Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Voyage of the Minotaur - Chapter 15 Excerpt


“I believe it to be a function of their reptilian nature,” replied the professor. “They can eat great amounts of meat at one time and then go without for perhaps weeks. I’m sure that this will be of benefit to us once they begin fulfilling their purpose as our natural servants.”
Zeah didn’t pay too much attention to the professor’s pronouncement—in truth, he seldom paid a great deal of attention to what Calliere said—but this time it was because of the presence of Egeria Lusk at Calliere’s side. She wore a teal brocaded dinner gown with large gold buttons from the neck to below the waist, and a straw boater with a teal ribbon around it.
“You look lovely Egeria,” Zeah thought he probably sounded as though he was gushing, but he didn’t care.
“Thank you, Zeah,” she said. “I must say you look ruggedly handsome.”
Zeah looked down at himself. He had been wearing the same type of khaki safari clothing that the soldiers wore. In fact, he had requested a set of the clothing from the mercenary company supplies when he found that he would be spending the day playing tour guide to an oversized lizard. He had to admit that the color accentuated his tall, thin form. And he thought the stone knife blade worn at his belt made him look manly. He took her hand and led her away from the crowd.
“I haven’t seen much of you the past two days,” he said.
“Don’t expect to see much of me the next few days either,” she said. “The Result Mechanism is being brought ashore tomorrow and the professor will need help getting it up and running. After that I need to input the measurements from the survey.”
After watching the look on his face for a moment, she burst out laughing. “You really are medicine for the ego! If you’re going to be all that broken up about not seeing me, you might as well come by and help me with the great machine.” She said the words “great machine” in an abnormally deep voice.
Zeah perked right up.
“I might just do that,” he said, guaranteeing himself in his own mind that he would.
The next morning, most of the colonists were amazed to find that the lizardmen had all left. Only the sentries had seen them rise early in the morning, gather together their meager gear and the collection of gifts of food and manufactured goods which the humans had given them, and exit through the gate in the wall. They took nothing which did not rightfully belong to them, and they left no word with anyone that they were leaving—anyone being Master Augie, who was the only one fluent in their language.
Zeah knew that Miss Dechantagne’s plans for the colony ultimately depended on the lizardmen. They would be needed extensively for manual labor. He also knew that Miss Dechantagne had negotiated well into the night with Chief Ssithtsutsu. He didn’t know what the outcome was. He had better things to do that listen to Master Augie’s back and forth translation. Better things being looking at and talking to Egeria. All the same, he was glad that the Lizzies were gone. They were so very… well, reptilian.
Zeah placed his khakis in the laundry and put on a grey suit. Without the lizardman at his side, it just didn’t seem right to be wearing jungle clothing, especially since they weren’t really in a jungle. Technically this was a rain forest, but the huge redwoods and spruce trees certainly did not constitute a jungle. Starting directly into his morning duties, as he always did, Zeah took his clipboard in hand and went to check on each of the individuals he was overseeing. The need of almost one thousand individuals for fresh food was great. A number of different plans for supplying those needs had been developed. Hunters were again being sent out to procure meat and if possible to capture more local animals for domestication. Another group of men and women would search once again for edible plants, this endeavor having proven fruitful (Zeah laughed to himself at the pun), and another group had been assigned the job of fishermen. They would do their fishing from the shore of the bay. Finally, with a mind to the long term, several areas around the hill where the barracks were located were tagged as locations for gardens, and forty colonists would prepare them for planting.

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