With concentration furrowing his brow, Throttle rummaged around his olive-drab knapsack. A moment later, his expression changed to a triumphant smile as he pulled out a small contraption. It was an oblong metal box about the size of a shoebox, with a knob and a speaker hole on one end. As the rest of the Tin Can Society gathered round to look, Throttle removed the lid and showed everyone the riot of wires, capacitors, resistors, and tubes inside.
“What is it?” Phillip asked.
“It’s a sound-effects generator,” Throttle responded with pride. “I made it myself from a kit. It can make a whole bunch of sounds using this dial here.” He pointed to the far end of the warehouse in which they were hiding. “I’ll sneak out the back and around the corner, and turn this on to make it sound like someone is coming. That will make the robots come to investigate. And when they’re out of sight, you can run out to the warehouse where they’re holding Mister Finchley and free him.”
“Perfect,” said Dominic. “Just don’t get caught.”
Throttle nodded so vigorously that his helmet’s visor fell down. “Once I turn on the machine, I’ll run back around and meet you in there,” he said, his voice muffled by the plastic helmet.
“I’ve got picks and cutters in case that door is locked,” piped up Ham, the Society’s resident scrounger.
“Good thinking,” said Dominic, patting Ham on the shoulder. “Then we’ve got everything we need. Ready?”
The six members of the Tin Can Society looked at each other, eagerness shining in their eyes. “The Tin Can Society forever!” they whispered in unison.
Throttle picked up his bag and took off through the darkened maze of the warehouse as the others raised their heads just enough to peek through the dirty window overlooking the guarded entrance to the adjacent warehouse. The two squat, metal robot guards were still there, unmoving yet ominous.
A few moments later, sounds could be heard from around the other side of the warehouse where the Society was hiding. At first the sounds were barely audible, but gradually they got louder: the crump crump crump of heavy boots accompanied by random clanks and thumps, like people bumping into the pipes and barrels scattered haphazardly throughout the empty rail yard.
The robots suddenly came alive, their opaque domes turning toward the sound and their claws twisting into a menacing position. As the sounds got louder, fooling the robots into thinking that an army was about to march around the corner any second, they wobbled as their stiff legs began to move. Together, the two robots waddled slowly toward the sound to confront the “invaders.”
Seeing this through the window, Dominic and the others turned to each other and smiled in victory. The plan was working! They watched as the twin robots disappeared out of sight around the corner.
“Now!” Dominic whispered, and the five of them sprang up and ran out the door through which they had come and ran right around to where the robots had been standing. Ham was already pulling out his pocket kit of lock picks. As the others kept a nervous watch over their shoulders, he made short work of the lock. As quickly as they could without making much noise, they opened the warehouse door.
“Rodney, you keep an eye out for the robots.” Rodney nodded. Once the others ran into the warehouse, Rodney stood behind the partially closed door and peeked his head around to keep watch.
“Mister Finchley?” Dominic called out quietly.
“Over here,” a voice echoed through the dark, musty hall. “Who is that?”
“It’s the Tin Can Society,” Dominic replied as they ran toward the sound of Mr. Finchley’s voice. “We’re here to rescue you.”
They found Mr. Finchley in the middle of the room, tied to a metal chair. Ham immediately knelt down and started to work on the ropes holding Mr. Finchley’s hands behind the back of the chair.
“How did you find me, kids?” asked Mr. Finchley.
“We found the clue you left in your hotel room,” said Dominic.
“Good work,” replied Mr. Finchley as Ham finished cutting through the ropes holding his arms. Mr. Finchley rubbed his wrists. “Thanks, Ham.”
“You’re welcome, sir.” Mr. Finchley stood and shook his hand.
“Listen, you have to move fast. Reichelmann — that’s the name of the guy who kidnapped me — knows that you took the film. He figured out that you must have a hideout in the park and he’s on his way to get it with one of his robots. He only has three of them.”
“We just sent two of them on a wild-goose chase,” Dominic said. “But it won’t be long before they figure out that it was a distraction and come back here.” The four Society members and Mr. Finchley headed quickly back to the warehouse entrance. “So who is this Reichelmann fellow?” Dominic asked.
“He’s a German rocket scientist who came here after the war,” said Mr. Finchley. “He worked on the Halo reconnaissance satellite project. But then he got recruited by the other side to steal secrets. If he can get that film to them, they’ll be able to learn everything about the cameras we use.”
Suddenly, they saw Rodney and Throttle running toward them. “The robots are coming back!” said Rodney, pointing over his shoulder. “Come on, let’s go!” Everyone sprinted toward the door and out as the robots rounded the far corner of the adjacent warehouse. They were too slow to catch the escaping group, so instead they fired a volley of rockets toward them. The rockets hissed smoke trails as they peppered the wall behind the fleeing kids and Mr. Finchley. They rounded the corner safely and kept running out of the rail yard to their bikes.
“You kids get to the park and grab the film. One of you should go to the police station and tell them what’s going on. I’ll get to a pay phone and send the Army detachment to the park so they can capture Reichelmann.”
“I’ll volunteer to go to the police station,” said Debbie. “I’m the fastest.”
“My house is on the way to Stonegood Park,” said Phillip. “I’ll swing by there to pick up my gear. We might need it.”
“Good thinking, everyone,” said Dominic. “Let’s go!” As The Tin Can Society mounted their bikes, they felt like a squad of cavalrymen saddling up to ride shoulder-to-shoulder into battle — which, in a sense, was just what they were doing.
* * *
At that moment, in peaceful Stratton, another group of kids was also riding their bikes, but unlike the Tin Can Society these kids rode quietly, steadily, with expressions of grim determination on their faces. It was the Radio Boys, heading to Stonegood Park to carry out their plans to raid the Society’s secret stash. Their bikes’ front baskets and rear racks were loaded with bags and boxes — all the instruments of war needed for their aerial invasion. But unknown to them, they weren’t the only ones heading to the park . . .
* * *
What battle looms for the various forces converging on Stonegood Park? Will the Tin Can Society be able to keep the satellite film out of the clutches of the evil traitor Reichelmann and also protect their treasury from the invading Radio Boys? Will the Army and the police get there in time to capture Reichelmann and his powerful robot? All these questions will be answered next time, in the thrilling conclusion to The Tin Can Society!