note that they'd rescued three German airmen
from the L-147 along the way. "I gather you wish to discuss our findings,"
Michaelson gave a faint nod, as a chess player might make to an opponent
who'd avoided a trap. "Let us begin with the apparatus your lieutenant
found on Nendo. Mister Iverson, please describe this."
If Iverson was nervous, he hid this well. "It was an electronic device of
unknown purpose. Someone had smashed the equipment to prevent it from
being reconstructed. Practical considerations prevented us from taking the
remains with us, but Jenkins was able to complete detailed sketches of
these. He also recorded such part numbers as remained legible."
"You noted that some corresponded to the electronic valves the Japanese
nationalists ordered from Melbourne," Michaelson told Everett. "Could this
apparatus have been another uraninite refiner?"
"Perhaps," said Everett, "but there was no sign of the centrifuges or
chemical apparatus such as we found in the Russian and Japanese
laboratories. This suggests the device was intended for some other
"And you believe it belonged to the mysterious Miss Natasha."
"This seems the most parsimonious assumption," said Everett. "Personal
effects found at the site suggest that the owner was a woman, and we
recovered several pages of notes written in a feminine hand."
Michaelson didn't deign to nod. "I understand that MacKiernan recovered a
similar set of notes from the Karlov site. Jenkins, what have you been able
to learn from these two documents?"
"Both consist almost entirely of equations, accompanied by a short
descriptive phrases in Cyrillic,' said the signalman. "Neither the
equations or phrases are in any way familiar. The former bear some
slight resemblance to the formulae for electromagnetism, diffusion, and
dynamics of a fluid, but they're significantly more complicated. The
latter are impossibly cryptic."
"Do the two documents have any equations in common?"
"Yes and no," said Jenkins. "There equations are never identical, but there
are several cases where the left side of some equation is similar and the
right side is different."
Michaelson drummed his fingers on the desk as he considered the matter.
"This suggests that one set is wrong," he mused.
"That was my conclusion was well," said Jenkins. "This might be the set
we've attributed to Natasha. We know she's tried to interfere with the
Japanese attempt to reconstruct the Ujelang Device. She might have planted
a spurious document in an attempt to interfere with the Germans. It's also
possible that both are wrong. There's no reason to believe that either
author found the correct solution to whatever problem these equations
"What if both are right?" wondered Murdock.
Michaelson glanced at the junior lieutenant, then seemed to decide he was
too small to be worthy prey. "I believe we can dismiss this possibility,"
he said dryly. "Miss Perkins, what has our forensic laboratory been able
to learn from the journals you recovered from the two sites?"
Like Jenkins, Miss Perkins didn't need to consult her notes. "The journal
from the Karlov site was a small bound notebook that had been badly burned
in a fire. Most of the pages were reduced to ashes, but our laboratory
was able to recover a few fragments and tease out several lines of text.
The journal from the Natasha site was an pad of notepaper that had been
throughly saturated with water. The laboratory used a vacuum chamber in
combination with a drying agent, the laboratory to remove most of the
moisture, which allowed them to separate a few of the pages, and recover
some text from this as well. Here are the translations."
Everett examined the pages she'd displayed. The translation from the
Karlov site was every bit as cryptic as he expected.
...never dreamed that two years could make such a difference. But it's too
late to put the genie back in the bottle.
...not sufficient by itself. I wonder if the islanders destroyed the other
...could have dreamed both would end up in the Pacific after their
Revolution? Perhaps I can take advantage of their alliance...
...ironic that he would also end up in the Pacific. How did his people
learn about the White Russian effort...
...I should be able to reconstruct it without either becoming aware of my
purpose, but timing will be critical.
...she's who I thought. I should have expected this...
...she was seen with Yakov before his betrayal. So it's to be a game? She
cannot hope to succeed.
...the British Union of Fascists, of all people. At least their ignorance
takes a different form. Almost tempted to let them have [indecipherable
words], if only to draw her out ...
The translation from the Natasha site was equally opaque.
...so many terrible ironies. Not at all what I expected...
...late to put the genie back in the bottle, but perhaps it will grant me
some wishes as well...
...no way I could warn them. I make the same excuses I did before, but
surely they were just as human as I...
...White Russians have made more progress than I'd have believed possible.
It's almost as if..."
"...now it's the Germans..."
Save us! He's here too!
...too much of a head start, but I cannot sit by idly and allow him to
...unlikely to know their background. Perhaps I can use his ignorance to
The senior captain didn't bother to hide a frown. "It's fair to say these
documents raise more questions than they answer, but they are most
certainly suggestive," he said. "Are we certain they weren't left behind
to mislead us?"
"This seems unlikely," Everett replied. "The authors could have had no
reason to believe we'd even find them, let alone be able to recover some of
"Then it would seem that Karlov and Natasha were privy to some special
knowledge related to what can only be the White Russians and their infamous
weapon. Both express some apprehension regarding this knowledge. They also
seem to have known about the Germans. Sometime after the Germans appeared,
each author seems to become aware of an adversary of the opposite gender --
presumably each other."
Everett nodded. "One wonders what their contest could be about."
"So one does," said Michaelson. "We will wish to continue our attempts to
find and ask them."
Next week: You Leave Them Alone For A Minute And Look What Happens!...
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