Wilom stood up.
“Hey. Good to see you,” Vanda said. She was sitting down beside the two graves, the only colourful thing in the greyed-out world. “Took you long enough. I was starting to think you’d gone to the River without coming back for me.” Continue reading
As Colonel Briar raised the megaphone again to repeat the message, the doors to the offices opened up and the mayor exited with his arms held wide.
“I am unarmed!” he shouted. Continue reading
Since the first evacuation had gone relatively smoothly, when they woke up and got on the road the next morning, the atmosphere was quite different. The squads were more comfortable — more hopeful. Still rattled, of course. They’d all seen Harie come back with the townspeople who had nearly been left behind. But there was a distinct undercurrent of “maybe that hadn’t gone so badly”, and that was a difficult sentiment to squash entirely. But Wilom was having trouble trusting that things would continue to go smoothly. He didn’t know whether he was affected by Harie’s persistent bad mood and the Colonels’ persistent, tired resignation — that feeling of being very near the end of a draining project, knowing that soon they would be able to rest, but also knowing that there was nothing they could do about it yet — or whether he was just starting to get cynical, but he couldn’t help suspecting that something was going to go wrong before the end of this assignment. Continue reading
There was a hastily-called meeting of the Heads the next morning, to discuss the fate of the town. Wilom didn’t know what they could do about it now, and he told them so, despite the heartbroken look on Vicdra’s face. Apparently most of them had been investigated also. Nobody could risk being further involved.
Rytel was conspicuously absent. Continue reading
Wilom went to visit the construction site with Vanda every day for a while – with the Pathways, it was a matter of minutes to get to and from the site every morning. Rickart had thoroughly taken over the site planning, and was so obviously competent at it that Wilom honestly felt a little useless. Instead, he joined Inushi’s heavy lifting crew. Wilom realised with a start that he’d never seen a soldier in any sort of action – he’d only ever seen them either sitting on the boat, or waiting idly. Inushi was wearing only her singlet and trousers, bracing a plank of wood upright as a few men and women up on the scaffolding got themselves in place to pull it up. Wilom admired her. She was efficient and capable, and had a knack for being part of a team while she led it. Continue reading
Wilom didn’t hear from Vanda the day after, or the one after that. They both needed time to think, but Wilom was starting to chafe at having nothing to do but think.
Just as Wilom was taking his shoes off, getting ready for bed, he heard “Psst!” next to his ear. Continue reading
Wilom regretted letting Vanda talk him into see the ferryman, but he didn’t turn her away when she came to collect him. He’d meant what he said. Vanda shouldn’t need to bully him into facing his problems like an adult, and he needed very badly to be done with this particular problem. Continue reading
Vanda and Wilom stood overlooking the construction site. Vicdra, true to his word, had managed to get people in to help him. He’d said they were mostly those they’d already found homes for but were unhappy for one reason and another. A few of them were under investigation or the threat of investigation. Some of them had been running from place to place to avoid being caught. Just enough ID to keep them on the move. Continue reading
Even though he and Vanda had agreed to do nothing about the mysterious letter, Wilom couldn’t help feeling useless. Being patient was easy. Being unable to do anything was different. However, a contingency plan? That, at least, felt productive. Continue reading
They were up at the new village for the next few days after that, with Rickart, Inushi, Keri, and all the volunteers Vanda had mentioned, all starting to bring building materials together, and mark out the area. Soon the land was cordoned off into sections. Wilom didn’t see the logic in what would go where, but he supposed it only mattered that the builders knew. Continue reading