To go WALKABOUT was an old Australian description for an extended journey on foot through that country alone and living off the land to experience the indigenous way of life. “Most people would tell you not to attempt crossing the desert but you seem to be fine and were making good time. Where did you find the robe?”
“Maggie, she said wearing an aged hooded robe I would easily blend in with the landscape. No one at the settlements we’ve gone across suspect that I’m not desert dwellers.”
Over the next dune was a camp that spread out across the desert as far as the eye could see. In the middle were a huge tent and a blazing campfire.
“Asim’s camp,”
“Is he rich or something?” Matt said astonished.
No one at the settlement suspected that they were anyone other than another pair of desert dwellers looking for a place to rest for the fast approaching night. The old man had currency to purchase what turned out to be a delicious meal of snake meat and bread. They found a well with fresh water to go with their meal. A stable with beautiful Arabian Stallions caught Matt’s eye. At first, the keeper was suspicious but Matt impressed him with his knowledge of breeding techniques used back on Earth. So much so, they offered to share their camp for the night.
With his eyes, ever watchful Omar spotted the two as they entered the camp. He hurried to greet them before any of the unsavory members tried to shake them down.
“My friend Peters, how good to see you,” His expression changed as he wondered if they were coming in from the west. “How did you get here?” He asked puzzled. “You have no horse, no camel?”
“We walked.”
“Through the desert,” Omar shook his head. “Men a third your age could not do this.” Then he turned to Matt. “A stranger no doubt?”
Matt used his voice translator implant to understand the conversations in Arabic. Seeing his host was apparently feeling no pain he figured he might get useful information. THE NIGHT IS BEAUTIFUL AND YOUR CAMP IS AMAZING. He said in Arabic.
Omar’s face turned serious. “I don’t remember seeing you before yet you speak our language?”
“Yes, I picked it up while in the Outlands.”
“I see,” After a moment, his look softened. “Forgive me for not properly introducing myself. I’m Omar Serif Wadjd Kadin Hadi.”
“Matt Stewart.”
“You are a friend of Peters?” He repeated.
“Yes I am. He’s showing me around.”
“Then you are welcome in Asim’s camp. Just know I have a great deal of respect for this old man so just the fact that you two were traveling together is enough to grant you a safe place to sleep. Stay close to him.” Omar danced off into the crowd, but made sure, with a glance that Matt knew he had an eye on him.

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