Hello internet peeps
Chapter 16 of Lead Heart is up! I think it’s about time we get this boat on the road,
A dripping shadow slipped aboard the quiet ship.
She crawled behind the cabin, falling asleep instantly.
5 hours later, Leliana’s eyes snapped open, staring into an excited pair of blue eyes.
“Goooood MORNIIIING.” Teena cried cheerfully from her perch atop the sleeping girl. “Why are you sleeping out here silly, Karina showed you a hammock you could’ve slept on!”
As she spoke, Teena sat comfortably across Leliana’s stomach and, with unnerving calm, was screwing a huge spike into a metal glove on her left hand.
“Wha? Teena. Why are you sitting on. Wait.” Leliana took a look at the sun, barely finished climbing over the mountains. Dang, she’d wanted to look at the stars before she fell asleep. “Uh hey, good morning. Are we headed out already?”
“Oh no, no not at all. Everyone on the ship is such a late sleeper that we’ll probably be around until at least noon. Can’t do much work in the dark so I’m early to bed, early to rise. I was just headed over to-” *Gasp!* “Hey maybe you could help me get the plug ready to go!” The tiny engineer blasted Leliana with far more positivity than she was ready for right after waking up, proceeding immediately to the weird requests.
“Er…what’s a plug. What are we plugging?”
Teena was unlocking a massive hatch door. “It’s how we get off the ground. The plug is just an old aluminum barrel I found that I use to make up a big batch of sweet stuff.” She threw the hatch open and hopped down the short stairs into the smaller of the storage holds. “C’mon!”
Much grunting and groaning later, Leliana panted against an enormous metallic drum at the top of the stairs.
“What kind of heavy slag is stuffed into this thing!?” She had a gnawing fear that Teena was about to tell her to roll a million pounds of barrel down the crew stairs and put a hole straight through the bottom of the ship.
Teena giggled. “I told you already, it’s rocket fuel!”
Leliana snapped away from the drum so hard she almost fell down the stairs. “Rocket fuel? Isn’t that dangerous?” She’d read probably every book on using rockets in the entire world, but none on the actual crafting of. Still.
“I guess it would be if you were on fire and it wasn’t wrapped in metal.” Teena was not sympathetic. “Now come on, you’re going to wake the others if we keep shouting. Let’s get this under the ship!” Teena kicked the door closed with a kaboom and secured the lock, then bounded down the gangplank. “Hook it to the crane on the other side!”
Ugh. Leliana rolled the drum around the cabin, the deck making some concerning sounds along the way. She found a metal rod held aloft on the other side with a thick cable running around it. “Whoa.” She obediently attached the two handles of the drum to the hooks and pushed the barrel out over the side.
“Okay!” Teena was yelling from the ground now. “Now just push on that lever a couple times to lower it!” They navigated the heavy package to a landing spot toward the rear of the ship.
Once the thing was in place, Leliana learned why Teena usually had Gib doing this part. “Okay now I just need you to hold it in this cavity for a few minutes while I screw in the bolts.” Teena was wiggling her fingers, covered with weird metal gloves. Each hand was headed by a giant spike. On closer inspection, these spikes were grooved and had a couple of threads winding around them.
Waking up Gib was sounding pretty good right about now. Leliana grit her teeth and let the crisp air fill her lungs, permeating the grumpy morning sleepiness.
No! This adorable tiny grease monkey was asking for her help and dangit she was going to help.
Exactly 1 eternity and 2 gallons of sweat in the future, the rocket was in place. Leliana collapsed to the wooden airdock and closed her eyes. She did it!
A shadow fell over her.
“She suckered you into it huh?” Antros stood, arms crossed and cocky grin the only thing she could see in the glare of the sun. “I figured you might go for it.”
Teena stood to the side, tying her gloves to a tool-belt. “Hey! Don’t make fun of her you meanie, you couldn’t even pick it up!”
Antros coughed a few times suppressing a smile. “Hey I’m a security professional, my job is to protect you guys. I can’t do that lying on the ground like a stuck pig, can I?” The rumble in his chest emphasized the light-hearted nature of the jab.
“Hey she’s totally safe. Unless you’re planning to beat up on tiny Teena, then I’m gonna have to kick your -”
“Don’t call me tiny! I’m not tiny!” Teena grabbed Leliana and shook her back and forth until the bigger woman’s eyes were rolling back in her head. “I’m efficiently sized!”
The trio laughed it off and Teena set out to review the ship before launch. “If I check everything now it’ll be totally fine, but if I don’t check her out before we go up then I’m 100% positive the ship will explode and kill everyone. That’s why she’s named the Nightmare, because she gives me nightmares.” She pulled her puffy pigtails and cursed the levitating ship as she departed.
“What do you suppose that means?” Leliana felt a quiver of concern at the mention of exploding and dying.
“The brotherhood, eh? What happened there?”
She about-faced to find him, arms crossed and one eyebrow cocked, peering intently at her.
“I was totally minding my own business, don’t you pin that on me!” How had he even found out this fast? Word must really get around in this place. “Those bastards were trying to tranq me from a glider in the dark, they deserve everything they got.”
Antros sighed. “Yeah, I actually believe you this time. I have no love for bounty hunters, though I am curious why they were after you. Brothers don’t pick up small bills.” His iron gaze didn’t waiver.
“Oh, yeah I don’t know. I didn’t even know who they were. I just stopped them from having their way with a sweet damsel like myself.”
He gave a half-hearted chuckle and they headed back onboard.
Now that she had..erm..some experience flying, she started drawing parallels between the glider she’d smashed and the ship’s design. The whole thing looked like it was actually just a big hang glider with some pivot-able propellers jutting up from the sides in the fore and aft and then a platform to hold people.
Hours later, the sun was starting its descent and Leliana was watching the sixth patrol of the day swing through the square to question people. Jovi strode on-deck.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen, let’s get going!”