‘Pfft, are you kidding?’ said Garovel. ‘You want Hector to appear on television? I thought you wanted to reward him, not torture him.’
“He has done it before, has he not?” said Helen. “He threatened the town of Harold to facilitate its evacuation, no?”
‘That was a recording, and it still required about fifty takes.’
“Ah--Garovel’s right,” said Hector. “I really don’t--please don’t ask me to--I just--agh...”
“Very well,” said the Queen. “I understand. Regardless, it will require time. I can order the police and the military to stop hunting you easily enough, but I would ask that you take a well-deserved respite while we attempt to win the public over.”
‘Mm, dunno about that,’ said Garovel. ‘Hector’s pretty gung-ho when it comes to protecting innocent people.’
Hector gave the reaper a look. ‘You say that like you’re any different.’
‘He can be so stubborn,’ Garovel went on. ‘I don’t think an inconvenience of reputation would be enough to stop him from going out and looking for trouble.’
Her Highness smiled warmly and nodded. “Yes, well, protecting people would not be a problem, but it would be helpful if you could avoid taking the blame for crimes you did not commit.”
‘There go my plans for the weekend,’ said Garovel.
‘How do you intend to tell the public, exactly?’ asked Voreese.
‘Carefully,’ said Mehlsanz. ‘Most of the blame will fall upon Luther as the orchestrator of everything. Unfortunately, we can’t really name Abolish as the instigator unless we want to give them more reason to return and silence us.’
“They may try to do that, anyway,” said Harper, who’d thus far only listened quietly as he ate.
‘We’re aware,’ said Mehlsanz. ‘We were hoping you would stay here in Atreya for a while longer.’
“That’s fine with me,” said Harper. “I don’t have any pressing business elsewhere at the moment, but you should know, I could be called away at any time. Out there in the world, if something big enough happens, my superiors might well contact me. And that’s not going to be the kind of thing that I can just ignore.”