89: Rogan

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Rogan chewed on rugit meat, and studiously hid his amusement as he watched the Earther marvel at the quantity of the goat-like animal that Simkit was putting away. Thamad did not graze like the horses who were having their own meals in the grass nearby. To create the race, the Ilidi had used Vuzhrid slaves, a fellow human species, as the raw material, so Thamad ate a human diet. But a normal human portion could never power a body so large.

A bipedal human woman the size and build of Simkit from the waist up would weigh around nine stone. Simkit likely weighed closer to seventy. Thus, she needed nourishment almost equal to the rest of the party added together.

Are you wondering where she’s putting it all, lad? he thought at Jack with chuckle. I did too, the first time I saw a Thamadin take a meal. It’s not in that bonny slender waist. Her upper stomach is merely a pump to push things along.

As artificial creations, Thamad had nightmarish internal anatomy, full of compromises and distortions to their ancestral design. Six-limbed vertebrates simply do not exist in nature, nor do vertebrates with multiple hearts and livers and so forth. Tracing all the way back to the Devonian, the ancestors to humanity had followed a consistent four-limbed body plan.

Most of her species’ fellow Ilidi experiments had far worse endings. Simkit’s kind were one of only ten Vuzhrid-descended species who had survived that abuse. By the time the early models of modern war beasts rendered the modified Ilidi slave races obsolete and freed them from the nightmare, their masters had driven the unmodified Vuzhrid and the rest of their modified descendants to extinction.

When Jack spoke, though, it was on a different subject.

“We’ve got a minute now,” Jack said. “So you tell me now. How does a man who isn’t even the right species end up with a Scottish accent?”

Rogan chuckled and asked, “You’ll not let that go, will you, lad?”

“The Scottish accent suits Fionna. Her looks would blend in on any street in Edinburgh. You?” Jack shook his head. “Not really.”

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Rogan’s lip twisted. This was not a simple question to answer when the man knew so little about Trinan history. To buy some time, he noted, “Just so you know, neither I nor Fionna would sound so much a Scot to the ears of an actual Scot. They might think me a foreigner who had lived there a good part of his life, but they would never hear a Scot. And in turn, a Scot never sounds like a Kelsie to Fionna or myself.”

“Kelsie,” Jack echoed.

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“Aye. Fionna, and my Mum and Da are folk called Kelsies. And some of the differences between Scots English and Kelsie English are comical even. In Scotland, ‘Sassenach’ is a derogatory word for an English-speaker, either from Scotland or England. That was a fine shock to me, when I first heard it, since my family are what we call Sassenach on Trin. It’s no derogatory word for us, rather it’s the proper name for an English-speaking Kelsie. The Kelsic provinces are divided into the Northern Sassenach, the Gaelig and the Southern Sassenach, my family’s home province. Although the Brath steading is on the border with the Gaelig, so I learnt that language too.”

He smile at the memory, then sobered again and thought a bit. “As for me, personally, I’m adopted. That’s how I can be the wrong species and still raised a Kelsie. Natural born Kelsies like Fionna are Osrin, just like Earthers or the folk of Koursh’s land. But as for why a Trinan culture would sound Scottish…”

There was nothing for it. Jack needed the history lesson first. “The fact is, a great portion of Trin’s population isn’t originally from Trin. They are immigrant cultures, mostly from Earth and most of which came less than five hundred years ago. We’re most of us cousins of Earth, so naturally, we resemble Earthers.”

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