Koursh declared, “We send two pairs out during the night, and a team of three during daylight. The night team will be one close, one ranging outside.”
“Simkit and Jack outside,” Rogan said. “They have the best sensing range and they can work as a single unit. They won’t get ambushed, and they’ll be able to see it from far away, should anything happen at base. Lend Jack your rifle, Fionna.”
She looked unhappy with that idea too, but again she nodded.
“As for Friday, once we can move her, we’ll be taking Meadhbh with us to Trin,” Rogan told the man before he could say anything else. “She needs a good hospital.”
“And she’ll hae such in Orosjo,” Fionna countered. “She canna risk the law spottin’ her in Dominion territory. Ye ken that well, Granduncle.”
He scowled at her, but couldn’t decide whether to argue. Fionna had a point. He could pull aristocratic rank and give the girl sanctuary, but it would cost Meadhbh her cover and rob her freedom.
“Gramps hae well-modernized Canterene medicine, and we’ll be puttin’ the lass in his ain hospital too. Hae trust in your brother, if nothin’ else, Milaird.”
He sighed, and held his hand up in concession. Once she brought Dugan into it, he lost. His adoptive brother owned great skill in both management and medicine, thanks to having left a brilliant Naval flag officer’s career in order to study medicine and become an even more brilliant surgeon.
“Then, Friday we shall see you off at the tower for Trin,” Koursh stated, “and return to Cantaree.”
Fiona was already nodding her concurrence, but Rogan rejected it. “Absolutely not. I’ll not leave this world before seeing my wounded retainer safely off it first.”
Before either of them could protest, he set his jaw and declared, “That is final.”
His grand-niece rolled her eyes. “Milaird, Meadhbh is your retainer. She is nae Gireidil clanswoman. Kindly consider things as an Osril nobleman and no’ a Gireidil Dhan fer once.”
“Well, there’s wee question about that, isn’t there, Lass? Meadhbh’s half-Gireidil, and a descendant of my Intr’ith clan. It’s how her mother ended up with Brath House in the first place. Not that it makes any odds, because I said it is final, Fionna!“
Once he sharpened his voice to overrule the rebuttal he could see forming on her lips, she let out a frustrated, cheek-puffing breath, but she looked away and said no more on the subject.
“So,” Rogan observed, returning to a conversational tone, “you brought Simkit and all these horses along, yet you lot don’t have a flyer with spin capability tucked away somewhere?”
“No such luck, Granduncle,” Fionna answered, still sounding a bit sulky. “No flyers for hire to crazy people bound for Chald. I had t’ buy a cargo barge small enough t’pass thru an Auman transfer stage. We stashed it at the tower for Cantaree. It can only manage two horses per trip, but thanks t’ the small size even I can fly the thing.”
“What do you say to bringing that barge to this camp and taking Meadhbh to safety on it?”
Koursh shook his head with vigor. “Never, My Lord. Too many armed flyers patrol this region. Even using flying frames is risky, and that barge needs a strong tailwind to reach twenty neith.”
He scowled. Such a speed was far too low. A decent air vehicle would have made everything easier. He asked, “So the stage to Cantaree did prove to be clear as we thought?”
“Aye,” Fionna confirmed. “Seems our own Couriers Guard cleared it decades ago. They’ve been usin’ Aum as a secret passage.”
He scowled. “Brionna didn’t pass that information to you, did she?”
Fionna’s cousin, Rogan’s grand-daughter, served in that service, but he expected better judgement from the girl.
“What, Barney pass secured information?” His grand-niece tipped her head back and laughed. “Never her, Granduncle! Rest ye easy, I learnt it through other means.”
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