Deathwalker 8.3

            For a second, there was a flicker of anger in the man’s eyes that told me that he was seriously considering saying it. Then, his eyebrows raised with that same disgusting arrogance, and the flicker was gone. At long last, he closed his mouth.
            “Perhapsss,” the captain continued deliberately, “you meant to sssay that it isss time for your sshift.”
            It wasn’t a question, and if she’d said that to me in that tone (or any tone like it), I’d’ve been off and running to get to my post. The man – Faris – stood casually. Instead of rushing off, he stretched lazily, turning his back on me. And the captain behind me.  As if leaving was his idea and not hers. The arrogance of the gesture left me speechless.
            After leisurely finishing his stretch, he strolled past us. His craggy face and lanky form were too plain to explain his attitude. But something about his clothing looked familiar. A sideways glance as he passed me confirmed my suspicions. Ialuan make. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean anything. It could be a coincidence.
            He caught my glance and smirked with all the charm of Enna’s squawking. Then, he did the unthinkable. He stopped, ignoring the captain’s hiss, and moved directly in front of me.
            “Faris Myles Lanik, Rh,” he said in the condescending tone of someone granting a favor, one he was sure I wouldn’t fully understand. I sighed internally. Definitely Ialuan. And he’d effectively trapped me.
            “Tor Lanik,” I replied with forced respect, forming the sign for a learned scholar. His head jerked up, and some of the condescension was buried under shock. For all of a second.
            “Huh.” He looked me over as if seeing me for the first time. “Finally, someone on board with some decent manners.”
            “Take notes,” the Light One suggested coldly.
            Faris actually sniffed. He seemed about to comment again, but whatever he saw on the captain’s face changed his mind. Not that he’d ever admit that. With his nose held high, he sailed slowly out. Torn between disgust and amusement, I stared after him. If Faris was the only Ialuan on board, I could almost forgive the captain’s reaction yesterday.
            Some of my incredulity must have shown on my face when I looked back to Metz because her lips quirked.
            “Tor Lanik?” she asked.
            “The title of respect for a scholar in the Ialuan system,” I answered distractedly, still somewhat stupefied by the sheer size of the man’s ego, “for those who have not earned the full Ter but want a title to proclaim their importance to the world.”
            I was so caught up, I didn’t notice Metz’ startled expression or the disbelief on the faces of the others. Not at first. I had an instant to wonder what I’d said. Then, Metz threw back her head and laughed. It was like a choir of tinkling chimes. In a wave, snickers and chuckles spread across the room in an intoxicating chorus. Last was a short, deep rumble, like an avalanche of boulders in a ravine, and I felt like cheering. Kith had laughed, too, however briefly.
            “Are you hungry, Deathwalker?” he asked.


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