“(x) Amount of Truth”
story by Mabel Harper & Emrys Webb
written by Emrys Webb
“It’s gonna suck. No way around it,” said Elisha. “When all this is over, you and Monique and Andrew might have to leave Delphi.”
Duncan sat with his arms across his knees, staring floorward, on the edge of a disheveled bedroll a few feet in front of the Prefect. They were in the basement of the defunct baked-goods factory that served as Caliban’s headquarters. Early morning sunlight poured from a small window high above. Duncan’s pallet was stained with dried blood, a pile of panchrest poultices from DeShay’s healing kit discarded on the floor nearby.
“So I’m gonna ask you one last time, spud.” Elisha sat forward in his folding chair. “Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?”
Duncan raised his eyes, fixed Elisha with an even stare. “If they had DeShay and Leshayva,” he said, “what would you do?”
“Enough said.” Elisha heaved a sigh. “God, Duncan. I can never tell you enough how sorry I am. For just—all of this. I wish—”
Duncan silenced him with an upraised palm. “You get my family home safe, Elisha,” he said, “and we’re square.”
“Do you trust me?”
Devisha scowled, sized Elisha up. It had been less than an hour now since he’d left the factory. The two of them sat across from each other at a table in the food court of the rest stop off I-80 where Elisha had requested they meet—a place where no one from the Enclave was likely to spot them conferring.
“I had a fucking kid with you, didn’t I?” she muttered in reply. “Yeah, I trust you.” She shrugged, stole a chicken nugget off his tray. “Much as I trust anyone.”
Elisha took a deep breath through his nose. “I have information about the attack.”
Devisha froze mid-bite, her dark eyes staring at him. “You do?”
She chewed slowly for a moment. “What is it?” she asked at last through her mouthful, then took another bite.
“I can’t tell you.”
The Master-General wrinkled her short, freckled nose. “What the fuck, Elisha?” A crumb of breading flew from her lips with the word fuck.
“You trust me, remember?”
Devisha gave a mock-ambivalent shrug, which Elisha answered with a tight smile.
“Now, hear me out,” he went on. “You have a suspect in custody.”
She raised one of her sharply arched brows. “No I don’t.”
“You will. Duncan Harper. He’s getting ready to turn himself in. And when he does, I need you to release a statement, and this is what it should say.”
As his last order of business for that morning, Elisha slipped into his father’s office and shut the door behind him. “Hey. You wanna do that woo-woo Cone-of-Silence thingie you do real quick?”
Levi furrowed his brow at his son, then got up from his desk, shuffled over to the door, and complied.
“Thanks,” said Elisha. “That was just a precaution. I’m gonna keep this brief.”
His father turned toward him with a quizzical stare.
“Batten down the hatches,” warned Elisha, without a trace of humor. “’Cause things are about to get crazy around here.”