He sighed mentally and focused on the place where he stood not where he’d been before or where he wished to be.
Taisie and Minerva watched a stable hand care for their horses while Stanton joined Pedro and sat on a bench to talk. Minerva joined them and climbed on Stanton’s lap.
“She’s yours then?” Pedro asked with affection.
“My girl Minerva.”
Pedro nodded at the warrior. “Her mother?”
Stanton shook his head. “Her mother is no longer with us. Her name was Margaret. She was born in the first half of the twenty-fist century.” He watched Pedro eyes widening, eyebrows arching and knew his friend understood the implications. “We ran into trouble in the kingdom.” He said no more. He knew Pedro understood which kingdom.
“They are evil and the latest reports to leak out told us about a couple of unexpected visitors their king was anxious to keep around. That was you then?”
Stanton nodded. “Suppose it was. They hid a device in her leg that exploded the moment we were outside their perimeter.”
“One day we must assemble an army to clean that hornet’s nest out.”
Stanton nodded agreement. “I will want to be part of that cleansing.”
Minerva tugged at his sleeve and pointed to where the warrior faced a group of men. She seemed tense as the men formed a slow circle around her.
Pedro also checked to see what the girl pointed to and then said, “I’ll fix this. They’re troupers that spent weeks patrolling our outer perimeter. Afraid they’ve got some needs that will be denied. I know some thing about men may never change, but we are doing better as we weed out the worst.” He stood and waved over a woman dressed in a blue uniform with green diagonal strips on the sleeves indicating rank.
“Tell them to go the hell home and leave our guests their peace while that are here.”
The woman nodded and strode quickly to interfere. Stanton watched briefly and turned away once the aggressors left the area. Taisie stared at Stanton as if sending a message. He didn’t understand completely but suspected the message wasn’t entirely a thanks you.
She is a warrior, he told himself. Likely she wanted the opportunity to take out a couple of them.
Pedro must have sensed Stanton’s discomfort. “Worry not about your warrior friend. I’ve seen her fight and it wasn’t a scene you would desire for your daughter to witness. Taisie is ruthless and relentless. Once engaged, she will battle any enemy and the outcome is nearly the same each time. She succeeds. Occasionally she is wounded, but not often.” He glanced at Stanton. “Now I’m not saying she would be ungrateful that we interfered, but it is likely she wanted a taste of blood, if you understand my meaning. If Taisie thought of Minerva before reacting to the assault, like she was not about to, she would never have engaged in combat in front of Minerva.”
Stanton’s mouth pulled to one side as he fought a sardonic smile. He ran his fingers through his hair and then turned to look at his child. There was, he understood something about her that defied her young age. She seemed older and he wondered if the healers might be responsible. After all, the world on which they lived was clearly quite hostile.