Written in Red Page 63

“They’re going with you,” Blair growled, slowing at the Utilities gate.

The Wolf manning the gate pulled it open just enough to allow the van to exit. He nodded at Simon, who nodded in return.

Blair pulled out into traffic, still growling. “The train isn’t going to wait for you, and we don’t have time to spare with all these monkeys on the road. Why are they on the road?”

“They’re going to work,” Simon replied. Glancing at Nathan and Marie, he added, “I don’t need company.”

“They aren’t company,” Blair snapped. “They’re guards. You’re the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard. You don’t travel alone. Especially not now. Humans see a Wolf on his own in a train compartment, they might get stupid and kill you. You remember what happened the last time a terra indigene was mobbed on a train?”

It was like a line had been drawn between the east and west of Thaisia. For three months any train traveling across the continent was hit by a tornado at the line that served as the designation for where the Hawk had been killed by humans.

Three months of bodies and freight torn up and thrown along the tracks. Then the Elementals, having made their point, went back to their usual way of interacting with the world.

“I remember,” Simon said.

Blair nodded. “That’s why enforcers from the Wolfgard and Hawkgard are going with you. That’s also why I called the train station to tell them you would be on the westbound train this morning, and why I asked Henry to call that policeman so that some of his people would be at the station.”

“This is supposed to be a quiet gathering of leaders to talk about what happened in Jerzy yesterday.”

“Once you get off the train at the Midwest station, you’ll disappear into terra indigene land. Until then . . .” Blair glanced at him. “Simon, there’s nothing obvious, but you can’t pass for human today. The police and the train workers need to keep their kind under control because humans can’t afford to cause another problem.”

The humans in this part of Thaisia might not have heard the news yet, but once they did, they would be full of shock and anger and panic. Not a good time for terra indigene to be among them for anything but a massive hunt. But the Others were also full of anger. A wrong move by humans right now, and a lot of their hamlets, towns, or even cities could disappear.

“What about Sam?” Blair asked.

“Meg will take care of him.”

“Meg?” Blair took his eyes off the road to stare at Simon a moment too long and almost rammed the car slowing down in front of him. “Why?”

“Because she’s the first thing in two years that made him curious enough to forget he’s afraid of being outside.”

A soft whine from Nathan.

“What did Elliot say?” Blair asked.

“I didn’t tell him.”

Blair looked thoughtful. Then he nodded. “When he finds out, I’ll deal with it.”

“I want the Crows watching the office,” Simon said. “Tell Vlad and Henry to keep an eye on Meg. She hasn’t had much contact with other terra indigene, and her not prey scent might cause confusion.” In someone besides me, he added silently. Although knowing her scent was caused by her being cassandra sangue had eased that confusion inside him. She was still a puzzle, but that just made her something interesting to explore.

“Jester has had the most contact with her,” Blair said. “He finds her entertaining, but he’s also wary of her.”

<If anyone picks up the faintest scent of blood on Meg, I want Vlad or Henry to know about it,> Simon told Blair. If he couldn’t stop her from cutting, he was damn well going to know every time she did it.

Blair nodded.

They drove the rest of the way to the train station in silence. Simon’s thoughts were full of Sam and Meg. He regretted not being there to watch them, but maybe that was better. They would have to figure out how to deal with each other on their own.

When they pulled into the train-station parking lot, Simon noticed the police car as he got out of the van, letting Nathan retrieve his carryall from the back. Lieutenant Montgomery stepped out of the car.

“Have to go, or we’ll miss the train,” Nathan said.

Simon nodded to Montgomery, then strode into the station, followed by Nathan and Marie.

When he boarded the train, he and his guards had the back half of a passenger car all to themselves. A sweating conductor blocked the aisle after they took their seats, directing the humans who hadn’t found a seat elsewhere to the front half of the car.

Nervous glances. A buzz of whispers once the train started moving. And a railroad security guard taking the place of the conductor to ensure there wouldn’t be any trouble.

Nathan was a couple of seats in front of Simon. Marie was a couple of seats behind him on the opposite side of the aisle. They, along with the human guard, would keep watch; he didn’t need to.

Nothing he could do for the moment. The new drug or disease that was touching humans and Others alike had become more than a worry. What had happened in Jerzy could start a war. Terra indigene leaders needed to meet, needed to talk, needed to decide what should be done. Humans had weapons that could challenge claws and fangs. They had guns and bombs that could kill the shape-shifters and even the Sanguinati when they were in human form—if they died before they could shift to smoke. But nothing could stop the Elementals, which was something humans tended to forget until it was too late. And that was one of the reasons the terra indigene rationed the metals and fuels and other materials humans needed to create their weapons. The outcome of a war wouldn’t change, so why should shifters have to die before the monkeys were extinguished? Besides, killing the humans all at once was a waste of meat.

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