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Sept. 7 – Bad News

Since the burning of her home, Bookworm had spent her time based out of the hospital. It and the nearby asylum seemed to be prime targets for Prometheus’s gang, so she wanted to be available, but in a place that could be guarded. She tried to direct the militia from there in the search for the gang, but so far, they’d had no luck.

When Beryl came in, he was looking particularly disconsolate, and Bookworm steeled herself. “What is it?” she asked, without preamble.

Beryl sighed. “They have Lilith.”

“How?!” Bookworm sank onto one of the couches, quite stunned at that news.

“This is going to take some time to explain.” Beryl sat down on the floor nearby. “Today, I met with Tepic to discuss our plans to capture the fox.” Bookworm sighed inwardly, knowing any attempt to dissuade them would fall on deaf ears. “But she arrived again,” continued Beryl. “She was distraught and upset. One of her brothers was apparently killed Saturday night.”

“How did that happen?”

“Snow. She said that the wolf did it – and I think that would only be one person.” He looked at her closely. “He did escape earlier this week, as you know.”

Bookworm nodded, frowning. “This is *not* what I wanted.” She’d hoped that Snow would help them out by tracking the gang members, so the militia could deal with them. Him killing on his own… that was a different matter entirely.

“I know,” replied Beryl. “The fox told us that Prometheus… didn’t seem to care. That he was proud of Kuga and Rufus – the one willing to go to jail, and the other dying to bring their family together. That’s what made her come to Tepic. She seemed to be fighting herself about what she’d tell us, but she let slip that Prometheus knew how to get to Lilith, and would be moving to get her within the hour. Also that they knew how to get to Kuga, and they had plans for the asylum. When she realized she was giving so much away, something seemed to snap, and she ran off.” Beryl shrugged. “I tried to follow, but Tepic stalled me too long, and I didn’t see which way she went.”

“It sounds like we’d better increase security at the asylum.” Bookworm frowned. “But it’s interesting what you said about the fox. Could it be that their conditioning is starting to weaken?”

“I think that their conditioning was to believe in family.”

“And Prometheus may be betraying that…” mused Bookworm.

“It’s the first sign we have that we can reason with them in some way.” Beryl sounded both hopeful and pessimistic. “As for Lilith and Leon… Leon’s ship was shot down in the Fells.”

“Is he all right?” Bookworm asked with concern.

“Well,” Beryl replied slowly as if considering his answer, “He’s lost his ship, Lilith, and everything else he owned. But he is alive.” Beryl quickly added, “Have I made your day much worse?”

“Worse, yes. Though at least there’s one possibility of hope.”

“As long as Prometheus doesn’t get Kuga, they will not leave. But they do also appear to be hunting Snow… for revenge.” Beryl’s gaze focused in the distance for a moment, then returned to Bookworm. “For a while now, I’ve been dreaming of a fox being killed by a wolf. I’m not sure which fox, though, nor which wolf.”

“Have you warned Tepic?”

“I did, but he dismissed it. ‘Wolves don’t eat foxes.’” He looked grim. “This one will.”

Bookworm grimaced, and pondered that for a moment. “If… if you see the fox again – the messenger – warn her.”

“I tried earlier. I’m going to be searching all night, tonight.” He stood up. “Book, if Tepic dies, I told him I would take care of his vole traps.” Bookworm smiled faintly at that. “If I die, take care of the asylum and everyone there as best you can. And the urchins. And Dr. Maddox, of course.” He ran for the door, and paused. “Tonight and tomorrow are under a dark cloud.” With that, he disappeared outside, dashing south.

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