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   Chapter 17 No.17

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5427

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

He led the way to another ladder and brought Nita to deck three. By virtue of the shape of the ship, this deck was somewhat shorter than the one above. It was primarily an I-shaped hallway running past six rooms, three on each side, and two larger rooms at the far ends.

"The fore and aft rooms hide the workings of the cannons. The ammo hoists and such. If you're to be my assistant, you'll spend much time in there, so no need to open those doors for now."

"If you don't mind, I would love to get a look at them. I've always been fascinated with machinery."

"I was asked to show you around and introduce you. I prefer to get my orders out of the way as quickly as possible, so I can return to more worthwhile diversions, if you don't mind."

Nita eyed Gunner. Lil and Coop were kind enough at first blush to make her wonder if she'd been misinformed about the overall attitude of outsiders. Gunner seemed determined to even the balance.

"The primary powder magazine is up this way, just ahead. The secondary powder magazine is back that way. Over here is the boiler room, water tanks, and immediate fuel supply. No need to take you downstairs. Just the gig hoist and the fuel, water, and gas storage. Oh, actually, you'll find the head there as well, when nature calls. With that, I believe that fulfills my orders. All introductions, and a quick tour."

"One moment… Lil, Coop, Captain Mack, Butch, and you. That's five crewmembers. Where is the sixth?"

"Sixth? We don't… oh, Captain Mack was counting our inspector. Since he wasn't in the galley or with the captain, he'll probably be in the boiler room."

ithout taking its eye off her. Nita took a step back, not sure what to make of it, but quite sure she didn't want to be touched by it.

"What is that?" Nita asked.

"That's our ship's inspector, Wink. The fug folk require at least one of them to accompany every ship. They tap along the planks looking for wood grubs, which we can pick up from time to time when we make landfall. They're also trained to identify and mark planks that are succumbing to rot. Mack says this ship would have fallen apart years ago without Wink here, so he usually considers him a crewmember. Rather silly sentiment, if you ask me, but captains all have their quirks."

"But what manner of creature is it?"

"Some sort of jungle creature. They come from an island on the far side of Rim. At least that's where they came from. Now they mostly come from the fug, and who knows how the fug folk get them. Enough of that, though. The captain's order is followed to the letter. I've got to rest up for my watch. Get yourself sorted out. I suppose I'll figure out what to do with you in a few hours."

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