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   Chapter 12 No.12

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5417

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

The crew snapped to his commands, and he strode quickly toward the steps down from the upper tier without waiting for an answer from Nita. In her years at the steamworks, she'd worked under enough different foremen and supervisors to know that it didn't do you any good to illustrate an inability to follow directions as a first impression. She didn't know enough about this captain to know what kind of man he was, so it was best to stay on his good side. He walked along the swaying deck with nary a stutter or a stumble, as though he didn't even notice the way it pitched and rolled with the breeze. Nita didn't even try to follow him directly, resorting instead to the same roundabout path that she'd taken to reach him, one that gave her uninterrupted contact with a railing or strut.

Nita reached the stairs and found the captain standing in a doorway at the bottom of another staircase, this one leading back toward the top tier of the deck and providing access to the ship's interior beneath it. When she caught up with him, he turned and led her down a short hallway to a door emblazoned with a plaque that read Captain's Quarters. The captain pushed open the door to what Nita expected to be the grandest room on the ship. Though they had no airships, Caldera had glorious and well-appointed seagoing vessels. As a Graus she'd often been offered a place at the captain's table during mealtimes and had been given the ship's tour on the flagship of the Calderan fleet. On each of those ships the captain's quarters had been a place large enough and comfortable enough to match a room one might find on solid land.

to act. This is all idle musing, mind you. Just for the sake of for instance and such. Here's the way I see it. I run a floating black market, so I'm clearly not an angel. A wealthy heiress falls into my lap. Seems to me like a nice healthy ransom would be in order."

Nita stiffened in her seat.

"Most of the folk in my line wouldn't think twice about it. Hell, if I were ten years younger, I might have tried it myself, but those guns round the border would make it a mite tricky to deliver the demand, and I'm just not up to the effort. No, ma'am, ransom isn't what I've got in mind. The easiest thing to do would be to kill you, keep what's worth keeping from that bag of yours, and heave the rest in the sea, you along with it." He picked up the coil box. "This here? A lot of men have spilled a lot of blood for a lot less, and as I understand it, this isn't the half of it. You want my honest opinion, Ms. Graus? I don't see a lot of ways this comes out right for you. What's to keep me from just picking these boxes apart and not giving your medicine no never mind?"

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