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The biggest of the slavers, a bald man with hieroglyphics tattooed on his cheeks stepped up to Omari. He was almost as tall as the mercenary and twice as wide, his muscles seemingly carved into him with a sculptor's care.
"Mikijen,' he growled, then spat on Omari's boot. Omari back-handed the man so hard he tumbled backwards into his cohorts and they all collapsed into a cursing pile. By the time they regain their feet Omari pointed his hand cannon at them.
"Whose first?" he asked.
Haben Bajinet,their employer, stepped between them.
"Enough of this silliness," he said. "My dhow is ready to leave and my client is impatient."
"The deal is off," the slaver said. "I won't work with a Mikijen."
"Former Mikijen," Haben corrected. "Omari Ket is a bastard but he's very good at what he does."
Omari cut his eyes at Haben then shifted his hand cannon slightly toward the man.
"You see these marks on my face?" The slaver pressed a thick finger into his cheek. "I got these beauties in a Kiswa prison. Guess who put me there?"
"It obviously wasn't me," Omari replied. "I never took a thief to the stocks. I killed them."
"See!" the slaver yelled. "Step aside, Bajinet!"
Haben's command reached into Omari's throat, gripping his vocal chords. He let go his hand cannon, reaching for his neck. The slavers did the same, their terrified eyes locked on Haben.
"I have paid all you half of what you asked," Bajinet said. "No one is leaving. I expect you back in two weeks. If you are not, you will forfeit the remainder of your earnings. Do you understand?"
Omari and the others nodded.
"Good," Haben said. "I wish you a successful journey, if not a good one."
Haben's invisible grip faded as he strode away. Omari rubbed his neck, making a note to investigate his clients in the future. The slavers glared at him as they massaged their throats.
"Come on then," the big man said. "I guess we're stuck with you."
"And me with you," Omari said. He slug his hand cannon onto his back. Picking up his packs. he followed the slavers onto the dhow.
The others filed down into the dhow, Omari setting up a place on the deck. As protector he needed to be prepared to fight back boarders so the deck was his lair for the trip. The crew introduced themselves, each man and woman experienced with the ways of the lake. They seemed happy to have him aboard. Pirates were rare in this part of the lake, but as they neared the shore the chance of encountering them would become more likely. Though he knew the crew were experienced fighters it always helped to have a professional on board.
He was helping the crew raise the sail when the big slaver approached him. Omari stepped away from the crew and took a stance.
"I mean you no harm," the man said.
"Really? Such a drastic change of heart in such a short time."
"Don't get me wrong. When this job is over you and I will have a conversation. But for now we work together."
The man extended his hand. "I am Lolega."
Omari took his hand which Lolega immediately attempted to crush. Omari's tight grip surprised the slaver."
"Looks can be deceiving," he said with a grin.
"I see," Lolega replied, a hint of respect in his voice.
Lolega folded his arms. "We will meet after sundown on the deck. You should join us."
The man nodded then strode away. Omari went back to helping the crew.
"You're going to have to kill that man, you know," one of the crew said.
"I know," Omari replied.