Vision in Silver Page 53

The adjoining room had a toilet and sink and another small covered window.

Returning to the bedroom, she went to the desk and reached for the razor gleaming silver on the dark wood. The euphoria that came from a cut would make her feel good. So good.

But something Jackson said finally clicked. Meg, the Trailblazer, had told her new keepers that this is what she needed to stay alive. Meg.

Could it be . . . ?

She looked around the room again. Nothing but wood and a covered window.

She walked over to the bed and studied the cover, sorting through training images until she came up with an identification. Patchwork quilt. Different colors, different patterns of fabric stitched together.

Gingerly, she sat on the bed. Timidly, she touched the quilt. Quietly, her finger traced the patterns. Intrigued by the shapes, she forgot about the razor.

CHAPTER 23

Watersday, Maius 12

“‘The terra indigene demanded full disclosure of the whereabouts of these so-called blood prophets, publicly exposing already troubled girls who, according to medical experts, require the quiet life of private institutions. And once these institutions admitted to having some of these troubled children, the Others removed the girls from sheltered environments and took them to undisclosed locations. Everyone willing to stand up for human rights and human dignity should insist that the government in every village, town, city, and region in Thaisia demand the same full disclosure from the terra indigene that they demanded of us. If the Others truly mean these girls no harm, let us see them, let us know they’re safe. And let humans take care of humans without fear of reprisal.’

“Nicholas Scratch’s speech was heard by a standing-room-only crowd at an HFL fund-raiser in Toland. Closer to home, Mayor Franklin Rogers told reporters that he would assist Governor Patrick Hannigan in creating a medical task force for the Northeast Region. The task force will be charged with inspecting all facilities that care for at-risk girls who have life-threatening addictions.”

“Turn that off,” Burke said as he drove up Main Street toward the Courtyard.

Monty turned off the radio. “So-called blood prophets. Do you think someone like Nicholas Scratch doesn’t know about the existence of cassandra sangue and what those girls can do?”

“The Cel-Romano Alliance of Nations has developed an airplane—a new form of transportation that gives humans an expansive look at the land around them. The Humans First and Last movement bursts onto the scene in Thaisia, coming over from Cel-Romano. A speaker for the movement arrives in Toland to spread the message that humans should come first, last, and everything in between when it comes to having the resources available in this world. Drugs show up in various human communities and either render the user completely passive or so aggressively violent that self-preservation isn’t a consideration. Is it a coincidence that all these things have happened in such a short time? I don’t think so. Developing an airplane would take months, even years. Now that there’s a machine that works, it would be time to put the other pieces in place. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Scratch had had contact with the Controller or men like him. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the drug problems in Thaisia were tests of potential weapons. The last message I received from my cousin, Shady Burke, indicated that Cel-Romano still shows signs of preparing for war. Living in the human part of Brittania, he’s concerned that Cel-Romano’s leaders may decide that it’s too risky to fight the terra indigene and will attack other human-controlled parts of the world in order to acquire more land and resources.”

“And Brittania is the closest place.” Monty bobbed his head. “Either way, having some idea of what the future might look like and being able to adjust military plans could make the difference in winning or losing a battle.”

“Drugging troops to turn them berserk is also helpful when facing an enemy that humans have feared since our first encounter with the terra indigene.”

“Do you think the Others found all the blood prophets who were taken away from compounds and breeding farms?” Monty’s stomach did a slow roll as he considered the possibilities. The drugs gone over wolf and feel-good were made from the blood of cassandra sangue. Wouldn’t Cel-Romano leaders want to have the source nearby if troops needed to receive a dose just before battle?

Maybe that was something he should mention to Simon Wolfgard. Ships were the only way to cross the Atlantik. If the girls were being taken from Thaisia, they would have to travel by ship. And what eastern city had ships coming and going daily to ports in other parts of the world?

“You think the Toland police know where Scratch is staying?” Monty asked.

“I’d be surprised if they weren’t the ones providing protection,” Burke replied. “And if you’re looking for someone to stir up trouble, Scratch is a persuasive bastard. He’s got everyone so focused on what’s happened to the cassandra sangue over the past few days that no one is asking what had been happening to those girls for generations. As for this medical task force, the terra indigene might allow unknown doctors to go into the settlements where the girls are residing. Letting them leave is a whole different story.”

Monty watched a white car turn into the Courtyard’s Main Street entrance. “I think that’s Dominic Lorenzo’s car. Must be his morning to work in the Courtyard.” Or Meg Corbyn needed medical treatment and Lorenzo had been summoned.

Burke turned into the Courtyard and continued down the access way. Pulling into the employee parking lot, he parked in a space beside Lorenzo’s car.

“What brings you here this morning?” Burke asked as the three men walked toward the back door of Howling Good Reads.

“I need to talk to Simon Wolfgard about the medical task force,” Lorenzo replied.

“You’re not going to try to convince him that letting doctors into settlements tucked in the wild country is going to be beneficial?”

“May the gods help me, yes, I am.” Lorenzo looked uneasy. “As of this morning, I’m the task force for Lakeside and the surrounding area. I’m on paid leave from Lakeside Hospital in order to gather information and provide medical care for blood prophets. I’ve been given a grant from Lakeside’s government to hire one assistant. I’m hoping I’ll be allowed to make use of Ms. MacDonald’s administrative skills in exchange for sharing anything I learn with the Others. Right now, I’m one of four doctors covering the entire Northeast Region.”

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