Silversmith’s hand strayed back to the bottles in the bag for the fiftieth time. Still not broken. He paused by the entrance to the communications pod. The red light reflecting off the bulkheads made him shudder. His father’s voice: Last chance to change your mind, Seamus me boy, so make sure you really want to do whatever the feck you’re doing. Yes he was sure, but apparently his arms weren’t. His biceps seized and refused to pull him into the pod. He drew a breath. When was the last time he was sure of anything?
He grabbed the edge of the pod and pulled himself forward harder than he intended, cannoning into a bulkhead. The chink of glass sounded like an explosion. He fingered the bottles again.
Henkel’s head appeared above his console with a furious look. The red light meant he was broadcasting directly to the Reich, and no one was allowed in the pod.
“Max, do you smell burning?” asked Silversmith.
Nervousness washed the anger from Henkel’s features. One mention of fire would seize the attention of anyone who had been through flight training. “No. Where?”
“Over here somewhere. Look, could you have a sniff? My nose is a bit blocked but I swear…” Silversmith allowed his voice to trail off as he searched the corridor to the hydroponics pod.
He snuck a look at Henkel, who was scanning his console. Once the broadcast had begun, Henkel’s duty was simply to keep an eye on the equipment in case it misbehaved. He wasn’t sure whether the safety of the Penguin trumped the safety of the broadcast, but Henkel would know and could be relied upon to follow his orders to the letter. When Henkel pulled himself toward him, Silversmith released his breath so hard that he floated backward.
“Where exactly?” asked Henkel.
“I’m not sure. I think it might be the door housing.” Silversmith pointed and Henkel turned.
Silversmith slipped a hand into his bag and felt the damp cloth. Last chance to change his mind.
He slipped the bag off his shoulder and slapped the chloroformed handkerchief over Henkel’s nose and mouth, pulling Henkel’s head back into his shoulder and holding him until he went limp. Silversmith duct taped his wrists and ankles together. He searched the pockets of Henkel’s jumpsuit until he found a bunch of keys. He kicked toward the cabinet that contained the secret films. Several of the keys looked as though they might fit.
“James?” Henkel was already coming round. Silversmith tried one key after another. Please will one of you bastards fit!
Next week: Broadcast
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Cover by Manda Benson