Chapter 54

Stewardship

Zedekiah set the receiver down on the cradle and smiled.

Across the large oak desk from him, Suri leaned forward and asked, “Will he remain faithful?”

“I believe so.”

“What of Oliver Lucas? The fool Parker was supposed to kill the woman, but I saw them both depart from the cave alive. Do you think that we have done enough to drive Lucas back into action?”

Zedekiah folded his hands beneath his chin and contemplated the individual who sat across from him. At once time Suri had been second in command of their entire legion, but the ages had worn upon her, as they had upon all of the Watchers. Her bronze skin had wrinkled and her frame had shrunken. Only her onyx black hair still shone with its former radiance.

After a long moment Suri shifted uncomfortably in her seat and looked away from Zedekiah. Only then did Zedekiah say, “You have not been the most reliable of servants of late, Suri. Who are you to count yourself privy to my plans?”

“I rectified my errors, Master.”

“By slaughtering half a dozen cult guards. You would be wise to remember that the gnostic ways are one of our most valuable tools in directing humanity. The more they suspect that they are surrounded by secret societies and hidden truths, the less energy they will have to direct towards discovering us. You have just given a particular organization too much credence in their own eyes, to say nothing of the mess that the investigation will cause. If they find evidence that could implicate Lucas then it will prove most difficult for my plans to be carried out.”

“I brought you news of the diamond of souls being reassembled. I gathered the documents you used to pressure Parker into action.”

“Yes, Suri. You delivered news that a precious, and dangerous, relic had already been reassembled.” Zedekiah sat upright and slammed his palms down on the desk before him. His eyes narrowed as he said, “That is why we have come to the brink of disaster, Suri. We became complacent in our stewardship. We react to them, rather then shepherding them. We have believed for too long that the humans would lull themselves into passivity with entertainment, with false religions, with political infighting. We imagined that their petty wars would distract them.”

Suri bowed her head in silent acknowledgement of her failing though, deep within her soul, she still clung to the belief that Zedekiah had precipitated the approaching calamity when he began to interfere with humanity so long ago.

Zedekiah rose from his seat and walked around the desk to lay a hand on Suri’s shoulder. He moved smoothly, the limp that had slowed him in previous months finally healed. Suri had wondered at that. She was capable of healing virtually any wound within hours, and yet it had taken nearly six months for her master to recover from his own injuries. For a moment she felt flicker of doubt, the thought that perhaps she had sworn allegiance to the wrong master. Perhaps, she thought, Remiel had been right in breaking away from the clan.

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