The Rush bristled for war. The ships had gathered with their shields raised. The largest freighter was just about to leave, with the women and children. Men were walking their wives, children and girlfriends into the ship, kissing them goodbye.
Qabal, contained within a clear-walled holding tank, still refused to speak.
"A parley, is all it be," Howl said, "between gentlemen.. Qabal in exchange for a free pass into the frontiers. The Valkyrie should be so lucky, to have his father back. He didn' even kin you were alive, did he now?"
In response Qabal only lifted his upper lip. Vince and Peregrine were watching from the hall. Gillian came back from Medical.
"We're on the wrong side of this thing," Peregrine said. "Did you see what he did back there? He didn't give two shits about Theo. All he cared about was landing Qabal."
She looked at him. "Nothing is ever as simple as it seems," she said. "Remember that." She fidgeted with something invisible on her sleeve, and continued down the hallway.
"No one is simple, either," the Knife said, watching her go.
Howl squatted in front of Qabal. "Won't be long," he said.
"I know it," Qabal hissed. "But you know not what you do."
The lights flickered. The floor shook.
"Under fire," Peregrine reported.
"By my deathless soul," Howl said, his face creasing in a slow smile, "Holloa, Eriphet." He turned to face the thruscreen, looking slightly too relaxed as he gazed at Eriphet. His grin widened, knowing the Phyrnosian militant could see Qabal behind him in chains. Qabal, the famous guerilla fighter, found at last by the humans. Qabal was more than a folk hero. He was a legend. He was the Phyrnosian military identity itself.
Eriphet stepped forward, his pale, raw face seeming to jut out from the screen itself. His skin was slick with zuu, his yolk-yellow eyes too bright. "Give him to me, Howl."
"If it isn't the barbarous old Valkyrie himself," Howl said.
"You won't mind me noticing, but you're not looking too well, boy-o. The zuu don't suit you."
Eriphet clicked deep in his throat.
"Enough of this ruinating shite. Eriphet, son of Qabal, b'lieve I've played at civil long enough. Give the Rush fair passage or ye father dies."