Scaleday Thirdweek, Swallow's Reap, 147/32

You'll forgive me, Log, if I haven't written in you for a while. I do have a good excuse, though. My right hand has been out of operation for some time. As to how it actually happened... well... your guess is as good as mine.

We picked up the freighter. I mean, we actually did. That poor guy I beat the information out of was dead on. It came cruising over the Splinters with two piddling little Caybury Interceptors as escort. They crossed at night, following a course between the mountaintops, trying not to be noticed. Probably it's worked up till now. But we knew their route, it was a clear night and we had the moon.

Pinn came screaming out of the mountain pass and blew one of the outflyers out of the sky before they even knew what had happened. Harkins was a bit slower than Pinn - he always is, but that's still quick in most people's book. Quick enough to empty his machine-guns into the other outflyer's flank, anyway.

The freighter had some guns on it, cannons big enough to do the Ketty Jay some damage. But they were occupied with the smaller craft and they didn't see us coming up on their blind side. The bigger the craft, the easier it is to sneak up on. I raked my guns across its underside, right where the aerium tanks were. Perfect shooting, even if I do say so myself. Holed the tanks and the craft started venting aerium, faster than they could pump it back in.

The art of it is to make them leak enough but not too much. You don't want to rip the tanks apart or they'll dump all the ultralight gas and drop out of the sky. But a steady leak is like a slow puncture. They start losing altitude, and the pilot has to make a choice: set down while he still can, or crash his craft hard. Most of them choose the first option. Ours did, anyway.

Once it was down, we boarded them. They were pretty cooperative, all in all. They opened the door rather than make us blast it open with dynamite. Then we were all in there with our guns, the whole crowd control routine, everybody down, show us the stuff, etc.

But there was no stuff. See, the guy I met knew the route alright. But that shit-wit, accidentally or on purpose, had me intercept them on the return route. After they'd delivered the money. We'd boarded an empty cargo ship.

The mood soured after that.

The boys were giving me dangerous looks on the way back. I really think that we got close to mutiny that night. I don't mind admitting I got a bit worried, but then I hit on an idea. I told 'em that I'd take 'em all out on the town, and I was paying for everything. So we did. At first they were still grumbling, the ungrateful bastards, and things were nasty for a while. But then Pinn and Malvery started singing, and everyone joined in, even Crake. Soon we were all best friends, at least temporarily. Soon after, we'd forgotten who we were.

At some point in the night, long after I'd lost the capability to make sound decisions, something happened to my hand. I think I got it jammed in a door, or some fat sod stamped on it, or something. Either way, it hurt like a bitch and went sort of purply blue. Taken a week or so for the swelling to go down, but I'm pleased to report that the incident with the freighter has been all but forgotten, and all is normal again. As normal as it gets, anyway.