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   Chapter 9 No.9

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5152

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


She revealed one of the smaller coil boxes. Upon seeing it, Drew's eyes shot open and he snatched the box from her hand.

"Are you crazy?" he said.

"What? You said they liked trith."

"Did you say trith?" Cooper said, interest piqued.

"I said a bit of trith. A few washers or something. Not a whole coil box."

"How much you got there, ma'am?"

She snatched it back from Drew and slipped a screwdriver from her tool sash. A few deft twists loosened the face plate, which she twisted aside to reveal the purple-black spiral within. She handed the box across to Cooper. He took it, then fished in his pocket until he found a coin. Clutching the box tight in his hand, he scratched the coin against the coil, then held it up to find a neat little notch had been carved out of the coin without so much as a scratch on the coil.

"Uh, Cap'n!" he said, his voice a bit shaky. "This young lady here wants to ride along while we look for her medicine for her."

"Well, then you explain our policy regarding passengers."

"I did. She's willing to pay with trith. Got a whole box here. Feels like about half a pound."

"And there's more where that came from, " Nita said, loudly enough to be overheard.

The waves lapped against the boats as all waited for an answer.

"Did you tell her the whole passenger policy?"

"Oh, right. Forgot that other bit." He turned to Nita. "You reckon you'll be able to pitch in and all that?"

"I'll do my best."

"That ain't the question, ma'am. We all do our best. The question is, do you

cramped spaces don't leave too much room for modesty, and thing's'll be a good deal tighter with another soul on board. Looking away now, ma'am."

"Thank you, Coop."

She hurried up the final stretch of ladder and crawled through a small hatch in the belly of the ship. It was wrapped in three sides by a railing and led into a tight, dim little room that smelled strongly of gear oil and burning coal. The roof was low, barely high enough for her to stand without stooping, and the only light came from a handful of bizarre little contraptions arranged along the top edge of the wall. They looked like glass pipes with brass fittings on either end, and they gave off a weakly pulsing glow of sickly yellow-green. At either end of the room was a winch, and manning the lever beside one of them waited a young woman with more than a passing resemblance to Cooper, who was pulling himself into the ship now. In the center of the room was a much larger hatch than the one they'd climbed through, beneath which hung the boat.

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