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   Chapter 33 No.33

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 4880

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


She was just placing the last salvageable component into a nearly filled crate when Lil emerged from below decks. Her face and clothes were coated with gray dust from the inside of the boiler. The only portion of her face spared was the space around her eyes that had been protected by her goggles, giving her a reversed raccoon look.

"Phew! She was a stubborn one today!" Lil said. "I see you been busy. I'll bet we get a tidy little payment for that mess, huh?"

Nita held up one of the more complicated gadgets. "This is truly fascinating."

"Aw, it's all a big mishmash to me." She wiped her head. "I could use a bath something fierce, but it looks like I finished just in time. Cap'n and them will be coming back. I'll take over the watch up here. You go feed the boiler. Best to make sure the winch is good and warm before they get here. Wouldn't want 'em to have to haul the goods up the ladder."

Nita did as she was told, and the pressure was topping off when the gruff voice of the captain rang out.

"Lower the gig! We need to be loaded and off this trash heap two minutes ago!"

"You heard the man!" Lil called from above.

Nita rushed to the gig room and pulled the lever. Outside, the rest of the crew was quickening to a run by the time the boat reached the sandy ground beneath the Wind Breaker. Butch and the captain led a mule hitched to a heavily loaded wagon. Gunner and Coop had weapons drawn and eyes trained on the path behind

her the guns they were using were inferior, or else the envelope was tougher than it looked, because the bullets were doing little more than plinking off the turbines or bouncing off the fabric with a resonating foomp. She tried to ignore the insistent voice in her head asking where those bouncing bullets might end up and what was keeping the attackers from firing at her. There was no winch or reel to bring in the stout mooring lines, so she simply grabbed hold of the free line and threw it over her shoulder to drag it across the deck. Two more trips back and forth brought the free end aboard.

Captain Mack labored up onto the deck, his breath heavy and wheezing.

"Gunner, Coop, get ready to help her with the other line, " he ordered.

"I can handle it, " Nita said, crouching down to the rope and watching as Lil fought to release it from the tower.

"This one's gonna be a good bit heavier, " Coop said. "How else do you figure Lil's getting on board?"

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