Episode 535: Just Like An Island Paradise, Only Different
Clarice and Emily stared at their visitor. "Natasha!" they exclaimed in
The other woman eased the door shut behind her. "Emily Wilcox and Clarice
Blaine," she said. "What are you doing on here?"
"We stowed away aboard the L-103," said Emily, gesturing out the window,
where the hapless German airship could be seen riding from the mast. The
mysterious cruiser was no longer present, having departed on some new
errand. "Those Japanese chappies intercepted the ship and brought her to
this station. What are you doing here? The last time we saw you was at
their base in Western Australia before destroyed. Do you plan to destroy
this one too?"
Natasha seemed to take this question seriously. "That might not be as
easy," she observed. "The nationalists have enlisted help from the
British Union to enlarge their garrison. You can see the new barracks
next to the fuel depot."
Clarice and Emily looked across the field. Now that Natasha had been
pointed this out, they realized that the station had two groups of guards
-- one decidedly Asian, the other decidedly not -- united by an
appreciation of tea, love of authoritarian regimes, and the fact that both
came from island nations.
"That still doesn't explain why you came here," said Emily. "I don't
reckon it was to rescue us."
This prompted a rueful smile. "No, I'm trying to discover what my
counterpart is up to."
"That would be Karlov," said Clarice.
Natasha nodded. "I've determined it was him who prompted the Warfields to
offer reinforcements to the Japanese. Given this island's importance, I
thought it best to investigate."
This revelation suggested a host of questions, but one loomed particularly
large. "This Karlov," asked Clarice. "Who is he? You told Lieutenant
Iverson that you were his wife, then that you were his sister. What is the
relationship between you?"
The other woman paused. Fora moment her expression seemed utterly
bleak. "You couldn't possibly understand," she told them. "But he and I
are at odds, and I'm trying to prevent the Japanese nationalists from
acquiring something they shouldn't."
"That would be this refiner they need to extract the destructive principle
from uraninite ore?" said Emily, who shared her companion's inordinate
love of machinery.
"That's one of its uses," said Natasha. She seemed glad to have someone to
talk to. "When I learned that Karlov was aiding the Japanese, I passed the
location of their secret laboratory in China to the Fat Man's people.
Karlov tried to counter this move by informing the Japanese about the
weapons shipment aboard the L-103, but the Germans already have enough
weapons to mount attack the place without it. He must have realized this,
and warned the Japanese to send the cruiser to its defense, but the ship
can't possibly arrive in time. We have to get you off this island
before he realizes that he's lost this round. I know where to find a
By now Clarice and Emily's heads were spinning. Moves... counter-moves...
what was this all about? But they approved of the phrase `off this island'
and followed meekly as Natasha led them toward the harbor. They hadn't gone
far before they heard an outcry ahead. The dove for cover as a party of
Englishmen rushed past to fall upon the Japanese who guarded the perimeter
of the air station.
Emily watched this development with interest. "Those chappies seem to be
having a barney," she remarked. "Whats that all about?"
Natasha's eyes widened in dismay. "Karlov was one move ahead of me!" she
cried. "He must have planned to betray this place to the British Union and
used my threat against the base in China to drain it of defenders."
Clarice frowned. This sounded like so much nonsense. And could it
possibly matter? She gestured ahead, where their path to the harbor was
blocked by swarms of fighting men. "Be this as it may, I don't think we can
get past that lot," she observed. "What should we do?"
Natasha had recovered her composure and pointed back the way they'd come.
"We'll circle around the field in the other direction and slip past the
field to the east."
This proved easier than Clarice expected. From time to time, men rushed
past on their way to fight, but chance -- a flurry of falen leaves, a shout
from another direction, a fortuitous place to hide -- always intervened to
protect them. At last they reached the spot where the prison camp bordered
the air station. Here their path was blocked by a trio of sentries the
British had posted to guard the entrance.
"Those chappies look a bit too keen," Emily said glumly.
"Strewth," Clarice said glumly. "We aren't slipping past them without a bit
Iverson pretended to remain calm as Loris steered the launch toward the
breakers that loomed ahead in the night. Even the Transporter would have
been preferable, but the Japanese would have spotted them with their
electronic detection apparatus if they'd approached Sarah's island by
airship, so this was the only way they could land a party. The craft surged
forward on the face of a wave. Then it was foaming through the shore break
to run up on the beach. Moments later, he was scrambling ashore with
Jenkins and Sarah as Loris waited for a lull between sets, backed the
launch away, then steered it out to sea. They'd call him back to retrieve
them after they'd rescued Clarice and Emily. They hoped.
"I understand there's a trail from this beach to your village?" Iverson asked
"Yes, but it's too faint to follow in the dark," said the island girl.
"This western end of the island has always been tapu. The only
people who came here were priests when they wanted to sacrifice captives to
the elder gods who filtered down from the stars in the dawn of time before
and will rise again when the stars were right to sweep the Earth clean of
humanity. It's unlkely that the Governor or the Japanese know about this
This conformed with Iverson and Jenkins' understanding of French and
Japanese religious practices, so they made camp and settled down to wait.
Morning found them following Sarah along a faint track leading east. They
might have thought it a only game trail, but here and there they came upon
small stone tikis that looked much like lawn gnomes might look if they were
covered with tentacles. Like the temples they'd seen on the southern side
of the island, these were glazed as if by intense heat. Iverson remembered
seeing a similar phenomenon on Ujelang after the explosion that had
destroyed the island, but dismissed the coincidence as irrelevant.
The trail climbed into the hills, then wound its way down through the jungle
to a emerge just south of the air station. For some time, the trio had been
hearing what sounded ahead. This was now explained.
"There appear to be two groups fighting for control of this place," Iverson
observed as they studied the spectacle before them. "One is quite clearly
our friends the Japanese, the others appear to be Englishmen."
"I imagine they would be the British Union of Fascists," said Jenkins.
"This does seem the sort of thing the Baron and his lady would do."
Iverson nodded glumly How were they to complete their mission in this
confusion? Meanwhile, Sarah had been watching the course of the melee.
"I say!" she remarked, pointing to their right, "Is that who I think it
Next week: Perhaps They Won't Notice...
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