On the other side of the pod, a corridor branched toward an octagonal capsule with large windows facing up and down, at least from Silversmith’s orientation. He looked down. A sapphire and emerald disc shone back at him. “Where..?”
MacFadyen pointed. “That way’s north.”
The picture fell into place and Silversmith recognised central Africa. He exhaled slowly.
“Always best to see it first at night, but if I can distract you for a wee moment?” MacFadyen was smiling. “The last bit of your orientation is to show you the Penguin from the outside, or rather as close to outside as you ever hope to get.”
Silversmith looked up and saw that he was surrounded by a ring of silver pods poised between Earth and stars, each circled by a red band with a white disk containing the hooked cross.
“Don’t mind the swastikas,” said MacFadyen, “old von Braun raised hell about the weight of the paint but the enlightenment ministry insisted — you don’t win arguments with Fräulein Riefenstahl. Then they had to have the same row over the pictures in the canteen. Anyway, eight pods. Canteen, observatory, communications, hydroponics, Luftwaffe and scientists’ quarters, SS quarters, docking and spacewalk, secret.”
“Secret?” Silversmith hadn’t heard about that.
“Secret. So don’t ask because I don’t know.”
“No idea at all?”
“Plenty of ideas, the best being that it’s best not to know. Now moving on, the solar panels are outside the pods where you can’t see them, and that little beauty,” he waved at the docked shuttle, “is my ticket home. So if you don’t mind I’ll leave you to the view and go and pack.”
Silversmith breathed a quiet sigh of relief. MacFadyen’s joy at going home reminded Silversmith that he had three months on this sardine tin ahead of him, and nothing but the Gestapo-patrolled corridors of Peenemünde to look forward to after that. At least the locker room smell of men who couldn’t wash more than twice a week wasn’t too bad in the octagon.
He turned to look at the Earth. The northward leg of the Penguin’s orbit slid the green of equatorial Africa from under him and replaced it with the ochre of the Sahara. He could see a substantial slice of the Earth’s surface, and all of it belonged to the Reich. From poor old Ireland in the west to Persia and the Urals in the east, from the North Cape to Cape Town in the south, the Reich and its vassals took the taxes and made the laws.
Next week: Dublin and Jerusalem
Full story available from Amazon in Kindle format.
Cover by Manda Benson