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   Chapter 32 No.32

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5463

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"This… this might work."

Nita glanced around to ensure the deck was clear of any shipmates or other witnesses, then crept to the damaged floorboards and pulled them aside. She held the salvaged connector down to the broken one. It was a perfect match.

"Of course it matches, " she remarked quietly. "The fug folk make these machines, too. It makes sense they'd reuse parts."

She turned the connector over. It even had a similar amount of wear. Her mind began racing in tight circles. She had been ordered not to make repairs, but this was such a small thing. It, along with her earlier judicious manipulation of the various valves and switches, would certainly get all five of the turbines spinning again. Lil was scraping away at the boiler, rattling the pipes across the entire ship. She'd never know this was even happening. No one would know.

The reasons to do it began to accumulate in her mind. She could restore the ship, get them back on schedule, and get a chance to negotiate for her mother's medicine. The only reasons not to do it were an order from her new captain and the vague and dubious threat of reprisal from unseen boogeymen. She hesitated, but only for a moment. All she needed were tools, which Gunner had required that she leave in the boiler room to prevent her from… well, from doing precisely what she was planning to do. She crept up to the hatch to the lower decks.

"Lil! Do you need me to come down there? Or should I remain on deck to keep a lookout and get this wailer taken apart?"

"I'll tell you what, " the deckhand called back. "It's kind of a tight squeeze. Not a two-person job. I rec

m, and in doing so they underscored faults in the traditional methods that she'd never noticed before. She found herself wishing she could observe this craft in motion again, so that she could see for herself just what the most mysterious innovations did.

On the other hand, immersing herself so completely in the task served to distract her from a rather insistent voice in her head. If it had been a voice of warning or fear, perhaps it might have made sense to her. After all, they had expressed a willingness, if not an outright eagerness, to kill her if she became a problem. In truth, fear accounted for barely a dash of the weight on her chest. She was quite certain neither the crew nor the fug folk would ever know what she'd done. What she felt most of all, regardless of what logic and reason had to say on the matter, was guilt. She was disobeying orders and violating a trust that she'd barely earned. No matter how pure or sound her reasons for such an act were, a part of her bristled against it. And so she dove headlong into her task rather than address those feelings.

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