Tuesday, May 24, 2016

14: Consequences

The Catamaran came over the dune well after first light, not that there was much, the sky was a burnt umber of blowing sand.  Alone, Kurga stood to meet it.  Skidding sideways, it slowed but did not stop.  A rope ladder whipped against the side and Kurga wondered briefly if he should miss it, would the Captain swing around again.  He doubted it but then he was in a black mood and everything today was viewed through a thick and distorted lens.  

He did not miss.  He climbed aboard and settled to the deck as if the rifle over his shoulder weighed the world.  He leaned back against the gunwale and became aware of its presence, struggled with it mightily and heaved it away from him.  Unencumbered, he laid his head against the warm, rough wood and closed his eyes.  

Captain Rayjay came and stood over him, “The Viceroy’s pet?”

“Stayed behind.  Her choice,” Kurga told him.  

“And Amis?”

Kurga shook his head.  “Also her choice.”  Captain Rayjay grunted as if he had expected as much and went back to the wheel.  He barked orders and more sail was lowered and the Catamaran rose up on the leeward hull and began to hiss as it picked up speed.  It happened that it pushed Kurga deeper into his recline and so he felt no need to get up or get out of the way.  He lay there like a sack of potatoes from the hold, uncaring whether or not anyone even tripped over him.  The ship’s physician came to check on him but otherwise they left him as he lay.  He slept, woke, noticed the haze of the sky was lighter, orange-er.  He rolled onto his side and lay his head against some hawser and slept some more.  

This time he awoke in his hammock below decks.  It was dark but then, below decks was always dark.  Still, he was sure it was night.  He wondered if he had come down here on his own or if they had carried him?  He decided it didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered.  Amis was gone.  Ch’Voga was gone.  Ch’loi had turned out to be…what?  A traitor?  True to herself?  He did not know.  He did not want to think about it.  What was to become of him now?  His benefactors were gone.  This should have worried him.  A few months before it would have terrified him.  Now he was surprised to find he really didn’t care that much.  Two times out into this waste had changed him.  Burned away his ideas of who and what he was.  Blowing sand had scraped and eroded him down to bare, dry bones.  It had scraped his future down to bare, dry bones.  He climbed up on deck and surveyed a gray, featureless landscape both inside and out. 

Captain Rayjay came and stood at his shoulder.  “Are you well, Kurga?”  He tried to remember but he thought this was the first time the Sailor-soldier had ever called him by his name.  It was a rare show of sympathy.  For what?  What had he lost?  A friend?  A job?  A purpose?  

An identity.

“As well as can be expected Captain, thank you.”  Rayjay nodded and looked to move away.  “Captain, would you do me a favor?”  Captain Rayjay raised one eyebrow.  “From now on, would you be so kind as to refer to me only as, ‘Ch’Byartha’?”  

The eyebrow was joined by the other.  “As you wish.”  He turned and moved back to his station.  Ch’Byartha turned back to the night and the Sea of Sand.  Ch’Byartha.  He said it a few more times in his head to plant it there.  He said it a few more times to drive the stake home.  He was Ch’Byartha.  

Son of Failure.

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