Gods of Sagittarius – Snippet 07

Gods of Sagittarius – Snippet 07

Then, she recited the name of their mentor, destroyed with them.

Bax Nkley Kreaquab octou Naccor Jute. Resident within Coherence, adept of the Naccor Jute.

Her mates, as she herself, had been named by their mentor. Their names now vanished forever also.

As Bax Nkley Kreaquab had named her, so now by ancient right and custom did she rename him, as his sole surviving disciple.

She considered the matter for a time before deciding on Trac Lei Taquin dnat Varro. Vexation beyond Measure, failure now in Chaos.

She would miss her mates, especially Izzique. Her mentor, not in the least. He had been worse than most of the wretched lot.

Finally, she renamed herself. The name Occo Nzha Rubattan had also been bestowed by their mentor. Slaughterer of Shadows. The change here took longer than it had taken to choose her former mentor’s new name. All the possibilities she’d quietly considered in the past — and discussed with absolutely no one, of course — were inappropriate in light of the new situation.

Eventually, she settled on Occo Nasht Jopri, Seeker of Shadows.

Occo Nasht Jopri Kruy, to be formal about it. Widow Seeker of Shadows.

For a wonder, while she was at it, Bresk made no more than two caustic remarks on the subject of wasted time and both of those were terse. You couldn’t say that her familiar maintained silence, though. He farted almost continuously.

“My vengeance will be epic,” she predicted. Then, turned and headed toward her flyer.

On the way, Bresk waxed eloquent on the necessary distinctions between epic, mythic, legendary and delusions of grandeur.

***

It took only a short time to travel from the site of destruction to the temporary camp that had been erected by the Envacht Lu. As usual, the association that served the Nac Zhe Anglan commonwealth as a combined investigatory agency and repository of creed status and records had arrived on the scene quickly. They’d already been setting up their camp when Occo arrived.

Once she established her credentials, they’d allowed her a full planetary cycle for grieving and renaming before they would begin their examination of the site. That was standard practice. The Envacht Lu were never to be trifled with, but in their own unyielding and rigid manner they were not unreasonable.

As soon as Occo began bringing the flyer down next to the Envacht Lu encampment, Bresk began complaining.

“Why are you landing here? Only a cretin or a masochist would set up next to the Envacht Lu. Hot is bad enough without adding nosy to the mix — and you watch! They’ll have spies crawling all over us.”

“Shut up. We’re not camping here. I just need to have the names recorded.”

“By established custom and practice, you can do that any time within the next four years — and that’s using Mellan’s solar cycle as the standard.”

The home planet of the Nac Zhe Anglan, Mellan, orbited an F0 star. The only reason it had a habitable biosphere was because of its considerable distance from its sun. Mellan’s year was twice as long as that of most inhabited worlds in the Nac Zhe Anglan commonwealth.

“Shut up,” she repeated “I can’t wait. Not with the name I still need to add.”

Bresk rolled its eyes outward until the facets had all but disappeared. “Oh, don’t tell me.”

***

“Occo Nasht Jopri Kruy Gadrax,” she repeated.

As was normally true, the Envacht Lu’s scribe was an Ebbo. Occo didn’t know the markings used by the species well enough to determine its scholastic affiliation from the scars and tattoos on its carapace. Under the circumstances, it hardly mattered. All Ebbo colleges were devoted to formal procedures, exactitude, meticulousness, and precision. They were really a quite tiresome species. Occo had never understood why the Envacht Lu insisted on maintaining the relationship with them. Presumably, it had something to do with the history of the order, most of which had never been made public.

The scribe still had its mandible poised above the tablet. The electronic tip blinked yellow-green-violet, repeating the sequence every second. If Occo recalled Ebbo protocols correctly, that signified necessity-to-crosscheck-and-doublecheck.

“You are certain about this?” the Ebbo asked. Its — his? — voice box had an unpleasant twang to it. Most Ebbo were neuter but Occo thought this one might be male, as that species reckoned genders.

She was tempted to curse the wretched creature, but that would be pointless. Ebbo reacted to invective the same way they reacted to everything. Find the registered protocol and behave accordingly. She might as well scream insults at the moons.

“As I have now said twice, yes. I am quite certain. Record my name as Occo Nasht Jopri Kruy Gadrax.”

The Ebbo’s vestigial wings opened slightly and snapped shut, making a little clicking sound. That was the equivalent of a Nac Zhe Anglan rubbing her thorax. Every intelligent species had some equivalent gesture. Humans called it a “shrug” and used a particularly subtle body movement for the purpose. So Occo had been told, anyway. She’d never met a member of that species in person.

“As you wish,” said the Ebbo. The electronic mandible tip clittered briefly on the tablet screen. “It is done.”

Occo turned and left the Records hut. She had to pause briefly at the aperture to let the security program cycle through its protocols before it opened. Programmed by Ebbo, clearly enough. They couldn’t even produce an opening in a simple hut without piling on embellishments.

“Say better, ‘we’re done’,” jibed Bresk, as Occo headed toward their flyer. “Just what I always dreamed of, since the day I was decanted. A suicide mission.”

She ignored it. No point in doing otherwise. In their own way, familiars were as devoted to rituals and rigmarole as Ebbo. Short of having it annulled, there was no way to avoid the coming sarcasm.

“Widow Occo Nasht Jopri, outlaw. We could add ‘fanatic’ and ‘monomaniac’ as well. Off on her formally registered mission to massacre whatever parties she deems guilty and if she’s like most outlaws of record she won’t be any too particular about the ‘deeming’ part.”

The familiar issued a particularly loud and long fart. “Humans have a term for this, you know. They call it ‘going Grendel.'”

Despite herself, the weird term caught her attention. “Going what?”

“Grendel. One of the monsters — one of the many, many, many monsters — in their many, many, many legends. They must really have trouble sleeping at night. Anyway, there’s a whole ancient song cycle devoted to the creature. Well, technically, it’s devoted to the hero. Somebody by the name of Beowulf. Is there a species in the galaxy with sillier names than Humans? But the monster’s much more interesting.”

“I’m not interested.”

“Of course you are. I’ll start from the beginning. Brace yourself, this will take a while.

“Hwæt wē Gār-Denain gear-dagum

þēod-cyningaprym gefrūnon

hu ðā æþelingasellen fremedon.”

Not for the first time, Occo considered annulment. By the time she clambered back aboard the flyer, however, she’d decided against it. There was no reason to think another familiar wouldn’t be just as obstreperous. She could try doing without one entirely, of course. But . . .

The things were undeniably useful. She kept reminding herself of that as the flyer lifted into the air. It was . . . not easy.

“ond gefrætwadefoldan scēatas

Leomum ond lēafum . . .”

 

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One Response to Gods of Sagittarius – Snippet 07

  1. John Cowan says:

    I know we aren’t supposed to comment on typos, but really now, are Baen’s copy editors fluent in Anglo-Saxon? In the first four lines there are five errors!

    For Gār-Denain read Gār-Dena in; for þēod-cyningaprym read þēod-cyninga þrym; for æþelingasellen read æþelingas ellen; for gefrætwadefoldan read gefrætwade foldan. Basically the wide spaces separating the half-lines have turned into non-spaces, and the thorn in þrym has been misread as a p.

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