The jovial hail carried clear across the commons. A man strode to Umi, his son buzzing around his knees like a wasp, and Umi turned with a ready smile—he had missed the unspoken camaraderie the Legion built. At least not everyone was afraid to approach him.
“Hanif Gaius,” the man introduced himself. He caught Umi’s hand in a greeting and his charging offspring by the wrist–his broad knuckles dwarfed the both of them. “Honor to see you here. Yasha sure has a way of picking up rare pieces. Never thought I’d meet you, at the end of everything.”
Umi tipped the hilt of his Major. “Never thought I’d be here, at the end of everything.”
“Ain’t that the truth. So you’re training the patriarch’s boy, now?” Hanif wrestled playfully with his son’s grip. “That’s a damned honor. Damned waste, too, if you ask me. Like five cats in one dog, that young man is. Think you’d be willing to give this little beast of wrath some lessons?”
Umi waved at the chubby boy, who hung off his father and gave a few-toothed grin. “We’ll see if Pyrros starts getting on better before I decide I’m ready to teach more mature children,” he quipped.
Hanif guffawed, rumpling his son’s dark curls—they matched Hanif’s identically. “All the luck of the stars to you, warrior. Now on with your day. Before all.”
“Before all,” Umi replied automatically. The man and boy whisked off, and Umi realized what Hanif had just exchanged with him—before all. Legion before all. The creed.
Though unspoken, the warriors had not forgotten their war. And they had not forgotten each other, either.
For some reason, it always helps me write one-shot wonder characters by giving them names. Thanks for dropping by, Hanif, and farewell–we will probably never see you again. Unless I need another random warrior whose role he could plausibly fill. Less than a week of Nano to go!