Fatu went to answer the insistent knocking on the door. The visitor handed over a scroll, bobbed his head as a salute and left. Fatu closed the door and broke the seal on the scroll. He was reading it as he came back to the table where Jake was sitting with his drink waiting.
“Well, we’re being punished,” Fatu said as he sat back down at the table. “Rand is sending us to Assa on a scouting mission. We’re to check out the tribe’s strength and defenses.”
“Isn’t Assa west of here?” Jake asked. “I didn’t think there was anything worth having west of here.”
“As I said, we’re being punished - me, for introducing you to him and you for ‘stealing’ his blaster.”
“I didn’t steal it,” Jake said with a grin. “I won it fair and square. Can’t help it if the guy has a ‘tell’ a rookie could read.” Jake took a swig of his drink. Wine. Yuk! He hated the stuff, but they seemed to live on it around here. “You’ll have to go without me. If 3su doesn’t show up in a two days I’m headed east to get her.”
“Can’t do that,” Fatu said with conviction. “You’ll have to leave with me and then circle back here when it gets dark to wait or go on to Mazala.” Fatu leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table. “Rand has spies everywhere. You can’t just ‘not show.’ He’d know in a heartbeat. He’d like nothing better than to relieve you of your weapons and lock you up. As for me, I’d spend the better part of the hottest months on Alta III in the god forsaken sand trap of Assa.” He downed his drink.
“He’d have a harder time getting my blaster away from me then he did getting 3su’s away from her.” Jake refilled Fatu’s cup. “When do we need to leave?”
“Rand expects us out of here by first light. We need to get to Assa by mid-day. You don’t want to be between here and there during the dark time. Whole caravans have been known to disappear on that stretch of sand.”
“I’ll leave 3su a note.”
“Nope, that’s out of the question too,” Fatu informed him. “What Rand lacks in technology he makes up for in bodies. He trusts no one. He has my place searched each time he sends me out scouting. He thinks I don’t know, but I have my ways.” Fatu smiled as he popped a grape into his mouth.
“Toothpick in the door jamb?” Jake asked?
“Piece of straw,” Fatu confirmed. “Less obvious and easier to find on Alta then a toothpick.” Fatu drained his cup. “I’m going to throw a few things together. The sun will be up before we know it and I want to catch a little sleep before we leave. You’d better too,” Fatu advised as he rose to his feet. “If 3su doesn’t find me here right away I told her to wait. She’ll probably be here when you get back.”
Jake gulped down the last of his wine. Fatu didn’t know 3su like he did. He needed to be here when she arrived otherwise there was no telling what trouble she would get herself into. Sometimes that woman was just an ‘accident looking for a place to happen.’