68: Rogan


After carefully scooping the uniforms and the surviving bits of human, which must have been too charred to interest animals, into their respective graves, Rogan quietly waited for Nam to finish her short service. He knew there was scant chance any of the three had been Christian, but once she finished, he crossed himself and prayed a wee prayer for them too.

He heard Nam whisper a few words in the Ilidi dialect, to his surprise. Although she knew their tongue, she rarely allowed it to pass her lips. The abandonment of these soldiers must have troubled her more than he realized. It was likely a simple improvisation of her own, but she had some knowledge of the Ilidi from her mother, and she had chosen to offer what she could for the three.

He used a kinetic field to push the rubble back over the graves. Althem’s meticulous work had pounded the stuff into sand and small rock, making the effort relatively easy. The graves would likely serve as soil for the first plant life to return to this seared hilltop.

Ilidi, he had heard, would plant fruit trees on the graves of their deceased. Fruit from an ancestor’s grave was regarded as a blessing, as food provided by the elder to the children. He wished he could plant something for these soldiers, but there was no way for any descendants to know where their ancestor lay, anyhow.

After Jack watched him complete his work, he commented, “I can almost tell how you do that. It’s like I can see it working, but I can’t see how you make it happen.”

Rogan nodded while looking over at Nam, who was digging into his backpack. “Aye. Give it time. It’s nigh a miracle you can even sense as well as you do at this point.”

He added, to Nam, “What are you looking for, Lass?”

“Marching tack.” She pulled out the foil packets containing the stuff as she answered. It was the same food they had eaten for lunch, but there was plenty of it.

Rogan scowled a glance toward the new graves. “Not hungry at the moment, thank you.”

“Nor I, but our bodies need the fuel,” she declared, handing packets to each of them. “Eat.”

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He knew better than to argue. Certain things Nam took charge of, and brooked no objection. Nutrition and anything else that could impact their health was very definitely her purview. It seemed Jack had also learned this lesson already. They both ate what she handed them.

After she finished her own food, Nam decided she was going to go scouting again and took off. Jack watched her go, shaking his head and making a wry comment about the speed she was managing.

You still look at Nam and I as if we were something other than human, Jack. How long until you figure out you’re now a ‘spook’ too?

Having something familiar to focus on, Jack went back to practicing his new flux sensing skills, reporting Nam’s position from time to time.

Other flux artists called Rogan’s type ‘flux blind’, although ‘flux myopic’ would be far more accurate. He couldn’t verify Jack’s claims. But he had a powerful workaround for this case.

<Althem, my friend,> he asked, <are you following Jack’s progress?>

<I am,> the old priestess admitted. <although occasionally Nam is beyond my range.>

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<She’s going out that far?> He was a wee bit alarmed at that news.

<She is, although I’ve twice sent a quick reminder to mind her distance.>

He sighed to himself. He would have to have a talk with the woman. She had a tendency to think of herself as bulletproof that was bad for his heart.

<So, how’s he doing?>

<He is accurate when he reports. I think I have a slightly greater range.>

<Slightly greater?> he retorted. <Shouldn’t you be able to well out-do an untrained beginner?>

<This particular untrained beginner,> she answered, <is unusually gifted. I don’t understand it.>

<What do you mean?>

<I don’t understand how someone with such sensitivity didn’t awaken to it on his own.>

<I’ve had much the same thought, old girl.>

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