Vras shares a shocking opinion.
"We will work together," Jess agreed, giving Braz a hard stare. "I must hope even court Vrellish, like you, will put the safe return of a kidnapped child ahead of the desire to prove yourself correct in suspecting me of dishonorable motives!"
"Court Vrellish, as you put it," Braz shot back, "do not traffic in kidnapped children!"
Taff cleared his throat. The justice ministry functionary looked poised to take the matter up with counter examples but was cut short by Vras chipping in, unexpectedly, in a breezy manner.
"It might not be so bad for young Okar, as a boy child, if he's sold to decent people"
Even Jess look startled.
"What?' Braz blurted, finding it impossible to put the concepts of "sold to" and "decent people" together successfully. In fact, the more he saw of Jess and Vras the more he sympathized with Demish complaints about the Red Vrellish. Green Vrellish, like himself, were much more civilized and educated.
"Okar doesn't have surviving fem-kin, after all," Vras defended his thesis from Jess's unvoiced objections. "So one place to live out a good life might be as good as any other. And I can't think why his kidnappers would be selling him in the UnderDocks except to a pilot-poor quarter somewhere in need of strong blood for flying."
He laughed. "Okar would grow up in demand for siring, and be the star pilot for his people. He might wind up liege of the clan! And no fem-kin to warn him off playing around outside alliances."
Jess set her hands on her hips, her big-fan attitude to Vras and gratitude for his support evaporating in the face of this suggestion.
"Okar belongs to Bartrop Station!" she insisted. "And I'm taking him home with me. For him. For his mother and uncle who'll be Watching to make sure I do it! And for all of Bartrop Station. His immediate fem-kin may be dead, but they won't be wanting to get reborn in the outback of the Knotted Strings on some cold, windy dirt-world!"
"Only natural," Vras conceded, easily. "He'd still be better off living free in the Knotted Strings siring children than getting caught in a power struggle over him, here, or getting lost in the scramble to reclaim him, here on Gelion."
"We will have to make sure he doesn't get lost, here, then," Braz said, surprised to find himself on Jess's side of the strange conversation.
"Ack rel," Jess agreed, moving ever so slightly closer to Braz, now. "We'll find him," she promised.
"Ack rel!" Vras saluted her resolve, acknowledging it as honorable without necessarily conceding his position. "Let me know if there is some way we can help at Red Hearth."
Braz was still thinking about what to ask for, in the way of backup, when Vras swished his cloak around him and waltzed off as jauntily as he'd arrived.
Jess said, "We need to get back to where I found Deb and search the place where she was staying. Or the premises of any of her contacts. Immediately!"
"Right," Braz said. "Sounds reasonable."
This scene is part of a larger project being developed on the blog with working title Death in the Underdocks.