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   Chapter 21 No.21

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 4821

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


"Why's that, Cap'n?"

"She's Calderan. Two things fuggers like. Making money and finding new ways to make money. They're going to want to talk to her, to see if the time's finally come and the Calderans are ready to start opening trade with the fug folk like everyone else is. If anything'll get them to pry open the vault and let us get some of the good stuff, it's that. Hell, if we're lucky, we'll convince them to sell us enough to spread around a bit. Maybe get some worthwhile stock in the local hospitals, so we don't have to send so many people down there."

"That'd be nice. It costs an arm and a leg to get them folk to part with anything important, " Nita mused.

"Let's not get our hopes too high. Anyways, if we get lucky and the fuggers offer to sell us your medicine, Ms. Graus, then naturally you'll have to agree to pay whatever they ask. I hope you've got enough in that bag to afford a pretty dear price on top of the box of trith and the jewelry you agreed to pay us to take you there."

"I've got plenty, " she said.

"Glad to hear it. Then that's our chance to get what she wants. If the fuggers aren't so obliging, or the price is too high, then I'm afraid that's as far as we can take it. They aren't the sort to change their mind, and we haven't got the pull with them to chance getting on their bad side."

"What happens to me then?" Nita said.

"We keep you on the crew until our next trip to Caldera and

ebox, we only need four buckets an hour. Without one, we'd need to shovel the stuff pretty much without rest. Couldn't hold nearly enough coal to get this ship to Caldera and back."

"Who are these fug folk who seem to have achieved such wonders?" Nita asked, scooping some coal into her own buckets.

"They're just a bunch of these twisty folk who live down in the fug. Real smart bunch, but not the friendliest folk. Real pale skin, skinny, tall, always hunched over. Probably smelly, too, livin' down in the fug and all."

"What is the fug?"

"You really don't know much, do you?" Lil said. "The fug's this deep purple stuff that's choked out most of the lowland in Rim. Nasty stuff. Can't breathe in it for more than a minute before you stop breathin' altogether. When Cap'n goes down to buy stuff, he wears this big mask, but even with that, you can't spend more than a day or two in the stuff before… well, before it'll make you wish you hadn't."

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