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   Chapter 42 No.42

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 4862

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

"I don't know about that, " he said, lending a hand and hauling her up the last few rungs. "You've proved to be versatile, at the very least."

"Perhaps too much so."

"You didn't."

She nodded slowly.

"Where? I scoured that boiler! Nothing had changed!"

"It was up on the deck. I didn't… I…"

Gunner's fingers tightened at the grip of his weapon, and he slowly eased the hammer back again. "Where is the captain?" He uttered the words almost as a demand, as though Nita was holding the captain hostage somewhere.

"He's still talking to them."

Her crewmate's face was a mask combining concern and fury.

"What happens now?" she asked.

"What happens now is I make damn sure that you don't go anywhere or touch anything until he comes back."

"You aren't going to kill me, are you?"

"I won't do anything I'm not ordered to do, and I will do everything I am ordered to do. Because that is what a crew does. It obeys its captain."

Over the next hour, the crew returned one at a time, calling out to Gunner and climbing into the gig room to find Nita at gun point. The looks in their eyes were like daggers to her heart, but what hurt most was that not a single one of them needed to be told what was happening, nor what had happened. They'd expected this from her, regardless of what they hoped. The only one who spoke was Lil, and only a single word.

"Why?" The word wouldn't have sounded any different if she'd spoken it with

s and the 'small' fine for your disobedience, that leaves us flat busted. They didn't ruin us. You don't slaughter a sheep for its wool, but everything we done for the last few years has been for nothing."

"I'm so sorry. Captain, I promise you, when we return to Caldera I'll give you everything you need to replace what was lost."

"You presume an awful lot to suggest you'll get the opportunity. Some debts can't be paid with a pile of coins. Some debts require blood."

Nita took a deep breath. "You seem to be a reasonable man, Captain. What would blood solve?"

"It would make an example of you, Ms. Graus. This is a ship. I don't give a damn about how many minds a ship has, but it can only have one will. The will of the captain. Right or wrong, I can't have disagreement. You saw it during the wailer attack. We work as one, toward one goal. If there is doubt or dissension, the ship will fall apart."

He puffed at his cigar for a few more moments.

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