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   Chapter 20 No.20

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5035

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


"Are you going to kill me?" Nita asked.

"Not necessarily, " Lil said. "All depends on how good of a job you do."

"Am I a prisoner?"

"Of course not. You're a greenhorn, " Coop said.

"Ms. Graus, what you need to understand is this. You grew up in Caldera. I can't speak for your upbringing, save to say it had to be a darn sight better than ours. Things out here… well, they're rough. We run ourselves on a shoestring, and not just because it's all we can afford, because it's all we can get. A bad bit of weather puts us more than a day behind, and we start going hungry. A piece of equipment fails, and we can't be sure we'll make it at all. What we have on board is enough fuel and supplies to get five humans and Wink to the next port without much room to wiggle. And what we have right now is one human too many. I can get us through, all of us through, on what we've got, but only just. And only if everything goes right that can go right, and nothing at all goes wrong. That means if you show yourself to be a liability in even the smallest way, you aren't just a nuisance, you're a threat to our lives and our livelihoods. I can't allow that, not on my ship."

"How many times have you taken someone on board like this?"

"Oh, what is it now… seven? Including Nita here?" Coop said.

"No, no. It's nine, right? There was that couple who wanted to go from Westrim to Circa, and we got blown off course, " Lil said.

"Right, right. Nine then."

"And how many have made it?"

"Well,

dn't decided to kill her yet, the relationship wasn't likely to be a strong one. So she took her seat and shakily spooned up more of the stew.

"We're planning a straight shot to Keystone. The trip's just shy of fifty hours, if we keep this speed. Once there we'll unload our goods, resupply, and I'll see if I can get you a face-to-face chat with our supplier down in the fug."

"So we'll only be in the air for two days?" Nita said. "Surely anyone can avoid being a liability for just two days."

"Like I said, Ms. Graus. You're not going home for a month."

"But you could leave me in Keystone until it is time to take me home."

The captain gave a grim chuckle and took a sip of his ale. "You don't know Keystone. Leaving you there isn't much better than heaving you overboard. As I was saying. We ain't never got ourselves any medicine, not real stuff like that. Most folks have to go down there in the fug to get anything from their doctors, but with Ms. Graus, that might be different."

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