Vision in Silver Page 114

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Simon raced up the stairs to HGR’s office. Just as well he was in human form; his forelegs wouldn’t have supported an attempt to mount the stairs at that speed.

Vlad said nothing; just held out the phone. But Simon noticed the tremble in the vampire’s hand.

“This is Simon Wolfgard.”

It was not a voice meant to shape human words. It was not a voice that should have been heard over any device created by humans.

Simon sank into the chair. “Yes, I’ll listen.” And he did. For several minutes, he listened and said nothing. Then, “Yes, I understand.” And he did.

By the time he hung up, the office was full of the individuals who would carry some of this weight along with him: Erebus, Vlad, Nyx, and Stavros; Blair and Elliot; Henry and Tess. But at the end of what was said, one individual had been singled out, and she wasn’t in the room.

The sweet blood has changed things. You have changed because of her. We are intrigued by the humans who have gathered around your Courtyard, so we will give you some time to decide how much human the terra indigene will keep.

How much time was some time? And what, exactly, was he deciding to keep—the products humans made that the terra indigene found useful, or the pieces that, taken in total, made up the essential nature of humans? Was he supposed to decide if it was possible to have a human form of terra indigene? A century from now, would there be a Human and a human, like there was a Wolf and a wolf? What if there weren’t enough terra indigene who were willing to become that human?

How much time was some time?

“So,” Henry finally said. “The Elders have declared a breach of trust?”

“Yes.” The consequences were going to roll through Thaisia like a terrible storm.

“Have they decided on extinction?”

Simon shivered. “Not yet.”

Silence as the rest of them absorbed the words.

“What are you going to tell Montgomery?” Vlad asked.

“The truth.”

CHAPTER 54

Moonsday, Maius 28

As Monty reached the doorway of Captain Burke’s office, he heard an unfamiliar voice say, “Thanks for seeing me, especially at a difficult time. My condolences on the loss of one of your men.”

Giving the visitor his typical fierce-friendly smile, Burke wagged a finger at Monty—a silent command to come in. “Appreciate the sentiment. As for seeing you, well, you caught a train and came to talk to us. The least we can do is listen to what you have to say. Lieutenant Montgomery, this is Greg O’Sullivan, an agent in the governor’s newly formed Investigative Task Force. O’Sullivan, this is Crispin James Montgomery.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” O’Sullivan said, extending a hand toward Monty.

Monty shook the offered hand while he assessed the man. O’Sullivan looked to be in his early thirties. He had green eyes, dark hair that was cut short and starting to thin at the top. The lean build could be the luck of heritage or a deliberate result of diet and exercise. However, the skin on O’Sullivan’s face was so tightly stretched over bone and muscle it lent the man a kind of burning intensity and made Monty think of a warrior who chose an austere life in order to be constantly ready for the next battle.

Am I the next battle? Something about the way O’Sullivan looked at him gave Monty the feeling the man already knew too much about him.

Monty and O’Sullivan sat in the visitors’ chairs. Burke sat behind his desk—and waited.

Looking at the two men, Monty wondered if Burke was seeing a version of his younger self. O’Sullivan certainly came across as having the same kind of fierceness under a veneer of manners.

“It’s your meeting,” Burke finally said.

“Is this room secure?” O’Sullivan countered.

“Nothing you say here will go any further without your consent.”

O’Sullivan sat back in the chair and crossed his legs at the ankles. “There is a file on you in the governor’s office.”

“Every police officer has a file,” Burke replied easily. “For that matter, every government employee has a file. Standard procedure.”

“Yes, it is. Until you joined the force in Lakeside and began rising through the ranks, your file . . . Well, no one’s file is that clean, so when Governor Hannigan called a few of your former commanding officers, they filled in a little of what wasn’t on the page.”

“And why would the governor be interested in a patrol captain in Lakeside?”

O’Sullivan smiled. “He was trying to decide if he should recruit you for the ITF.”

“Why?”

O’Sullivan’s smile faded. “Because you were assigned to small human villages near or within the boundaries of the wild country in your early years on the force. Because you had direct experience with the terra indigene at least once during those years, and that experience has informed the choices you’ve made ever since when it comes to dealing with the Others. Because two of your former commanders hinted that you saw something or know something too dangerous to put in a report or pass along to anyone else, and whatever happened in those early years makes you a dangerous man because you actually know what’s at stake when humans tangle with the Others. Because you’re someone Governor Hannigan wants as an ally.”

“You’re here to offer me a job?”

“No. After careful review, the governor decided you’re ideally situated right where you are.”

“How kind of him to think so.”

“I’m not here to start trouble, Captain Burke. I’m here because I need help.” He looked at Monty. “From both of you.”

Burke leaned forward and put his folded hands on his desk. “I like to know who I’m working with. Don’t you, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir,” Monty replied. “I do. Especially when that person seems to know a great deal about me.”

O’Sullivan nodded. “Fair enough. Before I joined the ITF, I was on the police force in Hubbney. Being the governor’s brainchild, the ITF’s office is located a block away from Governor Hannigan’s office as well as the police station I used to work at. Which means, happily for me and the other handful of agents who currently make up the ITF force, we can count on assistance and backup from the police there. That’s something I hope I can say about Lakeside too.”

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