Eni no longer stood by Stavo and Brother Dom. She marched up to North and pinned him with her stare. Joy Hardiway, looking distraught, came up as well. Eni made North begin again, though it made him swear. He spoke more slowly under her prodding glare and his tone was not so fraught with his hatred, loathing and contempt for the Arcadian natives.
North explained how Stento, one of the local Eg’glis, had stolen Joy’s horse. How he, North, had been at the station when word came in from Root City. Everything had been taken care of, the Ugly caught, and the horse safe and properly boarded in the capitol until it could be retrieved. Joy collapsed at this news. It was not only the animal itself, but her standing in the community. She didn’t think like the others, but her inherited fortune had financed their voyage here. She wasn’t about to let anyone forget that she was the richest and best among them, and her horse was one of the ways she reminded them. Living horses on any planetary colony were useless at the start. It would be a couple of more generation here for the colonists before they even considered decanting the horse stock they’d brought with them. And, it would be a decision for everyone.
Eni’s face fell when she heard the news and North’s use of the pejorative, Ugly. In her view, they were Eagles not Uglies, despite their mottled skin. She especially liked Stento, who she called her friend. She would have to go to Root City and retrieve him. If he’d done wrong, she wouldn’t coddle him or deceive him. This duty must fall to her. She’d volunteer to keep it from North and his ilk. Stavo would be unhappy, but he would understand. He always did.
Perhaps he would travel with her. He’d get the chance to see his sister Luusile sooner. He’d already said tonight that he missed her, missed their playing together for the festival. Luusile, for her part, still referred to Stavo as Guus, her name for him since childhood. What a duo. They called themselves Luusy Guusy, and on stage was where Eni had first noticed him, with his ether harp in hand. They had filled in for a missing band from Root City. They were good, no doubt about it, though Luusy had the greater talent. Luusy made her living with her voice and ether harp, still, though Eni knew she couldn’t wait until her days on the road were over and done. With the harvests in, she would come home for the winter, but the first thaw would see her travelling again.
Stavo said yes and Brother Dom walked with them as far as Three Forks, Just to keep them company. Stavo whooped in joy when he discovered his sister playing in the inn, far closer to home than he’d imagined. Accepting no apologies, Eni left Brother Dom to his business and Stavo to his sister, going on alone. She tried to fathom why Stento would have stolen Joy’s horse and how he could have made it all the way to Root City. He would have made the long trek in a night, when she’d be travelling over two days. She new humans might never understand the Eg’glis and their ways.
Other people were hard enough to understand, but other races? Eni remembered a childhood poem she’s learned in school on her way to the colony.
All are made of star stuff no matter what faces
Stardust and dust will leave the same traces
We are all the same at the cause and the core
Everyone completely the same in love and war
Our universe lives from beginning to ending
All made the same, with no need for amending
This thing to that thing and to everything now
The same in all times and places, no matter how
Eni had grown close to the natives, so strange and so different, but surely brothers and sisters. She smiled to herself as she neared Root City. She didn’t usually wax philosophic, even to the degree of a childhood rhyme. She’d leave that for Brother Dom and Stavo.
Eni stayed alert, moving off of the road and into the feathery local trees. Root City thought those from Hopkins Grossing were little more than country bumpkins, good for sport and jest. There landing had been where Root City stood, so its denizens thought their city and themselves more important than the rest. Eni granted that it was the capitol and seat of government, just not the center of everything worthwhile. The settlers had spread across the surface of the land where they’d arrived. Despite several lean years and some conflicts with the Eg’glis, they had grown and finally begun to thrive.
As a result of Root City’s self-important status, they kept guards around the perimeter and on the way into the city. Eni had already passed two, though they were unaware of her. Only one to go and she’s be almost into Founder’s Square, the center of the town. They’d resent for coming in unnoticed and unannounced. It wasn’t the first time their security had been trounced by this country girl. They wanted to consider anyone not from Root City as less than adequate. Still, they’d let her take her prisoner back alone and unaided because of that. They didn’t like to see the outlying upstarts as good, but they rewarded talent with its due, when they must. She would return Stento to Hopkins Crossing for trial. No matter what Fargo North or his cronies might say or do, Eni would make sure the trial was fair.