Jaxton left to talk with the others. This was the work he was supposed to be doing—managing a team, threading together information, carrying out missions. He’d always been content with it in the past, so why did he have the urge to check on Kiarra one last time to make sure she was doing okay?
James Sinclair waited for Praveen Kumar, one of the local Feiru councilors of Southern India, to answer him.
It was several minutes before nine o’clock in the UK, making it nearly 2 a.m. in India. But considering Sinclair’s leverage, Kumar had agreed to the late night teleconference.
Kumar finally put down the tablet he’d been watching and looked Sinclair dead in the eye. “So the last four years, and my two children, were nothing more than a lie? Why would you tell me about this now?”
“Because I need your unwavering support.” Sinclair gestured toward Kumar’s tablet. “I’m the only one who knows where the files are being stored, so if you coop
erate, I won’t leak them and jeopardize your seat on the council.”
Kumar glanced down at his tablet, which no doubt still showed a frozen video of his wife having sex with her lover. He glanced back to Sinclair. “And what will happen to Lavani?”
Sinclair shrugged. “That’s your concern. I heard that she was paid to make you fall in love, marry her, and provide information for as long as it took. She succeeded. The person who hired her cares little what happens to her from now on.”
Since Sinclair had been the one to pay Lavani, he knew the rumor to be true. Not that he’d ever implicate himself.
Kumar gripped the armrest of his chair. “Even if I wanted to keep this indiscretion a secret, I won’t be able to get the other councilors on my side. Southern India is a powerful jurisdiction. The last thing the others want is to be seen as crazy conspiracy theorists.”
Sinclair had known that and was prepared. He switched on the radio and said, “That’s why I scheduled this meeting. Rhianna Hayes’ report tonight should change your mind about the willingness of the other councilors.”
The jingle for the nightly news program started to play and Sinclair motioned for Kumar to keep quiet and listen:
Thank you for joining us for the 9 o’clock Nightly News with Rhianna Hayes. Now, to tonight’s top story: Taking a Stance in Eastern Australia.
The year was 1953. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in July had shown, with an estimated twenty million viewers in the UK alone, that televisions were becoming popular the world over. It was a time when many Feiru lived in fear of a first-born being caught on camera using their elemental magic. With the horrors of World War II still fresh in their minds, many Feiru were afraid that the use of elemental abilities might scare the humans into a possible war, genocide, or worse. Something needed to be done before public hysteria destroyed the Feiru way of life.
Enter the Head Council’s debate to amend Article III of the Feiru Five Laws. They finally ruled that first-borns were considered a danger to Feiru society, and the formerly experimental AMT system became mandatory. Since the threat of humans discovering elemental magic was no longer an issue—the first-borns were safe and secure inside the AMT compounds—peace and calm returned to our society, and the Feiru managed to prosper once again.
Nearly sixty years after amending Article III, with Feiru poverty and unemployment rates on the rise, some argue that our society is facing a similar tipping point that requires action. One of the people who shares this opinion is the local head councilor of Eastern Australia, Dean Kelly. Here is what Councilor Kelly said at a press conference earlier today:
“Over the past two years, our local council has conducted research, interviewed our constituents, and consulted economic and financial experts. We dedicated a large amount of our time to this effort, not wanting to dismiss any idea, no matter how unconventional, that would help steer us toward the most successful future possible for our people.
“After hours and weeks of debate and discussion, we have arrived at an important conclusion: we can no longer hide our existence from humans if we wish to thrive and be successful. We must be able to help steer global economic and political policy if we are to keep our people out of poverty and the Feiru identity alive.
“In order to accomplish this, I’m proud to say that the Local Feiru Council of Eastern Australia supports the repeal of Article I and will do everything in its power to help achieve that goal.”
Over the last few months, comments have emerged about the effectiveness of repealing Article I, primarily from fringe and minor economists. The Council of Northern Brazil made a statement similar to Councilor Kelly’s last month, but they were quickly dismissed as a one-time anomaly. But with the addition of another large local council—the Council of Eastern Australia, responsible for four hundred thousand Feiru—the Head Council may be forced to start discussing the merits and pitfalls of repealing Article I. Change in itself is difficult, especially when we have lived our entire lives believing one way. Is now the time to step out of the shadows and confront the human world, like our ancestors before us?
When the broadcast moved on to the latest developments in America, Sinclair switched off the radio and raised an eyebrow. “Well? That announcement should be enough to convince the others.”
Kumar’s face was expressionless. “I’ll see what I can do.”
The screen went blank.
Lavani wasn’t the only one keeping tabs on Kumar; Sinclair’s other contact would report the councilor’s actions over the next few days.
Now that was done, Sinclair focused on another thread in the overall web of his plan, one that could be problematic if his contact didn’t follow through on his promise.
After all, Sinclair hadn’t had an update from Dr. Ty Adams in nearly a week.
Adams had been working on a formula for years that nullified elemental abilities. The first success story had spurned a larger trial group, and the results were promising. Adams had assured Sinclair that he needed a little more time to test the formula’s effectiveness before he could shift into mass production. He’d promised to give a full report within the next few weeks.
But after previously receiving daily updates, the sudden lack of communication made Sinclair wonder if something had gone wrong. The formula was a pivotal part of a later phase of his R&C campaign. If the formula was failing, Sinclair needed to know so he could adjust his strategy accordingly. He hadn’t spent the last ten years working toward this point only to have some scientist ruin it all.
Sinclair opened his email program, but finding nothing from Adams, he took out his cell phone, scrolled through the contacts, and pressed call.