Vision in Silver Page 91

“Simon? Is turning the Lakeside Courtyard into a kind of academy really a good idea? Especially now?”

“When humans came to Thaisia and we made the first bargains long ago, their settlements were small, and it was easy to study them despite little actual contact beyond what was owed to us for use of the land. That’s the way it still is in most places. Even the Others who keep watch over the largest human cities only interact with a handful of humans, and then it’s a formal meeting, or it’s with the Human Liaison, and that interaction is formal too. They can hide things from us now.”

“Like the compounds that held, and still hold, the cassandra sangue?”

Simon nodded. “We knew about the blood prophets for as long as humans knew about them. Maybe longer. But they slipped out of sight because we didn’t concern ourselves when humans dealt with humans. For the most part, humans have kept the peace, but they’re an invasive species—a two-legged kudzu—and will take over as much land as they can if they aren’t held to the agreed-upon boundaries. Now trouble is stirring everywhere because of that Humans First and Last movement.”

“You think the answer is learning to become more human?”

Simon pulled a few more books off the shelves. “Not exactly. I think the answer is learning to recognize the enemy when it’s hiding within the herd. Once we do that, we can kill the enemy and keep ourselves, and Thaisia, safe.” He looked at Vlad. “We call them clever meat, so it’s easy to forget that the reason some of our ancestors learned this form was because the terra indigene recognized the first humans who came to Thaisia as a new kind of predator, something we needed to understand in order to remain dominant. Now we need to understand more in order to decide what kind of humans should be allowed to remain in Thaisia.” While earth natives like you and me still have some say in that decision, he added silently.

“I wonder how Lieutenant Montgomery would feel, or Kowalski or Debany for that matter, if they heard that.”

“There’s no reason for them to know, is there?”

“No reason at all.”

After Vlad went to the next group of shelves to pull books from his lists, Simon stared at the titles in front of him, seeing nothing.

He liked the humans who were interacting with the Courtyard. And he liked Steve Ferryman and the other Intuits he’d met at Ferryman’s Landing. But lately he’d come to realize that words could be a weapon as devastating as a gun, and that was something most of the Others didn’t understand yet. The terra indigene hadn’t continued to learn enough from humans because so much of what humans wanted held no interest for them.

Vlad returned, his hands full of books. “Simon, do you want to keep these?”

Before he could respond, Jenni Crowgard came rushing in from the stock room and said, “The Crows know why humans are running out of food!” She paused for a moment, then added, “Well, so do the rest of the terra indigene.”

“What do—” Simon snarled when the phone started ringing.

Vlad set the books on the cart and led Jenni toward the back of the store, saying, “Tell me what you’ve heard.”

Simon grabbed the ringing phone. “Howling Good Reads.”

“Simon? It’s Jackson.”

He froze for a moment. His friend sounded . . . odd. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes. Maybe.” Jackson hesitated. “The scarred girl drew a picture of me in the Rockies and you in Lakeside, with Talulah Falls in between us. Does that mean anything to you?”

“Maybe.” He thought about the land between Lakeside and Talulah Falls. He thought about the new community the Others and the Intuits would make together. He hadn’t thought Jackson would be interested in leaving the Northwest, but a lot of things were changing throughout Thaisia. The other Wolf might be feeling it was time to move on. Would Jackson want to live in the River Road Community?

“She drew another picture.”

“Okay.” Did the scarred girl rub her skin the way Meg did when a prophecy started prickling and buzzing? Was that why Jackson sounded disturbed?

“A wheat field underwater. Sharks swimming over the field. A sunken ship. Mean anything?”

Simon looked toward the shelves of books and noticed that Vlad had returned alone and was watching him. Waiting for him. He repeated what Jackson said about the wheat field.

Vlad nodded.

“Yes,” he said, answering Jackson’s question. “It means the humans tried to send food across the water while claiming there wasn’t going to be enough food for the humans living in Thaisia. They lied to their own kind in order to cause trouble for us.”

“What can we do?”

“Wait. Keep watch. Let me know if the scarred girl makes other drawings that are visions.” After receiving an assurance from Jackson that he would be kept informed about the scarred girl’s visions, and promising to talk to Meg about the girl, Simon hung up.

“Are you going to tell Lieutenant Montgomery?” Vlad asked.

Simon shook his head. “The wheat is gone, and some foods will be scarce because of it. He already knows that.”

“He doesn’t know why.”

“Does it matter?”

“Wouldn’t you want to know why your pup will be hungry?”

“Yes, I would. But Montgomery isn’t going to have a say in any of this. Neither are we. There’s no point telling him the why until we can also tell him—and Captain Burke—what will happen next.”

Vlad took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “In that case, let’s make some decisions about these books. That much we can do.” He reached for the books he’d dumped on the cart, then stopped. “Oh, and Ruthie is going to talk to the merchants at the stall market tomorrow. If they’re agreeable about having some of us there, Ruthie and some other females will take the Crows shopping next Watersday.”

“Won’t that be fun,” Simon muttered.

Vlad smiled. “I’m glad you think so, since you’ll need to talk to Blair about who will be going with them.”

Simon picked up the book with the cowering, defiant, large-breasted female on the cover. Maybe he would tuck it in with the cookbooks after all.


Watersday, Maius 26

Hand in hand, Meg and Sam walked along the road from the Green Complex to the Market Square.

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