Obsidian Command

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ibn Sharjar: The Off-world Rogue and the Son of a She-Camel

Posted on 18 Jun 2022 @ 3:09pm by Atif ibn Sharjar - Merchant of the Al Ashar
Edited on on 20 Jul 2022 @ 6:51pm

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: Jeb-Hatra Oasis, Obsidian
Timeline: MD 3 1100 Hours
1076 words - 2.2 OF Standard Post Measure

“How many times must I tell you? You are not welcome here you rogue! Your presence in my oasis is as offensive as the dung of the Siniki!” The old man stood defiantly, with arms folded, at the edge of a baked mud landing pad, on which a battered transport ship had just landed.

“How would you know? Your entire oasis stinks of dung! I must sanitize my ship after every landing! But since your mother was a She-Camel that is only to be expected” The owner of the vessel came striding over to confront the man.

“Ha! At least my mother was not frightened by a Ortananni and gave birth to an ugly outworlder like you! You and your unclean ship both, are an offense against nature!”

“Is that so?! You are lucky I even bother to stop at this festering hole to bring you the finest merchandise in the quadrant and out of my personal charity offer to transport some of your miserable, sour, shriveled up, dates!”

“I don’t want to buy anything from a vagabond like you! And you are unworthy to even look at the best dates this side of the Great Ravine!”

“Then I shall leave this instant!”

“Go then and do not return!”

The two men glared at each other for a moment, before breaking into grins and embracing each other.

“Atif! You are welcome here, my friend!”

“M’tahb! It is good to see you!”

“Come, come, out of the sun now” The old man led the way back to the village and to his mud brick home, passing through the outer gate into a courtyard, planted with a small garden and then into the cool interior of the house

At the entrance M’Tahbi turned and spoke formally. “May you be welcome in my house, may it’s shade protect you from the sun and it’s walls protect you from the ways of the fiery one, there is peace between us”

Atif replied “I am honored by its welcome and its protection, there is peace between us”

“Good!” M’Tahbi clapped him on the arm and ushered him in calling “Daughters! Bring refreshment Atif ibn Sharjar is here!”

The two men settled on low couches covered in woven blankets, a few moments later M’Tahbi’s three unmarried daughters arrived bringing clay jars of cool water, a pot of coffee and several small plates of food, including one of Obsidian dates, a sort of mix between a date and an olive. When young they were a yellow green, firm and tangy, but when dried in the sun they turned dark, rich, sweet and chewy.

They followed the desert custom, water and food first, with polite enquiries after the family and health of the other. Both were widowers, whereas M’Tahbi had five daughters and three sons, Atif had only some distant nieces and nephews and second cousins.

“It is a pity you are an ugly off-worlder and so forbidden to marry into my people” M’Tahbi commented. “You understand the desert, it is in your blood as much as it is in mine! And there are several widows who would make you a fine wife, you would be welcome in my oasis”

Atif nodded “My father’s people lived in the deserts of Earth, much as your people live here. You honor me further with your words M’Tahbi”

The courtesies over, they moved on to the coffee and business. M’Tahbi was a famed breeder of racing Eralsu, with bloodlines going back hundreds of years. There was a long waiting list to pay his high prices to be given the chance to bond with one of the newly hatched larva. His stables were over a ridge behind the oasis, a sideline of the stud was a constant supply of shed carapaces which were in demand for their properties as armor and radiation shields. Atif would purchase them and resell them to dealers in Kalara.

The Jeb-Hatra oasis, of which M’Tahbi was the chieftain, also had several large date groves producing high quality fruit, both fresh and dried. Atif had a contract to carry their surplus to Kalara markets for several years now.

“How much is the shipment this time?” Atif asked

“Sixty baskets of fresh, thirty-seven of dried. All going to the Dab’nart Brothers”

Atif nodded, they had worked out a rate in the past and ninety-seven baskets was a good load. ”I will have them there this time tomorrow. Do you have shells to sell?”

The two men sipped their coffee and haggled. “Twenty third-shedding, eighteen forth-shedding and nine fifth-shedding. Though it pains me deeply, but even for you, my guest, I can go no lower than seventeen a shell”

“That is indeed a great shame, for I can pay no more than thirteen, even for you my gracious host” Atif held his hands open. “It would not be worth my time”

“Ah, yes a shame” M’Tahbi nodded “Some more coffee?”

“Thank you”

The two men sipped some more coffee. “I was thinking, as a special price for you, I could take perhaps sixteen…”

“Sixteen? That is indeed special, I shall match your most generous price with fourteen. I cannot go higher!”

“No, no, I must still raise my youngest daughter’s dowery, I cannot do that on fourteen. I believe the Bendir Trading ship is coming next week, they will pay me eighteen!”

“The Bendir? Pah! They will rob you! They will offer seventeen and when you have loaded all the shells on their ship, they will pay you only twelve!”

“Perhaps.., perhaps not”

“You have more coffee?”

“Of course”

“I am thinking I would not wish to see you robbed my friend. I can perhaps, just this once go to fifteen, if the shells are of good quality”

“They are of the finest quality! Hard and bright! They shine like the rays of the stars! They are worth at least seventeen, but as my guest, and my dear friend, I could, perhaps, accept fifteen, in cash”

“Fifteen, cash?”

“Fifteen cash!”

“I will pay this”

”I will take it”

The two men nodded, the deal made and returned to their coffee.

“I would have paid sixteen”

“I would have taken fourteen! You are still an offworld rogue!”

“I may be. And you are still the son of a She-Camel!”

“Yes, I may be. Tell me, what is a Camel again?”

 

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