Vision in Silver Page 78

“The animosity between humans and Others is fuel for the HFL movement.” Simon frowned. Something Ming had said created an itchy thought. “How are humans escaping from Talulah Falls?” The terra indigene who controled that town had brought in a Harvester for their main enforcer. How were humans getting past him?

“A group of humans create a distraction,” Steve said. “They cause enough of a ruckus so that when the Others go to deal with them, another group of people on the other side of town can escape on foot, taking only what they can carry.” He fidgeted. “Personally, I think the Others are letting people escape. Now that the initial anger toward humans has passed, I have a feeling that if they could find a way to keep the necessary industries running, they would let everyone else leave. What they aren’t considering is that people in the HFL movement probably consider every escape as some kind of victory over the terra indigene, even if the people don’t survive long enough to reach another human village.”

“Victory implies a fight, and there is nothing to be gained by fighting with us,” Henry said. “The humans can’t win.”

Simon held up a hand, signaling they should all be quiet.

Distractions in one place so that something else could happen in another place. Something being claimed as a victory even if no one survives. Catching the scent of a fire so distant you can’t do anything about it, and yet knowing that a shift in the wind could bring that fire right to your den with little warning.

“The humans in Thaisia can’t win a fight against the terra indigene,” he said quietly. “So why is the HFL movement trying to start a fight here? What do they gain when they have to know they’ll lose?”

Steve’s eyes widened. “Distraction. Creating a ruckus and pulling everyone’s attention away from somewhere else—or something else.”

“Wolves will attack another predator to draw it away from the pups. It’s not a serious fight, although it can turn into one. They just pester and nip, forcing the predator to deal with them while other members of the pack get the pups to safety.”

“The HFL movement here could be the nip and pester to keep us, and other humans, focused on them,” Henry said. “But what are they protecting? Every time you stand against another predator, you run the risk of being hurt or killed. What is worth that risk?”

“Being able to control all the food, all the water, all the resources,” Steve said.

“The humans can’t win a fight against us,” Simon said. “Not here, where cities are separated by miles and miles of wild country. But someplace else where the humans would need extra food and supplies to sustain a fight?”

Steve leaned forward. “You think the HFL movement here is a distraction and resource for the HFL in Cel-Romano? That they’ve been conned so they’ll send as many supplies as possible—so many, in fact, that they’re creating food shortages here? Gods above and below, if they truly believe that anything that happens in Cel-Romano will benefit them, you’ll never convince them that they’re being set up.”

“It doesn’t matter if the humans in Cel-Romano win or lose their fight with the terra indigene; the humans in Thaisia will lose,” Ming said.

Simon nodded. “They will lose. But the HFL movement is like an invasive weed that has taken root and spread through human communities across the continent. We’re not going to be able to convince the humans who are ensnared that they are being set up or that they will lose. We need to protect our own packs as best we can—and we both have a better chance of doing that if we work together.”

“Agreed,” Steve said.

“That’s why we need the River Road Community inhabited by a group of humans and terra indigene who will help us defend the route between Ferryman’s Landing and Lakeside.” And will be tolerated by the earth natives in the wild country who have been disturbed by the humans’ recent actions.

“Okay, what do we do?” Steve asked.

“I have been talking to terra indigene,” Henry said. “Word has traveled that the Lakeside Courtyard is going to be a training ground for Others who need more detailed lessons for interacting with humans. I have talked to Panthergard leaders from the western regions, as well as Lynxgard from the Northeast and High Northeast regions.”

“Some of the cats want to come to Lakeside?” Simon tried not to whine. A Wolf would take on a Lynx or Bobcat if necessary, but one of the cats known as Panther or Cougar? Not if there was a choice. They were bigger, heavier, and meaner than Wolves.

Ideal as enforcers for the new community?

“They asked about training at Lakeside, not living there,” Henry said. “But at River Road, some houses could be set aside for various gards that wanted to spend more time here before returning to their old territory.”

It took them an hour to come up with a working plan. The River Road Community had forty-five semidetached, two-bedroom doubles with the garages sharing a common wall. Fifteen of the doubles would be set aside for the terra indigene. Twenty-five would be available to humans who wanted to help build this community and who met the approval of both the Intuits and the terra indigene. The other five buildings, the ones closest to River Road, would become the business center. For the time being, the industrial plant would be used for storage.

The Intuits would supply the labor to get the houses in shape as quickly as possible. The Lakeside Courtyard would supply the money to purchase needed materials. Some acreage would be set aside to create allotments so that residents could grow some of their own food, and there would be a fenced common pasture for livestock. But there would still be plenty of open land for those who preferred to hunt for their food instead of grow it.

Officer Roger Czerneda, the official police officer in Ferryman’s Landing, would be offered a house in the River Road Community in exchange for expanding his territory to include the community and the road that ran between it and Great Island.

It would not be easy for humans and terra indigene to live so close to one another. Even in a place like Great Island, where Intuits and Others had worked together for generations to provide food and shelter and protect the island’s residents, they had not tried to live side by side. No one had considered such a thing—until Meg began living in the Green Complex and showed some of the terra indigene that it could be done.

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