"What?" It was Ferd, making his way to the cockpit. "They did what?"
He opened the line to Andreas again. "You had to do it your way, didn't you? Now look what you've done. Well maybe the world will be better off now that you've eliminated so many of the vipers responsible for destroying what's left of it!"
"You are so naÃ¯ve, Mr. Quince," he said calmly. "In a few minutes, the world press will be informed that the conference center, and everyone in it, was destroyed by terrorists: you, Mr. Quince, and your associates in the hacker collective. The entire world will unite against the threat that you pose."
"Who's going to believe that?" Ferd said when he saw Alphon's face.
"Everyone. He was responsible for the destruction of the Golden State Barrage. He's an expert in infrastructure collapse. We even have a vid of him making threats to the global banking system. We know all about you, too, Mr. Wu-McCrory." A second later, the cockpit screen went black.
Phoebe blanched. "They can do that?"
Ferd nodded. "They've done it before, as have those that came before them."
"But what about the workers? Are they okay? Can they get out?"
"I doubt they'll let them," Alphon said. "There's nothing further we can do."
"There is one thing," Ferd said, pointing across the room. "We set out to honor your mother today, and that's what we're going to do."
"Honor her?" Phoebe asked. "How? Why? After that, all I want to do is find a hole somewhere and--." She stopped herself, fell into a chair, buried her head in her arms, and cried.
Alphon stayed to comfort her while Ferd walked over to the printer.
When he returned, he placed it on the table in front of her. "Open your eyes," he said gently.
The sculpture was of a geode, open at the top, and lined with colorful crystals. She raised her head a bit to see it better. The crystals at the edge of the opening formed two thinning filaments, and then widened out into something extraordinary. Attached to the crystal threads, as if it were woven from the crystals themselves, was a butterfly, a fragile brown buckeye butterfly. The kind that spends part of the year in the bayou. The kind that has eyespot designs on the wings. Only these weren't just any eyespots, they were Meg's.
To Alphon, they were Maira's. And they were Phoebe's. But even more certainly, they were the eyes in that picture he'd been musing over. He looked at Phoebe, whose tears had turned to those of joy. And resolve. Now he knew what the gleam meant. This fight wasn't over. Not by a long shot.