Vision in Silver Page 14

“There’s already trouble here,” Simon replied. “The mayor aligning himself with the HFL movement is proof of that. We just need to do whatever we can to protect ourselves so that if the Lakeside humans turn on us, the terra indigene and our humans in the Courtyard will have a way to survive.”

Pater,

The trial runs for the pharmaceutical enhancements showed great potential, and I think the enhancements could be of significant value to the last stage of HFL’s plans. Unfortunately, the manufacturer went out of business unexpectedly, and it is unlikely in this current climate that other possible manufacturers will be willing to take the risk of providing the product, despite significant monetary rewards. However, from what I understand, the final product is easy to produce if one has quality materials. Therefore, I will discreetly send a sample of the raw material on the next ship traveling to Cel-Romano. I also recommend exploring some of the country villages in our homeland, since they would be the most likely places to have what we seek. And having a local source, even if the material is of inferior quality, will reduce the amount we would need to export from Thaisia.

—NS

CHAPTER 5

Thaisday, Maius 10

The girl stumbled along the side of the road, looking for something, anything, she recognized from the binders filled with training images.

Highway. Two lanes, a wide strip of grass called a median, and two more lanes with cars going in the opposite direction.

Here, the keepers had said. This medicine will make you feel good.

It had made her feel good; almost as good as the euphoria. She and the other girls had floated while being packed into a horse trailer. They’d stopped and started many times during the night, and each time they stopped, a girl was left by the side of the road.

The farm is closed, the keepers said when some of the girls cried and begged to go back. Can’t afford to keep you anymore.

She’d seen something or heard something when they made the last cut, something she needed to remember. So important to remember. But she was so big and so tired and so alone out here. She’d never been alone except in her cell, and that didn’t feel like being alone because she knew there were girls in the other cells all around her and the keepers were always present and always checking on her.

No one here now.

Too many images, too many sounds. They beat at her—fists made of images and sounds. Belly too big, too awkward. Hurting. She tried to tell them about the hurting when they led her from the trailer, but the keepers didn’t listen.

The farm is closed. You have to go. Then the keepers said the last, and most frightening, thing. If the Others find you, they’ll kill you and the baby. They’ll tear open your belly and eat the baby right out of you.

Needed to find people, find the farm, find . . . something.

Police? No. Police wouldn’t help the girls at the farm. That’s why the place was a secret. When girls were taken away by the police, they were beaten so they would lose the babies. The keepers said so.

She stumbled on the gravel that made up the shoulder on this side of the highway. Taking awkward steps to avoid falling, she ended up in the right-hand lane. She saw the big truck approaching and took a step toward the shoulder.

Images of people and highways crowded her mind. Images of animals and highways crowded her mind. A word under the images of dead animals: roadkill.

She would stand on the shoulder of the highway and wave. Maybe the people in the truck would stop. Maybe they would give her a ride and take her back to the farm. Her belly hurt more and more. Rhythmic hurting. She needed to get back to the farm because rhythmic hurting meant something.

A blast from the truck’s horn scared her. Had to move out of the way, had to . . .

She heard howling. Terrible howling.

The Others were coming! They would find her and . . .

She ran straight into the path of the truck. As it hit her, she remembered that something from the last prophecy—the woman’s voice saying, “Don’t! It’s not too late!”

And then it was too late.

CHAPTER 6

Thaisday, Maius 10

Lieutenant Crispin James Montgomery extended his hand to the man who rose from the visitor’s chair as Captain Burke made the introductions.

“I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Denby,” Monty said, shaking Pete’s hand. “I’m glad you and your family made it to Lakeside all right.”

“So am I. I don’t think we would have made it without the terra indigene’s help,” Pete said.

Pete Denby had assisted in the search for the Controller. When that assistance made him a target, he packed up his wife and two children and headed for Lakeside—a long drive from the Midwest Region of Thaisia. Their car was run off the road, a deliberate attempt to injure or kill Pete, but the Others intervened and provided an escort for the rest of the trip.

“Are you planning to go back to the Midwest?” Monty asked.

Pete’s eyes held a bleak look before he gave Monty a too-hearty smile. “Don’t think I have much future there.” The too-hearty smile slipped. “Not sure I have much of a future here either.”

“I already told you,” Burke said. “I don’t have a current tenant for the other side of the duplex, and you’re welcome to use it.”

“I appreciate that,” Pete said. “But a roof over our heads is only half the problem.”

“Problem?” Monty looked from one man to the other.

“We’ll work it out,” Burke said.

“Even you can’t continue feeding four extra people on a single ration book,” Pete said tightly.

“If you’re going to relocate—,” Monty began.

“In order to receive a ration book that can be used in Lakeside, one or more adults in the family need to be employed—and show proof of that employment,” Pete said. “Apparently there is some fear that a glut of people coming in from other towns will try to get ration books without being part of the working population, which will create food shortages. If there are shortages, prices will go up and more people will end up with less.”

“You went to two interviews since you decided to look for work here,” Burke pointed out. “You turned down both offers.”

“I’m not signing some damn ‘loyalty pledge,’” Pete snapped. “Especially when the senior partners in the law firm turned evasive when I asked to whom or what I was supposed to pledge my loyalty.”

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