Vision in Silver Page 12

Thaisday, Maius 10

Taking a seat at the low table in the Business Association’s room, Simon studied the index cards Merri Lee had created from the visions Meg had seen, then handed them to Elliot, the only other person in the meeting who hadn’t already seen them.

Girls and silver razors and roadkill. Why were the girls on the roads alone?

All right, Meg had traveled alone from the Midwest all the way to Lakeside, but she’d traveled by train and bus. She hadn’t been walking beside a road where she might get hit by a car and be left to die like a raccoon or deer.

But she had walked the streets in Lakeside part of the time. At night. In a snowstorm. By herself.

Even puppies weren’t that dumb or that foolishly brave.

Meg wasn’t usually dumb or foolish. But she had been desperate when she ran away from the Controller, and other girls could be as desperate to get away. And yet . . .

“This feels wrong,” Simon said. “Even if the humans are angry with us for making them say where the blood prophets are being kept, why would they let girls they considered valuable just wander off? That feels wrong.”

“You think Meg made a mistake?” Henry asked.

“No.” But maybe we did. We don’t think like humans, so maybe we made the mistake. “Meg saw this as something we need to deal with, but the only cassandra sangue within reach of Lakeside are Meg and the girls living on Great Island. None of them are in danger of being roadkill.”

“Meg and those girls aren’t in danger,” Vlad agreed. “But we received the warning, so we’re the ones who can send the warning to the rest of the terra indigene. I sent out an alarm to the Sanguinati. They’re already searching for any girls who appear lost or abandoned. And they’re looking for any females lying next to a road or in a ditch. I also talked to Jenni Crowgard. She’s asking all the Crowgard to search for blood prophets—and Starr and Crystal flew out to tell the regular crows. They’ll spread the word among their own kind and will tell the Crowgard if they notice anything new in their territories.”

“While you were dealing with Meg and Merri Lee, I called Joe and Jackson Wolfgard, telling them about these two visions,” Henry said. “I also contacted some of the Beargard and Panthergard. Wolves, Bears, and Panthers will spread the alarm to the rest of the terra indigene in their regions and start searching. For now, that’s all we can do.”

None of them mentioned the one other thing they could do, didn’t mention the one pack who hadn’t been told about the warning yet.

“What else?” Simon said, nodding at the index cards Elliot set on the table.

“Within minutes of this controlled cut, we had answers to three of the things the terra indigene should watch for,” Vlad said. “Meg herself is the Pathfinder and Trailblazer. Just after Merri Lee brought me those index cards, I watched humans pound FOR SALE signs in the lawns of two houses across the street from the Courtyard.”

“Doesn’t mean those are the correct signs,” Elliot said.

“But it’s likely they are,” Vlad countered.

“Yes, it’s likely, considering the accuracy of the prophecies Meg has shared with us,” Elliot conceded. “Just like NWLNA is most likely an attempt to discriminate against any human who is willing to work for us or with us. When I met with Mayor Rogers yesterday, I saw a proposal for adding a symbol to the identity cards—a symbol that would tell other humans if a person was a ‘Wolf lover.’ Rogers acted flustered that I had seen the proposal and gave me all kinds of reasons why this would benefit the city and help smother unrest.” Elliot gave them all a toothy smile. “I asked him if the identity cards of all the humans who have had sex with one of the terra indigene would carry that symbol since they had certainly earned the designation. Judging by the way his face changed color, I’m guessing at least one member of his family has taken a walk on the wild side. Not something a politically ambitious human would want known.”

Henry frowned. “Instead of trying to justify stamping the identity cards, he should have said it was government business. We don’t get involved with how humans govern themselves.”

“We don’t get involved until their squabbling becomes a threat to us,” Simon said. “But we have provided assistance to humans who were persecuted because they didn’t fit in with the rest. That’s why the Intuits and Simple Life folk mostly live on land we control instead of living in human-controlled towns.”

“I think Rogers left that proposal in plain sight to gauge my reaction,” Elliot said. “But I also noticed a logo on a letter that hadn’t been hidden well enough under the other papers on his desk—a letter I don’t think he wanted me to see.” He removed a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and set it on the table. “That’s a rough sketch of the logo.”

It looked like a jumble of lines in a circle until Simon realized it was an attempt to turn letters into a symbol. “Humans First and Last movement,” he growled.

Elliot nodded. “I’ve heard whispers about secret handshakes, and this symbol is being displayed in all kinds of stores and businesses. There’s a human in Toland going around speaking about what humans deserve, stirring up the rest of the monkeys and trying to convince them that they can exterminate the terra indigene and take control of the world.”

“They might be able to kill the shifters living in the Courtyards, or even some of the shifters living in the land that borders a human town or city,” Henry said. “But they’ll never take control of the wild country. They’ll never take control of Namid. The rest of the terra indigene will see to it.”

“But the seed has been planted,” Elliot argued. “The humans in Lakeside’s government have already forgotten the consequences of attacking us, despite Mayor Rogers’s predecessor being among those who were killed in retaliation. They look at Talulah Falls and refuse to believe that they and their city could end up the same way.”

“What did you tell the mayor about the proposal?” Tess asked.

“I told him the terra indigene would not object to being able to identify human allies as long as we can also identify our enemies. If Lakeside’s government decides to brand some humans as Wolf lovers, then the terra indigene will demand that every person supporting the Humans First and Last movement will have a similar stamp on their identity cards, because we do not wish to support businesses owned by such humans or supply those businesses with raw materials to make their products. Not that the humans who owned or worked in those businesses would want raw materials from us.”

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