"Ah! Another sartorial non-conformist," Merlin greeted Nimue, alluding to that, aside from the CAVE travelers, Lancelot (in a Benwick jumpsuit) and Merlin (in, as always, entirely anachronistic fancy dress) were the only people on the Excalibur not wearing this history's Round Table fleet uniform. If Merlin had been in a Round Table flightsuit, Nimue would have given the spacetime continuum up for lost.
"Apparently, you convinced the king that I'm as concerned for your missing passenger as he is," explained Nimue, keeping her cool with only a little difficulty. This was not the first occasion Nimue's time-travels had brought her to meet her mentor and lover since his death; even to a point in his lifeline before he'd met her. But now he seemed not only not to have his Avalonian origins generally known, but to have signed onto the Excalibur as crew. He seemed not to have any interest in Nimue's origins beyond somehow knowing she could proffer him some assistance. He didn't seem to recognize her. Did he know she was from Avalon too, or know anything of their future (to him) history together? She wondered where his CAVE was too. Unless the times were very different, Arthur ought to have recognized Nimue's CAVE - since it was Merlin's.
"Arthur's not as convinced as he might be," offered Sir Kay, Nimue's security escort and Arthur's foster brother.
Merlin didn't care. "Look at this," he said with delight, and showed Nimue the Saracen's unusual skin features. "And that's only what I've found so far."
Nimue found the biological advances she and Merlin discovered in the Saracen to be ambiguous as evidence of time-tampering. She knew little of the Saracens; they were otherwise run of the mill humans who originated many AUs away. These cover operatives could be a part of Nimue's history unknown to her, or they could be agents of the unknown adversary. Best just to gather all the data she could. Perhaps there was something Nimue could spot that Merlin couldn't.
"Doctor?" Nimue recognized the voice of Arthur's nephew before she turned to look. "Midshipman Sir Gawaine, sir. King Arthur wants to know when you'll have something to report on the alien."
"I have things already," said Merlin. "I'll have more the longer he waits." He waved dismissively at Gawaine, who left with bad grace but silently.
It was a good thing Nimue recognized Gawaine's voice, because there was something for Nimue to spot that Merlin apparently couldn't. "That's a post-Transformation Gael!" she exclaimed before she could stop herself. The Metamorphosis of Albanactus wasn't to happen for more than a century, but Gawaine had forehead ridges!
"What transformation?" Kay asked.
"Er ... hard to say really," Nimue dithered. "They don't discuss it with outsiders."
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