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   Chapter 35 No.35

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5377

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"Rules are rules, " she said with a shrug. She turned across the narrow hall and awkwardly kicked open a brace holding another set of sliding doors, then caught the handle with her heel to haul it open.

The doors opened to reveal the most concentrated mass of gears, chains, ropes, and pulleys that Nita had ever seen outside of the workings of the town clock back home. Three angled baskets dangled in the center of the space, and beside each hung a chain with a weighted pull, along with a separate loop of chain. The baskets were in three sections, one in front of the other, and were just the right shape to hold the bags and powder charges.

"Charges go in the middle, shot goes in the first basket, and when those are loaded up, you go back to the magazine and get a cap." She turned and fetched a metal disk. "These things blow up easy, so you put them last so you don't knock them around."

Nita loaded the baskets. "But prohibiting even simple repairs makes no sense."

"Maybe it's because I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but most things don't make much sense to me. All I know is there's enough you have to do on a ship that it just isn't worth wasting the effort to start fooling with things you aren't told to do, or are told not to do. Now you just pull on this here chain until it goes up to the top and drops back down here empty. That means the cannon's loaded. You pull this chain, and that means the cannon's primed. Now when the captain wants to fire, he can do it right from the helm, or he can call out 'fire aft cannon, ' depending on how busy he is, and we can pull that

trols than at the table. As Nita learned, this gave the other members of the crew a chance to speak freely about those things they would rather he not overhear.

"And that's the first time I ever heard the cap'n scream, " Coop said, laughing and wiping a tear from his eye.

"You know, Brother, as many times as you tell that story, I still don't believe it. The cap'n would stare death in the eye. I don't reckon he'd be afraid of something as simple as a snake."

"I ain't sayin' he wouldn't stare death in the eye. I'm just sayin' that if death was a snake, he'd be screamin' like a little baby while he was doin' it, " Coop said. He turned to Nita, "You got any questions about the cap'n, Nita? While he's not here is just about the only time you'll get 'em answered."

She took a sip of their recently acquired supply of something her fellow crewmates referred to as grog. The others seemed to love it, though Nita simply could not develop a taste for what appeared to be two randomly chosen types of alcohol mixed with copious amounts of questionable water.

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