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“I think it’s pretty clear from context,” I said.

He loomed over me. “Get up. We’re way behind and Bob can only delay the train for so long.”

I flipped him off.

He kicked me. “Get up, you lazy fuck.”

I groaned and got back to my feet.

I’d found the compartment’s pressure sensor during the “dig a hole to China” phase of the operation. (Yes, that idiom still applies on the moon. I felt like I’d just dug a 384,000-kilometer hole.)

Our little “fool the pressure sensor” game had worked till now, but as soon as I breached the inner hull, the pressure on our side would go up to Artemis Standard. Then the sensor would say “Holy shit! Twenty-one kPa air! There’s a hole in the inner hull!”

The alarm would go off, people would freak out, and the EVA masters would come take a look, and we’d get caught. Dale and Bob would get drummed out of the guild, but I wouldn’t live long enough to see it, because loyal Sanchez people would have stabbed me in the face.

Oh? You don’t think a bunch of nebbish control-room nerds would do something like that? Think again. Someone at Sanchez tried to kill me with a harvester, remember?

The sensor itself was a metal cylinder with a couple of wires attached. The wires had a fair bit of play, which was handy. I pulled a steel can with a screw top out of the duffel. I’d modified it earlier for just this purpose by putting a little notch in the lid.

I put the sensor in the can and slid the cabling into the notch. Then I screwed on the lid. After that, I put six layers of duct tape over the point where the wires entered the lid. I didn’t feel great about that part. Only an idiot relies on duct tape to maintain a pressure seal, but I didn’t have a choice. At least the higher pressure would be on the outside so the tape would be pushed against the hole.

“Think that’ll do it?” Dale asked.

“We’ll know in a minute. Take us up to Artemis Standard.”

Dale tapped his arm controls. Of course Bob’s rover could be controlled remotely. If it was a luxury feature, Bob’s rover had it.

Fresh air echoed down the inflatable tunnel, and my ears popped with the slight pressure change.

I watched the can intently. The tape over the hole bowed in slightly, but otherwise held. I pressed my ear to the inner hull wall.

“No alarms,” I said. I called Svoboda back.

“Yo!” said Svoboda. “Criminal Support Team ready and waiting.”

“I’m not sure I like that title,” said Dad.

“I’m about to make the inner hull cut,” I said. “Any last-minute advice, Dad?”

“Don’t get caught.”

I flipped my mask down. “Everybody’s a comedian.”

I got to cutting. The inner hull was the same as the outer hull: six centimeters of aluminum. And just like the outer hull, the cut only took a couple of minutes. This time I beveled the cut so the plug would fall outward instead of in. I didn’t have a choice on the outer hull, but as a rule I prefer flesh-boilingly hot metal to fall away from me.

I waited for the plug to finish its slow fall to the ground, then peeked inside.

The factory floor was a large hemisphere full of industrial machinery. The smelter dominated the center of the room. It stood a good ten meters tall, surrounded by pipes, power lines, and monitoring systems.

I couldn’t see the control room from my vantage point. The smelter was in the way. That wasn’t a coincidence, by the way. I picked that part of the hull specifically because it was in a blind spot. No matter how absorbed the staff might be with work, it’s unlikely that twenty-four people would all fail to notice a flaming hole in the wall.

I poked my head through the hole to get a look around. Without thinking, I put my hand on the edge for balance.

“Fuck!” I snapped my hand back and shook it.

“Welding torches make things hot,” Dale said.

I grimaced and checked for damage. My palm was a little red but it would be fine.

“You all right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I just wish you hadn’t seen me do that.”

“We saw it too!” said Svoboda’s voice.

“Super,” I said. “And on that note, I’m hanging up. I’ll let you know when the deed is done.”

I cut the connection.

I stepped through the opening, being very sure not to touch the edges again. Dale handed my duffel through. But when I tried to take it, he held on.

“You know,” he said. “This hole isn’t big enough for me to get through with my EVA suit on. If something goes wrong, I won’t be able to help you.”

“I know,” I said.

“Be careful.”

I nodded and pulled the duffel away. He watched from the hole while I snuck over to the smelter.

The unit itself wasn’t much to look at. Just a big block with heavy metal pipes leading in and out. A bucket conveyor rose through a hole in the floor and fed anorthite grit to a hopper atop the smelter. Inside, a maelstrom of heat, electricity, and chemistry turned rocks into metals. But the outside was calm, slightly warm to the touch, and had a gentle hum.

I sat on the ground and peeked around the corner.

The control room looked out over the facility. Through the large glass windows I could see the staff going about their workday. Some sat at computers while others walked about with tablets. The entire back wall was covered with monitors showing every detail of the facility and its process.

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