Episode 523: I Suppose We'll Have To Determine Where They Came From
Everett called a meeting in his stateroom to review Iverson and Sarah's
discoveries. It might not have been the most spacious compartment on the
ship, but it offered a measure of security while they discussed the pair's
report. This was subject to several interpretations.
"It would seem that the German nationalists maintained a rifle range, an
armory, and a tent encampment on their plantation," said Everett. "They
also brought the two Mark V tanks here from Gilolo and rearmed them. This
suggests they were assembling a force for some military exercise. The
question becomes what this might be."
"Perhaps they intend to establish another secret base to support that big
new ship of theirs," Sarah suggested.
Everett thought this over. The island girl most certainly had a point.
The Drachen was too distinctive to call at a major air station
without being recognized -- the information they'd recovered from Kupang
proved as much -- so the nationalists would want places they could resupply
the vessel in secret. The Japanese faced a similar problem.
"This is possible," he mused. "An infantry force supported by tanks could
defend a station against any conceivable assault. But we must also consider
the possibility that the Fat Man plans some offensive action."
"Do you think he means to attack the Japanese base on Sarah's Island?"
"It would be an obvious move," said the captain. "Their former allies will
be vulnerable to attacks on their supply now that they've lost their secret
air station in Western Australia. Losing the foothold on Sarah's Island
could drive them from the Western Pacific."
"Do you think this was Natasha's intention when she arranged for the
site in Australia to be destroyed?" asked Iverson.
"We cannot be certain she was responsible," Everett observed. "For all we
know, this might have been Karlov's work, and I suspect that both have a
hand in the current affair. Jenkins, have you been able to determine where
the Germans took the force they'd assembled at the plantation?"
"They left no clues," said the signalman. "It was only a matter of chance
that anything remained at the plantation for Iverson and Sarah to find. I
spoke with the workmen after they got back to town, and it seems they were
supposed to dismantle the place earlier, but another job delayed them until
"The plantation didn't have any mooring facilities, and they cannot have
found enough wagons and teams in this town to move a company by land," said
Iverson. "This suggests they left by sea. Surely the customs or shipping
offices would have some record of this."
The signalman shook his head. "These offices only concern themselves with
cargo. It's rare for them to take any notice of passengers. But it does
appear that our friend the Inselmädchen was in port at the
right time to take the Germans aboard. They also called around the time
the tanks appeared."
Sarah brightened at these words -- the very picture of a young pirate
queen. "Can we look for them?"
Everett calculated speeds and distances in his head. "This is unlikely to
be profitable, given the lead Kapitan Ritter has," he decided. "We'd have
too much area to cover. It might be more productive to check where they've
"Surely they also have taken steps to cover their tracks in Gilolo," said
"Perhaps," said Everett, "but it's difficult to imagine how they could
have driven tanks down to the harbor in Weda and loaded them aboard a
freighter without someone taking notice. We'll give the place a visit."
Weda was every bit as rustic as it had been the year before -- a small
island port whose principal export might have been insignificance. After
his ship was on the mast, Everett had Davies lead him and Jenkins to the
place the marine had found the Chekov's Gun the year before. The machine
was long gone, but they found the lot strewn with lathing boxes of nails
-- more than seemed necessary to crate a 29-ton tank for shipping. Everett
thought for a moment, deciding upon a strategy, then hailed a passing
"Excuse me, sir," he said politely. "I am a collector of armored fighting
machines. I understood that a fine example of this genre was available here
in Weda but it seems to have vanished. Would you happen to know what
became of it?"
The islander glanced at the lot as if it had never held anything remarkable.
"The infidels carted it off several months ago on a freighter -- the
Instill Mad Chin, I believe."
"Would you happen to know who these infidels might have been?" Everett
The islander shrugged. "Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, Germans, does it
make any difference? None of them are believers."
Everett controlled his impatience. "There is some truth to this
observation," he replied. "Surely they deserve our sympathy. Do you happen
to recall any distinguishing feature by which these particular infidels
might be recognized by someone who wished to bring them the word of the
"No," mused the islander, "except for that bit with the crates of secret
The airmen exchanged glances.
"Secret weapons?" said Everett..
Emily and Clarice sat in their quarters, gazing out the window. Outside,
the village of Weda. looked every bit as uninteresting as they'd been led
to believe -- an unprepossessing collection of shacks, warehouses, mission,
and mosques whose builders seemed to have lost interest halfway through
their work -- but this did little to improve their mood.
"Who'd have guessed the Captain would be so upset?" Clarice said glumly.
"No worries," said Emily. "He's really a dear. This is just an act he has
to put on for his crew. "
"Do you really think so?" asked Clarice.
Her companion considered the matter and sighed. "No."
"And he's ordered us to remain aboard and miss all the fun.
Emily gestured out the window. "I doubt there's much fun to be had here,"
she observed. "And I'm certain he'll change his mind when he realizes
how helpful we've been. If it hadn't been for us, he never would have have
found those tanks, or whatever it was he sent Iverson and Sarah to
Clarice brightened at this observation. "Bob's your uncle!" she announced.
"And I know how to get back into his good graces."
Next week: This Is A Baron-free Workplace...
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