110: Jack

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He stared at the centauress for several seconds before answering. He still couldn’t tell if this was some self-sacrificing maneuver on her part or a wise strategy.

There was no way for him to force her to come with him, though, so his only choices were to refuse to leave her or go along with her plan. Simkit was a resolute woman. Refusing to leave her would only prolong the argument.

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And prolonging the argument was just prolonging the standoff. Which meant the other side might make a move while they still had no plan. Fine. He’d cooperate. If anything happened while he was within range to help, he could always ran back come in from behind and try to give her cover fire. His Beretta held bullets packed with flux energy now.

“I’ll be swinging wide of them before I angle back toward the camp,” he told her. “Will you be able to find me if you get past them?”

“The form I cast hides you from myself as well, Guardsman. Just continue your return to base.”

He nodded, then undid the snap on his holster. “Fine. I’m going.”

“If… anything happens,” she said, then hesitated. Finally, she finished, “Tell Husband that I am grateful.”

Do you even understand the concept of a death flag? he wanted to fuss at her, but held his tongue and began walking. More than likely, she’d never heard the term. He wondered briefly about why it wasn’t ‘tell him I love him,’ but that part was her business. If it came to that, he would see to it Rogan’s people got the message to the man with the wording she used.

There was a standard response prescribed for this situation, anyway. “Make sure you tell him that, yourself.”

True to her word, a minute after he quietly began working his way through the underbrush, he sensed her start forward toward the warbeasts.

About a minute after that, a stentorian voice, like a PA, called out  in the same alien tongue he’d heard Fionna calling to the ‘Gireid’ the previous day. He suspected it to be the language that produced all the foreign words surrounding the subject of ‘flux control’. His only languages were English, Spanish, and the smattering of Pashto that he had probably forgotten since leaving Afghanistan, and none of them gave him any clue what they were saying.

In a loud voice, Simkit answered, “Bruxilhu ahal. Do you know English? Orosjo-a? Ga Vuzhridi sisi?”

The voice answered “English. Translation located. Will do. Halt. Identify.”

He wanted to stop and listen to the progress of the talks, but as long as they remained peaceful, he continued carefully working his way through the brush. He felt he had walked off to the side sufficiently far, though, so he turned and began heading toward the camp.

“I am Simkit Brath, Wife of Sir Rogan Brath, granddaughter of Thos Catram, A Sword of  Clan Int’rith in the land of Surian on this world of Chald.”

He nearly tripped in his shock.

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Wife of Sir Rogan Brath???

“Name… no registry. Species… not Gireid.”

Rogan didn’t treat Simkit any different than the others in the crew, but Jack recalled Rogan’s expressions of concern for her health, because of what sounded like a recent childbirth. Even though her dismissal of his concern rang pretty true, considering the martial arts demonstration she had just put on, a short while ago.

They had a baby? How could that even be possible? That couldn’t happen, right?

Simkit’s answer was unruffled. “I am Thamad, of the Vuzhridil races, allies of the Gireid. The Paeth Giraan should hold my grandmother’s status as a clan sword in its memory, as well as the birth of my mother, Eldep, daughter of Catram.”

“This. Inquiry is made. Thamadin Simkit Brath, stand and wait.”

“I am wounded. Please excuse me for lying down.”

The voices were getting fainter. He wanted to hold up and hear the result of this inquiry, but he had no idea how long the wait was likely to be.

He had years of experience telling him to stick to the plan whenever out of contact with one’s partner. Nothing could be fatal faster than showing up in the wrong place, when firearms were involved. With no further words coming to him from Simkit’s location, he kept working his way toward the camp.

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