Dunstan hoped the conversation would die there so that he could return to watching in peace, but it seemed he was destined for disappointment.
‘This is so stupid,’ she went on. ‘What is even the point of capturing these Rainlord children, huh? I’ve been asking all around, but no one fucking knows. Or they’re just not telling me. Pricks.’
‘Rumor is, the Elroys are Abolish spies.’
‘I don’t give a shit! Let them be spies! You don’t screw with the Rainlords unless you have a damn good plan! And that twat Miles obviously doesn’t!’
‘Technically, it was Lawrence who ordered their capture.’
‘If they really are feeding intel to our enemies, then we cannot simply allow them to continue.’
‘Sure we can.’
‘Fine, then we could feed them false intel and try to lure Abolish into a trap. That’d be the smart thing to do.’
Again, she wasn’t wrong. It was hard to imagine how the handling of this conflict could be anything but foolish and clumsy. If there really was some kind of greater plan at work, he couldn’t see it.
‘Maybe we should have joined Abolish instead,’ said Rezamaar.
‘I’m sure they aren’t all crazy assholes. It’d just be a matter of finding the right faction.’
‘Abolish commits genocide, Reza.’
‘Well, yes, that is a problem.’
‘Even if certain factions were not physically involved, they are still guilty by association.’
‘Bit harsh. People make mistakes, you know.’
‘Genocide is more than just a mistake.’
‘Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes, you trip over a loose rock and accidentally stab a thousand people in the face. It’s important to look at the bigger picture, Dunstan.’
‘Your wisdom continues to astound me.’
‘The Vanguard has never been very good with the big picture. They’ve always been too busy winning battles to realize that they’re losing wars. They could probably learn a few things from Abolish. Or maybe Sai-hee.’
‘If that’s really how you feel, then why did you even agree to join the Vanguard with me in the first place?’
‘Because that was when you were all passionate and adorable about everything. I couldn’t tell you no. But now that you’re a turgid old curmudgeon, I can.’
‘You’re talking about four years ago.’
‘Yes, and you’ve aged like a beautiful oak tree that caught fire, fell into a river, and then got pulled along by a current into an illegal dump site for toxic chemicals.’
‘You’re a true poet, Reza.’