NaNoWriMo: Posted November 6 @8:28p
Bankim – suspenders and red-brown pants
Kalle – not fond of Toivo but remains civil as his nature, well dressed
Toivo – commonly clueless
Trigger – curly mop of hair
“You’re not pleased to have me, are you?”
Jaith shifted a hand, shielding his eyes from the sun. He liked the warmth of the sand and the way it hit various pressure points on his back. These next few moments would be his last free moments until the job was completed. His eyes blinked a few times, adjusting to the sun’s glare. Most on Atala claimed the sun to belong to Mitra, but they misunderstood the work of Earthen Lords.
It took a moment for Jaith’s eyes to readjust, but when they did he found the girl Bayta sitting in the sand with her feet tucked under her, her hands politely cupped on her skirted lap and her back straighter than a tree truck. If she didn’t relax this would be a long trip.
Jaith opened his mouth and picked a date loose from a tooth with his tongue while he studied her.
Atalans never bothered him, not even the Lorian variety, although he wasn’t really fond of their elongated ear tips and the more well to do class tended to have cocky mannerisms. But he’d been told that his Lorian impression was dead on, which helped with completing jobs. So maybe he had a bit of natural cockiness himself.
“You’re not my property Little One. It’s not about being pleased to have you or not; it’s about getting this job done.”
“Ah, forgive me,” the girl cooed softly, more to herself than to Jaith, “I misunderstood. I’m a job.”
Jaith rolled his eyes then covered them again with his hand. Her image remained in his mind though. That expression of hers that didn’t waiver. That red hair that she wore tucked behind her ears that only highlights the high slant of her narrow eyes. She wore a lipstick in a shade that matched her hair color, which captured the eye – his at least – and drew it to her lips. The payment for her virginity must have been massive. It wasn’t fair to trade away such an innocent beauty, not matter what kind of benefit came with the cost. Jaith pictured her expression before her life was sold. It was very different from what he saw now. If the job went well, maybe he could restore her. Maybe he’d actually see her happy again instead of just this imaginary thought.
He opened his eyes again.
Her expression hadn’t wavered its emotionless state. She probably lost her passion for life the night her mother sold her. Jaith adjusted his head and studied his father. The man didn’t look much older than he did even though their age difference was understandable only on Earth, but they had nearly identical nose structure. Jaith also knew that they both had similar lips that pursed together when they talked and reminded many over a bird’s beak. He loved that description. Today, however he spoke to Nom with an uncommonly sterile face. He hoped to see his dad’s easy going nature one more time before he left Lynthia with Bayta. They’d just repaired their strained relationship. Jaith really wanted his dad to join him on the trip, but he knew his dad needed to leave Atala. He also knew that the man might not get return.
Jaith’s tongue knocked the remaining date free. It didn’t matter really. He had his crew. They’d always been more like family. Jaith chewed the speck of food and focused again on Bayta. Jaith couldn’t wait to introduce Bayta to the woman he met in Kakoria. The Lorian and Kakorian skin tones were similar although their personalities were polar opposites. Jaith was certain the two would be a good match.
“Look, I know what it’s like to lose emotion kid. I know what it’s like to be sold out—”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Jaith groaned into his hand and sat up.
“You do,” he insisted, his nose crinkling at the concept of some kid fearing the opportunity to have a decent conversation with him. “But, here’s the thing I want you to understand and remember, like plug it into the back of your mind.”
The girl gave him a funny look. His words probably made no sense to her. He didn’t really care. She’d figure it out if she really wanted to.
“I got a second chance…but only when the time was right, only when I was ready for it. Sometimes important information, if presented too early, becomes meaningless. I spent years angry. I didn’t understand why my dad offered me up to the Divine Lords for Judgment when I was little. I didn’t get why he just allowed them to take me away and put me here.”
Jaith paused, fanning his arm out toward the endless sand.
“Well, not here exactly, but you get the point.”
“Not really,” Bayta said, her body language calming. Her back rolled just a bit, and her face had smoothed with her amusement.
“Whatever, the point is that I learned later that my dad had no idea that his best friend would rip me away from the family. My Day of Judgment was an expected celebration. He had no power over the choice or control to stop them from taking me.”
Bayta scoffed. “You talk like you’re a god.”
“Maybe I am,” Jaith said, flashing a superior grin. “Maybe I’m your personal Divine Lord, here and at your service to spare you the misery of your old life and whisk you away to the utopia that is your new one.”
At first, Bayta didn’t speak. She squinted and gave him a hard smile. “Maybe, but Lorian myths of Divine Lords described them as mutated Atalans; you know, with excessive arms, multiple heads, golden skin that shimmered like the moon on water.”
Jaith gave a half shrug and ran his hand through his curly brown hair then glanced over at his dad.
“The author of those Lorian myths must have been drunk on soma.”
The girl snickered.
“Jaith’s crew is in town, boarded at a bar,” Daksh said, observing his son out the corner of his eye. The day’s heat carried on, and Daksh gave into sitting under the shade of a date palm. He knew Nom would make good use of the fruits as well as the plant life within the lagoon’s waters. He also knew she’d take on a multitude of assistants what would follow in her footsteps and do the same.
The Atalan boy had the laid back charisma of his Earthen family. His personality and characteristics encompassed the ideal forger. He never had to get the imitation perfectly if he knew how to best deceive those that needed misdirection, enchant those who needed charming and help those who needed saving. If anyone could run this underground railroad of Nom’s…it would be him. He had the ability to put the victim at ease with him and his men so that her travels became a serene trip of resurrection. If his caravan was stopped he knew how to manage whoever might approach him – male or female. Daksh was proud of his boy. He didn’t need his Foresight to know that Jaith would inspire Atala and leave a positive message for its people when it was his time to return to Earth.
Which means, Daksh also knew Jaith died in the lagoon’s waters. Creating this lagoon meant Daksh sealed his son’s fate.
“How many?” Nom asked, pulling Daksh’s attention again. She sat comfortably on one of the Lagoon’s large rocks. He was proud of his creation, as horrific as it was. The oasis would suit Nom and her needs well.
“Five,” Daksh answered, knowing his words would do nothing more than irritate Nom. At least he was ready for her reaction. “Jaith, Bankim, Kalle, Toivo and Trigger.”
“All men?” The tone of her voice fluctuated in agitation. It was the reason he came to this meeting with Jaith.
Daksh gave an easy nod. Nom shook her head and dropped her eyes to the stone she sat on, but Daksh relaxed, wrapping his arms around his drawn up legs. Foresight had told him that the first meeting would be the roughest. “They’re good people, Nom.”
“But they are all men. This child was beaten and raped. I thought we discussed this.”
The herbalist sounded heartbroken, as if her grand plans suddenly unraveled. Daksh knew her tone was nothing more than frustration and fear of failing at the implementing her plan. He also knew that at some point every enterprise had a setback and those setbacks were no big deal.
“Nom, nothing can be done to unrape her. I don’t say that to be offensive, but I cannot fix what happened to her nor can I stereotype my sex as a whole into a label of villainous bastards. Jaith has a way of putting people at ease. If anything, this is exactly what this girl needs.”
Nom ignored him, although Daksh knew full well that she heard his words.
“You should have a woman on the crew,” she sputtered on, rubbing her pierced eyebrow as if to ward off a headache.
Her words didn’t sink his spirit. Little rattled him which made rational conversation his forte. He never let emotion overtake him.
“Nom, there’s no time to find another member. A team like this cannot just pick someone up off the street. Crew members have to prove their loyal and build a bond of trust. That takes time.”
“Then I’ll go”
“No, I didn’t prepare her for series of womanless stops. This will be a good lesson for me, and next time I’ll have be properly prepared for the job. I can’t see how my presence would harm the job, and I’ll see the process in action. I’ll be better able to explain it. This will be good for both sides. You said that adding a woman to the crew means building up a loyal and trust. I am that woman so I better start.”
“Fair enough. They leave before dawn.”
WORD COUNT: 1703
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