The book should be available now so this is the last snippet.

Darkship Revenge – Snippet 38

What A Woman Has To Do

Kit and I hadn’t mind-talked for a long time.  Not since we’d had the young men around.  I had no idea why their telepathy was non-bonded, nor what activated it, but I was so used to my thoughts at Kit being private, I didn’t want to forget and think the wrong thing “out loud” inadvertently, around them, because given their upbringing, it might give them really odd ideas.  And they might even act on them.

This was odd after years of thinking images and ideas at each other.

But the thing about a happy marriage is that you often don’t need to think anything clearly at each other to know what is going on.

I’d known that Kit’s attention to Nat’s vehicle was unusual, and that his attempt at explaining it was even odder.  And I knew Kit actually thought I should have gone with Nat.  I didn’t have to think very hard to figure out what was going on.

As we walked back, I asked, “You put a locator on the flyer?”

Kit nodded.  “On the bottom of the door, where he’d have to suspect something to look.  Besides, I attached it there where he wasn’t looking, so if he suspected anything it would be in another place.”  And, because he too doesn’t need telepathy to answer a question I’m just formulating.  “They were in Jarl’s old desk.  I had a vague memory.”  He paused, but I didn’t ask anything.  I’m not stupid, and I know it was impossible to restore Kit’s brain completely, after we’d used an imprint of Jarl’s to save him from death.  We’d managed to banish Jarl as a coherent personality that could overwhelm Kit’s, but it was impossible to eliminate every single memory the imprint had created.  Jarl had left behind a goodly knowledge of biology, and possibly other memories.  And since this retreat had been Jarl’s favorite place over his very long life on Earth, it was impossible Kit didn’t know where some things were.  But Kit was afraid of making me uncomfortable by speaking of it, and delayed a long time, before saying, “I am worried, of course, about your doing something like this after you were in bed, ill.”

“You said it yourself I was mostly tired,” I said.  “And I do feel fine, now truly.”

He gave me a look, shook his head, as though reproaching himself.  “I would go instead of you, but –”

“But you’re not as conversant with Earth as I am,” I said.

He shrugged.  “That could be overcome.  But the thing is that I’m not sure if Eden –”

“Would let me back in if I came back without you.”

“It’s not discrimination against you,” he said. “Or not particularly.  Remember how they treated me after my first wife died while traveling, and when I didn’t have a body to bring back.”

I remembered.  His first wife’s family had attempted to collect on the blood feud by killing him.  It had almost killed him before we could prove he hadn’t done it.

“But also we already stopped on Earth, and if I didn’t come back…  Besides, I might have revealed Eden’s secrets and –”

“I know.  I said.  That is a very good reason for you not to go.  But I feel fine, truly.

I’d made my way to the room, and was locating the various pieces of my broomer costume, even as I spoke.  Kit watched, then nodded and disappeared.  He came back minutes later holding a broom, which he handed to me.  I stared.  “This does not look three hundred years old,” I said.

He smiled.  “No, it’s one we left here before, but I have made sure its power pack is charged. Before Nat’s visit,” he added.  “I was afraid one or the other of us would need to leave to get help.  If the boys had not gotten better.  Speaking of the boys, you’d better leave without their noticing.  They’re becoming very active, and if they find … they might find a way out, which would be disastrous.”

“Yes,” I said.  “But I’ll nurse Eris before going.”

Kit didn’t actually protest, but had that feeling of repressed protesting that people can give off when they think you’re doing something particularly stupid.

“I have to,” I explained.  “I don’t know how long this will take, but if my idea of where La Mancha is, somewhere off the coast of what used to be Spain, it will take at least six hours to get there, rescue or kidnap the young men, and get back.  Depending on how wrong I am in my geography, or how much trouble we encounter, we could end up taking twelve hours.  My breasts will hurt.”  Which reminded me.  “Why aren’t they hurting now?”

Kit pulled a small machine from shelves near our bed, and threw it at me.  “It’s a breast pump.  We used it and supplemented with formula.  I don’t think you’ll be able to save the milk, but if it starts hurting too much –”

I nodded.  “But I’ll still nurse her before I go.”  And to Kit’s distraught expression.  “Truly, it doesn’t take as long as all that, and brooms are faster than flyers.”

He shut up and let me do what I wanted then.  It involved waking Eris, something that even in my short time as a parent, I’d learned was not something to be done lightly.  If the little darling was asleep, a condition that made her the most beautiful she could be, and also the most appealing, you let her sleep, until she woke.  Waking her up, meant she woke up complaining and moaning her terrible fate.  But she shut up when I put her in the proximity of my breast, and even if she mostly slept while she nursed, this was important.  Oh, she could find sustenance practically anywhere else.  Okay, anywhere that had baby formula, which both worlds we had access to had.  I was also sure if needed Kit would stock the Cathouse.

I needed this time with my daughter, to contemplate the miracle she was, so tiny and helpless and yet, already, irrevocably, her own little person.  When she was done, I handed her to Kit and kissed him.  I refused to consider what would happen to him if he returned, once more, with a dead wife.  At least I didn’t have any relatives in Eden, who might wish to kill him or make him pay blood Geld.

He gave me a mechanism that could be attached to the front of the broom, where I could track it at a glance.  It was a tiny screen that displayed the direction Nat had taken, and the distance he had covered.

I tightened my hood around my head, slapped the oxygen mask on my face, lay low over the broom and climbed to an altitude at which I was unlikely to be tracked.  Though brooms were illegal almost anywhere on Earth, at least if they weren’t being used as a way to escape a flyer in trouble, they were fairly safe to use at certain altitudes.  At least if they were if you beat the “brains” out of it, so it wouldn’t track where you were and tattle on you to the nearest traffic control tower.  You see, the brooms were too small to be easily tracked any other way.

It felt good to be flying free, but would you believe that I missed Eris after about fifteen minutes.  I missed her snuggled against me.  I missed her squirming.  I even missed her high pitch whine when I had to descend fast.

I tried not to think on what it would do to her to grow up without a mother.  At least she had a sane and decent father, unlike the man I’d grown up with.

There was something of a pang to realizing I might not have a say in how my daughter’s life would unfold, which was strange, since it was a responsibility I’d never wanted and hadn’t sought.  But then again, who gets to control how their children’s’ lives go?  At any minute, we could be taken from her or her from us.  The best I could do was try to protect her.  Which was what this exploit was all about.