In Nazi-Occupied London, Colonel Joseph Krause regarded the new arrivals in his office with a feeling akin to disgust. The plainspoken German Army commander was unimpressed by the gaudy costumes of the SS Ubermenschen, who had taken up residence in England to help combat the recent upsurge of English Resistance activity.
His dealings with the member called the Ray had not convinced him that the rest of the team of Nazi super-agents would be any more useful. Still, he listened to the team’s current leader, the Red Torpedo. The sabotage in Britain two months earlier had loosened Germany’s stranglehold on the island country ever since, and the Occupation forces needed help.
It was true that the Freedom Fighters had disbanded at the end of March when their most powerful member — the original Ray — died in a spectacular explosion during a case. That death had greatly weakened the morale of the Allied forces, with a consequent boost in morale for the Axis. But it was already May, and Berlin was clamoring for something similar to happen in England, and soon. If either the Jester or 711 could be brought to heel, the propaganda victory would be worth putting up with the arrogance of the special SS unit. At least Krause didn’t have to deal with the Marksman or the Unknown Soldier as some of his comrades did. The two headaches he had were bad enough.
The man listened to his intelligence gatherers as they compiled facts and information about the German war machine in Britain. His gatherers weren’t human, but they were always on the lookout and consisted of unsuspected parts of many buildings throughout London.
He smiled as he listened to Colonel Krause and the Red Torpedo of the SS Ubermenschen talk. Sooner or later, someone would stumble on his bugs. He smiled at the thought of how much consternation that would cause.
The Jester quietly prepared, chuckling to himself about how much fun he was going to have with Krause’s visitors. He expected to have a lot of fun at that.
The Red Torpedo of the SS Ubermenschen sat alone in an office, files spread out on his borrowed desk. His eyes ached from the reading he had been doing. One thing he had learned was he was dealing with a madman — a very dangerous madman who liked to play games with English Command.
There was something about Dover, though. Three reports of missing ships had come in since the radar had been damaged by that bomb nearly two months earlier. The line had been down for four hours in the early morning of March 15th. Even though spotters had been assigned almost immediately, something could have been airdropped into the Channel while Dover had been off-line.
The Schroeder had floated at the end of the troop convoy for many days, spending a month in rotation and a month out. She had three days before she could return to her home port, and the men were granted leave. The ship then sank in the ocean just off the Dover cliffs. There was no warning, no sudden mechanical problem. One minute she floated at the end of the convoy placidly, and the next minute she was gone from the surface of the Channel. The other ships sped on, unaware they had lost one of the rearguard. When the convoy reached port, that was when the Schroeder‘s absence was noted.
It seemed too simple a thing, but he decided to take his flying submarine out and check it anyway. It would get him out of this office long enough to clear his head of all of these reminders of a bad sense of humor. Laughing food was enough to turn his stomach just reading about it. He was glad he hadn’t experienced it.
The Red Torpedo took the elevator down to the ground floor. He headed for where he had left his ship, the similarly named Red Torpedo, at the bottom of the Thames. The flying submarine would take him out to the Channel as sure as an arrow and swifter than any bird.
He hadn’t thought this was going to be much of a challenge when his immediate superior in the SS — Count Helmut von Stauffen, known as the Black Knight — had given him the assignment, but now he knew this was going to be as bloody as anything he had ever been involved in.
The Red Torpedo sailed out of the Thames as fast as he could, having read the reports that Krause had gathered. There was no doubt in his mind that the Jester could have engaged in a deadly conflict, inflicting collateral damage all along the Army’s infrastructure. There was no way to stop him at the moment, either.
The SS super-agent filed into line at the end of a convoy, circling the end of England heading for Northern Africa. The convoy would cross through the danger zone along the way. The Torpedo would keep the ships in sight until they were away from Britain. He hoped to have a solid lead from this surveillance no matter how long it took. His submarine had been constructed from radar-and-heat-baffling materials. Supplies were on board to feed ten people for a week. Automatic systems would help keep watch on the sea.
The man smiled, watching his monitors. He had finished assembling the object in his hands into a workable tool, and the crab-like machine whistled as it came to life.
“It won’t be long,” he said to it, placing it beside several other inventions he had created to help his private little war. “I wonder if we can help Herr Torpedo figure out my next move. What do you think?”
He paused as if listening.
“Yes,” he said. “I think I will.”
He stood, dropping the crab into a nearby pool of water and watching it swim away before he gathered his tools and left his workshop. He had much to do and little time to get it done. The notorious terrorist known as the Jester whistled softly as he went.
The Red Torpedo had been dozing in his command chair when his control board began to beep at him urgently. He examined the displays closely but found himself at a loss. Something had been detected in the water, but he could not find the source of the signal. He looked out in the water through the front screen. What was out there?
Hearing something impact the hull near the stern of the flying submarine, the Torpedo checked his instruments and noticed that he was losing speed. He frowned as his craft came to a full stop.
Something had happened to the jets that drove the craft through the water. Something he would have to check out. He should have brought someone else with him to guard his back. There was no doubt the Jester had begun his attack on the convoy.
The Red Torpedo triggered an electrical field around his submarine and waited to see the results of his defense. Hopefully it would stop those crabs from digging in the hull of his ship. A series of small explosions racked the Torpedo as his desperate plan worked. One of the crabs floated down from the field, dead as the piece of metal it was constructed from.
A lead, thought the German superman as he retrieved underwater gear and headed for the airlock. Once he recovered that device, he could trace the builder through its components.
The Red Torpedo let the airlock fill up with the cold ocean water before he exited into the Channel. Diving down after the falling crab, he kept it in sight with light-amplifying goggles until he was able to snatch it in hand, stopping its fall. He expected it to explode at his touch, but it remained inert.
He returned to the submarine, wondering about the crab and its maker. All the others had exploded except this one. It had to be a dud, or perhaps there a misfire in its detonator. That would explain why it hadn’t exploded like the rest. He would know when he cut it open in his workshop.
The man known as the Jester walked along the crowded London streets. Everywhere he went, he left behind a mechanical device. He smiled when he placed the last one where Lord Nelson had kept watch for many years. Now the statue was gone, and only an empty space remained behind. Still, he had all he needed dispersed across the city.
Checking his watch, he knew he would need to get into position soon. The Red Torpedo would have found his little oceangoing toy and have it under a microscope by now. He didn’t want to miss the fun when they burst into his headquarters.
He expected to laugh over this for years to come. Still, he knew he had better hurry.
The Red Torpedo took his prize to the small lab he had on board his flying submarine. Placing the robot crab on his work table, he began by carefully cutting it open. The outside had been devoid of markings, and he theorized that a clue might be hidden in the components. Very few took the time to erase the serial numbers off pieces of a bomb.
He laid the pieces out on the table and placed each under a magnifying glass, jotting down on a pad what he found. All he needed to do now was find out who had been the supplier and search the records for the buyer. Then he had to find the buyer. Easier said than done, he knew, from cases he had cracked with Count von Stauffen.
Still, this Jester was not the same as the infamous Baron Povalsky, an urban legend known as the Marksman that the Black Knight now knew for certain existed and was still out there but had never caught. He was just a simple madman that needed to be stopped before he committed more crimes against the German Army.
The Red Torpedo went to the bridge and headed back to base.