Davis and May
May stationed November’s March above a dock rocking along with the tides.
“After you,” she motioned for Davis to lead the way down the rope ladder, “I went first last time we attacked an island.”
“Fair is fair,” Davis began his descent. Winston and May followed close behind.
Davis let loose the rope ladder and plopped down to the wooden, wobbling dock. Tied to a post and bobbing in the water was an oversized biplane with twin engines and painted blue parrots covering every surface. Winston mumbled about trespassing on Westing property and how if he was caught, that was the end of his time at Villa Clonna.
The dock creaked and waves crashed against the old wood. Birds chirped from the leafy palm trees and May was fairly certain she saw some sort of monkey troupe walking around the beach; she feared they could have been rather large rats though and opted not to investigate. The island was a paradise, secluded from any of the sounds of churning gears or pumping steam engines that filled most of civilization.
The shipmates stepped off the dock and all sounds changed. From the grassy hill at their left a whir and a pop sent the three into defensive positions. The earth erupted in a geyser of sand and dirt and through the dust a pillar emerged.
“What is that thing?” May’s curiosity bested her and she approached the device.
“Don’t get too near that thing,” Davis requested.
The pillar buzzed once more and deployed three large barrels, pointing toward the path the crew was taking. A cone emerged from the top of the pillar.
“You are trespassing on the island of Philborn Westing. Remain where you are and guards will escort you to your prison,” a soft spoken voice said through pops and fizzes from the cone.
“Is that a record?” Davis asked.
“How did it know we were passing?” Winston questioned.
“Questions can wait; guards incoming!” May pointed further inland.
Four guards wearing purple helmets and carrying rifles longer than any of the crew had ever seen were walking in a row approaching fast.
“Little much to take on ourselves, right?” Winston asked. He sounded upset.
“Place any weaponry on the sand and raise your arms to the sky,” ordered the guard with a sash over his armor.
“Do as instructed,” May told her fellows.
The guards arrived and began searching the crew for hidden objects. One guard could not stop looking at Winston. The guard took long looks at the Villa Clonna law enforcer, up and down, over and over.
“Are you called Sapp?” The guard finally asked.
“By some,” Winston replied, his tone curt and cutting.
“Well, why didn’t you start with that,” the guard lowered her weapon. “This is the lawman out at Clonna. You here on official business or just visiting your benefactor?”
Winston enjoyed the bit of luck. “Official business, pirates activity in the area. Needed to let Westing know we were willing to provide whatever protection might be necessary.”
The guards nodded along with Winston’s word. “We should take you to see the boss lady then. Follow us. Leon, carry their arms. It’s polite to help guests,” the guard said. Leon, who stood a full head’s length shorter than the others, grabbed the weaponry and guided everyone to the main compound.
May and Davis turned to each other and whispered in unison, “boss lady? I thought the plane belonged to a Philborn?”
Winston looked equally confused.
The crew was led to a magnificent room built of an orange colored wood, polished to perfection and lined with works of art that were more suited for galleries or museums than a greeting room on an tiny island. A crackling fireplace warmed the room and torches filled it with an even warmer glow. Couches and armchairs covered in animal pelts and made of hideous red dyed leather filled the room.
The guards exited and informed the three that “the mistress” would see them shortly. As the doors closed, the crew of November’s March launched into frantic conversation trying to make sense of the day.
“Is Philborn a lady’s name?” Davis asked.
“Don’t be silly, darling,” May tried to let his question go nicely.
“I say we find out who this person is and take them down. If they have usurped Philborn’s position, Villa Clonna could be in danger,” Winston said.
The doors swung open once more and the conversation came to a sudden stop.
“Winston Sapp? I have read so much about you,” said an overly cheerful voice. The crew watched as a tall dark haired women came to their position. She wore a long flowing dress and a wide brimmed hat; more suited for life at Port Darington than a private island.
She shook the hands of the three crew mates.
“Forgive me for the armed escort. We were not expecting guests. They say pirates may be heading this way? That is dreadful,” she said.
The three were silent.
“Where have my manners gone? Must be this island heat, melting my formalities away. I am Dolina Mira Westing,” she smiled.
“Pardon my asking, Mrs. Westing, but where is Philborn?” Winston asked.
“It is Ms. Westing. I am Philborn’s sister. I have been minding his estate since his passing,” she said through a forced frown.
“Philborn has passed? I was unaware, you have my condolences.” Winston said.
“Oh don’t bother with that, we both knew that cranky old man,” she laughed.
May leaned to Davis’ ear, “I don’t think this is the financier we were looking for,” she whispered.
“I am sorry, to bore you two,” Dolina addressed May and Davis, “what are your names?”
“Davis and May Beacon, ma’am. We are partnering with Winston to stop a potentially catastrophic attack someone has ordered on what is now your mining operation in Villa Clonna,” Davis said.
Dolina’s face turned grim. “My mines are under attack?” she asked.
“We came here to investigate what turns out to be a false lead from a mad chemist that has made some rather impressive explosives. His goal was to put them throughout Clonna, bringing about untold harm,” May explained.
“But don’t worry, we have the Vial Man in custody,” Winston said.
“You’ve captured him?” Dolina said. She put her head into her hands and huffed, exasperated and frustrated.
“Problem should be solved now,” Winston was happy to report.
“I swear,” Dolina shouted. Her head snapped upward, out of her hands. “I try to do things right. Hire one man to halt production and inflate prices of the magnesite. This is standard stuff I am talking about here. Railroads did it, steel did it; why can’t I do it?”
“Dolina, what are you talking about?” Davis asked.
“The man you captured was an employee, you doof. The loss of those mines would have made me millions! And you three meddle in the process and,” she took in a deep breath trying to collect herself.
“You three have to die. That is all that I can think of,” she said. She snapped her fingers and the four guards entered the room in a flash.
The crew of November’s March exchanged panicked glances.
“Well, that did not go according to plan,” Davis said.
The guards moved closer.