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   Chapter 25 No.25

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5177

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


"You'll call me Ms. Graus until I say otherwise."

"Very well, Ms. Graus. The sun hasn't even set on your first day, and we've already been attacked. I don't know what sort of people you've encountered in your short life, but how many would you say could manage to function in conditions such as these?"

"Not many, " she grudgingly admitted. "This pipe here is pierced."

"That's one of the captain's speaking tubes. Nonessential. Crewing an airship is a lifetime commitment, which isn't to say it is a very long one. Survival is rare and comes only at the cost of some very unpleasant decisions. We are alive because we've known when to cut our losses and trim the finger to save the hand." He held up his three-fingered right hand. "Literally in my case. And trust me when I say that losing a crewmate is no more pleasant than losing a finger. I'd rather cull the herd early than lose someone I've had time to know and work with."

"If telling me that advising my murder was motivated by your desire to avoid heartache in the long run is supposed to improve my opinion of you, it didn't work."

"So be it. I'd think twice about how you choose to direct your spite, though. Your life and livelihood still rely upon you doing a good job."

"I always take my job seriously, Gunner, even when my life isn't on the line. What's that up there?"

He looked where she was pointing. A very faint but unmistakable stream of green vapor sprayed out of the center of a patch on the envelope overhead.

"Bad news. Very bad news. Captain! One of th

"Well, the room is still intact, and nothing seems scorched, so the primary workings are probably in good shape. All of that sharp maneuvering probably just put a bit of stress on the joints and ruptured a few."

"What difference does that make? The boiler is broken."

"Yes, so I'd imagine we should get to work fixing it."

"We don't fix boilers, Ms. Graus. We feed them, water them, blow out the brine, and replace valves. Only the fug folk fix boilers."

"I thought you were the ship's engineer."

"This ship doesn't have an engineer, " he said incredulously. "No ship has an engineer. The fug folk don't leave the fug for the likes of us."

"Do you mean to tell me that the fug folk are the only ones who even know how to fix these boilers?"

"As I said, they are the only ones who fix the boilers, period."

"That's absurd! What do you do in situations like this?"

"We pray that situations like this don't happen, and if they do, we limp along and hope we get lucky enough to catch a tow back to the fug."

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