File GSB-030: Opportunity

Nix was sitting at the kitchen table, bent over one of his blueprints, when there was a noise at the door. He stood up, walked quietly to the other side of the room and hid himself like he’d been taught by Fenthwick, his trainer. His father recognised this as the necessary practice it was, but it drove his mother up the walls sometimes. He was getting better and better at it. The singed eyebrows were merely an incentive to do better next time.

The door opened and in the opening stood… Oh my. The face was still the same. The chain armour, he’d seen before. Standard Gnomeregan Military School issue. What was different… Nix sneaked behind his sister. He poked her in the back with a finger.

“What in the name of the Titans have you done to your hair?”

Trixie squealed, whirled round and punched the space where Nix was just a moment ago. Nix was in the middle of the room, grinning at her. She snarled.

“You’re lucky they make you give back your swords when you go home, Nix Steambender.”

“Trix! You’re… cute!”

“Huh?”

“Your hair. Normally, blue eyes and pink clash like mad, but on you, it looks cute!”

Trixie crouched down, frowned at her brother and charged. Nix dodged her.

“People are going to ask me, who’s that cute girl? And I’ll say that’s my cute sister. I can tell you where she lives.”

“I’ll cute you,” said Trixie. She ran at Nix again, and this time managed to grab his hand. She pulled hard, and sent him sprawling. Fast as a cat, Trixie leapt on Nix’ back, grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back.

“Say you’re sorry,” said Trixie. “Or else.”

“I’m sorry you’re cute,” said Nix. “Aaaaah!”

“Not good enough, Like you mean it!”

“Stuff you,” said Nix. He twisted underneath his sister, sent her off headfirst into the sofa and vanished. Trixie leapt to her feet, and looked round, pig-tails flapping as she turned her head. Nix appeared out of nowhere behind her, flicked one of them up and vanished again.

The kitchen door opened, and Lenna appeared.

“O hi sweetheart,” she said. “Love the hair. It’s cute.”

Trixie glared at her, then looked round the room again. “Nix! You bastard! Come out so I can get you!”

“Ahem,” said Lenna. “You know what a bastard is, don’t you dear? Are you accusing me of sleeping outside?”

Trixie’s eyes opened wide, and she took a quick breath. “No! No mum! I was just using the word in the sense of nasty little git.”

“I’m afraid that’s just par for the course for bigger brothers dear. I suggest you fall over very gently, then yell blue murder accusing him. I’ll ground him for a week.”

“Aww Mum,” said Nix. He appeared by the table.

Trixie didn’t hesitate for a moment, took a running leap and planted two boots in Nix’ stomach. Nix turned pale and fell over.

“He pushed me,” said Trixie.

“Don’t do that, Nix,” said Lenna. “Now stop playing. Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Aww. Beans and bacon again?”

“Tomorrow, for some variety, I’ll try some beans without bacon,” said Lenna. “Pork bits are getting more expensive by the minute. Now be quiet and set the table.”

 

Griggin watched his family eat. It was one of the few things that could cheer him up these days. Times were hard. He knew quite well how good an engineer he was, but lately, the jobs had stopped coming his way. He could just about scrape by on his regulars and the small stipend he received from the Warlock circle, but if something in the house would go expensively wrong, then he’d be in trouble. He had a feeling he knew why, too. He’d annoyed a few of the most influential families. They disliked him for stirring up all that fuss over a little youthful exhuberance involving his daughter. So the commissions went elsewhere.

Griggin sighed, ate another spoonful of beans. He looked round his house. All that he could see, he had made himself. The sofa, sturdy and amazingly comfortable, and heated from the main steam generator. This table and the chairs. They were beautiful, but home-made. He wouldn’t get the scrap value if he had to sell them. Nix had made the clock, as a school project. He was really good with small mechanisms. He looked at Trixie, pink pig-tails and all. She was happily talking to Lenna. Good. That made it all worth it.

Meanwhile, the Trogg situation was not improving. As he’d suspected, the attacks had been trials, to find out where Gnomish defences were weakest. Of late, there’d been more severe attacks, and even High Tinker Mekkatorque was worried, by all accounts. Griggin had taken part in the fighting. He sneered to himself. He used an imp for extra firepower, which tended to surprise the less experienced warriors, who would think it was an enemy and attack it until Griggin yelled at them not to. Sometimes, they’d just growl at him and keep attacking. He sighed. Sometimes he wondered if it was all worth it, but he had obligations here. He couldn’t just up sticks and leave. It was never good to relocate children from one school to the other.

Lenna’s hand was on his arm.

“Are you alright dear? Your dinner is getting cold.”

Griggin shook himself.

“Sorry love. Thinking.”

“At the table,” said Lenna.

Griggin laughed. “In violation of rule twelve. No dessert for me!”

“Dibs,” said Trixie, just before Nix could.

“Go on,” said Griggin. “Feed the wolves.”

Trixie picked up the knife. It hovered over the piece of cake, then came down. Nix saw that one piece was at least twenty molecules larger than the other and picked that. Trixie scowled. Within seconds, both pieces were mere memory.

They cleared the table and washed up, then pulled out a very complicated board game and started playing. Nix rolled the dice. “Right. Stations are purple, and the escalators are up. We’re playing normal house rules, right?”

“Except no shunting in the first three turns,” said Trixie, “Because that always means I get to bring everybody else coffee while I wait till I get a turn.

“Don’t start at the Knight’s Bridge, then,” said Nix.

“I like starting there. If I’m lucky, I can get to MC in five.”

“That’s why we keep shunting you.”

“I’m sure that normal rules don’t allow shunting that early in the game.”

“Well if someone hadn’t puked all over the rulebook, I could show you.”

Griggin sighed. “I tried getting a replacement, but Stovold’s guide is out of print.”

Lenna knocked her knuckles on the table.

“Are we playing, or are we bickering over the rules? I’m starting. Earl’s court.”

“Hammersmith,” said Griggin, moving his piece.

“Knight’s bridge,” said Trixie, and stuck out her tongue at Nix.

“Green Park,” said Nix. “Guess what Sis?”

“On the first bloody move?”

“Extra strong, dear,” said Lenna. “No sugar.”

Trixie scowled, and stomped off to the coffee machine.

Griggin looked round the table. You could tell a lot about people’s character by the way they played this game. Nix, for instance, used every dirty trick that used to be in the book before Trixie was sick on it, even if it didn’t advance him any. Trixie, for her part, used simple and straightforward moves that would move her round the board quickly, but leave her wide open to the others’ tricks. Lenna would start by holding back a little, and then, after building up her reserves, come out with big bold moves that could knock people all over the board, but would then leave her open to the attacks of the others. Griggin himself liked to go slow and steady, paying proper attention to defence, so he could fight off most attacks as he neared the goal. As he watched, an argument over the rules developed between Lenna and Nix. These tended to go on for a while.

Griggin looked out of the window. Tomorrow, he had a meeting with Mr. Greasefinger. It would be nice to have a little gold come in. Nix needed reagents, Trixie needed a new helm. Lenna was studiously mending her robes, but by now, the things were more stitches than proper cloth.

“Your turn, dear.”

“Hm?” Griggin looked up. “Oh. Ah. Old Street.”

“Hah!” Trixie’s hand shot out. “I use two buskers, leap you, walk across King’s cross, escalators up to avoid the penalty… Mornington Crescent!”

Dad! That’s just what she was waiting for.”

“Oh. Yes,” said Griggin. “That was inattentive of me. Well done Trixie.” He sighed, finished his coffee. “Well, I think it’s time to turn in. Busy day tomorrow.”


“Sorry mate, I was going to tell you this before, but my whole company has been bought out by Macehandle. They have their own maintenance crews, so the first thing they did was get rid of the current contractors. Bloody bastards are already making a mess of things, but I’m no longer in charge.”

Griggin could only stare. Wilkin Greasefinger’s sausage factory used miles of piping to transport heat, water, frying fat and other things better left unmentioned, all over the plant. It had been one of his large jobs, and keeping the pipes in repair had been one of Griggin’s steady money makers.

“Are you staying on?”

Greasefinger looked round the place. He’d built this factory mostly with his own hands, assisted now and then by other craftsmen like Griggin. He sighed.

“They want me to, though I’ll have a second who’ll be watching me run it. I’ve got a good mind to tell them to stuff it. Can’t afford to, though.”

“You are telling me,” said Griggin. “I was counting on this job. Well, I can see it’s out of your hands. Thank you very much for all the work.”

Griggin turned round, and walked out of the office. He wandered about the estate, not quite knowing what to do. As it was, he was barely staying afloat. He was not in any debt, but children were expensive. Economising on their education was too bad even to consider.

A few yards further on, there was a small workshop, squeezed in between a warehouse and an office building. The front gate was open, and someone was experimenting with a machine. It had that “prototype” look about it: makeshift pipes, no engine covers. This was wild technology, untamed, feral, not quite fully understood yet, and dangerous. A Gnome was observing an impressive array of pressure gauges, completely unaware of the fact that one of the pipes had started glowing ominously. Griggin’s eyes scanned the piping, looking for an emergency shutoff. Ah! He jumped forward, and pulled a chain. An enormous cloud of steam blew out of three of the exhausts, and the machine became quiet. The Gnome turned round to Griggin.

“What do you think you are doing?”

“Forgive me,” said Griggin. “I was saving you from serious injury or death.” He pointed at the pipe he’d noticed. “I thought that was a suspicious colour for a pipe.”

The Gnome looked, and turned pale.

“By the Titans! That’s the coolant, and by the looks of it the pipe has run dry.” He pulled out a red handkerchief and wiped his brow. He held out his hand to Griggin. “Pardon me for snapping at you. This could have gotten ugly. Marvin Sprocket, at your service. People call me Doc.”

“Griggin Steambender,” said Griggin, shaking Marvin’s hand. “Why wasn’t anyone watching your back? And what is that machine you’re working on?”

Marvin pointed a hand at his device.

“What you see before your eyes, my friend, is the Optimal Prime two hundred water pump and power source. Actually, this is the two-hundred X. Can’t seem to get the bugs out.”

“Power source?”

“Yep. This baby will keep a whole family in hot water forever! All you need to add is, well, water.”

“It’s a perpetual motion machine?”

“Exactly! Oh, don’t look at me like that. I know that a true perpetuum mobile is impossible.”

“Hah. Perpetual motion machines are easy. All you need is a frictionless vacuum and a marble. Useful ones, though…”

Marvin laughed. “Well, I know that. So I haggle a bit. If you can hand it over to your grand-children and it’s still running, then that’s perpetual enough for me. All thanks to these things.”

He opened a box, and took out a glowing crystal. Griggin recoiled, but Marvin grinned broadly.

“Don’t worry. This is just alpha-three radiation. Perfectly harmless, and still it’ll power everything you want for years!”

“It also radiates in the visible spectrum,” said Griggin. “Do be careful with that. You don’t know where else.”

“Yes I do. I’ve measured it. I’m not that mad. Well, um… not suicidally so.” He considered again. “Not on purpose anyway. Ye gods, I miss my partner.”

“What happened?”

“Oh, nothing bad. Popped into the House for the Bewildered for a few months. It’ll do him good.”

“Ah. And then he’ll be back?”

Marvin ran a hand through his beard. “Don’t know. He may be looking for employment elsewhere. ‘Next time I see you, I’ll kill you,’ is how he put it. Though I’m sure he didn’t mean it, really. He’s a wonderful chap. Sad to see him go.”

Griggin nodded thoughtfully, rubbing his chin.

“So,” said Marvin, “What’s your field? I can see you’re an Engineer. You have the look about you.”

“Steam technology, piping, maintenance, heat transport. If it runs through a pipe, I’ll try my hand at it.”

“Ah. Always nice to meet a fellow steampunk. Mad or sane?”

“Mostly sane, though you may want to ask my wife for a second opinion on that.”

“Hmm. Family man. Nice. I could never get the hang of families. Have you ever worked in QA?”

“I do the occasional job for Greasefinger, or at least I did. If my replacements are as good as I think they are, we may see the very first sausage explosion in Gnomish history.”

“Ahright. So if I understand correctly, you find yourself between jobs at the moment.”

Griggin heaved a great sigh, looking over his shoulder at the sausage plant.

“I suppose I do. Greasefinger was my biggest customer.”

Marvin gave Griggin a look.

“So why didn’t they keep you on?”

“The whole company was taken over by the Macehandle Consortium. Old Mr. Macehandle does not like me. Something to do with an incident at school involving his son and my daughter.”

“Oh damn. Pissed off the Macehandles, have you? That’ll bugger up your luck. I’ve managed to stay away from them till now, and long may it continue.”

Marvin looked at the Optimal Prime 200(X). Its pipes were gently clicking as they cooled. He nudged Griggin out, closed the door and turned round to Griggin.

“I owe you a pint, mate. If it wasn’t for you, I might have blown up my prototype. Let’s talk.”


Lenna looked at Griggin, thoughtfully.

“A mad steampunk?”

“Yes. He’s working on a water heater and pump powered by alpha-three particles, but he’s struggling with the details. Actually, he’s already done the difficult bit, which is getting alpha particles to heat water. Haven’t the foggiest idea how, and he won’t say, of course, but I’ve seen it work.”

“And your job would be?”

“To keep him alive, basically, while he pushes his technology to the limit. He’s horribly disorganised, and well, let’s just say that details like basic safety have no power to distract him from the more important issues.”

“Hm,” said Lenna. “So you may end up splattered all over the workshop?”

“It would be my job to prevent that from happening.”

Lenna sighed.

“Griggin Steambender, am I going to come home one day to find you with less than your current number of limbs? I rather like your limbs. This sounds dangerous.”

“It is. I am aware of that. Marvin Sprocket isn’t. Accidents happen when people don’t realise how dangerous it is what they’re doing. Also, he pays pretty well. If I can get this to work, then I won’t have to scrape up all those little jobs that are infra dig for Cogspark.”

Lenna put her arm round Griggin’s shoulders and looked into his eyes. They smiled at each other.

“Go on then,” said Lenna. “But if you blow yourself up, I’ll never talk to you again.”


“Right, Marvin. What have I told you? No testing without Steambender present.”

“Oh come on. It worked! Power output is now at three thousand!”

“That is beside the point. The purpose of testing is to find out whether a device works, or not. So it works, but what would have happened if it hadn’t? Shrapnel all over the shop, and I’d be looking for a job. And don’t tell me that couldn’t happen. I can see at least three dodgy joints from where I’m standing.”

“Are you faulting my pipework?”

Griggin sneered, pointed.

“That’s a two-point-two muff on a two inch pipe. What did you fill it up with? Chewing gum?”

“I didn’t have a two point zero. What did you expect me to do?”

“Get one. You’re not helping anyone by being impatient.”

“Pah. Like I keep telling you, it doesn’t work like that. When the spark hits you, you have to act. Wait, and the idea will be gone.”

“And how do you tell the good ideas from the bad ones at the time?”

“You don’t. That’s where you come in. But you weren’t there, so I got on with it.” Sprocket grinned. “And now, we can fill up people’s hot bath in two minutes!”

Griggin sighed. Unless he did something about this, he predicted a trip to the House for the Bewildered for himself in exactly twenty-three days. But what could he do? Marvin Sprocket lived in the space above his workshop. On a whim, he’d even constructed a sliding pole from his bedroom to the shop floor for when one of the wild ideas hit him and he had to trap it in metal and mechanisms before it got away. Once the idea was there, before him, in the flesh, how could he resist seeing if it worked?

Griggin walked up to the prototype. He winced as he looked at some of the joints. Some parts were already buckling under strain that they hadn’t been meant to take. The thing would probably have torn itself apart in ten more minutes. Griggin’s eyes scanned the contraption. A list of things to modify formed in his head. Steel pipes to be replaced with copper. Parts to be replaced with different ones. Conduits that could be routed differently, and away from hot parts. He stared at the wall for a few moments, then turned round to Marvin.

“Mr. Sprocket, we are going to pay a little visit to the shop. Bring twelve gold, twenty silver.”

 

Marvin stood behind Griggin, as he tightened the last nut. The Optimal Prime 200(X) had changed. Gone were the haphazardly routed steel pipes. All the parts matched. Where once the machine had looked like it was waiting for Marvin to turn round so it could hit more essential organs as it exploded, now it looked as if someone might actually allow it within a two-hundred yard range of their house. Griggin pushed the wrench back into the holder. Cleaning up Marvin’s design had taken him maybe four hours. Griggin looked over his shoulder and grinned.

“There. Now how does that look?”

Marvin sneered.

“You’ve taken all the fun out of it. I suppose you’ll want to test it now?”

Griggin nodded slowly. He pushed the machine behind the transparent blast shield, a new addition to the shop. He connected it to the water tank.

“Got any of those crystals handy?”

“Sure. Gimme a sec.”

Marvin wandered off, rummaged through a few boxes and pulled out an energy crystal. He slotted it into the appropriate receptacle. With a buzz of clockwork, it was pulled inside and a hatch closed. Marvin chuckled.

“I was wondering what that whirring gizmo was there for. This is just showing off, Mr. Steambender. Now where’s the on-switch?”

From behind the blast screen, Griggin held up a box, connected to the machine with a thick cable. Marvin’s jaw dropped.

“Remote control? What in Azeroth is that good for?”

“It allows me to observe the machine in operation from behind the blast screen. Remember, the question of ‘is it going to explode’ has more than one answer.”

“Ye gods, man. Have you no faith in your work at all?”

“None whatsoever,” said Griggin happily. “Would you like to join me here?”

Marvin did, grumbling under his breath. Griggin pulled the chain that opened the water tap. Then, he pulled a lever on the control box. The Gnomes pushed their faces against the glass to see.

“Hah!” said Griggin. He pointed, as he saw the needle of one of the pressure gauges rise.

“Twenty-five hundred,” said Marvin. “I got it to three thousand, remember?”

“I know,” said Griggin. “Let’s have the thing heat up all the way through before I push it. If there’s dodgy welds, I’d like to find out now, not when the thing is operating at full power.”

“It’s so quiet,” said Marvin. “I like machines to make a bit of noise. Tells me what it’s doing. Tells me whether it’s about to explode.”

“I’m not sure our customers would want that particular piece of information. I would like them to put things like these in their houses, and never even think about explosions.”

“Customers?”

Griggin looked round at Marvin.

“Yes. You were going to sell these things, weren’t you?”

Marvin stroked his beard.

“Never even thought about that, to tell you the truth.”

Griggin started to laugh, but decided not to.

“If it’s not an impertinent question, where does your money come from, if not from selling your devices?”

“Inherited it from me fa,” said Marvin. “Set me up for life. Got it in an account in the Gnomeregan Cooperative Bank. As long as I don’t go mad, I can live off the interest forever.”

Griggin stared. He truly didn’t know what to say. He looked back at the machine. It hadn’t sprung any obvious leaks yet.

“Right, then. Let’s see what this baby can do now.”

 

“By the Titans! Thirty-one fifty, and I still can’t hear it. I have to hand it to you, Steambender. You did a better job than I did.”

Griggin grinned, and shook his head.

“Not so. This is still your machine. I’ve just made it a bit more, well, civilised. The way you hooked up the heat exchanger to the radiation converters? I wouldn’t have thought of doing it like that. Not in a million years.”

“Do you really think people would buy a machine like this?”

Griggin shrugged. “Sure. I would. All it needs is a bit of sheet metal to keep the unknowing away from the machinery and we have a product. So how long do these crystals last?”

“Started experimenting with them ten years ago. This is the same crystal.”

“Hm. Where’d you get them from?”

“Place in Kalimdor called Un’goro Crater. If you can fight off the wildlife, they’re there to pick up. As many as you’d like. Got piles of them in the back.”

They fell silent for a few moments, looking at the Optimal Prime 200(X) as it heated water to near boiling. Suddenly, Marvin laughed, and slapped Griggin’s back.

“We’ve done it, mate! This is a useful machine. People will be cosy and warm in their homes because of our work. I think this calls for a celebration.”

Griggin looked at the clock. It was almost time to go home. He looked aside at Marvin.

“Why don’t you join us for dinner tonight? I’ll introduce you to that weird and wonderful thing called family life. Lenna should be at the firing range, I’ll ask her.”

Marvin leaned against the blast screen.

“Even better. I’ll take you all out to a place I know where the steak is good. Dinner’s on me.”

 

Griggin and Marvin walked into the corridor. Several mages were in different booths, wearing ear protectors and goggles, firing fireballs and frost bolts at their targets in nice, easy, regular rhythms. Griggin grinned, and stepped into the booth next to Lenna without her noticing. He concentrated, and launched a big shadow bolt at Lenna’s target. He saw Lenna take a step back and look his way. The annoyed frown disappeared from her face for a grin.

“Don’t shoot at other people’s targets, love. It’s very rude.”

“I beg your forgiveness, dear.” He pointed a hand at Marvin. “Meet my employer, Mr. Marvin Sprocket.”

Though Lenna’s smile was as friendly as it could be, there was an undertone of menace in the glint in her eyes.

“Mr. Sprocket. Pleased to meet you. So you are the Gnome who’s trying to explode my husband?”

Marvin laughed. “Only slightly, Madam. In fact, your husband has just introduced a whole range of safety devices and rules. We hardly have any worthwhile explosions anymore.”

Lenna’s smile didn’t even flicker.

“I’m trying to envisage the explosions, Mr. Sprocket. I’m afraid it’s an occupational trait for fire mages. Did you mean an explosion this big?”

Lenna turned back into the booth and let fly a fireball that made the target disappear in a cloud of smoke.

“Or was it more like this big?”

Lenna took a deep breath, slowly extended her hands and let rip. The fireball sailed straight through the hall, hit the back wall and turned the back of the firing range into an inferno. The wet sand steamed, and bits of it started to glow. Several of the other mages stepped back out of their booths and gave Lenna disapproving looks. Marvin stared at the flames, his mouth hanging open.

“Um… more like the former, Ma’am.”

“Oh good,” said Lenna. “It’s nice to see that my husband’s rules and regulations are strictly adhered to.”

“Absolutely, Madam.”

“Mr. Sprocket has invited us to dinner, love,” said Griggin. “And the kids, as well.”

“He’s not seen how much they can eat, has he?”

Marvin waved a hand. “I don’t care. Your husband has turned one of my wild ideas into a marketable device. If I have to buy the restaurant, it’ll still be money well spent.”

Lenna looked at Griggin. On the one hand, getting the children a nice meal for a change was good. On the other hand, they couldn’t afford it themselves. No chance of returning the favour. She looked at Griggin, who seemed to like the idea.

“Well, in that case, we gratefully accept, Mr. Sprocket. Thank you very much.”

“Splendid,” said Marvin.


“So then the safety valve blew, just as he was reaching for the shutoff lever. Ye gods, I never knew he could jump that high at his age!”

Nix and Trixie burst out laughing. Lenna slowly looked round to Marvin. He caught her look and swallowed.

“But of course, now that your dad is working with me, that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” he added hastily. “And a good thing it is, too.”

Trixie reached out for another set of ribs, and started demolishing it. Sauce and grease were all over her face.

Griggin’s eyes were gleaming. Marvin himself had chosen the Gnomeregan House of Ribs. Given the age and the healthy appetite of at least two of the Steambenders present, “All you can eat” came to a substantial amount of meat. Mr. Sprocket seemed to be enjoying himself as well. Griggin looked at Lenna’s face. He recognised the expression of good-natured cheer with undertones of worry. He tore off one of his ribs and held it in front of her. Lenna’s eyes turned round to him, and she grinned.

“For me?”

“For you.”

Lenna accepted the offering and reached for the garlic sauce.

“You’ve had that sauce, right?”

“Lots.”

 

Dinner finished, with coffee, and Mr. Sprocket wandered over to the bar to pay. He came back, and put a hand on Nix’ and Trixie’s shoulders.

“Right people. We’re free to go. You two have done a great job on their profit margin. Well done!”

“My pleasure,” said Trixie. “Thank you for the meal. It was great!”

“Yeah! Thanks,” said Nix. “We don’t get this at home.”

Marvin looked into Nix’ eyes, then at Griggin and Lenna.

“Well, when our water boilers start taking off, we’ll fix that.”

“Taking off,” said Griggin, “In the sense of being sold in huge numbers.”


Griggin and Lenna lay back in the shared cloud of garlic, Lenna’s head on Griggin’s shoulder.

“So,” said Griggin. “What do you think of my boss?”

Lenna considered. “He’s not a bad Gnome, I suppose. But I don’t like his attitude to blowing up his assistants.”

“Heh. That demonstration at the firing range was what you fire mages think of as ‘a subtle hint’, was it?”

“Looked like he needed it.”

Griggin stared at the ceiling for a while.

“He’s a genius. Everybody who’s ever been to Un’goro has been able to pick up stacks of those crystals. Rogues use chips of them to see by at night. You can use the ancient pylons there to convert them into strength boosters, but the effect wears off quickly and it isn’t all that potent anyway. Only he found a way of using them to heat water. I would never have thought of that. And still, if I hadn’t been there, that machine would just have ended up in a corner of the room, perhaps making him tea now and then. Making lots of them and selling them didn’t even occur to him.”

“Sounds like a mutually beneficial partnership to me, then.” Lenna snuggled up closer. “Just don’t get blown up in the process, dear.”

“I’ll try my best not to.”


Copyright: © 2008,2009,2010 Menno Willemse. All rights reserved.

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