The Fated Sky – Evil Omen of Doom

“You know why we have come here, Captain,” she said. It was a statement and not a question.
Caer shrugged lightly.
Of course he knew.
He knew exactly why the caravan had left the relative security of the road that morning on Alexa’s orders and made its way overland to the foot of this particular mithan. But in his mind was a Zoukai saying which had been drummed into him from the first day he had shaved his head and joined the brotherhood. It explained that the caravansi was the brain, the caravan the torso and the Zoukai the limbs, there to do the will of the brain. As a hand did not question the mind that moved it, so a Zoukai should not question the orders of his caravansi.
“It is your will, Honoured One,” he replied carefully. “It is what you commanded.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed.
“And that is truly all you think about it? I pay you to protect my caravan and you don’t even question why I would order it to leave the safety of the road in the heart of the Wastelands?” The woman sounded disbelieving. “Have I wasted my money and employed a fool?”
Caer felt himself flush and bit back hard on the humiliation and anger. The anger was at himself for not being able to say the right thing in the presence of his caravansi. He took refuge in simple honesty.
“I heard the thunder in the skies and saw the explosion on the mithan plateau last night, just before dawn,” he said. “So yes, I know why you ordered me to bring the caravan here, Honoured One.”
“And what did you believe it was Captain?” she asked. “Did you believe that the gods battled in the Wastelands? Or perhaps that it was an evil omen of doom?”
Her sarcastic tone pricked at his pride. He had heard – and silenced – the same stories last night from the ignorant fools in the caravan.
“I did not believe anything, I knew.” Realising that his tone was much too abrupt, he corrected himself quickly. “It was a space vessel, Honoured One. It landed on the plateau and then exploded.”
Alexa smiled suddenly, leaning forward to reveal more of her silken skin as she did so, her violet eyes burning with an intense excitement.
“Yes. And just think what that means, Captain,” she said, her voice little more than a whisper. “Weapons, power-cells – who knows what kind of a valuable cargo in the hold. But even if all it carried was destroyed by the explosion, surely there will be some of the rare metal we can salvage from its hulk.” She paused as if to let the possibilities form in both their minds, then said, simply: “I shall be rich.”
Rich was the truth of it.

From The Fated Sky the first part of Transgressor Trilogy, and the first book in Fortunes Fools by E.M. Swift-Hook.

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