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August 3 – Matters in Their Own Hands

Bookworm was patrolling the Iron Bay district, going over the canals, especially, with a keen gaze. Two more buildings had been bombed and destroyed, the second with a loss of life that made her angry. There were rumors that the bombers were using a boat to get about, and so she was on the lookout for anything suspicious on the waters.

She was coming around Captain Lupindo’s whale-oil facility when she saw a group of urchins standing on the dockside, staring out across the bay. Myrtil Igaly’s voice floated over to her, “…goons… swimming over… ship…” She hurried over, and her steps caught their attention.

“Hoy, Miss Book!” called Jimmy Branagh.

“Miss Book!” said Myrtil. “We need you!”

“What is is?” Bookworm asked. She looked around, seeing other familiar faces, including Tepic, Zaida, Richardus, and Nathan, as well as a few she didn’t know.

“There are those bad people who demolished Cyan’s candy shop, and the other buildings,” Myrtil replied, pointing out across the bay.

“What?!” Startled, Bookworm peered across the water, squinting against the haze-filtered sun. She could make out a couple of boats near the arches. One of them was a flat, open boat; there seemed to be something inside, but she couldn’t tell what. The other looked like one of the water taxis by its shape, though even at that distance, she could tell it was rather shabbier.

“We found their boat,” Tepic said. “It’s that one by the arches!”

“Th’ one thet’s about ta ‘splode,” Jimmy put in proudly.

“About… to…” She stared at them, aghast.

“We put a bomb under it,” Tepic said. “Gonna blow any time, an’ then they’ll swim fer safety an’ we got ‘em!”

“It’s just a little one, Miss,” Jimmy said, while Nathan gave her a lopsided smile. “Shouldn’t hurt the stonework at awl.”

“Yep, were easy,” Tepic put in. “Some of Mr. Footman’s chemicals, an’ a water fuse…” He looked out over the water again. “Should be any time now.”

“Yes, but where are the goons?” Nathan asked. “We should know where they are, in case they come running at us, knives swinging, when things go boom.”

As Bookworm felt Zaida come up next to her, she also stared at the boat, realizing the futility of trying to run across to the bridge in time. She could only hope–

And then, with a muffled boom and a great splashing of water, the open boat disintegrated into pieces, showering the water around–and the other nearby boat–with debris. The urchins cheered–all except Tepic. Myrtil looked at him. “That was the right boat, right?” she asked.


“Tepic?” She stared more fully at him. “That was the right boat, wasn’t it?”

Zaida, at Bookworm’s side, pointed at the rusty water taxi-like vessel. “I thought it was dat boat.” Bookworm put a hand up to her face, shaking her head.

“Uh… uh, oh…” said Richardus.

Jimmy raises an eyebrow, then looked over at Tepic. “Got another bomb?”

Bookworm quickly dropped her hand. “No!” she said firmly.

“But, what was that boat, then?” Myrtil asked, as they stared at the floating debris that was all that was left of it.

“Err… that was the garbage scow, weren’t it?” Tepic asked sheepishly.

Bookworm sighed and shook her head. “Next time, come to me first? Or someone from the militia?”

“But there was no time, miss,” Myrtil protested. “They could have run away.” She gestured back out across the water, and paused, staring. “They left!”

“Where did they get to so fast?” Richardus wondered. They all stared, and Bookworm caught a glimpse of a boat disappearing behind the last standing pillar of the bridge, heading north. She wondered if it was just the light, or if she really did see a figure staring back at her…

“They must have been scared by the explosion,” Myrtil mused.

“Does dis mean dat we bad guys?” Zaida asked, looking as if she might cry. “I don’ wanna be a bad guy!”

“It’s all right, Zaida,” Bookworm said reassuringly.

“So, emmm… wot’s we doing about the right boat?” an urchin Bookworm didn’t know asked.

“Well, reckon we scared ‘em off fer tonight, Cody,” Tepic said. Jimmy nodded, putting away his slingshot. They, and some of the others, got to talking about ways they might be able to track the boat, if they could find it again. Bookworm tried to sound a voice of reason, saying, “I would suggest that next time, you stay hidden, and keep a watch on it, and get one of the Militia.”

“Yes, we’ll do that next time, Miss,” Myrtil replied. Bookworm, though, wasn’t sure how much she believed that.

Tepic asked her, “Err… you ain’t gonna tell Mr. Tenk I blew up the garbage scow, are you?”

“You’re lucky I haven’t seen him lately,” she replied wryly. “Perhaps by the time I do, I’ll have… forgotten about this.”

“Forgotten about that beautiful explo–” The boy named Cody broke off. “Err… I mean…”

“It did work well, didn’t it?” Tepic smiled a bit bemusedly. Cody snickered and nodded at Tepic.

Bookworm decided she didn’t want to hear any more. “I’d best go and report this… sighting… at Militia headquarters. Do try to stay out of trouble.”

“Best ask if trouble can stay away from me,” Richardus replied impudently. Bookworm went on her way, shaking her head, but smiling a little to herself.

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