Lisa, cleaning off the outside steps in the morning light, looked up at the sound of the gate opening, and saw the familiar form of Beryl approaching. She stood up, shaking muddy water off her hands. “Hello, Beryl.”
“Hello, Lisa.” He studied her closely. “You heard about Tepic and the catnip.”
She nodded. “Smelled it, too.” Her tone was rather conflicted–compounded of relief that one of the dangerous band, at least, had been captured; some anger that Tepic had trapped that one with catnip, and even some ruefulness that the scent of catnip didn’t affect her the way it used to.
“I avoided that,” Beryl continued. “Didn’t come out for nearly two days.” He glanced up at the building. “But we did catch Kuga, right? He’s upstairs?”
Lisa shrugged. “We have who Tepic brought in.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s been sedated the whole time, so he hasn’t said anything. But… he’s not a cat now.”
Beryl frowned, but nodded. “I’m not surprised. They have been hiding so well because we don’t know what they look like when they’re human. And if their scent changes, too…”
“I think it does. My Folk can’t even find them.”
Beryl sat down on one of the damp steps. “Is it still asleep?” When she nodded, he continued, “Well, if they haven’t already gotten it, the cabbits will want a blood sample to study. Maybe use that to find something new.”
“I’ll let Professor Vartanian know.”
Beryl studied her closely again, and after a moment’s scrutiny, asked, “How are you feeling, Lisa?”
“I’m all right.” She sighed. “Though I’m worried about Myn. It’s been so long since we last went to her.”
“Be careful, Lisa,” he replied somberly. “If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that it isn’t safe.”
“I know. But I think we’re close. If we could just try one more time… I think we can free her.” Her tone grew more impassioned with each sentence.
“One more time,” mused Beryl. “Then you had better do it soon. There will be trouble.”
“Isn’t there always?” She smiled a bit at that, but the smile faded as her thoughts turned elsewhere. “Is Lilith all right?”
“No. She’s sick, and worried. Ever since she heard about, and saw, what Prometheus did to the Brewery, she’s made herself sick thinking about how it is all her fault. She’s neglected her medicine a time or two.” He sighed. “That was probably his intention to start with. Making her turn herself in out of fear for us.”
Lisa shook her head. “It is *not* her fault,” she said firmly.
“She feels that it is, despite the truth.” He added wryly, “I’ve felt that way myself a few times.”
“Yes, you have,” replied Lisa just as wryly.
Beryl got up from the step. “Lisa… be careful. I’ve been having dreams about the asylum. Just… don’t wander around outside much. Prometheus may decide we’re next, or maybe one of the others will decide it wants to try.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Lisa replied, nodding. “I’ll keep the door locked.”
“Lock down the elevator, too, when you’re done. They’d need one of your keys to get to the other floors. At least, if they can’t jump.” Beryl started for the gate, then paused and looked back. “I’ll make the Meet in a few days. I hope to see you there.”
“I’ll be there.” Lisa knew her Folk could at least make sure the way was clear to the city gate. Taken in stages, she should be safe. And it would be important to keep the cats in the know about what was happening. She might well need their help before this all ended.