“Fuck!” Victoria spat.
“Language, *click* Ma’am *click*,” 0sc4r fussed.
“I could still get them out,” Beth reasoned, “If we could get a message to them, tell them where to meet us, I could land in some farmer’s back field and be off before anyone knew.”
“No,” Victoria said rubbing her temples. She had just finally been getting to sleep, “If you’re even spotted once, we’ve tipped our hand that we have an airship in play in Italy. We have to keep them ignorant of that if nothing else. A single spy in Milan doesn’t cripple us, discovery of this ship would.”
“I won’t be seen. I can do it Vic.”
“No. I’m sorry, I’m can’t risk it. We have to think of another way.”
The two sat in Victoria’s cabin for awhile in silence, thinking of ways to salvage the plan. Victoria had expected something to go wrong at some point, and she had prepared many contingencies for these hurdles, but she had never expected the plan to fall to pieces before she’d even arrived in Italy. Without a German speaking double agent, how could she get a seat at the table. She looked at 0sc4r.
“0sc4r,” she queried, “You speak German don’t you?”
“Naturlich *click* Meine Dame *click*,” he said, Victoria was sure smugly. He had been built in Switzerland and was tuned to speak German, French, or English as the need arose.
“That won’t do,” Beth shook her head, “Germans trust their automata more than brits, but even they wouldn’t use one as political liaison.”
“What other option do we have? Turn back with tail twixt our legs? I won’t have it,” Victoria rose and paced the small room for a moment, “ I need an alternative. Not even a good one, just something I can work with.”
Beth leaned forward, hands on her knees and fingers steepled.
“Maybe we can use 0sc4r. Not as our fake envoy, but as the envoy’s aid. What we need is somebody 0sc4r can coach through the meetings,” Beth mused.
Victoria paused an looked out the window. “Who do we have on board who can speak passable German and Italian?”
Issac opened the door of the workshop and was immediately struck by the odor of the fumes.
“Ahem,” Issac coughed, “I was told to come down here…”
“Rippah, by who?” said the bearded aussie, coming around the corner, in the midsts of removing his gas mask. Issac froze.
“Is…is it quite safe in here?” Issac asked.
“Oif coorse it is, mate. Now who sen’ ya?”
“The…the quartermaster said that you might have some…a few…alcohol, sir.”
“Ah! Oveh here,” the bombardier turned round the corner, and Issac followed. Bombardier O’Reilly moved a contraption of some sort, revealing a still. He blew the dust out of a beaker and handed it to Issac.
“Thank you,” Issac took the beaker and filled it to the brim.
O’Reilly tilted his head, “Rough day, eh?”
“Very,” Issac said taking a long drink.
“Yoor that MI blow in from Lundun, roight?”
Issac took another long drink, “Yes, sir, that’s me.”
“An’ woit’s eatin’ ya, mate?” O’Reilly pulled a bulb shaped flask off a shelf and filled it with contraband liquor.
Issac paused, “I am not soldier.”
“Most ain’t. That oill ya got?” O’Reilly took a drink himself.
“I am not a soldier, sir,” Issac said again, “I am a mathematician for god’s sake.”
“Still ain’t folloiwin’ ya, prof,” O’Reilly refilled the small flask, “Ya work for Intelligence, yea?”
“Yes, for the last two years,” Issac conceded, finishing his drink.
“Then in Lundun, oin a ship? Whoit’s the hullabaloo?” O’Reilly took Issac’s beaker and set it back on the shelf. Issac noticed that he had neither washed or rinsed it, but decided not to press the issue.
“The difference being,” Issac muttered quietly, “My desk in London is not flying many hundreds of feet in the air above the jagged rocks of the Alps, nor is it within striking range of the Kaiser’s airborne fleet.”
“Oh shure et is,” O’Reilly chortled.
Issac blinked, “I beg your pardon?”
“We spotted at least three attack squadron’s o’er Denmark could hit Lundun iffn it came to et,” O’Reilly mused.
“Oh?” Issac said softly, “That doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“It shouldn’t, mate,” O’Reilly finished his second flask of not-quite-gin-but-trying and set the glass down on the same shelf as the beaker. “Et’s my experience that nobody’s really safe no matter where you put ‘em,” a pained look flashed across his face, quickly replaced by a new grin, but Issac could tell this one wasn’t a totally sincere grin.
“I’m not used to outright danger, sir. I fear I lack the constitution to perform in these circumstances.”
“You saying you could iffin’ they were different?” O’Reilly asked.
“Of course. In my own office, with my pipe and the quiet to think, I’m sure I could do it. But a mile in the air, with the constant hum of engines an unending reminder that but for a spanner dropped into an engine I might be falling to a grisly death? I honestly don’t know how anyone works like this.”
“Roight…I fink I just might have it then,” O’Reilly mused. He ducked behind a workbench, pulling out box after box from beneath it and sifting through each one. He made a grunt of approval at one box, but kept searching for another full minute before coming back up to Issac’s level. He held out two items for Issac’s inspection.
“Wax?” Issac said confused.
“An’ this little boon-doggle is for your pipe. Should keep things alright with regards to fiery explosions. Go to your quarters, tell whoever you’re bunking wif that I said it was ace, put a bit o’ this in the ears and light up your pipe in privacy. Pretend you’re back in Lundun if you loike.”
“That’s…that’s very kind of you, Mr….,” Issac paused.
“O’Reilly. You c’n call me Garrett if you loike, when we’re not on the job,” Garrett smiled and pressed the two items into Issac’s hand, “Now rack off! I got bombs to make.”