Vision in Silver Page 111

“You’re welcome.”

Rubbing her arms, Meg returned to Simon’s apartment—and wished she could believe that nothing was going to happen.


Earthday, Maius 27

The girl waited for Jackson or Grace to fetch the dishes from her evening meal. Earlier in the day, she had opened the shutters that covered her window, wanting more light. A screen covered the window, and white paper was tacked outside the screen, preventing her from seeing anything. But she had heard them talking, growling. Upset.

Something bad had happened. Simon, the other Wolf she had drawn in that picture she’d made for Jackson, had been hurt. And because the bad had happened, something else would happen.

The girl looked at the drawing she’d made that day. Storm clouds and lightning. Cars full of people driving away from the storm. But on the other edge of the paper, something waited for the cars and the people—something she couldn’t picture in her mind, something her hand refused to draw because it wasn’t meant to be seen. It simply was.

And it, unseen and terrible, waited for the people in the cars.

Hearing a sound outside her door, the girl shoved the drawing under her bed before Jackson walked in carrying a mailing envelope. He placed the envelope at the foot of the bed.

“Meg, the Trailblazer, said we should take pictures for you to look at.”

New images? She was ready to look at new images.

“Thank you.” She must have said the right thing because he nodded and picked up the dishes she’d left on the desk.

She waited a minute. Then she carefully lifted the envelope’s flap and removed the photographs.

Her breath caught as she looked at each one, drinking in the images.

“Not in order,” she muttered as she rearranged the photos. “Need to be like . . . this.”

A place. All the photos were different images of a wonderful place. But . . . where? Her old keepers used to identify images. How else could she tell someone what she saw when she was cut?

Nothing written on the backs of the photos, so she turned the envelope over. Carefully printed on the front was one word: Sweetwater.

The girl spent the rest of the evening listening to the Wolves howl as she studied the photographs.


Moonsday, Maius 28

Monty didn’t want to be included in the meeting with Mayor Franklin Rogers and Police Commissioner Kurt Wallace. He’d lost a good man, and the rest of his team were recovering from lesser injuries and the shock of the attack. And for some reason, his daughter was still a target of an unknown aggressor. But Captain Burke wanted him there since he dealt with the Courtyard and could offer an informed opinion.

Well, fine. He’d offer an informed opinion to His Honor. If there was going to be any criticism about actions at the stall market that led to human casualties, his men deserved to have him stand for them. Especially Lawrence MacDonald, who could no longer speak for himself.

Nodding to Captain Zajac, who had also been called to this meeting, Monty took a position to Captain Burke’s left. Mayor Rogers sat behind his desk, a position of power. None of the police, including the commissioner, were invited to sit.

“Dreadful business,” Mayor Rogers said. “Can’t minimize the damage the Others did to human property, or the number of injured and dead that resulted from their attack.”

“Counterattack,” Zajac said at the same time Burke said, “Self-defense.”

“If you read my report, you know that men connected to the Humans First and Last movement started the incident—and fired the shots that killed a police officer and one of the terra indigene,” Zajac said. “Other HFL members attacked the Courtyard’s bus, tipping it over and attacking the Wolf inside.”

“They shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Commissioner Wallace said sharply. “They should stay inside the Courtyard. Isn’t that why businesses are required to make deliveries? So the majority of our population doesn’t have to deal with those creatures? And, gods below, is there really an entity made of fire?”

There is much more, and worse, than a fire Elemental in the Courtyard, Monty thought, angry that all the effort he and his men had put into creating a dialogue with the Others could be destroyed by fools. Having a police commissioner pretend he didn’t know about the Elementals after the storm that pounded the city back in Febros was beyond foolish; it was a level of denial that could get them all killed.

Zajac hesitated before answering. “It appears to be the case. And it’s unlikely that it was a fluke gust of wind that tore the roof off the building or piled up heavy debris against the other set of doors, preventing anyone from getting out that way.”

“Then the Others should be held accountable, should be required to pay for damages to the building as well as pay for all the cars that were burned,” Rogers said.

“Pay for damages?” Monty repeated. “I guess the pledge you made when you replaced the previous mayor, who died because of his involvement in the HFL movement and his subsequent role in the deaths of several terra indigene, was nothing but political hyperbole.”

“Now, see here . . . ,” Rogers shouted.

“You pledged to work with the Courtyard to avoid future conflicts, and now you’re trying to start a fight?”

“That’s enough, Lieutenant,” Burke said. His voice sounded mild, but his eyes sparked with a warning.

“You have anything to say about this, Burke?” Commissioner Wallace demanded.

Burke stared at Wallace. Then he looked at the mayor. “Three words. Jerzy. Talulah Falls.”

Rogers and Wallace stiffened.

“You may want to check how many years are left on the land lease for this city before you suggest to terra indigene leaders that they keep their residents inside the Courtyard’s fence,” Burke said. “You may want to check how many years are left on the road and railway right-of-ways. If the Others don’t renew the land lease, they can evict everyone in this city, the same as they did in Jerzy. Or they can make sure we can’t leave.”

“Are you suggesting that they’ll block all the routes out of the city?” Rogers said.

“They closed us in with a snowstorm and glaciers blocking every road leading out of the city. I imagine they can be equally efficient even in warmer seasons,” Burke said.

“That may be, but we have to consider people’s reactions if we give the impression that the loss of human life is insignificant,” Wallace said. “The way the Others retaliated . . .”

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