Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Inej could only hope she could get the big gun working. She wriggled down in the cockpit of the tank. She rotated the only visible handle, and the nose of the long gun tilted into place. The lever was there, just as Jesper had said it would be. She gave it a hard pull. There was a surprisingly small click. Then, for a long horrible moment, nothing happened. What if it isn’t loaded? she thought. If Jesper’s right about this gun, then the Fjerdans would be fools to keep this much firepower just lying around.
A thunk sounded from somewhere in the tank. She heard something rolling toward her and had the terrifying thought that she’d done it wrong. The mortar was going to roll right down that long barrel and explode in her lap. Instead there was a hissing sound and a shriek like metal grinding against metal. The big gun vibrated. A skull-rattling boom split the air with a puff of dark gray smoke.
The mortar struck the glass, shattering it into thousands of glittering pieces. Prettier than diamonds, Inej marveled, hoping that Wylan and Jesper had found time and space to take cover.
She waited for the dust to clear, her ears ringing badly. The glass wall was gone. All was still. Then two ropes attached to the walkway rail swung down, and Wylan and Jesper followed: Jesper like a limber insect, Wylan in stops and starts, wiggling like a caterpillar trying to make its way out of a cocoon.
“Ajor!” Inej shouted in Fjerdan. Nina would be proud.
She cranked the gun around. On the other side of the remaining glass wall, men were shouting from the walkway. As the barrel swiveled in their direction, they scattered.
Inej heard footsteps and clanging as Jesper and Wylan climbed onto the tank. Jesper’s head appeared, hanging down from the dome. “You letting me drive?”
“If you insist.”
She moved aside so he could climb behind the controls.
“Oh, hello, darling,” he said happily. He pulled another lever, and the armored wagon seemed to shudder to life around them, belching black smoke. What kind of monster is this? Inej wondered.
“That noise!” she cried.
“That engine!” cackled Jesper.
Then they were moving—and not a horse in sight.
Gunfire sounded from above. Apparently, Wylan had found the controls.
“For Saints’ sake,” Jesper said to Inej. “Help him aim!”
She squeezed in next to Wylan in the domed turret and aimed the second small gun, helping to lay down cover as guards burst into the enclosure.
Jesper was turning the tank, backing up as far as possible. He fired the big gun once. The mortar smashed the enclosure glass, sailed past the walkway, and struck the ringwall behind it. White dust and shards of stone scattered everywhere. He fired again. The second mortar hit hard, cracks splintering through the rock of the wall. Jesper had made a dent in the ringwall—a sizeable one—but not a hole.
“Ready?” he called.
“Ready,” Inej and Wylan replied in unison. They ducked beneath the gun turret. Wylan had scratches from the glass all over his cheeks and neck. He was beaming. Inej grabbed his hands and squeezed. They’d come to the Ice Court scurrying like rats. Live or die, they were going out like an army.