Swamped Chapter 34 Page 7

“It’s not just locked. There’s an explosive in it. If you don’t know the right way to open it, well, it won’t be pleasant.”

Corvus gives you a disbelieving glare.

“If that were true, they’d have no hope of retrieving it without you at all. Which means they wouldn’t be firing on the wagon in the first place.”

“Well! As it happens, I was given code words to share with them to explain exactly that. Of course, they’ll have a hard time believing anything I tell them if I appear to be under duress, now won’t they.”

“Hang on,” the scowling girl says. “If it’ll blow up, couldn’t we just warn Rider to get out of the way, and toss it out at them?”

“The lockbox is bolted to the…”

Before you can finish, the grebling pushes the box out into the open.

“Funny how you humans keep using bolts that are real easy to claw right out,” she says. “So, I’m liking Rivers’ plan, assuming you aren’t just bluffing. If you are, well, now might be a good time to tell us.”

“Um,” you say, a little desperately. “The explosion’s pretty big, or so they told me. Not like I actually tested it.”

“Yeah, like that’s not a bluff,” the grebling says. “Too bad, I guess we don’t have a bomb to throw at them after all.”

“I don’t really care about the lockbox, anyhow,” Corvus says. “Not enough to let you loose while we’re surrounded by hostiles. I want to know what you know about who these raiders firing on us are. And like I said before, if you can’t tell us everything, start with what’s most important.”

Ugh. This really isn’t going well for you. What have you got?

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They’re the dune wanderers, nomadic warriors of the burning sands. They live in the desert but must not have everything they need, because they raid traveling caravans. We’ve been able to trade with them in the past; you might call it bribery for safe passage for our, uh, special deliveries.