Morse Code

As Beryl swung the Lady Æthelflæda into line with the rest of the fleet and manoeuvred alongside Queen Anne’s Bounty a signal lamp began to flash on the corsair airship.

“My Morse is a bit rusty,” she said, “Can’t read it at that speed.”

“I can,” shouted Phoebles, pointing his spyglass towards Rotskagg’s dirigible, “Er… It’s not English. It’s not even Morse code. Just dots and dashes.”

Boz leaned over to the Stern Cabin speaking tube, blew down it and shouted, “Ginsbergbear, get to the bridge, please. We need someone who can read Morse.” He turned urgently to Phoebles. “Don’t go near the Aldis lamp. You can’t really understand Morse and randomly flashing back at them won’t help.”

“I’m dead good at semaphore though.”

“Great. Take your flags up to the signal station on top of the canopy and ask them to send more slowly.” As Phoebles dashed enthusiastically up the aluminium ladder Boz whispered to Beryl, “That should keep him out of trouble for a while.”

The signalling had stopped by the time Ginsbergbear burst on to the flight deck.

“Can someone get me the lamp out of the locker and plug it in just down here?” He took the Aldis lamp from Boz and there began a rhythmic clattering as he deftly handled the lever. Didah didididit dadadah dadidadah, and then dadadit dadah dadadah dadah.

The 15-inch FSP380 signal lamp on Queen Anne’s Bounty began to flash a lengthy reply. Ginsbergbear acknowledged and then turned to Boz.

“The gist of the message is that we are to observe strict radio silence. Our only hope of survival is if we can achieve total surprise. We are massively outgunned by their two warships and must get in close before they can open fire or get underway.”

“Sounds cheery.” Boz was staring out of a bridge window at nothing in particular. “Best get Phoebles back down here. His arms will be getting tired with all that flag waving and I don’t suppose anyone has even noticed him.”

“Convoy’s bunching up to pass through the Dover straights. Keep an eye out for me will you, boys? Make sure no one’s getting too close,” said Beryl, “Lets leave off worrying till the shit starts flying.”

“Quite right,” said Boz, “I’ll organise banjos and a brew. Can’t save the world on an empty stomach.”

Half an hour later Beryl was Holding a sardine sandwich in one hand and steering with the other. The boys were lounging by the chart table with steaming mugs of tea, the sun was out, the sea sparkling and the polychromatic fleet, all fluttering jolly rogers and gay bravado, seemed invincible.

Beryl gulped down the last morsel of sandwich, “See that dark smudge out on the horizon, guys? That’s Cherbourg. Round the corner we hang a left, just before Alderney, and it’s due south to Jersey. Target’s on the other side of the island so I don’t know what the plan of attack is.”

A hundred yards to port one of the unwieldy lateral hanger doors on the Queen Anne’s Revenge slid open. At the same time her signal lamp began to flash again. Ginsbergbear interpreted the stream of dots and dashes.

“Just says ‘prepare to be boarded.’”

An iridescent blue two-seater ornithopter launched from the dirigible and made it’s erratic, dipping way over to the Lady Æthelflæda. The craft was, as Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp never tired of pointing out, in fact, an Odonapteron rather than an Ornithopter, it’s four beating wings resembling those of the dragonfly, not those of a bird. It made its way to the stern, tethered briefly to the balcony rail, whilst its passenger disembarked, and then flew off.

Boz and Ginsbergbear rushed to the aft cabin as Dark Flo, in A-Line black Cocktail Dress, flying goggles and Doc Martens boots, carrying a faded DPM Woodland camouflaged 90L Bergen rucksack, came in through the outer door.

*

The same sun shone in through the windows of a luxury suite on the top floor of the Grand Jersey Hotel. Captain Midlands stood, feet 12-inches apart and hands behind his back, whilst Mr Fluffy paced about the room that for too long had been his temporary HQ.

“Why is the island still not subjugated? Where is my victory parade?”

Captain Midlands coughed a dry cough and replied in a strong Brummy accent, “We are being harassed at every turn by crazed fanatical guerrillas, Lord Fluffy. Our Hummers cannot manoeuvre in the narrow country lanes. And then there is the King Emperor. Dressed as Ronald McDonald with the addition of his St Edward’s Crown he has proclaimed himself Commander in Chief of the armed forces and has been texting conflicting and impractical orders to front line units. The regular troops had pledged allegiance to the crown before leaving Canada, they are confused.”

“Excuses, excuses,” Mr Fluffy’s pacing had quickened. “Charleyboy will not be a problem. He will never leave Sark. Respond to his orders in the affirmative and then ignore them. I can rein him in. The rest IS you’re responsibility. I required a quick victory. You are disappointing me.”

CM began to mumble an apology, but was interrupted by a tap at the door. A diminutive and surprisingly hairy Hit-Girl cautiously entered.

“Excuse me, sir. I have a gentleman here requesting an urgent appointment.” She had been followed closely by a tall, moustachioed figure in full dress hussar’s uniform.”

“Captain Mad Jack Belvoir at your service, my lord.”

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