Page 4

 C.J. Redwine

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“Yes.” I try to sound like the prospect doesn’t fill me with dread.
“In the meantime, you’re going to plead guilty at your trial, and you expect me to hand you over to the Rowansmark trackers while somehow still keeping you in our custody until the Commander can come for you.” Clarissa’s eyes narrow as she studies me.
I resist the urge to break eye contact with her and say, “Yes, let the trackers have control of the dungeon, but keep them from leaving until dawn by telling them you have to sort out last-minute details like . . . I don’t know . . . having me sign a confession to send to the Commander so that he knows to take up his cause against me with James Rowan? Think of something so that when the Commander comes for me—and he will—the Rowansmark trackers won’t suspect that you were involved.”
“It’s not a bad plan,” Willow says as she leans against the wall closest to the door.
“It’s a terrible plan,” Cassidy says, her dark eyes flashing. “We’re deceiving the people who can press a button and call the tanniyn to destroy us while simultaneously allowing the army who is threatening our city to access our secret tunnel system. What part of that sounds like a good idea to you?”
“The part where you realize it’s the only plan you’ve got,” Willow shoots back, somehow managing to look menacing despite the chains that bind her wrists.
“This afternoon, before the trackers attacked you and the army surrounded my city, you told me you could build a replica of Rowansmark’s tech in exchange for me offering asylum to your people.” Clarissa’s voice cuts through the room like a knife, silencing both Cassidy and Willow.
I hold her gaze. “I did. But I won’t have time now.”
“You’ll have until midnight,” she says.
“It’s not just time. I need supplies. Sixteen-gauge braided copper wire, several high-voltage batteries, thin sheets of silver, and a transmitter capable of sending a signal for at least five hundred yards. And I’d need to be able to work without having trackers looking over my shoulder, which will be difficult given the fact that after the trial, I’ll be in their custody.” I meet Clarissa’s gaze. “I’m sorry. I meant to keep my word. The best I can do now is deflect Rowansmark’s suspicion so that they have no reason to call the tanniyn.”
“I’m not interested in apologies.” She waves her hand through the air, a gesture at once regal and commanding. “I’m interested in results. Your plan might work, but it’s hardly a guarantee of safety for my people or yours.”
“I realize that. I don’t know how to—”
“Cassidy, the beacon, please.” Seeing my raised brows, Clarissa says, “I had one removed from one of the western outposts since the trackers are distracted by your presence in the dungeon and by the Commander outside the gate. It isn’t likely to be missed, but I want to put it back in place as quickly as possible.”
Cassidy pulls a dark-gray metallic box from the inside of her cloak and hands it to Clarissa. The beacon is about two handspans wide and as thick as the sole of my boot. When Clarissa pops the back off, revealing the powerful tech inside, I run my fingers over the intricate silver mechanisms and then examine a transmitter that’s twice as powerful as the one inside the device Willow hid in the Wasteland. I’m surprised—and impressed—at the difference between the two. This piece of tech makes the device look like a harmless toy. I have to wonder why Rowansmark is expending so much effort to recover something so inferior to the tech they now possess.
Maybe it really is a matter of restoring honor, as Ian claimed.
Or maybe James Rowan knows the only way he can gain control over the rest of the city-states is by keeping them from copying and then improving on his tech. That would also explain why my father’s pain atonement sentence alone wasn’t enough to rectify the crime of letting tech like this out of Rowansmark hands. I’m guessing from James Rowan’s perspective, Ian’s mission has nothing to do with honor and everything to do with removing a threat to Rowansmark’s plan to subjugate the rest of the city-states.
“Can you use any of these parts to make something we can use to protect ourselves?” Clarissa asks.
The transmitter may be more powerful, but unlike the device’s ability to send the creature in any direction, this one has only two frequencies. One to call the beast and one to keep it away. I smile grimly as I realize what this means. I can keep my promise. I can keep Lankenshire safe.
“I can do better than that.” I tap the transmitter. “This has two active components. One component generates an ultrasonic sound wave, and the other produces an infrasonic wave. The infrasonic—the sound set low enough to cause the ground to rumble if there’s enough power behind the transmitter—calls the tanniyn. If you disable the infrasonic in each of these beacons, the trackers won’t be able to destroy your city unless one of them has the tech skills it takes to rebuild a transmitter and set it to an exact frequency.”
“And if one of them does know how to fix it?” Clarissa asks.
I reach inside the beacon and gently disengage the transmitter from its position. “I assume you or one of the other members of the triumvirate has a necklace set to a sonic frequency that repels the beasts, right?”
From beneath her tunic Clarissa pulls a flat disk hanging on a thin silver chain.
“Good. Attach it to the transmitter like this.” I show her how to splice the transmitter’s wire on to one inside the tech she wears. “Now it will amplify your ultrasonic emission—the sonic frequency that repels the tanniyn—by at least three hundred percent.”