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   Chapter 16 No.16

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5487

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

The immediate result was a torrent of foreign words spewed forth with an agitation and bitterness that transcended language. Butch turned around, clattering spoons and slamming lids on pots, and marched through the gate in the half wall without so much as a breath interrupting her incomprehensible tirade. She was sixty years old at least, and her voice was a coarse shriek that sounded at least twenty years older than that. She was heavy, with bulldog jowls and deep lines on her face, and dressed entirely in white, from the kerchief that held back her white hair to the simple white shoes on her feet. Covering her white dress was a lightly stained smock.

Her angry rant came to an end as suddenly as it started, and she stared expectantly at Nita.

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand, " Nita said.

"She wants to know your name. She also said a great deal of very colorful words about people who interrupt her cooking, but it wasn't really relevant to the subject at hand, and I'd rather get through this quickly, " Gunner explained.

"I'm Amanita Graus."

"Glinda West, " said the woman, followed by what Nita hoped was a foreign pleasantry of some kind.

"West? Are you the captain's sister?"

"Ex-wife, " Gunner said.

"Oh. Pleased to meet you, " Nita said, holding out her hand.

Again there was a brief rant with a greater than usual amount of hand waving.

"Butch has a strict clean-hand policy. No handshakes."

"Oh, very well, " she said, offering a curtsy, or as near as she could offer without wearing an actual dress.

Butch seemed mollified and offered a short statement that was, for once, not screeched l

as like an armory, or perhaps a museum of the history of warfare. It had almost as much gleaming cutlery secured to the walls as the kitchen. Swords, daggers, and knives were joined by flintlock pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, a multibarreled contraption with a crank on the side, and some sort of tube that she would have guessed was a musical instrument if not for the company it kept.

"Assorted firearms, bladed weapons, and bludgeons. Some precataclysm antiques, some original creations, all fully restored and functional."

Nita watched as a particularly strong shift of the ship jostled the wall-mounted portion of the collection, much of which was directly over his hammock.

"Aren't you afraid something might fall on you?"

"It only happened once, and the scar is barely noticeable. I still contend that Coop was playing with my cutlass and didn't return it to its mounting properly." He cut himself off, shaking his head and chastising himself under his breath. "Never mind. Doesn't matter. Waste of time. Onward to deck three, which is more or less our utility deck."

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