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Dale flipped a switch in the center column to give my side priority. No argument, no questions, he just did it. EVA masters are very good at being rational in a crisis.

I threw the rover into reverse and backed up four meters.

“Wrong way,” Sanchez said.

“Shut up!” I turned toward the angled rock and put the rover into drive. “Hang on to something.”

She and Dale gripped each other. I threw the throttle to full.

We lunged at the rock. I steered the right front wheel over it and the whole rover bounced up at an angle. We hit the ground on the rover’s left side and rolled. We gave that roll cage a workout. The cabin was like a tumble dryer—I tried not to puke.

Here’s what I thought would happen: The inflatable would get all twisted up, which it wasn’t designed to handle, so it would rip. Then I’d use reverse and forward motions to grow the rip all the way around. Then we’d be free.

Here’s what actually happened: The inflatable took it like a champ. It was designed to have human occupants, so by God it would protect them no matter what. It didn’t rip. But the connection point to the rover airlock wasn’t as strong. The torsion from the twist sheared the bolts clean off.

The air inside the tunnel explosively burst forth, blowing the rover farther forward (note: lunar rovers aren’t designed to be aerodynamic). We skidded on our side for another meter, then fell ponderously onto our wheels.

We were free.

“Holy shit!” Dale said. “That was genius!”

“Uh, yeah.” I drove us away.


The muted rumble lasted a fraction of a second. It was one of those sounds you feel more than hear.

“That was loud,” Sanchez said.

“No, it wasn’t.” Dale pried her arms off his shoulders. “I could barely hear it.”

“She’s right.” I kept my eyes on the terrain ahead as I drove. “That sound traveled through loose soil, up through the wheels, and into the cabin. The fact that we heard anything at all means it was loud as hell.”

I checked the rear camera feed. The bubble was intact, of course. It would take something nuclear to crack that open. The surprising part was my air shelter. It was right where I’d left it.

I slammed on the brakes. “Holy crap! You see that! My weld held up against the explosion!”

Sanchez scowled. “Pardon me if I don’t pat you on the back.”

“Seriously?” said Dale. “You’re going to brag right now?”

“I’m just sayin’. Hell of a weld.”

“Goddammit, Jazz.” He flipped the control switch back to his side.

He drove us back toward town. “You should call Svoboda and your dad to let him know you’re okay.”

“And you should call a lawyer,” said Sanchez. “I’ll see to it you get deported to Brazil to face charges.”

“Think so?” I pulled out my Gizmo and called Svoboda. He didn’t answer—it went to voicemail.

“Uh-oh,” I said.

“Problem?” Dale asked.

“Svobo’s not answering.” I called again. Voicemail again.

“Maybe someone got to him?” Dale said.

I turned to Sanchez. “You got any more goons in Artemis?”

“I see no reason to cooperate with you.”

“Don’t fuck with me on this. If my dad or friend gets hurt I’ll send you back to Brazil a piece at a time.”

“I don’t have ‘goons’ at all. Those types don’t answer to me.”

“Bullshit,” I said. “Your nose is so far up O Palácio’s ass you can see teeth.”

She scowled. “They’re the ownership. I’m not one of them.”

“You’re partners!”

“The bottom fell out of the aluminum market when Artemis stopped building new bubbles. I needed funds to continue. They offered rescue financing. I took it. They do their thing and stay out of my way while I run my smelter. A smelter I poured my life and soul into, which you just destroyed, you reckless puddle of exudate!”

“Don’t think I won’t look that up!”

I dialed Dad’s number and held the Gizmo to my ear. Each successive unanswered ring raised my blood pressure.

“No answer from Dad.” I drummed my fingers on the control console.

Dale drove with one hand and pulled out his Gizmo. “Try Lene, I’ll try Bob.”

I called Lene’s number. It rang and rang. I hung up when it went to voicemail. “Nothing,” I said.

“Bob’s not answering either,” Dale said.

We exchanged nervous glances.

“Maybe Rudy caught wind of it and arrested everyone….” I pondered. I hovered my thumbs over the Gizmo and pursed my lips. Calling the police in the middle of a heist wasn’t the best plan. Logically I should have waited until we were back in town—they’d be just as arrested then. But I couldn’t wait.

I called his number. Four rings and out. I hung up.

“Jesus,” I said.

“Seriously?!” Dale said. “Even Rudy’s not answering? What the hell’s going on?”

Sanchez pulled out her own Gizmo and tapped at the screen.

“Hey!” I grabbed at her Gizmo, but she pulled it away before I could get it. “Gimme that!”

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