72: Rogan

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He scratched his face and chuckled. “Well, it is certainly never something I expected to talk about. You should not be able to sense it, Jack. You do not have any Gireidil blood, I think. Least you do not look it.”

Then he grinned. “As for what I was doing… the Osri of Earth have a remarkably similar tool, actually. One in its own way more powerful than our Paeth Giraan. You call it the ‘Internet’. We have… a sort of ‘Internet’ based upon flux devices rather than electronics.”

Jack looked back at him with mild disbelief. “A… magical Internet? Rogan…”

Ignoring the mention of ‘magic’ that always rankled him, Rogan nodded. “Aye, it would not be wise to push the analogy too far, as it really has a very different nature. But it is the same make in its being a widespread information tool.”

“So you can communicate with Nam or something?”

He shook his head. “Not at the moment. The Paeth functions haphazardly on Chald. The old conflict created much interference here. But yes, I attempted to send something like an email to Nam. Or perhaps it would be more of a text message. The try ought have been completely invisible to you.”

Jack was quiet for a while. When he spoke again, it was carefully measured. “The Internet. That makes yet another Earthly thing you’re familiar with. Why do you and Nam know so much about Earth, Rogan?”

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Rogan also ignored the latent suspicion that still underlay such question. He understood that Jack was still sorting things out about his new companions. He smiled and shrugged.

“Nothing sinister, and no reason not to tell you. Nam and I took part in a Parhan mission in New York for about a decade. A diplomatic mission of sorts. That’s how we came to be considered the Earth experts within the Ministry.”

Jack frowned a guardsman’s ‘something wrong with this story’ frown. “Wouldn’t a diplomatic mission have gone to Washington?”

“We weren’t meeting with the US government. Our mission involved the UN. That’s in New York,” Rogan explained patiently. He had ten years’ experience learning about the insular mindset of Americans, but why was it they didn’t understand where the center of global affairs resided when it was right there in their own country?

He considered his words for a bit, then continued. “Jack, I suspect that’s one of at least a dozen questions you must have about us. Truth?”

Growing a wry grin, the Earther nodded. “Well, yeah. I’ve got a long list. But I’m dependent upon you guys if I want to get home, so I don’t want to tick you off by asking too much at once.”

“I reckon you wise for that, but I’m pretty thick-skinned. Fire away, Jack. All your questions. What would you like to know first?”

Jack pursed his lips and considered it, then grinned. “Fine. Then top on my list is, if you come from another world and you aren’t even the same species as me, why the hell do you sound Scottish?”

Rogan stared at him for a moment, incredulous, and then burst out into laughter. “For all the questions I was expecting, that was certainly never first on my list.”

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But then the guardsman held up a hand. “It has to wait. Nam’s getting close, and she has something following her.”

<It’s more than a mere ‘something’,> Althem added. < There are two flying frames pursuing her. She is actively evading.>

Rogan scowled, then pulled his gun and knelt facing the direction Jack now pointed. After a moment, the guardsman joined him at the breastwork with his own weapon drawn.

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