BOOK EIGHT - !METH¡
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN - “LIFTOFF!”
Transport trucks with the Arbatax logo
are transferring cylinders of supercondensed methane
into the boneship while Turpin, Rateyes,
Broonzy, wait anxiously on the deck with
“Next stop…” Rats laughs, wild-eyed, “
“Cheapest on the market,” growls Broonzy, his voice still a froom and kackle croak from the wound now hidden under a bright yellow scarf. It reminds Turpin of Gargareeva – and the rent that is due… again…
“Then throw me another bottle,” Tony coughs. “Guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Just gimme some ale… I gotta disappear, I'm gonna go with a bottle in my hand and a kack between my lips!”
“You’ve got plenty in the office. Just hold off on the kackle till we’re up… you’ll blow us to bits all yourself.”
A uniformed teamster manifests, hands papers to Turp, who scans them, hands them over to Rats. The gambler scribbles his signature at the bottom of the page and the dank retrieves them with a salute, a jammin’ salute! This reminds Turpin that Arbatax has been said to have Regency shurts on his payroll… moonlighters, as the old term goes.
The risk that he’s taking at Tony’s is trifling compared to what might have happened if Arbatax had taken his disclosures the wrong way…
”Ready to rock!” Rats gloats once the rent-a-shurt has gone. He places a shaky hand on the throttle, starting to push it forward… three… two… one…
Lights on board dim, flare up and dim again, a rumbling from the engine deck and the deck vibrates, sending unsecured junk crashing to the floor. Tony's dogs, whining, cover eyes with paws until the shaking ceases. Tony and Quaia clink bottles.
“Dee naa mee, man,” Tony exalts – forgetting that he might be blown to atoms in the next minute. “Didn't think you could pull it off… c'mon jamesonians, gotta get off this rock!”
“Don't hang in
“Ma!” the aggrieved yoot hollers back…
Through the great bay window of the boneship, they watch Tony, Quaia and the knafes retreat to what they naively believe might be a safe space behind the office… Rateyes sinks into the captain's chair with a satisfied, yet worried sigh, looking helplessly from Broonzy and Turpin towards his teenaged navigator.
“What the johanna do I do now?” Rats throws his hands off.
“Give the qube orders for
liftoff! That one…” Marina points to the
newly stickered buttons on the boner’s ancient keyboard, “and that one. We've got my course programmed for the ilaam, then
Reassured now, Rats straightens – assumes an attitude of command. “All right… all right! Lift the jam off!”
He’s still swaggering when Broonzy throws
more throttles, so
Leaning against the office, Quaia unhooks her false leg and waves it like a victor’s club at the keefters… a trinity, now, a shadow against the dull red glow of stolid Dhubaaht.