Casualties of War

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- Fear not, van Joss. -  It was the Observer's turn to reassure the human.  - Sea Wolves are pulling the vessel underwater.  And they've been fully advised as to their destination.  Light or dark, they'll get you to the shipyards. -

Van Joss felt an eyebrow lifted.  Sea Wolves were pulling the ship as well?  Now that was impressive!  Immediately the lean human upgraded his opinion of the big, black and white warriors yet again.

"And what will you do, Qu'en'ak?  Follow us to Suudama?" he asked, not bothering to raise his voice above a murmur since he knew the invisible creature could pull his words right out of his mind.  It had concerned him at first that the Cetacean First Observer could see deep into his mind, into his most secret places.

But a quick experiment with opening up that part of his mind swiftly revealed that the Cetacean could only pick up thoughts on the very surface.  'Which is good,' he mused, staring at the bow wave that was being kicked up by the vessel's rapid passage.  'I really don't want to kill Qu'en'ak for accidentally discovered what state secrets I am still privy to!'

Then his attention was being recaptured by the distant First Observer's voice in his mind.

- No. -  Qu'en'ak replied.  - Unfortunately my duties carry me elsewhere.  Besides, the larger members of the Cetacea are not well suited to combat as the Sea Wolves inherently are. -  The distant creature paused as it switched mental gears.

- Speaking of combat, van Joss, you'll be met just north of the shipyards by a sizable contingent of our forces.  From there command will be turned over to you so you can coordinate the attack, . . . -

"Wait," van Joss interrupted with a frown.  "You want me to coordinate the attack?  How am I going to do that, First Observer, if I can't communicate with your Sea Wolf troops?" he pointed out.

- Ah.  You've a good point there, van Joss.  Wait a moment, please.  I will consult with the Circle. -

The lean operative let a long sigh ease out through his nostrils then shrugged.  There wasn't much else he could do.  Wait he would.  And while he did, he might as well enjoy his novel surroundings.

As the First Observer had pointed out, Humanity had long abandoned the sea, retreating from the shores of their continent to the land-locked nation of Gideon under duress from the Fisted.  And so they knew little about the joys of having salt air rushing past their skin.  Or the rhythmic heave of a deck beneath their feet.  So van Joss, oddly enough, was enjoying the new sensations.

It had stopped hailing sometime before the dolphins had finished the sea sled, for lack of a better name for the ragged vessel they were now on.  The storm's passage had left the air clean and cold.  The slight tang of salt only added to the refreshing nature of it.  The human glanced up as a cluster of sea birds flew buy, their raucous cries echoing in the crisp air as they swung over the smartly moving craft.  A smile cracked van Joss's face.  'I think we humans need to return to the sea.  If only to feel the salt air on our faces!'

It was just as they cleared the mouth of the bay that van Joss felt Qu'en'ak return into his mind.  At that exact moment the sled bucked as it hit the first big waves of the open ocean.  Immediately a wave of spray was sent over the bow, soaking van Joss almost to the bone.  With a shout of alarm, he quickly herded Longspear and Salina into the cabin before they could suffer the same fate.  There they remained relatively dry as spray came more and more regularly over the gunwales as the Sea Wolves relentlessly pulled the sled through the uneasy and growing swell.

Van Joss was ringing out his cloak when Qu'en'ak finally spoke.

- I have consulted with the Circle, van Joss and they've decided to give you a gift. -  The First Observer reported, his tone almost formal.

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