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   Chapter 24 No.24

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 4358

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"Direct hit! Gunner, Lil, back on deck, now!"

Just like that, the battle was over, though not without its costs. The turbines above were sputtering and out of rhythm. The largely intact wailer craft lay splayed across most of the central stretch of deck, its envelope now dangling from a single line and leaking a stream of green vapor, its steam fans grinding. Before the fiery rush of battle could fully subside, Nita hurried to Coop to help him to his feet.

"That was quite a shot, Coop, " Nita said. "Are you all right?"

"Been worse, ma'am, " he said, handing over his rifle and investigating the gash on his arm. It was shallow but long, and bleeding copiously. "Dang it. This here's my favorite shirt. My favorite arm too."

Lil appeared from below decks and ran to her brother's side. "Big brother, move your fingers for me. Come on now."

"I'm fine, Lil. Nita and I held the deck just fine."

"You all right, Nita?" Lil asked, looking her new crewmate up and down.

"I think so. A little bruised, but nothing serious."

"You handled yourself pretty good, I'd say. I knew you wouldn't end up going over the side. And you didn't turn green even once while you were up here."

"Turn green? From what?" Nita asked. She looked about, then locked her eyes on the horizon. "Oh… oh dear

as she wasn't sure how long her scolded stomach would remain obedient, and she was in no hurry to put it to the test again.

"Six more damaged planks. One will need to be replaced, " he remarked. He turned to her. "You handled yourself rather well."

"Don't talk to me, " she growled.

"Have I done something wrong?"

"You wanted to throw me over the side not two hours ago."

"Ah, that. I can see how that might strain our working relationship a tad."

"A tad, yes. These three barrels went over the side. What were they?"

"Rain water. Might be a problem, but not an immediate one. At any rate, I'm what you might call a pragmatist."

"No, you're what I might call an ass."

He looked up. "I don't like the way that bit of rigging is fastened. We'll need to get Lil up there to take a closer look. This is still your first time in the air, Nita, "

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