Derek marched into the hanger as though there was nothing there to stop him. He had years of experience breaking into buildings and leaving no obvious sign behind him, and also, someone had left the roller door open.
There were men inside the hanger; but they were either the night shift about to go home, or the day shift with early morning eyes, and neither of them were prepared to stop a man who walked in looking like he knew where he was going.
Derek actually had no idea where he was going; but he knew the importance of looking like he knew.
There was an office with lights in the window and a stairs leading up to it. Derek walked up the stairs and into the office only to find that it was a break room. He grabbed a magazine to justify the side trip and read the cover article as he walked down the stairs.
He focused into the half darkness and saw some sort of console at the other end of the hangers. It was the best hope he had; but if he walked all that way and came back empty handed then it would look very strange, and the console was a long trip to the blimp as well; after he got it airborne he might not get on in time.
In reality there was no real choice; Derek walked the length of the hanger and came up to the console.
He saw to his relief that it was very simple looking; there were only a few buttons and it was unmistakably the control panel for the hanger doors. Derek looked over the panel and pressed the ‘open’ button experimentally; it didn’t work, but he hadn’t expected it to.
The only other thing on the panel apart from the buttons was a single keyhole. Derek had learnt the rudiments of lock picking, everyone in the organization did, but he didn’t know if he could really do it in time.
There was no other option; it would look too odd if he walked away from the panel and came back later. Derek pulled two pieces of wire out of his pocket and went to work.
He put the wider bit of wire into the keyhole and turned it to put pressure on the pegs. With the thinner, bent wire he felt where all the pegs were and raked it across them while turning the other wire quickly. He hadn’t done it quickly enough, and some of the pegs fell back into the lock before he finished turning it.
Ignoring the beating of his heart; Derek glanced over and saw one of the workmen on the blimp looking at him strangely.
He reinserted the thinner wire and tried again; but this time he put too much pressure on the wire and drove some of the bottom pegs too high. Derek glanced back and saw that the workman was now walking towards him.
Sweating a little; Derek put the thin wire back into the lock and raked it out again; while trying to remember all the unarmed fighting he had ever known; which wasn’t much.
To his huge surprise the keyhole made a clicking sound.
Not wasting any time; Derek punched the ‘door open’ button on the console, while thumbing the sequence he had memorized on the box in his pocket.
That done, he looked directly at the man walking towards him and nodded to an area behind him.
Even after the man had turned around Derek could still see the look of astonishment on his face.
The man ran back to the blimp as fast as he could with Derek right behind him.
Some of the workers were trying to use poles or ropes to bring the blimp back down, some of them had jumped from their scaffolding and were running for cover, some of the more experienced ones were running for the console; everyone was shouting and no one had any time to spare for the man running past them who seemed to know what he was doing.
The blimp had been too far from the console, and it had already risen quite high off the ground by the time Derek caught up with it. He ran up the scaffolding and leapt.
He caught the bottom of the cabin with one hand and tried to clamber up with the other; but there were no handholds. People were throwing lines to him and yelling for him to grab them; but he pretended he couldn’t hear them.
He glanced back at the console. There were workman there trying desperately to close the hanger doors again; but Derek had wrenched that button off before walking away. He hoped that the doors would open quickly enough.
There was a great lurch, and then a feeling of bouncing, and Derek knew he was through. He desperately tightened his grip on the underside of the cabin; the fall was getting longer and his arms were already getting tired.
There was another bar not too far from him. Derek worked up his nerve and started swinging; when his arc was big enough he reached out with his feet and hooked them round the bar. With his feet hooked he levered his body up and laid his back over the first bar.
Ignoring all the fresh air below him, Derek pretended to be comfortable and set in for a long flight. To take his mind off matters he reached for his magazine and started to read; it turned out to be about airplane crashes.