“Stand the anti-aircraft crews to, but don’t do anything to attract attention. It’s probably just the Yanks doing some stunt to get in the Guinness Book of Records again.”
At last, thought Bamse, this must be Larry’s response to my call for help.
The day after sending out his radio message, not being one to waste time waiting, he had climbed onto the plateau above and behind the whaling station and had marked out a landing area with a large yellow X in the snow. For good measure he had drawn a prominent yellow arrow pointing to the cross and written ‘Over here’ in joined up writing. Each day he had revisited the spot and refreshed the markings. And now help was at hand. The Norwegian sea dog made his way through the back alleys, out of the camp and up to the landing site.
Beryl flew the Loening in a wide circle round the New Swabian whaling station, satisfying herself that they had reached the correct destination. She could see the coleyfishtrawler Lord Ancaster in the harbour below. Then she commenced a straight run directly over the harbour, trailing Red-White-and-Blue smoke. Throwing the bi-plane into a series of loops and tight turns she sky-wrote Hi Folks across the heavens.
“Might as well be obvious. They’re bound to have seen us,” Beryl called down to Flo who, was kneeling over the Elsan.
The Loening turned south, heading towards the pole until Beryl was reasonably sure their audience would have lost interest. Then she climbed to ten thousand feet and turned back towards the coast. In the cabin Dark Flo had changed into her new Class A1 16TOG ninja outfit. It was dyed Mountbatten Pink – a Greyish-mauve all but invisible to simian optical sensors. Over it she pulled on an X-Bird 3 wingsuit of mottled blues. Her minimalist katana, devoid of decoration, and her Fukiya blow pipe were across her back, daisho and feather duster tucked in her waistband, and she carried a haversack filled with assorted Shuriken throwing stars, darts for the blowpipe, her war fan, and Happo eggs filled with Metsubushi blinding powder.
“Ready to go, Flo?”
“All set. Keep her steady.”
Flo clambered out onto the wing, there was a loud crack as her wing suit stretched out in the slipstream, and without a word of farewell, she was gone. As the Loening continued northwards Flo swooped over the polar terrain, a tiny blue dart invisible from below. Her speed sucked the breath out of her and an icy wind pressed her goggles into her face. Looping above the barren land she took stock of her surroundings, spotted a line of despondent emperor penguins trudging inland and then noted a group of men – sailors, judging by their visorless caps – a few miles from the whaling station, proceeding in an open, skirmish formation. Back tracking, Flo identified Bamse’s fresh yellow X and dove towards the landing area, deploying her chute at the last possible moment and ploughing into the snow with a thud. She quickly wound in the parachute, unzipped her wing suit and buried the ensemble. For good measure she kicked clean snow over the landing markers. When she looked up Bamse was strolling across the snowfield towards her. Being a dog, he could just make her out despite the camouflage pink. Canine rods and cones differ significantly from those of monkey descendants and are less likely to be confused by weird colours.
“Let’s get under cover and out of the cold. I’ve built a bit of an igloo back there amongst the drifts. It’s fairly cosy.” He had also brought a thermos of builders’ tea and some pickled cabbage sandwiches.
The igloo was compact, inconspicuous, beautifully crafted, a handy bolthole and sufficiently warm for Flo to feel the need to remove much of her ninja kit. While they drank their tea, Bamse launched into his report.
“We got the shore detail away before we were captured so I don’t think anyone knows they are here. The Lord Ancaster’s down in the harbour, but a bloody big sub took Harold and the crew off somewhere. This whaling station is just an outpost – from what I’ve gleaned in my time here the main operation’s elsewhere. And they all think it’s something special”
“I believe I saw your Russians down the coast,” said Flo, “I wonder if the New Swabians have a submarine base over that way. We need to locate the rest of the crew and find out what’s going on. Whatever it is it sounds every bit as big as Larry reckons.
“Don’t suppose we could manage the trawler on our own so it looks like we’re on foot for now. Best save the sandwiches in case we need them later. Let’s go and explore.”