Chapter Eight

We rode most of the rest of the way to Itasy in silence. The revelation that Joobah was Andrian’s brother didn’t make me feel particularly comfortable, but then again, I’d known other families with worse secrets.

I was still trying to fathom all of mine.

“When did you see him last?”

Andrian shrugged. “What you mean when was the last time we had words for each other? Before he kidnapped her. Afterward, there seemed to be no point to it. We went our separate ways.”

“Until now.”

Andrian considered this. “Things do seem to be coming to a head, I suppose.”

He seemed pretty nonchalant about things considering Joobah, in the short time I’d known him, had managed to track us, shoot RPGs at us, hunt us in the jungle, and seemingly move heaven and earth to find us. It made me wonder why we were rating such interest. I asked Andrian.

“I don’t know.”

“Well, it can’t be you,” I said. “Otherwise, he would have dealt with you before Zero and I touched down. That tells me there’s something else going on.”

“It might have something to do with Hjelm and your mission to get to him.”

I nodded. “You heard anything about Joobah and Hjelm working together? Maybe they’re bosom buddies now.”

Andrian wheeled us down another road. I could see the beginnings of more residences and suspected we were coming into the Lake Itasy area now. After a few minutes of driving us past progressively larger buildings and advertisements for canoe rentals, Andrian sighed. “I suppose it’s possible that they are working together. But I can’t be sure. Joobah does not strike me as being someone who would be willing to forfeit control in a partnership.”

“Maybe Hjelm promised him something that was enough to give up that love of control.”

“You think so?”

“Sure. Everyone has a price. Just a matter of finding it. Once you do, there’s very little that they won’t consider doing.”

Andrian frowned. “He may be using Joobah to hunt us while Hjelm goes into hiding.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. If Hjelm went to ground, the chances of finding him were even more remote than when we’d started. And with Zero out of the equation, that just made my job a helluva lot harder.

© 2010 by Jon F. Merz All rights re­served

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