13. To Bait the Fox

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This wasn't the first time Gray stood before the entire Troit Council. Many times in the past, he had to stand before this group of old men and give a report or get his marching orders. He knew their faces well, and frankly, they were just as ugly as he remembered them.

Still, this time was different.

Gray stood before the group of aging veterans, his expression serious. Unlike the previous occasions where he had barely paid attention them, he gave the Council his full attention. Because this time, it actually meant something.

Gray didn't have to say anything. He just listened, as did the Elders of the Council, while Raith explained what had happened. His detailed summary of what had happened over the past week had left nothing out. From the way they had tracked Jett to Shann Tei, to when they had found him amongst a civilian convey fleeing the ruined city, and even how they had confronted him. Of course, the highlight of the report was the surprise appearance of the the Kairg, of all people, which had distracted them long enough for Jett to disappear.

That, coupled with Gray's suspicions about Jett's relation to Raven, had led them to return to headquarters and report to the Council. While they could have found the kid's trail once more, it was more important for the Council to know what was going on. Especially considering that Raven himself was the blood child of Ra'Skevvor, and if the connection truly existed between the traitorous young Talon and Raven, then this whole mess just got more complicated.

Raith finished the report and fell silent. He appeared calm and unaffected by the whole situation, while Gray was having a hard time just trying not to fidget. It felt like ants were crawling on his skin. It was weird that he was so anxious, because this wasn't even about him. It was about that stupid brat!

After a long silence, one of the Elders moved his heavy stare from Raith to Gray. He was a big man, with wide shoulders and thick arms. It was clear that even though he was well past his prime, he still maintained his body as best he could. He'd once been a strong flyer, and that pride still shone within his steely gaze.

"Is this true?"

It was simple question. Yet Gray found his tongue sticking in place. A simple "yes" or "no" would have sufficed to answer, but for some reason, he couldn't quite bring himself to say either. A "no" would deny that everything Raith said was true, and then that would be that.

But he couldn't do that. Not when he knew what he knew. Not when Raven had died for nothing.

Then, he should just answer with a "yes". That was the most logical choice. Yet, he couldn't bring himself to say that either, because then that would effectively sign Jett's death warrant. It was the right thing to do. Jett had made his choice. This was the consequence. And as the only remaining Talon, Gray had every right to sign that warrant.

"Talon Gray," The Elder's voice carried a sharp edge that could not be masked by his mild tone. "Is this true?"

Gray grit his teeth. He felt like he was being squashed against the wall, and it was not something he appreciated. This was why he'd left most of the reporting to Raven. That guy could insult the Council to their faces and still get away with it.

Raven, how did this happen? A surge of bitterness rose and flowed like the tide, and he gathered his resolve. Choices had been made. Now it was time for the consequence. "Yeah," he said, his voice a little rough. "It's true."

"We are aware that the records show a discrepancy," Raith added. He'd seen the doubting frown on one of the other Elder's faces. "But as it stands, no one knows Jett's true age. Gray has admitted that he went with what the kid told him, which could easily be a lie. The records can only be taken at face value. Whether he is truly Raven's offspring cannot be proven with certainty, however - the evidence does not lie: The Kairg intervened on his behalf."

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