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   Chapter 31 No.31

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5724

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"Aw, you get used to it. You can get used to pretty near anything. Speakin' of which, how are you liking life on the ship? Getting the swing of it?"

"I think I'll be able to manage it for as long as I have to."

"I can tell you, it's great having another girl my age on board. Or just about, anyway. Being on the ship with a bunch of other men can wear on you. And there isn't a looker among them. 'Cept maybe my brother, but regardless of what you heard, us folk from Westrim don't date inside the family."

"I actually haven't heard much of anything about Westrim."

"Well, it's just as well. Pack of lies, the lot of it. Well, the bit about us being the best drinkers and the best fighters is the God's honest, but the rest is malarkey and hogwash."

"I'll keep that in mind. How did you end up on a ship like this?"

"Not much of a story, really. Coop and I were from one of the flat-tops, you know, down in the south tip of…" She glanced to Nita, then smiled. "Oh, I forgot. You're not from around there. Well, the folks who settled the west side of Rim just called it Westrim. Not a real imaginative lot, I guess. There's some mountains down south with pretty flat tops, you know. They got a real name, I guess, but we just called them the flat-tops.

"Anyway, Coop and I raised goats there. I don't know what sort of meat you get down in Caldera, but around here you either get goat, sheep, or if you're real rich, you can get some beef from down on the plateaus. We were raising goats because they do good on the steep parts of the mountains. Problem was, we were pretty far down the slope, closer to the fug than we probably should've been. Along came a storm one day, kicked up the fug real g

e again muse over the remarkable way that the absurdity of this adventure was so effective at overshadowing the constant danger.

Chapter 9

After some initial difficulty, Nita got the knack of sewing while dangling from a hastily tied harness high over a deck that was itself high over the ground. Wink never seemed to show the same urgent agitation again, so she wasn't required to develop her punk-intimidation skills, a fact that left her both relieved and strangely disappointed.

She climbed back to the deck, Wink shadowing her as always, and made ready to join Lil in the boiler room. Her own experiences with cleaning boilers probably didn't have much in common with those on a ship. The steamworks boilers were large enough for a three-person team to climb into and had to be hoisted away from the heat of the volcano with building-sized winches. Even on the smaller scale of the ship, it was bound to be terribly unpleasant. She was heading for the nearest ladder below decks when something caught her eye. In one of the crates of wailer ship parts rested a pipe connection. She picked it up and turned it over in her hands.

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