Deathwalker 7.4

            “Keh…” My throat closed, cutting off the words. Coughing to clear it, I formed a series of gestures rarely seen outside a Kaihmi home. Her smile spread like sunlight as she returned them. It faded as she directed her attention back to the captain, but some of the glow remained.
            “My apologies for the interruption, Nat,” she said politely. “You had a question for me?”
            Mouth ajar, the captain gaped at the two of us with the most delightful expression of consternation. The Teg, on the other hand, was smirking. I think it was that smirk that made the captain scowl and hold her ground.
            “You know thisss persson?” she hissed. I kept my eyes on the screen, not wanting to meet hers when she realized how obvious the answer was.
            “Deathwalker Sephtis is my cousin,” Keh answered simply. Despite the emphasis on my title, her tone was casual and effectively brushed aside the awkwardness of the question. Some of the tension in the room eased. My eyes widened in admiration, and I made a mental note to remember that tactic for later.
            “I thought the sseekerss did not have deathwalkerss.” The captain’s tone seemed more mellow, but it still had an edge. Would she admit she was wrong or struggle to prove herself right out of pride?
            “Not very many. Seph,” Keh paused, and the gleam in her eyes warned me that something interesting was coming, “is the finest deathwalker ever born to the Kaihmi.”
            That made my lips twitch. Manfully, I pressed them together and managed to restrain myself to a blink. It wasn’t a lie. The question was why she saw the need to emphasize my worth to the family.
            “The finesst…” the word hissed off into silence. The captain slanted a disbelieving glance in my direction.  Before she could say any more, Gri strode up easily beside her.
            “It iss generouss of you to ssend ssuch an important crewmember sso far,” he said with a smooth, friendly smile (which was impressive considering all his sharp, pointy teeth). “We did not know the Kaihmi travel alone.”
            I raised my eyebrows. If the captain was a straight jump, Gri was a disreputable floatcab’s route – by the time you got to your destination, you weren’t sure what it was anymore. I wanted to snicker at the quick flicker of derisive amusement in Keh’s eyes. I guessed he didn’t know how much Kaihmi loved to ignore indirect questions.
            “Seekers must seek,” Keh responded simply, “and Seph can take care of himself.” I almost snorted. Tell that to Aunt Apikalia. Then, Keh’s gaze drifted down and to the side. Her eyes and voice chilled. “Of course, I trust that won’t be necessary aboard your ship, Captain Nathaira.”


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