The Aurora

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Over the ice

After the last of the stores were loaded and the pre-flight checked completed the Aurora gently lifted into clear skies. Although everyone was busying themselves with the coming adventure things soon settled down. William buried himself in his books with only the occasion words of “Polar bear” escaping from his lips – no one was foolish enough to ask him about it. Gemma and Fifi took an interest in the controls of the airship. With a little persuasion Gemma was allowed to take control of the wheel and gently steered the ship on her voyage north. Routine work gave way to general conversation and after the ship was secure Wahlstrom suggested a game of cards to pass the time. Fifi eagerly sat down at the small table mentioning it would make the game more interesting if there was some kind stake involved. Joined by Gemma and Capt Bennet the poker game was soon started much to Wahlstrom delight. Wahlstorm knew his cards but unfortunately he didn’t know his luck as the newest members of the Aurora soon had a small pile of coins next to them.

Conversation soon turned to the subject of the Germans and their possible goals. No one knew their ultimate aims but it was agreed the Germans were well equipment. Walhstrom knew of German engineering and respected and admired it. He was also becoming to respect the skills and luck of the new players even though it left him out of pocket. After the last of the coins had been exchanged the crew settle down to a night of sleep and watches.

With the next morning came gales and poor visibility. Corn was having difficulties with the wheel as the fought to control the airship against the strong gusts. In the face of such fierce winds Bennet ordered the Aurora to increase altitude in an attempt to find a calmer air flow. As the airship rose it was hit with even more violent turbulence causing it to suddenly twist and turn. The crew was thrown about the cabin as they vainly tried to hold on anything solid. Corn was desperately trying to turn the wheel to correct the Aurora against the winds. The snapping of a control cable caused the wheel to free spin throwing Corn across the cabin into the exterior door and into the impossible! As Corn slammed into the door it gave way ejecting him into the Arctic storm.

After a moment of stunned disbelief the crew raced to regain control of the stricken airship. Gemma threw herself at the controls as Bennet shouted orders for the Aurora to descend. Eternally grateful for her chance of flying the airship the previous night Gemma pushed forward the altitude levels forcing the spinning airship downwards. As the ground appeared through the icy winds Gemma pulled the altitude levels back breaking the rapid descent causing the airship to bounce along the ice until it finally came to jarring stop. Although battered and bruised the crew rushed to secure the airship down with cable and spikes. Working in teams of two the spikes were hammered into the thick ice. Gemma and Fifi initially had problems swinging the heavy hammers in such strong winds but they finally drove their spike into the ice.

Back in the comparative warmth of the cabin the crew had a chance to take stock of the situation. As Wahlstrom offered whisky around Gemma, Fifi and William quietly discussed the events. From what they saw of the control cable it was not possible for it to just break. Also the main door was meant to be secured by a restraining bolt upon locking. For it to fly open in mid flight just meant one thing; sabotage. Gemma took a depth breath as she calmed her mind. Entering a trance like state she reached out with her mind and sensed those around her. There was fear in the cabin as well as shock and bafflement. Probing a little deeper Gemma detected the icy sense of deceit and a ruthless determination to stop the Aurora from going any further. Gemma knew there was a killer on board.

Confiding in Fifi and William, the adventurers knew they had to be careful and keep a watch on the three remaining crew. Under the pretext of guarding the crew from Polar bears the adventurers stood armed with a rifle as the crew started the repairs to the control cable. After Walhstrom and Doval replaced the broken cable Fifi and Gemma examined it. Using her investigation skills on the more mundane than Gemma was use too they discovered the cable had been cut almost all the way through. This was designed to break under strain. The main door bolt had been similarly tampered with.

A quiet conference between the three adventures started to name suspects. Walhstrom, the engineer had the opportunity to sabotage the cable and door. It was his job to make the pre-flight inspections and yet he failed to notice the damage. Perhaps his appreciation of German engineering went beyond machines and why was he so keen to offer whisky to everyone and not drink any himself? True he had to keep a clear head for the repairs but Gemma for one was glad she refused the drink. Bennet was recommended as the Captain but the trio soon realised then known very little about any of the crew. The conference came to an end as Bennet announced the Aurora was ready to fly again and they had to catch up with the Thule Expedition. As the airship lifted off the adventurers suspicions rose with her.

The adventurers decided to share their thoughts with Bennet. The Captain had already came to the same conclusions concerning the sabotage but couldn’t believe one of the crew was responsible. Given the evidence Bennet agreed with the adventurers and split the remaining party into two groups; one group would sleep in the open area of the cabin while the other operated the airship.

The first shift passed without incident. Half way through the second shift it was discovered the radio had been broken. A key valve had been removed and the airship didn’t carry any spares. Since everyone had accessed to the radio a suspect wasn’t obvious. Gemma and Fifi reasoned that the valve had to be still on board as opening the door or windows would had been noticed. A search of the cabin revealed broken glass in a corner; the missing valve. Gemma again using her fine turned investigation skills noticed a brown substance on the remains of the valve. Looking closer she determined it was tobacco, chewing tobacco. All the members of the original crew use tobacco but one chew it. Everyone eyes fell upon Doval but he protested his innocence. As people moved towards Doval his right hand came up and the sound of a pin dropping was heard; a grenade was primed to explode! As Doval ordered everyone not to move Gemma ignored his instructions and jumped to open the main door. As Doval turned to face Gemma, Fifi pushed him from behind sending flying towards the open portal. With his left hand Doval held on to the door frame but this grip was broken by a blow from Gemma. With a scream Doval threw the grenade into the cabin as he plummeted from the airship and disappeared into thick fog.

The arming level immediate separated from the grenade; it would explode within a few seconds. Without any hesitation Fifi leap forward with arms out stretched. As the grenade was about to hit the floor she caught it and in one smooth motion threw it towards the open door. The grenade had barely fallen from the cabin when it exploded causing the shrapnel to embed itself into the the metal surface of the cabin. With a sign of relief the cabin door was closed and everyone breathed again.

Still recovering from the shock of the traitor it was decided to search the Aurora in case of further sabotage. After the cabin was declared safe the search continued into the actual inflatable section of the Aurora. Reaching the top level of the airship Fifi spotted an indentation on the surface of the metalic skin. It looked like something had been placed on top of the blimp. With high winds below them Bennet decided it was too dangerous to land. Someone had to climb the outside of the airship to find what was causing the indentation.

With a rope tied around her waist Fifi made her way up the outside of the airship. With the fierce winds whipping around her Fifi lost her grip and fell; only to be saved by the rope and the strong arms of the crew holding it. A second attempt was successful and Fifi finally made it to the top of the Aurora. Going over to the indentation Fifi found a rucksack tied to the metal skin. Opening it carefully Fifi was shocked to discovered a stick of dynamite and a clock slowly ticking towards twelve. Despite the winds Fifi pulled a knife from her boot and attempted to cut the rucksack free.

Watching from within the Aurora Gemma spotted indentations moving toward Fifi and the rucksack; someone else was on top of the airship. As Fifi cut the straps of the rucksack a shadow fell over her. Looking up she saw Doval advancing on her with pistol drawn. The miraculous survival of Doval was explained by the rope tied around his left leg; he managed to entangle the rope around his leg as he fell from the cabin. Drawing her own pistol shots were exchanged but the strong winds made aiming difficult. Fifi reaction was quicker and her second shot hit Doval squarely in the chest. He fell again but this time would be his last. Fifi attention snapped back to the rucksack and with a final effort freed it from the airship. With all her strength Fifi threw the rucksack away from the airship but this caused her to lose her balance. Seeing her comrade fall Gemma jumped and using the rope tied around her, swung and caught Fifi. After the two women were pulled aboard the cabin the rope holding the body of Doval was cut and the door closed.

The mood was sombre but at least everyone slept soundly. The next ‘day’ the weather cleared and the winds dropped. On watch Fifi spotted something on the ice. As The Aurora got closer it was clear the ice contained the wreckage of a large airship. Landing a safe distance away William, Gemma and Fifi made their way to the wreckage. It wasn’t long before they came across bodies. The bodies were dressed in German uniforms; some had injuries associated with long falls while others were burnt beyond recognition. After exploring the wreckage it was clear a German airship had come down in flames.

Women at the North Pole!

Even for a Government office this office defined drab. The walls, the minimal furniture and the receptionist/PA could all be defined by a single word – grey. The newly arrived potential members of the Arctic expedition was on odd collection; A field biologist, a fortune hunter and an occult investigator. Each one surveyed the others wondering if it was them or the others in the wrong place.

After what felt like a long tedious wait a buzzer sounded and Miss Jones got up her her typing and open the door to the inner office; “Mr Eaton will see you now”.

Mr Eaton, or how he introduced himself Major Eaton was a rotund man. With pipe in hand he thanked everyone for coming and apologised for the wait. Getting down to business he explained the Thule Society had mounted an expedition to the North Polar; for what, he and the rest of the US Army intelligence didn’t know. The only thing he did know was that they mustn’t be get their hands on anything that could increase their power. To this end he invited the three adventurers to investigate and if necessary stop them.

Over the past few years there has been rumours the Thule Society collected objects of extraordinary, if dubious powers. The Major thought such things as highly unlikely but he wasn’t going to take the chance he was wrong. Gemma, an investigator of Occult knew such things existed and realised the significance of these items falling into the wrong hands. Fifi was more interested in the fee Uncle Sam would pay for this little adventure while William grinned at the thought of studying Polar Bears in their natural habitat. With all three in agreement Major Eaton explained the official reason for the Arctic expedition was to send a woman (or in this case two) to the North Pole. America was strictly neutral when it came to European powers and their ambitions.

As the adventurers got up from their chairs the Major gave each a card for the Army and Navy Store. Miss Jones escorted the trio out telling them to visit the Store the next morning to select their kit and keep the afternoon free. Miss Jones was already arranging the the Press interviews.

The next morning a taxi delivered the team to the Army and Navy Stores. An assistant looked uninterested in the group and frankly didn’t believe all the talk of women going to the Arctic. The production of the Major’s cards changed both his mind and his manners. The assistant lead the group down a corridor to a room reserved for special customers. The large room had clothes and kit for use from the tropics to the frozen wastes while the back wall had an impressive range of weapons. Each of the team selected their gear and was reassured that it would be delivered straight to the airbase. The only restriction was weight since the team would be flying into the Arctic.

The adventurers felt happy as they left the Stores; they had their kit and were looking forward to telling the world about going to the North Pole. This feeling stop for Gemma as she noticed a man holding but apparently not reading a newspaper not far from them. She couldn’t say why but the man seemed too interested in them and Gemma learnt not to distrust her sense of foreboding. With a taxi hailed the three got into it and headed back to their hotel for their interviews with the Press.

The uneasiness felt by Gemma was confirmed as a bullet flew into the cab hitting the driver. Looking behind them they saw the suspicious man learning out of a car, his newspaper replaced by a large pistol. Gemma tried to help the taxi driver control the car while Fifi coolly pulled out her own pistol and took aim. The shot hit the man in the shoulder causing him to drop his gun. Still in danger Fifi fired another shot, this time at one of the tyres of the pursuing car. A hit caused the car to slam into a fire hydrant allowing the taxi to escape.

Back at the hotel Miss Jones had arranged for the Press to interview the adventures in an adjacent room. Starting with the more respectable newspapers the team were interviewed. As the afternoon continued the questions focussed on more on the women and less on any scientific aims of the expedition much to William’s annoyance. This was emphasised by the poses asked by the photographers.

After the last of the Press left Miss Jones informed the group two bodies had been found in the car crash. Although the two men didn’t have any identification on them they were carrying Mauser pistols. Gemma and Fifi worried by the security implication suggested they be taken to the airbase that night. Lakehurst Naval Air Station was a welcome sight as it allowed the adventurers a good night rest.

Early next morning the team was taken to the Aurora and met her crew. Captain Bennet introduced Peter Corn (Pilot), David Doval (Navigator) and Tom Wahlstrom (Engineer). As Wahlstorm made final checks the Captain proudly explained the the Aurora was the finest Airship in the service. Unfortunately it had to be as the Thule expedition had a two week head start on them.

The flight to Spitsbergen was uneventful and gave the adventurers a chance to relax before the facing the cold wastes. William talked continuously about Polar Bears while failing to see what was so important about sending women to the North Pole. After a while everyone made an excuse to be somewhere else (not a small feat in a small cabin) to avoid continuing the conversation.

The Aurora set down in Spitsbergen and the crew busy themselves taking on the final supplies and checks. This gave time for the adventurers to visit a local supply store. The helpful store owner chatted to the two attractive women and was astounded to hear they were heading for the Pole. He thought them much more pleasant (attractive) than the German team that came through the place two weeks ago. As the store owner wished the adventurers good luck he mentioned the German commander was a man who had the bearing of one who would succeed at any cost. Von Wartenburg was not a man use to failure.


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