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“No, it shares air with the rest of the facility. They have to access the main floor so often they didn’t want an air-seal door in their way—that’s my assumption, anyway. They have an air shelter in the control room if anything goes wrong. And if the train is docked they can just go in there too.”

“Okay,” Dad said.

I continued. “The grinders are outside and the grit comes in through this compression airlock. Then it moves downstairs to the lower level. The sorter centrifuge separates the anorthite out from the other minerals. Then it’s sintered into anodes. From there it goes back upstairs into the smelter.”

I tapped a large rectangle in the middle of the schematics. “This is where the magic happens. The smelter reduces anorthite into its base elements by using an assload of electricity.”

“FFC Cambridge Process,” said Svoboda. “It’s awesome! The anode is dipped in a calcium chloride salt bath, then electrolysis literally yanks atoms out! Oh, and the carbon cathodes get eroded so they have to constantly re-sinter them from the carbon they recover off the CO2 by-product. They use some of the resulting powdered aluminum to make rocket fuel, but the rest—”

“Calm yourself,” I said. “Anyway, I’m going to break in there and make the smelter smelt itself to death.”

“You can’t spell ‘smelt’ without ‘melt’!” Svoboda added.

“How will you do it?” Dale asked.

“I’ll crank up power to the heater,” I said. “The bath is normally nine hundred degrees Celsius, but if I can get it to fourteen hundred, the steel containment vessel will melt. Then the superheated salt bath will escape and destroy everything in the bubble.”

Dad scowled. “What good will this petty vandalism do?”

“First off, Dad, it’s not petty vandalism. It’s extreme vandalism. Second off: With their smelter destroyed, Sanchez won’t be able to make oxygen, and the contract with the city will be up for grabs. That’s where Lene comes in.”

Lene fidgeted as everyone turned toward her. “Uh, yeah. Dad had—er…I have enough oxygen to last Artemis a year. I’ll offer to take over the contract as soon as Sanchez is in breach.”

“And Ngugi will rubber-stamp it,” I said. “She wants O Palácio out of Artemis as much as we do.”

Bob snorted. “Why should I get involved in this?”

“Dammit, Bob,” I said. “I don’t want to spend time on the ‘will you or won’t you help me’ part. If you don’t understand why we have to do this, go stand in the corner until you do.”

“You’re such an asshole,” said Bob.

“Hey!” Dad shot Bob a look that made the burly marine draw back.

“He’s right, Dad. I am an asshole. But Artemis needs an asshole right now and I got drafted.”

I walked to the middle of the room. “This moment—this moment right now—is where we decide what kind of city Artemis is going to be. We can either act now, or let our home degenerate into syndicate rule for generations. This isn’t some theoretical scenario. They burned down a business. They murdered two people. There’s a huge amount of money in play—they’re not going to stop.

“This isn’t a new thing. New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Mexico City—they all went through hell to control their mob infestations. And those are the success stories. Big chunks of South America are still under cartel control. Let’s not do that. Let’s take care of the cancer before it can spread.”

I looked each person in the eyes. “I’m not asking you to do this for me. I’m asking you to do it for Artemis. We can’t let O Palácio take over. This is our one chance. They’re bringing an army to town. Once those enforcers are here, we’ll never be able to shut down Sanchez’s oxygen flow. It’ll be guarded better than Fort Knox.”

I paused briefly just in case anyone wanted to argue that point. No one did. “Look, we’ve got a lot of planning to do so let’s cut the bullshit. Bob: You’re a marine. You spent half your life protecting the United States. Now Artemis is your home and it’s in danger. Will you protect it?”

That hit him where it counted. I could see it in his face.

I walked over to my father. “Dad, do it because this is the only way to save your daughter’s life.”

He pursed his lips. “Sleazy tactic, Jasmine.”

I turned to Dale. “Do I even need to explain why you have to do it?”

Dale dodged the question by gesturing to Billy for another beer. “You’re not a complete asshole, Jazz. I assume you have a plan to keep the workers from getting hurt?”

Bob raised his hand. “And how will you get into the bubble? Even without mail-order goons on the way, Sanchez has tight security.”

“And what about the safety systems?” Svoboda asked. “I looked over the schematics your Earth buddy sent. The smelter has three redundant temperature-control systems and a fail-safe copper melt plug.”

“And why do you need me at all?” Dad asked.

“All right, all right.” I put out my hands. “I can answer all of that. But first I need to know: Are we done with the convincing part? Are we all on board?”

The room fell silent. Even Billy stopped his morning prep to see how it played out.

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