Home > Marked in Flesh (The Others #4)(6)

Marked in Flesh (The Others #4)(6)
Author: Anne Bishop

He couldn’t argue with that. Karl Kowalski and Michael Debany were making an effort to understand the terra indigene and were likable males, even if they were human. And Lawrence MacDonald, another police officer and Theral’s cousin, had died recently when a group of humans and Others went to a stall market in Lakeside to give the Crowgard a chance to buy some shinies and little treasures. That field trip ended when their group was attacked by members of the Humans First and Last movement. Almost everyone except Vlad had been wounded during the fight, and MacDonald and Crystal Crowgard had died.

“You should also ask Steve Ferryman for his suggestions,” Meg said.

“Meg . . .”

“Those Elders didn’t tell you that you couldn’t ask humans, did they?”

He sighed. “No, they didn’t, but we have to be careful about how many humans know about this. The humans who belong to the HFL are our enemies. They’re burrowed in towns all across Thaisia, and they’re the reason the Elders are looking at all the humans on the continent rather than eliminating the badness in one town and reclaiming the land.”

Of course, he’d already told three humans what was now at stake. He believed Captain Burke and Lieutenant Montgomery could be trusted, but he hadn’t known the third man who had been at the meeting when he told them about the sanctions. Greg O’Sullivan worked for the governor of the Northeast Region, so it was possible that there were already enemies of the terra indigene who were plotting to cause the final bit of trouble that would tip the scales.

If that happened, it wouldn’t be the first time humans disappeared from a part of the world, and Simon doubted it would be the last.

And because that possibility was a rockslide waiting to come down on all of them, it became more imperative to figure out how much human the terra indigene should keep.

“All right,” he said. “Talk to the female pack. But make sure they know this is dangerous information.”

“I will.” Meg stopped suddenly and whispered, “Bunny.”

Bunny? Simon’s mouth watered. Not that he had a good chance of catching one in his human form. He looked around. Smelled the bunny but couldn’t see one. Then he realized Meg was staring at a brown lump in the grass a long step away from them. Could have been a rock or a bit of tree root poking out of the ground—but those things didn’t have ears.

He sighed, disappointed. Just a one-bite bunny.

Meg backed away, pulling him with her.

“Isn’t he cute?” she whispered, heading back toward the Green Complex.

“You won’t think he’s so cute if he eats all your broccoli,” Simon said.

“He wouldn’t do that. Would he?”

“Broccoli is green, and he’s a bunny.”

Meg huffed as she picked up the pace. “Well, he’s still cute.”

And probably would be allowed to grow since he wasn’t much of a meal for anyone right now.

Simon didn’t mention that since he suspected Meg preferred to think of the bunny as cute rather than crunchy.

CHAPTER 2

Sunsday, Juin 5

Meg stared at those gathered in the sorting room at the Human Liaison’s Office—Ruth Stuart, Merri Lee, and Theral MacDonald—and they stared back at her.

“You’ve already heard about this.” The muffins Meg had picked up at A Little Bite sat on the table, untouched.

“Not about this,” Ruth said. “But Karl headed to Captain Burke’s house for a special, secret meeting—at least that’s the opinion I got from what he couldn’t say. And he thinks Captain Burke and Lieutenant Montgomery were told more about the sanctions than was made public. If they were told about this . . .”

“Michael was called in for that meeting too,” Merri Lee said. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Meg, we can’t be responsible for something this . . . big. How can we make a decision about how much human the terra indigene will keep?”

“I don’t think we’re the ones making the decision,” Meg replied. “We’re providing information, maybe prioritizing, so that if . . .” She pressed her hands against the table, trying to ignore the painful pins-and-needles feeling that had started in her arms and was now prickling her entire torso under the skin.

The three girls snapped to attention.

“Meg?” Merri Lee’s voice turned sharp with understanding.

Meg tried to ignore the pain, tried not to think about how the euphoria that came from speaking prophecy after she made a cut would make her feel so good. She’d made a cut last week; she didn’t want to make another so soon. She didn’t know if it was true that a cassandra sangue had only a thousand cuts before the one that would kill her or drive her insane, but if she wanted to live another decade or more, she needed to extend the time between cuts.

“Tell me about this morning,” Merri Lee said. “What did you do this morning? Meg!”

Ruth and Theral hustled to the office’s back room and closed the door—but not all the way.

“The sparrows were awake, so Simon was awake, so he woke me up because he wanted to take a walk. Poophead.”

Merri Lee snorted a laugh. “Meg! That’s not a nice thing to say.”

“Didn’t say it when he could hear me.” And would have to be careful not to say it around the puppies, especially Simon’s nephew Sam. Since she’d learned the bad word from the human boy Robert Denby, she was pretty sure young males of any species would find the term an appealing insult—and no doubt end up getting nipped by one of the adult Wolves, who would not find it as appealing.

   
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