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chapter six The trade routes

After bartering for parts and repairs at a small town on the river that was, as Birch would say, “pirate-friendly,” which really meant they were nice to anyone who had money and was willing to part with too much of it, we made really good time up the river. Mostly because either Birch or Ornery kept the throttle wide open the entire way. With everyone taking shifts, except Officer Puppy, Ornery driving most of the day, and Birch most of the night, we only stopped moving a few times during the entire trip. I’m sure Officer Puppy would have been a great pilot too, but no one else would let him try.

A three week trip in a hot, metal can is boring. I mean, there were interesting places to see that I had never seen before as we shot right past them at a nice, safe distance, but imagine three weeks of doing nothing but staying out of trouble while waiting for a big party you’d been invited to so it can finally get started. Okay, mostly staying out of trouble.

It got so boring that I started to keep a journal just to do something that wasn’t helping Rimares fix more things that needed fixing, though I did that too.

25-06-425p - Herndan

Left the river to turn north over some farmlands. There was a city that looked all interesting and foreign, even though it is supposed to be part of the same empire as Farport.

We didn’t go there. We didn’t even come close to there.

Instead, we went around it at a nice safe distance.

Staring at an endless blur of farm fields is not very exciting, though Dr. Pac explained some of the crops I had never seen before, so that I could safely recognize them as a distant blur. What they look like up close, I have no idea.

We did pass plenty of other people hauling things in one direction or another. Some of the haulers were even bigger than the Catalyst, if not by much, and some were in even worse shape. None of them moved as fast though. I saw more than a few of people yelling angrily at us as we shot past them, especially those with now panicked herds in tow.

Ornery said we were following the old trade routes, except where it made more sense to go straight.

Helped Rimares fix the water filtration system.

26-06-425p - Diotan

We stopped at a small farming village in a place where farms were getting pretty rare. They all talk funny. I think schools are pretty rare there too.

I was polite and didn’t laugh.

It was so small and backward they didn’t even have solar panels anywhere in town. Just some windmills to recharge a small and precious collection of batteries. Our little bungalow in The Big Island would be a palace there.

We sold them some spare batteries for fresh food. The bread and rice and vegetables were wonderful, but Nighuysen Family Meats doesn’t have to worry about any competition from this place. The meat was all greasy and horrible. I mean, it tasted okay, but it didn’t look like it should.

I suggested using the sausages to grease some mechanicals and was voted down. I think everything I touch will be well-lubricated for days anyway.

27-06-425p - Afdan

Yay! Hills! Something new to look at! I mean, there were hill before, but these are bigger and more interesting. Way off to the west there are even mountains, I think. It was hard to see around the hills.

Today I decided to officially declare the smuggling hold under the cockpit as my captain’s cabin. It is small and cramped and no one else wants to be in it, so it is perfect. I moved my stuff in and only whacked ornery with my bedroll a few times while trying to get it down the access hatch behind him. It was okay, there was nothing for him to accidentally drive into while he was yelling at me.

Okay, the other reason I claimed it as my own was I caught Birch successfully distracting Rimares from his work in the cargo hold today. The ship is loud enough that they didn’t hear me coming in and they were sort of focused on something else anyway, so I snuck out unnoticed. Okay, maybe I peeked a little first. They were, I mean… I should’ve taken notes. Anyway, I thought she might be happier if she wasn’t sharing a bunk with me.

28-06-425p - Krotan

We reached the Great Wastes today, or a desert in the Great Wastes, or something. Ornery said it used to be called the Globe Desert, or something like that. Maybe because it was really big and sort of round on a map. It was exiting for a few minutes. Then I realized the nothing wasn’t going to stop for a long time. At least there wasn’t anything to prevent us from making good time across it.

The Catalyst could move really, really fast when it could keep going in a straight line, and this was a good place for straight lines.

Busy day as Rimares and I got to find out what things were easily broken by sand getting into them.

01-07-425p - Helitan

Bleah. It is hot and dry and boring and there is no rain in the middle of the Rains here.

We did see some big creatures lumbering off in the distance. They looked as big as houses. Ornery said that is because they were further away than I thought they were. Ornery wouldn’t let us get closer for a look. Said they were too dangerous. As if he couldn’t handle some big, lumbering things. So instead of describing them (they were huge!!!), I’m going to write down some of the funny rhymes I learned from other apprentices on the Docks. Then I will probably have to burn this page so Ornery doesn’t see it. I’m sure he’d tell me it’s not proper for a young lady to know such things.


You get the idea.

It was not a masterpiece. The greatest thing that could be said about it was it made good kindling one night when we needed a fire.

So instead of boring you with every. single. entry., especially the ones with the rhymes, let’s just say that after forever, maybe longer, we finally got to Perala with a day to spare.

So we did what every good pirate does when arriving in an exciting new city with time to spare. We rented some rooms and slept in some very comfy beds for way longer than necessary. Well, most of us did. I can’t speak for Birch and Rimares.