Staring up to the dark rafters, Padilla’s seeing those memories. “Yep …Librarian Way hid with the colonel and us for a time.” Returning from the past, she demands, “where were you, Juan?”
“New recruit. Up near Taos. No idea about fighting, back then.” He looks to Whetu. “What role did the Pacific clans have in the invasion?”
“We helped where we could. I was with a group trying to hold a port in Alaska. We had to flee in boats.” His face contorts, making his tattoos dance. “I spoke to the Japanese ambassador who came in our caravan. Mister Nakamura complains the Vashon from the Pacific Northwest acted improperly in taking this land by force. I agree.”
“The Japanese still resist?” Juan asks the question Moreno wants answered, though no Regionals, even here in Silver City, say, the Horde, very often. It’s the Vashon’s word to excuse why they’re here, occupying this city.
“They met a large Horde invasion force on the beaches and repelled them. Heavy losses.” Whetu strokes his cheek along a stripe tattoo. “Every day, they expect another attempt.”
Juan points at Moreno, “Where were you?”
“New Orleans.” Already spying, while only a young girl. Then. Staring down into her drink, she tries miming Padilla’s slur. “There w’s talk—assembling —army group t’ send to assist y’all. But, then the treaty got signed.”
“The treaty.” Padilla slams her mug down. “We had no choice. We’d less than ten thousand to their fifty when they hit us.”
“Well.” Whetu slaps Padilla’s arm, a glint in his eye. “Now, we can fight together against the Horde.”
Juan’s eyes bounce between the two. “Why did the Librarian leave the desert, Sergeant?” He wants more, lucky for Moreno, make’s her job easier; these disgruntled troops.
She risks, “I understand Colonel Kalapati never surrendered.”
Padilla gives a laugh. “They pushed us hard near the end.” She points a frown at Whetu. “They knew we’d keep fighting while William Way— r-rena-remained— free.”
“I heard they got him in Silver City.” Moreno had heard a short version of this from her handler, it added to her cover to ask.
Padilla flashes a wide, sloppy grin. “Monsoon season, back two years. The Vashon’re closing in. We got caught in a flash flood. Kalapati ordered everyone to jump into a raging stream. Librarian Way didn’t want to do it. But, Colonel Blackhand, she said she was in charge. Commanded him to obey.”
“What happened?” Juan’s eyes are saucer wide. Even the Maori stops chugging.
“Got separated.” Padilla shakes. Taking a second to go on. “Goddamned Way traveled down to Silver City. His daughter was already here, protected. Two library scouts.” Another pause. “Treaty was signed two weeks later. Collaborating.” She spits. “I’m glad they’re banned from Silver City. Librarians are fine. But scouts. Who needs them?”
Moreno knows, loyalties are complex, still she might be able to turn these drinkers. No matter what it takes. Whetu places a big meaty hand on the plank. “You know scouts? I’ve heard of library scouts. Never seen one.”
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