The Daredevil Pilot
Kate drew her pistol out and aimed right back at him, and Reggie fumbled out his little double derringer. Dr. Scott looked worriedly back and forth at all their faces.
“Your weapons are useless,” Clem said. “I took the liberty of unloading them while you slept.”
Kate and Reggie exchanged a meaningful glance.
“As long as you have us,” Kate said, “at least give us an explanation for why you’re doing this. You owe us that much.”
“I owe you nothing. The secret must be kept, you see.”
“Yeah, we figured you’d say that,” Kate said. “But that’s okay. We already know everything: you’re a member of a secret society called the Terra Arcanum and you’re sworn to protecting the secret of the Hollow Earth.”
Clem’s eyes went wide is surprise. “What—how could you—?”
“We found the information on the Terra Arcanum in the file I took from the Nazi headquarters,” Dr. Scott said. “You remember that file, I’m sure. You tried so hard to get us to leave it behind, after all.”
“After we passed that file around,” Kate explained. “All your actions started to make sense. How Scrumtumbler suddenly disappeared. How you were the only one left behind. How much you knew about the Nazi plans and the way you used us to get inside their headquarters.”
“And don’t forget how you burned down Dr. Scott’s research books,” Reggie added. “Yeah, we know about that, too.”
“Yes,” Dr. Scott added, an uncharacteristic flash of anger in his eyes. “Yes, we most certainly will not forget about the burning of my research.”
“Well, I must congratulate you,” Clem said crisply. “You’ve done a cracking good job of figuring me out. But by learning this much, you have signed your own death warrants.”
He pulled the trigger. There was a loud snap, but nothing else. He pulled the trigger again. Still nothing. Frantically, he dry-fired his gun a half dozen times, but got no result.
“Oh, one thing we forgot to mention,” Reggie said. “We kept a close eye on you ever since reading that file. When I noticed that you were secretly unloading our guns, we secretly unloaded yours.”
“And then we loaded ours back up,” Kate said, aiming the long barrel of her c96 at his heart. Without taking her eyes off of Clem, she called to Dr. Scott. “Hey, Doc, while you’re searching for the professor, how about you find some nice spot for us to push Clem through to make sure this portal actually works. Considering that he’s so keen on the Hollow Earth, maybe he wants to go take a vacation there.”
Dr. Scott gave a snappy salute, and even by the strange light emitted by the opening portal, Kate could see Clem’s face lose its color.
“But—but the secret,” Clem stammered. “The secret must be kept!”
“Here’s a secret you don’t have to keep,” Kate gave him a shove towards the portal. “You just got aced by Kate Boone, Daredevil Pilot!”