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   Chapter 51 No.51

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5484

Updated: 2018-01-19 19:02

"This one's pretty rickety, and the walls and the fug should make sure no one can hear if we bang around a bit. I bet Gunner and I can force it without your fancy doodad, " Coop said.

"Let's do it. Every time a patrol goes overhead there's a chance they will notice the guard is down."

Nita let them go to work heaving at the door while she continued to trace out the tubes. One led to a valve lever on the clerk desk. From there it led up over the door to a lever that hung down below the edge, and then over the cage. She raised her lamp higher.

"Stop forcing the door!" she yelped, when she spotted its final destination.

The rest of the crew looked first to her widened eyes, then to what they were locked upon. It was an array of what looked remarkably like firearms. They were mounted above the cage and pointed downward, and in place of their trigger assemblies were a series of pneumatic plungers.

"If you force the door open it will open the valve and fire them, " Nita said.

"You sure?" Coop asked.

"No, but do you want to test it?"

"I reckon not. So what do we do about it?"

She pulled a pair of locking pliers from her tool sash. "Give me a boost."

Gunner laced his fingers together, and she planted a boot in his hands, stepping up until she was level with the top of the cage. She adjusted the pliers and reached through the bars to clamp them down good and hard on the tube leading to the triggers.

"Okay, " she said, hopping down. "That should do it. But just in case, let's make this quick. All at once."

They braced themselves, each casting a wary glance above, then on the count of three ch

ack to the edge of the aisle to find her way to the books that would teach her how to administer the treatments.

The minutes rolled by as she weighed herself down with medicines, design books, and gadgets. At first she took her time to find things that were sturdy enough to survive rough handling and still fetch a high price. There were clocks, strange tools, complex locks, and items that, even with a description, she couldn't comprehend. Gradually she used less and less care, choosing instead to get her bags filled as quickly as possible. Every passing moment filled her with more anxiety, since what little planning they had done was focused on escaping before they were noticed, and there was little hope of that happening if they didn't get moving quickly. As she progressed down the aisle devoted to the more technical devices, they steadily grew in size and complexity, tools being replaced with machinery, then replacement parts, and finally something that managed to force all of the fear and worry from her mind, allowing her inner engineer to practically froth at the mouth.

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