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   Chapter 54 No.54

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 4865

Updated: 2018-01-19 19:02

"What the hell is that?" the captain hollered over the speaking tube.

"That's our haul. Pretty good one, huh?" Lil said. "Get us over it."

"We're not going to have any luck loading that thing up with these three ships all over us, " the captain said. The sounds of fléchettes digging into the wood of the gondola were already coming in bursts. "If you're going to drop the gig, do it on my mark."

"Aye, Cap'n."

The Wind Breaker pitched upward, phlogiston pumping into its envelope and its altitude rising. One of the patrol ships flew beside them, its lone functioning gun focused on the madly weaving steam cart below. The other patrol ship was behind them but gaining fast, peppering them with fléchettes that had so far been unable to puncture the additional patches they'd applied during their days of preparation. The art of ship-to-ship combat was effectively reduced to achieving and holding the high ground. Whichever ship was highest had the best shot at the envelopes of the others while simultaneously protecting its own. Captain Mack had made certain his cannons were loaded, but without his full crew they would be slow to reload, so he was reluctant to fire them until he was certain he needed to. Though he wasn't precisely certain why his recently rescued deckhand was determined to cut the gig loose, so long as it was going to happen, it may as well serve a purpose.

He eased the ship over one of the two huge fans that gave th

n able to determine was responsible for steering. The cart skittered across the cobblestones, fishtailing slightly before straightening again.

"Not so sharp on the turns, " Gunner cried, holding tight to one of the ropes lashed over the pile of goods to keep them in place.

"Look, do you want to drive?" she snapped, veering again to avoid another string of fléchettes.

"Just don't kill us before the patrol does!" he said. Still clutching the rope for stability, he reached into his jacket, drew a long-barreled pistol, and tried to level it at the second patrol ship, which was firing one gun at them and the other at the Wind Breaker.

The patrol ship maneuvered nearly on top of the Wind Breaker, its shots striking the envelope with enough force to stick in but not yet puncture it. He squeezed off a shot, failing to hit anything vital but certainly giving the crew something to think about.

"Here come the chains! Keep 'er steady, Nita!" Coop said.

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