Swamped Chapter 39 Page 6

Might as well start with Gail, your main surveyor. She’s been real annoyed at the backlog of artifacts piling up, so clearing that is your best bet at checking Pubert’s lodestone.

You still need to persuade them to open the safe so you can take a look at that, but not much sense in doing that if the instruments aren’t ready.

You head over to Gail’s workspace and check in. Her two assistants are hard at work fixing up the instruments; Gail is sitting down at a table looking at something with a magnifying glass.

“How’s progress here, Gail?”

“I’m getting tired of everything breaking, and Theo hasn’t had any workable ideas for protecting the gear. So I’m trying to do what I can by hand.”

You take a glance yourself. Seems she’s examining a clay shard. Probably a piece of a broken pot.

“So what exactly are you checking now?”

“Age. It’s not very precise, but I can get a reasonable idea of the century it was buried, at least. Passable for the moment, then we can fix the carbon scanner when fixing up the dates is all we need to do.”

“How long do you think it’ll be before then? I found something interesting on the way here, and I want to compare it against the readings on the compass.”

“We’ll have these instruments done in about ten minutes,” one of the assistants pipes up. “Then it’ll take, uh, four hours if we don’t get another interruption?”

“Which is hardly guaranteed,” the other assistant mutters.

“Four hours? There’s that much backlog?”

“Just twenty or so things,” Gail says. “The main issue is, we’ve already gone through all the objects my sons can really help me with the work on. So I have to do everything myself. It takes quite a bit of time.”

“We could if you’d actually give us a chance, Ma,” the younger assistant grumbles.

“It’s not about giving you a chance. It’s that it will take even longer if I have to train you two on the tricky details. Just focus on the instruments for now, boys.”

“Is there any way I could help speed it up?”

Gail gives you a doubting look.

“Aside from not distracting me while I’m working?”

“If the answer’s no, I’ll get out of your hair. Just trying to do what I can.”

“Hmmph.” Gail looks back down at the shard for a moment, then suddenly stops. “Actually, now that you mention it, there might be something, yes.”

You wonder what she could have in mind.

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She’s actually hungry.