Alice Guppy freed her hair from the olive newsboy cap that had concealed it, then held the diamond up admiringly. Emily would be pleased. The theft went well, and Jack hadn't even been useful in his unique way.
As they approached the Hub, a rotten stench filled Alice's nostrils. Vermillion vapor rose from their warehouse's roof. Alice blanched and ran full out, Jack following behind.
The door opened with a cloud of gas; Gaskell helped George Herbert limp outside.
After long seconds, Emily exited, then shut and locked the door. Alice almost cried out her relief.
"Do compose yourself, Miss Guppy," Emily said. "We're safe."
George Herbert, his hand stained carmine by a bleeding gash in his side, reached eagerly for Alice's. "That's our diamond?"
"Sure is," Jack answered. "Where'd the fuel spill? You probably won't get to install that any time soon."
"Nonsense, Captain." Emily sniffed dismissively. "After Mr. Sanderson's wound is treated and the smoke clears, we shall test the air and resume the stardrive's repairs."
"You think so?" Jack pointed; the gas expanded into fuller mustard-tinged clouds. "Where'd it spill?"
Emily irritably folded her arms. "The floor."
"Shame. The water would've rendered it inert, but on the floor, it'll vaporize for weeks."
"Your point, Captain? You'll clean it up."
"Ever see what kolokine-5 does when you light it? Or even just—" He scraped his boot heel against the pavement. "Another hour of dispersal, add enough friction like someone coming to clean, and boom! No more Hub."
Gaskell glared at Jack. "Why didn't you warn us?"
"You never asked."
Alice grabbed Jack's shoulder, ready to punch. "Tell us how to fix it!"
"Now, now," Emily chided. "Don't break his jaw today, Miss Guppy."
"We'll lose everything if we flood the Hub," Gaskell said. "Is Cardiff safe?"
Jack nodded. "Yeah, but you're out of there for a couple months."
"Oh!" George Herbert's voice rose, alarmed. "Our clothes, our skin!"
"Yep, better get naked and wet fast," Jack said. He leered at Gaskell until Alice slapped him. "Ow! I'm serious! You'll burn up if you don't wash off."
Emily pursed her lips and nodded once. "Very well. We'll find accommodations with bathing facilities, swiftly, and I'll telegram London."
"Oooh, holiday in London! The Savoy—"
"Jack," Alice warned.
"Fine, okay, Stone Quarter Inn? Your informants spied on me there."
"It'll do," said Emily. "Mr. Gaskell, please assist Mr. Sanderson. I won't have Captain Harkness molesting him."
"Hey! I don't molest the unwilling!"
Alice rolled her eyes. She stood back with Emily while the men walked on, and Emily gazed at her. When Emily held out her hand, Alice passed the diamond to her. Valuables belonged with their leader, and Emily kept them well.
"Your newsboy disguise is quite fetching, Miss Guppy," said Emily.
"Why thank you, Miss Holroyd. Want any help getting clean?"
"I'd appreciate your deft touch."
They smirked. Alice replaced her cap and offered Emily her arm. "Allow me."
Arms linked, they walked along to their temporary quarters, together.