Celta Thursday Cut from Heart and Sword, of the collection Hearts and Swords
Her grandson, Randolph Ash, swallowed. "No more than eight months."
Reality had always been hard. Kelse nodded, managed a faint twitch of his lips that was a grim smile. "Good."
"We won’t last years. In fact–" He thumbed the All Ship Intercom. "This is Captain Bountry. The birth rate ban is hereby lifted, and I’m declaring a holiday. Enjoy yourselves." There was a stunned silence, Randolph stared at him, and then even through the walls he heard whoops of incredible joy.
Randolph sank onto the chair. Under his olive skin tone, he’d gone pale. "They’ll soon figure it out."
The doors slid open and Fern walked in. Her hair was tumbled and she was in a heavy robe. "Kelse?"
"We have less than nine months," he said.
She closed her eyes. After a couple of seconds, he said, "You know what we must do."
There was an echo. Fern had said it in unison with him. Kelse’s brows went up. She lifted her lashes. Her smile was better, even though she rubbed her hands up and down on her robe under the wide lapels. Tactile Fern. How he loved her.
He couldn’t concentrate on that right now. Had to keep up battle mode.
"We’ll find a place. I’m sure of it," Fern said.
Kelse’s new expression wasn’t any better than his last. Fern had always been a terrible prognosticator. Which reminded him. "Maybe we should wake Magus ."
Randolph had bowed to Fern, but now turned his attention back to Kelse. "Who’s that?"
Fern’s chuckle was low. "I’m not a good prophet, but she is. The best prophet we have."
"Oh." Randolph shifted. Only once, but Kelse knew him by now, eyed him narrowly.
"Morale is going to be tough. Your friend, Dirk Lascom, the leader of the mutineers, is going to win over others. Glowing prophecies of success would mitigate that.."
"They’d reassure me," Fern said.
"We can’t afford to lose hope," Kelse said.
"Ah, well, we have Granny Vine." He glanced at Kelse. "She’s actually one of you. A descendant of a sleeper." Randolph frowned. "Maybe even this Magus. Her son was named Magus."
"And I haven’t heard of her because?" Kelse asked.
Randolph shot out his chin. "She’s one of us. Wants nothing to do with you sleepers."
"Ah. That sounds like consequences of Magus’ actions, all right."
"I’d like to see her," Fern said. "Do you think she’d visit with me?"
"I think she loves almond cookies," Randolph said. "She’s talked about them over the years. Nothing was ever as good as almond cookies."
Now Fern’s smile lit her eyes. "I think we can do that, at least half a dozen."
"You know the ingredients for ship to make them?" Randolph asked incredulously.
"Even with the cookies, she won’t make up a glowing prophecy," Randolph said.
"I wouldn’t want to hear a false one," Kelse said, but he prayed there would be good news.