Rewrite, GHOST OF THE DEVIL-HORSE, 12/26/2020.

I’ve decided that the story needed serious and drastic reordering, so I’m going to be spending the next week doing just that. Well, that and rewrites, and actually finishing it, and so forth.

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“So,” I went on, “we know where the airport was, and it’s better than ‘In the time of my grandsire’s grandmere, she told him that her grandsire said this place was the roosting place of the eagle-ships.’ Well, that’s nice. Kind of cheating, though?”

“It doesn’t have to always be difficult, Johnnie,” Hank said as he sipped his tea. “Sometimes we get to do things the easy way.”

“So it would seem.” I thought for a moment. “I don’t trust it, Hank.”

“Any real reason, or are you just being paranoid?”

“I work underground a lot,” I pointed out. “There’s no such thing as paranoia, down there. Everything really is trying to kill you.”

“Fair,” Hank said. “That’s why I want you along. I need a good field salvage archaeologist to take advantage of our good luck, and I need a serpent-man for when the luck goes sour. I get you, I check two boxes. So, you want in anyway?”

“Of course I want in. You had me at ‘ancient airport’,” I admitted. “Even if the Dominion’s already looted it.” The Dominion may have been viciously efficient at a limited number of things, but I knew from long experience that even the most comprehensive dig of theirs would have left behind all sorts of interesting artifacts. The Dominion has no eye for archeology, and very little time to learn better. “How’s the funding?”

“We’re getting there,” Hank said. “UNC-Cinderella sent us a bunch of grad students, and the Dwarvenwood’s contributing some because of the PCU connection. The University’s covering the rest, but I won’t lie to you, Johnny: having a serpent-man on board will do a lot to get the Deseret government to cough up extra funding.” He grimaced a little at the admission. “I know it sucks to hear that, although I’d want you along anyway.”

“Relax, Hank,” I said. “I know how the world works. Heck, I don’t even mind. Shake ‘em down with a clear conscience: I promise I won’t tell on you.”