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   Chapter 57 No.57

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5422

Updated: 2018-01-19 19:02

He climbed up, a look of disappointment on his face. "You mean you already took out the tow ship?"

"Indeed. The new gun worked like a charm!" Gunner said like a proud father.

Coop tipped his head and furrowed his brow in the effort of thought. "How many fuggers you figure we killed?"

"Aw, I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't kill any. The nice thing about these ships is they tend to crash pretty slow. And them fuggers are tough, " the captain said, wincing as Butch yanked free the dart in his leg without warning.

Coop sighed. "That was pretty easy, when you really think about it."

Gunner scowled. "Didn't we just have that chat about tempting fate?"

"What else could they throw at us?"

Wink, who seldom made a sound besides his incessant tapping, audibly squealed. He hopped desperately for the hatch below decks until he reached the end of his harness leash and was jerked from his feet. A few moments later, the sound that his sensitive ears had picked up became audible to the others. It sounded like propellers, the sort that might be on a patrol ship, but wrong somehow. The sound was deeper and less distinct. Then came the motion. A section of the fug began to bulge upward, like a bubble forming on the surface of a tar pit. A vigorous churning appeared around nearly half the dome, at least a dozen propellers chopping at the surface of the fug. The purple mist slid away from the top of the bulge, revealing first several strings of serrated fins, then the gleaming sheen of some sort of metallic cloth.

Two brilliant shafts of light suddenly erupted from beneath the fug, spotlights of

le while, probably."

He was silent for a time, the two of them alone on the deck.

"You done good work for us in these last few days, Nita, " he said. "It takes a special sort to find a place on a ship like this. You ain't perfect, but I think there'd be a place for you."

She sensed that, for this moment, he wasn't speaking as a superior officer addressing his crew. He was McCulloch West, the man, wishing to share something that he might not get a chance to say in the future.

"I never would have set foot on a ship like this if I didn't have to… but I must admit that I feel I've lived more in these last few days than in the years before, " she said.

He nodded. "A ship may cut your days short, but it'll make sure the ones you've got are filled to the brim. I call it a fair trade." He squinted his eyes, and his face hardened. When he spoke, it was once again with the tone of authority. "That spotlight is coming our way. We're made. Go find Lil and help her feed the firebox. A double load of coal. No slow-burn. I want us running hot, Ms. Graus. Too hot."

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