Vision in Silver Page 26

She remembered the image of herself with the sheets of paper and colored pencils.

The girl pounded on the door and screamed. It wasn’t until she heard people shouting and running toward her that she tried to open the door.

Not locked in. A test? Or a choice?

She flung the door open and fell into the arms of one of the men who had come running in response to her screams.

“I want to live!” she cried. “I want to live!”

*   *   *

“You’ve reached the Borden residence. Leave your name, number, and the purpose of your call.”

“Elayne, it’s Monty. You’re not going to see another support check unless I talk to Lizzy and have some confirmation that my daughter is all right.”

Monty waited a moment, half expecting Elayne to pick up and start shouting at him for implying that she wasn’t a good mother. Right now, he wasn’t sure she was a good mother.

He hung up, then finished getting ready for work.

Radio and TV news reports were full of sound bites from Nicholas Scratch’s speeches about the teenage girls, already troubled by an unhealthy addiction to cutting, being taken out of human control.

Scratch was careful not to make any mention of the girls being cassandra sangue or that most of the cuts on those girls had been made by men selling prophecies for profit. He didn’t have any trouble pointing out that the terra indigene’s imprudent actions were the reason behind the fifty percent suicide rate of the girls who had been released from the sheltered, structured life that had been designed for them by caring professionals. But he made no mention of the babies who had been killed to hide the evidence of breeding farms.

It was equally telling that most of the girls who had committed suicide had used a folding razor with a silver handle—the same kind of razor Meg Corbyn used, because each blood prophet had a sharp, shiny razor that was used exclusively on her.

If Elayne wanted to wave the banner for Scratch, that was her choice, but Monty wasn’t going to stand back anymore and let Lizzy be pulled into that mess. Simon Wolfgard had said the terra indigene didn’t harm children. While it was probably true that a Wolf wouldn’t harm a child without provocation, Monty didn’t think the Elementals or other kinds of terra indigene were always as concerned about who might suffer from their wrath.

Sooner or later, the terra indigene would realize that words could be as much of a danger to them as a physical weapon. Sooner or later, Nicholas Scratch, or someone else in the HFL movement, was going to say too much.

He stopped at his apartment door and looked back at the phone. This early in the morning, Elayne should have been home.

“Damn you,” he said softly.

He had intended to go to court to gain some kind of custody that would prevent Elayne from taking Lizzy to another continent. He’d had to put personal needs aside when the pressure of finding the Controller and preventing an assault on all human settlements in the Midwest Region had consumed all his time and energy. A justifiable decision, since the threat to the Midwest had been immediate and the trip to Cel-Romano had been slated for summer, presumably after Scratch had finished his speaking engagements in Thaisia and was returning home.

But now summer was less than a month away. Now Monty needed to do something for himself and his little girl. And by a quirk of fate—or the gods’ benevolence—he’d met Pete Denby, an attorney he could trust to represent him.

Returning to his bedroom, Monty opened the closet and removed the lockbox from the top shelf. Opening the box, he took out a copy of Lizzy’s birth certificate, which listed him as her father, and a copy of the support agreement Elayne had insisted on when he’d been transferred to Lakeside and she’d refused to go with him.

After tucking the papers in the inside pocket of his suit coat, Monty replaced the lockbox and closed the closet door. Then he locked up his apartment and walked to the bus stop, arriving just in time to catch the Whitetail Road bus to work.

Simon,

Seven blood prophets killed themselves early this morning. The Intuits are in shock. They say they had conflicting feelings about bringing the girls to their village, but they ignored the bad feelings because they wanted to help. Now they say they will keep the young girls but not the girl who was in the room with the dead ones. She has scars and fresh cuts. I think they expect her to kill herself, and they’re afraid of the impact another death will have on all of the children, not just the ones they’re fostering.

The Intuit doctor says the surviving scarred girl is fifteen or sixteen years old. He gave her medicine to make her sleep so that we could move her. We brought her to the earth native settlement at Sweetwater, which is a mile from the Intuit village.

She said she wants to live. We don’t know if she is strong like your Meg, but we were told she came from the same place. How do we keep her alive? Should we keep her alive? Does Meg have answers?

—Jackson

P.S. The Intuits told us the scarred girl is called cs821.

CHAPTER 10

Firesday, Maius 11

At the Addirondak station, Nathan Wolfgard boarded the westbound train. He walked through two cars that were too full for comfort. The third had a few humans clustered near the front of the car but was otherwise empty.

Nathan sighed with relief. He’d hoped taking the earliest available train would reduce the number of humans on board. He’d spent almost two weeks in the Addirondak Mountains, running with one of the packs who guarded that piece of wild country, and he wasn’t ready to interact with humans anymore than necessary.

He stopped at a seat and discovered this part of the car wasn’t quite empty. Across the aisle was a human female scrunched in the seat next to the window.

He thought about moving a few rows farther down, but he had to get used to being around humans again. One small female was a good way to start.

Stowing his carryall in the rack above the seats, he pulled a book out of the side pocket and took the aisle seat. Too easy for a lone Wolf to get trapped if he was in the seat by the window.

He wasn’t due back at the Lakeside Courtyard for another two weeks, but he missed being there. That was a surprise to him as well as the host pack. Even a Courtyard as large as Lakeside’s could feel too small when it was inhabited by terra indigene whose forms were adversaries in the animal world. Earth natives didn’t absorb everything from the forms they had chosen over the long years the sun had risen and set over Namid. They were first and always terra indigene. But they learned from the predators they became, and certain traits were passed down to the young of each form.

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