Vision in Silver Page 118

“I can think of one person,” Montgomery said very softly.

“Lieutenant?” Burke asked.

Montgomery shook his head.

“Which still begs the question,” O’Sullivan said. “Where are the real gems?”

Vlad smiled, showing a fang. “Consider them lost for good.”

O’Sullivan blinked. “Gods,” he breathed. Then he said nothing else.

“You’re quite clever for a human,” Stavros said as he studied O’Sullivan. “I hope you will continue to be clever in the days ahead.” He sat back. “Based on that hope, I will talk to you as Vladimir and Simon talk to Lieutenant Montgomery and Captain Burke.”

“That’s a generous offer,” O’Sullivan finally said after a heavy silence. “Why make it now?”

Henry stirred, his first movement since the meeting began. “Because of what is coming.”

Simon glanced at Henry. <Let’s show them why first.>

Tess set the pink diary in front of Montgomery, who sucked in a breath. Simon pushed one folder toward Burke and the other toward O’Sullivan.

Gently, because Montgomery had been gentle with the terra indigene’s grief, Simon said, “This is what the humans were looking for when they searched your apartment, when they broke into the efficiency apartments here. This is why your mate died . . . and why humans hunted the Lizzy even after that Scaffoldon took Boo Bear back to Toland.”

He sat back and let them read.

After a few minutes, Montgomery closed the diary and said, “Gods, Elayne. You died for this? For this?”

Burke and O’Sullivan closed the folders. Both men looked sad and . . . embarrassed.

“Your reaction is not what we expected,” Stavros said.

“This is rubbish,” O’Sullivan said. “I’m sorry for what it cost you and your daughter, Lieutenant, but this is rubbish.” He looked at Stavros. “You’re a lawyer. You know what is said here about the HFL is only the word of a woman who would be labeled hysterical, jealous, and vindictive. There’s no proof that the shortages people will be facing in Thaisia are the result of a farming association selling its crops to Cel-Romano under the table to get around the limit of goods that can be exported. Or that a steel company was doing the same. And without the real jewels, we can speculate about the insurance scam, but there’s no proof that Leo Borden or Nicholas Scratch knew the jewels were in Elayne Borden’s residence, let alone that one of them put the jewels into a child’s toy as a hiding place.”

“You have formulated a theory about all of those things,” Stavros countered. “You told us right here in this room.”

“I have a theory, but no proof.”

Montgomery shook his head slowly. “Someone must have thought Elayne knew more than she did. Or thought she had actual proof. I could see her making such a claim in a moment of anger, and then realizing afterward that she had put herself and Lizzy in real danger.”

“I agree with your assessment, Agent O’Sullivan,” Stavros said. “This writing would have no value in a human court of law.”

“But this isn’t about human law,” Simon said quietly. He had let the humans talk about things that no longer mattered because they thought those things were still important. Now it was time to deliver the message.

“We wondered why the human pack was so concerned about having enough food this year when nothing on terra indigene or Intuit farms indicated a reason for such concern. So we asked, and the question traveled throughout Thaisia. We have the answer. All the terra indigene have the answer. This?” He gestured to the folders and diary. “This is for you. These words, written by a human, confirm the betrayal of humans by humans.” He leaned forward. “You may not know the name of the farming association that sold food to Cel-Romano and then lied about why there wouldn’t be enough to feed the humans in Thaisia. But we know. You may not know the owners of the railroad line that shipped the food to the port at Toland, but we know. We know the names of the ships that traveled on the Great Lakes with cargo that shouldn’t have left Thaisia if there was truly a shortage of materials. We know humans betrayed their own kind and tried to blame us. All the terra indigene know these things.”

O’Sullivan quietly cleared his throat. “Governor Hannigan should know about this.”

“He will. All of Thaisia will know by tomorrow. That’s why you and Stavros should leave tonight.” Simon took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He’d never had to deliver a sanction of this magnitude. “The terra indigene who live in the Courtyards make decisions about the cities we watch. But we don’t make decisions about the rest of Thaisia. The earth natives who live in and guard the wild country make those decisions. Because the humans’ act of betraying their own kind has turned into a threat to us, those earth natives have declared a breach of trust.”

Burke paled but said nothing.

“This is the most serious offense humans can make against the terra indigene. Any, and every, agreement made with the humans living in Thaisia can be rescinded because of a breach of trust.”

“Mr. Wolfgard,” Montgomery began.

Simon shook his head. “It’s already done, Lieutenant. The breach of trust was declared before the news reached this far east. I am just the messenger.”

“What is going to happen now?” Burke asked.

“Human-owned ships traveling on the Great Lakes cannot carry any cargo that humans said was in short supply. The Five Sisters will retaliate against any ship that tries to defy that decree.”

“Five Sisters?”

“Superior, Tala, Honon, Etu, and Tahki.”

Burke frowned. “Those are the names of the Great Lakes.”

Simon nodded.

“Are you saying the lakes are Elementals?”

“No, but an Elemental controls each lake, and she takes its name as her own.”

“They’ll sink the ships?”

“Yes. However, ships from human settlements that belong to the terra indigene or terra indigene ships can travel on the Great Lakes and sell food to other parts of Thaisia. But no food grown in Thaisia will leave Thaisia until there is no longer a shortage.”

Burke, O’Sullivan, and Montgomery looked stunned.

“There are other human places besides Cel-Romano that buy food from Thaisia,” Burke said. “Will those agreements be honored?”

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