Swamped Chapter 28 Page 7

You stop and think.

On the surface, Crosswinds’ argument makes sense; you’re not with either faction and yet you’re wearing a protective suit that makes it look like you planned to come here.

So what if you were brought here intentionally, to serve as an obvious suspect?

Well, the immediate problem with that theory is that you woke up in the Bogknight base, not the Marshguard one. But it would explain a number of things if someone were deliberately transporting things to the swamp; most notably, it would explain the darkwood fire.

Perhaps you were going to take the blame for something in the Bogknight base… which makes you wonder if there’s another suspect who was meant to go here. Even the greatrat might have been transported here to take care of you once whoever’s responsible realized you were off-script.

So where does Crosswinds fit in?

They’re certainly pressing you hard, but if they were trying to pin the blame on you – well, why interrogate you alone, in this small room, and even go out of their way to mention that they’re not informing their superiors yet?

Unless they’re trying to work out if you’re smart enough to prove your innocence. But then, why kill the greatrat… even if it wasn’t specifically sent to kill you, Crosswinds could just take your corpse in and not many questions would be asked.

Well, you’ve got few options now. You may as well take Crosswinds at their word, and assume they’re only interested in whether you’re a threat. If you’re wrong, it’s not as though you can really do anything about it.

“Why would someone want to poison you, anyways? You’re all the way out in a swamp, how much threat could you be?”

“Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re at war. So the first suspect is the Bogknights.”

And you just admitted to sneaking over from their base. Wonderful. You must have really hurt your case with that one.

“So, what. You think I slipped over from there to deliver the poison quietly, and provide a layer of deniability?”

“Well, I thought there was a good chance, up until you said you were over there this morning. If you were working on behalf of someone over there, you’d have been fed a better cover story.”

You’re not sure if you feel relieved or insulted.

“Of course, you might be working for someone else who wants us to think the Bogknights are out for blood now. So don’t go thinkin’ you’re in the clear yet.”

“Really? And who would that be? I’ve got no idea what’s going on in this swamp, I don’t even know what you people are doing here.”

Crosswinds looks you directly in the eyes.

“Well, I can’t speak for the Bogknights, but us? This is our home. We’ll all fight for it, because it’s all we got. So for your sake, I hope you really didn’t do nothin’. If you did…”

You get the picture.

“Can you describe the symptoms of the poisoning in more detail?” you ask. “I don’t know what murderfly toxin does.”

“Well, it usually takes a couple hours for anything noticable to happen. Only early sign is that you feel a little hot, and you keep getting hotter. Then when you start feeling really hot, you pass out, and usually you don’t wake up again unless you get treated fast; clean water with a little pill in it, shoved down your throat. Takes about three hours to unconsciousness, twelve to death. But this poisoning is more like twelve hours to unconsciousness, and if we give ’em the treatment, they wake up again but they’re still sick. And then they collapse in about six hours or so and we gotta treat ’em again.”

Well. That sounds more than a little familiar.

“High body temperature, twelve hours to unconsciousness, relapses with conventional treatments… this ‘poison’ of yours sounds a lot like desert fever.”

Crosswinds stares at you.

“Oh really. And would you care to tell me how this ‘desert’ fever came to the swamp? Because that sounds a little funny to me.”

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Suggestions:

shrug. mosquitoes?

Zombie mosquitoes.

Didn’t we see some zombie mosquitos desert bees earlier?