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   Chapter 11 No.11

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5586

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"You're gonna want to hang onto something, " Lil said. "Coop's just about got the last line loose, and then comes the big swing."

Nita steadied herself against one of the support struts that ran up to the gas bladder, and not a moment too soon. When a mooring line came loose, the whole of the vessel lurched away from it, swinging like a pendulum. The fans rattled to life, righting the ship against the remaining line, which the other deck worker released a moment later, prompting a second and far more ponderous swing. The tempo of the fans quickened into a steady buzz, and the ropes above her creaked and whined with the ship's acceleration. Stone spires passed by near enough to spit on, and then the world around them pitched hard to the side as the airship took a sharp turn. Nita's knees almost gave out when she turned to the left and received an unobscured view of the ocean, the angle of the deck so sharp that she felt sure she and everyone else should be tumbling off.

The turn tapered off and the ship righted itself, but Nita was reluctant to release her grip. Everything around her still seemed to pitch and roll in a stomach-turning way. Lil continued toward the steps leading up to the upper tier, then turned when she realized Nita wasn't following her.

"Come on, the cap'n's up at the fore end. What are you waiting for?"

"I'm waiting for the ship to settle a bit, " Nita said, deciding to leave out the bit about waiting for her stomach to do the same.

Lil smirked. "Ship's as settled as it's gonna get until we're tied to something solid again. You'll get used to it pretty quick if you stick around long enough. Or you'll go overboard,

lmost candylike scent. While his crew so far had all run on the thin side, he was overall thicker and more intimidating, not portly or muscle-bound, just broader in his chest, arms, and legs.

"Cap'n Mack, Amanita Graus. Nita, this is Cap'n Mack, " Lil said.

The captain turned to Nita and gave her a measuring look. "Let's see the trith." He spoke out of the side of his mouth rather than sparing a hand for long enough to take the cigar away, and his voice was rough enough to make it clear that this wasn't his first cigar. It probably wasn't even in the first thousand.

She pulled the exposed coil box out of its pouch and held it out to him. He glanced down to it, then back to her eyes, not a flicker of a change in his expression to suggest what might be going through his mind. When he held out his hand, she placed the box in it.

The captain inspected it for few moments. "Gunner, get over here and take the wheel. Lil, go handle packing up the mooring lines. Ms. Graus, this way please, " said the captain. Despite the presence of the word "please, " all three statements were clearly orders.

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