Biggles and the Walking Death
Through the haze, Biggles could make out the shadow that was the Island of Wai Ovadeah. Like nearly all the islands in the archipelago it was generally low with a mountainous volcanic spine. The highest volcano appeared the only one active with a stream of white smoke rising thousands of feet into the sky. He grinned to himself as he made the final adjustments to the course, "Dead reckoning not bad."
"Some Holiday this," said Algy sitting beside him in the cockpit of the Mallard amphibian. "Only two days leave and old Raymond gets us a job in this smoky island that nobody has ever heard of." He was about to complain more when Ginger appeared with two tin mugs of tea from the Thermos and a cheery grin.
"Looks like a good place for a bit of surfing!" he cried pointing at the breakers off to port.
A little later the Mallard was safely tied up at the quay where they met a tall young man. "Definitely Foreign Office," said Ginger looking at the dapper white suited figure. Standing beside him stood the Governor, Hi So Dim, dressed in his best suit. "Must be important for both of them to meet us." In moments pleasantries were exchanged and Biggles was whisked off in the official car. The others set about refuelling and preparing the aircraft for its, no doubt imminent departure.
After a couple of hours Biggles was back. "I'll brief you at lunch," he said without any pleasantry. His face was grim. At the Tu Fan Hotel, the four sat around a table and ate in silence until Biggles told them the story. They listened to a tale of disappearing people, deserted villages, lost patrols and savage death. As they talked Smyth suddenly reached behind the partition. Grabbed something and dragged it into the open. dangling from his powerful grip was a small Chinese boy of about 12 years in dirty clothes and wearing an American skip cap.
"I'll swear he was spying on us," Smyth said as he stood the child on his feet.
Ginger looked at him, "What is your name?" he tried in English and then in appalling Chinese. The round eyes never left his face.
"I think we should hand him over to the police," said Smyth winking at Biggles.
"No, I think we take him up in the Mallard and drop him to the sharks," returned Biggles.
"No! No! I didn't mean any harm," the child responded. "My name is Li. I am your miserable servant oh great men of the air!" he added with a bow. Smyth let him go and he ran off.
Biggles went on to explain that they would be taking off soon for the village of Fah Awai where they would meet up with some Gurkhas and local forces. After lunch they would be reinforced by the one handed "Hook" Holland, Ezra Betterman a diver and linguist, Nickolai Miwayout who can only be described as a ruffian, Heather Zonfyah a pearl valuation expert from the Company.
It was not long before the others joined them at the Mallard where Nickolai's rifle caused them to stare. It was a massive weapon more like something for shooting tanks than terrorists.
Soon the Mallard was on its way. Its twin engines humming nicely.
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