“Let me rephrase that -- you need guidance.” He braced himself on the thickest of the vertical struts.
“In what? I’m working my way through all the books Athena has assigned me. I’ve written down everything I can remember from when we cleared out Granny’s and Grandfather’s offices and the archives in our house, and all the visitors we had around the time Uly vanished.” For punctuation, she slapped the journal sitting next to her. “Do you know how depressing it is, to consider that some of the people they welcomed into our home were using that welcome to plot treachery against them?”
“Yes, Odessa, I know exactly.” Ford’s usual cheerful expression went unusually somber. “It’s been eating at me since my team ran into trouble on our last expedition. Hindsight made us realize we were given just enough contradictory pieces to guarantee we would meet with disaster. Just like Uly was sent after us, with false information, to get him out of the way. Some clues found in our treacherous Mr. Stryker's personal effects … well, they suggest the plot had a specific focus on your family. We’re in a tangled position, needing to move quickly to reduce the damage, when we would prefer several years to prepare for this battle.”
“My family.” The back of her head ached as thoughts swirled through so fast she thought she might get dizzy. “You mean my parents might not have died in an accident on their last expedition, but they were murdered?”
“The hands that built the trap that killed your parents have been dust for centuries. However, I fear that someone knew about those traps and dangers, and they made sure your parents got the information that sent them, specifically, into the tunnels.”
“Why would someone want to kill them? I know the Revisionists want to wipe us out, to try again to rewrite history. But why does it seem my family, specifically, is in the rifle crosshairs?”
“Blood and crystal, my dear.” He bent and offered her his hand to raise her to her feet. “Your bloodline has an unusual affinity for the crystal at the core of the Machine.”
“So does Athena. So do a dozen or more people.” Ess put her books and the stoppered inkwell and pens away in her satchel before she stood. Ford gathered up the blankets, and pushed the cushions tightly enough into the gaps in the wires that it would take hurricane-force winds to pull them out.