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   Chapter 34 No.34

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5145

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

Nita's eyes widened and she looked to the tower again. The scrawny young crewwoman finally dislodged the rope and called out.

"Take 'er up!" she cried. She then glanced down to see a particularly brave local clambering up the ladder toward her. "And be quick about it. I got company down here!"

The captain took the helm and pulled hard on a lever, conjuring a grinding noise from above them and causing the ship to sharply ascend. Lil leapt from the tower and snagged the hanging line. She swung far under the rising ship.

"We pull when she swings away from the ship, " Gunner instructed. "One, two, three, heave!"

Between the three of them, they were able to haul up half of the rope before she swung back. Another swing and another haul pulled Lil near enough to the deck for her to plant her feet on the hull and walk herself along it, with the help of a more constant pull, until Gunner reached down and dragged her up.

"Cap'n, " she said breathlessly, "you wanna maybe give me the heads-up that you've got that sort of thing planned? I just got through cleaning the boiler and was powerful sore even before I had to go jumping off the ship and swinging around like a monkey."

"Did we just rob those people?" Nita asked.

"No, Ms. Graus. We negotiated a fair price and shook hands on it. Then they tried to say some nonsense about a docking fee. Far as I'm concerned, you break an agreement, you break the whole agreement. So we helped ourselves to the gear and goods and left what we figured they deserved."

"And wh

his door, would you?" She grabbed one side of a heavy wooden door on temperamental slides. Nita grabbed the other. "You wouldn't be dumb enough to tinker around in something after you were told not to. Now, this is the powder magazine. Gunner wraps these little packs of gunpowder in paper. Call's 'em charges. You're going to need at least one in each cannon. Cap'n likes a medium load, so that means two. And there's three cannons, so that… well, that's two each." Lil counted out two packs three times. Each was a cheese-wheel-shaped packet of brown paper about six inches in diameter. "Unless he says otherwise, we load with grapeshot. That's those little cloth bags down there. Grab one per cannon and follow me. Careful, they're heavy."

"Isn't it a little absurd though, not being allowed to repair your own ship?" Nita asked. She hefted one of the indicated cloth bags. It was almost as heavy as the monkey-toe strapped to her back and clacked when it moved, as though it was filled with individual chunks of metal.

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